So-called watch microbrands have never had more cachet than they do right now. One of the most significant names in that space is Zelos, a Singapore-based outfit founded by Elshan Tang back in 2014. In less than a decade, the watchmaker/designer has championed and even helped popularize the use of previously-unorthodox materials such as bronze, meteorite, titanium Damascus, and ZircTi in his timepieces. What’s more, Tang has always maintained a keen eye for design innovation and pushing the boundaries of horology.
Zelos’ latest piece, the Vitesse Racer, is also the company’s very first racing chronograph, recalling the sport’s heyday in the 1960s when Ford and Ferrari battled it out each year at Le Mans; an era overrun by Heuers and Omegas on the wrists of drivers and pit crews alike. However, the Vitesse is a racing watch for a new age, bridging the gap between retro style and a more elegant dress watch. The stainless steel case features a stepped design to mask the heft of the 40mm diameter watch’s 12mm thickness — which, even without this visual trickery, is fairly svelte for an automatic chronograph. Likewise, the domed sapphire crystal harkens back to the plexiglass of the ‘60s race watches, but with increased resistance to scratch and better visibility.
Equipped with a beautiful beads-of-rice bracelet, the new timepiece is available in three different dial colors: salmon, “Gulf” blue, and a classic “Panda”. Viewed through the display caseback is the Swiss-made L100 automatic movement from La Joux Perret that’s based on the iconic Valjoux 7750, but features an increased power reserve (68 hours instead of 44), a bi-directional winding system that ditches the loud rotors and is customized to look like a spoked racecar wheel, and a blued column wheel that gives the pushers a smoother activation.
Of course, like most of Zelos’ pieces, the price point here is quite affordable considering the high-end specs. The Vitesse Racer will be available for $1,199 from Zelos’ website on August 4.