echo/neutra is a new Italian microbrand launching its first AVERAU collection on Kickstarter, consisting of five pieces known as the Versante line. While being quite classic in their design at first, several discreet details make them appealing and different. But best of all, besides this cool tool-ish design, it’s what you’ll get for the price that makes this new microbrand worthy of being explained here. So let’s have a look at the echo/neutra AVERAU Versante watches.
Founded by Nicola Callegaro, Designer and Communication Consultant, and Cristiano Quaglia, Aerospace Engineer with a specialization in Propulsion Systems, the watches are inspired by the Italian Dolomites mountain range. The mountains have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009 and a source of wonder for both founders since childhood. As more collections are added, each will be dedicated to a specific mountain or important site, and this inaugural AVERAU collection is dedicated to Mount AVERAU (also known as “Nuvolau Alto”). All watches have design cues relating to the Dolomites and are very decent tool watches for climbers and outdoorsmen, or anyone looking for an affordable, understated Swiss piece.
The 316L stainless steel, 3-piece cases are 42mm in diameter and 10.9mm in height, and either brushed with polished accents or PVD coated in black (ion plating). The tightly knurled crown screws down and the watches are water-resistant to 100 metres, and an engraving of Mount Averau can be seen at the crown’s end. A flat sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating covers the front with sapphire treated glass on the screw-down exhibition caseback. A serial number is also engraved on the back as a personalized touch.
The dials are differentiated by colour and finish, but all have the same design and layout. There are four main applied indices at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, filled with Super-LumiNova, and printed numerals surround an outer minute track (with a more detailed scale from 12 to 2 o’clock). The seconds track is printed on the outermost raised frame. A multi-level date window sits at 3 o’clock with the word “DATE” and an arrow printed to the left – unnecessary, of course, but it contributes to the purposeful, tool watch vibe.
The hour hand has a distinctive arrow tip and both it and the minute hand are partially painted with Super-LumiNova (reminding me a bit of Bell & Ross). The seconds hand has a red and white tip that pays homage to trail signage used by CAI (Italian Alpine Club) in the Dolomites. Between 7 and 8 o’clock, you’ll also find 2649 MSLM printed diagonally, which is the height of Mount Averau. Dial colours include a sandblasted matte black (Nord and Sud models) or sand (Est model), or bright sunray blue (Ovest models). Hand and index colours vary depending on the dial.
There are actually two movements available, one displaying a bit more decoration. The standard movement is a Swiss STP 1-11 from Swiss Technology Production (not to be confused with Sellita). Based in Manno, Switzerland (Italian-speaking section), the movement manufacturer is a relative newcomer. The calibre is a copy of the ETA 2824-2, which is no longer patented. As ETA is being reined in to supply only for Swatch Group members, these Swiss alternatives are vital for emerging brands. The STP 1-11 has 26 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 44-hour power reserve (a bit higher than the standard 38 hours for an ETA 2824-2). There are also 26 jewels vs ETA’s 25 (an extra jewel on the barrel arbour). For an additional CHF 49, you can opt for a STP 3-13 with a swan neck regulator and blued screws. The specs are otherwise the same and both feature Geneva stripes on the rotor and perlage on bridges and plates. Functions include central hours, minutes, hacking seconds and date, and an Incabloc shock protection system.
Several different 20mm strap options are available, starting with a black or tan (with vegetable tanning) top grain Italian leather with hypoallergenic linings. Next is a black Cordura strap with high abrasion resistance and Italian leather lining. This is a sportier, more water-resistant option. Then there’s a black rubber strap with red Italian leather lining for maximum water resistance. All three variants have a brushed or PVD coated stainless steel buckle. If the campaign hits over CHF 100,000 (it has already met its standard production goal), a stainless steel oyster-style bracelet will be included. And because it has exceeded CHF 50,000 thus far, an additional brown Italian leather NATO strap will be included free with all watches.
Prices are currently discounted for Kickstarter with a Late Bird price of CHF 420 or USD 472 (Early Bird pricing is sold out). Standard Kickstarter prices will be CHF 450 or USD 505. An upgrade to the SPT 3-13 movement is an additional CHF 49 or USD 55. Extra straps and a leather watch wallet are available to purchase as well. The optional stainless steel bracelet can also be purchased for CHF 65 or USD 73 (PVD coated for CHF 70 or USD 79). The Kickstarter campaign ends on May 2nd and is already funded. For an Italian designed, Swiss made automatic with several dial/case and strap combinations, the echo/neutra AVERAU Versante line is an excellent value proposition from a young, burgeoning microbrand.