Posted on November 04 2020
Ascari Indigo Watch Review
The Filippo Loreti Ascari is a mid-priced fashion watch. It was inspired by Alberto Ascari, Ferrari's sole Italian champion at the Grand Prix World Championships. The Rose Gold variation is one of the more colourful models and aims for a sporty aesthetic. It’s quartz-powered - using a reliable Seiko chronograph movement and has the specs that you’d expect at this price-point.
I was sent a watch to review, but since Filippo Loreti seems to be quite a controversial brand, I’d like to talk a little about the company before looking closely at the watch.
Who is the Filippo Loreti Customer?
You may want to stop reading now.
Are you the customer that Filippo Loreti is trying to sell their product to?
It’s a legitimate question and one I often ask myself when I’m researching or reviewing watches. Maybe this watch wasn’t created for either of us.
Let me give you an example of what I mean.
When I launched Northwind, the idea was to create a limited-edition mechanical watch to be sold in the North of England to local men. The brand imagery was built around the North’s industrial heritage and the first watch was named after Lord Armstrong, a Victorian industrialist. The watch was stocked in local independent menswear stores.
My idea was that men who had never worn an automatic watch would see mine in a local store, be intrigued by the story and the mechanical movement - visible through the back - and try it on their wrist.
There was nobody else doing anything similar in my city.
However, one of the first online reviews described the watch as over-priced and noted that for the same price you could pre-order a watch with higher specs from Kickstarter - with delivery months down the line - from a company based in Hong Kong. The reviewer completely missed the point of the branding, the typical retailer discount of 50% that influenced the pricing, and he had no idea that people still shopped on the high street.
He thought that Northwind and the new Far Eastern brand were marketing to the same people. It’s a common misconception in the watch collecting community. There’s an assumption that everyone pours over thousands of watches online before bagging the perfect bargain. That everyone cares about lume quality, water resistance and uni-directional bezels.
So before you read further, you need to ask yourself if you fit Filippo Loreti’s customer persona? I know that I don’t. I like military watches, microbrands and subtle pared-down designs. Their watches aren’t created for people like me - but here I am doing the review because they sent me a watch.
So who are they created for?
My 16yr old son. He loved this watch and wants to wear it now. Asap. He’s currently wearing a gaudy gold Invicta Pro Diver that he strong-armed me into handing over. He likes his watches to be bold and gold.
My 18yr old is currently rotating his Hugo Boss, that was a gift from his girlfriend, and a rectangular Emporio Armani. He’d wear the Ascari in a heartbeat. So let’s take a closer look at the brand to see why.
The Filippo Loreti Story
The brand’s story began on Kickstarter. In 2015 the two founders, brothers Danielius and Matas Jakutis, set out to launch a watch brand. The concept - you’ll have heard this many times - was to cut out the middle man and offer luxury watches direct to the customer at an affordable price. They set a funding goal of $20,000.
In the next 30 days, they became the most highly funded Kickstarter watch ever, raising nearly $1M. Their second collection of watches blew that out of the water after it raised more than $5M. There’s something that people like about these watches.
Why the great success?
The success story is obviously more complicated. Kickstarter campaigns live and die based on their pre-launch build-up. Social media posts and advertising are crucial and the target audience are generally a younger demographic. Those comfortable with crowd funding. Filippo Loreti has excelled at engaging this audience and have been able to successfully repeat the exercise.
That’s a long-winded way to get the point. The company comes in for a lot of criticism, and I’m sure some of it is valid, but there can also be a misunderstanding. These watches aren’t marketed to watch aficionados.
They’re fashion watches, marketed to younger, more image-conscious kids, who favour brand names over technical specifications. Who have seen Filippo Loreti all over social media and want to show their own on Instagram too.
They’re like my sons. They buy Hugo Boss and Armani watches and then get blown away by the quality and weight of an Invicta. That’s not me. But hey, I’m still the one who got sent a watch to review, so let’s get on with it.
Price and Specifications
At the time of writing, this watch is listed on the Filippo Loreti website for £169. On my local high street that would get you a Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss or Armani Exchange. And that’s where I see this brand competing - alongside big brand names that stamp their name on quite generic watches (see my post about Fossil producing watches for these brands).
The specifications are around what I’d expect at this price-point. You can get similar much cheaper, but not from a fashionable brand. It has a Seiko Chronograph movement and sapphire coated mineral crystal.
This is the package that arrived on my doorstep. Jump straight into the video for a quick look at what that £169 gets you.
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Overall, I had a positive first impression of the watch. I’d read a few negative reviews online so was prepared to be disappointed. On the whole, the watch delivers. I’ll get into the details soon, but first I just want to give my initial thoughts.
It doesn’t feel cheap. As I highlighted in my post about fashion watches, there’s no reason that it should. Most brands share common production facilities and for the most part that means Made in China.
The watch feels fairly substantial, and as you can see, the dial has a nice sunburst effect and neat markers. Having said that, the colour wouldn't be my first choice if I was buying the watch.
Overall Look of the Watch
As I tried to make clear earlier, this is a watch that appeals to a very specific audience. The Rose Gold case with blue dial, bezel and rubber strap is a bold look. It’s not for everyone. There are a couple of other variations that I’d prefer - they’re the same watch, just with a different colouring. The black version on a stainless steel bracelet would be my first choice.
This style is very much a sporty chronograph and is in keeping with the motorsports inspiration. That is enhanced by the Ascari motif on the case back. It’s a nice touch and supports the idea that there’s a story behind the watch.
Build quality and Specifications
The build quality looks fine, and with the risk of repeating myself, it’s what I’d expect from a modestly priced fashion piece. The case is sturdy and the dial crisp. There’s a nice feel to the bezel when rotated - not too loose or stiff.
The rubber strap fits snuggly and anything that I don’t like about it is down to the fact that I’m not a fan of rubber straps - particularly on non-dive watches.
It’s 42mm wide, which is a comfortable size, and at just under 12mm it fits easily under a shirt cuff. I’ve worn it for a couple of weeks now and it’s in no way a cumbersome watch to wear.
The chronograph is a bit of a non-feature. I can’t imagine the users that the watch is aimed at using the timer, but if they did, it’s a reliable Seiko movement. There’s also 100M water resistance, which is a plus. I took the watch to the beach and got it a bit wet without any issues.
It’s a nice watch. Not really to my tastes, but it’s nonetheless a decent piece. I can’t vouch for the brand in terms of customer service or their marketing, but as a watch, it does a good job.
I do want to stress that this watch and brand appeal much more to my sons than to me. People who want to wear brand names and take their cues from social media influencers.
Filippo Loreti seems to have merged this type of contemporary marketing with infusions of history. The Roman Empire for example, or in this case, vintage motorsports (see more about Watches and Motorsports here).
Wearing this watch for a few weeks has piqued my interest in the brand. Before I finish I’d like to just highlight a couple of the alternative watches that do appeal to my tastes.
Filippo Loreti Alternatives
World Timer Tokyo
Okeanos Blue Steel Link
Ascari Riviera Blue
This would be my pick from the Ascari line. It’s more classically styled than the Rose Gold model and benefits from a Stainless Steel bracelet.