echo/neutra is a relatively new Italian watch brand based in Piove di Sacco, near Padua, where Nicola Callegaro, designer, and Cristiano Quaglia, product developer, draw inspiration from the majestic Dolomite mountains. Their first timepiece was named Averau, after one of the Dolomite peaks. Then came the Cortina 1956 timepieces, a chronograph, and this time-only piece. The echo/neutra Cortina 1956 Automatic is an incredibly beautiful watch, outstanding from the first time you see it. It is striking for its vintage colours, and it gets better as you observe the details.
Simplicity and complexity
The first impression is one of a dark, glittering jewel, with the gloss of the ceramic bezel, the polished watchglass, and the case with contrasting bright and brushed surfaces. Then there is the beguiling simplicity of the dial, with lots of space, the oversize numerals, the two colours beige and black. The simplicity contrasts with the complexity of the seconds scale, tightly nested between the long indices with the tiny 24-hour numerals wrapped around them.
Sports and lifestyle
The bezel looks like a sports bezel, but in actual fact it is fixed, and the top reference triangle has been converted into a neat symbol of the Dolomites. The circular logo celebrates the 1956 Winter Olympics held in Cortina. Everywhere you look, you get this concept of simplicity contrasting with layers of complex meaning, such as the second hand, a simple baton, but with a red and white tip that is a reference to the Italian Alpine Club’s markings painted onto the rocks to indicate a path up the mountain. And you begin to understand the inspiration, thinking of a climber who first sees that gigantic vertical face of rock towering up from the scree slopes, a mountain whose elemental simplicity contrasts with the myriad of details, the tiny clefts, fissures, fingerholds and ledges that he or she will use in the journey towards the top.
Tough and practical
The technical details are those of a tough, wearable, everyday watch. A 40-mm case, 11.9 mm thick, with screw-down crown and 10 bar, 100 metre water resistance. You can choose from a watchglass in sapphire (higher scratch resistance) or K1 mineral glass (higher impact resistance).
The watch is powered by the STP1-11 calibre, an ETA 2824-2 clone with 26 jewels, 44 hours power reserve, running at 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz. echo/neutra have chosen to do without the date function. Personally I think that omitting the date window adds to the balance and character of the watch.
Another surprise in the dark
The echo/neutra Cortina 1956 Automatic holds another surprise in store when you turn out the lights. The hands are coated in vintage-style “old radium” luminescent paint, but the principal luminous dial indications are those on the ceramic bezel, including the trio of mountains at the top. They are accompanied by tiny luminescent pips at the edge of the dial. As you can see from the photo below, the short white segment of the seconds hand is also coated in lume, but in this case it is BGW9, which glows with a bluish white colour. It’s a tiny detail, but it demonstrates the thought that has gone into the design. It also has a practical function, showing the wearer picking up the watch in the dark that it is still running.
echo/neutra Cortina 1956 Automatic price
With the watch you also get a black presentation box and the standard Cordura-leather strap. Other strap options are available, including buffalo leather, Tuscan leather, or milanaise bracelet. The watch costs €590. You can buy it online at the echo/neutra website. You can choose between black, beige and blue versions. Not an easy choice, they are all beautiful.