We sat down with Bradley Price of Autodromo, a brand that we’ve been fans of for a while. This is our second story of three from New York City.
No, this isn’t Hodinkee and no, we’re not turning into a lifestyle blog.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you must be wondering why we’ve got a photograph with watches as the header image for this post.
We will explain in due course, while also introducing you to Autodromo.
There is an underlying assumption these days that car guys like watches. Maybe it’s something about the mechanics of it, or maybe guys like to covet watches like women do jewellery. Over the last few years, more and more watch enthusiasts are turning to online forums and publications like Hodinkee to get their daily fix of horology, not unlike petrolheads who scan their favourite websites for car news on a daily basis. I’m no different, with a Seiko diver strapped firmly to my wrist on most of the shoots that have graced these pages.
So, what happens when you try to make watches specifically for car guys? You get a potpourri of poorly made watches that break after a few days, while a select few brands get it right but sell their timepieces at unobtainable amounts.
Enter Autodromo. We happened upon the brand a few years ago. Their watches were unmistakeably influenced by gauges from classic cars and more importantly, they were built well and looked elegant. As one collection followed another, Autodromo’s watches became a regular fixture on the wrist of the discerning car enthusiast, whether they were at a cocktail party or behind the wheel of their Alfa Romeo Junior.
Their accessories collection would prove very appealing, especially their driving gloves. In fact, on a number of shoots with the Gentleman Driver, he was wearing Autodromo stringbacks, which he left on the wheel for me to shoot. Eventually I too bought a pair, making good use of them on canyon carving runs.
Since I was in New York for a couple of days with no fixed agenda, one morning I headed across the Hudson to Brooklyn, where Autodromo’s offices are based. Just as I reached, the brand’s founder, Bradley Price was unlocking the door.
After exchanging pleasantries, we sat down to talk watches and a whole lot more.
Having been initiated into the world of moving parts and gasoline by his father, Bradley took up industrial design at university. After graduating, he designed applicances, while spending his free time writing for his own automotive blog.
Spending time in classic cars would leave an impact on him as he later found out. An idea to make watches that emulated the gauges of classic cars stuck with him and Autodromo was born. Then everyone lived happily ever after…. or so most stories go.
Not so fast. As the consumer, that’s our perception of the products we buy. Spend some money, get the product, use it and that’s it. Autodromo deserves much more, as I found out.
Making a watch seems easy in theory, but getting it right is anything but. If you don’t believe me, have a quick look at Kickstarter. Sourcing a movement, getting the dimensions right, ensuring the correct leather is used for the strap, quality control and keeping the costs down. These are just some of the things that a fledgling watch brand needs to consider. Getting everything right and working alone, Bradley released Autodromo’s first watch – the Monoposto – to widespread acclaim.
Since then, the Autodromo watch collection has grown, branching off into different timepieces paying tribute to various eras of motoring and motorsport. Their Group B Evoluzione line is a reminder of the racing class of the same name, which dominated the motorsport scene in the 1980s, while the Stradale is a tribute to classic Italian motoring.
Looking at the watches, it is difficult not to marvel at the attention to detail. With a milled aluminium body, the watches come with straps that look and feel like the seat belts from the actual Group B cars. For any petrolhead, a quick look at the watches in the Autodromo lineup is enough to confirm that they have been designed for and by a dyed in the wool car enthusiast. With a simple design harking back to the era when Jaeger and Smiths made speedometers and tachs for cars, it is essentially a time machine strapped to your wrist.
The gloves are no less. As Bradley took me through the various colors and hides that he uses for the Autodromo stringbacks, I quickly learned to appreciate the thought process and the effort that went into making them look and feel exactly right.
These days, lifestyle brands are a dime a dozen, but few actually manage to capture that ‘lifestyle’ aspect and that’s where Autodromo stands out. Whether you wear one of the watches or their gloves, or both, it clearly says that you’re a car enthusiast with good taste. Additionally, the high quality standard and the robust nature of their products mean that they will be good companions on numerous road trips, providing memories for many years to come. An avid classic car enthusiast, Bradley has taken his creations on numerous rallies, testing them in real world conditions, especially where they look right at home – behind the wheel.
Getting a behind-the-scenes look at the brand has also helped me to appreciate the expertise that goes into making these products, which I will definitely remember the next time I put on my Autodromo gloves to go on a mountain drive.
These days, the words ‘good taste’, while subjective, get thrown around a lot, with every second person claiming to be an authority on the issue. After speaking to Bradley and getting to see what Autodromo is all about, we definitely think that they’re heading in the right direction, taste-wise, and if the response that Autodromo has received is anything to judge by, a lot of people agree with us.
In conclusion, we had to make an exception this once for Autodromo. A brand that is so close to the classic car world deserves to have it’s story told and the ‘fine motoring instruments’ that they sell only complete a proper classic car experience.
A big thank you to Bradley Price for taking the time to sit down with us and take us through his brand. It was a pleasure and we’re looking forward to seeing Autodromo go from strength to strength in the coming years.