Autodromo has extended its Group B line with a new variant inspired by one of the most extreme rallies on the calendar: the Safari Rally. This version gives a matte, green surface in the form of the Autodromo Group B Series 2 Safari.
Held in Kenya, the Safari Rally (due to reappear in the World Rally Championship this year) was one of the most gruelling events seen on the rally calendar. This rally featured some of the most testing roads and dished out immense punishment to the cars and drivers which drove it. Interestingly, it also provided a very different flavour to the technologically advanced all-terrain supercars which characterised the 1980s and the Group B regulations which created the Audi Quattro and Lancia Delta S4. Instead, the Safari Rally favoured the rugged and the dependable and so was won by cars like the Toyota Celica TCT.
Over the last few years, Autodromo has made a name for itself with watches designed after the racing cars which fill our imaginations. From their early watches, inspired by the gauges of ’60s prototypes to their most recent pieces inspired by the less glamorous (and muddy) world of Group B rallying, Autodromo is first and foremost a brand for car lovers. Their plainly-named Group B was a quirky and appealing entry into the world of rally cars, yet it was the Group B Series 2 which received serious acclaim.
The most major change to the original Group B was the inclusion of spring-bars instead of solid bars and the use of a stunning and deliciously retro bracelet. Where construction was concerned, it retained the same titanium mid-case with a steel bezel and caseback whilst the dimensions remained 39mm wide by 9mm thick. Its three-dimensional dial was a pleasure to witness and the styling was pure ’80s.
However, with its sharp, perfect lines and crisp angles, the Group B never captured the battered and virtually-undrivable state in which Group B cars often ended. With the new Group B Series 2 Safari, Autodromo has answered this demand.
The most obvious change from the original brushed finish of the Group B Series 2, the Safari has a matte surface which looks perfectly suited to the sandy and truly testing conditions of an African rally. Over the top of this matte finish is a green coating which is somewhere between a forest green and khaki. The result fantastic and, as ever, the Lancia 037-inspired dial pairs legibility with functionality. It too is green and matches the case.
Inside the Safari is a Miyota cal. 9015: possibly the best alternative to the ETA 2824 currently available. It has a 4Hz beat rate and a power reserve of 42 hours whilst also offer manual winding and hacking. Importantly, it is reported to be considerably more reliable than its Swiss counterparts and will be more cost-effective to service.
Overall, you really can’t argue with the Autodromo Group B Safari. As a driving watch, it is slim, light and legible whilst not also adding something new to the well-loved recipe: the potential for patina. The original Group B Series 2 always struck me as a stunning piece of design but the sort of watch which would strike terror into its owner with the mere hint of a scratch. The Safari does away with this predicament with a finish which I would love to see with scratches and bumps to reveal the metal under the coating through the patina of machinery worked to the limit.
Consider the Group B Series 2 as a concourse-condition Porsche 959. Absolutely immaculate and ready to be witnessed by amazed masses in a museum. The Autodromo Group B Series 2 Safari as the Porsche 959 which won the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1986: a piece of machinery battered to the verge of destruction and there not for the masses, but purely to propel its occupants to victory.
Availability: USD $975
- Dimensions: 39mm x 9mm
- Material: Blasted Titanium & Stainless Steel with Green Coating
- Crystal: Faceted Sapphire Crystal
- Display: Green multi-layered dial / Screwed central dial pieces / Raised minute chapter ring / White hour and minute hands / Short, yellow-tipped second hand
- Water Resistance: 50m / 165ft / 5 ATM
- Movement: Miyota 9015: Time (seconds, minutes & hours) / Automatic & manual winding / Hacking seconds / 4Hz, 28,800 vph, 8 ticks-per-second / 42-hour power reserve