Known for its customisable “meca-quartz” chronographs and Snoopy watches, Hong Kong-based Undone Watches has now unveiled its third model – the Basecamp, a “tool” watch that is vintage-inspired but basic and affordable.
While the earlier Undone’s first dive watch was a chunky full-spec dive watch with a ceramic bezel and a 200m depth rating, the Basecamp is only rated to 50m. Consequently, it is smaller, lighter at just 66g, and cheaper.
Strictly speaking, the depth rating means the Basecamp isn’t a dive watch – the ISO standard for dive watches requires a rating of at least 100m – but the Basecamp looks the part, and is enhanced by a couple of interesting, retro-inspired details.
The styling is informed by a variety of vintage watches – unsurprisingly as Undone’s founder started out with a vintage watch repair shop – so it’s a mix of everything but the look still works well. In fact, it’s also reminiscent of Seiko mods, something enthusiasts were trying to achieve with their “SKX” divers using aftermarket parts.
The case is stainless steel, with polished flanks and a brushed top, each separated by a lengthwise polished bevel. It’s fitted with a prominent domed crystal made from of Lexan, a resin polycarbonate (basically a kind of plastic) that’s more impact resistant than acrylic Plexiglas. However, the strength comes at a cost – Lexan is less resistant to scratches and isn’t as crystal clear as Plexiglas.
The case measures 40mm wide and 15mm in height. While it is still thicker than most actual dive watches, much of its thickness comes from the bubble-like crystal that is 3mm high.
The most distinctive aspect of the watch is the “sterile” bezel inspired by the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms “3H Bund”, created for the West German armed forces, or Bundeswehr. Specifically it was issued to the kampfschwimmer, or combat divers, in the mid 1970s.
Devoid of markings except for a single triangle marker, hence the “sterile” moniker, the bezel was a result of the fact that combat diver missions were lengthy, measured in hours, making minute hashmarks unnecessary. As on the Fifty Fathoms, the bezel on the Basecamp is rotates bidirectionally and smoothly, without an inner click spring, and is covered with acrylic to reproduce the look of the Bakelite original.
And the matte black dial has faux-vintage lume on the hour markers, which have Arabics at the quarters and batons in-between, a layout taken from fighter jet cockpit clocks. The hour hand is orange and arrow-shaped – an element no doubt taken from none other than the Rolex Explorer II.
All said, the Basecamp is a good looking watch that is customisable to a fair extent. The white date disc for instance, can be swapped for one in black to match the dial, while the “sterile” bezel can be replaced with a more conventional elapsed minute bezel. And the case is also offered in gold-plate or black-coating.
The case back is open and reveals the Seiko NH35 inside. While not much to look at, the NH-35 a reliable workhorse that is used in the current generation Seiko 5 watches. It is self-winding with a 41-hour power reserve and hacking seconds.
Price and Availability
The Undone Basecamp is priced at US$295 and is available on undone.com now.
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