As some of you may know, a few years ago we did our first collaborative review, with an at the time new brand called Direnzo Geneve. The watch we reviewed was the DRZ-01, and the founder, Sergio, was so happy with our review that a few months ago he reached out to us again! This time it was because his next release was coming up, the DRZ-03 'Eclipse' Limited Edition. He sent us the two model variations, a grey dial with date, and a blue sunburst dial time only. Since sending them through, neither Cal or myself have worn anything else! Safe to say we are big fans!
Felix - BLACK
I chose the model with date for my 'week on the wrist' style review. Part of the package that we sent was a number of different strap options for us to try out. We were given an oyster style bracelet with divers extension, a tropic rubber strap and a marine nationale nylon strap. Unfortunately when it came to the bracelets, it was a Goldilocks porridge scenario... the 'large' size was too big, and the 'small' option was too small. So i decided to wear it on the rubber strap and the nylon. The brilliance with this watch is that it is strap whore, it would look good on basically anything you can think of. However, I decided to wear it on the rubber to get the full review experience. These rubber straps are going to be released as part of the 'stretch' goal. So if the watches do well, which I am convinced they will, the rubber straps will be issued as part of the production.
This watch is superb. As soon as I put it on it felt very much like a Black Bay 58, but an original spin on that perfect dive watch design. Sergio, the founder of Direnzo, says he drew inspiration from legendary dive watches such as the Breguet 1646, Omega Seamaster 300 and the JLC Deep Sea. Whilst there are certainly design queues that have been taken from these historic designs, this watch certainly stands on its own, and could not be called a 'homage' in the slightest. The case is just superb, with contrasted high polished and mat textures, and a gorgeous beveled edge down the top of the lug. The dial is a stunning two tone sector dial which is achieved by producing the dial in two parts, a mat black inner dial, and a grey fume outer disk. This is not a traditional dive watch dial, but it gives the watch a slightly dressier look and feel, detracting from the utilitarian nature of most dive watches.
What I love about this watch, is something that most watch companies fail to be able to do, which is execute a date window well. It honestly is something that can take a watch from looking good, to being completely terrible. Whether it is Sergio's watchmaking background, or his taste and style, I do not know. However he has got the execution of the date wheel on the Eclipse spot on. It is subtly nestled above the 6 o'clock indices in a circular aperture. There is no framing of the date window to draw attention to it, it just sits there, unassuming, ready to tell you the date whenever you might need it. It is unoffensive, subtle, and there are frankly far too many watch brands to list out who need to take note, but Richmont, LVMH and Swatch Group, start taking notes...
Now, one thing that always comes up in the microbrand conversation is movement. People are often so bowled over by either original, or wacky designs of microbrands, but are then put off by a crap movement. Well, fear not, as the movement used in the DRZ-03 Eclipse is both Swiss made, and automatic. The movement in question is the Sellita SW-200-1. This is a clone of the ETA 2824-2, but with ETA becoming stingy as hell and limiting their production, it is seeing the rise of Miyota and Sellita being used. Do not be put off by the fact that the Sellita is a 'clone', it is made to exactly the same specifications, and is a watch that is used by some pretty serious watch brands. The SW-200-1 gives the Eclipse a 38 hour power reserve, and gives the Direnzo a highly accurate, and easily serviceable movement.
Cal - Blue
It would be a lie to say I chose the blue dial model for my review. Both pieces were sent to Felix and he simply chose his favourite. That to be said I do love a blue dial dive watch especially one with this unique sector dial style that is reminiscent of their first models. The dial is nicely finished and the shape of the markers emphasise the quasi-retro quasi-modern styling the brand are trying to become synonymous with.
The case size of 40mm is good and wears well. In my exceptionally humble opinion a dive watch shouldn't be bigger than 40mm. To be frank no watch should be above 40mm except maybe a pilot watch. The brushing and polishing on the case is really good for a piece of this price. The edges are sharp and well finished and the positioning of the polish gives the case a sleek finish that hits the light well. Obviously the brushing on an Omega or Tudor is superior but for 1/6th of the price it is very good.
One of my main gripes with the Black Bay was that is has a 60 click bezel. This makes it feel a bit simple. Admittedly, I assumed that the Direnzo would have the same. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a solid robust 120 click bezel. The same goes for the crown system. Sometimes of these cheaper piece the crown can feel flimsy and delicate. This is not what you want on a dive watch. Again the Direnzo surprised me by having a very solid, robust feeling crown with a clean and precise screw down action and a satisfyingly smooth but assured wind.
The bracelet is one thing that i was interested to see. Where watches at this price point fall down is the crappy tinny bracelets. The only real exception is the Seiko Sarb bracelet. However, I wasn't too disappointed in the bracelet on this price. The brushing is nice, it feels solid and the end links remain on the rest of the bracelet when you remove the spring bar. (It is a pet peeve of mine when you remove the spring bar and the end piece comes away from the bracelet. I was a watch strap not a Christmas puzzle).
The slightly domed sapphire is a great addition. Frequently on watches of this price range, they fall down with the use of mineral glass. Even the likes of Sevenfriday are guilty for it. However, the Direnzo sports a slightly domed sapphire that really puts the piece up there in the big boy leagues above its pay grade! One tiny improvement I would suggest would be to have anti reflective coating on both sides. Its evident that there has been an anti reflective coating applied however it is not quite as impervious as those find on a modern Seamaster or Black Bay. However, the Direnzo has aforementioned is a very different price spec. Another very improvement could be the bezel to dial ratio. As I said, I think the case size is perfect. But I feel like the whole aesthetic of the watch could be flawless with the addition of an extra mm of thickness on the bezel. This makes the dial that bit smaller and makes the whole watch look and feel a bit more compact like the Black Bay, Sub and Seamaster.
Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating
Water Resistance: 20atm (200m)
Diameter (exc. crown): 40mm
Lug to Lug: 48mm
Case Back: Screw Down
Movement: Automatic Sellita SW-200-1
Dial: Matt with sunburst fume with applied indices
We must admit, this watch is a home run. Not only is this one of the best microbrand watches in this price bracket we have come across, it is one of the best dive watches you can buy for this price at the moment. It is a classic dive watch design without being derivative, it is stylish, extremely comfortable, and a very affordable bang-for-buck dive watch, whether its your first watch, or your first sports watch. Whats more, Sergio, the founder and CEO personally checks every watch before it gets shipped out, to check that it is sitting within the high standards they uphold, as well as making sure that every order is correctly fulfilled!
Although the blue dial is stunning... I do agree with Cal that the black and silver dial is by far my favourite!
We hope you enjoy this review! And like the look of the watches! These are honestly some of the best value microbrand watches you can buy, and they might even be contenders for best microbrand watch of the year! If you want to check out Direnzo (which we highly recommend you do!) There is a link below to their site.
Once again a huge thank you to Sergio for once again sending us some of his watches for review, we honestly love being trusted to review brands watches, and we have a couple more coming up very soon, so stay tuned!!
Direnzo Watches: https://www.direnzowatches.com/
Felix Arnold & Calum Moore
The Young Horologist