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What Best Friends Thought Was Cocaine Wasn’t, And They Paid A DEAR Price

A couple of best friends who set out to celebrate a birthday thought they would do so by snorting cocaine. The only problem was that they didn’t have cocaine, and they ended up paying the price for it. The Western Morning News reports that Shaun Brotherson and Bradley Price, 21 and 20, r…

Autodromo (credit:

When you talk about Autodromo, you can’t not talk about the brand’s owner. Bradley Price–entrepreneur, diehard motorhead and watch lover–was an industrial designer in a former life. He knows how to build products and his automotive-inspired goods, ranging from wrist watches to stringback gloves, are manufactured to his strict specifications. Every color, every material–every millimeter–is deliberate. Aside from just design, he even continues to be deeply involved in all aspects of his growing company from promotion to operations. Autodromo is a direct reflection of its owner, and it’s because of this that I say Autodromo is as much a narrative as it is a lifestyle brand. Each and every watch or pair of sunglasses isn’t just a product. There is a story and rationale behind it all.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

I read somewhere that the best thing you can do with Bradley is to get him talking and then shut up and listen. It’s true. A genuine designer, he’s opinionated and inspired, far beyond passionate about his lifestyle, his company and his products. While it’s unfortunate that not everyone will have the opportunity to sit down with Bradley Price, he’s undoubtedly alive in all of his watches. Today, we’re going to look at two variations of one model in particular, the Prototipo, which is a racing-inspired chronograph that also serves as a lesson in how to sweat the details.

Case: Vintage-inspired, practically sized and beautifully finished

Just looking at pictures of the Prototipo will raise questions regarding its size and shape, whether the 42mm x 48mm x 11.5mm vintage-inspired barrel case will be too large for the wrist. The answer is a definitive no, even on my 6.75-inch wrist. While the Prototipo isn’t shy, its integrated lug design allows the strap to connect directly to the case and minimizes the lug-to-lug distance that is typically a driving factor in the wearability of a watch. What’s nice about this is that the Prototipo can be quite a bold watch without overwhelming the wrist or drawing attention for the wrong reasons. And at 11.5mm thick, it’ll easily tuck away under a cuff.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph Silver Dial

Once you take in the finishing details on the case is when it becomes clear you’re not dealing with your average sub-$1,000 chronograph. A telling characteristic of proper finishing, and one shared by extraordinarily high-end timepieces, is how visible the grain of the brushing is and how sharply and abruptly it contrasts and transitions to adjoining polished surfaces. The stainless steel case is mostly brushed, but there are moments of luxurious polishing that accent the case perfectly. The beveling around the case is polished to a mirror and pairs beautifully with the textured radial brushing that dominates most of the front of the case. Around the raised sapphire crystal is another highly polished steel surface that forms a crisp ring and playfully complements the beveled edge of the lens. You can’t always be sure which surface is actually catching and reflecting the light, the crystal or the bezel.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

The sides of the case are brushed, and on the right side are the crown and PVD-coated chronograph pushers. The crown, just barely recessed into the case, is brushed and its lug nut shape makes for a welcome automotive reference. Despite the cutaway in the side of the case, I experienced some difficulty in pulling out the crown to set the time and date depending on how recently I trimmed my nails. Perhaps it is difficult to pull out the crown or maybe I’m trimming my finger nails too short, but either way it’s a minor inconvenience when it comes to a quartz-powered watch that requires minimal intervention.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

Turn over the Prototipo and you’ll be greeted by a brushed and signed steel case back. You’ll notice it’s attached with six screws, another automotive-inspired touch. You may also notice the case back’s shape is different than that of most other watches. Instead of conforming to the curvature of wrist, the case back does the opposite and features a convex shape such that the lugs–if there were lugs–would never make contact with the wrist. Minimizing the surface contact between the watch and the wrist is a particularly interesting choice Autodromo made. According to Bradley, the goal is to get the middle of the case to rest comfortably between the two bones of the wrist, the radius and ulna, and this subtle case architecture enables that.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

When it comes to the Nero, it’s not just a different dial and hands color combination. The case finishing on the Nero is distinct from the rest of the Prototipo line. First, it’s plated steel, and while you’ll find the same detailed radial brushing on the case, Autodromo substituted the polished accents for matte surfaces–all of which lends the Nero a stealthier appearance than its sisters.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

Dial: Still and balanced with a stylish use of color

With hands and dials that seem ripped right off a race car’s instrument panel, both variations of the Prototipo share the same 70s-era racing chronograph inspirations, but the Nero competes on color while the silver dial allows more of the details of the layout to shine. On the Nero, the black case and dial are reserved executions, but the yellow hands lend volume to the dial, so all together you have a watch that’s fun and stylish but sophisticated and confident. The silver dial, however, makes use of a broader color spectrum that softens the orange used on the chronograph and sub-dial hands, drawing instead more attention to the black registers that contrast the silver dial than the colorful accents.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

Around the face, the primary hour markers are raised and luminous with 1/5-second hashes for measuring the stopwatch seconds hand. Two registers rest at 3 and 9 o’clock, the former being the minutes register while the latter subdial houses the time in a 24-hour format. Both of the subdials are slightly recessed into the main dial and feature a subtle circular grain. Each version features a date aperture placed tastefully at 6 o’clock to promote the symmetry of the dial. With no running seconds hand, the Prototipo dial is a still one. For some that love this look but don’t appreciate the ticking of a quartz seconds hand, this Prototipo does away with the visual tell of its battery-powered insides.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

Legibility between both versions is fine, but the Nero’s strict yellow and black color scheme gives it a slight advantage. The luminous primary hour markers stand out more so than on the silver dial, and the yellow hands don’t have similarly colored subdial registers to overlap unlike the silver version. Both watches do share the same time-telling limitation, and this is my only real concern with the watch: the hour and minute hands are too close in length. They’re not so close that you’ll be confused all the time, but certain times you will need a double-take to confirm the reading. For example, you don’t need a watch to tell whether it’s currently 2:45pm or 9:15pm (hands on opposite sides of the dial). In these situations, you have enough external indications (e.g. daylight) as to what the time is that your brain will instantaneously make the connection of which hand is which. However, when the hands form an angle of about 45 degrees or smaller, it can be confusing. As demonstrated in the photo below, you might glance at your watch, ask yourself, “Wait, is it 6:25 or is it a few minutes past 5:30?” and have to check again to be sure.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

Meca-Quartz: Not your average quartz movement

For the Prototipo, Bradley considered and rejected a wide array of movements from Chinese-made mechanicals to Swiss Made quartz chronographs, finally landing on one very interesting and unique choice. Seiko’s caliber VK64 “meca-quartz” chronograph movement inside of the Prototipo is a deliberate selection on its merits of price, quality and, yes, coolness. It’s called a meca-quartz movement because the timekeeping is regulated by a quartz crystal, but the chronograph is entirely mechanical, so you get the accuracy of a quartz watch with the look and feel of a mechanical chronograph.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

Depress the top pusher to start the chronograph and you’ll see what I mean by “feel.” You’ll notice right away the signature resistance of a mechanical pusher and its ultimately satisfying give. The central stopwatch seconds hand will take off in 1/5-second increments, a much smoother and more precise sweep than the stopwatch hand on a quartz chronograph. You’ll also be delighted that when you reset the pusher, the stopwatch hand instantly jumps back to zero instead of robotically sweeping back to its start position.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

Straps: Made well, they complete a handsome, sporty aesthetic

The size and shape of the case make for a comfortable wear, but the strap is also a significant contributor. Both feature slightly padded Italian leather rally straps that require not even a moment’s break-in. The second you fasten the signed Autodromo pin buckle, the strap melts on your wrist. The black color and large holes on the Nero give it a serious and sporty look appropriate for such a timekeeping instrument. The silver dial version utilizes a pumpkin-colored leather that coordinates stunningly with the orange accents on the dial and strikes the perfect balance between too much volume and a missed opportunity to bring out the color in the dial. Under no circumstances should you change the strap on either watch.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

Autodromo’s Prototipos are sporty watches. They’re perfect for every day wear, slide easily underneath a cuff, and I think as long as you own it and have the right attitude and style you could pull it off with a suit.

The Final Word

I know quite a few people who have hard ceilings on what they’ll pay for a watch with a quartz movement. As a watch collector, it’s a principle that resonates with me because I have my own limit. Although it’s malleable, it’s somewhere around $300. Priced at $625, the Prototipo’s price exceeds my personal threshold, but I would be lying if I said I weren’t getting closer and closer to making an exception every time I put it on. This is the only quartz watch I’ve ever said that about.

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph

Yes, Seiko’s meca-quartz movement has something to do with it, but it’s also the attention to detail that makes this an overall value for the price. I talked about this before and I will continue to in the future: not enough brands are putting adequate attention on the whole watch. Often there is too much focus on one or two aspects of the watch and then sacrifices are made to shoehorn the piece into a marketable price range. You’ll see a mechanical chronograph at $1,000, but the Swiss movement is barely decorated and the strap sucks. Or you’ll see a beautifully designed automatic watch for $500 with a paper thin case that you can’t be sure is brushed or polished.

With the Prototipo, you’re getting a unique and inspired look with unbeatable quality.  The case is well constructed and superbly finished; the straps are soft, attractive and comfortable; the dial is handsome; and the movement is robust and interesting. It’s not a perfect watch and there may be some criticisms, but you can never call them oversights or shortcuts. It’s hard to find another chronograph you can say that about, mechanical or otherwise, for under $1,000.


Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph Review When you talk about Autodromo, you can’t not talk about the brand’s owner. Bradley Price–entrepreneur, diehard motorhead and watch lover–was an industrial designer in a former life.
Live the Super '70s in a Ferrari 208 GT4

The Ferrari Dino 208 GT4 is a unique car. Overshadowed by its bigger brother, the 308 GT4, the 208 was originally created to skirt under the Italian tax levied on engines above two liters. What the 208 GT4 lacks in displacement it makes up for in sound and style. For Bradley Price, designer and owner of Autodromo, the opportunity to acquire a practical „super car“ of the ’70s with its famous wedge styling was too hard to ignore. After a year of ownership, Bradley can consistently be found escaping the city and revving the sweet-sounding V8 along the roads and hills of New York.

Drive Tastefully®


Live the Super ’70s in a Ferrari 208 GT4 was originally published on Luxury Fashion