How do you create a brand identity in an industry as large and as old as watchmaking? Many brands have a go-to handset, some rely on logos, and yet others will use styling cues that carry over watch to watch. CT Scuderia is in that last camp, but they go further in their commitment that many others, with every watch in the line a bullhead style (though they do invert it for the Dashboard). The company was nice enough to lend me a second watch for a hands on review, the CT Scuderia Scrambler. The quartz chronograph is well made and pretty unique in the current marketplace.
There are other brands that will use the bullhead design, especially for chronographs. Seiko has used it, Omega has a few in their history, Breitling has done it, Hamilton has a special edition that I love, and I know that there are others out there with the style in their line-up, past or present. But for these other brands, the bullhead design, where the crown is located to 12:00, is a one off or a specific complication for a chronograph application, not part and parcel of their DNA. This is the fourth CT Scuderia that we at WWR have had time with; Patrick looked at the Salt Flat Racer and Master Time, and I had the Dashboard, but the first quartz watch. This brings the price of the chronograph out of the high end category into, what for me at least, would be the aspirational category.
But is it worth aspiring to, that is the question. Ultimately for my tastes, it is a mixed bag. For a chronograph, I really like the bullhead design, and since the brand makes so many of this design, there are a lot of choices in the line-up. But the use of the specific chronograph movement (Rhoda 3520.D) also makes the watch frustrating for me. As with the bullhead design, a strong motoring (both autos and motorcycles) aesthetic runs through the company, but this specific version of the Scrambler mixes in aviation style cues, and it makes it a little muddled.
The movement is a two eye chronograph, with the central second hand for the chronograph function, the eye at 3:00 for the watch’s second hand, and the eye at 9:00 for chronograph hours and minutes. Especially with the watch in your hand like a stopwatch, the chronograph feels great. The pushers operate with a solid click, and the white second hand against the black enamel dial stands out.
The chrono sub dial uses jumping minute hand, but it does a full spin every 30 minutes, not once an hour. Since the sub dial is marked with 24 indexes, the minute hand does not line up to an index until the 4th index, which is 5 minutes of elapse time. The above image is 1:13 on the chrono, not 1:25 (clock time) or 1:10 (tick marks); so if I am not watching it, figuring out how much time has passed takes a bit of mental gymnastics. Once you are familiar with the movement, I am sure you can get the elapse time at a glance, but you are not going to be able to hand the chrono off and ask someone to time you doing laps.
Since the hours and minutes are handled on the same subdial, resetting the chronograph takes a little time. It is fun to watch, but a flyback would be nice (Ronda, why don’t you get right on that?). Since it is a jumping minute on the chrono, a reset for anything under 60 seconds only requires the central second hand to sweep around to 12:00. But for anything past a minute, then the subdial needs to run forward for 12 hours to get back to 0:00, which ends up taking about 25 seconds.
CT Scuderia takes a lot of design cues from the motoring world, and the typeface used here, along with the minutes only markings, follow that theme. But the handset is one I see more typically on a aviation instrument style watch, and the mix of styles does not work for me here. The same line has a version which is more of a pure aviation style, as well as one that is more automotive, and I think these two dial styles work better to my eye that the version that I reviewed. I think this one is the most striking of the three, and if you want that look, then go for it. It also has the most going on, with badge under the 60 that has a 3D look to it that is quite cool on close inspection.
There is a lot of lume in the watch, especially with the model I have. All the numbers are lumed, as is the wide, sword style handset. For me, there were too many glowing bits to the dial, to the point that it got a bit fuzzy when I was trying to read it in the dark. With either of the other two designs, there is less lumed surface, and since the paint is effective, the visibility should be crisper. Of course, if you don’t have near 50 year old eyes with Lasik correction from 2 decades ago, it may not be as fuzzy to you.
The CT Scuderia Scramble uses a squared off case, so even though the overall diameter is only 40mm across, It feels a lot larger on the wrist, which is a good thing since it also sits very tall. There is a sapphire crystal with a beveled edge to it, and the watch is water resistant to 10 ATM. There are several options for the finish of the stainless steel case, with the stainless itself, or black, bronze or rose gold IP finishes. One of the stainless watches comes on a bracelet, while the rest come on leather straps. Mine is standard with a light brown NATO leather strap, and the company was nice enough to also send one of the perforated black leather straps along as an option.
Both straps are high quality, and they both are shipped with quick change pins, something I have come to appreciate. The brand uses a 26mm strap strap, so there may not be a lot of swapping with other watches, but the full range of options are available from CT Scuderia’s web site, with bracelets going for $250, leathers for $125, leather NATO straps for $95, and synthetic and fabric straps for $55 and $35, respectively. The perforate leather strap dressed up the watch and really emphasized the motoring link, while the leather NATO was little more casual and tied in more with the aviator look.
Overall, at least for me, the watch is a mixed bag. What I really like about the brand is that there is a strong identity across the whole range that sets it apart from much of what else is available in the marketplace. After you get a look at the brand, it is going to be easy to recognize one of these on the wrist, not that you are likely to see many of them. With this style in particular, the square case gives it a presence on the wrist that is much large than the case would suggest. The bullhead design also really works well for a chronograph, but I wish that the use of it was better in practice. Beyond the style of the watch, the Scrambler is also a well made watch. If you are interested in the brand, you can pick up the Scrambler or one of their other styles at the on-line store. I would love to hear your opinion if you have one of these watches. www.ctscuderia.com
- Brand & Model: CT Scuderia Scrambler
- Price: $1,195
- Who’s it for?: You want to be unique, but not strange.
- Would I wear it?: Even with the issues I have with it, I would wear it because the design stands out from the crowd, in a good way.
- What I’d change: The chrono integration could be better.
- The best thing about it: There are not of other watches like it out there..
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