Hands-on with the Autodromo Group B Evoluzione

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Back in January, I had the opportunity to review Autodromo’s newest line of watches. Inspired by the brutal Group B rally cars, Autodromo created a nimble, lightweight watch that mixed steel and titanium with sharp lines and bold colors. I was impressed by the ingenuity of the design, the uniqueness of the aesthetic and the overall quality of the execution. Now, about six months later, Autodromo has followed up on the design with the new Group B Evoluzione limited edition watches.

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Part of what makes the Group B design so clever is actually invisible to the naked eye. The case consists of a central capsule of titanium that holds the movement, dial, etc… The mid-case is then a modular component than can be swapped out. The Evoluzione’s take this framework and replace the steel mid-case of the original with a CNC machined aerospace aluminum part. Not only has the material changed, but the shape as well, creating a larger diameter and effecting the overall aesthetic.

The original Group B measured 39 x 50mm while the new Evoluzione is 42 x 51mm. Rather than following the contour of the titanium capsule the aluminum mid-case surrounds it, creating a classic barrel shape with integral crown guard. This increases the amount of visible surface area, which is intentional as the tooling paths of the CNC used to cut the aluminum were left visible. In fact, they weren’t just left, they tool paths were actually designed by collaborator Discommon to create a unique aesthetic finish. To make things even cooler, the aluminum was machined in the US.

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To my knowledge, this is a first, certainly by a micro-brand. Typically, finishing on cases is meant to erase tooling, but here they celebrate it. The result is extremely attractive. Across the top surface of the aluminum are fine ridges in a concentric pattern. Running your finger over them, you can distinctly feel each ridge and valley. Along the sides are subtler marks, giving it all a slightly rough texture. The visual result is decorative, but industrial. It plays off of the 70’s/80’s bluntness of the watches, but also the spirit of experimentation that defined the Group B rally cars.

The aluminum has another benefit as well; it’s very light. Despite being larger, the weight of the Evoluzione has actually dropped by 7g, coming in around 46g. That’s insanely light for a solid metal mechanical watch, which further increases its overall comfort. Once again, this ties in with the Group B rally cars, as they were designed to be very light, but extremely powerful.

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To accompany the light gray aluminum, Autodromo swapped the black dials of the original with tonally matching silver dials with either blue or yellow/orange highlights. The design has remained the same however. There is a primary index of markers in a sunken track with a chapter ring around the edge. To create some contrast, the chapter rings have been left black. This interrupts the otherwise tone-on-tone pale silver palette, creating a clearer distinction between case and dial.

I like the use of a new dial color, though I’d be curious to see the original black dials in the Evoluzione as well. The light dials don’t supply the same amount of contrast to the highlight colors, which come across a touch soft in the end, particularly the yellow/orange. The blue is stronger, and in the end my preference between the two. I would love to see a version with dark gray markers as well, even if it came at the cost of lume.

The Evoluzione’s come packed with four striped pass through straps inspired by prominent team colors of the Group B era. This is a bold and exciting change from the solid colors that accompany the original Group Bs. The straps are bright and colorful with a range of blues, yellows, reds and grays. I found myself particularly drawn to the asymmetrical designs, which are generally uncommon in nylon straps. These all add a lot of color and vibrancy to the watch, contrasting with the industrial feel of the textured metal.

On the wrist, the Evoluzione wears larger than the original, but doesn’t actually feel large. It’s so light and thin that it comes across smaller than 42 x 51 describes. Visually, it’s stunning. The colors of the straps really pop, while the monotone case and dial shimmer. The barrel shape of the mid-case is admittedly a bit less elegant than that of the original, but the added texture from the tooling makes up for that. It’s genuinely interesting to look at, with each ridge catching the light in a different way. It doesn’t look like any watch you’ve worn before.

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The Autodromo Group B Evoluziones are a limited edition of 200 pieces with a price tag of $1,100. As with the originals, the Evoluzione features a chamfered sapphire crystal and is powered by the Miyota 9015 automatic movement. The price is slightly increased over the original model, but understandably so. Between the limited nature of the watch, 4 straps and, most importantly, US machined aluminum mid-case, the cost is clearly accounted for. For a more in-depth look at the Group B, be sure to read our original review from January 2016, and head over to Autodromo to grab an Evoluzione before they are all gone.

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Zach is the co-founder and Executive Editor of worn&wound. Before diving head first into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.

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  • chenpofu

    I am still confused with these hands.

    • Martin Gear

      What are you confused about?

      • chenpofu

        which one is which?

        • Stephen Scharf

          Agreed. I keep mistaking the minute hand for a second hand, and the second hand for a GMT hand.

  • Svetoslav Popov

    too deliberate and too pretentious for my taste

  • David Tyne

    Light hands on a light background. Too artsy for me.

  • Zanpa

    I much prefer the original Group B to this limited edition. To me, what made the Group B so special was its amazing case, and the Evoluzione’s case just doesn’t look as good to those eyes.

  • Charlie W

    The second hand should have the counterbalance, and it shouldn’t be coloured the same as the hour and minute hands.

  • Stephen Scharf

    I know a number of folks really like this watch and it’s design (for example, James Stacey of A Blog to Watch), but I struggle with the design on both models. I agree with the comment below that the second hand should have the counterweight, and the second hand is too short. I keep mistaking it for a GMT hand in the still photos. I respect the thoughtfulness Autodromo puts into their designs on the whole, but this model just doesn’t work for me.

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