February 22, 2023
by Mike Razak
Depending on how you approach watches, your tolerance for less traditional design will be higher or lower. Any watch enthusiast can rattle off some case quite famous designs that aren’t just another round watch, though: the Royal Oak, the Luminor, the Reverso. None of these is so out there that it alienates people, and that’s the line that Visitor Watches has always played with. Not ones to pull design punches, the cases and other components are all inspired by calligraphy pens, a particular passion of founder Phillip Rodenbeck. You may not expect a writing implement to lend itself to the rigors of watch design, but if you’re like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results, perhaps most clearly with the new, limited Visitor Duneshore Golden Beach.
Maybe the Visitor Duneshore Golden Beach won’t ever reach the status of the Royal Oak (although, let’s give it a few decades and see), but there’s no denying that this unconventional 44mm case has a lot of wow factor. In spite of initially being almost overwhelmed by the shine of the fully polished gold PVD case, this one definitely grew on me. Lugs that have a unique shape are perhaps the subtlest but most novel element of the case, with drilled ends to make strap swaps easier. To add to the signature lugs, the case features a dynamic, faceted construction that dazzles in the light, including the fully polished screwdown crown (that I wish were signed) that helps with the 100m water resistance (Rodenbeck encouraged me to wear the Golden Beach on a sunny day while driving to get the best experience, and sure enough, it was distractingly reflective and I loved it). Obviously, this is not a slight watch, but a unique curved caseback brings the 13.7mm thickness to just 11.7mm at the center—creating a much better wear than you’d expect—which is further aided by the flat sapphire crystal. Nevertheless, I’m not going to pretend this is a small, easily wearable watch: it’s big and it makes a statement.
I’m also not going to just ignore the bund strap. Suffice it to say that the style is not a favorite among most watch enthusiasts. But those who like them seem to love them. Rather surprisingly, I found this particular execution— custom-made by very popular strapmaker Delugs—not just inoffensive, but a great fit for the watch. Ordinarily, I’ve been turned off, if not repulsed, by the style, but I think it’s the subtler execution here that makes it work. Defying the chunky, ultra-wide dimensions that bunds usually have, this brown leather offering with contrast stitching barely extends beyond the case and the proper strap portion has a generous taper. It’s finished off with a wide, pin-buckle closure that matches the case in finish and styling. Noting the need to maintain the caseback’s curvature and put the movement on display, the strap also features a cutout for just that purpose. Keep in mind that all that extra leather against the wrist with a normal bund can get sweaty; this cutout allows for a bit of breathing room to avoid such discomfort. Even if you dislike bund straps, I think aesthetically it works with the Golden Beach. Easing the dimensions of the case by incorporating it into the straps silhouette allows this to wear far better than it would on a traditional strap, where the case would be more pronounced.
Just in case it wasn’t abundantly clear, the creative turns don’t end with the case and the strap. Using calligraphy pens as an inspiration, the handset mimics the pens’ nibs with substantial blocks of lume, while the counterweight on the seconds hand recalls the Visitor doorknocker logo. Shifting to the indices, applied circles and teardrops feature BGW9 Super-LumiNova and gold-tone surrounds (Super cool thing: on the sold-out steel Duneshore beads of rice bracelet, the beads are custom made in the same shape as the teardrop indices). The lume is also applied to the date wheel, the layer beneath the cutout minute holes, and the “Visitor” text, but it isn’t perfect; the hands are noticeably brighter than everything else, though the date text does pop nicely. Keeping things going, the sandy dial plays well with the gold case and hands and drives home the Golden Beach model name. I like the tone-on-tone colorway, but this may not be for everyone (but then again, neither are gold watches, much less, gold watches on bund straps). Doing double duty by adding a bit of quirk to the dial and making the date wheel a bit less obtrusive, there is a black reticle centered on the dial, though I have a feeling this is an element that will be divisive (the reticle has been present on every Visitor watch, to date).
Despite not having the fanciest movement, the Visitor Duneshore Golden Beach still has a caseback worth looking at. In addition to the sapphire crystal showing off the Visitor rotor (engraved with the logo and with those teardrop shapes as cutouts), this is where you can glimpse the pronounced curve of the caseback I mentioned above. Not many watches at this price point are offering this kind of case architecture, and it’s certainly appreciated on a watch of this size. Going the extra distance with the case, though, doesn’t mean that you need a wild movement. Here, the stock Miyota 9015 offers 42 hours of power reserve at 28,800 vph and is rated at -10/+30 seconds per day. Absolutely adequate, if you ask me.
Some things warrant closer examination before they can be fully appreciated, hidden as some treasures can be. I think that’s the situation with the Visitor Duneshore Golden Beach. At a glance, it’s just a big shiny gold watch on a bund strap, a prospect that will immediately turn off a majority of watch lovers. With a keener eye, though, the thoughtfulness of the design and its inspiration bring out the true joy of this watch. The original Duneshore Beach has the same dial but a steel case and normal strap, but it seems to me that this dial has always begged for a gold case, so the Golden Beach seems natural to my eye. For those who can’t get past the gold or the bund, they’ll be missing out. The Visitor Duneshore Golden Beach is priced at $775 USD and is limited to 50 pieces. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.
>Brand: Visitor Watch Co.
>Model: Duneshore Golden Beach
>Size: 44mm diameter, 51mm lug-to-lug, 11.7 to 13.7mm thickness, 22mm lug width.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Any time I’m feeling bored and want to spice things up a bit.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: I see this being worn by an outdoorsy person who favors an ascot.
>Best characteristic of watch: The handset and dramatic case
>Worst characteristic of watch: The lume or the bund strap (even though it grew on me)