Autodromo Is a Fashion Label in the Car Business

When a designer tells us he’s inspired by 1960s Italian GTs, we listen closely.

Menswear trends come and go, but there are some male fixations you can always count on, the second most obvious one being cars. Automobiles are how we envision our future, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. It’s a romantic notion and no brand captures that dream right better than Autodromo, which traffics in watches, driving gloves, and sunglasses that recall the era when Paul Newman was flooring racing Datsuns through the Hollywood Hills.

Founded by former industrial designer Bradley Price, Autodromo began as a line of watches and has steadily expanded ever since. Unlike other designers, Price doesn’t take a seasonal approach, favoring instead the classic and authentic—you’d think the guy’s heart bleeds motor oil. The man steering the brand sat down to talk about his work and why cars and fashion belong together.

What were you doing before Autodromo?

My background is in industrial design. I was working for about 10 years doing product design in New York doing all sorts of consumer appliances and products: cell phones, washing machines, dishwashers, furniture. I also did a lot of branding work with food companies such as Pepsi and Unilever.

When I turned 30, I was starting to think about the future and how I wanted to have my own company at some point. I had originally tried to be a furniture designer and I was trying to have my own studio. Basically I realized that unless I was doing something that involves cars, I would never really be happy.

Photo Courtesy of Autodromo

You love cars. Why make watches?

One day while driving, I just had this epiphany. I saw the needles on the controls, and I was watching them move. And I researched and found that there wasn’t really anyone doing that with watches at the time. So after about two years of research, design, finding the right sourcing, it happened. It was about 2010 when I started the journey.

What about cars inspires you?

It’s hard for me to say in a simple way, because it’s such a central thing in my life. If you ask a surfer why they love to surf, the answer is that it’s just very primal. For me, the sound of the engine, the smells, the sense of motion being in a car at high speed and the sense that you’re moving through the landscape very quickly. Also, the beauty of vintage cars is really inspiring. I find them really enchanting and really beautiful to be around, in a way that I don’t appreciate modern cars. I can’t get excited about even the most modern cars the way I do about vintage cars.

Which vintage cars are the most stylish for you?

I tend to have a penchant for Italian cars, but I appreciate a large variety—1950s and ’60s Italian cars, especially. But I also have a thing for the wedge cars of the 1970s.

Photo Courtesy of Autodromo

What about cars resonates with your customer?

There are so many people that buy things to please others around them instead of pleasing themselves. We tend to sell to people buying for their own personal gratification. And as far as the car thing, it’s also because it’s an enthusiast’s brand. Because of my own personal connection with automobiles, each product embodies that. I think a lot of car-related accessories you see on the market, they are designed in a corporate environment by people who don’t have any connection to it. There’s so much licensing that goes on in the design world, and a lot of these licensed products are soulless. What makes us different is that we aren’t designed in that method. It comes from a very authentic, emotional place.

I’ve heard some good things about your latest watch, the Stradale. Could you tell me about it?

It’s only our second automatic watch ever. The first was a limited edition that sold out. This is our new flagship watch, and it’s open edition. First of all, it’s a higher price point for us, and specification-wise, it’s really the finest watch we’ve ever made. Stradale means “road going” in Italian. This whole idea of the watch is to express the idea of Gran Turismo in the ’60s. Back then, you would drive on undulating roads and drive through towns. It was an actual adventure to go from city to city in Europe in the ’60s. It’s inspired by gauges from GT cars. 

Photo Courtesy of Autodromo

Any specific model?

Berlinette is the specific type of car, which was very popular in Italy in the ’60s. You could drive it at 120 miles an hour down the road, then pull up to dinner.

Would you say your watches lend themselves to dressing up and dressing down?

Absolutely. Some watches, like a Rolex Daytona, if you wear with a T-shirt, you look like an idiot. Some watches need the right clothing to carry it off—but with Autodromo, they kind of transform, based on how you wear clothing with them.

Autodromo started with watches and has expanded into other categories like sunglasses. Are there other categories you would like to do next?

I’m interested in doing some leather goods. But I don’t foresee expanding into territory where it’s just a branding exercise. Everything I do has to be related to driving. I don’t think you’ll see me doing cufflinks.