U-Boat watches are a lot like classic American Muscle cars – expect for the American part that is. They are big, made with lots of metal, have cool designs on them, and make you feel good being around them. At the same time, they aren’t very practical, don’t always have what they look like they should under their hoods, and aren’t the most comfortable machines to use on a daily basis. Italo Fontana’s U-Boat brand has come very far since being a pure fashion brand of big watches with a design scheme that vaguely resembles its namesake German submarines. Public love and strong sales led to quality improvements for the brand and a series of designs so often copied, “original” U-Boat watches are a watch lover favorite and status symbol in the right circles.
U-Boat’s momentum is only held back by its new designs and ability to continue to squeeze juice out of its theme. While there is a sweet spot case size and design for the brand, they have gone a good way beyond that a number of times – specially done for those who need a fresh fix of wild designs. Like a dress made specially for a model to show-off during a runway show only, this limited edition U-Boat U 1001 watch is a bold fashion item that has many hallmarks of being something function, but falls just short of actually being that. This isn’t to say the U 1001 isn’t a watch or doesn’t function well as one, but rather that it has some rugged features that are sort of misplaced on an “image” watch such as this.
Wearing the U 1001 I feel pretty cool. I don’t know if this is because I keep hearing the cool music that U-Boat has on their website and pondering the sophisticated marketing campaigns they employ, or if I am genuinely moved by their clever designs. It is funny, because no matter how many silly things I find in the watch, I still like it. Which goes back to my concept of it being like a muscle car. It is totally unwise for me to think about driving in stop and go California traffic in that dream ’69 GTO Judge, but I think I would look pretty kick ass in the process.
Speaking of big metal cars, the U-Boat U 1001 is a whopping 55mm wide in titanium. The metal case is cut very well, and the titanium has a very smooth bead-blasted feel to it. All over the case are branding details and information about the watch. Read the back and the sides of the watch to learn just about everything you’d like to know about it. The U 1001 name refers to the fact that it is water resistant to 1001 meters. Basically it is the same as a 1000 meter diving watch, but they decided to add another meter to the title. Watches are usually tested a bit beyond their stated water resistance, so adding that extra meter doesn’t mean anything from a technical standpoint – all part of the built -in depth rating wiggle room. The watch is also limited to 1001 pieces (333 or so pieces of each color), and is available with a variety of colors trims for the dial. Here you have a lovely blue for the hand and some of the hour indicator. While the chic looking dial design, complete with the name of the watch is hip looking, it is pretty a-functional for diving purposes – given that this is a diving themed watches. U-Boat released the U 1001 watch completely devoid of lume, as omission from what have been a great looking watch in the dark.
It has more features for diving such as the helium escape valve beneath the crown, but again, how can you go diving in a watch that you can’t really see underwater? Perhaps it is good for the sunny clear water of the topics. In that case, dive deep my friends. Speaking of the helium release valve, the quality and finish of the large connected crown cap and the surrounding parts is very good. Well machined, and each operates as they should without problem. I am happy to see that for the price of this watch U-Boat ensured high quality throughout the watch. Cause in the end, even if the watch is functionally silly, it is still well made and designed nicely. Under the super large crown cap is the actual crown – which is tiny in comparison. The crown cap screws down, and so does the crown. I just found that sort of humorous. So much water resistance security!
The dial of the watch is matte black with the blue hour indicators on a layer below the dial. You see an expose synthetic ruby from the movement – that is a hallmark of many U-Boat watches. The placement of the diagonally aligned date window shows you how small the movement is in the super big case. Inside the watch is a Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic. A solid movement perfect for a dive watch, but perhaps a bit too petite for this case (and perhaps a bit too inexpensive for a watch that is over $6,000).
The watch has an adjustable rubber strap that has a titanium end piece on one side – which has a good style and makes the giant watch wearable. You can see the U-Boat name engraving on the butterfly style deployment also in titanium. Again you see the U 1001 logo on the deployment as well – indicating U-Boat’s desire to show you how many custom parts went into this limited edition collection of watches.
Does the U-Boat U 1001 remind you of an Angler fish? It doesn’t have an illuminated lure like the fish does. It isn’t ugly like the fish, but it goes deep like the fish. Though I think an Angler fish can go much deeper. Angler fishes look pretty bad-ass and butt-faced, but they are actually really small fishes, did you know that? Size can be deceiving. It would probably swim away from a U 1001 if it saw it underwater as the watch might be larger than it! For style like a tattoo, U-Boat engraved an Angler fish on the rear of the watch as well as on the crazy watch case (I will get to that). It is a nice little touch that is all style, without having a lot of meaning. Cool image though.
And now the case. The big and heavy (really heavy) case contraption that almost makes the watch feel worth its price. Made from aluminum, the case looks like a diving vessel itself. Again you see an engraving of the Angler fish on it, and a thick porthole with a rounded crystal lens where the watch sits and stare at you as though it is safe while you are in the ocean. It is a serious part of the timepiece’s presentation, and U-Boat makes you feel pretty darn special to have received this thing. I’ve never had a more lasting impression of a watch’s presentation box. I think it must have cost U-Boat almost as much as the watch itself to make.
For the privilege of having one of these limited edition fashionable watches from U-Boat, you’ll need about $6,800 and a lot of gumption. Fans of the brand will easily gobble them up, and people who want the wow people like it was 2005 will also be attracted to the U 1001. Does it make for a fun addition to your collection sure? Is it a pain to wear daily and offer limited functionality? Yes. For all the crap I give this watch, I still really like toting it around on my wrist, and get particularly stylish in the process, even if I didn’t know why.