December 2009


As some of you might have already known, I had purchased a U-Boat Flightdeck CAS 50mm watch, which many on the forum kept saying was “Cheaply made” and they felt that the metal was cheap and that the crystal was cheap. I had a totally different experience and felt that the case machining was on par with anything in the price range, and that the only part that was neglected was the finish of the movement. I’ll elaborate a bit more here.

uboat_flightdeck_01

There is a general shot of the U-Boat, atop the U-Boat box. As you can see, the lines on the bezel are crisp and sharp, an indication of high-end finishing techniques, usually executed partially by hand. The strap on the other hand, while made in Italy by hand, is ugly. The preforated inserts on the strap serve to cheapen the overall look of the watch, and I immediately put it on a StrapLuxe grey leather strap with white stitching which matches the watch perfect in my opinion.

uboat_flightdeck_01

A close up of the dial, and you can see the crisp lines of the bezel in this photo as well. The dial lume is applied meticulously and precisely. While this watch is made in Italy, I have no doubt that the quality of the painting on the dial is up to the standards of similarly priced swiss watches. While the overall style of the watch probably does not ooze class, it is a well made watch in my opinion. The crystals are Sapphire, and the case steel is 316L, the same type as most high-quality Swiss watches.

It was told to me that the quality of this watch was no better than the Nixon watches out there. While I might agree with this statement if it were applied to Hamilton watches or Swiss Army Victorinox case finishing, I would not agree in repect to U-Boat. I would put U-Boat solidly along the lines of Tag Heuer’s Carrera line for quality of finish.

uboat_flightdeck_01

The movement finish on the other hand is sorely lacking, and not up to the quality standards of even Tag Heuer. The U-Boat movements are definately in the same quality range as Hamilton. The extra canteen hardware is very well machined and made as well, given a quality feel when unscrewing and using the canteen cover.

The Plain Jane Valjoux/ETA 7750 is visible on the caseback as can be seen, and is mounted reversed for a left-crown configuration, an obvious necessity given the size of crown and 50mm case diameter. The watch is quite heavy and does not feel light for its size in my opinion.

Not seen in the photos is the U-BOAT deeply engraved on the side of the case, which is deeply sunken and bead basted in the deep parts, given the case an extra level of finish. I purchased this watch from a friend, after I had handled it and felt that the quality of the finish was at an acceptable level. I have since sold this watch, mostly because I found the 50mm size a bit inconvenient. It makes the watch somewhat impractical for daily wear, and sometimes the size makes it look a bit tacky IMO. This is the “mid-sized” U-boat, with a larger 55mm size and smaller 43mm version available.

uboat_flightdeck_01

There’s the proverbial wrist shot, mounted on the stock strap and shown on my 6 3/4″ wrist. While it is large, and somewhat saucer-like in appearance, it is not entirely out of the question, and much more manageable than I would have thought 50mm would be. Now, the 55mm version would be totally out of the question for me, but I could see a guy with an 8″ wrist pull a 55mm U-Boat off no problem…

It wasn’t that long ago that when you purchased a New Swiss Made automatic Watch, you were guaranteed at least an ETA 2824 movement in it. While the ETA 2824 movement is by no means a rare or exciting automatic movement, it is reliable and can be very accurate in it’s highest level of finish. The ETA 2824 is used by a very large number of companies including Breitling, Hamilton, Oris, Omega, Tudor, Eterna, Tag Heuer and many many others including most of the German Brands.

ETA 2824-2 from a Limes Watch

ETA 2824-2 from a Limes Watch

After that came the Sellita SW200 movement, a direct copy of the ETA 2824 that is mostly made in Switzerland. While it is unknown how much of the parts are made in China, they at least come close to ETA in their quality. They are cheaper movements, and many brands including Invicta, Oris, Enzo and Eterna have begun to use the Selitta SW200 in their watches. I don’t mind the Selitta too much, at least it is somewhat comparable to the ETA-2824. The next step is a bit more disturbing.

While its not a new thing, many people many not be aware that an Invicta brand named Technica Swiss Ebauches purchases chinese made Sea-Gull movements and final finishes them in Switzerland and badges them as Swiss Made. Swiss Made regulations only provide that at least 50% of the value of the movement must be from Switzerland. With the price of the Chinese Ebauches being so low, its not difficult to refinish the movements in Switzerland in order to meet the criteria.

Swiss Mechanical Invictas

Swiss Mechanical Invictas

This is an unfortunate situation, and devalues the Swiss Made brand. Invicta has done well by selling a large number of watches, purchasing higher end brands like S. Coifman and devaluing them as well. While I think that Invicta has some good value in their lines, the majority of their designs are either very ugly, or hommages. The Invictas above sell for $119, and claim to have Swiss Made movements inside them.

I guess the point I am trying to make here is that the Swiss Made brand is being devalued and I think its a shame – hopefully its prestige can be maintained rather than be tainted by the likes of Invicta.

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