Ever since I wrote about the collaboration between Elegantsis and JSK Moto Co back in September 2017, the brand Elegantsis went on to create more models expanding from motorcycle to military theme inspired by the government of Taiwan and Republic of China on various division (eg. Armed Force, Marine, Air Force, Navy and many others). They also do vintage & historical planes such as Turbo Tracker S-2T, Victory Girl nose art, C-130 Hercules and many others.
However, today I have the opportunity to review yet another motorcycle inspired watch, but a classic 1960s’ British that is a lightweight, powerful motorcycle optimized for speed and handling rather than comfort, and for quick rides over short distances. With bodywork and control layout recalling early-1960s Grand prix road racing motorcycles, Café Racers are noted for their visual minimalism, featuring low-mounted handlebars, prominent seat cowling and elongated fuel tank and frequently knee-grips indented in the fuel tank.
Some fun facts about Café Racer…
Fast and agile, the café racer was developed by English motorcyclists in the 1960s for the purpose of short-distance racing from one hangout (usually a café) to another. The most famous of these cafés was the Ace Café in London (which likely accounts for the alternate pronunciation, kaff racer, which is British slang for café). Legend has it that motorcycle riders would race from the café, after selecting a certain record on the jukebox, and attempt to return before the record ended. This feat often necessitated achieving a speed known as “the ton,” or 100 mph. In post-war Britain, car ownership was still uncommon, but by the late 1950s the average Briton could afford a car, so by the early 1960s the café racer’s significance was that a bike had come to represent speed, status and rebellion, rather than mere inability to afford a car. Hence, drawing inspirations from the humble beginning of Café Racers, Elegantsis developed and designed the Café Racer collection to commemorate their spirits.
- Diameter : 44mm
- Lugs : 22mm
- Casing : 316L Stainless steel with PVD Coating
- Movement : Automatic SII Japan-Made NH35A
- Bezel : Ceramic
- Glass : Sapphire Crystal with Anti-Reflective Coating
- Water Resistant : 100m
- Strap : Calf Skin / Leather
- Lumes : C1 Swiss SuperlumiNova Lume
Here’s my early impression of the Café Racer
The positive : From unboxing to placing the watch onto my wrist, I am already impressed ! I like how Elegantsis created the box with a nice smooth feel from my touch, how the printing on one side provided some details on the watch’s inspiration and how the internal foam has been custom-made to fit the watch securely. The watch felt solid and well constructed when I lifted the watch out of its’ box and sits smoothly on my wrist. I really love the dial being simple but yet with some mechanical elements such as the date, hands and inner ring markers brings out the boldness of the design onto the watch. I like how the finishing on the watch case and the dual tone colour of the dial when viewed from different angle and lighting.
The not so positive : The straps is a bit thin to my liking as the weight of the case outweighs the strap, hence it always felt as though the watch may fall off from my wrist. The other thing that I personally felt was the red lining on the date indicator was a bit overwhelming and overpowering against the brushed vertical silver dial design / concept. I would have kept it black & white (silver) theme throughout the design.
And here’s my detailed review…
Case : As I have mentioned earlier, I really like how the case is well-constructed and solidly built. Like how the brushed vertical lining on the case that matches well with the dial. The brush finishing gave the watch somewhat a slight vintage look and feel, that goes well with the 1960s’ theme inspiration. The bezel is fixed and I like how they use the other sets of numerals to represent the hour (24 hour format). The crown has been designed and inspired by the fuel cap of Café Racer and it’s large enough for easy gripping. On the caseback, there is a design of 2 chequered flags and large statement of “Record Racing Ace Racer”, a tribute to the riders back then.
Dial : Wow… it may looked like it’s a simple brushed silver dial, but once it’s viewed from different angle and different lighting, you will get 2 types of look. I managed to somewhat get 2 macro shots of the dial from what you can see above. On the left is somewhat brushed vintage stainless steel feel while the right gives a bright shiny sunray silver concept. Cool visual design to me. I also like how they use the fonts to give it a 60s’ effect and not complicating the dial with too many numbers. The dial is neither simple nor complex, it’s just nicely designed in between. The inner ring minute index is curved upwards from the dial and I also like how they used the 24 hour formatting on the fixed bezel. I just didn’t like the red lining in particularly on the date as I would have preferred an inverse black background white font date while maintaining the black & white theme on the watch. I would also probably wont have the date opening that large to show all 3 dates, but rather large enough to show partial of the dates in between the actual.
Strap & Buckle : I really like the feel of the material used for the strap, but I am somewhat unconvinced by the thickness of it because to me, it felt soft and I do get the insecurity feeling of the watch being fallen off from my wrist. Quality of the strap is good but I guess a little thicker would have been a nice finishing touch to it. As for the curvature buckle design, Elegantsis claimed that it is custom-made to resemble the unique fender of a Café Racer motorcycle in the 1960s.
Packaging : Kudos to Elegantsis on creating such a classy presentation of the box. I really like how the whole unboxing experience when I first received the watch and thoroughly enjoyed learning some historical facts about Café Racer.
Conclusion to my review of Café Racer
I had the watch with me for 2 weeks and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment with it. The black and white theme goes perfectly with almost any dress code, be it formal or casual attire. The dual dial concept is interestingly to look at along with the not-so simply and not-so complicated overall design. I strongly applaud the brand for constantly creating interesting watch that are inspired, and I do hope that I will have more opportunities to review more of their existing or future new collections. Thank you Elegantsis for loaning me the watch !