Last August, I spent some time with the CT Scuderia City Racer. A large, aggressive bullhead chronograph with lots of cool design elements that distinguished it from much of what else we’ve seen. Most notably, was its large, multi-part case, which clearly illustrates the relationship between a “bullhead” design and a stopwatch. Inside, it also had a movement we hadn’t seen before or since; a ValSwiss CHR – 01 STD. This Swiss made automatic chrono had a similar layout as the venerable Valjoux 7750, and gave the watch the mechanical insides its robust exterior deserved.
A few months ago, I got the chance to see CT Scuderia’s 2014 watches, which included various new colors and a handful of new models. From a dual-time watch with two quartz movements inside to a dirt bike inspired model to a new series of three-hand automatics inspired by vintage dashboard designs, their exploration of all things moto-sport is quite thorough. Every watch, regardless of unique function, utilizes the same basic case design, with variations only really occurring by the crowns and pushers, creating a very cohesive line.
Today I am going to take a closer look at the latter of the three mentioned above; one of the new three-hand Dashboard watches. There are several in the series, all of which have dials directly inspired by elements from vintage dashboards and gauges. They also all share an inverted bullhead case, placing the crown at 6 (if crowns at 12 are “bullheads” what’s the anatomical equivalent of a crown at 6?… needless to say, we’ll stick with “inverted bullhead”). Unfortunately, they don’t have distinct names which might indicate a bit of the specific models background story, i.e. what vehicle served as its source, rather generic serials. The specific variety I’ve had the chance to spend some time with is the CS10212.
CT Scuderia Dashboard CS10212 Hands-On
Movement: Unknown Swiss Auto
Water Res.: 100M
Dimensions: 44 x 52mm
Thickness: 14.4 mm
Lug Width: 26 mm
Crown: 10 x 4 mm
This model features a stainless steel case with mixed finishing, a black big-hole rally strap and a black enamel dial. I went over the general case design in detail in my review of the city racer, so I recommend checking that out for specifics. The CS10212 has essentially the same design, though the whole thing has been flipped, and instead of a crown plus pushers, there is a crown and large guards. It really is a cool looking design with a lot of industrial character. It’s harsh and jagged at times, smooth and clean at others, creating an overall dynamic structure. The crown at 6 is quite odd at first, making the watch feel upside down, but once used to it, it works, balancing out the visual weight normally put at 12.
On this model, they also played with the finishing a bit, which is a strong point in the case design. The central case is all polished while the bolted on lug-extensions have a satin brushing. The contrast is very appealing. That said, the finishing itself, namely the brushing, is a bit inconsistent, especially around crevices and sharp angles.
The dial is an intense set of concentric indexes that mimic the layout of a stacked gauge, with tachometer on the outer ring, speedometer on the inner ring and time at the center. In order to achieve this look, the indexes have a large gap from around 10 – 2, creating the look of a retrograde system. While I have some issues with the design from a functional perspective I’ll get to momentarily, aesthetically, it is quite attractive. There is a lot going on, clearly, but rather than trying to make the typefaces and markers too aggressive or too sleek, they kept it simple. In turn, there is something purposeful and retro about it. It’s busy, but clean and handsome.
My issues with it is that it’s very difficult to read. Not because of the amount of information, we’ve all dealt with GMT chronographs, etc… and can make our way through complex dials, it’s because the numbers are in the wrong place. At a glance, one might think this watch actually has retrograde minutes and seconds, as the indexes run from 0 – 60, but have a clear 20 minute/second gap. In reality, it’s just a normal watch, so when a hand is pointing at 5, it’s closer to 10…at 15, it’s closer to 20…30? Well, 30 is correct, but that’s the only one….50? sorry, that’s actually 45.
So, in reality, you have to base all of your actual time-telling on the innermost sub-dial, which has a 12 hour index. And that index is tiny, while the roman sword hands are quite large, so it’s often hard to see. While I’m not usually a stickler for “rules” in design, this dial is almost intentionally confusing. If either the outer most or middle index had been calibrated to tell the correct minutes, this wouldn’t have been an issue.
Straps and Wearability
The strap that comes on the CS10212 is pretty awesome, and compliments the watch well. It’s a black big-hole rally strap that is 26mm at the lugs, but tapers to a comfortable 20mm. The leather is fairly matte and has a nice grain to it for a natural, quality look. Contrasting the leather is slightly off-white stitch that adds even more sportiness and brings out the white in the dial. Most importantly, it’s very comfortable, making wearing such a large watch much more easy.
The size might make it a bit limiting, though I find it wears better than most big watches, but the overall look is very appealing. It’s bold, rugged, sporty… looks a bit vintage, but is totally modern in scale. As with most aggressive watches, I think this looks best with hard wearing materials and heavier clothes… this is definitely the watch to wear with your black denim jacket. That said, while it might not fit under a shirt sleeve so easy, it wouldn’t look bad with office-casual clothing either, albeit, it’s not the most subtle option.
Inside of the CT Scuderia Dashboard watches is a bit of a mysterious movement. On their site it just says “automatic Swiss movement”, no brand or specs. What I can tell from looking at it and listening to it is that it’s a 22-jewel (says as much on the rotor) automatic with hacking, manual winding and a frequency of 21,600 bph. As it’s 21,6, it’s already clearly not one of the typical Swiss culprits. It also doesn’t look like any of them. I imagine this is also a ValSwiss movement, but that is not clearly indicated.
Through the display caseback, one can see it features a strange array of decoration, some parts are PVD black, some black with perlage, some black with Cotes De Geneve, yet others look like base metal. The balance cock in particular looks under decorated especially next to regions of PVD. Considering a lot of smaller brands can obtain Selitta and Soprod movements, and achieve lower price points, I’m not really sure of logic behind this movement. It beats slower, looks unrefined and sounds like someone trying to kickstart a dirtbike (though perhaps thats intentional given the branding). No really, this is the loudest winding movement I’ve ever heard.
The long and short of it is that the CT Scuderia Dashboard CS10212 is an attractive watch with some distinct style points that make it stand out, but some shortcomings elsewhere. I like the look of the dial, a lot even, but actually have misread and mis-set it during my time with the watch, which is both annoying and a bit embarrassing. One small tweak, and it would be so much more readable. That said, this is also perhaps the least legible of the Dashboard series, others having larger indexes for telling the actual time, though all have some confusing elements as well.
The other is the mysterious movement. If you can’t get ETA, Soprod, Selitta, etc… then go for Miyota 9015…actually, go for the 9015 first and bring the cost down. A trusted Japanese movement is much more appealing than an unknown Swiss movement. And frankly, this watch would be much more compelling at a lower price point. Currently at $1,495, it seems a bit steep for what it is. Bring it closer to $800 – $1,000 and you have a much more tempting package.
by Zach Weiss