I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to bring one of my imaginary watches – a dedicated motorcycling tool watch – out of my mind and onto wrists! The Alsta Motoscaphe 120 is a tribute to motorcycling, and not to motorcycles. It is designed and engineered for motorcycling, not to go with this or that bike. It’s the purpose-built motorcycling tool watch I’ve been longing for, a badass timepiece ready for all motorcycing adventures.
Some of you may recall that I was posting images of my various motorcycles on Instagram along with watches that looked cool with the bikes, but which also were useful and comfortable for motorcycling. I’d settled on a Nomos Club Siren White with my Ducati Supersport, and I’d imagined that a Panerai Carbotech Luna Rossa would have been perfect with my red Ducati Panigale V2. But, in the end, none of these watches was really made for motorcycling. They were stand-ins for something purpose-built.
Then Angus MacFayden of Alsta Watches reached out to me on Instagram, saying he liked where my head was at. Within a week, we had the first sketches of The Motoscaphe 120. Now it’s for sale around the world.
A Tool Watch Rated for 176ft = 53.6m / sec
That’s 120mph, or just over 193kph. This is the speed at which “relativistic effects” (as described by psychologists) arise in human perception. Relativistic effects are a perceived curvature of space and the slowing down of time. Space seems to curve because our perceptual apparatus can’t keep pace with this unnatural speed of travel. Time slows down because our nervous systems are on high alert. Together, these two perceptual shifts create an otherworldly experience – some might even say a spiritual experience. Hunter S. Thompson said it best: “That’s when the strange music begins.”
Just as the depth rating on a dive watch can take my imagination into the otherwordly realm of the sea, this “speed rating” on the Motoscaphe 120 can bring me into the otherworldly realm of motorcycling. Diving deep and motorcycling fast are experiences that humans are not evolved to do, let alone process mentally. That’s why these sports are so incredibly special to me.
Features of The Motoscaphe 120
The Motoscaphe 120 is engineered for motorcycling, which means it has to have a few modifications to make it ideal for life on the bike.
Left-handed crown. This makes the watch far more comfortable because the crown doesn’t dig into your wrist. It eliminates a small annoyance which, at high speeds, can be just distracting enough to pull focus, and a loss of focuis is never a good thing on a motorcycle.
12-hour Bi-Directional Bezel. Here the Motoscaphe ambitiously diverts from its dive watch roots. Keep track of minutes, hours, or a second time zone, and turn the bezel easily into position without the frustrations of a uni-directional bezel.
Bold Legibility. I knew this watch had to be super easy to read at the fastest glance, and so I worked to remove distractions and increase legibility on the dial. This meant no numerals, no date window, and big bold white markers on a solid flat black background under a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the underside.
Perforated Black Leather Strap. This strap is awesome. Angus from Alsta encouraged me to embrace the rally strap, and I’m so glad he did. “Perf leather” is a motorcycling stable, because it allows maximum protection and air flow. No different for a watch strap, and it also matches most motorcycling outfits – and matching matters to me (because I’m Italian, I guess)!
Leather Carrying Case for Sunglasses. As an environmentalist, I’m always trying to think of some way to make use of things we own. If you can’t use it, why make it? The typical watch pouch gets stashed in a drawer, but this pouch is designed to hold sunglasses, which motorcyclists are always using. It will also hold 2 watches, should you be headed to your local meet-up.
The Nature of The Collaboration
Angus MacFayden of Alsta is a true gent. He and I discovered so much in common during our first conversation about this watch that it seemed destined to happen. Angus and I both are David Bowie nuts, and cigar lovers, and motorsport enthusiasts, and so on. It was like meeting a long lost brother for me, and that brotherly spirit has been with us through thick and thin of bringing a product to market together.
I’ve said elsewhere that I’ve had 30 years to dream up this watch, and in a sense that’s accurate because I’d been puzzling over the ideal motorcycling watch for about that long. Angus brought his deep knowledge of tool watches, of Alsta (of course), and was able to guide my hand during the design, which I did using Adobe Illustrator and images of the Alsta Nautoscapohe from which the Motoscaphe derives.
I didn’t want Beyond The Dial branding to dominate this watch, largely because this watch is about motorcycling and not about our publication. And I’ve also seen more than a few ‘collab watches’ ruined for me by the publication jamming their branding into an already crowded design. The Motoscaphe 120 was all about stripping things away and leaving bold legibility to reign, so no big BTD logos here. BTD’s branding exists subtly enough on the caseback.
Riding With The Motoscaphe 120
There’s two ways to do a motorcycle watch: make it ultra-thin so it disappears up your sleeve (my Cartier Tanks are good this way), or make it a chunky tool watch that claims some turf between your jacket and glove. I’ve always preferred the latter, because it’s so much easier to see the watch without taking off any of your kit. My first bikes were so old that they had no clocks on the dash (now very much in vogue, btw), and so I came to rely on my watch while riding. Big chunky divers were always my favorite, and the chunky 40mm skin-diver case of the Motoscaphe is spot-on.
I was somewhat surprised how much the reversed crown position mattered on the bike. Sparing you the geometry lesson, those tiny crowns are like door stops: small things strategically placed and, thus, able to do far more than you’d expect. I flipped the Motoscaphe around to the traditional right-hand crown position and found that, after the watch settled into position (meaning, slid down my wrist as watches always do on motorcycles), the crown was totally annoying. With the crown on the left-hand side, the case slides into the wrist joint quite comfortably.
Legibility is excellent, the 12-hour bezel useful (especially when needing to chat with people in Europe, which I seem to do a lot of lately), but it’s the awesome feeling of wearing a watch that’s designed for your favorite sport that is so cool. Just as a super rad dive watch sets one’s attitude toward an adventure, the Motoscaphe 120 does the same thing for motorcycling. I especially enjoy knowing that it’s stealthily “rated for 120mph,” and kitting up for a ride finally feels complete. For me personally, that’s really something after 30+ years of riding motorcycles with mechanical watches.
That’s the idea! Motoscaphe 130, 100, whatever it may be, we plan to extend this range of motorcycling watches, offering a more diverse set of prices and features for riders. Angus and I have already started to chat about these designs, and we are delighted to keep going with this fruitful collaboration.
Specs & Pricing
CASE – 40mm 316L stainless steel with circular brushing
CASEBACK – engraved with Beyond The Dial’s Ethos and victory wreath
MOVEMENT – Seiko NH35 (mechanical, no date, auto-winding)
DIAL – custom designed markers, no date aperture, blue Super-LumiNova
BEZEL – custom-tuned bi-directional ratchet, 12-hour timing scale on aluminium insert
CRYSTAL – domed sapphire with anti-reflective coating (inside only, so it will never scratch)
STRAP – thick black perforated leather rally strap for maximum air flow
LEATHER POUCH – Custom oxblood red leather case embossed with Alsta and Beyond The Dial logos, designed to serve as a sunglasses case and/or tool pouch on the bike.