I had a chance to e-meet the man behind the Duzu brand and I have to say his enthusiasm for watches is contagious, his vision is inspired and his design is refreshing. I have been obsessed with the water for most of my life, from swamps to the ocean, love it all. Right now the watch swamp is poluted with uninspired rubbish, fortunately for every 10 or so rubbish pieces, an inspired piece emerges and today I will be looking at one of the pieces, the Ningaloo Reef, from the Australian brand Duzu. Both the case and dial are packed with unique details and creates the classic battle of attention. Who will grab the attention first?
I will start with the Adamantium, I mean stainless steel case which has a real, raw industrial architectural design, like the exoskeleton of a top secret project. Duzu’s choice of a brushed finish is the right choice in my opinion for this case design which adds to the industrial feel this piece possess. I immediately took notice of the skeletonized frame work of the lugs and the sides of the case. Honestly how could you not take notice of this detail. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was skeptical of this before seeing this watch in person, but I can definitely say that it was executed flawlessly. From the triangular shaped lugs to the mixture of brushed and blasted finishes, it all works so well together.
Of course I appreciate the fact that the lugs are drilled and Duzu used solid screw bars and this is just another example of a single detail among many that makes this watch appear on my bang for your buck list. Duzu carries the detail torch onto the crown and crown guards. Easy grip screw down crown that operates absolutely smooth, is a winning crown in my book. At first I thought that the crown edges were a bit on the sharp side, but after taking this watch into the water, the edges make perfect sense to me. The crown was extremely easy to grip with cold, wet hands, not that you will be unscrewing the crown in the water, but I have personally found myself in situations where operating the crown in cold, wet conditions was necessary.
While I am on the theme of easy to grip, the bezel on the Ningaloo Reef is also easy to grip. The edges of the bezel are just as unique as the sides of the case, but in this design unique also equals functionality. The bezel has crisp, tight unidirectional rotating action that has no extra play whatsoever. The matte ceramic bezel insert in quite stunning in both daylight and in dark situations, see the pic below and you can see what I mean and it will give you a sneak peak on the unique dial design. The solid caseback is held tightly in place by 6 screws that serve as functional strength but also as design detail strength. The engraved Duzu logo is a bit sharp, but this can easily be addressed by Duzu. When reviewed one of Helms first watches they had the same issue but was fixed rather easily. Also keep in mind that this is just the prototype and not the actual production piece which I will be reviewing when they are available so I can compare them.
The dial has no problem attracting attention by any means. The custom sandwich dial is quite unique and in my opinion so f***ing refreshing. I am so drained by all the submariner style dials. Duzu nailed it in the originality department with the Ningaloo Reef dial. To keep the unique dial flowing they added a stationary chapter ring for the minute markers/track. One ding I have to mention for the dial is that the second hand is void of any lume. The blue color is beautiful and nicely matches the blue on the chapter ring, even the length is perfect, but it definitely needs some lume in my opinion. I like how Duzu used rounded edged hour & minute hands for this watch because they beautifully match the rounded design of the hour markers. The case has that sharp edged architectural design/feel and in contrast the dial has a round fluidity design/feel.
Duzu kept the text simple on this dial, one suggestion though is that they could have eliminated the Ningaloo Reef text on the dial which would give the dial an even cleaner look, keeping just the Duzu name and water resistance. I would also suggest taking out either the lumed Duzu logo or the printed Duzu text, but having both is a bit busy, especially with the cool, unique hour markers. Dropping the Duzu logo down to replace the 6 o’clock marker would also be a nice touch. Keeping the dial nicely visible though is the 4mm thick single domed sapphire crystal that has an anti-reflective coating. The beautiful blue that glows throughout this piece is BGW-9 Superluminova which looks stunning in complete darkness and glows throughout the night.
The Duzu Ningaloo Reef shows great promise in terms of both quality of execution and original design. I find this piece extremely refreshing and a great option for an affordable diver that separates itself from the overcrowded swamp of soulless homages. Yes, homages have their place too, but in my personal opinion I am bored with uninspired pieces. This watch has quite a bit of very nice details that make it a value for the dollar. You get a unique designed case, a custom sandwich dial, great lume, matte ceramic bezel insert, solid execution, and if you are one of the lucky 25 super early birds you are getting one hell of a deal in my opinion. I will be doing a comparison review of the prototype vs the actual production piece once they are complete.
Thank you all for reading and as always your comments and questions are welcome below.
A special thanks to Wayne from Duzu Watches.
Stay current to the news via Duzu’s website
CASE MATERIAL: 316L Stainless steel marine grade CNC machined case
CASE DIAMETER: 44mm (excluding crown)
CASE LENGTH: 52mm
CASE HEIGHT: 15.5mm (case), 16.5mm (including crystal)
LUG WIDTH: 24mm
CROWN DIAMETER: 8mm screwed down custom crown with deep etched logo
CRYSTAL: 4mm Thick single domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
BEZEL: Custom 316L stainless steel bezel with lumed ceramic insert
DIAL: Custom sandwich dial with lumed markers and numbers
CASEBACK: Custom 316L stainless steel caseback with deep etched logo and machine screw fixings
LUME: BGW-9 Superluminova lume to bezel insert markers, hour/min.hands and dial
WATER RESISTANCE: 300m / 1000 feet laboratory certified
MOVEMENT: Japan made Miyota 9015
coming to Kickstarter
$345 USD – super early bird special limited to just 25 pieces
$385 USD – early bird special limited to just 25 pieces
$445 USD – Kickstarter price
$545 USD – retail after campaign