Why We Didn’t Introduce U-Boat Before
If you are not from the Netherlands, Belgium or Luxembourg, you can of course skip this brief introduction. But if you’re wondering why we haven’t shown more cheap U-Boats in the past, read on.
I was on a short trip to London earlier this year and U-Boat UK invited me to meet them. To be honest, I haven’t noticed U-Boat for a long time. The reason is that about 10 years ago they were sold in a terrible way in the Netherlands (where we are). However, I decided to visit U-Boat’s staff in London and to my surprise they admitted that these early days were not the best for U-Boat in some countries such as the Netherlands. However, they’ve come a long way since then and U-Boats seem to be selling really well in the UK (and other countries). Time to put the past behind us and see what the U-Boat is all about.
When the good folks at U-Boat showed me part of their collection, I noticed that the watches still reflected the design they started with, but the level of finish and especially the level of detail has improved in many ways. In fact, you either love these fake watches for sale or you hate them. However, there is very little to discuss about the finish and the vast amount of detail on these watches.
In 1942, the Italian Navy invited an Italian precision instrument designer and craftsman named Ilvo Fontana to bid for a new officer’s watch and diver’s watch. Ilvo Fontana decided to name the company U-Boat and submitted his design. Due to the circumstances, these watches are out of reach and the design disappears in a drawer. It wasn’t until some 58 years later, in 2000, that Ilvo Fontana’s grandson, Italo, discovered the designs and inspired him to complete what his grandfather had started. To create a diver’s watch with high quality standards and guaranteed maximum visibility and reliability in any light and weather conditions.
The U-42 series returns to the original design of Italo Fontana’s grandfather, and the Chimera series is a modern interpretation of it. The crown system, one of its hallmarks, is clearly present on this watch and expands the case’s 46mm diameter to a staggering 60mm. Let’s zoom in on this bronze work by U-Boat.
Chimera Bronze Limited Edition Ref 6945
The first thing I noticed when I opened this watch out of the box was the weight and size. The watch weighs approximately 185 grams, so you won’t notice this while wearing it. Of course, the most striking feature of this Chimera is the bronze case. The bronze case will eventually take on a patina that is unique to each timepiece. Only limited to 300, I wonder what the difference will be between them a few years (or decades) from now when they age. I’m not sure, but I can imagine the patina on the bronze case also depends on the owner’s geographic location (weather conditions) and of course the type of abuse it will receive.
As you can see, the bezel and case back are secured to the middle case using 5 screws and bolts in the outer bronze tube. The dial of the watch is layered, which adds depth to it. The lower dial is matte bronze and the upper dial is tobacco, giving the watch a vintage look and feel. In any case, it’s a perfect bronzer. Laser-cut minute and hour hands with a hand-brushed finish complete this watch picture-perfect. While very functional, no need for a date aperture in my book.
It also showcases the finishes of the bezel, tubes, case middle and lugs. The satin brushed finish seems to have a different orientation on each part of the watch, showing the level of detail that U-Boat has put into these watches.
Another aspect of the watch that I need to mention here is the strap. Although this watch might look a bit small and thin (as you can see, the watch is quite thick. About 18mm). The calf straps are machined using techniques from the 1800’s, giving it a vintage distressed look and feel. While we’re currently seeing more straps with this finish and typically thick stitching, this has got to be the softest, most comfortable strap I’ve worn in a while. Of course, the replica watches swiss comes with a matching bronze buckle.
If we turn the watch around, you can immediately feel the level of detail that U-Boat loves to put into their watches. Before I detail the mechanical chronograph movement of this Chimera Bronze Limited Edition Reference 6945, I want you to take a look at the case back. The pearl pattern on the bottom cover is done very well. The back of the case has all the necessary text for U-Boat engraved on it, but I’m not sure why you would show the case diameter on it. Maybe that’s the first thing other people will ask you. It didn’t bother me anyway.
The crystals on the back have a bit of a “smoke” effect. It matches the bronze color of the case perfectly and still gives you plenty of “view” of the movement.
As you might have guessed by looking at the dial layout, the U-Boat uses an ETA/Valjoux 7750 based movement. However, the rotors are made of silver and have blued screws that hold the weights in place. The rhodium-plated movement is beautifully decorated. ETA/Valjoux is considered a workhorse, so I’m pretty confident it will continue to tick for generations to come. The version used by U-Boat is a beautiful workhorse though, as we’ve seen smaller (optical) finished versions of this movement in many watch lovers’ more premium branded watches.
To sum it up: I’ll be the last to deny that U-Boats have a troubled history here in the Netherlands, and it kept popping into my head a few times while handling this U-Boat. However, I need to be honest here and have to admit that there is very little to criticize in terms of the quality and finish of this watch. The only thing I have to get used to is the price level of these watches as they are a far cry from the first quartz watches produced in the early 2000’s. I ignored this brand for 10 years (and some of you probably did too) so now I need to re-evaluate my previous opinions (a lot).
If you’re looking primarily at what you get for the money, the price seems more realistic to me. The use of bronze is cool, and the layered dial and bronze hands match it perfectly. I know Italians and design go hand in hand, but I was pleasantly surprised! Design aside, the U-51 Chimera Bronze watch is unquestionably a quality watch in my opinion.