In this review I will be looking at a racing inspired watch which is not something I do often. Arpiem is a small french micro-brand producing limited edition quartz watches and the owner, Vincent Repoux, sure loves cars and bold colors! So me and him are gonna get along just fine 🙂
I present to you, the Arpiem Tribute TJW-2
As I said previously, the watch is inspired by racing cars. This particular model is downright inspired by a specific set of cars: the racing cars under John Wyer. He was famous for putting that light baby blue and orange on his team’s cars. The most famous of those cars is the Mirage Lightweight Racing Car M1, the first car to bear these emblematic colours taken from the Gulf Oil logo.
Mr Repoux has incorporated these colours in a pretty subtle way actually, opting to not fill out the entire dial with those two colours. There is undoubtedly some inspiration from the Tag Heuer Monaco Gulf Oil edition when looking at how the orange line “cuts” through the dial. And like the iconic Tag Heuer watch, this watch is filled with small design hints that adds to this timepiece’s charm.
The biggest giveaway that this watch is racing inspired is perhaps the shape of the subdials. They instantly remind me of a vintage speedometer, even though most of them are round. The way the subdial hands partially disappear at the bottom is quite charming as well.
The baby blue is not only used to colour the subdials, but also used for the hour markers and the minute track and markers. The minute track presents a fun asymmetry created by the 24 hours marker in orange, that replaces the 25 minute mark, a nod to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
The orange colour comes back on the subdial hands and the seconds hand, as well as on the writing at the bottom of the dial. Targa Florio and Nürburgring are two famous race tracks that John Wyer raced on and dominated several times. The orange pops back up under the leather band and there is even a charming little orange ring on the start pusher of the chronograph.
The rest of the watch is relatively basic and generic, but all these smaller details and nods to the past adds up to a very charming watch that any race fan, without the Tag Heuer budget, could enjoy on his wrist! I enjoy them even more after learning about the heritage that inspired this design!
The quality is what you would expect from a 269 Euro quartz watch, but i will still go through everything quickly to give you an idea of what stands out.
The case, crown and pushers
The case is a very generic case with a pretty good polished finish and smooth angles.
The crown is fully polished and features sharp teeth for grip and sits snugly in a little round indent carved in the case, so as to sit closer to the case. The Arpiem logo is deeply engrave on the side of the crown, but it is still barely visible.
The chrono pushers har nicely executed and sit on the arm with very little play. When pushed in, they come back out fast and both in the same manner. The swiss Ronda Z50 quartz movement ensures a nice click feel when using these pushers.
The dial, bezel and crystal
The dial is all matte paint with very crisp printing that has a little bit of shine to it. The hour markers are actually applied little blue rectangles, which is hard to see unless you move the watch. Every hand is nicely aligned except the chrono seconds hand which is off to the left by a forgettable margin.
(Update: Vincent is aware of the chrono seconds hand problem and the future collections will be with Seiko Meca Quartz movements that has i higer tolerance for precision. I also noticed that i can realign it by using the chonograph, which unfortunately just show that Ronda could do a better job, but satisfies my eyes)
The hands feature the same shiny paint job and the print on the dial, and the lume on the hour and minute hands is actually quite good! It has that same blue hue as the BGW9 lume and Vincent confirmed that it is indeed that favourite lume paint of mine!
The date aperture is a little round which is the only choice for a racing inspired watch in my opinion. The single digit dates barely fit in that circle, but the 2 digits dates sits quite nicely in the frame. A fun detail is the fact that you can see the blue and orange on the inner side of the aperture, as shown on the picture below.
The bezel is a quite simple rounded white on black tachymeter scale, engraved and then painted, to ensure the markings don’t get scratched off too easily.
The crystal is sapphire and I assume it has an anti glare coating, because it doesn’t reflect too much light actually. It’s curved nature also helps reduce the intensity of the light coming back. (Update: Vincent has confirmed that the crystal has anti-glare treatment on the inside. I have advised him to add it to the specs on the website)
The strap is of course a cheap leather strap, but it is quite substantial and very supple, so i have definitely seen worse for the money. It did however come with a industrial smell that went away after a week. (Update: The smell is aparently from the box according to Vincent and he has complained to the manufacturer)
I was very surprised to see this watch featuring a deployant clasp. That is something you usually see in higher price ranges, so Kudos to Arpiem for choosing that solution! It adds a touch of luxury to the watch and helps maintain the leather strap. The loop used to tuck away excessive strap is also quite thick and should add to the longevity of this strap.
I think the price is fair
This watch, and its variants, can be yours for 269 Euros (300 USD). Considering they are limited edition with some custom elements, sapphire crystal and a nice deployant clasp, I can confidently say that you get your money’s worth.
Can you get more specs for the money? Yes, from Seiko for example, but they don’t offer this kind of funky racing inspired design.µ
It feels to me like Mr. Vincent Repoux is finally living his dream of creating a cool racing inspired watch, based on his favourite car designs. His timepieces are charming, fun, unique and affordable and he is not trying to brand himself as affordable luxury. These are design watches, and without the cool heritage design and samll hints, they would just be like any other affordable quartz chronograph watch. But don’t forget… They aren’t.