Once a pioneer in the production of automatic wristwatches in the 1930s, Nivada Grenchen has an impressive legacy in creating sports watches. Despite not surviving the Quartz Crisis, the brand was revived in 2020 and gained recognition for its affordable chronograph watches, thanks to their vintage sizing and hand-wound movements. Now, in collaboration with Dutch watch magazine Fratello Watches, the brand has introduced the Racing Chronograph, which is a new line up of sports watches comprising five models that draw inspiration from several timepieces in the brand’s archive.
Like most of Nivada Grenchen’s current offerings, the Racing Chronograph is a homage to the brand’s archives. However, instead of being a remake of a vintage piece, it’s an amalgamation of several interesting features from different historical models, resulting in a (somewhat) new timepiece.
Modelled on the brand’s vintage Chronosport, the tonneau-shaped case has a confident wrist presence, despite being only 38 mm wide. The polished bevel along the case’s flank is a crucial detail taken directly from the original design that visually lessens its bulk and adds to its perceived value. The dial with the “racing” marks, on the other hand, is borrowed from another vintage Nivada timepiece with a unique square case.
But the Racing Chronograph isn’t simply a combination of two watches; it also incorporates new elements. One of these is the metal bezel, which replaces the black bezel on the original to create a more cohesive look that matches the metal bracelet. The bracelet, with its short and rounded links, is crucial in giving the watch a casual and vintage feel.
Another highlight of the Racing Chronograph is its wide variety of dial options, which have been thoughtfully tweaked from the original designs. There are a few new color palettes introduced, with the black dial version with orange accents being the closest to the original, which had red accents. In addition to the black dial, there is a white dial and “tropical” dial with sub-dials in matching colors, and a pair of “panda” and “reverse panda” dials, totaling in five models. All dials feature a “racing” track for a vibrant look and a coarse graining finish that adds visual depth.
Visible through the sapphire back is the Sellita SW510 M, a hand-wound version of the ubiquitous ETA 7750 found in many of Nivada Grenchen’s modern watches. The manual wind chronograph movement adds vintage charm to the watch, setting it apart from its competition in this price range, which is mostly automatic.
As the creator of the “Speedy Tuesday” hashtag on social media, Fratello is known for their love of chronographs, and their expertise is evident in the latest Nivada Grenchen watches. Despite incorporating elements from different watches, the Racing Chronograph feels like a cohesive product that just works.
One of the standout features of the Racing Chronograph is its size. At just 38 mm wide, it’s one of the smaller chronograph wristwatches on the market, but perfectly suited for its movement, which was conceived decades ago and is often too large for modern watches. Here the sub-dials on the Racing Chronograph are well-balanced and comfortably stretch to touch the inner flange.
Nevertheless, vintage-inspired chronographs are quite common nowadays. So what truly sets the Racing Chronograph apart is its value proposition, particularly for early-bird versions that are around 20% cheaper than standard versions launching later in June.
Nivada Grenchen Racing Chronograph
Movement: Sellita SW510 M b; manual; 63 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and chronograph
Case: 38 x 13.75 mm; steel; water resistant to 100 m
Strap: Steel bracelet
Price: €1,499 during pre-order; €1,875 for regular production in June
Availability: 50 pieces will be available at Fratello Shop for one week starting March 20 at 4:00 pm CET