Straton Vintage Driver
Straton Vintage Driver Specifications:
Case Material – 316L Stainless Steel
Case Size – 44mm
Lug To Lug – 50mm
Case Thickness – 12mm Lug Width – 22mm
Movement – Seiko VK63 meca-quartz hybrid
Crystal – Sapphire Crystal
Hands – SuperLuminova Hour/Minute/Second Hands
Strap – 22mm NATO Stainless Steel Buckle (1 Plain and 2 Racing inspired NATO straps, Genuine Leather Rally straps purchased separately
Water Resistance – 10ATM/100m
Warranty – 24 Months
Price $369 USD Free Worldwide Shipping
Lets face it, guys love their toys. Its just in our nature. And two of the “toys” many guys love are cars and watches. Yes, there are other things guys are into, but when it comes to luxury items these are the big two. So it makes sense that watch companies would make automotive or racing inspired watches, in fact, watch companies have been doing this for many years. The design inspiration behind the Straton Vintage Driver? A tachometer of a 1977 Alfa Romeo. While I can talk about design inspiration all day, lets get to build, looks and quality.
The Straton Vintage Driver comes in a few color options, including the case. The version I am reviewing is a brushed steel with a gunmetal PVD coating. Also available are standard brushed steel and a black PVD. Dial colors available are black, blue, white, orange and grey. I chose the grey with gunmetal case because I am a sucker for a grey dial and the gunmetal case is not one you see often. The yellow markers and numbers along with the orange second hand give a nice contrast of color, and really do play into the racing/car theme. The yellow is more of a muted yellow, not a lemon or taxicab yellow, which I feel was a good choice. A great choice was the white stick hands with vintage lume, which give great contrast against they grey dial, making it super easy to tell the time, which is one of the main reasons we wear a watch. The dial colors compliment all work well together and do not clash. When it comes to the dial, it is a pretty standard 60 minute timer and while chronographs usually are busy or cluttered, I feel the date wheel is in the worst spot. It is just crammed between the 4 and 5 o’clock position. If a 6 o’clock date was not an option, no date would have been the better choice to me.
While many watch companies are going down in size as is the current trend, Straton chose to make the Vintage Driver 44mm. While 44mm can be considered large (note I said large, not over sized or massive), the 12mm in thickness keeps it low profile. Because of the thin bezel, it might appear or “play” a touch larger but I do not consider this to really wear bigger than most 44mm dive watches. Speaking of the bezel, the diamond texture gives the case an added flair, setting it apart from other chronograph pilot or racing watches that use a plain brushed bezel.
Quite a few micro brand watch companies have been utilizing the mecha-quartz movement as of late, and a few of them have been reviewed here on Watchreport. What is the big deal with this movement? Well, I don’t know if it is necessarily a big deal, but rather than go with a standard quartz chrono movement, which is much cheaper than an auto variation, the Seiko VK63 gives you quartz time keeping with a mechanical chronograph module added to the movement. When you depress the start button, it has a firm “click” and also acts as a mechanical movement would, with an instant reset, as opposed to slowly circling the dial. It also works as a flyback chronograph, as you can reset it using the bottom pusher without having to stop the chrono hand first, like you would on most chronographs.
While I am not sure exactly what car is etched on the case back, I am sure it is vintage. Its a great looking etching and another highlight of the Straton Vintage Driver. So many watches at this price point have very plain case backs with no artwork, Kyle, owner of Straton Watches, wanted something not only nice looking and well finished, but of course tying in with the theme of the watch.
I have never been a Nato strap type of guy, which is why I asked Kyle to send along one of the Leather Rally straps for the review. These straps are not included and can be purchased separately. It is a nice enough strap, but I am not a big fan of the rally straps either (holes), but wanted a different option than the Nato. Turns out though, when I finally did put the Straton Vintage Driver on the Nato’s for pictures, I really liked how it looked, and proceeded to wear it for a few days on my 7 1/2 inch wrist. The one I wore it on was the light blue/orange version, as it just really gave it that racing appearance. The quality is pretty good as far as Nato straps go, clean stitching and nice tight webbing. If I was to single out a color that I dont feel matches the grey dial, it would be the dark blue/red strap. The colors are not present in the dial at all, and it just clashes. I assume the 2 racing straps are included with every watch, as well as a solid color that matches the dial, just to give options. It would definitely work better on the blue model.
Is the Straton Vintage Driver a good value? I would say so. At $369 with free shipping, it includes 3 straps, a faux leather travel case and tool, Seiko Mecha-quartz movement, and a sapphire crystal, all in a that sporty/racing look that seems to be popular these days. Because of the price and how well finished the watch is, I can not really say anything negative. My only real gripe I guess would be the lume is on the weak side, but this was a watch I wasn’t expecting great lume to begin with.
Overall, Kyle and Straton Watches have put together a very nice racing chrono that wont break the bank and the 3 Nato straps offer many different looks. Add in a leather strap and you can really change it up when the mood strikes. The Straton Vintage Driver was their first model, that was successfully funded on Kickstarter. As of this writing, they just completed another successful KS campaign with their Curve-Chrono and are working on their third model, the Syncro-Chrono which will be a combination race inspired/dive watch. I like what they are doing, and look forward to more of their pieces.
Thank you for reading, please leave your comments in the field below the picture gallery.