Marcello Diavolo

It is easy to review a watch that fits into a category. You have an established set of criteria to evaluate, and at least a few other watches in that category that you can compare and contrast with the model you review. Even concept and exotic watches lie in their own category, where you can compare such areas like technological feats along with boldness in design. But then, there are watches that simply defy classification, and you need to review them from the most primordial of levels.

I find the Marcello C. Diavolo and Nettuno 3 watchesBefore an in depth review of the Marcello C. Diavolo, it is useful to understand the watch’s inception, and a bit about Marcello C. a relative new comer in the watch world with an actually impressive record thus far. Marcello C.’s current success is not due to innovation, but rather interpretation. Taking a classic design and producing a high quality example based on a theme or existing concept. This is not to say that Marcello C. is not creative. Far from it, as what Marcello C. does with classic designs is impressive. Being able to creatively mix and match the best features, qualities, and designs for the right look has earned them high accolade among enthusiasts. The brand’s Nettuno 3 diving watch is probably their most successful to date. I own two of them and my Marcello C. Nettuno 3 watch review can be seen here. An homage to the Rolex Submariner, it rivals Rolex’s looks and quality, for a small fraction of the price. Development went into interpreting what Marcello C. felt was the essence of that style and making the best possible example for under $1000. The success of the Nettuno 3 was all about the proper formulation, but Marcello C. had a lot to work with. The Diavolo is the first men’s watch I know of that Marcello C. designed with no previous blue prints (they to have some unique women’s watch such as the Vergine line).

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Marcello C. Diavolo watch 1Marcello C. Diavolo Watch dark with luminant

The idea for the Diavolo seemed to be the creation of a bold and ubiquitously appealing watch that current Marcello C. fans as well as strangers to the brand could enjoy. The initial phase of design was probably the selection of a movement, which is the highly capable ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic mechanical movement. To me, this is the most comfortable chronograph movement to operate. Press the start pusher on the Diavolo and a large legible second counter hand begins to slide around the face of the watch. I would have liked to see some luminant on the seconds hand for the chronograph complication, but it is so thin, this would have been difficult, and widening it wold have detracted from the overall look. You can measure up to 12 hours of time with the accuracy of 1/5 of a second. The upper and lower registers on the face count minutes and hours, and are easy to see. Marcello C. made a wonderful decision to invert the minute counter so that the hand, while in the default position points down, not up. The hand on the lower hours register points up, so that the chronograph hands point to each other (to the center of the watch), while not in use. This little change drastically improves the symmetry of the watch, and looks quite cool doing so.

Marcello C. Diavolo watch 2

In the left center of the dial is the seconds counter for the watch itself. It is tastefully done, as a thick little hand moves purposefully around the counter with indicators, but no number values. This gives it a clean look, and allows for great appreciation of the raised and polished indicators. In fact, all the indicators on the Diavolo are specially placed on the dial and not merely painted on. The indicators are angular (with the exception of the prominent “12” and “6” on the top and bottom), with a thin strip of luminant in the indicators for the watch itself. Other than providing a rich three-dimensional look, the raised indicators make the Diavolo easy to read despite the wealth of lines and contrasts on the face. One thing I would have liked to see is a continuation of the glossy look on the gunmetal gray areas of the dial. The lighter section of the dial is a cream color (other Diavolo models have different color schemes), but could have used a bit of texture in my opinion. Further, the color of date dial through the date window is the stock white, which is a bit lighter than the rest of the face. It isn’t easy to notice, but I would have appreciate a custom colored date dial. Perhaps, this is asking for too much, as these dials are part of the movement kit, and great expense and effort would be required in changing the color, even a bit. Very minor issues easily overshadowed by the many benefits of the face and dial. Further, the face is covered by a flush sitting sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both the front and back of the crystal. The effect of this is obvious once you see the watch, as light casts no glare to be seen allowing for perfect visibility in any light.

As for the overall look of the face, there is a lot to say. Colors contrasting and a mixture of organic curves with angular lines make for a intriguing look that is hard to classify. Turn the watch around, and it is pleasing to look at from any angle while retaining a sense of symmetry. The menage of circles create shapes within shapes. Each person’s eyes will focus on different areas, but the point is that there is a lot to look at. Regardless, this visual sensation does not appreciably detract from legibility thanks to the placement of the shapes and the watch hands.

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Marcello C. Senatore Silver Face WatchMarcello C. Tridente Chronograph Silver WatchPersonally, I really like the face of the Diavolo. It can take some viewing to really appreciate this very unorthodox design for those who aren’t convinced at first. Some have called the design “Italian,” and I can see that. In my opinion, the greatest design comparison for Marcello C. in creating the Diavolo is the award-winning Hublot Big Bang. The shapes of the numbers are in a similar font, along with the shape of the number indicators; those being polished rectangles with the thin luminant strips. The Diavolo also shares some subtle similarities with a few Oris watches, that the founder of Marcello C. used to work for. Better yet, the Marcello C. Diavolo shares one of the best features of the Big Bang, which are the hands. Broad as Japanese animation style swords, the hands are sharp and proud with beveled edges stemming from the center. Big hands make a big statement. Even the chronograph and seconds hands share this look. The generous amount of luminant makes them bright in the dark, and a pleasure to look at. The hands are not directly taken from the Big Bang, even though it was released before the Diavolo. Instead, close inspection of the Marcello C. Tridente Chronograph and Senatore watches reveals an evolutionary progression in the design of the hands. It just happens that Marcello C. and Hublot happened to share some common ideas. The Diavolo and the Big Bang are not watches in the same class, so they aren’t exactly competitors. The Big Bang’s cheapest iteration is about $10,000, while the Diavolo averages at about $2,050. Marcello C. made an excellent choice in emulating a very well received watch. I anticipate the result of this to be a high degree of initial customer recognition with the Diavolo, because of familiarity of the Hublot Big Bang.

Hublot Big Bang similar to the Marcello C. Diavolo

Hublot Big Bang similar to the Marcello C. Diavolo

The Marcello C. Diavolo has three bezel options. This one is equipped with the notched bezel. There is also a coined edge, and a numbered sporty version. I would have liked the bezel to rotate, but then again, I like rotating bezels on everything because I am obsessed with diving watches. This is not so much an omission as it is a choice of personal function. I don’t really miss the rotating bezel, especially because I use it for timing purposes, which can be done with the Diavolo’s chronograph. Problem solved. The bezel is actually user interchangeable if you have more than one bezel, which should be available individually from Marcello C. This is a great concept, especially because I am a fan of personalization. This does have the effect of allowing four small screws to be viewable on the sides of the bezel, but this to me, is not a big deal. The case itself is a mix of polished and brushed finishes, with a conservative look, and I particularly like the partially flared and rounded lugs that fit comfortably on the wrist and visually extend it.

Going back to the Diavolo watch case, there are other less noticeable, but impressive elements that would only become apparent if they did not exist. The lugs are slightly curved as to conform to the wrist, while the entire case has no sharp or uncomfortable edges. Despite this, the case retains a well constructed,, angular and crisp look. The sides of the case feature a very sporty matte finish, that immediately turns into a mirrored polish on other surfaces. This visually extends the size of the face while amplifying the shape and curvature. Together these features make for a good-looking comfortable watch, and you’d really only notice them if they did not exist. For example, you don’t complain about a comfortable watch, it only becomes an issue when sharp edges dig into your arm. Comfort is just never going to be an issue with the Diavolo in my opinion, as it is ergonomically well designed.

Marcello C. Diavolo Clasp Deployment

The Diavolo is a large watch, but comfortably so at 44mm. I find that small chronograph watches are just too hard to read to be useful. This is a good blend of size and comfort, even for my relatively small wrist. The watch is secured by a rubber strap with one of the best clasps I have ever had the pleasure of using. Not only does the clasp look awesome (really), but it is a pleasure to use as well. Press the buttons on the side of the clasp to release the buckle (I feel as though I sound like the safety instructions on an airplane), and you see this well engineered mechanism open before your eyes. What makes it so impressive, is the tight connection of the parts. The metal fits so closely together, it is impressive to see how easily it opens and closes with a reassuring “click.” The clasp can be operated with one hand, in the dark, or with gloves. For its heft, it is not particularly large on the wrist. The only thing I would add to the clasp is a proud Marcello C. logo, which is curiously absent. However, this lack of logo on the clasp is temporary, and Marcello C. with add a logo on the second run of Diavolo watches. What this means to the collector is that the first fun Diavolo watches have great potential to be sought after collector’s items.

The rubber strap is a high quality silicon rubber strap. This makes it very smooth and comfortable. It has a sizable central ridge which gives it a concrete shape, and the edges of the strap swell to match the contours of the lugs. Extra straps can be purchased from Marcello C. if you need a different sized strap. Marcello C. also offers n alligator strap that turn a sporty Diavolo into a dress Diavolo.

Other charming peculiarities can be found in the little things. For example, the watch can be classified as “Swiss Made,” though the indicator is not located on the face. You’d think this universal attestation of quality would be right there on the watch face staring at you. Instead, you have a engraved “GERMANY” located inside and on the side of the watch face, waiting for the careful observer to find it. This says to me that Marcello C. is proud of itself as being a German watch maker, but would rather the watch speak for itself, rather than be a location for labels. You will however find the “Swiss Made” indicator on the signed rotor underneath the watch through the viewable case-back, just in case you had any doubts.

Marcello C. Diavolo case-back

The view of the Valjoux 7750 automatic mechanical movement is impressive, but a bit stark. Decoration these days is very popular on movements. There is a machine-finished plate with gold lettering on the rotor that says “Marcello C.” and the above mentioned “Swiss Made,” not too much else. Germans have a reputation for being functional and utilitarian, offering high value, but when you place a see-through case-back, I like to have a little something extra to look at. Again, I am reminded that this watch is beguiling. I forget the Diavolo is a bargain at about $2,050, especially for what you get, and continue to feel as I look at this watch, that it is something far more expensive.

Other fine details on the Marcello C. Diavolo abound and are a combination of enjoyable aesthetic and ergonomic functionality. You get the distinct impression that a team of dedicated people sat around endlessly to discuss the finer points of the Diavolo’s design and construction. Marcello C. wanted to give the Diavolo more interesting screws on the lugs than the typical fare, but at the same time wanted its owner to easily change the strap themselves. So they chose hex screws which look good, but are no so uncommon as to make finding a tool difficult. A dedicated tool is available, given to authorized dealers, and can be purchased separately from Marcello C. There are actually a number of customization options available for the Diavolo, but you need to ask Marcello C. about what they have currently available. If you get a Diavolo watch from Marcello C. directly or an authorized dealer, be sure to ask what else is available for the Diavolo, or any other watch for that matter.

The crown and pushers are excellent. The crown has two rows of notches with a cog-like look for easy operation. The idea was to continue the theme of the notched bezel on the crown. On the tip of the crown is an inset logo with Marcello C.’s flying bird logo. Look closely, and you will notice that the bird is actually a duck, and represents the Minnesota state bird; the common Loon. The logo is also inset with luminant so it gives a nice glow in the dark. A really nice and unexpected touch. The chronograph pushers themselves just beg to pushed, and define the very nature of what a pusher should look like. Nothing too fancy, just well-sized polished steel comfortable under the finger. Although the watch is rated at being water resistant to 200 meters, the crown and pusher do not need to be screwed down as in most watch with such a rating. Instead, special tubes gaskets are used to ensure water protection without having to screw anything down.

Marcello C. Diavolo Watch side view

Having a rubber strap with a folding metal clasp means that the strap must be cut for size. This is a reality with all such rubber straps, not only the Diavolo. Anyone can size their strap, but doing it with precision is best reserved for an authorized dealer as Marcello C. provides them with the necessary tools. It also follows the legacy idea that watches are purchased from authorized dealers who size and explain the watch functions for the new owner. With today’s move towards more remote sales, I find it a benefit of service and consumer assurance to provide printed instructions, which Marcello C. does. In terms of presentation the Marcello C. Diavolo comes in a nice case befitting a watch of its character.

I anticipate success for the Marcello C. Diavolo. A watch with this type of character needs to be advertised , in fact should be for people to genuinely appreciate it. The Diavolo line already has several varieties with different faces and materials. I discussed the Marcello C. Diavolo line a bit here, near the time when they were first announced, and you can see a few of the different models. It is a dynamic watch with many faces (literally). The chronograph Diavolo is water resistant to 200 meters, but a non-chronograph version (“three hand” Diavolo) is in the works, which will likely have an even greater water resistance. This version is likely due sometime this year.

Without any hesitation I can recommend the Marcello C. Diavolo. It is a watch I have thoroughly enjoyed, and find myself taking the time to appreciate it. For a collector, or someone only beginning their infatuation with watches, it is an appropriate choice. Easy to live with, simple to operate, and loaded with character. Whether you like it or not, the Diavolo will be noticed, so expect to provide an introduction to many people, and for that, you’ll want to be literate on all its finer elements. So what they say is true, the devil is in the details, and here the devil (Diavolo) it is a friendly beneficent one.

See Marcello C. Diavolo watches available at here.

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