The birthplace of the café racer was London’s Ace Café. The Ace was one of many cafés that provided a gathering place for rebellious counter culture teenagers and their motorcycles in the 1950s and 60s.
Inspired by American rock and rollers such as Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent, not to mention Marlon Brando in The Wild One, many, cafes such as the Busy Bee and Café Rising Sun have succumbed to the wrecking ball, while others, such as Jack’s Hill and Squires Coffee Bar have survived, hosting annual Ton-Up reunions each year.
The Ton-Up Boys were those who, despite inferior road conditions with post World War II pot holes, poor lighting, heavy fog, axle grease and road damage, managed to squeeze a ton – 100 mph – out of their bikes. This was achieved often at great danger to the rider, and many did not make it.
Café racer bikes were built to achieve two things: to get the rider from place-to-place as quickly as possible; and to ensure they looked cool doing it. The motorcycles were lightweight, lightly powered and optimized for speed and handling rather than comfort.
The term ‘café racer’ was originally intended as a derogatory term used by truck drivers – ‘you’re nothing but a café racer’ – but the young leather clad, Brylcreemed rockers took the term as a badge of honor, and the name stuck.
Inspired by this era, Italian brand CT Scuderia has launched a collection of unique timepieces that blend the meticulous mechanics of Swiss construction and movements with inspiration imbued by classic café racer culture given its finishing flourish with bold Italian styling. Which is entirely fitting because many of the cafes of the era were actually owned by migrant Italians.
Enrico Margaritelli’s life journey like that of his forebears is as a third-generation watchmaker. But before assuming the mantle of the family trade, he was a professional motorbike racer intoxicated by the heady allure of café-racer society.
It served as a natural inspiration for his next venture. The thinking beong if the racer’s spartan aesthetic and embrace of aggressive styling makes him (and his bike) unique among men, shouldn’t his timepiece be the same?
The Italian essence of café-racer style embodies this to perfection; the jacket (dress or leather), shoes and sunglasses creating a singular personal, style, man atop machine, ready for the next curve in the road, the next café, the next stage of the long journey. These collections run on a mixture of automatic movements and Ronda Swiss quartz.
Testa Piatta is common on Bobber motorcycles with all parts removed that do not contribute to speed, most of those are equipped with side valve engine which later came to be known as the “Flathead”. Due to the side valve design, the cylinder heads are pretty wide and flat, while the valve push rods are relatively short. The watches are 44mm in size. Prices range from $845 – $1,295.
With this collection, the bodywork and control layout recalls early 1960’s Grand Prix road racing motorcycles. Café racers are noted for their visual minimalism, featuring low-mounted handlebars, prominent seat cowling and elongated fuel tank, and frequently knee-grips indented in the fuel tank. 44mm in size. Prices range from $1,395 – $1,625.
Back in the days of 1950s bike racing, the tracks were dirt roads. Dust and dirt would kick into the air, making it difficult to see, especially when moving at high speeds.
The contrasting black and white checkered flag was easy to spot and therefore made the perfect finish line flag. Check Flag is part of the Café Racer world where racing attitude, history and style become a unique mix for all motorcycle drivers. Again, 44mm in size. Prices range from $1,195 – $1,295.