I am always excited when I get to review watches that come from small, recently established brands – companies, more often than not, which are run by just one person or an extremely small group of people. The latest Dutch watch brand, Florijn, is a perfect example. Founded by Hans Heuvelman, their models hit the market very recently, following, what we are told, was 2 years of planning, design and prototyping. We are looking at the Florijn Drie here, one of the three slightly different models Florijn set off.
Simply named as One, Two, and Three in Dutch, the three models differ only in their color scheme. The Florijn Een is the all-steel version, the Twee has a steel case with a black DLC-coated bezel, while the Drie, the one we have here, is the all-black version with black DLC-coated case, bezel and crown. All are limited to just 100 pieces and are priced below $500, so let’s see what $500 gets you here.
First of all, it’s a capable dive watch. The massive, 45 millimeter wide and 53 mm tall case looks very robust, and it does those looks justice with 300 meters of water resistance. While a dive watch is by no means required to have a treated, coated case, one of the main reasons I chose to cover the Florejn Drie was that I was curious to see what level of quality could they offer for the DLC-coating at this relatively reasonable price point.
The answer is: Surprisingly good. First, the case feels nice in the hand, its substantial weight is matched with a soft-to-the-touch finish that alternates between brushed on the sides of the case, and polished for the upper parts of the lugs, the bezel, and the case back. Black DLC coated cases are not easy to keep clean from finger prints and dirt, though, so if you are obsessed with keeping your watch looking pristine, I would recommend getting the normal steel version. Second, the black coating makes for a deep-black gloss on the lugs which lends the entire watch a stealthy look and makes the white indices and red logo stand out even more.
The case, as I said, is substantially sized, it is a 45 mm wide case of the kind that wears larger than you would expect it to – which is another reason why I went with the all black version: the dark looks make it look considerably smaller when compared to the all-steel version. It is one of the more masculine designs that I have seen lately, the very wide, straight lugs and the angular, well-defined lug guards make it look somewhat aggressive – while the large, clean surfaces of the case’s different elements take some of that edge away, saving the Florijn Drie from making the impression as though it were trying too hard.
The 300 meter water resistance is backed up by another dive watch feature, a uni-directional bezel, that features minute markings all around it. It took a bit of getting used to and while sometimes I wonder what it would look like with minute markings only between the 1 and 3 o’clock positions and then markings every 5 minutes, I found that I like its symmetry and that it is different from most other dive watches in this way.
The 120-click bezel has a solid feel to it when it is being set, although I personally still think that 120 clicks are twice as many as I would need – the extra position between the 1-minute intervals seems a bit unnecessary. The feel and sound of the bezel when operated is nonetheless good. One of the issues I did soon encounter with the bezel (its lower half, to be specific) is that it makes a ticking sound every time it receives a slighter impact. I found that it is because the gap between the bezel and the case is ever so slightly larger than it should be and so when the bezel gets a small impact from above, it closes that gap and gets in contact with the case, which in turn, results in that sound.
It is not loud or prominent enough to ever be a distraction when wearing a watch; I never found it to be an annoyance, and again, it does not affect the feel or secured fit of the bezel. In essence, it is something that is worth mentioning but not worth getting hung up on.
The plain, non-textured, black dial features large, applied blocks as indices, coated with SuperLuminova. I must say seeing these on the official images did get my hopes up – such large blocks do imply some considerable “lume goodness,” as they should be able to hold lume better than skinny, small indices. Unfortunately, the coating on the indices and the amply-sized sword hands is not the best. It fades rather quickly and does not glow as bright even when fully charged, as one would expect. That may not be a big issue for most, but I feel it is a bit of a missed opportunity. For a brand debuting their very first collection it is arguably more acceptable, but I would like to see them fix it later into the production of this model or in their upcoming pieces.
Legibility is nonetheless excellent, even in poor lighting conditions, thanks to the high contrast between the hands, indices and the satin black finish of the dial. It is in the very dark where some extra pop to the lumed components is needed. I like the sensibly designed, legible, simple – but for the price segment not cheap looking – dial a lot. But then again, that makes me say all-the-more, that some extra lume would elevate it from good to exceptional.
The movement inside is the automatic Seiko NH35, which features hand-winding, hacking and date indication and should provide around 42 hours of power reserve. It kept a surprising good +6 seconds per day on the wrist as I was wearing it for a number of days. Hand-winding feels and sounds fine and the DLC-coated and branded crown is easy to operate and screw back down.
The date indication is located at the 6 o’clock position, where a cyclops has been installed on the outside of the sapphire crystal. Whether or not the cyclops is a preferable design element or not is fully up to everyone’s own taste, but while it adds plenty of magnification, it also shows a lot of distortion – so much, in fact, that I found it difficult to see the entire numeral sharp and intact, without at least part of it being distorted. I understand that it adds some welcome visual weight to the lower segment of the dial, therefore breaking the symmetry of the face of the watch, and with that in mind, its inclusion in the design makes sense.
The Florijn Drie comes with three straps and a strap changing tool, which is a very nice little package, especially when considering the quality of the straps. I was somewhat afraid that these would be off-the-shelf straps thrown in there, but they make a much more positive impression. The rubber strap is fairly flexible and soft, which makes for a comfortable wearing experience even on extended time periods. The same can be said about the thick leather strap, although while it is comfortable, I am not entirely sure about the dense texture to the leather itself – it is a bit of a mismatch to the plain, non-textured dial. Nevertheless, the leather strap is a good option to have, maybe not for the beach, but in a more formal setting, as it tones the sporty aesthetic down a little bit.
Last, but not least, a black-red NATO strap also comes with the watch and I found that it works really well with the color scheme of the watch – it also makes the red Florijn logo on the dial stand out a bit more. With a lug-to-lug width of 24 millimeters it should be easy to pick up some extra aftermarket straps, but also it’s highly recommended to do so, as the mono-chrome design of the watch makes it easy to drastically change its looks with some colorful straps.
Despite its substantial size and considerable weight, the Florijn Drie felt comfortable on the wrist with any of the three included straps installed. Overall, with its comfort, good legibility, and quality-looking and -feeling case, we can say that the Florijn Drie is a very impressive achievement for a brand that has just entered the market. The bezel and the brightness of the lume need some adjustment and additional attention, but once that has been done there really is nothing objectionable left with the Drie in terms of quality. Some design decisions, like the fully marked bezel or the cyclops may not be for some, but they do make the watch look a bit more unusual and help it stay away from looking bland, boring and off-the-shelf.
The massive, masculine case design, the selection of nice straps and good legibility make the Florijn Drie easy to love – and forget its minor shortcomings. Price for the Florijn Drie is €425 or $470 USD including VAT, and €351 or $390 USD without taxes. florijnhorloges.nl