August 18, 2020
by Ariel Adams
Stockholm, Sweden-based Nezumi is an almost decade-old brand similar to Hong Kong’s Undone in that its focus is to create affordable, modern-made watches as homage to classic and vintage sports watches. Here we see the Nezumi Corbeau collection reference CQ2.202, which is a perfect example of what the company does. The Corbeau looks like a military chronograph from the late 1960s or 1970s but is totally new and helps fill an important part of the wristwatch market.
If you like watches, then you know that vintage military-style watches tend to be very popular these days. It isn’t just that we like tool watches we imagine having been worn by heroes, it is also these they watches also typically offer extremely good proportions, wearing sizes, and colors/materials for optimal legibility. In other words, a good military watch is as versatile as a pair of blue jeans.
From a fashion perspective, military watches have great appeal, but buying authentic ones is unwise or unattainable for most consumers. While military fashion watches aren’t new, very of the brands that have attempted them focus specifically on enthusiasts and at relatively low price points. That makes Nezumi not a unique brand, but certainly still part of a rare group.
Color- and style-wise, Nezumi nicely captured much of what enthusiasts like in the watches that helped inspire this particular Corbeau CQ2.202. According to Nezumi, the watch is mostly inspired by the Lemania Air Force Viggen and the Heuer Budeswehr — but there are other elements here as well. The dial has multiple levels and good textures for high legibility. The symmetrical three-register chronograph along with no date window help keep the dials classy and handsome. The sand-colored lume against the black and while of this Corbeau is a common palette that ends up looking really attractive. The current Nezumi Corbeau collection has at least six watches in it, with an assortment of spirited dial colors and either naturally finished or black-coated steel cases.
The cases themselves are 40mm-wide and 11.75mm-thick (water-resistant to 50 meters) with a sapphire crystal over the dial. It is great that you can get a sapphire crystal, which has AR-coating on the inside. With that said, the shape of the sapphire crystal does invite a fair amount of glare. The watches have a 47mm lug-to-lug distance, which means they wear on the modest side. The unidirectional, ratcheting rotating bezel (with an aluminum insert) around the dial means the dial itself is smaller yet, and thus the watch wears a bit on the smaller side (which is exactly what a lot of fans of this look are probably looking for).
Inside the watch is the very popular Seiko Instruments caliber VK63 quartz that uses traditional gears (as opposed to step motors) to move the chronograph hands. This is why people sometimes call this and movement likes it “mechaquartz,” but I think that is just being pedantic with language. I suppose the important thing to say is what when the chronograph is activated, the chronograph seconds hand appears to “sweep” around the dial, as opposed to ticking.
Attached to the Corbeau watch case is a simple NATO-style strap that is comfortable and easily goes with the theme. As a new brand, Nezumi got the design part down, having studied the source material watches quite a bit. I like the little details such as the angular subdial hands and the good use of textures. I am also trying to be mindful of not having too many expectations for a watch that has a retail price of under $400. That said, Nezumi can easily refine in a few areas.
For one thing, Nezumi hasn’t yet learned that graphical logos rarely work on watch dials. Text-style logos for watch brands simply end up looking better. Thus, the “Nezumi” name on the dial should be the only branding and not the Nezumi studio logo (which can go elsewhere, such as the crown). Also, it is really important that Nezumi keep working on pushing its suppliers to get them better and better products for the money. This is common with new brands, but small things like how parts fit together or a strap feeling very secure on a case are qualities that seasoned watch collectors are inherently looking for.
Fashionable and fun, the Nezumi Corbeau chronograph offers an in-demand look for an undemanding price. It isn’t perfect, but this is one of the most efficient ways to get a number of people to enjoy the style of rare and expensive military chronograph watches that would normally not be attainable. Price for the Nezumi Corbeau CQ2.202 watch is $368 USD. Learn more or order via the Nezumi website here.