Throughout any given year, I see and get to interact with a lot of microbrand watches, from both new and existing brands. Due to their popularity in the industry, a lot of those watches are divers; but out of the crop I’ve seen in 2019, the Cavenago Acciaiopuro certainly ranks among the more unique models. With its Panerai-esque sizing and style, Cavenago edges close to “homage” territory with this watch, while still releasing a style of its own.
I’ve worn this watch over the last couple of months, and its starkly clean design language is both charming and different from the watches in my own collection that I tend to gravitate toward. Its size definitely makes a statement (and gives you a good arm workout). However, at its price point, it faces some strong competition. Let’s get into the finer details of the Cavenago Acciaiopuro.
As mentioned in the intro, this is a big, hefty watch. Given its Italian roots and obvious Panerai influence, it’s not really a surprise that Cavenago shot for such large dimensions. The 316L stainless steel case of the Acciaiopuro measures in at 46mm in diameter, 15mm-thick, and 52mm lug-to-lug; and trust me, it wears just as the dimensions suggest. I tend to max out around 44mm, with my preference being between 38-42mm, so this watch was definitely out of my comfort zone, size-wise. However, with its large size comes its own bit of charm, and it was fun to wear in its own way. On its 24mm-wide leather strap, the weight and heft of the watch are well distributed and keep it from flopping around on your wrist.
The case finishing is quite clean, with a bead-blasted fixed bezel and a nicely done satin finish around the rest of the case. The overall quality here is quite high — the machining was clearly well done with no sharp edges or milling marks to be seen. The caseback is nothing too crazy, just a steel back with the brand name, the limited-edition numbering, and depth rating.
One interesting aspect of this case design that you’ve likely already noticed is the crown. This is a detail that originally drew me to this model, as it’s not too common to see a 10 o’clock crown. Given its case size, the placement here makes a lot of sense. I can easily see a 3 o’clock crown digging into the wrist. The 10 o’clock position does take a bit of getting used to, especially as a righty, but it’s pretty easy to get accustomed to after a few uses.
Like the case design, the dial styling is simple and clean. With stark white painted hour markers, no minute markers, with matching white hands and dial text, this dial has no frills. On the one hand, I like the utilitarian vibe that comes with a cleanly designed tool watch; on the other, I would have loved to have something to latch onto here, whether it be a splash of color or some sort of unique dial elements. Even some nice applied numerals would have done the trick for me, just to have something visually gripping on the dial. That isn’t to say that I don’t find the dial attractive; I do, but I really would have loved a standout design feature on this dial.
What I am a fan of is the minimal dial text. With only the brand name and model name on the northern hemisphere, and the automatic designation and depth rating on the lower hemisphere, the dial isn’t overly wordy — something that can easily ruin a dial for me. “Minimal” is really the name of the game with the design of this watch, as it even lacks minute markers (another Panerai trait that has trickled down here) and has pure white hands with no metallic accents. Clean? Absolutely. Everyone’s cup of tea? Certainly not, but what is? Given the aesthetic that Cavenago seems to be going for, the dial design does match well with the case and overall vibe of the watch — I just wish it had a bit more oomph.
Continuing the Panerai inspiration, the leather strap included on the Acciaiopuro is 24mm-wide, with a flared buckle. The width of the strap helps to keep this large-cased watch sturdy on your wrist, without it flopping all around, and the tone of the leather looks very nice. Unfortunately, the strap is quite stiff and didn’t break in to be any more comfortable; and it also has a strange creaking noise as it moves around and bends.
It’s not a deal-breaker of a strap, and eventually, it does conform enough to your wrist that the stiffness isn’t unbearable, but were this to be my daily watch, I would certainly go in search of a different. And as far as strap changes, this watch does feature a screw-in bar style, as opposed to a standard spring bar. While I would have preferred a quick-release spring bar (a feature I’ve become very fond of), these are perfectly functional.
Cavenago selected the ETA 2824-2 automatic to power the Acciaopuro, a solid movement that has more than proven itself. Timekeeping, under my loose observation, has been consistent without any issues, and given how prominent the 2824 is, future servicing at any competent watchmaker will be a breeze. Given the price-point of this watch, I’m glad to see that the brand sprung for the ETA, as opposed to a Miyota or Seiko movement.
The microbrand universe is ever-expanding with near-endless options these days. In that marketplace, Cavenago faces some very stiff competition. At a price point of $1,900, there are quite a few options of very high quality competing for your hard-earned dollars.
For only $25 more, the Monta Skyquest delivers a very high-quality experience, with a GMT movement and one of the most comfortable bracelets I’ve ever worn. While a very different aesthetic from the Cavenago, the Skyquest represents a great value, given the quality Monta has achieved.
One of the darlings of the microbrand diver world, Halios Watches produces some great designs, coming in at under a grand. While hard to get due to the high demand and the limited supply manufactured, Halios is also a great bang for your buck and makes some really attractive watches. And for $1,495, the Orion Calamity is an ultra-slim 200-meter dive watch with a ceramic bezel and nicely designed bracelet.
All of these options, however, do not capture the same aesthetic that Cavenago is providing here, and that is likely to be the top selling-point on the Acciaopuro for most people. The large Panerai aesthetic is a specific flavor that not everyone is going to enjoy, but if it’s what you’re after, the above options aren’t likely to satisfy your appetite.
With its clean design and undeniably Panerai vibes, the Cavenago Acciaopuro does make for a compelling, attractive watch. With its high (relative to the microbrand space) price-point of $1,900, and its limited production of only 100 pieces, it begins to become more of a niche offering. Given the stiff competition among microbrands, the Acciaopuro is fighting against some really high-quality brands and designs at equal or even lower price-points, and in those matchups, it’s a tough call.
While I found the design quite charming, not everyone will favor its large size and overall simplistic aesthetic, but it seems that Cavenago has a specific type of customer in mind, hence the low production numbers of the Acciaopuro. Cavenago is making the Acciaopuro available through its dealer network, and you can find more information by visiting cavenagowatch.com.
>Size: 46mm in diameter, 15mm-thick, 52mm lug-to-lug
>Would reviewer personally wear it: No. While I like the design and overall aesthetic of the watch, the dimensions of the case make it a non-starter for me.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: The Panerai fan on a tighter budget.
>Best characteristic of watch: The clean and simple design style.
>Worst characteristic of watch: The strap, while in line with the aesthetic of the watch, is stiff and uncomfortable.