The Fast And The Fratelli — Shootout Round: Brandon’s Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback Vs. Rob’s Omega Speedmaster Racing Co-Axial Master Chronometer
And we’re back with another shootout round of The Fast And The Fratelli! Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen fire and flames. We’ve seen both some close wins and complete and utter destruction. It’s our contest to find the best racing chronograph, and if you ain’t here to race, take your “gas” back home! Today, Carl F. Bucherer takes on Omega in an underdog story for the annals of horology. Can the young Manero Flyback leave a Speedy in the dust? That is up to you, so don’t forget to vote!
I can hear the maniacal laughter coming all the way from Germany. Rob’s oh-so-obvious pick must have him feeling pretty haughty. And to be completely honest, I don’t think I really blame him. His Speedmaster contender has “Racing” in its name. It’s a bold, modern piece with some very impressive specs, and even I must give it props for how appropriate it seems. But you, our lovely readers, are an interesting bunch. In the preliminary round against the Nivada Chronomaster, his Speedmaster Racing barely took the checkered flag. And what decided that outcome? Your votes did, of course! This makes me think you’re craving more than just another old cliche. So let’s check out my contender and see if it’s got some sway!
Brandon — Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback
The Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback is a gentleman’s piece. It’s for those who crave style and have nothing to prove. With a sunburst black dial and recessed silver registers, it has a timeless contrast that Rob’s Speedmaster lacks. Vivid red frames the dial with its arrowhead markers, which are polished as finely as its skeleton hands. On the perimeter of the dial lies the tachymeter scale, which remains legible without crowding the center. The vermilion central hand pulls double duty, of course, indicating both your speed and the seconds elapsed. Mixing “sporty” and “classy” like honey into tea, the result, my friends, is just perfectly sweet.
At 43mm, yes, it is large, but its curves make up for its somewhat brash stance. Just look at the shape of those lugs on the wrist! As they extend from the bezel, they don’t stick straight out, nor do they make an abrupt, jarring plunge. Instead, they arc up before swooping back down, undulating like waves and enchanting the mind. High-polished flanks and a flat, gleaming bezel meet satin-smooth brushing and well-defined bevels. The supple brown strap is made of fine kudu leather with a rally design for the classiest racer.
The ace up its sleeve
Is the Manero Flyback a Master Chronometer? Is it certified by METAS and completely in-house? No, it is not. But its proprietary engine is still nothing to scoff at. The CFB 1970 starts life as a Valjoux 7750, one of the most reliable chronographs in the entire watch world. Boring, perhaps, but that’s before the spa treatment. Thanks to the experts at La Joux-Perret, the caliber receives two boast-worthy upgrades. The cam gives way to a traditional column wheel, ensuring crisp and decisive chronograph engagement. But the flyback function is the cherry on top. Upon finishing one lap and beginning another, restarting is as easy as one push of a button. Press the bottom pusher and watch the red hand fly back to measure your next lap without skipping a beat. It’s a function so useful in the world of motorsports, but in The Fast And The Fratelli, it’s a lone unicorn.
Do we really need another Speedmaster?
Fratello is a haven for the Speedmaster fans. There’s nothing wrong with this, and in fact, it makes us proud! To be a pillar of knowledge on such legendary watches is an honor many sites only wish they could hold. But as much as we love the Speedy and sing its praises all day long, we cannot let our love lead us to monotony. In the shootout rounds alone, there will be four Speedmaster models. That’s 25% of the competition as of now. And if all those Speedies win, that becomes 50%. At what point does our love become a militant obsession? I hate to say it, my friends, but that precipice is near.
If a Speedmaster must win, let it be one that’s truly special! RJ’s Calibre 321 could wipe the floor with Rob’s imposter. For the orange-loving bunch, the Ultraman will light your way. Both of these are luscious models worthy of your time and praise. While Rob’s choice seems obvious, it leaves my engine cold as stone! But what do you think, dear Fratelli? Am I out here all alone?
Rob — Omega Speedmaster Racing Co-Axial Master Chronometer
Unsurprisingly, the best racing chronograph in a competition to find the best racing chronograph made it through the first round. It dispensed with its challenger eventually, but not as quickly or as easily as I think anyone would have predicted. The Nivada Grenchen is a fine chronograph. Perhaps it is even more likely to one day call my watch box home than the Omega. However, I didn’t give it a realistic chance in light of this competition’s stated goal. In spite of that, it performed more than admirably (amazingly, in fact), to take home 46% of the vote. Given the price difference, brand provenance, and heavy Omega favoritism we expect to see on Fratello, that is a truly remarkable (and very heartening) result for the brand.
And now I’ve got to check in with Brandon-san, writing his entry half the world away in Japan. While he enjoys some well-earned shut-eye (it’s currently 22:00 CET, 06:00 JST), I’m killing time on a train I never thought I’d have to take, writing what I’m sure will be a stunning defense of the Omega Speedmaster Chronograph Racing Co-Axial 44.25mm… Assuming I can keep my eyes open until the end of it.
A quick, unrelated, but crucial side note
For all other world travelers in the age of COVID, here’s an update. If you’re traveling to Germany, you need to have your einreiseanmeldung form filled in before you board. I was patiently standing at the back of the queue to board my EasyJet flight back to Berlin. I was behind a bunch of irate travelers without completed forms, and the airport staff assumed I was one of them. When I realized the situation was critical and that they seriously weren’t going to let my fellow passengers board, I tried to show them my documents. Alas, they refused to look at them, assuming that I was complicit with the troublemakers before me. As such, I was denied boarding and am currently passing through Amersfoort on the second of six trains that will carry me home to Dresden in a cosmic “pinch,” otherwise known as 11 hours and 11 minutes (love the symmetry of that journey time, though).
It is no coincidence that I am timing said journey on my recently purchased Omega Speedmaster MK IV, which I’m proudly wearing on a rubber harlequin-patterned four-ring ZULU from Yellow Dog Watch Straps. It is fair to say chronographs (and tracking elapsed time) are very much on my mind. And so what better moment in my life than to turn my attention towards the greatest of all racing chronographs, the Omega Speedmaster Racing Co-Axial, and explain once more, from a slightly different angle, perhaps, why it deserves your vote?
It’s all about soul. Motor racing is what it is because of the perfect confluences of nameable things and the intangibles that knit them together. In the same way that the constituent parts of the game of baseball can never adequately express what an almost religious experience it is. I can tell you that the bright orange markings used here and in many racing chronographs are employed for legibility. I could tell you that true racing chronographs use two sub-dials instead of three, cleaning up a busy dial and making way for the split-seconds markings that are almost more important than the hours (which you could probably count in your head). It’s easy for me to point to the physiological reasons for wanting a perforated strap rather than a solid one when you’re buckled into the cockpit.
But what I can’t do is explain why strapping a concoction that combines these elements onto your wrist results in hearing the distant roar of engines warming up. Or smelling the burnt rubber as it clings to the scorched tarmac of the bends. Or why you can almost taste the gasoline in the air…
What is our objective, again?
The Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback is an absolute peach of a watch. It’s one of the most stylistically underrated chronograph lines in the world, that would, in my opinion, do a heck of a lot of damage to more established makers’ sales if only it weren’t so expensive (€5,500). But it would look more at home timing the acts of a play than it would the speed of a lap. Is it a fine watch? Yeah, it’s a knock-out, a stunner, a beaut. But is it a racing chronograph? You’ve got more chance of seeing Bernie Ecclestone win Miss Virginia 2022 than convincing me of that.
The Manero is no contender when it comes to this contest. Sure, you can like it more than the Omega. Maybe you even want to own it already! That doesn’t change the fact that the Omega is better-suited to the task at hand, and more importantly, that it stirs the racing spirit in us. Feelings are intangible, but they comprise the cloud-like foundations of our industry. They can not be bottled. They can not even be accurately described. Oblique metaphors and similes abound in such a pursuit, but there are no satisfactory words of the mouth to communicate the innermost arousal of the soul.
No time for losers
A lot of the watches in this contest are heavy hitters. Forgive me here for looking past my current opponent, but there will be bigger fish to fry in the coming rounds. The Rolex Daytona and the Speedmaster 321 exist on the other side of the bracket. The idea that both could fail to win this competition seems almost farcical, but whichever of them makes it through (and I suppose I’d back the Daytona here even though I prefer the Speedy) will have to face my Omega in the final (if there is a God). Can even a Daytona beat this honest driver? It would be the favorite, for sure, but does the modern iteration of an undeniably legitimate racing chronograph have the same character as its antecedent? We shall see… In the meantime, follow your heart and vote for the best racing chronograph featured in this article disregarding everything but that.
Destiny is in your hands
Will the Manero go on, maintaining its place as the only flyback chronograph in The Fast And The Fratelli Grand Prix? Or will the Speedmaster Racing Co-Axial leave it weeping in the pits, as it joins the rest of its Omega brethren? Vote for your pick and leave a comment telling us why!