New watch brands are developed all the time.  Different passions help turn an idea into reality where the product reflects the people or person behind the brand.  Giorgio Piola is a real person who has made a 50 year career as the top illustrator, author, technical analyst, television commentator and journalist of Formula One (F1) cars.  Born in Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy, Giorgio is considered the foremost expert on the evolution of Formula 1 cars.  In terms of race cars, F1 is the most advanced and precise racing class in the world. From this mindset, Giorgio Piola has developed a new watch brand that really excites.  Currently the company is offering four lines of watches; G5, STRAT-3 Chrono, STRAT-3 HMS and STRAT-3 Ladies.  For this review I have the STRAT-3 Chrono, which is a very cool and unique quartz chronograph watch.

The very first thing you notice about the STRAT-3 Chrono is it’s sandblasted titanium construction.  Titanium case construction always substantially reduces weight and creates an interesting flat gray finish not found in stainless steel watch construction.  At the same time, this watch has very intricate detailing normally not seen in most chronograph watches near this price point.  I find the standouts of the case are the complex down turned titanium watch lugs, crown guards, machined crown and the blocky black rubber red lettered pushers and the case back.  These pushers are made to be used and are very easy to operate.  The outer edge of the watch bezel measures 46mm in diameter, it is 14mm thick with a  very easy to grip 9mm diameter by 6mm tall machined and signed crown .  The widest portion of the case is at the crown, where it measures 53mm across.  Though the watch measures a large 61mm lug to lug, the downturn of the lugs makes the watch feel smaller on the wrist.

The watch comes on it’s own bespoke Giorgio Piola silicon rubber strap with a unique signed buckle that duplicates the brand logo that is used on the screw down case back and the watch face.   I consider the nine rectangular hole strap to be moulded in the design of a racing tire, with two adjustable strap loops.  The strap is comfortable and works particularly well for men with larger wrists.  The unique titanium lugs measure 31mm across at the black slotted screws that meet the case. The widest portion of the strap itself measure 27mm across and it tapers down at the ends to just under 22 mm. The watch is rated 100 meters for water resistance and it uses a anti-reflective flat sapphire crystal.

The watch faces (blue and black in my examples) are marked with an inner angled tachymeter scale.  There is a grooved, raised and beveled outer bezel with eleven identical, polished angled red accented indices.  The inner portion of the face is one step lower and has a 2:30 second counter subdial, a six o’clock cumulative 12 hour(!) subdial and a 9:30 cumulative minute counter subdial.  All three of these dials are inspired by F1 steering wheels and they have well defined and raised outer edges.  The six o’clock subdial has a higher surround with yellow highlights and a yellow tapered hand.  The other two subdials use red, white and yellow accents with red tapered hands. There is a black on white 4:30 date window with a red surround as well.

The hour and minute hands are a partial skeleton polished chrome design with white inserts with light green lume.  I consider the hand design to be possibly based on road crossing arms.  The chronograph second hand is a bright red and is a nicely tapered needle which contrasts beautifully with the watch face. All of these details are mirrored in and around the world of Formula 1 racing instrumentation and controls. There are no individual second or minute markings used anywhere on the watch, which I think would add too much clutter to the face, but at the same time would help make the watch useful for more precise timing.  At the top of the face is the polished company logo, with the printed white lettered brand name below, a printed discrete Italian flag, printed red “chronograph” lettering and white printed w/r in meters and feet.  A rectangular white line cuts through the brand name and the three subdials  By carefully using different colors, the face is interesting and easy to read.  Detail colors vary depending on the chosen color of the watch.   

The screw down case back is very nicely finished with center logo, watch model designation and racing checkerboard pattern.  The six raised and sculpted lugs of the titanium case back have a strong racing design that really works well with the theme of this watch. Powering this watch is the well proven Ronda 5030.D Swiss quartz chronograph movement.  This six jewel movement has a very long standard battery life rating  of 54 months. The movement, according to Ronda, is supposed to be accurate to -10/+20 seconds per month.  In the time I have had these watches, accuracy has been a fantastic +1 second per month.  Lettering at the bottom of the watch face says these watches are Swiss Made. Regardless of where these watches are built, the materials, detailing,design and finishing of the STRAT-3 is first class throughout.

The STRAT-3 has a very strong and unique racing vibe that to me, that perfectly reflects it’s Formula 1 heritage.    This watch is available in your choice of green, orange, black, blue, yellow or red, which pretty much covers the colors that racing enthusiasts prefer. $500-$590 with a 3 year manufacturer warranty.  giorgiopiola.com

Giorgio Piola: Illustrating Speed – A short documentary on Giorgio’s work designing Formula 1 cars