The Cortina 1956 chronograph by Italian brand echo/neutra is a splendid timepiece, a fine design with two distinctive colour schemes. echo/neutra is a brand based at Piove di Sacco, a town in north-eastern Italy near Padua, and their watches are inspired by the Dolomites, spectacular mountains that have attracted generations of climbers. echo/neutra watches are created by Nicola Callegaro, designer, and Cristiano Quaglia, product developer. They were present at the show Watches of Italy which presented the country’s surprising number of independent, micro and artisanal watch brands.
Cortina 1956 chronograph
The Cortina 1956 collection comprises a time-only watch, and this chronograph. The name of the collection refers to the Winter Olympics held in Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956, with a glance ahead to 2026, year in which Cortina (with Milan) will once again host the Winter Olympics. The chronograph’s stainless steel case has a non-rotating bezel with a telemeter scale, so that if you measure the time between (for example) a flash of lightning and the clap of thunder, you can read how far away the storm is in kilometres. The seconds scale is subdivided into fifths of seconds: the designer chose to leave out the fifth-second markings on either side of each hour index.
The two subdials, for running seconds and 30 chronograph minutes, are in perfect symmetry, and the effect is reinforced by the lettering on the dial, all centred, from the oversize numeral 12 to the 1956 logo at the bottom. As in the time-only watch, the chronograph doesn’t have a date window and this certainly adds to its balance.
The hour and minute hands are very likeable, the former a bold arrow and the latter a baton, while the second hand has a red-white-red terminal section that is based on the markings that the Italian Alpine Club paints on rocks and trees to mark mountain paths. The hands and markers on the bezel are coated in luminescent paint. The case is a very wearable 40 mm width, 14.1 mm thickness, and it has a 10-bar, 100 m water resistance for all-round weather protection.
The two available colour schemes give rise to very different watches, the white version modern and minimalist, the beige-black version with a more vintage look, perhaps because the beige colour is similar to the “old radium” used for the luminescent paint on some re-edition timepieces. The black-beige version recalls the Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Bellytanker chronograph, though on that piece the colour scheme is panda, while on the echo/neutra beige-black chrono it is reverse panda.
Sellita chronograph movement
The Cortina 1956 chronograph is powered by the Swiss-made Sellita SW510M BH B movement, hand-wound. This calibre is based on the Valjoux 7750, with cam operation, running at 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz, and a power reserve of 58 hours. The watch has a solid stainless steel caseback.
You can choose between a mineral glass or a sapphire watchglass. Both are the same high-domed (box) shape. The difference between these two watchglass options is that while sapphire is more scratch-resistant, K1 mineral glass is tougher in terms of impact resistance, and this is worth consideration in a markedly domed watchglass such as this. The watch is supplied with a black Cordura-leather strap, with other strap options available, including buffalo leather, Tuscan leather, or milanaise bracelet, all at €49 each.
Price and delivery
The echo/neutra Cortina 1956 chronograph is delivered in a black wooden box which has space for extra straps. It is available for pre-order at a price starting from €1,090, available until 31 October 2020, after which the final retail price will increase to €1,390. It is a limited edition of 100 units, and it is one of the lowest-priced chronographs with a Swiss-made movement. Shipping is estimated at November 2020. Find out more and preorder on the echo/neutra website.