Every once in awhile, we spot a timepiece that perfectly fits our criteria for design, function, and value. The Italian firm, Meccaniche Veloci, has produced just such an item with their 'Rallye' series of mechanical automatic chronographs. Each is powered by the legendary (and increasingly difficult to obtain) Valjoux 7750 movement, the virtual 'gold standard' of mechanical chronographs for decades.
While the heart of this timepiece is traditional, the exterior features are anything but. The stainless steel case, pushers and crown have a lovely, soft brushed finish, and the non-rotating bezel is machined into a high-relief gear motif, mimicking the company's logo. The dial incorporates three separate levels; uppermost is the accrued hour ring at the 6:00 position, the main hour ring is next, and lowest are the minute and hour chrono sub dials. The hours are delineated with Arabic numerals at 9:00, 12:00, and 3:00, with stick markers comprising the remainder. All are luminous, along with the hour and minute hands. The red chronograph second hand operates in the traditional manner via the pushers.
A fascinating feature of the Rallye is that during its rotation, the hour hand actually travels beneath the accrued hour ring at the 6:00 position, adding to the complexity and uniqueness of the watch. Upon close examination, one discovers that the lowest, most recessed plane of the dial has a minutely-pebbled finish, while the upper hour ring is velvet smooth. The sapphire crystal is multi-coated and nearly invisible, rendering the face incredibly legible in nearly all lighting conditions. The heavy canvas black band is fully leather-backed and very strong. The large buckle is finished in the same matte as the case, and the tang itself is flush-fit to the buckle. Needless to say, the attention to detail is extraordinary.
The case diameter is 43mm excluding the crown, and the height is roughly 15mm. This exquisite timepiece is supplied with an impressive mirror-based box, containing a central piston shaped stand in which the watch pillow rests. The box and piston feature a luxurious matte black rubberized finish, and the outer box and all papers are supplied as well. This Meccaniche Veloci Rallye chronograph compares easily regarding construction, materials, and fit and finish to pieces from other manufacturers charging three times the price. Treat yourself to one of the best kept secrets in the watchmaking world!