(4 / 5)
Bespoke suits and streetwear is something we have all heard of, but bespoke watches is something that has popped up on the market recently. And as we all try to be unique, using different combinations of clothing and accessories, it would only make sense that having a unique watch is something desirable. Being unique, at least visually, is what fashion is all about!
So today i will be reviewing UNDONE, more specifically the UNDONE Aqua, in all its glory! Powered by a Seiko automatic movements, protected by a an AR coated sapphire glass and decorated by a ceramic or glass bezel, this watch is no joke.
UNDONE is probably the best affordable customizable watch brand out there, and if you know a similar brand and disagree, you are welcome to comment this post.
I came in contact with UNDONE through Urban Gentry’s review of their Urban series (very positive review), and their website left me playing around with different watches for at least an hour. I highly recommend it, it’s quite fun!
It is important to understand that i customized almost every part of this watch, so if you don’t like this specific design, go make your own! I will try to focus on the quality and other constant aspects of the watch, while still mentioning my unique design and options. I will make sure to write “optional” whenever i talk about something unique to my design.
The watch comes in a nice leather case than you can us for traveling with room for one extra strap. I think they nailed the packaging because this is not a fancy dresswatch, and i don’t expect a tool watch like this one to come in a fancy wooden box.
I was immediately struck by the weight and size of the watch (approx. 45 mm including the crown)! if you are not into bigger watches, this is not for you, but i loved it! Thick leather strap, big buckle and an overall great feel to it! It looks great in the sunlight, especially thanks to the different finishes of the ceramic bezel insert (optional) and the sapphire crystal’s AR coating and magnifier. The watch feels sturdy and indestructible, and it is definitely a watch i would take swimming or wakeboarding.
Even for a guy with small writs, the watch doesn’t seem to big on me and the leather strap (optional) bends easily around the wrist. The crown screws out easily, the bezel clicks nicely with almost zero play and the lumen is of the charts! I was far from disappointed.
I always get hyped up when unboxing a new watch, and everything new is almost always good. After wearing the watch for many days, and observing it, i can now talk honestly about what i like about this watch, and what i don’t like.
What i like
The case is not only well built, but the design is striking. The brushed finishes on the top and the polished sides really give the watch an interesting depth. This is not something new, but definitely shows that they put thought into it. There is also a little “cut” in the case, right above the crown, which really gives the impression that the crown is part of the case.
The crown guards blends seamlessly into the case and stops right before the edge og the crown, leaving only the protruding disc with the logo outside the silhouette of the watch. another detail that i really love!
The lugs bends down slightly to compensate for the height of the watch, and case extends between the lugs to leave as little space as possible between the case and the strap.
The crown’s octagonal shape is masculine and really fits the watch well, further emphasizing the fact that this is a tool watch. It reminds me of the crowns you see on the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and i am a huge fan of those watches! The mix of brushed and polished finishes is a great continuation of the cases design, and show the holistic approach they took the design.
The logo sits on a protruding disc and protrudes outwards enough for you to feel it when sliding you finger over it. This is something i want to see on all watches!
The bezel is, like the case, is made using a mix of brushed and polished finishes (there is a recurring theme here). The top and bottom part of the side is brushed, leaving the rest to shine when turning the watch. A very satisfying detail that emphasizes the “teeth” of the bezel.
As for the bezels function, it rotates easily and has very little play. It is easily set to 12 and will remain in the middle og the 12 o’clock position. I did however notice it becomes harder to turn for a while after rotating it 30% of the way. Nothing too serious though. One problem with the ceramic bezel insert is that it doesn’t have a lumen marker, making it useless for deep dives, but i wouldn’t buy this watch for that activity.
The ceramic bezel insert (optional) is the option i recommend for this watch. The numbers and markers are polished and the rest is brushed, letting the bezel reflect sunlight in a very satisfying way while also continuing the design of the watch case.µ
The strap buckle
The strap buckle is big and chunky, like the watch case, and reminds me of the ones Panerai makes. It’s fully brushed and the logo and name is deeply engraved into it, with a beat blasted background. A very nice little touch!
I was surprised to see that there buckle didn’t have a little engraving for the pin to rest in. But it’s actually a smart thing, since there is nothing worse than seeing that pin resting a bit outside the “hole” (it does stay in the middle when worn, but still).
The strap (optional) is lovely, and reminds me of the thick Panerai straps. It’s thick and has two different colors of stitching wich is a great touch. I am also a huge fan of the big leather ring that hold the end of the strap down. I really love the fact that they have so many different straps and that the colours matches the bezel colors. I matched mine and the result is awesome!
This is my first watch with a crystal magnifier on the crystal. I have heard this is a hate or love thing, but i really enjoy it on this watch and i am surprised they can make it one a watch in this price range. I hear it’s not an easy thing to make.
The shape is interesting and i suspect they chose this shape to have a different one than the classic Rolex Submariner magnifier. I think it works even better than the Rolex magnifier because it follows the shape of the dial and bezel, instead of being an element by its own.
The date wheel
The date wheel is not very special in itself, but thanks to the magnifier on the crystal, you get to study it up close. And it’s almost perfect! The printing is clear, the font is great, it is well centered and proportioned. Worth mentioning since this is something many watch brands in the same price range gets wrong.
The second hand
You can choose between a standard seconds hand and a lollipop hand. I chose the lollilop version in red, and what i really love is that you can choose a contrasting color. This makes the seconds hand stand out, which i enjoy since its the hand that display the ticking of the watche’s mechanism.
The lumen on this watch is no joke, even with the “vintage” lumen option. It reminds me of the lumen of the Seiko SKX, but slightly less bright. Alltough i don’t recommend diving with this watch, it should have good lumen and UNDONE nailed it!
What i don’t like
Don’t get me wrong: the design of the dial they have are great, and i love the “vintage” lumen. But after wearing it for a while, the dial seems to flat. I would love to see some kind of a metal or protruding elements around the hours markers. Perhaps i am asking too much for this price range, but considering how the rest of the watch feels, i felt it needed this.
The handsAgain, don’t get me wrong… The hands are of good enough quality, but i choose the black hands and to be honest they seem cheap. I should have chosen the metal ones, that would have solved that problem. Learn from my mistake! The lumen on the hand are also a little “grainy”, but perhaps this is because i chose the vintage lumen (it’s quite crisp on the dial).
the UNDONE AQUA is powered by the Seiko automatic NH35A movement, which is a pretty robust and reliable movements. It has been known to keep ticking for a long time, and only looses an acceptable amount of time per day.
I have covered this movement in more detail here.
If you go for the same options as me, so without any print on the dial and engraving on the back case, i really feel like i get a little more than what i pay for. Escpecially because of the magnifier, all the options and the attention to the design details.
The price for the the Aqua starts at 475 dollar / 424 euros, and this includes all the cutomization except if you choose the Cerakote option (case and bezel). Cerakote is a protective anti scratch and shock surface treatment.
Let’s try and look away from the awesome fact that you can probably create thousands of different watches with the UDONE AQUA model. Whatever you choose, you will always end up with a great looking, sturdy automatic watch.
The keywords here are “big” and “chunky” and i see elements from Rolex Submariners, Panerai and Audemars Piguet without being an hommage watch. This watch definitely has its own style. If you are not a fan of relatively big watches, this watch is not for you! But if you are, like me, someone that can go both ways, you will definitely enjoy this watch. I love to wear this watch because in some sense i feel like i help build it, and no one has the same one 🙂 I see Rolex Submariners everywhere in Aarhus, but people often ask to see this watch because of the unique color scheme.
I highly recommend this watch for anyone who loves diver watches or just bigger watches in general (it’s a fun alternative to Diesel watches)! I also think this could be a great gift for a friend, since you can write anything in the dial and the back case (you will have to pay extra for that). They even have an option to engrave an image on the back of the case!