Back on February 3, 2017 I wrote about the Draken Tugela Kickstater campaign which you can see here. I really liked the look of this South African inspired watch so I was pretty happy to find out their campaign was a success. So after getting all the new models out to their backers Draken Watch Co. was able to send me one out for review.

The Dial

The Draken Tugela is a simple three hander with date at the 6 o’clock position, set into a matte black dial. One thing I love on this dial are the hour makers, which are inspired by beadwork patterns used by the Zulu tribes of South Africa. The only extra splash of color on this dial come from the date window, minute hand, and the tip of the seconds hand which are all in red. This Tugela also comes in burgundy and blue dials. Covering these dials is a sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating. Powering this watch is a reliable Seiko NH35A automatic movement.

The Case

The case on the Draken Tugela is made from 316L stainless steel and has a scratch-resistant bead blasted finish. I am normally used to wearing watches around 45mm in diameter so when I put this 42mm watch on it at felt small but I quickly got used to it and absolutely love this size.  One unique thing I want to call attention to is the shape of this case. The watch tapers down from the top of the bezel down to the case back. This shape took its inspiration from the Protea which is the national flower of South Africa. Furthering the South African ties, the screw down case back has a nice scene of the Tugela river in South Africa. The bezel is 120 click uni-directional and is a smooth but tight with little play. The crown is a super-grippy knurled design protected by crown guards. Water resistance on this watch is a respectable 300m or approx. 1000ft. No problem bringing this out for a dive if you are so inclined.

The Strap

The Draken Tugela actually comes with two straps. A genuine leather strap and a ballistic nylon Zulu strap. The leather strap is firm but conforms to the wrist without a problem. The clasp is a signed pin and buckle and has the same bead blasted finish. You can choose from tan, black, or dark brown leather. The grey and black ballistic nylon Zulu strap matches the watch perfectly and also has the same bead blasted finish. After wearing both straps for awhile I think I tend to favor the ballistic nylon Zulu strap over the leather. Its very well made and very comfortable. Nice part is that they have quick change pins so you can change them to suit your mood.

The Lume

The lume on the Draken Tugela is fantastic. There is lume on the hands, hour markers, bezel, and even the date. Those Zulu hour markers look fantastic in the dark. Lume does not take long to charge up and last for a good amount of time.

Overall Impression

The Draken Tugela is one where I feel the photos don’t do it justice. There is a feel of quality on this and the beaded finish is great. I normally like having an exhibition case back but in the case I like the look of the Tugula river on this case back. Quailty on this is very good and it has a good movement. It’s a traditional style dive watch with some cool non-traditional features. Price on this is a reasonable $306 USD. You can check them out at

Review Summary

  • Brand and model: Draken Tugela
  • Price: $306 USD
  • Who’s it for: Adventurers, divers or anyone who likes tool watches.
  • Would I wear it: Absolutely
  • What I’d change: nothing
  • The best thing about it: Bead blasting

Tech Specs from Draken

  • Materials: 316L Stainless steel
  • Crystal: Sapphire
  • Movement: Seiko NH35A with date
  • Dial: Matte black
  • Bezel: 120 click uni-directional
  • Measurements: 42mm wide, 48.5mm lug to lug, and 14mm thick.
  • Water Resistance: 300 meters or approx. 1000 feet



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