TheTimeBum Goodspeed Sonoma



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Review and photos by Mike Razak

When I first got this watch, I thought it was Goodwood, and then I thought, “Well that’s a helluva tie-in with the Festival of Speed.” But then I realized I can’t read well, and the brand is Goodspeed. And then I felt DoubleDumb™ when I realized we’d reviewed their last offering, the Petrol. Just wanted to get that off my chest.

Goodspeed Sonoma

The watch in question is the Goodspeed Sonoma, the brand’s second chronograph offering. While the Petrol was highly reminiscent of the Yema Rallye chronograph from the late 1960s, the Sonoma took its biggest design cues from the Heuer Autavia Diver (11063P, look it up), making several adjustments to avoid being just another vintage homage. The result is a pleasing one and fulfills the brand mission of vintage-inspired racing chronographs at an affordable price. While there will be many iterations of the Sonoma, I received the mechanical movement, black bezel, stainless steel edition on the leather rally strap.

Goodspeed Sonoma

Opening the Sonoma, my first thought was “that’s a big watch.” It’s not, it just looks that way because of the shorter lugs. But it is solid. Very much so. You can feel the heft—and I’d say quality—when you hold it in your hand. The classic tonneau-style case is 42mm with a lug-to-lug of 46.5mm, and its weight makes it seem larger than it is. How can something that heavy with those dimensions sit so nicely on the wrist? Goodspeed wasted little real estate on the 20mm lugs, and so you get a big fat watch that wears much more reasonably than it should. The stainless steel case (also available in black PVD) features a brushed finish and a polished chamfer that extends around the entire top edge of the watch, which is a great aesthetic touch. On the right side you get classic cylinder pushers for the chronograph, with the crown betwixt (the crown will be etched with the new Goodspeed logo (think of a G formed by slot car track). The pushers functioned perfectly, and while I had few issues operating the crown, I do think it could stand to be slightly thicker, perhaps 3.5mm as opposed to its current 3mm. Finishing off the topside, you get a fixed bezel with a black tachymeter insert (also available with a blue and red Pepsi insert). The bezel itself has what I’ll call a construction tire tread edge; of course, this is purely decorative, as there’s no need to grip a fixed bezel. On the reverse, you’ll notice a slight curve of the lugs to better hug the wrist, and a fully polished screwdown caseback with the Goodspeed signature logo that’s also on the dial, the model name, and obligatory SpecsText™: mechanical Seagull 1901 movement, sapphire crystal, and water resistance of 100m.

Goodspeed Sonoma

As there was something about Mary, so too is there something about this dial. You may say, “Well Hey, Mike. That’s just a black dial with some colors.” You’d be partially right. But the main dial has an extremely subtle pearlescent finish that the light catches every so often and it just makes you go “Wowieweewow!” The dial is a simple two-register chronograph layout with running seconds at 9 o’clock and chronograph minutes at 3 o’clock. At 12 o’clock you’ve got the Goodspeed signature logo (as seen on the caseback) and at 6 o’clock a simple sans serif movement designation. Those subdials feature two steps, one for the numerals, and one for the central portion, which has a radial texture. Around the outside of it all is a seconds track with a radial texture, same as the inner subdials. The handset features a straight minute hand and a massive arrow for the hour hand. Enormous even. Distractingly big. But it kind of fades into the rest of the watch over time, so don’t worry. Vintage lume graces the hour markers and the hands, including the chronograph seconds hand. I am torn about this lume. One part of me likes the color (it leans pink in some light), and part of me doesn’t care much for the brightness that the vintage lume sacrifices compared to your standard C3 or BGW9. I’d be interested to see this watch with all black and white, save for the red seconds—I think it could be a real standout in that case. Speaking of that red lollipop seconds hand, I wish it were a bit longer. You’ll see in the photos that while it extends to the edge of the peripheral seconds track (good), the lollipop itself only partially overlaps with the hour markers (bad). This should have been corrected and perfected to achieve full overlap. And while it’s not going to affect the functioning of the watch, nor really the overall aesthetics, it’s a slight imperfection that I noticed, and it held the watch back from true greatness.

Goodspeed Sonoma

Let’s bring it back to the tick-tock! The hand-wound Seagull ST1901 powers this beauty. Based on the Venus 175 from the 1970’s, it’s got a whole bunch of jewels (19), and a whole bunch of power reserve (40 hours). I’ve had several watches with this movement. It offers great quality and finishing at an amazing price and is a favorite of the smaller microbrands for just that reason. Go forth with confidence! Or buy the quartz version with a Miyota 6S21 and go forth with confidence and accuracy but a little less swagger!

Goodspeed Sonoma wrist

The Sonoma comes standard on a supple black leather racing strap. The stainless steel editions will come with a white contrast stitch, but the all-blacks will be…all black. Through a serendipitous error, mine came with half of each, so you get to see both! It’s these little moments I treasure. In addition, Goodspeed will offer a metal beads of rice bracelet with straight ends for an additional $45 during the Kickstarter campaign. I didn’t get to try it out, but at $45, you’ve got no excuse: get the bracelet. Always better to get one now and have it. You’ll recall my mentioning that the case is mostly watch and then lugs happen to be there, short and stubby. While it’s not quite as egregious as the Isotope I just reviewed, you’ll still have trouble with some thicker NATO straps. I had no issue with a bevy of other strap options, though, and I think you’ll be able to find some great combos.

Goodspeed Sonoma case back

The Goodspeed Sonoma offers a beautiful vintage-inspired racing chronograph at an astounding price. As I mentioned up top, you really feel the quality of this piece. If that Heuer Autavia Diver is just out of reach for you (maybe you’re looking for something under $9,000?), and you love the vibe, then the Sonoma is a perfect pick. That said, if you just love a solid vintage-styled chrono, the Sonoma is good for you. The Kickstarter is live now, and the Sonoma will start at $275 for the mechanical edition and $150 for the quartz (which will feature mineral crystal).

Goodspeed Sonoma

P.S.: If you want to get crazy, you can buy all four colorways through the Kickstarter campaign for $1,150 and get a sturdy metal box to hold them in. The box is made by Best Made Co (famous for making everyday items no one needs, at prices that are geared towards Brooklyn hipsters, who especially don’t need any of the stuff Best Made sells. AND THEN they are further customized for Goodspeed. Is it cool? Sure, sorta. But why? If I’m buying ALL FOUR COLORWAYS, I’m probably giving some away as gifts. And then I don’t need the box. So you'll understand my hesitation.

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