Ah, vintage chronographs… is there anything better? Hardly, I say, and many would agree. Chronographs from the 60’s and 70’s had a sly charm, a sense of experimentalism and an adventurous attitude that modern chronos tend to lack, or have replaced with sleekness. Or, well, used to. In the last couple of years, and with growing frequency, we’ve seen brands focusing on vintage-styled chronos, specifically those inspired by motor-sports and racing. From the barrel-cased, Meca-Quartz Autodromo Prototipos to the column-wheel powered Longines Conquest 1973, options are popping up that satisfy that vintage itch, but in modern and often more affordable (than their 40 year old brethren) packages. The introduction of Seiko’s VK Meca-Quartz movements, which offer quartz accuracy and pricing with the feel and sweep of a mechanical chrono, has really stimulated the creation of new watches especially by micro-brands. In fact, just this summer we saw at least two successful kickstarter launches with the Stuckx Bullhead and Straton chrono.
Well this trend is not about to stop, which is something I am personally very happy about, and the next one to launch is certainly one to keep an eye on. The Nezumi Voiture is not just a pretty name, it’s one of the more picturesque of the vintage-inspired chronographs to have launched. Before getting to the watch, it’s worth taking a look at the brand. Though the Voiture is their first watch, Nezumi Studios, who are based in Stockholm, Sweden, have manufactured various men’s fashion items, focused on selvedge denim jeans and jackets, with some leather goods as well. One look at their archive, and you can get a sense of the rugged work-wear/motorsport aesthetic. Brand founder David Campo Cárdenes has 12 years of experience in the apparel and manufacturing space, which when mixed with his love of vintage cars (specifically Porsche 911s) and vintage timepieces, makes for a strong base to start a watch brand.
As for the watch, well, it’s pretty spot on as far as the renderings and specs go, pulling from some truly classic pieces, yet having its own style. At a glance, there is something speedy-like from the twisted lugs and external tachymeter bezel, but under closer inspection they speak more to the Universal Geneve Valjoux 72 Compax chronographs. These far more obscure, but rapidly gaining in popularity and value watches are true gems, and perfect examples of how great vintage chronos can be. Also with twisted lugs and external tachymeters, what set the UG’s apart are their gorgeous dials. In particular there is a stunning model with a blue background, a teal T-shape connecting the sub-dials and a contrasting index with red highlights on the outer edge. It’s a work of art, and a great source for inspiration.
But back to the Voiture! The first thing that strikes you about the dial is that it plays with shape and contrast. Each dial variety, of which there are three, has a primary surface color which is split by a contrasting hour-glass shape. This brings to mind that blue UG, as well as various surfboard dial chronos and the Tudor Montecarlo, another 70’s gem. Within the hourglass are then contrasting sub-dials, giving each version a panda-esque look (perhaps a panda with sunglasses?). Below the hour glass, the dial returns to the main color, and has another contrasting sub-dial. A very cool detail that is a bit hard to see in the photos is that the dial has a sandwich construction with the sub-dials actually being on the lower level, which should give them added depth and texture.
The hour index then consists of period-appropriate applied markers with small dashes of “Old Radium” lume. They are set on the edge of a sort of inner area, which is encircled by a contrasting ring, which contains a minutes/chrono-seconds index. All of the elements combine really well to create a dial that is at once well-balanced and energetic. The hour and minute hands are both polished steel block with lume filling. They fit the aesthetic well and aren’t overly stylized. The chrono-seconds hand adds some color into the mix, being a very 70’s orange. It’s a stick shape with an arrow tip and a Nezumi “N” logo for a counter weight. The sub-dials all have these great little, blocky sword hands complete with a guard, that I can’t help but think about Zelda when I see…which is a good thing.
The three color-ways are all well considered as well. You basically have two variations on black and white, which are essentially inverted versions of each other… and a blue and teal version vis a vis that UG. The one thing that is missing from the latter is an aqua tachymeter, but I can live with that for now. As for the case, the Voiture measure 40 x 47 x 11.5mm with 20mm lugs. That sounds pretty ideal to me. Given that there is a lot going on on the dial, and a wide tachymeter, the 40mm case should provide enough dial real estate for it not to seem too crowded. It’s also small enough to still feel vintage (Speedies are 42mm, after all). The case is topped with a domed sapphire crystal with internal AR.
Powering the Nezumi Voiture is a Seiko VK63 Meca-Quartz. This variety features a 60-minute counter at 9, a 24-hr hand at 3 and active seconds at 6. They customized the movement to remove the date. As always with the VKs, you get both 1/5th second sweep on the chronograph, instant reset and good button action.
The Nezumi Voiture is set to launch on Kickstarter September 14th (mark your calendars!) with a starting price of 260 Euro. Once available for retail they will range from 400 – 450 Euros depending on the strap options. I have to say, the design of the Voiture is very exciting, hitting many of the vintage notes that I seek, but can rarely find. Very much looking forward to trying one of these out.