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In review: Undone Arabian Nights

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If you recall, we first brought you word of the Undone Arabian Nights not all that long ago. As I mentioned in that writeup, we were looking into getting a review unit in, and, well, we did just that. Read on for our hands-on impressions of the Undone Arabian Nights.

While I had certainly heard of Undone before, I’d never actually seen any of their watches in person. Well, the Undone Arabian Nights certainly caught my eye (I’m an easy mark when it comes to lapis lazuli), and it became a solid little intro for me into what the brand produces. In that, I mean they develop a base set of components, and then mix things up in the various combinations. The bronze case here, that’s from the Basecamp (and you see it also in the Cali, though in steel there). That’s fine by me, as it allows them to focus on other details – in this case, the dial.

For the Undone Arabian Nights, that’s a dial made of the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. Ever since I discovered this stone, it has been one of my favorites, due to its blue hue. But it’s more than that, as closer inspection reveals. It’s got some white mottled in there, recalling a sky. But then you also get some beiges and greens in some spots as well, so now maybe we’re in the ocean, or zoomed way out looking down at earth from space. However you choose to view it, it makes for a very interesting look on the dial, and the blue looks sharp against the warm tone bronze.

Cali vs Traditional Cali dial

The dial of the Undone Arabian Nights has another bit of visual interest due to the numerals that they’ve used on it. For a California dial, you usually have Roman numerals on top, and Arabic numerals on the bottom (as shown in the Timex up above). Here, we’ve got the standard Arabic numerals on the bottom, but on top? Also Arabic numerals! In this case, it’s Eastern Arabic script. It’s a unique look, and makes for something most people have just not seen on a dial (this combination, that is, as Arabic script has appeared on watches before).

I wore the Undone Arabian Nights on two different straps – a blue croc-embossed strap, which gave the watch a dressier look, as well as a greyish-brown leather strap that gave things a little more of a casual feel. For the dressier styling, fresh out of the box was the way to go. As you’re no doubt aware, bronze will start developing a patina, which will dull and darken the finish. As that has progressed, it felt less like a dress watch to me. Of course, that patina can be polished off. And, interestingly enough, the very edge of the bezel stayed with a very high polish, so you still had shiny glints coming off of the watch.

Speaking of the bezel, that was one area on the Undone Arabian Nights I felt that could use some attention. There is no spring underneath it, meaning that it can rotate freely. So, if you’re trying to set it to time something, it is invariably going to move off of where it was set, calling the timing into question. Even if it’s just there as a styling exercise, having it off-kilter just doesn’t look good. I’d really like to see them work a spring in there, or otherwise get it fitted more tightly so it can’t rotate as freely. The other spot that my expectations fell a little short was on the caseback.

As you can see, the Undone Arabian Nights we got in is a standard steel exhibition caseback (handy for not turning your wrist green) and it shows off the Seiko NH35A. What it doesn’t have, however, is the blue crystal inset in it with the “This Too Shall Pass” written on it in Arabic script, as the initial release showed. Now, my suspicion here is that it’s because our reviewer came off a different setup, so I’m not calling foul here. Just make sure if you order one, you get that cool caseback as well.

Coming in at $480, the Undone Arabian Nights is a solid intro to the brand, particularly if you’re looking to add something with a semi-precious stone dial into your collection. As with most of their other releases, this is being made in limited numbers (just 300 in this case), so you’re not likely to run into another one in the wild if you get one yourself. To pick one up, just head right over to undone.com

Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: Undone Arabian Nights
  • Price: $480
  • Who we think it might be for: You want a simpler dive-style watch with a very unique dial
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I really, really like the dial, especially as set against the bronze of the case. But…
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: … I wish that bezel wasn’t so freely rotating
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: Has to be that dial, of course!

Tech Specs from UNDONE

  • Case: 40mm; bronze, with 316L stainless steel caseback (total height: 15mm incl. crystal)
  • Dial: lapis lazuli
  • Crystal: double-domed Lexan polycarbonate
  • Bezel: bronze, bi-directional, click-less
  • Movement: Seiko NH35A
  • WR: 100m
  • Limited Edition: 300 pieces
  • MSRP: $480

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