- Specifications as reviewed:
- 43mm stainless steel case
- 52mm lug to lug
- 16mm thick
- 22mm lug width
- Ceramic bezel
- brushed/polished case
- Carbon fiber dial
- Sapphire Crystal
- Horween Leather strap
- Exhibition case back
- Seiko NH35 Movement
- 100 meters water resistant
$495 (as reviewed)
So, these days, everyone and their brother seems to own a watch brand, or aspires to be, and go the route of Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites to make their dream a reality. (Or to make their scam a reality, depending on the company). With so many watch brands out there these days, how does yet another new brand set themselves apart?
Well, you could have a website where you can order a standard configuration watch, but you can also customize it almost endlessly and make it truly unique and an expression of your personality. That is what Undone has accomplished. And based on all the posts I see on social media and other websites, they have done a damn good job of it, and are rapidly growing in popularity. And for good reason. They are not trying to be a high end watch, nor are they going the cheap route with sub par materials. They are in that middle ground, allowing you go get a well built and solid watch that houses an automatic movement, looks good, and again, has so many options it could make your head spin. You can easily spend an hour on the site configuring different looks. And with that said, I will discuss more in depth all the options you can choose, and what I chose for my review model.
Now, Undone is not the first company to have customized watches, and probably will not be the last. What makes them stand out, at least to me, is not only the amount of options available, but also that they are not the cheap plastic watches usually associated with this genre. Ceramic, K1 Mineral, Sapphire, Carbon Fiber and Horween Leather are just some of the materials they use.
Let’s start with the base itself, a 43mm stainless steel case that is 16mm thick case (with the exhibition case back, the solid case back option might be thinner), 22mm lugs and a length of 52mm. There are 5 different finishing options, from the brushed/polished stainless you see here, to grey pvd, coffee pvd and more. The Undone Aqua reminds me of several different watches, but at least in my configuration does not scream exact copy of any. Some have said with the domed K1 bezel insert it reminds them of a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, and I can see that, but that domed bezel has been used by many these days including a few Seiko Bezels.
For a complete list of options, you will need to check out the Undone site. Let’s just say between dial colors and materials, hands, case finishes/coatings, to your very own logo or signature on the dial to your own custom picture on the see through case back you will be busy having fun coming up with one of your own. Yes, I did say on the see through case back you can get a picture or graphic printed on the glass. For my review model, I chose not to do that, to be able to give you a good look at the movement and same for the dial, to go with a cleaner look.
Because so many options can be had and my review model was configured by me, design in this case, especially with the dial and hands can be a little difficult to talk about, in that if you do not like my choices, you can make yours very different. Some key aspects though are the Undone brand name placed at the 6 o’clock position and the magnifying cyclops over the date (which I do not care for at all). The nut shaped crown is also present on all Aqua models as well.
I really like the case design, especially the large crown guards, which are so large actually make up the right side of the case. The lug area is also a great feature, as instead of a big space between the strap and the case (which you would have due to the lug design and length), they have a big chunk of steel in place to close the gap. It is hard to tell if this piece was added after the fact or if the case was machined out of a big block of steel and done in this style. Either way, I like the look, though this is not the first watch brand we have seen do that.
When choosing the exhibition case back, keep in mind the water resistance will only be 100 meters. The solid case back will give you 200 meters, though both versions utilize screw down crowns. Powering the Undone Aqua is the Seiko NH35, a reliable and robust movement, although not known for its smoothness and excellent accuracy, as opposed to say a Miyota 9015 or even a Seiko 4R35.
When it comes to wearability and comfort, I did find my example of the Aqua to sit a little high, due to the thick case back and possibly the Horween leather strap not being broken in all the way. The watch does not drape around the wrist, and this is mostly likely a design issue. The Horween strap is beautiful and has minimal stitching which I prefer and quick change spring pins. I believe all the leather straps from Undone use these and you can probably buy extra straps and have a few that you can swap out, no tools required.
Wrist size for reference: 7 1/2 inches
Unfortunately the lume is a little disappointing to me, I expected bold in your face luminescence, but it is a little on the weak side, though it does glow a beautiful ice blue. I would definitely suggest to Undone that they apply more lume compound to the hands and markers, as this is the style of watch you want to see that “flashlight” type of lume. One thing I didn’t realize at first when choosing a bezel, was that the matte ceramic insert did not include a lume triangle or pip, something I feel should be standard on any dive style watch.
I think the concept of Undone Watches is great, and I hope they come out with more models using the same customization approach. One negative, if you will call it that, is having so many options is it can become a little overwhelming. But with all the options available and especially if you have a certain look in mind, I think it can be great. And if you do not want to customize your watch, they do have standard models ready to go. In a world full of micro and independent brands, some redundant and some fresh, it is nice to see a brand not do just an homage or similar style to others, and come up with something outside the norm. Undone might be a young brand, and I think if they stay on this track, they will be around for years to come. (If you are reading this 5 years from the publish date and the brand is no longer around, just ignore what I said above…). In all seriousness, I think they can have a great future, as long as they listen to their customers and continue producing quality, affordable watches.
If you want to read more, or configure your own, check out the Undone Website HERE.
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The Seiko 4R35 is the in-house version of the SII/TMI NH35. They are essentially the same movement. As for what materials are used in the components of the 4R35 vs. the NH35 I simply don’t know. As an owner of both movements (Seiko bloody monster and various other manufacturers for the NH35) I don’t find the Seiko 4R35 any more smooth or accurate than the NH35. Both movements are defintely not as smooth as the Miyota 9000 series movements for sure.
Is the thickness an issue? was thinking of picking up one but 16mm seems huge. what are your thoughts?
I don’t find the thickness to be an issue, but of course that is my personal opinion on it. It is not a one piece block like say a Boschett Cave Dweller where it feels and appears really tall on the wrist. It wears more like a 14mm thick watch in my opinion.