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The Steinhart Racetimer: Vintage Chrono Done Right

Articles | Releases | 06.13.2013

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Man, when Steinhart hits it out of the park, they send it straight out of the galaxy. Recently, they unveiled their premium line of in-house movements, which are highly decorated Unitas 6497 bases with many new and beautiful components. That was really cool and surprising, but there’s something about their new Racetimer chronographs that just has me floored. Sure, it’s just another Valjoux 7750 chronograph (nothing wrong with that), but they nailed the vintage-racing chrono look.

STEINHART-RACETIMER_3

Now, let’s just get this out of the way… Yes, these are clearly inspired by Tudor Chronographs both new and old, but I also see hints of Heuer and a dash of Seiko. While Steinhart is known for making homage watches, specifically of the Rolex variety, I wouldn’t call the Racetimer an homage. Rather a vintage inspired watch with clear aesthetic roots. Frankly, if it didn’t resemble watches of the era it is trying to emulate, it would likely fail altogether.

Ok, that’s over, on to these damn sexy watches. The Racetimers feature 44 x 16mm titanium cases with 22mm lugs, display backs and domed sapphire crystals. The case is a bit large for my tastes, but the proportions from the dial, to the color coordinated tachymeter bezels are spot on. The use of titanium here does keep the weight down, belying the large case. Inside is a workhorse Valjoux 7750 with custom Steinhart gold rotor, which is a nice touch.

STEINHART-RACETIMER_BLACK

The case is cool and all, but the dial is just outrageous. There is so much going on that it’s almost hard to describe. Big shapes, color fields, lines, numbers, applied markers and more come together to create something dynamic, fun and attractive, yet not overwhelming. Perhaps my favorite single element is the orange line that traces the dial, separating the inner sub-dials from the outer index, demarking the date window and active seconds as well as creating the Tudor-esque trapezoids that house the chronograph registers. It’s a simple element that organizes all of the information while acting as contrasting highlight: simply great design.

STEINHART-RACETIMER_BROWN

But perhaps the biggest success of all is the three different color palettes. Black, blue or brown, there isn’t a wrong choice in the group. The black is really a charcoal gray with black, cream and orange highlights as well as a black bezel. Clearly, this has the Tudor Homeplate chronograph as its inspiration. The brown is then a mix of rust and maroon with taupe and orange highlights and a rust bezel. This color way surprises me, as I don’t typically like brown watches, but happen to find this very appealing. Perhaps that’s because it reminds me of the Seiko 6138-0040 Bullhead. Lastly, and likely my favorite, is the blue variation. The navy blue, cream and orange compliment each other perfectly and the dark blue bezel just ties it all together. This one is a remix of the Tudor Monte Carlo palette.

STEINHART-RACETIMER_BLUE

Naturally, since these are Steinharts they also have absurdly, almost questionably low prices. Without VAT a Racetimer on leather will cost you $1,000 and on a titanium bracelet, $1,044 (not including shipping). Considering everything that’s packed into this and the pitch perfect dials/colors, I think a lot of watch nerds just found a new chronograph to add to their collection.

by Zach Weiss

images via Steinhart

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3THX7AYZTLQ6GYJVWVU73LFDWY/ peatnick

    Hi Zach

    As you know I’m a Steinhart fan boy with half a dozen of them in my collection, and also a devotee of auto chronos, but perhaps because there’s so much going on here it’s almost hard to figure out this new introduction.

    As you noted the Arabic numbers and applied markers are definitely design highlights that am always drawn to.

    Maybe it’s the big shapes, color fields and lines overwhelm me?

    Agree the orange line that traces the dial creating the trapezoidal subdials are a classy way to pay homage to Tudor, nothing wrong with that in my book, I was first drawn to Steinhart for their high quality Rolex homages.

    Maybe if I could get one on my wrist I’d come around, is that how it happened for you, or did your admiration blossom from photos alone?

    Cheers

    peter

    • http://www.zachstarrweiss.com w&w

      Hi Peter,

      Honestly, I saw this one pop up in an email last week and I just fell for it. Looking at so many watches every day, new and old, that when something comes to my attention that stops me in my tracks, I tend to get very enthusiastic about.

      I think that while there is a lot going on, everything is compartmentalized, so they don’t interfere with each other. That being said, the blue is my personal favorite and there is a little less going on in that one as the trapezoids are solid cream to the edge of the dial.

      thanks!
      Zach

  • http://jamesenloe.com James E.

    Oh my. That blue model is to die for. I could even overlook the 44mm size. Nice work, Steinhart.

  • http://URL Albert

    If they really wanted a vintage look, it shouldn’t be any bigger than 40mm. :(

  • http://lewisleong.com Lewis

    Will there be a review of the Racetimer soon? I want to see it on the wrist since it’s quite thick (16mm) and I have tiny 6.5″ wrists. I’m thinking it’s going to be way too big and bulky for me but I’m in love with the design. :(

    BLAST MY SMALL WRISTS.

  • http://URL Bjorn

    You know, I’m not a guy who likes “homages” or design copies with a new name pasted on them.

    But these, they look good. I quite like the black & orange one. :)

    I’d like it even better at 42 mm. But I guess you can’t please all people all the time

  • http://URL Brice

    I’m usually not attracted to the newer Steinhart models and have had other concerns re quality/controls in the past. So I usually never give the new models a second look beyond opening the email.
    But this one really speaks to me and is a nicely executed alternative to the Tudor chronos. It’s not an exact copy and they made good use of color but didn’t overdo it style-wise. My only concern is size, it seems it may work better as a 42mm a tad thinner and shorter IMO.
    I’d definitely wear one of these…. What color though?? :)

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/3THX7AYZTLQ6GYJVWVU73LFDWY/ peatnick

      Brice,

      Thought about lobbying for the blue, or even black, but instead suggest you go for brown, it’ll thin the field for the secondary sale so I won’t have to compete to much when buying it from you!

      Talk to you soon you helpless flipper!

      Cheers

      Peter

  • http://www.pretenseofknowledge.com/ Chris Meisenzahl

    Those things look fantastic!

  • http://URL Neverok

    I think Steinhart are making some great watches and although this particular model isn’t to my taste, it’s an interesting piece. I have heard rumours of movement issues with Steinhart and have started to see the affects with other affordable brands like Debaufre, and wondered if you were going to do an article on the impact of the Swatch Groups plans and how it’s going to seriously affect a large number of these smaller brands? It would be an interesting article if the brands are willing to talk.

    Great website and I love the format and great photography skills of the team.

    All the best

    A WIS!

  • http://URL Moochie

    When I first saw these, I was floored. They definitely have a lot of Tudor Heritage Chrono in them, and I’d get one in a heartbeat…if they were smaller. I used to have a Steinhart Nav B-Uhr 44mm, which is slightly smaller than this case, but sold it because it was too bulky on my wrist. Get this piece down to about 42 x 12 and we’re talking.

  • http://URL Gary

    I was just cruising the Steinhart website recently and came across these beautiful chronographs. I have a few chronos and had others on my list hit-list, but damn, Steinhart nailed these babies in a way I didn’t see coming. I’m afraid I’ll be putting in an order for that gorgeous black/charcoal beauty soon. I’d been admiring the Tudor line but why go that route. Both watches have the same movement and with the Racetimer it may soon be Tudor paying homage to Steinhart.

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  • http://URL Christian Ehlers

    Gorgeous looking watches.

    I really don’t understand why Steinhart have to make their watches in such extreme sizes. While I think this is a wonderfully designed watch I can’t help but think how beautiful it would look and feel on the wrist if it was 41x13mm. Yes, watches tend to be produced in bigger sizes nowadays, but I don’t think that it suits these homage watches with their vintage heritage very well.

    Besides, a non-waterproof 16mm bulky case kills it for me, though I absolutely adore the design of it.