"Car guys," believe it or not, have plenty of watches to choose from that take inspiration from the automotive world. But what about motorcycle guys? Fewer options, for sure.
Well, moto dudes, your time has come: Veteran watch journalist, die-hard Italian motorcycle aficionado and unabashed Dead Head (and, to be fair, longtime contributor and friend of Gear Patrol Allen Farmelo), has partnered with historical dive watch manufacturer Alsta on a dedicated watch for motorcyclists — and we have to say, it's pretty freakin' dope.
The Motoscaphe 120, as it's called, came about pretty organically: Allen began posting images of his watches paired with various motorcycles to his Instagram, and Alsta's CEO, Angus MacFayden, reached out.
Says Allen: "(I had) about 30 years to dream up this watch, because I've literally been thinking about the perfect motorcycle watch for about that long. Of course you start with a dive watch, but it has to be modified significantly to work on a bike."
Alsta's dive watch provides the perfect platform for the Motoscaphe 120: The brand, which was revived by MacFayden in 2014, makes affordable, skin diver-type divers for the modern adventurer. (If you're familiar with the brand, it may be because they produced the watch worn by Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws. Kinda badass, no?)
So what makes the Motoscaphe 120 specifically a motorcycle watch? It's the little things, really. As Allen himself admitted, this is a dive watch at heart — something tough, utilitarian and unassuming. But it's been modified for the rider in several ways:
First off, it's got a bi-directional 12-hour bezel. Easy to manipulate with gloves, this type of bezel allows the rider to track elapsed hours, minutes (multiply by 5), or a second time zone. If you happen to be riding your bike over extreme long distances and need to track both local and home time, this is an extremely handy feature.
Next, the crown has been oriented on the left side of the case. Thus, when one's left wrist is bent to the controls of the bike, the crown doesn't dig in. (This is the case for right-handed folks, anyway. Sorry, southpaws — maybe wear the watch on your left hand when riding.)
The watch is also highly legible for quick glances while riding, with awesome, vaguely shark tooth-looking indices. The sapphire crystal has an inner antireflective coating, and there's no date window to get in the way. There is, however, one playful nod to the motorcycle that appears on the black dial in the form of some text: "176ft = 53.6m / sec." That's roughly 120mph, or the speed at which, at least in the opinion of the watch's creator, the art of riding a motorcycle takes on a zen-like, spiritual quality.
Why 120? Allow me to quote for a moment from Allen's own description of the watch: "This is the speed at which 'relativistic effects' (as described by psychologists) arise in human perception. Relativistic effects are a perceived curvature of space and the slowing down of time." Hence the name of the watch.
Thoughtful details extend to the strap, which in this case is a perforated leather rally strap that allows for air flow while riding. The circular brushed, stainless steel case itself is a perfect 40mm wide, while the movement is an automatic Seiko NH35. The case back is engraved with Beyond The Dial's ethos and victory wreath. (Beyond The Dial is a great watch journalism website run by Allen and a close group of friends and contributors. Shameless plug: Allen has kindly featured me in my capacity as GP's watch editor on two episodes of BTD's podcast.)
The whole shebang ships in a custom, oxblood red leather case that's designed to double as a sunglass case or tool pouch on your bike, and is embossed with the Alsta and Beyond The Dial logos. At $895, this is a well priced, thoughtfully designed watch that's suffused throughout with automotive cool.
Now, I'm not a motorcyclist myself, but I am friends with quite a few of them — Allen included — and I know how picky they can be about their gear. The Motoscaphe 120 is clear evidence of that particularity and care, and the results speak for themselves.