Born to be Wound: Alsta Teams with Beyond the Dial for the Motoscaphe 120, A Purpose-Built Watch for Motorcyclists


Watches and motorcycles. It’s a pairing that has long been regarded as a natural one, between two machines that both exemplify traditional pinnacles of coolness and masculinity — a relationship that lends a spark to countless advertisements, photos, and conversations. And yet, despite their long association in the collective mindset, very rarely have watches been developed and designed directly with motorcycling in mind. Recently, one watch brand sought to change that. You can see the result in the new Alsta Motoscaphe 120.

Alsta, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a vintage sports-watch brand that found most of its success in the 1960s and ‘70s before quietly disappearing sometime later. The brand was revived in 2014 by Angus MacFadyen, who now serves as its CEO, and has steadily unveiled a wide swath of cool, vintage-influenced designs ever since. The Motoscaphe 120 is the latest example, resulting from a conversation, which grew into a partnership, between MacFadyen and Beyond The Dial co-founder and occasional WatchTime contributor Allen Farmelo.

The watch takes influence from vintage Alsta dive watches from the mid-20th century, yet is also keenly geared towards the motorcycle enthusiast. Farmelo and MacFadyen worked tirelessly to develop a watch that spoke properly towards this niche enthusiast, with all of its details given ample consideration and discussion.

The watch uses a 40-mm steel case, robust in its construction and featuring a circular brushed finishing throughout. The somewhat blocky case appears to take design cues from vintage skin divers, in particular those produced by Alsta, such as the Nautoscaph. Additionally, it includes an unusual left-side crown placement, the idea being that when the watch is worn on the traditional left wrist, the crown won’t dig into a motorcycle rider’s skin during a ride. The idea behind the watch’s bidirectional 12-hour bezel is that it would likely be more useful to a motorcyclist than a divers’ watch’s standard, unidirectional 60-minute-scale bezel.

On the dial, the configuration is relatively straightforward, with obvious effort made towards a high degree of legibility. The dial features large, printed shapes for the hours along with smaller tick markers for the minutes, their shapes and colors matching the swordlike hand set that sweeps over them. The design purposely lacks a date window — “because no motorcyclist wants a reminder that Monday is approaching,” according to the company — and hosts the inscription “176ft = 53.6m/sec” below a red Motoscaphe logo above 6 o’clock. The latter element is there to “playfully [reinterpret] the common dive watch depth rating into an equation for speed.” Powering the watch is a Seiko Caliber NH35, a relatively common and reliable automatic movement capable of a 41-hour power reserve.

The new Alsta Motoscaphe 120 comes on a thick, black perforated leather strap in classic racing style. It is priced at $895 and available now, on a non-limited basis, directly through the brand. To learn more, visit Alsta’s website here.

4 Responses to “Born to be Wound: Alsta Teams with Beyond the Dial for the Motoscaphe 120, A Purpose-Built Watch for Motorcyclists”

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  1. Looks suspiciously similar to Tissot’s PR516 from the 90’s. A few changes, including markers and hands, but otherwise has the same look.

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  2. As an avid motorcyclist, I’m curious. If this watch was expressly engineered for motorsports enthusiasts I wonder why the die isn’t offset clockwise so as to ve able to view the time more accurately without taking your hand off the handgrip? Instead we have a watch that is designed to provide more comfort during shifting.

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  3. Nice, unless you ride with the watch on your right wrist…
    Bull/Bullhead watch design would’ve eliminated this unilateral problem.

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