The latest pop culture collaboration for Italian sports watch maker Unimatic is with the popular American television series South Park. With what is probably a debut edition model (meaning that there will be more Unimatic x South Park watches), Unimatic focuses on what is perhaps the most iconic character (but there are many good choices) from the now 25-year-old series, Eric Cartman. The Unimatic x South Park Modello Uno U1-EC watch puts a familiar angry-faced Cartman front and center on the face and creates a thematically matching set of light-blue hour markers for the dial. A South Park logo and a lineup of the four main friend characters (Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman) is engraved on the back of this limited-edition timepiece.
From a design perspective, the overall composition of the UnimaticU1-EC is rather straightforward and simple but, nevertheless, uniquely satisfying. The 40mm-wide (13.5mm-thick) stainless steel Modello Uno platform is a timeless style of diver’s watch design, and the dial makes for a good canvas for such art. We also reviewed a similar Unimatic x Spongebob Squarepants watch here. Unimatic has already played with this and similar dials countless ways to focus on both practical and artistic outcomes. The possibilities appear to be endless.
License partners like Unimatic infrequently have the ability to create novel intellectual property when working with major rights holders like South Park and other entertainment properties. That means Unimatic more or less has to work with a catalog of available art and apply it to its product in a creative way. Only in rare situations are watch brands able to create new character renditions on dials when working with intellectual property this valuable. I say this to help explain why Unimatic might not have gone even deeper artistically, as there are probably a lot of very clever ways of embracing the world of South Park in a wristwatch (even a straightforward sports watch like this).
My fondness for this timepiece naturally comes from the fact that I started watching South Park when the show first debuted on Comedy Central and have been keeping up with new episodes ever since. For those who don’t understand the ongoing appeal of South Park, it can be explained by the willingness of the show creators (Matt Parker and Trey Stone) to tackle major political and social issues head-on and try to give them a matter of fact interpretation. South Park uses the most open-minded form of communication (comedy) to focus on some of the most challenging matters of our era, and also a whole lot of silliness in between. The show is celebrated for its intelligent writing and storytelling, as well as its imaginative art, creativity, and production values. Music in South Park has historically been well-produced even when the show themes have, at times, been hardly serious.
One of the most interesting things about modern South Park episode program production is how quickly the show creators are able to comment on current events. Even though South Park episodes must be written, acted, animated, and produced, they often seem to focus on issues that are on everyone’s minds, or should be. This is all to say that there is more than enough critical and mainstream popularity of South Park for high-end watches to make sense for fans. These watches, while limited, are not particularly expensive and feel fun and easy to wear.
The 40mm-wide steel case is water resistant to 300 meters and is topped with a slightly domed sapphire crystal. Around the dial is a uni-directional rotating bezel with a matte-black aluminum insert and a single lume pip colored here in light blue. Inside the watch is a Japanese Seiko NH35A automatic movement that operates at 3Hz with about two days of power reserve. To complement the light blue color of the dial, Unimatic chose to pair the Modello Uno U1-EC watch with a light blue nubuck strap. It looks great, but bending it wears it quickly, and I don’t recommend it for extended wear. Unimatic also supplies a more conservative black-colored NATO-style strap that ought to offer a lot more lifespan. I think a variety of strap colors and styles (the watch uses 22mm-wide straps) would suit the Unimatic x Southpark Cartman watch very nicely.
Everyone will feel something slightly different when viewing an emotive Cartman on their wrist, but most people (familiar with South Park) will feel something. That’s enough to merit interest in this watch, and as someone who has been influenced by South Park for 25 years, I think this is just another easy “win” for Unimatic, which tends to know how to take its versatile platform and continue to pluck reliably on our heartstrings. Limited to 100 pieces (now sold out at retail), the price for the Unimatic x Southpark Modello Uno U1-EC Eric Cartman watch is $690 USD. Learn more at the UNIMATIC watches website.