Want This Watch? You’ll Have to Buy a $400,000 Car First
Originally published by Stephen Pulvirent on Hodinkee.
Sometimes, in very rare instances, David and Goliath actually team up and do something awesome. This is one of those times. Regular Hodinkee readers will be well aware by now of the New York City–based brand Autodromo, and if you haven't heard of the Ford Motor Company, I don't know what planet you're living on. The pair have just announced a two-pronged partnership that includes a collection of affordable chronographs inspired by classic Ford GT race cars, and a customizable watch just for GT owners themselves.
I won't go into too much detail here about the Ford GT (that could easily be its own story), but you do need a little bit of background info on the car to understand the watches. The GT is the fastest production car ever produced by Ford, and it was a major force at Le Mans in the late 1960s. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original 1966 win, Ford decided to create a new GT race car and enter it in the GT class at the 2016 Le Mans – and they won. Today, Ford makes just 250 GTs per year, and you have to apply in order to get one, with thousands applying annually for that small allocation.
So, now to the watches. Since you have to own a Ford GT to purchase the Owner's watch, we'll tackle the GT Endurance Chonograph first. The watch starts with a 40mm stainless steel case that's comprised of four components, and it's accented by a really stylish concave tachymeter bezel that slopes down from the upper edge toward the sapphire crystal. There's definitely a vintage feel to the watch overall, but it also has crisp, clean lines that feel very contemporary. The dial displays a 60-minute totalizer for the chronograph on the left, and a 24-hour AM/PM indicator on the right.
There are five variants, each with a different inspiration. You've got an all black version (including a black-coated case) that mirrors the paint scheme of the first 1966 Le Mans-winning Ford GT40, and the 1967 Heritage GT, which is a red and white version inspired by the paint scheme of the 1967 Le Man-winning GT40. We also have the 2016 Heritage GT, a red and blue version inspired by the paint scheme of the 2016 Le Mans-winning GT; a version with Ford's signature blue and white racing stripes; and a blue, red, and white version that nods to the signature color of Le Mans and the colors of the American and French flags (this last model is also the only one to have a date window at six o'clock as well). Each has a totally unique look, and I could see very different people being drawn to the different models.
As with Autodromo's Prototipo chronograph, the GT Endurance Chronograph is powered by a Seiko VK series mecha-quartz movement. While some mechanical watch purists out there might be shaking their heads right now, you'd be wrong to write off this movement because of the little crystal inside. While the regulator is quartz, the chronograph mechanism looks and feels like a mechanical chronograph in actual use, so you get the same tactile response and action that you'd get from a fully mechanical watch. When you start the chronograph, the center seconds hand advances in 1/5 second increments, and the instant reset is identical to what you'd see in a full mechanical chronograph. Plus, the use of the mecha-quartz movement helps keep the price of this watch to a very friendly $695.
As with all of Autodromo's products, it helps if you're a car guy, but you certainly don't have to be one in order to enjoy the watches on their own merits. Every detail from the hands to the bezel to the lugs to the packaging has been carefully considered by founder Bradley Price. If you're a fan of vintage racing and you're looking for something with panache that you can wear without having to baby it, the GT Endurance Chronograph could be a great choice for you.
The GT Endurance Chronograph is available for pre-order now at Autodromo.com with a price of $695.
The Owner's Watch
This watch is a different beast altogether. The idea behind the GT Endurance Chronograph is that it's a more consumer-friendly version of this watch, but I actually think the two stand independently of one another. This watch is 43mm in diamter, has a ceramic case held in place by a steel chassis that bears the lugs, and it contains a Swiss automatic flyback chronograph movement inside. The dial and hands also make ample use of sapphire, giving the watch a sort of space age look. Like I said, it's a different beast.
This watch can only be ordered by owners of Ford GTs, and each one can be customized to match the owner's car. So the renderings you see above are just an example of what this watch might look like, as the colors and finishes could be vastly different from customer to customer. As a finishing touch, each watch will carry serial numbers matching it to the car with which it is paired. No pricing has yet been announced, and pre-orders don't open until early 2018.
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