I have to wonder if Geckota is embarrassed by its new C1 Racing Chronograph. They shouldn’t be; although it’s obviously a Heuer Camaro homage it brings plenty of new ideas to the table. But they seem to want to avoid that inspiration because the Camaro is just about the only chronograph they don’t mention in their news release on the new watch. Let me try to absolve them of their shame.

Produced from 1968–72, the Camaro was a short-lived cushion-cased cousin of the mighty Carrera. Looking at the C1 and the Camaro side-by-side, the resemblance is unmistakable. But Geckota has done a lot to refine and modernize the design; this is no copy. They look like a big brother and a little brother, and that’s not meant to be patronizing.

First the size. The Camaro was 37 mm, but the C1 is a very modern 42 mm. For me and my 7″ wrist that’s a negative, but I know I’m in the minority there. The lugs are now 22 mm and the case is 12 mm.

The C1 adds a polished bezel, where the Camaro had none. That adds a bit of refinement to the look and a bit of protection for the C1’s sapphire crystal. But the C1 case retains the brushed top and polished sides that make the Camaro a rugged beauty.

The handset tracks the original, as does the dial layout with the date at 6:00. The indices take things up a notch—literally. All the indices are a bit longer but the real trick is with the sticks on either side of the sub-dials, which are notched to frame those dials. It gives them a home on the dial and makes the whole thing a bit tighter than the Camaro.

The C1 is an evolved Camaro, with one hitch: This is a $375 watch (with a trio of straps as a pre-order bonus). So you’re not getting anything like the Valjoux 7734 that powered the Camaro Dato. But the Seiko VK64 mecha-quartz provides the feel and instant reset of a mechanical chrono at an unbeatable price. By strapping a mechanical chrono’s levers, hammers, wheels, and heart pieces to a quartz timekeeper the Seiko VKs arguably give you the best of both worlds. Here’s a look inside:

Some will always turn their noses up at a battery, and it does lack that perpetual magic of a spring-powered movement, but the mecha-quartz makes chronographs attainable at a relative bargain, without sacrificing much of the fun of a mechanical. That’s a lot to recommend it. The VK64 in the C1 does have some odd features, though: there is no running seconds on the C1 and the 3:00 dial is a 24-hour register that seems out of place on a racing chronograph.

Limitations of the VK64 aside, if the C1 is indicative of what Geckota has in mind as they continue to expand their watch line then they have nothing to be ashamed of. Expected delivery is May 2017. geckota.com

Geckota C1 Racing Chronograph

  • Price: $372.76USD (Pre-order)
  • Who’s it for? Seeking a modern Heuer Camaro at a modest price.
  • Would I wear it? It would make a great excuse to take a spirited country drive.
  • What I’d change? The black and white version could use a little more color, or the gray a little less.
  • Standout feature? Cushiony goodness.

Specs from Geckota

  • Case Material: 316L Stainless steel
  • Case Size: 42 mm x 12 mm x 45 mm
  • Lug Width: 22 mm
  • Movement: Seiko VK64 mecha-quartz
  • Crystal: AR-coated sapphire
  • Lume: Swiss Super-LumiNova on applied indices and minute/hour hands
  • Water resistance: 100m (10atm)
  • Bands included: Zuludiver Gunmetal Grey NATO, Geckota Vintage Racing Reddish Brown Leather, and Classic Milanese Mesh

ByJim Manley

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