Review: U-Boat 45mm Classico Chronograph

Discussion in 'Watch Reviews' started by colemanitis, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. colemanitis

    colemanitis

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    Watch Review: U-Boat 45mm Classico Chronograph

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    MY INITIAL THOUGHTS

    Upon receiving my U-Boat Classico watch, my initial thought was... "Wow, this watch is different - but in a really GOOD way!" Afterall, that's why I decided to get a U-Boat instead of a more familiar / main-stream brand. I was ready for a new watch experience. There's nothing wrong with Rolex Subs and GMTs, I love those too, but sometimes something new and unique is needed. For me, a U-Boat watch fit the bill, so I jumped on board (pun intended) with both feet!

    I hope that you enjoy my watch review.

    THE BASICS

    The model I chose was the 45mm Classico CAS (ref. 2268) with the beige colored dial. It's the smaller version of the 53mm Classico CAS (ref. 2272). Since I've never worn a watch larger than 45mm before, I decided to play it safe and opted for the 45mm version. FYI, both of these models are also available with a black dial.

    A new U-Boat Classico should come with the following items:

    • Outer black box
    • Inner presentation box (yours may differ from the one I received)
    • Instruction manual
    • Hang tag
    • Warranty card (credit card style)

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    THE PRICE

    At the time this review was written, the price of the 45mm and the 53mm U-Boat Classico were as follows. A complete U-Boat price list can be found here.

    • 45mm Classico CAS (ref. 2268): $3,100 USD
    • 53mm Classico CAS (ref. 2272): $3,350 USD

    THE CASE

    The watch case is constructed of three pieces of stainless steel. The top piece, which makes up the bezel, the middle case, and the case-back. As mentioned above, the reference 2268 measures in at 45mm and the reference 2272 measures a whopping 53mm.

    My 45mm Classico nicely balances atop my 7 1/2" wrist with virtually no wobble do to its large footprint and relatively flat case-back. I wear the OEM strap quite loose, and I'm surprised how stable the watch is.

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    Between the 6:00 lugs the case is stamped "316L" indicating the quality of the steel. 316L is commonly used among top watch brands, except for Rolex, which uses an even higher quality steel known as 904L. I'm not sure why U-Boat felt the need to stamp the case so visibly? That touch I could do without, but it's no bigee.

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    On the 3:00 side of the case, just above the 5:00 lug, the individual production number is stamped. I actually think this is a nice touch and it adds some interest to an otherwise boring side of the case.

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    The eye candy resides on the 9:00 side, which features two chronograph pushers, an over-sized canteen style crown protector, and a unique hinge that secures the canteen to the case when unscrewed - more details regarding this are below.

    The case-back is a sight to behold. Not only is it outfitted with a sapphire crystal, but the perimeter has several engravings indicating things such as: water resitance, model number, case size, origin, etc.. The entire case has a brushed finish and the overall shape of the case and lugs are very nice.

    THE CRYSTALS

    The U-Boat Classico is outfitted with a sapphire crystal. It raises just above the bezel and is flat - not domed. It doesn't appear that AR coating has been applied. The case-back has also been outfitted with a sapphire crystal, which is a nice touch, allowing the wearer to view the mechanical automatic movement beating inside.

    THE DIAL

    The dial of the U-Boat classico, at least this varation, is extremely legible. The black arabic numerals and other hour markers contrast nicely with the beigle colored dial. The numerals (12, 4, 8) are raised, while the other hour markers are cutout from the top layer exposing a black bottom layer (aka sandwich dial). This is very subtle and can only be seen upon close examination of the watch. These are really nice touches! Overall, I prefer the look of the 53mm model - the dial is less cluttered and the sub-dial positioned at 12:00 doesn't cut into the number 12 on the dial.

    45mm Dial
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    53mm Dials Source: www.u-boatwatch.it
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    The chrono sub dials aren't very legible IMHO. At first glance you can't really tell which dial does what. The 12:00 sub-dial contains 24 tick marks, therefore it's for timing the hours. The 6:00 sub-dial contains 60 tick marks, therefore it's for timing the minutes. The rather unique looking sub-dial at 3:00 (if you can call it a sub-dial) is the regular seconds hand and isn't part of the chrono function at all - this runs all of the time as you'd expect. The longer skinny seconds hand pointing toward 12:00 is the chrono seconds hand. The two chrono sub-dials and the chrono seconds hands only operate when activated by the chrono pusher. In a nutshell, reading the date and time is a cinch - reading the chrono is a pain. I'd much prefer to use the chrono on my Omega Speedmaster.

    The date is displayed at the 9:00 position between the U-Boat logo and the name of U-Boat's founder, Italo Fontana. It contrasts nicely against the dial. Also, below the founder's name it reads "Made In Italy." U-Boat is an Italian watch w/ a Swiss movement.

    One last thing that must be mentioned about this particular dial is that there is no lume for night viewing. Once it's dark you won't be able to see the time. I've already found this to be an inconvenience a few times. Once during a movie, and once during a night time drive in my car. If you're constantly relying on good lume to tell the time, then this might not be the model for you. Other models have luminescent dials, so be sure to check those out.

    THE CROWN SECURITY DEVICE

    The crown security device is such a unique and defining characteristic of a U-Boat watch that I had to create a separate section for it. Most people have no idea what this rather strange looking contraption does, so let's see if I can help explain it.

    What you're seeing in the picture below is the crown security device, aka the "canteen" crown cover. This not only protects the crown from damage, but it also ensures the water resitance of the watch, which is guaranteed to depths of up to 100 meters. This device should always be screwed down tight when wearing the watch and should only be removed when winding the watch or adjusting the time.

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    Once the canteen is unscrewed, it's secured to the case by a hinge. This is so you don't drop and damage, or lose the canteen cover. In the picture below, you can see the hinge in action as well as the small winding crown that resides under the canteen cover. Notice the rubber gasket beneath the threads - the canteen tightens against this gasket and keeps water from penetrating the case.

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    THE MOVEMENT

    The movement is a 25 jewel Valjoux / ETA 7750 chronograph that's been modified to display the date at the 9:00 position and to relocate the crown position from 3:00 to 9:00. The rotor has been engraved with the U-Boat logo - a nice touch. Other than that, it's a basic looking ETA movement with no obvious decorations. The movement ticks at 28,800 BPH, so you have a smooth sweeping chrono and seconds hand. This watch has a 44 hour power reserve, so it'll only need to be manually wound if you don't wear it for a couple of days. Unfortuately, U-Boat movements aren't COSC certified, but they do use extremely reliable and time-proven ETA movements. This particular watch is running just outside of COSC specs at +7 seconds per day. Although that's not spectacular timekeeping, I'm okay with that result.

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    THE STRAP & BUCKLE

    The 20mm leather strap that comes with the Classico is nice enough. It's not a fancy crocodile strap, but it's nice nonetheless. It reminds me of the basic leather strap that comes on a Base Panerai - along that same quality for those who are familiar with Panerai watches. On the 6:00 side of the strap is a unique end piece constructed of stainless steel with the U-Boat logo engraved into it. Some might think that this is over-branding, but I like it. It adds some interest to an otherwise simple strap. The color and stitching of the strap are dead on. They perfectly compliment the beige dial and I've received numerous compliments already just on the strap alone. I can tell already that it's going to delelop a lovely patina. I do think the strap should be longer allowing for more tail and use of the second keeper. I also think the 45mm Classico case size warrants a wider strap, either a 22mm or even a 24mm would look great. The existing 20mm looks fine, but I find it a bit on the narrow side.

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    The U-Boat Classico comes with a rather impressive deployant buckle. I was very pleased to find this. It operates flawlessly and it allows for the strap to be easily adjusted for a larger or smaller wrist. I've owned a few Panerai deployants and a Ulysse Nardin deployant and this one by far is my favorite. It's so much easier to adjust than the others IMHO.

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    MY CLOSING THOUGHTS

    Well, I said I wanted something different and unique and that's exactly what I got with this watch! Overall, I'm really enjoying this watch and TBH I couldn't be much happier with it. I do, at times, wish I had opted for the 53mm version, but if I had that I'd probably wish for the oposite still, so no worries! If you're looking for a timepiece that's different from anything else you've ever worn, that looks great, keeps good time, and isn't on the wrist of every other guy walking down the street, then I encourage you to take a closer look at the U-Boat Classico line, or the U-Boat brand in general. I think you'll like what you see. Best of luck and happy watch shopping!

    Now where'd my U-Boat go? Nooooooooo..........

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  2. DSimon9

    DSimon9

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    Great review. A quick question. How long did it take you to have the crown face away from your wrist? I am so used to the conventional way, I wonder if I would find it awkward. Nonetheless, your review has peaked my curiosity and will be in the lookout at local stores to get a close and personal look at one.
  3. colemanitis

    colemanitis

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    Glad you enjoyed it, Dex. :cheers: The crown position didn't take any time for me to get used to. I don't find it awkward at all. I have tried putting it on backwards a few times though. :dummy: :lol: :lol:
  4. Baco Noir

    Baco Noir

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    I never adjust the watch while wearing it - I always take it off my wrist, os I can see it wouldn't take much of an adjustment.

    Nice review Jeff! I see what you are saying about the position of the top sundial cutting off the 12 - always been a pet peeve of mine, but at least it's only one number affected on this dial. Looking forward to seeing them in person one of these days. :thumbsup:
  5. kingel

    kingel

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    Great review and fantastic pictures! Thanks Jeff- Glad you are enjoying the watch...when you can get it off your wifes wrist!!
  6. Cmaster03

    Cmaster03

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    Great review--it's seriously one of the best I've seen in a while.

    You captured the great features of the watch while being honest about what you weren't crazy about, like the chrono function. I must admit it has taken me a while to warm up to the U Boat line in general, but the fourth photo posted in the review, the one of the watch on your wrist, is awesome. Really captures the look and aura of the WWII-era dive watches with the canteen crown covers, which of course is the idea.

    I like these more and more...but I think 45mm would be max for my skinny 7" wrist! :lol:
  7. Kiwi

    Kiwi

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    Great Review, Jeff:goodpost:

    Bit large for my little wrist, but great looking watch, Mate:thumbsup:
  8. daveathall

    daveathall

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    Excellent review Jeff, I think that the next time I am in Leeds I will be dropping in to the local AD to have a closer look. I like the watch, I also think it is different in a good way, I also love the legibility of that dial.:thumbsup:
  9. Vincent65

    Vincent65

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    great review, Jeff :thumbsup:
  10. pawnshopkiller

    pawnshopkiller

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    Glad to know the movement now. 7750 is awesome.
  11. colemanitis

    colemanitis

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    I'm glad you guys liked my review. I didn't just want to tell you about the watch, but I tried to convey how it feels to own and to operate this watch. I hope I was able to do that. :cheers:
  12. Erwin

    Erwin

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    Not done reading ( work ) but so far, so good! Thanks for the review, Jeff!
  13. 77T

    77T

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    Thanks fo the review Jeff and for the email alert that it was posted. I used my Daytona's for their designed purpose at the track for all my years of sports car racing and agree with your assessment that the chrono function doesn't meet the basic needs for speed events.

    The sweep chrono seconds hand is useless for lap time splits except when a driver makes a "flat" lap (as in 1:54 flat) since you have no chapter ring ticks to measure 1/5'ths.
  14. piledragon

    piledragon

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    hi, i think you did a great review, very informative. looks great on your wrist as well, best of luck with it:thumbsup:
  15. anthonysntan

    anthonysntan

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    Great ! a very clear cut review !
  16. dark_divine1218

    dark_divine1218

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    thanks for your effort to give us a clear cut, easy to understand and informative review can't ask for more! well done jeff
  17. gaopa

    gaopa

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    WOW! That is one SERIOUS watch! Cheers, Bill P.
  18. andypandy

    andypandy

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    Excellent review , fine looking watch , I'll take a dozen !
  19. colemanitis

    colemanitis

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    Peter will be along shortly to help you with that! :thumbsup: :lol: :lol:

    Glad you enjoyed the review! :cheers:
  20. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley

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    Very nicely done, impressive looking timepiece, as others mentioned, probably a little large for my wrist but then, I've not tried a larger watch so it's hard to say. I would prefer there was some lumen to it, so that is a bit of a let down, and I prefer the look of the larger one also, not cutting off the 12, but, that's the Monk (Tony Shaloub) coming out in me ;)
    Great looking photos too, amazing detail there!
    G2