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The $600 Driving Watch That Paul Newman Would Wear

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At the apex of tool watches lies two different genres, separated by an "R."

The diving watch, best represented by James Bond's Rolex Submariner, is ruggedized to withstand the pressures of the deep. But aside from that, it doesn't necessarily offer the user much. The added utility of a chronograph shouldn't make you love the driving watch more than it's underwater sibling, but it's a nice touch, especially if you're partial to a face with more than one dial.

Conceived for the track, the driving watch aesthetic has an unmistakeable appeal extending past racers. It has a long history on the famous wrists of Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and many more. How can you continue it? The Autodromo Prototipo is a solid route. 

This is a Rolex Daytona. It was Paul Newman's favorite watch. Its price usually runs between "small compact car" and "expensive luxury car" (upwards of $9,000). It's the gold standard, along with the Omega Speedmaster ($4,000), also known as the "Moon Watch."

This is the Autodromo. With a double-dial, stainless case, and sapphire crystal, it looks and feels like an object worth far more than its $625 price tag. Being a watch with a chronograph, we're perfectly fine with it having a Seiko quartz movement—accuracy is important when you're timing preciseness. Fortunately, Autodromo did something really cool with the Prototipo. They used the Seiko's hybrid quartz/mechanical complication, giving it that classic sweep hand that ticks five times per second. Additionally, this hybrid complication allows Autodromo to have a mechanical reset.

If you're driving something that, let's say, "comes in black," Autodromo has you covered if you want to match it with a nighttime color. More modern, yes, but the racing DNA is as strong as ever.

Even those who can afford this majestic Heuer Autiva ($5,000+) have reason to choose the Autodromo for everyday wear. It's always a tragedy when something befalls a beloved timepiece—and it's facile to say a watch is replaceable—but the Autodromo can be treated like the tool it is without babying. It doesn't need it.

Plus, how else are you going to get that gorgeous patina?


Ethan Wolff-Mann is an editor at Supecompressor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.