‘Driving watch’ is a pretty awkward category to pin down. It’s not like drivers that require a specific set of elements, or even racing watches, which are defined as being a chronograph paired with a tachymeter. Instead you have at one end the novelty pieces with dials on the side (made for reading with both hands on the wheel) and watches like the Drive de Cartier at the other, the whole ‘inspired by the freedom of the road’ tact.
The first don’t make sense unless you are actively driving; the latter is just a nice watch, not exactly made for a specific reason. The Amalfi Series from relative horological newcomers is perfectly in the middle.
There’s something incredibly and charmingly retro about the Amalfi; not the funky, quirky kind of retro but the sort that feels like it should be paired with an old Vespa on a grand tour of the Italian coast. In fact, that’s precisely what inspired founder Laurens de Rijke to create his brand in the first place – though his formative trip took him along the Silk Road instead.
The watch itself is 38mm which is about right for this kind of vintage-inspired piece. But due to its thin case and striped-back, Bauhaus design it feels even more diminutive. I’m not really one to say a watch is too small – and the Amalfi isn’t for me – but it will definitely be for some of you.
Size though is about the Amalfi’s only issue. Despite the case size, a thin bezel leaves plenty of room for the dial, which white is extremely easy to read thanks to the oversized-yet-elegant, lume-filled indexes and sharp, lasercut hands. It’s restrained to the point of sparsity but it’s hard not to love.
So far so good, but none of that is what really makes the Amalfi a driving watch; that comes from the rotatable case. The Amalfi uses a case-in-case construction which means that the inner case, containing dial, movement and all, can be rotated up to 90 degrees. At 45 degrees it means that you can read it easier with both hands on the wheel, handlebars, whatever your engine of choice uses. It’s worryingly satisfying to play with.
Apparently 90 degrees is for if you were to strap it to your leg and, while the watch does come with an extra-long number just for that, I can’t imagine many drivers giving it a go. I might be wrong; I’ll let you know once I’ve taken the Amalfi on a road trip, which after wearing it for a week I’m pretty keen to do. Sunshine, open road and this on your wrist? That sounds pretty perfect to me.
Inside is a Sellita SW300, a solid ETA 2892 clone with a 38-hour power reserve. You can check it out through the sapphire caseback, but don’t feel too obliged. Côtes de Genève and perlage aside, it’s a pretty standard affair. Still, if you’re looking for a watch that captures both the functionality and feel of what a retro driving watch should be, I can’t think of a better one than the De Rijke Amalfi Series 1S.
Price & Specs:
Model: De Rijke Amalfi Series 1S Vespa White
Case/Dial: 38mm diameter x 9.5mm height, 316L stainless steel
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Calibre sellita SW300, automatic, 25 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Strap: Handmade leather
Price/availability: €2,309 EUR, numbered edition
More details at De Rijke & Co.