Watch brands having a car tie-in is pretty standard fare, but with New York-based Autodromo the relationship goes a bit further. Autodromo’s raison d’ être is the golden age of motorsports; besides watches, they also produce glasses, string back driving gloves and the like. But it’s watches that they’re best known for, particularly the Group B.
Rally fans will already have guessed the design inspiration for the Group B — the short-lived rally series, introduced in 1982 which saw the development of some sophisticated, powerful cars. However, due to a series of accidents and fatalities, the category was disbanded in 1986. The Group B, with its angular lines is inspired by the automotive aesthetics of the early ’80s — the dial, in particular, is inspired by the Lancia 037 Rally Car. The case, made from titanium and stainless steel, measures 39mm across, with an integrated steel bracelet with large flat links adding up to a watch that would not look out of place on the wrist of Tron.
The latest iteration of the Group B — now in its second series — is the Safari, inspired by the cars (specifically the Porsches) used in the epic endurance races that were the Paris-Dakar rallies. There’s something incongruous about the smooth, streamlined body of a Porsche 911 or 959 fitted with chunky off-road tires, extra headlights and a roof rack. It shouldn’t work, but boy, it really does.
You could make the same statement about this watch which is very green. Not just a green dial, which was, until COVID-19 derailed watch releases for the foreseeable future, looking set to be the colour of the year. No, Autodromo has made their entire watch a dark shade of semi-matte green. Thanks to the bead-blasted finish, the way this colour reacts on the wrist is quite mercurial. In the right light it’s Emerald City and in low light it’s dark like the waters of a woodland lake. Simultaneously understated and out there, and with an orange-tipped seconds hand and line of ‘Safari’ text in an awesomely period-correct font.
Sure, some of the Group B’s popularity is down to the fact that that style in the broader sense is having a bit of a moment, but that’s not all of it. This watch works because it offers something different, something fun and something that Autodromo can play with an update in radically different looks on a regular basis. And this Safari is a case in point.
Miyota 9015 3-hand automatic
Titanium and stainless steel, 39mm across, 9.9mm thick with green plating. Water-resistant to 50 metres.
Stainless steel, green plating. 23mm tapering to 18mm at the clasp.