Guides Watches

Microbrand Corner: April 2022’s Best New Releases

Avi-8 AV-4090 Spitfire Smith Automatic

Avi-8 AV-4090 Spitfire Smith Automatic

Dedicated to Joseph Smith, the man behind the legendary Spitfire, Avi-8’s latest timepiece amps up their usual aviation flair with plenty of touches inspired by the aircraft itself. From the elliptical case, a nod to the iconic shape of the Spitfire, to the dial which would be at home in any vintage cockpit, the Spitfire Smith Automatic is a more-than-fitting tribute. Available in a quartet of colourways (including a supremely cool military green), there’s a lot to love, even if you don’t spend your weekends tinkering on a vintage plane.

The Specs

  • 42mm, stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
  • Seiko NH35 automatic movement with 41-hour power reserve
  • £275, available at Avi-8.

REC 901 RWB Rotana

REC 901 RWB Rotana

More Tokyo Drift than REC’s usual racing fare, this supremely cool, performance styled watch takes its cues from the over tuned purple 911 of street racer Akira Nakai. This being REC, it includes a piece of the car in its construction, but its also uses design elements from the car to create a racing watch like you’ve never seen before. It’s bold and it’s big, even bigger with the custom wide body kit available. It may be taking the themes of the car a bit too literally, but it’s hard not to appreciate the audacity.

The Specs

  • 44mm (46mm with body kit), stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
  • Miyota 9100 automatic movement with 40-hour power reserve
  • £1,368, limited to 305 pieces, available at REC Watches.

Autodromo Group B Series 2 Aqua

Autodromo Group B Series 2 Aqua

Closer to mint green than any usual aqua, this new Miami Vice-tinted take on Autodromo’s signature racing style in the Group B Series 2 makes for an eye-catching ode to the last romantic era of motorsport. Between the finely machined, industrial performance case and that intense neon dial with plenty of yellow flashes, this is arguably the coolest piece Autodromo have produced – which, honestly, is saying a lot.

The Specs

  • 39mm, stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
  • Miyota 9015 automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
  • $975 (approx. £740), available at Autodromo.

Studio Underd0g Aubergine

Studio Underd0g Aubergine

What began as an April Fool’s joke around a certain vegetable-based emoji is now coming to fruition in earnest: the aubergine-hued take on the Studio Underd0g big-eye chronograph. In a style that’s become synonymous with the British brand, the new timepiece, created in collaboration with Fratello, is a mix of quirky and cool in equal measure – though this particular piece has an extra reason to buy beyond its unusual look: charity. Profits from the Aubergine will be going to testicular cancer charities, which I’m sure any guy out there can appreciate.

The Specs

  • 38.5mm, stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
  • ST-1901 automatic movement with 50-hour power reserve
  • £500, limited to 50 pieces

SYE MOT1ON Chronograph Bullitt

SYE MOT1ON Chronograph Bullitt

With a name like Start Your Engine, you might assume you know what to expect from this particular microbrand. And you’d be right: solid racing timepieces with a distinct edge in a number of classic automotive colourways. There’s a panda of course, but with a slightly subtler (and cinematic) nod to the high octane with a grey green dial similar to the iconic Mustang. Powered by a mecha-quartz movement, this one’s all about the performance cool.

The Specs

  • 40.5mm, stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
  • Seiko TMI VK64 Meca-Quartz movement
  • £546, limited to 100 pieces, available at SYE Watches.

Omologato Panamericana

Omologato Panamericana

This retro slice of (pan) Americana from British racing watch brand Omologato not only has the genuine trademark for the legendary name, but lives up to it. Granted, it’s a quartz piece, but with looks this good – and prices this affordable – we’re more than happy to give it a pass. The TV-shaped case is pure 80s while the bright colours (particularly the Rojo de Carreras) make for an eye-catching flash of write-mounted automotive nostalgia.

The Specs

  • 41mm, stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
  • Ronda 3540 Meca-Quartz Movement
  • £395, available at Omologato Watches.

Zero West DB1 Lancaster

Zero West DB1 Lancaster

If there’s one military mission in history that understood momentum, it’s Operation Chastise – better known as the Dambusters. If the story sounds familiar, that’s because Bremont recently released a tribute to the mission; but this is the home turf of fellow British brand Zero West. And yes, theirs too includes metal from a genuine DB-1 Lancaster. Paired with the brand’s signature lugs and boldly machined case, this is a big, chunky ode to one of the most legendary aircraft in history. It’s enough to make you want to watch the film yet again.

The Specs

  • 44mm, stainless steel case with 100m water resistance
  • Sellita SW200-1 ‘Top Premium Grade’ automatic movement with 41-hour power reserve
  • £3,500, limited to 200 pieces, available at Zero West.

Straton Yacht Racer Quartz

Straton Yacht Racer Quartz

Regattas may be one of the more rarefied forms of racing, but watches associated with them do tend to have a distinctive palette of blues, reds and whites. Straton’s Yacht Racer is a much more accessible take on that particular nautical style than we’ve seen before. Available in six colourways (including a seriously cool green and yellow) and sitting pretty in a retro cushion-cased hunk of steel, it’s an eye-catching timepiece that you won’t necessarily mind risking overboard mid-race.

The Specs

  • 42mm, stainless steel case with 100m water resistance
  • Miyota 6S21 Quartz movement
  • $319, (approx. £240), available at Straton Watch Co.

About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.

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