In only two years, Studio Underd0g has done more than most independent brands do in five if not an entire lifespan. Started by Richard Benc in 2021, the British brand burst onto the scene with fun, affordable hand-wound chronographs bursting with color and character. With names like Watermel0n, Go0fy Panda, and Mint Ch0c Chip, people instantly fell in love with the quirky models. The love didn’t fade, either: during the most recent pre-order window for the chronograph series, over 3,500 orders were placed. Add to that a GPHG nomination and outperforming brands like Christopher Ward, Fears, and Anordain at its first auction, and you’ve got a brand that is poised for expansion. Lucky for us, that’s exactly what Studio Underd0g is doing with the introduction of the 02SERIES, a four-model line that will enter its core collection alongside the fan-favorite chronographs.
As with his chronographs, Benc lets the dials do almost all the talking with the 02SERIES. The 37mm stainless steel case measures 12mm with its crystal and features brushing everywhere except the crown and bezel. Imagined on a hypothetical brief from the British MOD at the end of World War II, the 02SERIES features several practical considerations: a two-piece case construction with a solid screwed-down caseback, 100m of water resistance, a domed sapphire crystal, and drilled 18mm lugs. The watches come with handmade 18mm quick-release leather straps with a pin-buckle closure and also include a pass-through fabric strap.
It is, of course, the dials where the 02SERIES shines. You won’t find the across-the-board exuberance of the chronographs here, but there’s plenty of fun to be had. Four different dials will be offered, with one hinting at the joyous color explosion of the brand’s first collection and the others showing a bit more restraint. The Pink Lem0nade model, with its pink and yellow coloring, will stand out for everyone, and I’m guessing will be the biggest initial seller. Along with the sky-blue Steffany Dial (Get it? Steffany, like Tiffany, but not) and the white Full Mo0n, the Pink Lem0nade features a dial lumed with Super-LumiNova. As such, the Arabic numerals on these are not lumed, but they are on the black Midnight model, arguably the brand’s most conservative watch to date. All four models feature a minute track (lumed on the Midnight) and straight hands with lume coordinated to the respective dial.
You probably also noticed those two spots floating on the dial. How the dials are constructed is just as exciting as the watches themselves. The two screws hold a 1mm sapphire disc up above the colored main dial and have the indices printed and dial text upon it. With the hands rotating above the disc, you’ve got layers on layers of action here. The indices appear to cast a shadow, which is sure to shift in the light and, at Midnight, cast a glow against the dial in the dark. It’s a great trick that lets the 02SERIES stand out from the rest of the three-hand military watch pack (if the lumed dials and color weren’t enough).
The caseback has a jellyfish decoration because why not (in actuality, it’s a subtle reference to the dial concepts of translucency and luminosity), and underneath beats the manual winding Sellita SW210-1. This reliable movement beats at 28,800 vph and offers an adequate power reserve of 42 hours. Some may have preferred an automatic — and I’m sure one day Studio Underd0g will give us one — but this is a natural progression from the manual wind Seagull movement that powers the chronographs. I’ve never heard of any issues with the reliability of the chronographs, but on paper, the Sellita caliber is certainly an upgrade in quality and reputation.
You wouldn’t have been alone if you’d been wondering how or even if Studio Underd0g was going to follow up its sensational chronographs. Certainly, the brand did not need to do anything but keep making the chronographs. But it says plenty about Richard Benc and his brand that he keeps pushing and growing, driven not just but numbers and popularity, but a need to do more and be more. That’s perhaps the most exciting thing about the 02SERIES, proof that the brand is in it for the long run and has much more to offer. The Studio Underd0g 02SERIES is priced at $900 USD and will be made available during an initial launch window on November 1 from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM PDT (2:00 PM to 11:00 PM GMT); every order placed during the launch window will be guaranteed a watch, with the first 500 orders delivered by December 25. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.