Launching with the fittingly named Unimatic Modello Uno, this Italian micro-brand dive watch was something that stood out immediately for me with its minimalistic and utilitarian design – and somewhat mysterious origin… I say mysterious because if you visit their webpage, you’ll be greeted by nothing more than a handsome picture of the Unimatic Modello Uno, some technical specifications, and a button to purchase said watch. No proclamations of brand ethos, no smartly worded headlines, and not even a hint of “market positioning,” “brand history,” or other such text — just a simple “Here I am. Buy me.” Well damn… I just had to know more! Fortunately for me, my thirst for more would soon be slaked, as Unimatic’s premier watch came to us for review shortly thereafter.
Starting with the patently obvious: the clean and simple styling makes this look much more like a “technical instrument” than a beacon of style and status, and I’m certainly more than fine with that. I feel like this Unimatic Modello Uno watch offers me something fresh and new, which is definitely saying something when you consider how dive watches are some of the most available on the market. It’s also a genre that I feel has more stylistic limitations, meaning that in order for something to be viewed as a dive watch, there are more visual cues you have to touch upon. It’s a tight space to work within, and I’m glad to see the Unimatic Modello Uno as something fresh.
I know, I know… Some of you are saying, “Do we really need yet another dive watch?” and to that, I say, “Why not? Do you hate fun? What has fun ever done to you!?” Kidding aside, sometimes it’s the smallest details that make us interested in a particular watch, and I personally feel like the Unimatic Modello Uno does something for me that many a dive watch have not. The simplicity of the case is quite clever. The lines that define the shape of the lugs are smartly mirrored by the crown guard. The coin edge of the 120-click bezel is again echoed by the knurling of the crown, and the mix of brushed and polished finishes add a touch of visual depth. I also really like the flat bezel and insert, which almost makes the double domed sapphire crystal look flat as well. The bracelet endlinks fit snugly against the case, and the 41.5mm size feels really nice on the wrist — not too big and not too small: just right.
The dial is matte black, and I mean MATTE, yet it is a different matte black finish from the bezel insert and hands, which makes for some really awesome light play across the dial, polished outer bezel, insert, and crystal. The sapphire also has a bluish anti-reflective coating on the inside, so when the lighting around you changes, or you just tilt your wrist a bit, you get a really interesting effect where the colour of the dial and the bezel seem to swap back and forth. Dial looks grey, bezel looks black. tilt Dial looks black, bezel looks grey. tilt Dial looks bluish, bezel looks greenish… I could go on here, but I’ll just say that on more than one occasion I caught myself dribbling from the lip while I did this. It’s not a practical feature, but it is damn well hypnotic, so it surely needs to be noted.
Another feature of the dial is the placement of the logo on the bottom half above 6 o’clock, which in the absence of an icon/wordmark logo really seems to make sense for the layout. It also looks a bit more military-esque this way, and balances quite well with the triangular marker at 12. The lume is Super-LumiNova C3-type lume, and it definitely glows bright enough for you to see the time at night, although the glow is slightly uneven between the dial, hands, and pearl. The hands glow the brightest, followed by the dial in second, and the pearl on the bezel in third, although I found the charge evens out after a bit in the darkness. I also really like how they made the lollipop on the back side of the seconds hand the part with lume so they could have the bright orange tip you see in the daylight.
Now, I seldom go diving any deeper than the bottom drawers on my desk, but if you wanted to go for more than just a splash in the Unimatic Modello Uno, the construction definitely feels like it’s up for the challenge. As you may have guessed, I am not the best person to test this feature out, but the Unimatic Modello Uno’s watertight case will apparently go one-thousand feet deep before it springs a leak… According to my calculations, that means it can withstand 433.51psi, although I can’t guarantee that your head won’t pop like a scene straight out of Scanners at that depth.
Next up is the movement — a Seiko NH35A automatic with hacking seconds that can be wound by hand, although you don’t need to give it much juice to get it going and keep it that way. It’s a simple and reliable movement that runs at 21,600bph and keeps up the theme of utilitarianism while keeping damn good time – and setting the time feels nice and crisp, as it should.