When we first saw the ContaTempo Scuderia watches at Basel World 2013, we were immediately excited. Consisting solely of large bullhead cases with distinct and thoughtful designs, they managed to standout from the crowd at the world’s largest watch fair, not an easy task. The watches appealed to that same part of us that stops on the street when we see an old muscle car or a well restored vintage motorcycle. That part that is drawn to things that are simultaneously masculine and classically cool. Needless to say, we’ve been eager to get our hands on one for review.
But before we get to that, it’s worth learning a bit more about the brand and its charismatic founder and lead designer, Enrico Margaritelli. I had the pleasure of sitting down with him for a brief chat a few weeks ago, where I learned more about his history and the motives behind the brand. Watches are a family business for Enrico, who along with his brothers have been in the industry for multiple generations. However, unlike the rest of his family, his interests ran towards the creative side things; design, development, quality control, etc…
In the 80’s his passion for watches bloomed as he began collecting vintage. With an eye for the Art Deco, his collection was mainly from the 30’s and 40’s, including Rolex Princes and the like. He also picked up some more contemporary Rolexes that were unpopular at the time, often hidden in back drawers. Yes, in the 80’s if you had a smart eye you could pick up Daytonas for a few hundred bucks, only to sell them down the road for a heck of a lot more.
After starting his own brand in the US called Soviet Watches (good luck googling that), Enrico worked with Fossil for 14 years, where he helped develop the brand from a relatively small player to a global institution and household name. During that time he learned the ins and outs of the business, met and collaborated with prominent designers such as Phillipe Stark and Giorgio Armani. Now, with his wife, he runs Glam Rock and CT Scuderia.
The inspiration for CT Scuderia has two sides, one was simply to create something unique with the beginning point of the stopwatch, and the other is his life long love of motorcycles. At the age of 14, Enrico starting riding motorcycles, eventually going on to race professionally and test drive for brands. The aesthetic of the CT Scuderia bullheads owes much to this passion.
Movement: ValSwiss CHR – 01 STD
Water Res.: 100M
Dimensions: 44 (46 listed) x 52mm
Thickness: 14.4 mm
Lug Width: 26 mm
Crown: 10 x 2 mm
The CT Scuderia line includes many models, ranging from Ronda Quartz chronos to 3-hand automatics to automatic chronographs. Though the least economical, we couldn’t pass by the chance to play with and wear an auto chronograph bullhead. The City Racer, which Enrico was wearing when we spoke, features a decorated ValSwiss movement, PVD case, sapphire crystal, bold looks and a hefty price tag of $3,095. Though quite spendy, perhaps too much so, the watch is a good indicator of what the entire line is all about.
The main attraction of the CT Scuderia watches is the unique bullhead case design. With a multi-part construction, it not only has a rugged industrial aesthetic, it tells the story of the bullhead through design. Measuring a sizable 44 x 52 x 14.4mm (though it’s listed at 46mm diameter, perhaps as an average), the case can be broken down into three main sections: the top lugs, bottom lugs and central case. The central case is designed to look like a standalone stopwatch; it’s a smooth puck shape with curved sides and crowns/pushers at 12 that seems as though it would feel nice in the hand.
The top and bottom lugs are then designed to appear as attachments to the stopwatch case that allow it to be worn as a watch. There are many interesting little details going on here, such as how the lugs grip the top and bottom of the case with a small lip, and the many small hex head screws that appear both functional and aesthetic. The lugs themselves, which have a whopping 26mm width, are teardrop shaped on the bottom set, with a large hex head detail suggesting a screw bar that unfortunately doesn’t line up with the actual spring bar.
The top lugs appear as though they started with the same shape, but were machined away to allow access to the chrono-pushers and large 10mm wide screw down crown. The top lugs also allow for the strap to drop away when held in the hand, so one can have full access to the pushers. Enrico explained that the lug design is a real point of pride on this watch. Other bullheads, vintage and contemporary, have the top portion of the strap joining the case directly, in lugless fashion. Though this emphasizes the top pushers, it makes for a less ergonomic design.
The case back features a display window for viewing the ValSwiss chrono inside, which has some finishing worth enjoying. The design of the surrounding area is a bit different as the case back is PVD and is decorated with green, white and red (Italian flag) scallop shapes. There is a bit of text, which is filled in white too. Being that the PVD City Racer is sandblasted matter, there isn’t much to discuss in terms of finish. That said, the multi-part case allows for different finishes on various components for a more dynamic look. For example, on the Mastertime chronograph (which we also had on hand) the central case is polished while the lugs are brushed. I would have loved to have seen a drop more variation on the City Racer, perhaps with a gun metal PVD, or a mix of matte and brushed finishing.