Stuck for gift idea for a loved one? Or does nothing on the market catch your eye? How about a custom watch? Almost every aspect of the Undone Urban Tropical can be customised – so is it worth the £260 asking price?
A Week on the Wrist – Undone Urban Tropical Review
This Undone Urban Tropical is one of the “standard” variants – the Caribbean – although it is possible to alter almost every part of the watch with a configurator (try it, it’s great fun). I was given this watch by Undone to review – and it certainly looks good in the photos on their website. You can change the dial, straps, bezel and case to suit you (or your loved one if it’s a gift). The watch arrives in a display box which has a nicely textured finish. There’s room for a second strap if you buy one, and an instruction manual – but not much else. But what else would you want?
The watch case immediately impressed me. It’s 40mm in diameter but wears a touch bigger thanks to the way the case has a lip at the top. It’s almost the same as the case for an Omega Speedmaster – albeit smaller, and I liked the thin lugs which made it easy to fit under a shirt sleeve. The crystal has a dome, which worries me a little as it’s mineral glass – not scratch-resistant sapphire – so it is at risk of damage being exposed above the bezel. The crystal either lacks an anti-reflective coating or does not have enough, as I found it caught the light often (being curved) and the reflections became distracting.
The back of the watch is plain steel, but a glass option is there. To be honest, there is little point in the glass case back: this is a quartz watch, powered by a Seiko VK61 “Meca-Quartz” movement. That means it has the accuracy and “grab and go” potential of a quartz watch, but with a relatively smooth second hand sweep and a satisfying instantaneous chronograph reset. There are many fans of this movement: it works well and is popular with microbrands. The lack of a ticking seconds hand means you cannot really tell it is quartz. The crown is signed and easy enough to operate and the pushers have a pleasing positive click when they are engaged. The Undone Urban Tropical is a really comfortable watch to wear and is just the right size, in my opinion. You feel like you are getting your money’s worth – and that’ always important.
Dial and Hands
The dial is this watch’s selling point: so the story goes, at one time Rolex and Omega watches had dials that aged in a very particular way – now called “Tropical” dials. The dial here attempts to mimic that aged look. There are three variants, a light (Sahara), medium (Caribbean – as reviewed here) and dark (Amazon). The printing on the dial looks a lot better in real life than on photographs (see the video review for a better look at the texturing). I really like the tropical look: it is more interesting than plain black without being too fussy. The dial is surrounded by markers with aged lume – the yellow look really suits the watch – and there are two subdials. On the left is an elapsed hours counter and on the right a 24 hour indicator that is slaved to the hands. The date at 6 completes the dial. It is a limitation of the movement, but I really would prefer a running seconds dial to a 24-hour counter. It’s simply not a feature I personally use, and because it’s a quartz watch it is not necessarily easy at a glance to tell if the battery has run out!
The hands are simple but effective sticks with matching lume to the hour markers. Overall, a great look. Yes, it is remniscent of an Omega Speedmaster, but a very attractive look. The Undone logo is, unusually, at the bottom and there is a big space at the top where the logo would usually be. This bothered me somewhat – although it is possible to add some text at the top I was not convinced from the renders on the configurator that it would look “right”. It’s a similar criticism to that of recent Christopher Ward watches, and for much of each hour there is a hand in that area so you don’t notice the space but I mention it as some people are bothered by it.
Strap and Buckle
The supplied rally strap is – in a word – outstanding. It’s made of a natural, unbacked leather and it’s lovely and thick and very supple. The dying on the edges is a little rough to look at – with hindsight I’d go for the black option – but it feels like a high quality product. The signed buckle is perfectly adequate – nothing fancy like a deployant, but it works. A nice touch with the strap is that it has “quick release” springbars. I’ve tried a few watches with these now and I think every strap should have them. It makes swapping straps a cinch.
What I Liked
- It looks great. The artificial ageing is done really well
- The Meca-quartz movement is a good compromise between “grab and go” immediacy and the experience of a mechanical watch
- The opportunity to customise the watch is a brilliant idea and worth the price premium if you take advantage of it
What I Didn’t Like
- Although I like Meca-quartz, I wish that it had a running seconds hand instead of a 24-hour indicator (I know this is not the watch’s fault but a feature of the movement!)
- The mineral crystal ought to be sapphire at this price, and would benefit from an anti-reflective coating
- The space where the logo “should” be might put some people off. You can add some initials there but the choice of fonts is limited.
Undone Urban Tropical Caribbean – The WRUK Verdict
This is a really, really nice watch to look at and wear – but at £260 it feels a touch expensive for a quartz movement and a mineral crystal. On the other hand, you have the opportunity to customise this watch and as long as you take advantage of that option there is nothing to touch it in its price range. The chronograph of choice for many of our readers is the Seagull 1963 and I think this watch would nicely complement the Chinese offering with its darker dial and more modern case.
I was not sure at first that I’d love it, but after wearing it for a week, the Undone Urban Tropical gets the WRUK thumbs up. My only reservation is that if you do not yet have a chronograph in your collection it’s hard to recommend this over the mechanical (and lower-priced) Seagull. What I will say is that having handled it, you won’t be disappointed with the Undone Urban Tropical.
Buy an Undone Urban Tropical Watch
You’re best off buying your UNDONE watch direct from the manufacturer, or else you will not get to play with the superb configurator and customise it to your exact specifications. Click here to view the collection and customise your watch.