You may not recognize the names Eberhard or Tazio Nuvolari. From the early to mid-20th century, Eberhard & Co. was a Swiss watchmaking powerhouse, producing a stream of beautiful, innovative timepieces. In that same period Italian racing driver Tazio Nuvolari won 72 major races, forever glorifying the Alfa Romeo brand. So what of the watch named in his honor?
This is not Eberhard’s first Alfa themed timepiece or their first Nuvolari rodeo. As you’d expect, most of the Eberhard watches associated with Il Mantovano Volante (The Flying Mantuan) are chronographs – the Vanderbild Cup Chronograph being a particularly handsome retro-style example. This one is a simple three-hander.
The Eberhard Tazio Nuvolari is more evocative of Tazio’s silver Type-D Auto Union race cars than the red Alfas in which he secured his place in motor racing history. The dial sports a few red touches: the second hand, a “TN” scarab-shaped logo and the driver’s mostly indecipherable signature sprawled across the top.
But aside from the red splashes and dark engine turning effect underneath the indices, the watch is silver all day long: high polish case, Eberhard logo, lume-filled baton hands and, especially, the inner segmented rehaut.
The Eberhard Tazio Nuvolari’s black bezel’s arrow-topped silver markers accentuate the silveryness of it all, glinting in all but the weakest of light. Unfortunately, the bezel commits the cardinal sin of not rotating. The fixed ring helps keep the Eberhard Tazio Nuvolari’s price tag within range of financially-strapped buyers, but leaves purists wondering if it’s a compromise too far.
The 42.5mm Eberhard Tazio Nuvolari is a legible timepiece in every respect. The silver-framed date window at the 6 is especially glance-worthy. Red/green color blind buyers will struggle to find the second hand, and the seconds markers (on the raised flange atop railroad track seconds markers) are too small to serve as anything other than aesthetic enhancement. Minor quibbles for confounding curmudgeons.
There’s a bit of mystery regarding the Eberhard’s “Swiss automatic movement” – the company’s only description of the motivating caliber. It’s ye olde ETA 2824-2.
While there’s nothing particularly wrong with the common as muck movement’s robustness, reliability or accuracy (+9 seconds a day on the Timegrapher), it’s a shame that the company that produced the world’s first hour counter, flyback and horizontal four counter chronographs can’t do something in-house.
Move along. Nothing to see here. Literally. The 38-hour power reserve movement hides beneath a closed caseback.
The caseback enables the Eberhard Tazio Nuvolari’s 100m swimming pool-friendly water resistance. The engine-turned steel motif circumnavigating the caseback adds a welcome touch of motor racing-themed glamor to a fairly muted design.
The Eberhard Tazio Nuvolari lugs are only slightly curvier than a long stretch of German autobahn. Affixed to my 7″wrist, the mock alligator leather strap required some breaking in, but no more than the Watergate building.
The Eberhard Tazio Nuvolari runs $650. At that price, the watch makes sense for Swiss automatic watch-seeking legibility freaks who dig the silver style and fans of the racer Ferdinand Porsche called “the greatest driver of the past, the present, and the future.”
Model: Eberhard Tazio Nuvolari
Price: $650 (Shopworn)
Case Material: Stainless steel
Movement: ETA 2824-2
Functions: Hour, minute, second, date
Accuracy (as tested): +8 seconds a day
Water resistance: 100m
Case back: Solid
Weight: 3.4 ounces
Design * * * *
Sophisticated, vaguely Art Deco vibe. Star deducted for non-rotating bezel.
Legibility * * * * *
Unimpeachable, including the date window.
Comfort * *
The mock alligator leather strap requires considerable breaking in (buyers with wrists smaller than 7″ will need another hole punched) and does little to make the straight lugged watch more user-friendly.
Overall * * * *
A chronograph would be a more appropriate tribute to The Flying Mantuan, but the Eberhard Tazio Nuvolari three-hander is a classy Swiss automatic worthy of both watchmaker and legendary race driver.
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I like the case back… from the turned finish to the retaining screws. Very nice.
Eberhard was an important watchmaking enterprise in the period of end 1800-first1900s. It had important ties with Italy, and yes, it is a bit of a shame that it isn’t using any in-house calibers to drive their timepieces. However, it specialized in chronographers, and used ebauches to drive their time-only watches (which sport a fair price/quality ratio, no doubts).
Eberhard is a storied, lesser known, often nearly forgotten company – at least in the US. I was drawn to the Tazio not because of my love of all things automotive – but because it was ticking the right boxes – a solid design, simple three handed timepiece, ETA motor for reliable performance, and excellent looks. This timepiece was a gift to a best friend whom I had attempted to watch-gift in the past, unsuccessfully. This time, he loved the gift, and I followed suite when I saw it in the flesh – so I bought a second one for myself. Not a daily piece, but more of a reminder of friendship and a storied past. Yes, it will benefit from a proper strap, but as a (very) reasonable purchase from Shopworn – a new piece, it will not disappoint.