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The full ristretto experience

The hedonistic appeal of my favourite drink came to mind as I admired the sculpted horological form of this latest timepiece, U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze, from the Italian watch brand. The luxury watch is delivered in bronze with a very masculine character.

 

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

 

I can still vividly recall sitting on the wrought iron furniture outside a café on Piazza del Duomo in Milan. Life felt especially good on that fine summer’s day. The sun painted my face with a light shade of bronze and the gorgeous Italian ladies reminded me that I was temporarily resident in a land synonymous with beauty.

 

Some people of Napoleonic persuasion will argue France is the home of fine cuisine and style. However, I disagree, it is the land of balsamic vinegar and la bella figura which appeals to most.

 

The Italians know about the good things in life. They embrace food with an obsessive level of pride which confers peerless flavours to pleasure the palate. There is an honesty to the cuisine with simple dishes and clearly defined flavours.

 

A prowess for design is ubiquitous, with architecture, couture and supercars all bestowing pleasure with defined lines and excellent execution.

 

Moreover, the Italians have a prowess at delivering magnificent flavours with a sublime salivatory appeal. Take coffee for example, I confess to drinking several espressos each day. It is the brevity of its pleasure which enhances the enjoyment and proves a prerequisite to my daily life. The short burst of flavour titillates the tastebuds, which no large cup of coffee could ever achieve.

 

Indeed, in England we sometimes miss the point by offering “doppio espresso” in some eateries. To purchase a double espresso, is to lose the appeal of the succinct flavour derived from the seeds of the coffea plants.

 

A very short form of espresso is the ristretto and for me the finest example of the baristas skill. It floods the mouth with a profuse flavour that transcends any other coffee and imparts a pleasure I never tire of enjoying.

 

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

 

The hedonistic appeal of my favourite drink came to mind as I admired the sculpted horological form of this latest timepiece from the Italian watch brand, U-Boat. The timepiece is delivered in bronze with a very masculine character. The colour scheme reminds me of my favourite drink. Moreover, many details prompt thoughts of Italy, the land which elicits romantic prose whenever I hear its name.

 

The dial

The dial consists of an open-worked upper disc presented in black, with a bronze disc beneath, visible at various points. I love the way the wearer is seduced by the attire of the dial.

 

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

 

The hour and minute hands are open-worked on their bronze coloured sections with a small area of black adjacent their fulcrum.

 

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

 

At noon a 12-hour chrono counter resides. It is presented on a black subdial, marked on the upper disc with an outline, Arabic numerals and strokes, all depicted in white.

 

A 30-minute chrono counter is located at 6 o’clock and uses a combination of a black centre section, framed with by a circular aperture, revealing some of the bronze disc beneath.

 

At 3 o’clock, subsidiary seconds feature. This subdial is larger than the other two and embraces them with its oversized form. Whilst I often praise symmetry found on some watch dials, in this instance the play with different sizes and delivery, produces a pleasing haromnious outcome.

 

A date aperture is located at 9 o’clock beneath the brand’s nomen.

 

Hours are marked with Arabic numerals. Their contemporary font again reveals the bronze disc beneath. This bestows a wonderful three-dimensional quality, rich in detail that wonderfully toys with light.

 

A svelte central chrono seconds hand points to the chapter ring, ensuring simple interpretation of the elapsed seconds.

 

The case

A case diameter of 46mm is substantial and suits the masculine persona of the timepiece. This is not a watch for shrinking violets and that is probably why I love its bold styling.

 

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

 

The bezel and caseband are constructed of blackened steel, whereas the short lugs and caseback are formed of bronze. It is the use of bronze which differentiates this watch from many other timepieces.

 

The bronze acquires a patina in due course and is influenced by the lifestyle of the wearer. This will result in no two timepieces looking the same after the passage of time.

 

Five bronze screws hold the bezel, caseband and caseback together in steadfast union. They resemble cylindrical Roman columns, imparting a strong demeanour.

 

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

 

The crown protector is presented in bronze and is delightfully knurled, enhancing its tactile feel.

 

I have recently been loaned the U-Boat Classico 45mm in silver and have found it a joy to wear. However, one aspect of the Black & Bronze which has been enhanced is the pusher located at 8 o’clock. This has a more defined profile, improving ease of operation.

 

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

 

The reset pusher at 10 o’clock is lozenge shaped, angled and presented in black with a bronze surround.

 

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

 

The caseback has a flush fitting sapphire crystal. The adjacent area of the caseback is adorned with beautiful perlage.

 

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

 

A rich brown leather strap provides elevated comfort. It has a distressed appearance which is congruent with the character of the timepiece.

 

The movement

The self-winding Swiss movement within the watch is very attractive. The rotor is solid silver, featuring a spoke design and detailed with blued screws.

 

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

 

Côtes de Genève motif is presented on the bridge work, delivered in circular form instead of the usual vertical stripes. Other surfaces are adorned with circular graining and mirror-polishing.

 

The finishing of the movement is excellent and distinguishes this as a fine timepiece, bearing in mind the accessible pricing.

 

Conclusion

U-Boat have delivered a fine example of appealing Italian design in combination with Swiss mechanical excellence.

 

The case design is muscular and virile. It has a manly robustness which I personally admire. However, the sapphire caseback reveals a brilliant mind with many desirable traits.

 

There is much to praise about the U-51 Black & Bronze. It is the horological equivalent of my beloved espresso.

 

U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze

Image provided by U-Boat

 

Would I buy the U-51 Black & Bronze? Until recently, I would have said yes. However, another U-Boat model has caught my eye, the Chimera Bronze – 46. This latter model is the full ristretto, packed with the full bronze flavour. This would be my preferred model.

Technical specification

  • Model: U-Boat U-51 Black & Bronze
  • Model reference: 6946
  • Case: Bronze and black steel; diameter 46.00mm; height 18.10mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; date; chronpgraph.
  • Movement: Calibre 7750; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz) ; 25 jewels; power reserve 44 hours.
  • Strap: Brown hand-distressed leather strap with black steel pin buckle

 

Acknowledgement

Images kindly provided by © Euan Davies 2013, except where indicated.

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