HomeGarageEarly Italian racing cars provide inspiration for Diatto Competizione watch

Early Italian racing cars provide inspiration for Diatto Competizione watch


Many may have forgotten the legend of the Diatto automobiles, once known as the “queen of lightweight, fast, comfortable, elegant vehicles.” But Swiss watch manufacturer Pilo & Co. has not forgotten, and is producing 111 examples of its Diatto Competizione, a timepiece inspired by the cars built in Turin, Italy.

“Considered one of the oldest luxury motor car brands in the world, Diatto was originally founded by a carriage manufacturer convinced of the new openings afforded by the invention of the automobile,” Pilo & Co. said in its news release.

Red and black were Diatto’s racing colors

“Throughout its history, the brand has always been associated with repeat victories, technological advances and its various ties with other top brand names, such as the French automobile manufacturer, Clément-Bayard or the Italian firms, Bugatti, Maserati and Zagato. Its cars continue to be firm favorites with collectors in the 21st century.”

Diatto dates to at least 1835, when it was building 2- and 4-wheeled carriages. It later added luxurious rail cars (for the likes of the Orient Express) and ironworks to its business portfolio. In 1905, the company focused on making motorcars, at first produced under license with Clement-Bayard of France. That agreement ended in 1909.

By 1910, Diatto was adding its own designs to its vehicles. During World War I it produced Bugatti aircraft engines and also absorbed two other Turin-based automakers, Newton and Scacchi. After the war, it produced its most famous car, the Tipo 20, and also produced a series of race cars, recruiting Alfieri Maserati to help tune its supercharged racing engines.

Diatto was among the first to use four-wheel brakes and four-speed transmissions. However, failed bank pushed the company into debt and, meanwhile, Maserati and his brothers had set up their own company.

A decade ago, Zagato acquired rights to the Diatto brand and unveiled the Diatto Ottovu (Italian for V8) Zagato at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show.

Pilo & Co.’s new Diatto Competizione watch pays tribute to the Diatto racing cars and company colors with its red and black colors, the watchmaker said.

“Skeleton watches are always something special because you can see the watch movement in motion,” the company added, calling the Competizione “just the right balance between a dress watch and a sports watch.”

The watch has a 23-jewel movement with automatic winding.

Only 111 Diatto Competizione watches are being produced, because 11 and 111 are the addresses of the Pilo & Co. workshops in Geneva.


Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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