While I have been on a bit of a GMT kick as of late (in terms of watches I have been reviewing), I also am now, apparently, on a bit of an Italian kick. Not that long ago, I reviewed the TCM Orienteering, and now we’re back into the world of Italian watch brands, this time with Chotovelli. When they first approached me about a review, I was struck by some similarities from their Gauge series to the Giuliano Mazzuoli Contagiri. So, while we will certainly review the Chotovelli Gauge for it’s own merits, it’s also worth considering it as a budget alternative to that Contagiri.
To be perfectly clear, these are not pure analogs (the Gauge and the Chotovelli), as the higher-end Contagiri has quite a bit of cleverness built into it’s mechanics (and it’s an automatic). In terms of general theme and looks, though, they are quite comparable. The Chotovelli Gauge (we’re reviewing both the 8000-1 and 8800-2), which are basically identical, other than dial color and case finishing. The brand lays claim to inspiration from Alfa Romeo gauges and speedometers; while I’m not familiar with those cars’ dashboards, I can see the influence present, at least in general terms.
With the 12 in red (aka the “redline” mark) and the seconds hand (with it’s arrow tip) also in red, you have very much the gauge look. To further that idea, Chotovelli has color matched the major portion of the hour and minute hands to the dial, with just the arrow heads getting a contrast color. This lets them blend in a bit – allowing the eye to gravitate towards the red seconds hand – while still maintaining some measure of legibility with the contrasting ends.
The dial of the Chotovelli Gauge is kept very clean as well – you have the brand name up top, the WR rating down below (which could be omitted, in my book), and then just the numerals and the minute track. This also fits in with the automotive gauge feel, as there is not anything extraneous (to further that even more, one could argue the date window could be scrapped as well). I also think that the case profile, with it’s finned surface and smooth bezel also fits, as it gives that appearance of something that would be mounted not flush with a dashboard, but raised up from it.
If you really wanted to stretch the gauge analogy a bit further, you could say the inclusion of a quartz movement (a Miyota 2415) pursues greater accuracy than a mechanical movement (though, those vintage Alfa Romeo gauges likely were quite mechanical). Unfortunately, this means the second hand ticks, rather than sweeping smoothly. There are varied opinions on which style folks prefer (tick vs sweep) but I think for something mimicking a car’s gauge, the smooth sweep would have been preferable (frankly, if your speedo or tach is moving in stutters, something is up with that car).
Unlike any gauge in your car, the top crystal (which has a slight dome to it) is made of sapphire. There’s no mention of an AR coating, but I did not have any problems with glare – praise the clean, contrasty dial for that. You also have a strap on the watch, which no gauge would have. To keep things nice and round, they have omitted lugs, and instead fasten the strap onto the case with the screws that you see. I did not remove a strap to double-check how this is done, but one presumes there’s a tang sticking out that the strap attaches to.
This makes strap replacement more difficult than a lugged watch, and it forces the strap to stick out from the case, creating an air gap between it and your wrist. While it is a more complex option, I would have preferred to see something more like what Xetum does which would allow the lugless look to the watch, and keep the strap fit closer to your wrist.
So, how is it wearing the watches throughout the day? In practical terms, it wears much smaller than the 45mm case diameter would suggest. This is due to the fact that there are no lugs, so you don’t have the visual bulk of those, nor do you have those bits of metal against your wrist. The case height is a tad higher than I might prefer, but it’s manageable. Legibility is no issue either, even with those handsets being mostly color-matched to the dial – a pleasant surprise, indeed.
The leather strap does a fine job holding things in place, though, for my wrist, I had to choose between it feeling too tight or just a touch looser than I’d prefer (I was on either the 3rd or the 4th hole from the end on my 7.25” wrist). Not a specific ding against this watch, but something that you just run into now and again with tang buckle straps. As to the texture on the strap, it’s definitely different. Weird as it may seem, for something that really is to give the reminder that this is animal hide, the skin pattern actually makes me think the strap looks a bit plasticky for whatever reason. Which, it isn’t.
The strap itself on the Chotovelli Gauge is indeed stiff at first, but as you wear it through the day, it loosens up, and I imagine long-term wear would break it in quite well. Just don’t expect it to hug in closer to your wrist by the case. While the rest of the strap “broke in” some in the wear, that internal connecting structure looks like it will keep things profiled as they are.
All in all, the Chotovelli Gauge was a capable and inoffensive daily companion. It has a subtle automotive flair to it, while maintaining accuracy and legibility. Frankly, whatever your watch is, those items – accuracy and legibility – should be of primary concern. If you can’t rely on your tool to do it’s job well, why bother with it? However, the Chotovelli Gauge has no issues there. And, as I mentioned at the outset, it’s quite affordable price ($215 for the white dial, $225 for the black dial) makes this an eminently viable alternative to the Contagiri, especially for those with tight watch budgets.
Evaluating the Chotovelli Gauge apart from that luxury reference, and having it stand on it’s own merits, it’s still a decent watch. The styling is not wildly unusual, but it still has enough going for it that it differentiates itself from others out there. It is a shame that there is no lume on the dial or hands at all, but that is a conscious choice the brand has made, for better or worse. In other words, there is some give and take with the watch (some stuff I liked, other things that I was less a fan of), but that is the sort of compromise that you make in these price tiers, no? If you like the looks of that dial and case, though, I daresay you’ll be pleased to have the Chotovelli Gauge on your wrist. chotovelli.com
- Brand & Model: Chotovelli Gauge 8000 series (8000-1 black dial, 8800-2 white dial)
- Price: $215-$225
- Who’s it for? You really dig the looks of the Giuliano Mazzuoli Contagiri, but want something a bit more wallet friendly
- Would I wear it? Sure.
- What I’d change: How the strap attaches to the case. After that, getting some luminous paint in the mix
- The best thing about it: How legible and “at-a-glance” readable the dial is, even with the stealth hands.
- Case: Stainless Steel 316
- Size: 45 Diameter, Thickness 13.0 mm
- Movement: Japan Miyota 2415
- Glass: Sapphire Crystal
- Strap: Genuine Calf Leather
- Dial: Matt White, Arabic numerals
- Water resistant: 100 M / 330 Ft
- 24 month international warranty