Nezumi Studios Baleine Diver
Smaller, sleeker, retro. These are three words that would describe the trend going on in the world of watches. While over-sized watches are still a thing, they are not as prevalent as they were years ago. More and more companies from microbrands to the big boys are producing watches in the 40mm to 42mm range and the Nezumi Studios Baleine Diver is no different. For me, that is great, as I tend to gravitate towards smaller watches these days, and I am obviously not alone. Following up on the success of the Voiture, the Baleine is the second model from Nezumi Studios and is currently up for preorder. Three variations are available and preorder pricing is very affordable.
Nezumi Studios Baleine Diver Specifications:
47mm lug to lug
Domed Sapphire Crystal
200 meters water resistant
Choice of Straps
Preorder Price: $329 (converted from Euro)
If you have not watched the video yet, this Nezumi Studios Baleine Diver is a prototype. When it comes to a prototype, I am not always comfortable reviewing them. The simple reason is it is essentially an unfinished product. 99% of the time, a company owner will get the prototype in and have a good amount of changes that they want done for production. That is the whole point of a prototype, to see what the manufacturer got right or wrong compared to your vision of the product. This watch is no different and there will be some changes. Fortunately none of the changes will change the look or design of the watch, but a few simple things: The bezel will be 60 clicks, the lume I am told will be improved on the numbers and markers, the date wheel and hands will be a nicer shade of white, the lume paint itself will be a little darker, and the biggest change from this prototype will be the crystal, production will have a true sapphire, this prototype has a sapphire coated acrylic. *Edit Some have commented to Nezumi about the crystal. I have changed wording to clarify even further, the production WILL have a sapphire crystal.* One other area is the N logo on the dial, it will be smaller come final production.
As it states on the website, the Nezumi Studios Baleine Diver pulls inspiration from dive watches of the 60s and 70s. Nezumi keeps it small in diameter at 40mm though it is quite chunky at 14mm when you measure with the dome sapphire. I am not particularly sure why the dome crystal is still an ongoing thing with almost every dive watch released these days, but I would much prefer a nice flat sapphire with a great AR coating. Dial design I have seen before, but it works and I do not find anything overly out of place here. If I were to be extra picky, I think slightly wider hands would work and I of course will opt for no date vs the date stuck at 4:30, though I know many appreciate the date on a watch. If a date has to be there, put it at the 6 o’clock position. I sound like a broken record with this stuff at times, I know, but I wish companies would look at the symmetry of a dial and how a date in this configuration just looks so out of place.
On the DLC example I have in hand, I have found no real issues as far as bezel or crown operation, case finishing or wearability. As a matter of fact, both crown and bezel operation are superb, not just for this price point either. The DLC on the Nezumi Studios Baleine Diver is a very fine matte black, and while it might provide that toolish look and feel, after seeing the brushed/polished version of the stainless steel on the website, I think some polished areas on this case would make it stand out a bit more. I have to admit though, I really am taken with the brushed/polished version, even though I have not seen one in person, as it has a different dial and color scheme than the 2 other variants. It is the one I would like for myself. The DLC’s bezel is all one piece and has oil filled numbers and markers whereas the other two will come with aluminum bezel inserts.
I was told the strap provided is one of the straps that will be offered, (also a regular leather strap for the stainless models), though this one was not made by Nezumi’s regular supplier so the quality is not up to par. It is a combination of canvas and a rubber coated faux leather. Personally I would rather see a straight black canvas or Cordura strap and call it a day. I misspoke in the video and incorrectly talked about a bracelet option. It turns out the bracelet is sold out and they are most likely not ordering any more.
I was not aware that the case back on the Nezumi Studios Baleine Diver was the same as used on updated Voiture. I reviewed the Voiture Prototype, I believe 2 years ago now and the first release had a different back and I just did not stay up to date with changes or variants. So if you have one of the updated Voiture’s or Voiture 2.0, this intricate stamped case back will be a rerun for you, though I do not know if that is necessarily a bad thing, as these are the type of case backs I like to see. It is beautiful and very detailed and they did not go the gimmick route with a stamping of a whale or something, they kept it classy and went with their branding. The writing and font used give it that old world feel, and that might be what I like about it the most.
I remarked in my last review that I try to never tell anyone to run out and buy a watch. I think it is disingenuous and reeks of shilling. Of course, any company we review for here would love us to tell folks to do just that. I would rather tell you if I would buy one. In the case of the Nezumi Studios Baleine Diver, yes, I would buy one. I admit it, I have fallen prey to the vintage is cool thing going on and 40mm is a size I am finally comfortable wearing, after so many years of saying “I would never!” The current preorder price is good and definitely affordable, and while it comes with a Seiko NH35, which is a low cost movement option, the prototype did not feel like a standard NH35 was ticking away. Maybe because it has such a solid case back I could not hear the rotor and the overall crown action was just much smoother. I will always be the first to say, give me a slightly better movement than the NH35, but by the same token, I state a watch is not all about the movement. I think that rings true here with the Baliene. Provided the proposed changes are implemented, I feel Nezumi will have a winner on their hands. It is definitely the right time ( pun intended) to release this style of watch.