One of the great things, when it comes to writing about watches, is the sheer volume and variety of watches that cross my desk. As an added benefit, as smaller brands come around, it opens an opportunity for us to establish a relationship directly with the brand. That gives us the ability to bring you hands-on reviews of prototypes, as well as being able to ask about design inspiration. The latest fruit of that sort of relationship is what we have today – a review of the Lew & Huey Legends Racer.
This is a watch that, no doubt about it, is visually striking. Pulling together inspirations from some famous racing watches of the past (particularly, the Tag Heuer Monaco for the case and the Tudor Heritage Chrono for the dial), this is a “throwback” watch quite unlike anything you have seen before. And, if the comments I received while I had this in for review are any indication, it is one that resonates with watch lovers.
One of the first questions that has to be asked when you get into a non-standard case shape like this is how it is to wear, how comfortable it is. This case measures in at 39mm square, and has an overall case length of 49mm. The caseback is slightly curved, so the 13.5mm height of the watch sits in snugly on your wrist. Frankly, once I strapped it on, I did not feel it shifting around, nor did it feel like it was weighing me down at 106g.
Speaking of the strap, I had not dealt with a rally strap as of late, so it was nice to have one on the wrist. It is more a styling decision than anything else, but it is in keeping with the racing theme. While the strap (and deployant clasp) were not anything particularly of note (good or bad), Chris Vail (the guy behind Lew & Huey) notes that both the strap and clasp will be upgraded for the production version of the watch. This should make for a less plasticy/rubbery feel on the strap, and an easier close on the clasp.
Along with that truly square case, that means there is need of a squared-off crystal as well. Here it’s sapphire, but it is not a simple square. Instead, it has a bit of a curve to it, and sits up a bit from the case. This is of course a design choice, but it also has a practical ramification – it really is not possible to get an AR coating on the sapphire. Apparently, this is applied more as a film (rather than being painted on, for example), this meant there was not a way to coat the crystal without the edge of the coating being visible.
Fortunately, there was not a huge issue with glare on the Lew & Huey Legends Racer., at least in my limited time with the watch. The handset is polished, so it’s easy to get the light caught to pick out the time. Further production revisions will help in this regard as well – the hands will become slightly wider, and the indices (which will be narrowed to be more proportionate) will be polished as well, again picking up the light. Speaking of light and the handset, lets talk about the lume on the Legends Racer.
As some of my comments so far have pointed out, prototypes are rarely in their complete, finished form. With this watch, there was an issue with the particular formulations being used, resulting in different lume hues for the dial and the handset. The original plan was for it to be all blue, but it sounds like the plan now is to sort of continue the prototype mistake, and have the indices be blue, and the handset stay green. This gives some contrast, and I have to admit – it is fun seeing the different colors in the dark.
So, what is tucked away inside this homage to the great racing watches of yore? Well, it is not a chronograph, as I am sure you have surmised. Instead, we have a Miyota 8217 doing the timekeeping duties, which gives us the date display (the window will be slightly larger on the production version), as well as the 24-hour register. Frankly, I find the 24-hour register a more useful complication in my routine than a chronograph, and it makes a subtle (if unintended) reference to the “24 Hours of Le Mans” race at the same time.
Before I wrap things up here, I do want to touch on how this watch came to be. Apparently a Monaco-inspired watch was something that Vail had played around with, but kind of put to the back burner. Then, one of his friends that he met on WUS (#watchfam to the rescue!), Rusty Mahony, decided to run with the idea. Not a designer by trade (he’s an IT guy), he ended up teaching himself Google Sketchup (to pitch the designs to Vail), and then learned Solidworks to do the final 3d renders. While Vail had input on things like handset and colors, a lot of the design is Mahony’s. Just goes to show that even if you are not trained in a design (or watch making) discipline, if you have an idea for a watch, don’t be afraid to chase it.
Why? Because you just might end up with a design that really resonates with people, as this one did with me. I have become accustomed to seeing various homage watches, and while they are generally “ok”, they are lacking any sort of “wow” factor. With the Lew & Huey Legends Racer, it really upends the expectation of what can be done when it comes to an “inspired by” watch, especially by a smaller brand. Past that, if they had just gone with either the Heuer or Tudor inspiration alone, it may not have quite clicked. Combined like they are here, it just plain works.
It’s also a design that watch folks immediately pick up on. The references are there, but mixed up in such a way that it does not feel like a cheap copy is being made. To me, this is looking to the past for ideas, mixing it together, and coming out with a watch this is definitely it’s own. Another thing this watch will be is rather limited in nature. At this time, only 300 copies are planned to be made (100 each of the blue/orange, black/orange, and blue/red color combinations). If one of the stretch goals is hit, then a fourth color combo (black/red) will get in the mix.
At the time of this writing, the project has hit about 1/3rd of its funding, and you can pick up your own Lew & Huey Legends Racer for prices that start at $350. Of course, Kickstarter being what it is, the project does have to hit the funding goals for these watches to become a reality. I think they are a great addition to their lineup, and I think Vail’s past products speak for themselves. If you jump in on the project, feel free to let us know in the comments – I am curious to see what color combo our readers end up going for. Oh, and speaking of jumping in, you will want to move quickly – the project Â ends on December 16th.Â lewandhuey.com
- Brand & Model: Lew & Huey Legends Racer
- Price: $350 (during the Kickstarter project)
- Who’s it for?: You love the look and feel of the old-school racing watches, but don’t have deep enough pockets to pick up one of those vintage examples
- Would I wear it?: Very likely, yes, in the orange/blue combo
- What I’d change: The only thing that felt “off” on the watch was the logo placement at 3 o’clock. I realize something needed to take up the space, but it feels just a touch too big. Perhaps sizing it down, or lightening the hue, would help it blend a bit better
- The best thing about it: If you couldn’t tell from my writeup, it’s the combination of classic Heuer and Tudor that got my motor running here
Tech Specs from Lew & Huey
- Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
- Caseback: Engraved 316L Stainless Steel
- Display Crystal: Arched Sapphire
- Water Resistance: 10ATM / 100M / 330FT
- Case Size: 39mm x 39mm (without crown)
- Case Length: 49mm
- Case Thickness: 13.5mm
- Lug Width: 22mm
- Movement: Miyota cal. 8217
- Accuracy: -20~+40 seconds/day
- Beat Rate: 21,600 BPH
- Power Reserve: More than 40 hours
- Warranty: 2 Years