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Unimatic U1-E Watch Review

Unimatic U1-E Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Minimalism is a term that has been overused in the product world the past few years. Minimalist wallets, backpacks, coffee makers — just insert the product you’re looking for followed by “minimalist” into a Google search, and you’re likely to find a whole trove of items you never knew needed minimizing. However, minimalist design, when truly done well, is something I really appreciate, and Unimatic is one of the companies that hit the mark.

Unimatic U1-E Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Unimatic is an Italian microbrand that focuses on dive watches. Unlike many microbrand dive-watch companies, Unimatic offers no homage designs, but instead have built a line of unique, starkly minimalist products. Over the past few years, Unimatic has consistently released affordable designs that build upon their distinct minimal design language, and I’ve gotten to wear one of their more recent releases, the U1-E, for the past few months. I’ve found it to be a really fantastic piece. I’ve brought it along with me on two trips, taken it for a dip, worn it for a few rounds of sporting clays, several hikes, and along the way grew a deep affinity for this diver. Let’s take a closer look at the U1-E and what makes it tick.

Unimatic U1-E Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Case

The U1-E fits right into my sweet spot, size-wise. At a diameter of 41.3mm (44.3mm including the crown), a thickness of 13.75mm, and a lug-to-lug of 48.7mm, this watch wears very comfortably on my smaller wrist. The case retains a classic dive-watch case shape, with shorter, stubby lugs, and a large 7.9mm crown flanked by crown guards on either side. The all-around finishing here is smooth, brushed satin with no polished surfaces in sight — which, if you ask me, is exactly how a dive watch should be.

Unimatic U1-E Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Moving around back, you’ll find a steel caseback engraved with a conversion scale, as well as your usual watch specs, such as water resistance (300m), and the Made in Italy designation. All in all, the case of the U1-E is harmonious with the rest of Unimatic’s design language. There are no double crowns, helium escape valves, or fancy accoutrements; the case remains minimal, clean, and undoubtedly utilitarian.

Unimatic U1-E Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Dial

The dial of the U1-E is really what first captured my attention. It’s easy to become inured to seeing the same design elements used frequently when it comes to dive watches, but the dial design of the U1-E is starkly different from everything else I’ve seen, with a flat black dial, highly contrasting white circular hour markers, a large triangle at 12, and no Arabic numerals in sight. Everything here is kept as simple as possible, but is somehow still extremely eye-catching, with a uniquely charming minimalist vibe.

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Unimatic U1-E Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In lieu of a large Unimatic logo on the top half of the dial, this design opts for a small amount of text just above the date window at 6 (which is, coincidentally, my favorite date-window placement). The “phantom ladder” hands continue the black & white theme, as does the lollipop seconds hand, with a contrasting white-dipped tip. And at night, everything glows a cool blue, thanks to the generous application of BGW9 Super-LumiNova. While the lume isn’t blindingly bright, it is more than adequate for daily use.

If it seems like I’m smitten by this dial design, it’s because I am. Unimatic has achieved a unique design language that is instantly recognizable in the microbrand world. Every design element of the dial has been brought down to its most essential state, without losing any personality, and I really applaud Unimatic for striving to be different in this regard. Pulling off a minimal design such as this, without creating an ultimately bland watch, has got to be difficult, but it comes together very well here on the U1-E.

Unimatic U1-E Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Bezel

Because this is a dive watch, we must look at the bezel. Unimatic has gone for a black sapphire bezel insert, with a circular pip at the 12 position, minute markers all the way around, with Arabic numerals for 15, 30, and 45. The entire bezel and all the markers are fully lumed in BGW9 blue lume that glows (albeit dimly) along with the dial. I ultimately found that most of the time, I didn’t notice the lume in the bezel unless I got a really good charge in the sunlight, but the pip was usually bright enough to be noticed; nonetheless, it’s a cool addition, but the luminous material could have been better applied on the bezel.

Unimatic U1-E Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The bezel has 120 clicks and, because it’s a dive bezel, it is mono-directional. Each click is satisfying from both a tactile and aural perspective, and there’s no noticeable play between the positions. The coined edge of the bezel is easy to grip, and by my eye, everything here is solid. This isn’t a bezel that I found myself turning for fun due to the amazing feel, but it’s overall solidly made, especially for the price-point of the U1-E. Aside from the lume application on the bezel, there are no changes I’d make here.

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Comments

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  • I wish the minor 5 minute markers on the bezel were thicker (they barely stand out from the minor minute markers). And at what point do the dots on a dive watch become cartoonishly large? Other than these quibbles, a nice watch.

    • DanW94

      Agree, those minute marker dots are definitely looney tunes! Otherwise, I think it’s a clean design without crossing into boring territory.

      • Berndt Norten

        Hey, welcome back, Kotter.

        • DanW94

          Self imposed exile – good to be back, and see that you’re still here….

    • Sheez Gagoo

      Since the Turtle in the seventies.

    • Lingua Franca

      Indeed, large enough to turn into a round date window at 6 with a white background. Wouldn’t that have been something!

  • Independent_George

    Apparently, the U1-E is no longer available. But the even more minimalist U1-EM is still available, and, for my tastes, it is a more attractive design.

  • Andrew

    The problem with the Seiko movement is that it is very thick, and you see the consequence of that in the thickness of the watch itself. The Miyota 9000 series movements are high beat and much thinner which makes for a better overall watch in my opinion.

  • Sheez Gagoo

    On a diver?

    • Raymond Wilkie

      We all love useless complications

  • Didn’t read the article because of fear of finding another jewel like “the deconstruction of the dive watch” or some nonsense like on the last unimatic diver reviewed here.

    I think this is one of the ugliest divers ever; that they truly managed to botch such a classic and basic design speaks volumes of them. At least it has bezel markings.

  • DanW94

    I’m no rolling stone, so I ended my exile on Main Street.
    Bill, please come to our emotional rescue…

    • Berndt Norten

      BILL’s papa was a rolling stone.
      Wherever he laid his watch was his home
      And when Butch came
      All he had left was his name

    • Berndt Norten

      BILL$’S so cold
      He’s so cold
      We typed messages to him
      Our keyboards froze

    • egznyc

      I’ll just add that we “Miss[ed] You” ;-).

      • DanW94

        Thanks! Back to the watch. I hear Michael Stipe really likes these. He says they’re “Unimatic for the People”….

  • TimeChimp

    I really appreciate the design aspect of this watch. However, I gotta know: what is the brand and model of that knife, please?

  • Jason Mirabello

    why would a watch thats not available be reviewed

    • Independent_George

      Because people buy watches used all the time. As of the time of this post, over the last 30 days or so, there are people on WUS asking to buy an Unimatic watch.

    • Martin Pitt-Bradley

      They’ll keep putting it out with different colored dials and bezel inserts, so most of the content is immortal

  • Ulysses31

    Unimatic definitely have come up with an instantly recognisable style over the years. Everything they make looks the same to me. I continue to like the same things I do in their other watches; mainly, the fine looking machining of their bezels and crowns.

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