Straton Speciale

In a very short time, the Straton Watch Company has established a reputation for high-quality, affordable driver's chronographs. From the Vintage Driver, to the Curve-Chrono, to the Synchro, each successive model has dug deeper into the 1970's racing style resurrecting some of my favorite styling cues and breathing new life into them. Now, they have launched the Speciale, a funky, cushion-cased masterpiece. Kickstarter orders are open now. They sent me a green MechaQuartz and a brown Valjoux automatic for evaluation.

Straton Speciale
Straton pulled out all the stops when they designed the Speciale's case, a soft rectangle measuring 42mm wide, just under 41mm long, and either 13mm or 14.9mm thick depending on the movement (the auto is thicker).The sides fall steeply away from the domed sapphire crystal to a low beltline before tucking under to the case back. The result is very much like an old-school "TV" case. There is a hint of Omega ST 176.005 Seamaster in here, perhaps a smattering of Heuer Silverstone, or a touch of Citizen Bullhead, but really, it reminds me of numerous similarly shaped racing chronographs made by about a dozen different small Swiss brands throughout the disco era. This dramatic, round-cornered case shape was terrifically popular back in the day. I thought it was gone forever, but like the Coelacanth, it is back - and I love it.

Straton Speciale brown automatic

My two samples were bead blasted for a no-nonsense matte finish, but Straton also offers a polished/brushed combination, which judging from the pictures, might just be the prettiest in addition to being the most period-correct. Both matte and brushed/polished finishes are also offered with a DLC black finish, for a total of four options.The chronograph buttons are actually quite plain, just simple, flat head cylinders, but the crown makes up for them. It is broad and flat with angular fluting and the Straton "S" cast in high relief on the head. It is easy to grip, and the screw-down operation is perfectly smooth.



Straton Speciale side view

As it should, the case looks mighty cool from the top, but Straton did not ignore the case back. They stamped a 240 kph speedometer ringed with the brand name, production number, water resistance (10ATM), and movement. The image is bold, deep, and detailed, conveying a healthy dose of substance. In terms of execution, this one of the best I have seen this year.



Straton Speciale caseback

Turning to the dial, we are treated to even more groovy goodness. The face is flat on the top and bottom and bowed on the sides, making the visual connection to the old cathode-ray tube screen even tighter. The tall, angled rehaut with its tachymetere index actually takes up a fair bit of space, making the dial relatively small (incidentally, this also makes the watch appear smaller on your wrist, in spite of its bulbous case). The rich green and brown dials on the samples were sun-brushed, which is a lovely effect, but not its most interesting aspect. That distinction goes to the orange-tipped "cigarette" hands and markers. The three subdials at 12, 6, and 9 wear heavy square frames on which their indexes are printed. Orange needles complete the picture. The markers, frames, and even the Straton logo are all applied.

Straton Speciale brown automatic

Further details are dependant on your choice of movement. The value leader is the Seiko VK67 MechaQuartz. Regular readers know this unit well, a traditional quartz timekeeper mated to a mechanical chronograph module for a 1/5 second sweep and fly-back reset. It features 60 minute, 12 hour, and small seconds dials. There is no date, so the 3 o'clock position is occupied by a diminutive Straton "S" as well as the model name and "Mecha-Q" designation in a streamlined, retro-style typeface.


Straton Speciale green MechaQuartz

The Valjoux 7750 is a 25 jewel, Swiss made, automatic cam-and-lever movement. It has a smooth 28.8k bph sweep, a positive, mechanical feel to its buttons, and crisp snap-back on reset. Power reserve is over 40 hours. The 7750 features small seconds, 30 minute, and 12 hour registers. Day and date appear in polished frames at 3 o'clock. "Speciale" and "Automatic" are printed above and below, respectively.



Straton Speciale wrist shot


Straton always offers a variety of strap options with their watches. The Speciale, will arrive on a color-keyed, perforated leather rally strap like the ones pictured here. Buyers will also get their choice of racing-striped nylon. Previous Straton stripes were NATOs, but this time it is a two-piece. Finally, for an additional $40 you can order an optional three-link bracelet finished to match the case. It’s always a good idea to buy the bracelet, but in this case, I’d say it’s essential. I like the straps, but that oddball case just begs for some matching steel.

Straton Speciale full kit

The Straton Speciale MechaQuartz with the leather and nylon straps, a zippered watch case, and a strap tool, starts at CHF 319 or $322 USD, and the same package for the Automatic is CHF 799 or $808 USD. Both are 33% discount off full retail. If you love 1970’s watches like I do, buying a smart modern update like the Speciale is an easy call. Move quickly though, the Kickstarter campaign ends on January 4. ⬩

Straton Speciale green MechaQuartz
Straton Speciale green MechaQuartz

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