Italo Fontana created the original U-Boat watches as a designer. The watches were mostly regarded as fashion accessories rather then high-end watches thanks to the use of Japanese quartz movements and K1 mineral crystals. Today, the company and their timepieces have evolved. While one of their most appealing aspects is still their look, this aspect is backed by all the features of high-end watch production, including modified mechanical ETA movements, sapphire crystals, hand-made straps, and sturdy well designed cases. I can attest to the quality of today’s U-Boat models, and will demonstrate it by examining U-Boat’s Classico series.
The stainless steel Classico watches are probably the best selling U-Boats. They capture the essence of the company’s popular style with the bold military-inspired design, wide dial, and a metal plate affixed to the strap. Looking past the styling a watch enthusiast will also find many high quality features. One feature that stands out to me is the crown. The screw-down protective crown cover works well and looks great, but the actual crown itself is even more impressive. It is quite large and easy to handle. A sturdy and decisive click is felt when moving through the crown’s three positions. Finally, the crown feels as rock solid at the third (date) position as it does when tucked into its first (winding) position.
The recently redesigned straps are fantastic. They are now all hand made in Italy using a wide assortment of materials. They have become more supple, and a lining of soft calfskin leather adds to the comfort. The strap benefits from a ‘deployant’ folding clasp, which requires a lot less effort to use then its pressure locking counterpart.
The way a watch feels on and off the wrist is a great indication of quality. Operating the crown and crown cap is smooth and solid. The case incorporates a thick sapphire crystal, and offers a water resistance rating of 100 meter. It is thick and well assembled. I am confident that any one who picks up a current U-Boat model will be convinced of the company’s grasp on high-end horology.
Marco runs the Baily Blog on MattBaily.ca