Straton Syncro

I announced the Straton Syncro Kickstarter campaign a couple of weeks ago. Building on the success of the Curve-Chrono, Kyle Schut, (Straton's owner and dedicated Alfaisi) dug even deeper into 1970's racing chronograph design, to create a striking watch with an impressive selection of options. The press package was enough to convince me to jump onto Kickstarter as soon as it launched to place an order of my own. Now that I have three prototypes in hand, I can say with confidence that this was the right decision. 

Straton Syncro PVD Black

Fans of the Curve-Chrono will find that much of what they loved about that model is also present in the Syncro. Both models have barrel-shaped cases, bold color schemes, two case sizes, and quartz or mechanical movements; however, the Syncro is not a Curve-Chrono facelift, but rather an all-new watch with a distinct personality. 

Straton Syncro buckle

Like its sibling, the Syncro has a barrel shaped case but with a conventional lug design instead of the Curve-Chrono's integrated lugs, making the Synchro's case appear rounder and less lozenge-shaped. A combination of brushed and polished surfaces adorn the case. The brushing is vertical on the sides and radiates outward on the top for an appropriately retro sunburst effect. The chronograph buttons and signed, screw-down crown are polished, as are the recesses in the bezel's square-toothed edge. A polished channel runs along the upper edges of the case, creating an eye-catching crease. It is a handsomely sporty case that harkens back to the late 60's/early 70's in all aspects but one: size. 

Straton Syncro 40mm and 44mm
40mm with dive bezel on left, 44mm with racing bezel on right

The Syncro is larger than the watches that inspired it, and slightly bigger than the Curve-Chrono as well. It is only a slight difference for the smaller model (40x46mm vs. 39.5x46.5mm), but it is significant for the larger one (44x49mm vs. 42x47mm). At 15mm thick, both Syncros have an extra 0.5mm on the previous model as well. That said, I did not find the Syncros to be overly large. The 44mm is certainly big, but it is just short enough lug-to-lug that it did not overwhelm my 6.5" wrist, and the broader case gives it a sleeker appearance than the stout and chunky 40mm. Still, the smaller version was by far, the better choice better for me. Both sizes found their way under my shirt cuffs, provided they were generously cut. 

Straton Syncro 44mm wrist shot
44mm Syncro

Buyers have their choice of Seiko movements: VK64 MechaQuartz hybrid or the 34 jewel, NE88 column wheel automatic. Those choosing the auto will enjoy a 28k bph vibration rate and a 45-hour power reserve, as well as 30-minutes and small seconds subdials. Buyers opting for the VK64 will get a quartz coupled to a mechanical chronograph module for 1/5th-second timing and a crisp fly-back reset, with 60-minutes and 24-hours registers. There is no wrong decision here as both are quality units; however, the price difference is significant. I love mechanical movements as much as the next guy, but the $400 premium for the automatic convinced me to go with the quartz. I am The Bum, after all.

Straton Syncro N88 display case back

The MecaQuartz models have solid case back engraved with a spiral design while the autos have the option for a sapphire display window. Neither case back strikes me as particularly special. The solid back's spiral design strikes me as just filler, and although the N88 does have a Geneva-striped and logo-emblazoned rotor, it is not a particularly fetching movement. A lackluster case back is hardly a deal breaker, but unlike the cool stamped alloy wheel designs on the Curve-Chrono, these fail to enhance the watch. 

Straton Syncro on mesh

Now the front of the watch, that's a whole different story. This is where the Syncro really shines. There are few design elements that set my heart a flutter like a domed sapphire bezel and Straton gives you a choice of a dive or racing markers. The dive index marks minutes with the negative space in between large blocks. The racing version has a checkered design similar to early 70's Seiko rally bezels. Both look fantastic although I'd say the rally markers better reflect Straton's auto racing roots. I cannot rate the bezel function as the three prototypes did not have consistent action and all were bidirectional while the finished product will be unidirectional. I had no issue with the printing on the insert, but Kyle promises it will be even sharper in production. 

Straton Syncro 40mm wrist shot
40mm Syncro

The Syncro comes with a silver, black, or blue sunray dial under a domed, anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal. Straton also offers a sinister black-on-black dial with matte finish registers in a PVD black case. There are some mighty appealing details here, like the faceted hands; the pop of bright orange in sweep hand and register needles; the applied "S" logo; even the optional black-on-silver date disc at 6 o'clock that coordinates so nicely with the polished bar markers and their lume-filled channels. Speaking of lume, C3 SuperLuminova also graces the hands and bezel markers. 

Straton Syncro lume

It is all nice enough that Kyle could be forgiven if he had simply finished it off with a couple of conventional round subdials and called it a day – but he didn't, and what he did instead raises the Syncro to the next level. Remember my post about Retro Watch Designs That Need to Make a Comeback? The surfboard dial, in which the subdials are enclosed in an oblong frame of contrasting color, was the very first item on my wish list. I even said, "I'd jump all over an affordable, mid-sized surfboard chronograph." Well, here it is. On orange frame surrounds two asymmetrical registers with crazy radiating indexes. It is a fabulous, trippy throwback that was long overdue. It's not the only reason I ordered the watch, but it certainly put it over the top. 

Straton Syncro macro detail

My review samples were a 40mm black dial with white registers and a dive bezel, and two 44mm's with racing bezels, one silver/blue, one the other black-on-black in a PVD black case. With these three watches and a selection of NATOs, I was able to sample all the strap styles. The silver arrived on polished mesh secured with a signed, hook-and-lock clasp. Straton offered this same period-correct strap on the Curve-Chrono, and I'm pleased to see it again. 

Straton Syncro mesh

Leather options include a single-layer perforated model with minimal stitching and a drilled, three-hole rally with contrasting orange stitching. The vibrant nylon NATOs are soft and comfortable, and their brushed hardware is neatly stitched in place. All of the straps have signed buckles, even the NATO. 

Straton Syncro NATO

The Syncro can still be had for as low as CHF 329 ($331 USD) for the MecaQuartz and CHF 719 ($722 USD) for the N88 auto. Retail will be about 40% higher. This price also includes a zippered travel case, and thanks to some stretch goals it now includes a strap changing tool, and a total of four straps (the one that comes standard on the watch, your choice of two NATOs, and an additional strap of your choice). 

Straton Syncro

A note about that tool, though. It is a sturdy unit with threaded end caps, and it works fine on the leather, but the fork is too wide to get at the mesh strap's spring pins, and the opposite side is a pin-pusher that is of no use on this watch. It is hard to complain about a freebie, but if you are going to include a tool with your watch, it should work on all of it. That quibble aside, this is one heck of a deal. Kyle managed to pack the best of the 1970's into the Syncro. It delivers a little something for everyone –particularly me. My biggest problem now is deciding which options to choose.

For more information or to order yours, head over to the Syncro Kickstarter page. You'd better get there quick. The pre-order campaign ends March 5 at noon Eastern Standard Time. 

Straton Syncro NATO

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