U-Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review

U-Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U-Boat watches are a lot like classic American Muscle cars - expect for the American part that is. They are big, made with lots of metal, have cool designs on them, and make you feel good being around them. At the same time, they aren't very practical, don't always have what they look like they should under their hoods, and aren't the most comfortable machines to use on a daily basis. Italo Fontana's U-Boat brand has come very far since being a pure fashion brand of big watches with a design scheme that vaguely resembles its namesake German submarines. Public love and strong sales led to quality improvements for the brand and a series of designs so often copied, "original" U-Boat watches are a watch lover favorite and status symbol in the right circles.

U-Boat's momentum is only held back by its new designs and ability to continue to squeeze juice out of its theme. While there is a sweet spot case size and design for the brand, they have gone a good way beyond that a number of times - specially done for those who need a fresh fix of wild designs. Like a dress made specially for a model to show-off during a runway show only, this limited edition U-Boat U 1001 watch is a bold fashion item that has many hallmarks of being something function, but falls just short of actually being that. This isn't to say the  U 1001 isn't a watch or doesn't function well as one, but rather that it has some rugged features that are sort of misplaced on an "image" watch such as this.

Wearing the U 1001 I feel pretty cool. I don't know if this is because I keep hearing the cool music that U-Boat has on their website and pondering the sophisticated marketing campaigns they employ, or if I am genuinely moved by their clever designs. It is funny, because no matter how many silly things I find in the watch, I still like it. Which goes back to my concept of it being like a muscle car. It is totally unwise for me to think about driving in stop and go California traffic in that dream '69 GTO Judge, but I think I would look pretty kick ass in the process.

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Speaking of big metal cars, the U-Boat U 1001 is a whopping 55mm wide in titanium. The metal case is cut very well, and the titanium has a very smooth bead-blasted feel to it. All over the case are branding details and information about the watch. Read the back and the sides of the watch to learn just about everything you'd like to know about it. The U 1001 name refers to the fact that it is water resistant to 1001 meters. Basically it is the same as a 1000 meter diving watch, but they decided to add another meter to the title. Watches are usually tested a bit beyond their stated water resistance, so adding that extra meter doesn't mean anything from a technical standpoint - all part of the built -in depth rating wiggle room. The watch is also limited to 1001 pieces (333 or so pieces of each color), and is available with a variety of colors trims for the dial. Here you have a lovely blue for the hand and some of the hour indicator. While the chic looking dial design, complete with the name of the watch is hip looking, it is pretty a-functional for diving purposes - given that this is a diving themed watches. U-Boat released the U 1001 watch completely devoid of lume, as omission from what have been a great looking watch in the dark.

It has more features for diving such as the helium escape valve beneath the crown, but again, how can you go diving in a watch that you can't really see underwater? Perhaps it is good for the sunny clear water of the topics. In that case, dive deep my friends. Speaking of the helium release valve, the quality and finish of the large connected crown cap and the surrounding parts is very good. Well machined, and each operates as they should without problem. I am happy to see that for the price of this watch U-Boat ensured high quality throughout the watch. Cause in the end, even if the watch is functionally silly, it is still well made and designed nicely. Under the super large crown cap is the actual crown - which is tiny in comparison. The crown cap screws down, and so does the crown. I just found that sort of humorous. So much water resistance security!

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

The dial of the watch is matte black with the blue hour indicators on a layer below the dial. You see an expose synthetic ruby from the movement - that is a hallmark of many U-Boat watches. The placement of the diagonally aligned date window shows you how small the movement is in the super big case. Inside the watch is a Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic. A solid movement perfect for a dive watch, but perhaps a bit too petite for this case (and perhaps a bit too inexpensive for a watch that is over $6,000).

The watch has an adjustable rubber strap that has a titanium end piece on one side - which has a good style and makes the giant watch wearable. You can see the U-Boat name engraving on the butterfly style deployment also in titanium. Again you see the U 1001 logo on the deployment as well - indicating U-Boat's desire to show you how many custom parts went into this limited edition collection of watches.

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

U Boat U 1001 Limited Edition Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Does the U-Boat U 1001 remind you of an Angler fish? It doesn't have an illuminated lure like the fish does. It isn't ugly like the fish, but it goes deep like the fish. Though I think an Angler fish can go much deeper. Angler fishes look pretty bad-ass and butt-faced, but they are actually really small fishes, did you know that? Size can be deceiving. It would probably swim away from a U 1001 if it saw it underwater as the watch might be larger than it! For style like a tattoo, U-Boat engraved an Angler fish on the rear of the watch as well as on the crazy watch case (I will get to that). It is a nice little touch that is all style, without having a lot of meaning. Cool image though.

And now the case. The big and heavy (really heavy) case contraption that almost makes the watch feel worth its price. Made from aluminum, the case looks like a diving vessel itself. Again you see an engraving of the Angler fish on it, and a thick porthole with a rounded crystal lens where the watch sits and stare at you as though it is safe while you are in the ocean. It is a serious part of the timepiece's presentation, and U-Boat makes you feel pretty darn special to have received this thing. I've never had a more lasting impression of a watch's presentation box. I think it must have cost U-Boat almost as much as the watch itself to make.

For the privilege of having one of these limited edition fashionable watches from U-Boat, you'll need about $6,800 and a lot of gumption. Fans of the brand will easily gobble them up, and people who want the wow people like it was 2005 will also be attracted to the U 1001. Does it make for a fun addition to your collection sure? Is it a pain to wear daily and offer limited functionality? Yes. For all the crap I give this watch, I still really like toting it around on my wrist, and get particularly stylish in the process, even if I didn't know why.

23 comments
toptop45
toptop45

First off, I owned a U-Boat watch (OWNED as in sold it for a small loss). I purchased the watch before I knew anything about "Swiss" watches or in U-Boat's case, "Movimento Svizzero". I was initially attracted to the left-crown design which, in my opinion, was made popular in recent years by Panerai, another overpriced Swiss, I mean, Italian, I mean Swiss watch company. My thought was, they both have Swiss movement (neither in-house), a crown on the left side, yet, U-Boat is significantly less expensive - I’ll buy a U-Boat.

The watch movement was indeed Swiss – an ETA 2824 to be exact. And what does a Swiss ETA 2824 cost? I’m guessing around $50-$100 based on buying power. Put that in a factory, mass-produced stainless steel case, and a $5 rubber strap and you have yourself a $2,500 watch that contains raw parts valued at less than a couple hundred dollars (if my estimations are correct of course). Now, this is not a big deal in of itself. Watch companies are in business to make a profit – even if it is just for the purpose of supporting employees, overhead, etc. But in this case, I don’t believe the watch was worth even 35% of the retail sale price – maybe $800 for the stainless steel model would be more appropriate?

Although the movement was automatic, it made an almost-scratchy sound when winding (which is not good). Also, the pull-out crown was too tight and turning the activated gears felt rough, not smooth like other finer tuned “Swiss” watches. The ETA movement was probably the most basic stock model with no customization or tuning. And, although the watch was quite large, the movement was small – probably more suitable for a 38mm watch. I felt that the movement looked awkwardly small inside the case which was visible through a clear window in the rear of the watch case. Also, in my opinion, the strap was sub-par at best (considering the $100+ replacement cost). Finally, U-Boat has no history in watch making. What justified such a premium other than high material costs such as gold, platinum, and diamonds?

Well, now that I know a little more about watches and the business of watches, I would not recommend U-Boat, in fact, I think wearing a U-Boat watch makes you look more like a fool than a successful Swiss, or Swiss-Italian, or Italian watcher aficionado (again, remember, I used to own one which is embarrassing to admit). There are a lot of watch companies that offer more value with watch making pedigree, but for less money. If you like the look of U-Boat (I know, I did too which I hate to admit), then consider Welder, the sister company of U-Boat, which sells for a fraction of the price. You may still look ridiculous with your giant clock watch, but at least you won’t look like an uninformed sucker.

Jack
Jack

U-Boat was a term for Jews hiding as non-Jews in Nazi Germany.

Frank Martin
Frank Martin

The U-Boat Watches are made by Italians and has nothing to do with the Germans. Anyway, it's a cool watch to wear even though it sound silly to lug around a 55mm watch. Well it's built in fashion of extra huge watches that are worn by u-boat vessel's captain during the WW2 and if you have the body size to match it, then why not flaunt it?

GeX
GeX

I was looking to buy one of these, but i got struck to see that it comes with no luminous part in the dial or hands.
Like the author said, how can i go diving when i can't even see the time on my watch? even tropic waters gets dark after a few meters.....

Mikhail
Mikhail

IMAO Unfortunately, this watch is just another overpriced piece of equipment which uses marketing gimmickry and has very little substance of its own. So its 1001 m water resistant,made of titanium and has Italo Fontana written all over it?! Branding it as a limited edition and stuffing it in an oversized box does not warrant such a high price. No craftsmanship what so ever! I do not believe all U-boat watches are bad, but this one is. It seems to be the trend now, get some designers to design a watch in titanium or 316L stainless steel, stick and ETA movement in it, mark it as a 'Limited Edition' and then charge a huge price for it and pretend that the customer is buying into small group of people who own a remarkable piece of horological equipment!

Ed
Ed

Not worth 6K... It's a good movement; the ETA 2824...but a Valgranges A01 would seem to have been the better option. 1,000 feet water resistance and not an inch of lume. LoL... on a dive watch no less... Omega... Kobold... Charmex has the "CX 20,000 feet diver" (the best dive watch bar none) for less money than this... You've really gotta be an ardent U-Boat fan to buy into this.

haha
haha

Sorry to say but it looks pretty Silly on your small wrist ;)

Mike
Mike

It's BIG and BOLD and if i seen it on someones wrist id have a double take for sure! I want a U-boat or a Welder watch for my next one.

Richard
Richard

Rob,
I hit my watches on doorways all the time no matter what size they are so I know exactly what you mean!

Andrew,
Good point about the U-boat meaning. I hadn't caught that before.

Rob
Rob

That's a good point Andrew. Lol. Definitely not stealthy.

Andrew Harris
Andrew Harris

Oddly enough, the biggest turn off for me isn't the size, it's the name. I'd have a hard time glorifying a Nazi attack submarine. Besides, U-boats were stealthy things. Ain't nothin' stealthy 'bout this.

Sam
Sam

Wonder how much it costs to make the display box. That's actually much cooler than the watch...

Thanks for showing us the monster box...love it!

Cheers

-Sam

Matt Morales
Matt Morales

HAHA! nice opening line Ariel. That was funny.

Rob
Rob

Would look pretty nice on my wall but on the wrist, it's clunky and little ridiculous looking. I actually saw a guy wearing one and he knocked it on the revolving doors. Bet that happens a lot.

lepompier
lepompier

@toptop45  You are entitled to your opinion and i do respect it however wearing a U-boat watch doe not make you look like a fool, you can be a fool and wearing Patek/audemars in your hand...Your experience with U-boat watches can only be called ignorance and lack of homework....why dont you buy all the raw materials and the movement $50-$100 and build a watch yourself and save all that money and save yourself from being called a fool...there is a market for evrything and i can tell you are not part of u-boat watches market

admin
admin

Are you sure about that?

JoNy1
JoNy1

has´t all watches from u boat has very good self-luminous numbers and indicators also those dark ones?!

toptop45
toptop45

@lepompier @toptop45  Haha. I love a good debate, although, I suspect that you are affiliated with U-Boat?


I agree that when I purchased a U-Boat watch, I did not do my research. This makes me a fool in a lot of ways which I am trying to rectify by posting this review. Now, when I refer to U-Boat wearing fools, I am not referring to foolish people (which could include anyone wearing any watch), but to people who get lured into paying exorbitant prices for "luxury" items that are not luxurious, but simple, cheap, consumer products that should be sold at a reasonable price. In fact, I believe many new quartz Tag Heuer watches fall into this category too (so U-Boat is not alone) - $1,800 for a quartz watch is outrageous, yet, I see people wearing those watches all day long - poor fools. 


Now, I am not going to buy the raw parts and build my own watch (obviously - but thanks for the suggestion). But, for $2,500 (or less), there are a lot of options to choose from - Hamilton (which has their own movement based on the ETA platform), Oris (who modifies ETA movements), Tissot, Longiness, Fortis, Bremont (all who have a long history of watch making) in fact, I believe I can even purchase a Nomos around that price with a true 100% in-house movement, not the CHEAPEST ETA 2824 movement on the market.


Have you ever heard the expression, "Lipstick on a Pig?" In my opinion, that is the best way to describe U-Boat. They (You) don't even bother to spring for something slightly better or "tune" the movement. Come on, for goodness sake, give us SOMETHING for that price, or even better, lower the price?!?


Who is the U-Boat watch market? Fools? People that are easily convinced that "Swiss" movement is worth a $1,500 premium? People that get lured into buying a watch because David Beckham was photographed wearing one he probably received for free from the manufacturer?


So, with that, I stick to my opinion. Don't look like a fool - Buy a Welder if you like the style of U-Boat because the "Swiss" movement is not worth the premium.

toptop45
toptop45

@lepompier @toptop45  What a great response! I certainly share in your appreciation for the design as I too owned a U-Boat watch. Even today, I like the look and feel of the watch - the left hook design and the rugged feel and finish. But, I am generally concerned about the longevity of the brand. Until they do something unique with the movement, I'm not sure they will gain the respect of the watch "purist" community.


I noticed that you own a Panerai which is a brand that appears to have solidified a space in the luxury watch world. It's also great to see that Panerai has a consistent line of in-house movements that differentiate the brand form other manufacturers.


Anyway, all the best and I'll see you on Instagram!

lepompier
lepompier

@toptop45 @lepompier  You sound like a good fella :) the U-boat market are people like me and guess what? i am not affilated with them...i just love the brand and i own few of them (follow me and let us have some fun on instagram id: letusinstagram , love the rugged look, love the corwn trademark in the chimera range, love the unique look...nop it was not david beckham or arnold or Babaloooooo :)


I agree with you they are bit overpriced (reliable) for the valjoux 7750 or other ETA mov. but hey I could not put a price on the design and look of the u-boat. The brand itself (personally) it represent me if you know what i mean other brands that compete with U-boat do not get close when it comes to design and material...anyway keep in contact on instagram.... letusinstagram :)