A new Autodromo is always an exciting thing. Their last few models have each impressed us greatly with their style, quality and finishing. Each subsequent model a little more finely tuned than the last; each also seeming to respond a bit more to the wants of the watch enthusiast crowd. With their newest watch, the Stradale, Autodromo has utilized for the first time the growing go-to automatic, the Miyota 9015. An addition I know everyone will be very happy to see.
As with their previous models, the Stradales draw inspiration from Italian automotive history (save the Prototipo, which draws from racing chronographs). This time, looking to the Italian Berlinettas (a sport 2-seater coupé) of the 50’s and 60’s. Like those cars, the Stradale is smallish, fun and nimble, featuring a nice mix of sport and class. Rather than being literal about the inspiration, Autodromo went a more subtle route with the design, keeping some of the attitude and a very cool feature from some dashes; floating indexes. Available in three colors, black, gray and cream, the Stradales run $875 and are available now.
Autodromo Stradale Review
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Miyota 9015
Water Res.: 50m
Dimensions: 40 x 43 mm
Thickness: 10.8 mm
Lug Width: 18 mm
Crown: 6 x 3 mm push/pull
Warranty: 2 years
The case of the Stradale takes some cues from one of its predecessors, the Monoposto, but is a new and unique design. Measuring 40 x 43 x 10.8mm to the top of the domed sapphire, it’s a nice medium/small size. Since the case makes use of wire lugs, it looks and wears more like a lugless design. This simultaneously puts more emphasis on the central case and dial, increasing their impact, while making it wear smaller.
The geometry is simple and elegant, with a few interesting details that bring it to life. The central case is a straight sided cylinder that rounds out underneath. Running along the side of the case is a line, giving it the appearance of a three part case though it is two. This line breaks up the surface, balancing out the case’s proportions when viewed from the side or an angle.
From the top, one very interesting detail is in view, though one might not notice it immediately. The bezel is concave as it approaches the sapphire. Typically, bezels are flat or slope up to the crystal, here it is the opposite. The full polished surface then reflects light around in interesting and dramatic ways, especially when at an angle where the domed sapphire catches the light as well. The edge, since it’s greater than 90, is then very sharp, creating a very crisp line. Since the whole watch is polished, there is a bit less to speak of in terms of finishing than their previous models, but edges like that clearly indicate the quality of the manufacturing.
Protruding out of the case back are wire lugs. To make things more interesting and perhaps a touch more aggressive, the wires don’t come out straight, but rather angle in then take a turn stopping at 18mm. The effect is very cool, taking the watch away from early-20th century/pocket watch conversion territory. It’s the kind of simple, stylized detail that really gives the Stradales a lot of personality.
Flipping the watch over, you have the domed display back. The crystal itself is flat, but the steel around has a large radius, making it sit nicely on the wrist. Around the window are various detail about the watch as well as a simple, geometric pattern that uses up some of the empty space, a detail I love. It’s not needed, it’s not loud or in your face, but it subtly makes the watch more complete. Through the window you have a view of the Miyota 9015 movement inside, which has their standard decoration. On the crystal, however, there is an electroplated Autodromo logo hovering over the movement.
The Berlinetta dash-theme is mostly present in the dial of the Stradale, but the design doesn’t hit you over the head with automotive styling. The graphics and overall design are fairly simple, but what makes this dial unique is the use of an elevated glass disk that, model depending, either creates the illusion of floating numerals, or adds a second color into the mix. As such, you have a lower layer with one index and an upper layer with another that work together.
The lower surface is matte and features an index of lines, one at each hour and one smaller line at each half hour. At 3 is a date window showing the black on silver date, which stands out more on the black and less on the grey and cream color-ways. Just below twelve are Autodromo logos and just above 6 it reads “Stradale” and “automatic”. As with all Autodromos, there are two applied screw-heads about the center of the dial.
Alone, the lower dial is nice, but a touch plain. When you add in the glass disk, it all comes together. The centerpiece of the design, this disk contains an index of numerals, in a clean, fixed-width type face that lightly speaks to Bauhaus designs. Each number is double digit and rotates with the angle of the hour. I was glad to see that they didn’t flip the numbers from 4 – 8 to stay upright, as the way it is is far more interesting. Because it is elevated, the disk is actually in-line with the minute and seconds hands, rather than under, which has a nice effect when reading at a glance.
The hands of the Stradales are well thought out, working with the watches style and being easy to read. The hour is a polished sword that tapers out slightly towards the center. The minute is a similar shape, but longer, passing through the center and bright red, the only color on the dial. The second hand is then a wisp of polished steel that is easy to ignore if you choose. The red hand clearly refers to the needles on on a speedometer or tachometer, but doesn’t feel too car-like or out of place on the watch, which as a whole is sort of a casual design.
The three color options give you a nice variety to choose from, all of which are successful. The black dial option most clearly demonstrates the floating numeral concept, as the disk is transparent, and the white numerals literally hover over. It’s also the most sporty of the three. The grey dial has a nice subtle play between two grays for a monochromatic, but dynamic look. The cream dial is perhaps the most eye-catching at first, with a warm beige lower dial and a dark grey disk above. The cream makes the grey disk standout more, though the colors complement each other well. I hope to see more two-tone varieties in the future with different colors at play as it’s a great use of the multi-level design.
Straps and Wearability
The Stradales come mounted on one of the cooler straps I’ve come across in sometime. These 18mm leather straps are nice and thin, with a subtle taper and matching stitch. The standout feature here, well there are two, is the padding by the lug. There are several pill shaped pads running down the strap, hinting at the quilted leather seats found in some sport cars. The pads really activate the design, making it much more interesting than a flat strap, and a nice change of pace from a rally strap.
The other great feature is color. The black Stradale comes with a deeply saturated burgundy/crimson that looks great against the black dial. The gray model comes on a rich dark blue that has an undercurrent of teal in it. This plays off of the gray dial for a cool almost 70’s effect. The cream model is then attached to a more standard, but no less attractive, brown that works with the warmth and subtly vintage feel of the beige.
On the wrist, the Stradales wear extremely well and will accommodate many wrist sizes. The 40mm design, as I said before, basically wears like a lug-less watch, as such it sits well on the top of the wrist. That said since it does have wires, the strap is able to curve more naturally around the wrist. It’s also fairly thin and wears low, so it’s easy to fit under a sleeve. And, it’s light so it’s easy to wear all day without fatigue.
Aesthetically, the watches are on point. The mix of colors and design details come together for a very stylish watch, regardless of color. The polished case and restrained dial make it fine for business casual settings, while the red minute hand and padded strap hint at something more exciting. Though the inspiration is vintage, the watch itself doesn’t shout it out or seem like it wants to be a vintage watch. Likewise, though there are automotive influences, it doesn’t scream it. In fact, unlike some of their earlier models, I think you could show this to someone who didn’t know the story and they wouldn’t necessarily guess the theme. It’s there, but it’s more in the DNA than on the surface.
Autodromo always goes above an beyond with their packaging, but not in the typical way. Rather than giving you some oversized emulation of luxury, they give you something very specific that builds anticipation for the watch inside, and is easy to keep around (those of us city dwellers are particularly thankful for smaller box designs). The packaging begins with an outer sleeve that has a reprint of an old Italian map, that is full bleed and wraps around the entire box. There is no branding on it, but it immediately speaks to the Autodromo concept.
Slipping that off, you have a smallish black faux-leather rectangular box. It has a flip up lid with a quilt pattern debossed in and an Autodromo logo snap on the end. Opening that up, you have a beautiful red velvet interior that properly celebrates the watch cradled within. The top of the box has a sleeve, on which there is a gold foil stamped Autodromo logo. Inside is what appears to be a road map/guide that is in fact a very clever way of making the instructions more exciting. It too has a reprint of an old map, as well as various other interesting graphics and details. Even the paper has a sort of aged, brownish tinge as though you found this in the glove box (if they had them?) of a 60’s Berlinetta.
Autodromo has another very successful watch with the Stradale. The look, the feel, the style… it all comes together to make a watch that’s very enjoyable to wear. One of the things that makes this watch, and this brand, so successful is that they are able to bring together the automotive and the horological so well. I’m not a gear-head, I don’t currently own a car. I like cars, but not enough to seek out merchandise that relates to them. The Stradale speaks to an aesthetic that is present in cars with shouting it out. Rather, I see those hints, but more so I see a watch that elegantly mixes sport and casual, modern and vintage. A watch with a unique attitude and aesthetic that I could wear anywhere and it would look good.
Regarding the price, I know there is a wide spread for Miyota 9015 powered watches these days, but with a lot more at play, namely no stock parts, high quality build, etc… the price of $875 is within scope and right for the brand. As with every other Autodromo I’ve handled, the quality speaks to a price north of $1,000 and the style does too. Certainly it’s a watch you’ll want to be sure you want, but if you do, I know you’ll be happy with it. Now, I just have to get my hands on a lot of these straps for all of my 18mm watches.