People buy watches for all sorts of reasons. Some buy a historically-important watch for its collectability, some for its name or its appearance, and some buy a watch for the artistry or innovation of its movement. Still others buy a watch because of a tie-in with a celebrity or marketing campaign. But sometimes a watch goes beyond any of these reasons and has an intangible magnetism all its own. The Autodromo Veloce is that kind of watch.

Despite its lack of pedigree or horological chops, the Veloce transports you to a different place the moment you buckle the perforated leather strap on your wrist. You may find yourself craving an espresso or good olive oil and, if you haven’t already, you’ll soon be trolling the classifieds for an old Fiat or Alfa Spider. The Veloce has an equally modern yet vintage vibe, with a quality that swings well above its price point.

The watch, like the entire Autodromo collection, is a design triumph and it comes as no surprise that the company was founded by a New York product designer, Bradley Price. I like the fact that the brand has kept its focus narrow – not just automotive-inspired but Italian automotive inspired. No pilot’s watches, no dive watches, just a quartet of driver’s watches. Price’s keen eye for detail and his love of vintage Italian automobiles are immediately evident in the Veloce, which takes design cues from the chrome-rimmed gauges of ’60s and ’70s Italian sports cars. Notice the steeply banked steel bezel, the tiny screws in the middle of the dial, the disc covering the center of the hands and, of course, the minute track’s resemblance to a tachometer, complete with redlines. It pays homage to a dashboard gauge without being gimmicky.

The Veloce’s 42mm case sits comfortably on almost any wrist, thanks to its lack of strap lugs, slim 10mm height and light weight and the watch disappears during daily wear. Of course, its use of a quartz movement helps keep the weight down. While watch snobs may scoff at the presence of a battery, this is one watch we don’t mind as a quartz since its raison d’être is as a design exercise and not haute horlogerie. Besides, the lack of a sweep second hand precludes the telltale tick-tick so you’re none the wiser. Quartz also means it’s a great grab and go addition to any watch collection, faithfully keeping time instead of running down on your bedside table.

But don’t think the Veloce is a watch that cuts corners. The case finishing is top notch, with brushed steel all around and a polished bezel ring (a black PVD version is also available). The dial is beautifully executed, with a slight texture to the redline arc and a unique cutout date (“giorno”) display. The 20mm leather strap, its back textured with the Autodromo logo, looks like a classic racing strap from a 1960s Heuer while being very comfortable.

The watch, like the entire Autodromo collection, is a design triumph and it comes as no surprise that the company was founded by a New York product designer

The Veloce’s packaging also belies its $425 price tag. A printed and stamped steel warranty card resembles the chassis ID plate from a car, and the watch comes in a leather-bound cylindrical case lined with what looks like red velour. No detail has been overlooked, which contributes to the overall vibe of the watch.

The Autodromo Veloce doesn’t neatly fit into a category. The avant-garde dial with its splash of color means it’s not really a dress watch, though we think it would look good with a suit. The leather strap and 30 meters of water resistance mean it’s not well suited for sports yet its lightweight comfort would be a nice companion on the tennis court or golf course. As it happens, the Veloce ends up being a really great all-around watch and after a couple weeks of wear, it’s gotten more compliments than my other, more expensive watches. So while I’m waiting for a warm summer evening when the Alfa’s top can be dropped, the driving gloves pulled on and the baritone burble of a throaty exhaust providing the soundtrack, the Autodromo Veloce will have to do.

Buy Now: $425

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