There’s no doubt that changing a watch’s strap or bracelet can entirely alter its character. Still, there’s decidedly less agreement on “author’s intent” when it comes to strap changes. Does swapping a strap for a leather strap betray what the Manufacture envisioned for the appearance of the timepiece? Does the back and forth (for some of us, sometimes daily) completely undo the design efforts of the watch’s ancestor? While these questions will likely persist as long as there are watch geeks to bellow about them, Louis Chevrolet has quietly put its cards on the table with the new Speedway LC17 model for 2022.
True to their title, Louis Chevrolet watches are approaching the automotive world. Drawing its power and inspiration from the 1963 Corvette C2, the LC17 is never far from its automotive roots. Look no further than the speedometer chapter ring that surrounds the clearly delineated and concentric dial. The geometry of the inner and outer dial elements (not to mention the third locking lug – more on that later) that take up most of the watch’s visual space makes it clear that this is a moving timepiece. A red-tipped seconds hand is featured on all six color variants (all similar to the official C2 bodies), alluding to the hand so often looked at when chasing top speed.
Watches competing in the Kickstarter sphere often skimp on finishing details at their peril. This is not the case with the Speedway LC17. The stainless steel case is both satin-brushed and polished, giving a subtle, if unconscious, feeling of refinement. The bezels and applied indexes, numerals and text on the dial are all mirror polished, visually reminiscent of the chrome heritage of this racing watch. To that end, the texture of the dial is not to be missed as it provides more clues to the high-octane world that gives rise to some of watchmaking’s finest speed watches. Especially on the black dial variant, you can almost feel the hot asphalt just by looking at the time.
Speaking of speed, no Speedway LC17 review is complete without a review of the patented strap change system. The first thing most watch enthusiasts will likely notice about this watch is the unmistakable “third lug” running north to south on the case. This not only serves as an interesting visual component – and yes, it’s quite interesting – but it also serves a practical purpose. Functioning as a locking mechanism, each of the two tabs includes a locking device that catches the strap’s built-in bar to ensure a snug, seamless fit. Meanwhile, conventional lugs feature notches that line up perfectly with the included hardware, directing it into position. Each watch features a black or blue silicone strap, a steel mesh strap, and a black, green, or brown leather strap that depends on the color of the dial so wearers can practice quick trades with speed and precision.
Flip it over and the case back reveals the engine inside – a modified ETA 2824-2 movement specially designed for the Speedway LC17 by the Louis Chevrolet team in Porrentruy, Switzerland. What is special here is not so much the sight of movement as the obstruction of sight, however paradoxical. The crystal caseback is adorned with a pattern evoking the C2 Corvette’s bright-pointed wheel design and a three-pointed “8” logo in the center. And to that end, the “8” looms large on the Speedway LC17. It was in car number 8 that Louis Chevrolet’s car won many races and, in addition to its appearance on the caseback, it also cleverly appears on the crown of the watch. Here, the deep texture allows for one-handed time adjustment, with or without riding gloves. The final and probably most exciting detail is found on the side of the watch, where the Louis Chevrolet slogan “Never Give Up” is plastered on a screw-down side plate.
At retail, the Speedway LC17 comes in at 1098CHF (about $1,200). The Swiss watchmaker launched the Speedway LC17 Kickstarter Campaign on March 8, where backers can take advantage of a special introductory price of CHF668 (around $730). The six dial variations (brown, blue, black, green, gray and silver) mean fans are spoiled for choice no matter which icon they’re cheering for, all the way to the checkered flag.
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