If you aren’t convinced that smaller watches are becoming increasingly popular, the Draco Stellar Hand-Wound Chronograph could well be the watch that tips the scales. A 36mm chronograph with a cool, neo-vintage design featuring a gorgeous sunray brushed dial. I also happen to have the watch right here so let’s strap it on and see how it stacks up.
First impressions obviously revolve around its size. At 36mm it’s definitely a lot smaller than I’m used to wearing and that’s coming from someone who rarely strays beyond 40mm. However, it still carries a lot of presence on the wrist thanks to its 13mm thickness and polished steel finishing, which means there’s plenty of surface area to catch the light. It also has fairly long, sloping lugs that give it a lug to lug of about 40-41mm when I measure it.
In terms of style, the case is nicely understated with a smooth bezel and flowing, round shape. The crown also feels like it’s on the smaller side, which I wouldn’t notice except that this is a manual model so you’ll be getting a lot of use from it and it can be a touch fiddly. Completing the design of the case are the pump pushers that control the chronograph complication. The pump style is one of the most classic form of chronograph pusher and it really suits the neo-vintage elegance of the piece.
I keep throwing this term neo-vintage around and what it essentially means is that the watch uses designs and styles that were popular in the past to appeal to a modern audience. A great example of this is the dial, which uses Breguet numerals and a railway minute track. Breguet numerals, as the name suggests, were first developed by Abraham-Louis Breguet circa 1790 and have been in consistent use in the watch industry ever since. As such, their use almost always provides a classical or vintage aesthetic and on the Draco Stellar it works beautifully.
Focussing in on the chronograph function itself, it’s presented in a bicompax display featuring a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, a 30-minute timer at 3, a central chronograph seconds hand and a peripheral pulsometer. Now that I think on it, pulsometers are considered a fairly retro scale to include on a chronograph as well, enhancing that neo-vintage aspect yet further (when used in conjunction with the chronograph, they allow you to calculate a person’s pulse rate). The action on the pushers is satisfying enough because there’s a good amount of resistance without them being difficult to press.
As for the finishing of the dial, there are a couple of techniques on display. The central portion of the dial and the subdials each have sunray brushing, as does the minute track and pulsometer. However, the hour markers are presented on a ring of grainy finish with a rough texture that contrasts nicely with the smoothness of the rest of the dial’s brushing. The version I have here is the navy blue edition although it’s also available in salmon, grey and black.
Unbuckling the Draco Stellar Hand-Wound Chronograph’s Epsom leather strap to take the watch off reveals the exhibition caseback through which you can see the manual movement inside. It’s the Seagull ST1901, which is a movement you may well recognise because it’s used in the Studio Underd0g big eye chronograph series watches, like the Watermel0n. It has a 40-hour power reserve which is about what you’d expect from this level of accessibility.
When it comes to pricing, there are a couple of different options available because the Draco Stellar Hand-Wound Chronograph is exclusive to Draco’s new Kickstarter campaign. There’s the Super Early Bird for £310 and the Early Bird for £320, as well as Super Early Bird bundles for 2, 3 or 4 watches at £620, £930 and £1,240 respectively. Those prices also apply if you want to go sans chronograph for the automatic three-hand model – although that model will be available after the Kickstarter as ended whereas the chronograph won’t be. There are also quartz or meca-quartz versions of both styles.
At time of writing Draco have already achieved their backing goal with 12 days left. Which also means you’ve got just under two weeks to order the Draco Stellar Hand-Wound Chronograph. After spending a lot of time with the watch, the smaller size is growing on me and I can start to appreciate the trend for smaller watches a lot more. It’s looks really smart, the neo-vintage design is cool and best of all, it’s incredibly accessible.
Price and Specs:
More details at Draco.