It would take something extraordinary to get Sylvester Stallone to commit horological adultery on his iconic Panerai favorite. Still, fellow Italian brand U-Boat’s tremendous offerings seem to have moved him in recent years.
The two bands have so many similarities could be just a happy coincidence. The Italian Navy initially commissioned both during World War II, and they needed rugged and reliable fake Rolex watches for front-line combat. However, unlike Panerai’s first attempt (the Radiomir), which went on to become an all-time classic, the design proposed by U-Boat founder Ivo Fontana never saw the light of day. More than sixty years later, in 2000, Ilvo’s grandson Italo stumbled upon his grandfather’s scribbles and was busy transforming them into a series of models unlike almost anything else.
The Classico series marked the brand’s transition to the high-end market and a departure from their earliest creations, which were powered by Miyota quartz movements made in Japan. U-Boat introduced Swiss-made ETA movements to their Tuscan-based operation for the Classico collection and the Thousands of Feet and Flightdeck collections that quickly followed. In addition, Italo and his artisans began experimenting with new materials such as carbon fiber, tungsten, and bronze, as well as the steel, gold, and silver of their original models.
While the largest model in the modern Classico collection is a short 50 mm, just a few years ago, there was a 53 mm behemoth, a large copy watch with a height of about 18 mm. Rather than relying on its size alone to make headlines, the collection consists of well-made, cleverly laid out, and unconventional pieces designed to stand out from the crowd of mediocre and ordinary replica watches.
The Classico A925 comprises two models, a three-hand and a chronograph, and it’s the former – you’ll be looking for a long time before you find a more precise watch. Available in black or a beautiful cream sandwich dial, the hour markers are enormous, with long sticks between the three full numerals – unusually, these are placed at 12, 4, and 8. The hands are unmistakably square sticks, with an almost comically small date hole tucked away at three o’clock.
The transparent case back lets you see the mechanical movement inside, which is essentially mounted upside down to facilitate one of the U-Boat’s signature design features: a left-handed crown. The position of the crown is crucial to the watch, making it more comfortable to wear, especially on chronograph models with massive winding crowns and similarly huge pushers. In addition, the protective crown guard speaks for itself in gratitude for a particular Luminor model.
There’s no denying that U-Boat replica watches are an acquired taste and certainly not for everyone. Unless you have arms like Rambo, it’s best not to try the 53mm version. However, the build quality of their entire product is impeccable, and their hyper-masculine aesthetic is an attractive draw.Read More »