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.
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.
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.
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.
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