Italian Unimatic watches and Paris-based retailer Nous have teamed up for the release of an exclusive limited edition variation on Unimatic’s Modello Uno, simply called the Unimatic Modello Uno U1-NU. Unimatic has been creating minimalist-style dive watches and has become known for their starkly contrasting dial designs, and the limited nature of all their watches. Keeping in line with both the aesthetic and production numbers, the two brands have teamed up to release a run of 50 watches available exclusively through the Nous store, sporting a new “California” dial design.

The Modello Uno is, as the name would imply, Unimatic’s original and first dive watch design. While the dial designs have changed throughout each release of the Modello Uno, Unimatic has remained dedicated to keeping their dials clean and minimal, with limited text and markings. For the new U1-NU, the base dimensions and specifications are what we’re used to seeing on the Modello Uno. The U1-NU is water-resistant to 300m, sporting a 40mm diameter 316L steel case that is DLC coated, and a double-domed sapphire crystal. Powering the watch is the Seiko NH35A, a hacking and hand-winding movement with a frequency of 21,600bph that is starting to pop up on more and more microbrand watches.

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The lugs are 22mm and packaged with the U1-Nu is a black nylon NATO-style strap, as well as a newly designed rubber “fluoroelastomer” NATO-style strap. The caseback, as on previous models, is screw-down, however this time rather than a conversion scale engraved, there is a co-branded engraving designating the collaboration between Unimatic and Nous. The most noticeable change on this collaboration is of course the California dial. Through these subtle changes, Unimatic and Nous were able to come up with a design that is clearly unique for its collaboration, while not losing any of the design language that Unimatic has developed over the last few years.

I’ve been a fan of Unimatic’s aesthetic since I first saw a Modello Uno a couple years back. “Minimalism,” I feel, is without a doubt a huge trend right now. Many brands, not just within the watch world, want to release minimalist products and many of them do not do it well. Unimatic, however, excels at it. Their designs have always had a beauty in their simplicity while also being distinct and unique. This new U1-NU has a lot of design features that I do like, and also a few that I do not like. First off, I appreciate the fact that Unimatic stuck with the stark contrast of pure white C1 lumed numerals against flat black. Second (and I know it’s not practical from a diving perspective) I dig the blacked out bezel with only the pure white lumed pip at 12.

I’m not normally a DLC case guy, and I’d still always prefer a plain steel case, but this aspect isn’t a deal breaker for me. Where this watch loses me, is in the California dial. While I’m sure many of you out there will love this dial, I’ve never been able to warm up to any California dial, regardless of manufacturer (and yes, that includes the Nomos Club Campus). However, I can appreciate and understand that Unimatic and Nous wanted to do something unique together, which I do think they’ve achieved.

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Perhaps the most interesting part of this release to me is seeing a microbrand teaming up with a retail group for a collaboration exclusive. We see this all the time with major brands, but for the microbrand world it can be rare. However, in 2018 it seems that microbrands are gaining more ground in the watch world. I’ll be interested to see how the microbrand segment continues to grow, and if we’ll see more collaborations like this from smaller brands. While the design of the Unimatic Modello Uno U1-NU isn’t to my taste, with there being only 50 pieces, I imagine Unimatic and Nous will have no trouble finding customers for this version. For those interested, the Unimatic Nous Modello Uno U1-NU can be purchased exclusively at the Nous store in Paris starting on June 18th, 2018 for €650.

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