The world of racing-inspired timepieces is perhaps the most wondrous subset of the watch industry, aiming to translate fascinating car designs and raw performance into a fashion statement you can wear on your wrist. Covering a diverse array of motorsport disciplines, these products draw in racing fans from all over the world, and show some of the most intricate watch building. The product to catch my immediate attention is an upcoming SHIFT line of watches, created by none other than the well-renowned Formula 1 Journalist Giorgio Piola. His tech drawings that document the evolution of Formula 1 designs throughout decades demonstrate unparalleled attention to detail, which has translated nicely into not just the SHIFT, but other collections available from Giorgio Piola. Drawing inspiration from the intense discipline that is F1 racing, the SHIFT collection arguably offers some of the most beautiful visuals you’d see from its category, provided you like the style of course, and especially appeals to me as a racing fan and a watch enthusiast. Currently funded under Kickstarter, these watches are available at more than reasonable prices, with $350USD pledge getting you one of the timepieces sometime around March 2019. If you have passion for the world of motorsports, the SHIFT collection shouldn’t be overlooked, and its solid spec sheet makes it one of the best options to be had in the price range.
As more and more smaller brands flock to the online direct-to-consumer model, which has also proven to be very successful, Giorgio Piola similarly sells timepieces through the company website, with the SHIFT line being crowdfunded before production. This process eliminates the need for boutique retailers, driving down costs for high-quality Swiss timepieces to increase availability for consumers. If you look at Piola’s other racing designs, these Swiss Made watches retail for about $500USD, and offer impressive hardware for the price you’re paying. With a modified Swiss Ronda 5040.D chronograph movement, capable of measuring in tenths of a second, the SHIFT collection can be grabbed early for an even lower cost. It unfortunately doesn’t seem to be available beyond Kickstarter, limited to about 250 units, with few quantities remaining, but Giorgio Piola may release more units for the public. As of January 5th, 2019 the campaign reached of about $185000 (CAD), well over the target of $40K so pledgers are guaranteed to receive their new watch in the mail once production begins.
The SHIFT collection is available in blue, green, red and black dial models in a stainless steel case, and further equipped with a matching rubber strap. Design-wise, it will not appeal to everyone, but for those with passion for track racing and sporty designs will find a lot to appreciate in the complex dials of SHIFT watches. These are the most intricate representations of Formula 1 racing in a traditional watchmaking form, showcasing the complex work that goes into creating the high-speed machines for the sport. Like with all race-inspired watches, the case features a rotating tachymeter bezel, however what really sets the SHIFT line apart is Piola’s technical artwork etched into the case back. Depending on the color, you’re going to get different designs, but this adds some nice touches to make the collection unique. Measuring in at 46.5mm wide and 15 thick, the SHIFT will have significant presence on the wrist like most sporty timepieces, although only rates at 100m depth which is slightly disappointing. Keep in mind though that this is a watch you probably won’t wear for swimming. The dial further features chronographs for seconds and minutes, as well as a subtle date window located at 5 o’clock to make the package complete.
The Kickstarter campaign runs until January 26th, after which the limited-run models will be put into production, offering four reward tiers depending on the amount you’re willing to pledge. $350USD gets you the watch and one poster autographed by Giorgio Piola, with rewards increasing along with the price. Going higher, one can get up to 4 watches in total along with many neat accessories related to motorsports. The higher tiers are mostly aimed at race clubs and the like, where their clients can be awarded the SHIFT watch, but if you have the money to spare, getting the entire collection for $1120USD doesn’t sound like a bad deal either. Kickstarter really works as a platform for micro watch brands to initiate interest in the product while keeping costs down through direct-to-consumer model to make high-end watches more widely accessible than in the past.
Supporting this project will allow the collection to reach consumers, and for the brand to increase its global reach and engage a larger audience. Backers not only get the SHIFT timepiece, but also a further 20% discount on other collections by Giorgio Piola, as well as an autographed copy of the man’s career renderings. If you’re any kind of race fan, this is an exciting value proposition, where you get a limited-run collector watch at more than affordable pricing. It may not feature a high-end mechanical movement, but the SHIFT watch collection nonetheless bears the “Swiss made” designation, which entails superb design and build quality in the world of modern watchmaking. With few spots remaining to back the product, you should head over to Kickstarter to check this collection out and grab a piece for yourself. For the rest of Giorgio Piola’s watch-related work, one can also check out his website for more racing-inspired timepieces.