Vintro states that the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph Automatic is “inspired by the great history of the art of watchmaking, reinterpreted and perfectly equipped for the daily demands of everyday life”. Let’s see if it’s any good!
Vintro – the Brand
Vintro is a German watch microbrand that describes themselves as being born out of a love for vintage watches. In case you’re wondering about the name, Vintro is a portmanteau of the words ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’, and the brand seeks to offer affordable watches that are full of vintage and retro styling.
All of Vintro’s watches are adorned with the Made-in-Germany label. This means that the design, assembly and final quality control are all done in Germany, which in theory indicates a better product due to renowned German reliability. I should also highlight that as part of Vintro’s CSR (corporate social responsibility), the brand is donating 5 euros from the sale of every watch to local civil aid institution STELP e.V.
Without further ado, let’s delve into the review!
Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph Automatic – Video Review
If you would to see some hands-on video footage of the watch, do check out my Youtube video below!
Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph Automatic – Build Quality
I would say that the Vintro Le Mans 1952 has terrific specifications for the price.
Firstly, the Vintro Le Mans 1952 utilises a domed sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. In addition, there’s also an inner anti-reflective coating applied so you don’t have to worry about getting nasty reflections. The Le Mans 1952 also boasts a water-resistant rating of 100M, which means you don’t have to worry about it getting wet in the rain, under the tap, etc.
The Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph is powered by the automatic Seagull ST1940 movement. It is an automatic column-wheel chronograph movement with approximately 36 hours of power reserve and beats at 21,600 bph with an accuracy of +/- 20s per day. If you’re thinking of dismissing the movement as another cheap Chinese knockoff, don’t. The Sea-Gull ST1940 is based on an old Swiss model, the Venus 175, originally developed and manufactured by Fabrique d’Ebauches Venus SA in Moutier between 1940 and the early 1960s. It was used in several high-end chronographs, such as the Breitling Chronomat and the Breitling Top Time Chronograph. In 1961, TianJin Watch Factory acquired the design blueprints and the machinery required for the Venus 175 movement, and used those movements to make chronograph watches for the Chinese Air Force in 1963 (those watches are now marketed as the iconic Seagull 1963 chronograph). Later, this mechanism was commercially marketed as the Sea-Gull ST19 series, with the calibre ST1940 used here a modified automatic version of the original. As such, the Seagull ST19 line of chronograph movements actually has quite an illustrious history to it! For more information on the Seagull ST19 line of movements, Kaminsky Blog did a great article on it here. I also want to highlight that the movement is pretty well finished, with perlage visible on the rotor. It’s definitely a pretty thing to look at.
The Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph comes with not one, not two, but three strap options included! A NATO strap, a metal bracelet and a vintage leather strap were all included in the packaging. Out of the three, my favourite is definitely the vintage leather strap as it best accentuates the vintage vibe of the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph. While it isn’t of exceptional quality – it’s a Genuine Leather strap, not a full-grain or even top-grain one – it possesses a rustic aesthetic that complements the retro styling of the watch extremely well. Furthermore, the buckle is also signed with Vintro branding, which is a nice touch. I also want to highlight that the straps come with quick-release spring bars, so swapping between swaps is a breeze.
All in all, I’m very impressed by the specifications of the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph. There’s sapphire crystal (with AR coating), a respectable 100M WR rating, an esteemed automatic column-wheel chronograph movement, and a whopping three straps included in the package. That’s a lot of value for a watch that costs just 400 Euros!
Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph Automatic – Design
I love the design of the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph – it’s full of vintage charm.
When I first laid eyes on the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph, it immediately reminded me of vintage chronographs of old from brands such as Breitling, Universal Geneve, Longines, etc. There’s a strong retro vibe to the dial due to several factors. Firstly, the dial is actually in an off-white/cream colour, which gives the impression of an aged dial. Secondly, both a tachymetre (in blue) and a telemeter (in red) scale is present, which – to my knowledge – is an aesthetic/functional feature that was popular in the past, but rarely seen in today’s modern watches. Thirdly, the simplistic nature of the baton-shaped applied indices is reminiscent of the Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques Chronograph. Clearly, Vintro has taken inspiration from some of the most iconic chronograph watches of the vintage world, and incorporated elements of them into the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph.
While the dial mainly screams vintage, there’s a few more modern touches as well. For one, polished gold plated dauphine hands are used, which gives the watch a dressy feel. You won’t find such hands on vintage chronograph watches, most of whom utilizes simple baton or sword hands. There’s also a sunburst texture to the chronograph sub-dials, which adds a nice contrast in texture to the dial. Lastly, there are also blue painted second hands, which complements the blue tachymeter scale well.
Vintro sent me the Rose Gold variant of the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph, which features a rose gold plated case. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of it. It’s too glossy, and reminds me of cheap fashion watches. I think it undermines the vintage feel of the watch. I think Vintro made a misstep here, and would have preferred them to have a matte, brushed finished gold case instead, like the WULF Exo that I reviewed a while back. It would also have better resembled the gold-filled vintage chronographs of the 1950s. Luckily, Vintro makes a stainless steel variant of the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph, which will personally be my pick out of the three variants available (the other being rose gold).
Moving onto the caseside, we get a signed crown, and block chronograph pushers. The crown is nicely sized, perfect for hand-winding the watch. The chronograph pushers are well-sized too, and provides a satisfying response when pushed.
On my 7 inch wrist, the 40mm dimensions of the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph wears perfectly. As I mentioned in previous reviews, I find 39-40mm watches to wear the best on my wrist, and the Le Mans 1952 is right there at that sweet spot. I know some may be disappointed that Vintro didn’t stick with a more vintage sizing of perhaps 36mm, but in my opinion the 40mm case size is perfect for a modern, neo-vintage watch. Despite being an automatic column-wheel chronograph, the watch isn’t that thick as well at 15mm. Very sensible dimensions overall.
Ultimately, I love the vintage aesthetics of the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph, in particular the dial. The dial is chock-full of retro goodness, and really conjures to the mind some of the most iconic chronographs from the past catalogues of brands such as Breitling and Vacheron Constantin. My only quibble is the shiny gold-plated case, and would personally opt for the stainless steel variant instead.
Shootout: Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph Automatic vs Mercer Lexington Chronograph
If you’re looking for an affordable vintage inspired chronograph, a good alternative would be the Mercer Lexington Chronograph.
In terms of specifications, the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph edges out the Mercer Lexington. Firstly, the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph uses sapphire crystal, which is more durable than the K1 domed crystal of the Lexington. Secondly, the automatic ST1940 chronograph movement found in the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph is also – from a technical standpoint – more complex than the ST1901 manual winding movement that powers the Lexington. Finally, the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph also has a higher WR rating of 100M, as compared to the 50M of the Lexington.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the fight is much closer. Both watches are inspired by vintage chronographs – the Mercer Lexington heavily references the vintage Heuer Carrera, while the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph draws inspiration from the Brietling and Vacheron Constantin chronographs of old. Which looks better to you depends on your personal taste. I would say that the Mercer Lexington has a cleaner, more minimalist looks that wouldn’t look out of place in a modern catalogue. In contrast, the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph screams vintage. If you’re a fan of vintage watches, the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph would likely be more up your alley.
Given that it is slightly cheaper than the Mercer Lexington, I would have to give this shootout to the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph due to its better specifications. That being said, both are beautiful watches, and I definitely wouldn’t have any qualms with wearing either on my wrist.
Conclusion – so the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph Automatic “shiok” or not?
Yes, definitely. Firstly, it’s a great value proposition – you’re getting an automatic column-wheel chronograph (based upon the legendary Venus 175 movement) for just S$600+! I’ve seen other microbrands selling mecha-quartz chronographs for more. As a lover of vintage watches myself, I absolutely love the dial of the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph, which is a retro beauty. It’s quite unique as well due to the incorporation of both a tachymeter and a telemeter scale on the dial. My only complaint is the glossy gold plated case, but there’s always the stainless steel variant to opt for.
For those interested in the watch, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all of Vintro’s watches on their web-store. After the promo code, the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph can be had for just 407 Euros/ ~S$659, excluding VAT. If you love its vintage styling, but still find the price a tad too high, there’s also a mecha-quartz version available. I think Vintro is off to a great start with the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph – can’t wait to see what future designs they have in store!
View the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph here.
You can read other reviews of the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Chronograph below.
|Collection:||Le Mans 1952|
|Limited to:||500 pieces|
|Movement:||automatic movement with column-wheel and 21,600 bph|
|Power reserve:||approx. 36 hours|
|Display:||hour, minute, permanent small second, center chronograph stop second, 30-minute counter, tachymeter, telemeter|
|Case:||316L stainless steel – yellow gold|
|Case back:||screwed stainless steel case back with sapphire crystal|
|Case diameter:||40 mm|
|Lug to Lug:||48 mm|
|Case height incl. crystal:||15 mm|
|Lug width:||20 mm|
|Water resistance:||10ATM / 100m|
|Crystal:||Scratch resistant, domed sapphire crystal with inside anti-reflective coating|
|Dial colour :||Creme|
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned.
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.