Goodspeed Petrol

I reached out to Goodspeed Watches as soon as I saw their Instagram page. They hadn't launched yet, but from the pictures of their first model, the Petrol, I knew I wanted to review it. The watch has the vintage racing look I love, a Seiko VK64 MechaQuartz inside, and an affordable price tag. Was it really as good as it looked on my iPhone's screen? They shipped me a prototype so I could see for myself. 
Goodspeed Petrol

There are three varieties of Petrol available: Blue, Red, and Black. The review sample was the classic white-on-black. All have polished stainless steel cases, domed and anti-reflective coated sapphire crystals, and are rated for 100m water resistance. They measure 42mm wide, 49mm long, and 13.7mm thick. All are fitted with an attractive three-hole leather rally strap. 

Goodspeed Petrol

My first thought upon seeing the photos was, "My, that's a nice vintage Yema." I have a soft spot for those 1970's vintage race timers. In truth, I can't say that the Petrol looks more like a Yema or any number of similar watches from that era, but design elements like the bold surfboard graphic around irregular subdials with blocky red indicators certainly set the right mood. It is substantially bigger than most of those watches, but I'd hardly call 42mm overlarge. I can't fault Goodspeed for choosing the most popular size for their initial offering and I had no issue wearing it on my 6.5" wrist. 

Goodspeed Petrol

I like the way they have handled text placement on the dial. The water resistance rating is in its usual spot, but the brand logo and model name are positioned close to the center, inside the surfboard instead of outside, closer to the 12 and 6 as on most watches. You will also note that they placed the model name up top and the "G" logo below, another reversal. I think it works. The tall "Petrol" text would have looked out of place had it been lower in the dial. As it stands, the close grouping of the words and the diminishing overall size guides your eye from the top to the 6 o'clock date window at the bottom. It is a simple thing that has been really nicely executed.

Goodspeed Petrol

I'll also award style points for the signed crown, in particular, its low profile and dished underside. It is easy enough to pull and set, and it does not disturb the lines of the watch. I wish more watch designers would show this kind of restraint. Not every watch needs to be operated with diving gloves (or even driving gloves).  

Goodspeed Petrol

Simple white pencil hands and a bright red, arrow-tipped second hand handle timekeeping, extending right to the edge of the applied bar markers and printed index, as they should. My only criticism is that the white hands filled with white lume can look lost against the white center graphic, but I confess that this is more of an issue in photos than in real life. The lume on the hands, markers, and sweephand tip offers an adequate glow, although noticably weaker on the hands than on the markers.  


One of the most curious aspects of the watch is its rotating tachymetre bezel. I have not seen this before. Goodspeed claims it was done so that you can calculate elapsed speed over rally stages. I'm willing to accept that, but it seems that would be better accomplished using a pilot-style bidirectional unit without detents instead of the Petrol's 120-click unidirectional bezel. Of course, I time rally stages about as often as I fly to the moon, so it is more of a quirky curiosity than anything else. 

Goodspeed Petrol

The case back is engraved with just the vitals and the full Goodspeed logo. Their marketing material says they intend "good speed" in the matter of a blessing for someone departing on a journey. That term, along with the model name "petrol" makes the watch sound like it hails from England, but it was, in fact, born in Sacramento, California. The name and logotype are also vaguely reminiscent of "Goodyear." I doubt any of this is accidental, and frankly, I'm good with that. It all combines to evoke the sight of an empty country road, of driving gloves, the smell of hot motor oil, and the shove of torque in your backside as you mash the gas pedal. 

Goodspeed Petrol

If you are going quartz, and just about every affordable chronograph does, then you might as well go MechaQuartz. These Seiko units combine the thriftiness and accuracy of a smooth-sweeping quartz with the satisfying snap-back of a mechanical chronograph module. Little wonder that they are so popular with microbrands as of late.  

Goodspeed has done an excellent job on their debut model. It hits all the right notes and manages to pull it off for a crazy low price. The full $300 retail price is not at all out of line, but Early Bird rewards starting at $169 are downright irresistible. If you are looking for a budget retro racetimer, you would do well to check out the Goodspeed Petrol Kickstarter page. ⬩



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