Not too long ago, we introduced you to the Lew & Huey Riccardo. At that point, the brand was trying to raise money via kickstarter to get the watch off the ground, which clearly was successful. Chris Vail, the brand’s founder, did an excellent job of building community support via WUS and various blog posts, creating a following before the watches were ever even made. Now, the Riccardo is practically sold out and people are awaiting his next watches, the Acionna and Spectre.
There were a few very exciting things about the Riccardo, so we were quite happy to have the chance to give it a review. To start, it’s an automatic chronograph that costs $550 thanks to the Seagull ST1940 movement inside. We love it when brands takes risks, and in the Swiss and Japanese movement dominated watch-o-sphere, using a Chinese made chronograph is a bit of bold move, especially for a first watch. But, it’s a very cool movement and one of, if not the most, affordable way to make a new mechanical chronograph. So, we were happy to see it in use. Apart from that, the design was inspired by 60’s and 70’s rally chronographs, can’t go wrong there, and featured a case that looked very sexy in photos. With that said, let’s just get into it.
Lew & Huey Riccardo Review
Movement: Seagull ST1940
Water Res.: 10ATM
Dimensions: 42 x 49mm
Thickness: 15.5 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Crowns: 7 x 3mm
Warranty: 1 year
The 42 x 49 x 15.5 mm (to the top of the domed sapphire) steel case of the Riccardo has a surprisingly elegant design that is a standout feature. In terms of size, it’s a really nice medium/large that works very well for a sporty chronograph. The diameter is big enough for presence, while the lug-to-lug is small enough to fit sensibly. The diameter is visually emphasized by the relatively small 20mm lug width, which I think work nicely with the case, giving the watch an extra sense of width and mass.
The most striking feature of the design, which is fairly standard in most respects, are the beautifully twisted lugs. Immediately bringing to mind the iconic case of the Omega Speedmaster, the lugs add intrigue and a sculptural element that brings the case to life. It also adds a bit of 60’s – 70’s flair that speaks to the watch’s inspirations. Geometry aside, the finishing and execution here is also quite good. Crisp edges add to the dramatic form while a mix of polished and brushed surfaces play with light.
At three is an appropriately sized 7 x 3mm screw-down crown with a Lew & Huey dog logo etched on the side. Flanking the crown at 2 and 4 are oblong chrono-pushers that add a stylish and ergonomic detail. Like the twisted lugs, this is another element that one doesn’t see too often that is quite attractive. The long pushers reflect the contouring of the case for an overall more streamlined appearance and have some variation in width themselves, creating a nice surface to push on.
The Riccardo also features a display case back, which shows off the complicated and alluring ST1940 column wheel chronograph movement within. Chronographs are particularly entertaining to be able to see since there are so many additional components within, and the ST1940 has the added benefit of blued screws, gold tone gears and the occasional spot of texture for a really enjoyable view. Around the window is an etched area with various details about the watch.
The dial of the Riccardo has a fairly simple layout with a retro feel. Available in either black or blue, the sunburst metallic blue surface has a vibrant and rich coloration. The blue is very intense and quite bright, verging on a royal color. As such, you best like blue an awful lot if you get this watch, as it’s going to standout. It’s also accented by red and silver, which both have a lot of presence.
The primary index of the Riccardo consists of applied rectangular markers with lume filling, which straddle the blue central area and the silver outer edge. Between each marker, on the silver edge, are black lines for the individual minutes/seconds. Since the watch is a mechanical chronograph, I wish there had been greater precision that just to the single second as the chronograph can be stopped between. The applied markers have good legibility and a classic look, though a bit more variation would have been nice.
Framing the dial is a blue chapter ring with small white numerals at intervals of 5. Like the silver ring, I wish the precision here was higher or that the ring had been used differently, as there is a bit too much empty space. A tachymeter scale would have been a nice and relevant touch as well. What is nice is how the layering of the blue chapter ring, to the silver edge then to the blue dial surface creates a finished feel. The outer blue ring makes the inner silver ring really pop, which has a nice effect.
At 3 and 9 are sub-dials for the 30-minute totalizer and active seconds, respectively. Both dials feature the same design, which consists of a silver ring with a printed index of black lines around a central blue area that has white numerals. The blue areas within also have a concentric circle graining on top of the sunburst surface for a dramatic play of light. Though there is no lume present here, they are very legible sub-dials for fairly easy reading at a glance.
At 12 and 6 are the logos and descriptive text. As I had mentioned when we first talked about this watch, the dog logo at 12 is a love it or leave it detail. It’s a large and graphic logo that dominates the upper portion of the dial. On one hand, it’s memorable branding and unique for a watch face, on the other its distracting. I like the logo on the crown and clasp, which I think are appropriate and smart uses of a graphic logo, but it’s just too much for my eyes on the dial. The script “Lew & Huey” beneath that is conversely quite elegant and would have been more than enough on its own, or with an abbreviated version of the graphic.
The hands on the Riccardo are simple and appropriate for the design. The hour and minute hands are large polished rectangles with a slight taper and touch of 3-dimensionality. They each have small slivers of lume for night viewing. The sub-dials both have red stick hands, which stand out well against the blue surface. The chronograph seconds also is a red stick, but features a squiggly tail counter-weight which ties into the logo design. Here too, I think this is a clever use of branding that makes the full printed dog a bit of overkill.
At its heart, the Riccardo has the Seagull ST1940 automatic column-wheel chronograph movement. The ST1940 is much like the ST19’s we’ve seen in the Seagull 1963 series, but with an automatic winding system and 33 jewels. These movements are very cool in theory and always fun to find in a watch. They are based on a Venus chronograph from the early 60’s and are sort of a living relic. They are also currently the least expensive way to get a new automatic chronograph and they happen to be “column wheel” style, which is a more complicated mechanism to manufacture (though not necessarily better).
In use, the movement seemed accurate and had no power reserve issues. That said, I did notice that when the chronograph was actuated, the minute counter moved a bit past zero, which shifted where it landed on proceeding minutes as well, though it reset to zero. I also have found that these movements have an unsatisfying sensation when using the chronograph. The start and stop has a small click, but the reset has almost no click, which just bugs me.
Strap and Wearability
The Lew & Huey Riccardo comes mounted on a medium brown 20mm leather strap. The quality is ok, but not great. It’s a soft, comfortable leather, but the white contrast stitching is uneven which takes away from it. The second keeper is also too large for the strap, so it tends to float around. It does come with a signed deployment clasp, however, which is a nice addition. I like the use of the dog logo here as it’s a fun detail to notice when putting on the watch.
Most importantly, the strap looks good with the watch. The medium/tan brown goes well with the blue dial and brings out the red hands. It’s also a sporty/vintage style, very reminiscent of the Hirsch Liberty, that works with more robust watches like a chrono. The watch would also work well with a leather big-hole rally style strap, which some people on instagram have been trying out. Or put this on a bright multi-colored NATO for a summery look.
I was surprised by how well the Riccardo wears. I expected given its size and height that it would be a bit cumbersome, but it’s very comfortable and appropriate. The twisting lugs make the case look a bit smaller too, emphasizing the central area. The proportioning of everything, from the elements of the dial to the lug width, really comes together when you view the watch as a whole.
I was also surprised by how much I liked the blue dial. As someone who is not typically drawn to them, I expected it to not really resonate to me, but when on the wrist it’s very appealing. It’s bright and energetic, giving the watch a youthfulness that is unexpected. It also looks good with more attire than I thought. A dark grey shirt made the watch really pop, while something with more color in it blended with the dial.
The Lew & Huey Riccardo is one of those watches that makes most sense when you are wearing it. Off the wrist, there are things that you’ll notice could have been refined design wise. Namely the logo on the dial and a bit of plainness in the markers. But, you, or I more specifically, forgot about them when the watch is on, simply because it’s a fun watch. The case is cool, it fits well, the blue dial is lively and it’s an automatic chronograph, which is alway a good time. And, realistically, that’s the greater test.
Over all, it’s well built though the strap could use a bit of QC and the ST1940 movement had some alignment issues. Having used other Seagull chronos, I know that is not always the case so it could be a one time concern. At $550, the Riccardo is a decent deal for an automatic chronograph though on the higher side for a Seagull powered one, conversely. Honestly, $550 seems like the right price all things considered. The watch is also very limited, being an edition of 150. At the time of writing this, there were only 20 units on blue left so there is also a bit of a collectable cult item.
review watch supplied by Lew & Huey Watches
by Zach Weiss