Tired of the small watch trend? Looking for something that is a little more rugged and chunky? Well, Duzu Watches is going on Kickstarter soon with the Duzu Coral Bay, or the DW-D2 as it’s printed on the dial. I have had this watch in hand for a good month or so, and I have been quite impressed with it. The Coral Bay will only be available with a black dial but don’t worry, there are a lot of other options and choices when it comes to this diver inspired by the Manta Ray. Kickstarter early bird pricing will start at $349 for a Miyota 9015 version, but there will be a limited run of Swiss ETA-2824 versions as well (price TBA). If you have been looking for something a little different, a little old-school micro if you will, but with all the latest options, this might be a good one to give a look at.
42mm Stainless Steel Case Brushed Or BeadBlasted Choice of Miyota 9015 Or ETA 2824 14MM Thick including Crystal 51.5mm Lug to Lug 22mm Lug Width Sapphire Crystal 300 Meter Water Resistant Early Bird Pricing Starts at $349, Retail Price $549
Before I get into all the ins and outs of this new diver from Duzu, I do want to point out a few things. One thing to keep in mind is this is a prototype. Because of that, a few things will be fixed or adjusted come production, but I will point those out throughout this article. Also, as always, this is still a review, not a sponsored post, and as such, I will be honest with my opinion as always. So, with that out of the way, let me tell you all about this new Duzu.
Wayne from Duzu sent me the prototype for a few weeks, and I ended up having it in hand a little longer than that, but it did give me a chance to really go over the watch and see this new design that he has worked up. The Kickstarter is set to go live on August 1, and of course, I will update this review with all the info once it does, but let’s discuss what is going on here. With only a black dial being offered you may think choices are limited, but there is a list of options. Two movements as I discussed, a choice of either bead blasted or brushed steel, two different lume colors, and date or no date dial. All will come standard on a stainless steel bracelet, and there will be stretch goals for colored rubber straps as well.
If you take a look at the Duzu Website, you can see all illustrations and images, showing all the inspiration from the Manta Ray, and how they incorporated it into the design of the Coral Bay. You can also find a good amount of these illustrations in your video review. Design inspiration, if you truly want to design a watch that is fresh and different, has to come from somewhere and Wayne decided there was no place better than his backyard of Coral Bay, Australia, and the friendly Manta Ray’s. Now, design inspiration and gimmicks are great, and can help a lot with marketing, but how does it relate to the final product? Sure, the dial of the DW-D2 mimics the Manta Rays eyes, (specifically the circular indices), and the large crown guards mimic a Ray’s cephalic lobes (whatever those are-), and that is all well and good. But does it make for a comfortable watch? And, once you are done looking over the design and seeing all of the inspired features, does it translate to a well-built watch?
In this instance, I can say it absolutely does. Not to take the piss out of all Duzu’s hard work in design, but if you were not reading this review or his website, you would probably not notice any of those things I just mentioned when looking at the Duzu Coral Bay, and that’s a good thing. Many times, watches can get real gimmicky, and they may have niche buyers, but the watch enthusiasts will be sure to stay away. This watch is no novelty though, rather a well built, solid dive watch, that is easy to read with its matte dial and large white hands and numbers, a massive crown with ever more massive crown guards to protect it, and a very comfortable bracelet, with the microbrand staple of the ratcheting extension dive clasp.
When I say dive watch though, I want to very clear. This is a dive watch, is 300m water-resistant, has a 120 click rotating bezel, and the aforementioned screw-down crown. This to many is a dive watch, and there is no issue. To someone who dives professionally, they may balk at the bezel, with its lack of 15 minutes or fully indexed scale, and a triangle without a lume pip. (The bezel markers are all filled with black lume, but more on that below). I have never proclaimed to be a diver, gone diving, or anything of the sort, but I see a lot of the comments from those who have, and how many brands get dive watches wrong, or how they are made in the style of a dive watch, but a true diver would never wear one because__. Where does this Duzu fall in all of that? I think I would put it in more the recreational dive watch category, but I know some who will disagree with me on that, but again, I have never claimed to be a diver.
One element of the Duzu Coral Bay that really stands out, is the end links. Yes, the end links. As you can see, the bracelet is fairly standard. It is about 3.5mm thick, is on the chunkier side, but think chunky on a diet. He’s not super slim, but he’s trying. The links use one-piece screw bars for easy sizing and as I said, a ratcheting extension dive clasp, using the DUZU logo. But back to the end links. What makes them so special? Well, end links usually curve into the lugs or even sometimes curve down. These? They curve up. I initially thought this was an odd look, but getting it in hand made me appreciate this unique element much more. I will admit, at first, I thought they looked like they were end links that were not fitted properly to the case, but then you see the vertical brushing that matches the inside of the lugs, and the sides of the case, and you realize this was all intentional. Intentional to give you something different, something more unique, while still retaining the same functionality.
Yes, the vertical brushing is present around most of the case, and if you look all around this watch, you’ll notice there is not a lick of high polish. This watch is not meant to reflect light or have any bling, but be more of a tool, and one you don’t need to worry about getting a few nicks and scrapes. If you want something more subdued, there will be a bead blasted version as well, and those will receive a PVD hard coating, to give that fine coating some protection against the elements. But, just because there is no high-polish in sight, does not mean the finishing is lacking. You can see how Duzu decided to different directions of brushing to keep the case from looking dull and boring, and even the crown was given some extra attention.
The industrial-looking case back has all the pertinent information, but you will also be able to get just the smallest peek at the movement through a sapphire crystal viewing window, with an etched manta ray. To be honest, you can’t really see much of the movement at all because of the size of the window and the etching obstructs it even more, but I guess it was something cute to do, but I think the window could have been left off, and an engraving of a manta ray would have looked a little better. But, if you have always wanted to see the most minute amount of your Miyota 9015 or ETA 2824, this gives you that opportunity.
On my 7 1/2 inch wrist, this 42mm case definitely feels bigger, mostly due to those oversized crown guards (which bring the case width to 46.6mm), but this is not really a chunky watch. The angled case and the upwards end links lend to a watch that does look beefy, but at 14mm thick, and a little over 200 grams on the bracelet, this is not a big, bulky beast. I mean, it’s not svelte either, but I think the size is a good comprise. As such, I have found it very comfortable to wear. The crown guards do not pose a problem digging into the back of my hand, and overall, this is a watch I can wear all day without issue.
Once nighttime hits though, you may or may not have an issue with the lume. Now, again, this is a prototype and not the finished product and you can definitely see the rough finished minute hand in the lume shots below, but what you will also see is that black lume, is black lume. I do not want to pounce all over the use of the black lume, but it is somewhat hard not to. I think when it is used on a dial, you can apply more of it and even though it will never the be brightest or longest-lasting lume, you still can get more out of it. When applying directly to a steel bezel such as this, with no bezel insert to speak of and only a tiny amount of space to fill, it leaves little to be desired. I understand what Wayne was going for, and it does give the watch a non-traditional look, but the bezel, at least one this sample prototype piece, does not glow well at all, fading in mere seconds of hitting it with a UV light.
When completely charged, it can look a little bitter as shown below, but the good news is, the dial and hands are loaded with lume. Bezel lume does not mean that much to me, but I know for many out there it does, which is why I point things like this out, but something that does bother me is how the lume paint is applied to the bezel and if it has any kind of protective coating. If not, I feel like, in a year or two, you will just have outlines of numbers on the bezel, and nothing else.
You may be thinking at this point, so, what is my consensus? Well, like many watches, there is a lot that I like, and a few things I do not. But, that literally is almost every watch I review, and it’s my job to really pick things apart. This Duzu Coral Bay is spot on for the most part, and it has a great early bird price considering the build quality and movement used on the standard version. Even at the full retail price, I would consider this a hell of a watch and I love the attention to detail and design. Hopefully, the bezel lume issue will be received come production, but even if it isn’t, you don’t need the bezel to tell the time in the dark at all, and everything else about this watch is pretty spot-on, which I hope I have conveyed to all of you reading.
This piece will go live on August 1, so check back here on that date for the campaign link, or sign up to be notified through the Duzu Website.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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