Crushing Expectations with the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer

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If I tell you we have a new dive watch in for review, you get a certain mental picture forming in your head. Or, say we got something in that lays claim to amazing durability, and another sort of picture is set in your mind. This is based both on watches you have (or do) own, as well as what sort of watches you have been exposed to in reviews and the like. Well, get yourself ready, because today’s watch will crush, decimate, and otherwise destroy many of those pre-conceived ideas of what a durable diver can be. Get ready to meet the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer.

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Even the process of getting the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer in for review was unlike what I’ve experienced before. I’ve worked with all sorts of brands, big and small, established and startup, and, just like the watch he designed, the process was different with Cal Giordano. Why is that? Well, it started off with a conversation. Giordano knows where he – and his designs – are coming from, and wants to ensure that the person on the other end is able to read from the same book. As it turns out, I was already familiar with some of his work, just not from watches. Giordano might be more familiar to some as the guy behind Tailgunner Exhausts. While I never installed one back when I had my bike, I was quite familiar with them, as the exhaust is one of the coolest ones out there.

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That is where our discussion started – motorcycles. He had a pretty awesome one fabricated, and we talked about it, comparing it to other bikes (production and custom), and talked briefly about some of the other builders out there. Obviously, Giordano is driven by designs and what he can build in his shop, so an appreciation of some of those processes (which I have from my days in an aerospace gear shop) certainly goes a long way. Of course, that exchange went both ways, as it gave me some insight into where Giordano was coming from, and what he was trying to accomplish with his watches (on that note, watch for a separate interview that we conducted with him). At some point, talking has to give way to action, and so it did, when a giant box arrived on my desk.

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Why a giant box? Well, you see, the packaging for the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer also is unlike anything you have ever seen. Capitalizing on his artistic side, Giordano created a rather unique case to transport the watch in. This is a separate add-on (you can order the watch without the case), but wow, I do not know why you would not get the case as well. For me, especially as a watch reviewer, packaging is something that is solely a means to an end. It protects the watch in transport, and once it gets to me, it’s destined to collect dust somewhere. This is why I have liked some of the more minimalist packaging I have seen from brands like Smith & Bradley, or the padded case style that Techne uses.

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With the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer case, though, this is something you would want to have out and display, proudly. Quite obviously, the case is a boat. You have the classic boat shape, and even a pair of chained anchors hanging off the front. Around back, you have a large plaque that is to be engraved with the owner’s name. With the plaque, I like this bit of customization, but I am hoping that they can work out a way to run it through a mill – rather than hand-punching – the letters into it, just to keep things a bit more even. However, that plaque is not the star of this bit of the show. No, that honor goes to the porthole on the top of the case.

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Now, you’re probably thinking that portholes go on the sides of a boat, not the tops – and you’d be correct. In terms of a watch box, though, it’s a great way to keep the theme going, show off some more machining skills, and give a clear – and protected – view of what the boat is transporting. In this case, it’s the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer. Unscrew the two bolts, swing them out to the side, and the porthole opens up, giving you access to the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer.

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The first thing that struck me about the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer was it’s size – this is no dainty watch. Second, it was the weight of the watch – it was by far the heaviest watch I had had cross my desk. Once I got it on a scale, I was surprised to see it read out 400g. For reference, most of the big steel divers that we have reviewed fall into the 150-180g range. So, at 2-3x the weight of a “normal” indie dive watch, there is something else going on here. And, after my discussion with Giordano, I knew that there was a good reason for the bulk – both on the scale, and visually.

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With Giordano’s experience in the commercial marine industry, he had been exposed to many divers and tough watches that were on the market. Along with some of his other ventures (which we’ll go into in his interview), he came to the conclusion that he could come up with a watch that was rougher and tougher than anything else on the market, and build something that met his own tastes and preferences. That lead to what we now know as Timemachinist, with the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer making the ninth generation in his Unlimited series.

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Why unlimited? Well, that’s because the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer carries no precise ratings, in terms of shock or water resistance. Why? Because it will exceed (or so the claim goes) just about anything you are going to throw at it. Now, this is not something I particularly tested (as I’m not in the habit of, say, running over a loaner watch), but after experiencing the heft and quality machining present on the watch, I’m willing to trust Giordano at his word. This is a watch that will no doubt stand up to anything you throw at it, and likely dent (if not break) anything you throw it at.

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For my testing of the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer, that consisted of wearing it around the house, of course, and out to the office. Even though I do not consider myself to have particularly small wrists (7.25″), the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer managed to make them feel plenty small. Really, there is no way around the fact that the watch, along with it’s 400g weight, is 57mm in diameter and 30mm tall. If you think you had troubles getting a steel diver under a shirt cuff, you can just forget it with the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer. Which means, yeah, you’re going to pick up attention with this watch.

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That’s not something I normally look for in a watch, but it was interesting to see the comments that the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer gathered from those who saw it. All agreed that it was rather unlike anything they had seen before, and more than one commented that it looked like it could take a bullet and keep working (again, not something I tested!) For a watch this large, it was surprisingly comfortable, with one exception. While the Ted Su strap was quite nice (and comfortable itself), I would find that after a few hours, the buckle would be digging into my wrist, and I’d need to take the watch off for a bit. I think this was primarily due to the watch pulling a bit (gravity, don’t ya know), and that little bit of leverage ended up showing up in the buckle.

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That said, I do want to call out the buckle on the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer as being one of the cleverer implementations. Rather than a buckle, it’s a friction clasp. The strap itself is of a solid piece (no holes for a buckle tang) which you slide under a plastic bit inside the buckle, and then you flip the buckle closed. That compresses on the inner plastic portion, holding things solidly in place, and without really marking up the vintage leather. Also holding that strap in place are the single-sided screw bars on the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer.

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This was something I had inquired about, as we are more used to seeing double-sided (with screw heads on both sides) bars just due to the aesthetics. As I suspected, Giordano went with the the single sided for sheer durability. When you get to double-sided, the threads have to be smaller, which translates to less mechanical stability and strength. It was a decision driven by durability, much like the choice of the movement. You might think that something as one-off and hand-made would have a mechanical movement, no? Perhaps something of a vintage pocket-watch movement, given the all-American nature of the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer. If so, you’d be wrong.

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Instead, Giordano went with the Miyota 2035 Super Quartz, for it’s sheer accuracy and reliability. And it makes sense – if you want absolute resistance to shocks and the like, quartz is indeed the way to go. Also, by going with the no-date variant, Giordano could ensure that he did not need to have an external crown – another traditional weak point on watches. So, if there is no crown, how do you adjust the time? Well, see those hex heads? On the back of the watch, you remove the twelve fasteners, pop out the module, set it, and put things back together. Given the quartz movement (and 4-year battery life), this is something you’d need to do but twice a year (due to daylight savings) – so the additional work done is quite offset by the extra protection the lack of an external crown affords.

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One thing to notice, when you flip the watch over, is that it seems like the caseback is upside down. Or, at least it is when compared to how watches traditionally are – when you flip them over left to right, you see the caseback text upright. Here, on the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer, Giordano wanted to go with the effect that U.S. coins have – you actually need to flip it top to bottom to see the caseback upright. Though, I suppose the enterprising owner could switch that around if they so chose by fiddling with the position after removing the fasteners.

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I was also curious about the bezel on the Timemachinist Naval Destoyer, in a few different ways. First was the positioning of the fasteners, as they are not on the hours, but between them. This was done so that, if a future model did have an external crown, the fasteners would not obstruct it. I also felt that the bezel sort of had the feel of an aftermarket exhaust tip, which would not be surprising given that Giordano also makes those. As it turns out, I was not right, but not completely off either. The bezel was fashioned after the cylinder head of an internal combustion engine.

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As you can see, I had plenty of questions during my time with the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer. One last one I had centered around the dial. The red, white, and blue was very crisp and legible, and reading the time was quick enough (though I would not have minded slightly wider hands). What I was most curious about was the decided lack of lume on the watch, of any sort. Given that you can ostensibly dive fairly deeply with the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer, some lume would not be out of place. For this, I’ll just turn to a quote, as Giordano puts it quite succinctly:

“Aesthetics and durability. Almost all painted lume dials look like painted lume dials. I wanted a sharp, clean design that was free of circular pips and not influenced by the limitations of the lume itself. While I do like tritium, the mechanical fastening systems have serious issues. My research has shown no shortage of dislodged tritium tubes in watches (the tubes are known to fall out).”

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Who knows – perhaps future iterations of the Unlimited series can play around with some of the new solid composites that offer all manner of glow. For now, though, the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer is decidedly dark, but for very specific reasons. That, really, is the story of the $2,400 Timemachinist Naval Destoyer – there is a reason for every part of the design. While it may not be a fit for every temperament, those who find themselves called to it will no doubt be rather pleased. And while a watch of this durability certainly has no need of a case, the display case that Giordano has crafted certainly would make for an all-but-fitting home for this beastie. Along with the quality and craftsmanship you’re picking up, you will have a design quite unlike anything else out there. Whether or not that is a good thing, we will leave to you to let us know in the comments below. timemachinistwatches.com

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Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Timemachinist Naval Destroyer
  • Price: $4,700 with the custom case; $2,400 by itself
  • Who we think it might be for: You prize durability above all else
  • Would I buy one for myself?: No – while I understand the design, it is simply too large for my own tastes
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Figure out a solution to get some glow in the mix
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: The uncompromising ruggedness of the watch