As we approach the final stretch of 2023, it's time to take a closer look at one of the most significant players in the watchmaking industry—U-Boat. This year has been marked by both aesthetic and technical innovations.
U-Boat Novelties 2023
First up is the Capsule line by Italo Fontana, drawing inspiration from bathyspheres, the precursors to deep-sea submarines. These watches boast the quintessential steampunk aesthetics that the brand has revisited multiple times. The two introduced models are available in both 45mm and 50mm sizes, representing Limited Editions of only 200 pieces worldwide.
With a thick and slightly domed sapphire crystal, the dark dials are enhanced with a magnifying effect, accompanied by a distinctive long transparent slit running around the entire circumference of the case, providing a unique view of the dial. One model features blue indices and hands against a black backdrop, while the other highlights beige.
In the blue-themed version, the rest of the watch is presented in black, with a PVD-coated stainless steel case and a similarly dark leather strap. In contrast, the beige version elegantly stands out against the dark dial and features a vintage-style brown leather strap. Both models house a modified Sellita SW200 automatic caliber, beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour with a 41-hour power reserve.
U-Boat has expanded its Sommerso dive watch collection with the Ghiera models. Like other divers in this line (except the Bronze), these watches feature 46mm stainless steel (AISI 316L) cases with a water resistance of up to 300 meters (sealed with 7 screws). Available with either a steel bracelet or vulcanised rubber strap.
Designed for adventure enthusiasts at great depths, they include the traditional crown cap on the left side with its protective hook, a serialised number, a 24-hour indicator, and a date window with a magnifying glass on the crystal for high legibility in any lighting condition.
So, what sets this model apart from previous divers? It's the distinctive colours: each dial starts at the top with a dominant colour, whether in green, blue, or burgundy, fading into deep black. The unidirectional rotating bezels are made of ceramic and complement the two-tone combination, except for the burgundy model, which is entirely in black.
Undoubtedly, one of the collections that has propelled U-Boat to its current position is Capsoil. The concept of a Swiss movement with a case filled with flowing oil in the dial, amplifying its depth and 3D effect, with the illusion of no crystal except for a visible air bubble compensating for temperature variations.
In true U-Boat spirit, this collection blends innovative features with retro lines. The cases, featuring distinctive hands, have a quick battery change system and resistance to temperatures as low as 0ºC.
While the Capsoil Doppiotempo collection isn't new, Italo Fontana has introduced three new models representing an evolution of the recent 45mm model. Recognised as the creator of the world's largest watch, Italo Fontana takes a step back to the origins with these new Doppiotempo models featuring extra-large 55mm cases.
Like their predecessor, these models contrast an "Oil Immersion" intense black dial with coloured indices and numbers, whether in green, red, or beige, on the inner bezel. Beneath the domed sapphire crystal, the traditional Dual Time function is more visible due to its larger size, accompanied by corresponding dual crowns on the left side for setting the main time and second time zone.
For added versatility, all three models are available in 316L stainless steel cases with a silver finish or completely black DLC treatment, accompanied by handmade black leather straps with stitching matching the colour of the indices, and an additional black vulcanised rubber strap.
Expanding on the Capsoil concept, U-Boat goes further with the Darkmoon collection, departing from the retro look and focusing on a clear and distinctive design. The domed sapphire crystal, combined with the fully submerged Swiss electromechanical movement in oil, enhances the depth sensation of the dial, maintaining the corresponding compensation bubble.
The cases typically have diameters of 40mm and 44mm, reducing the numerals and presence of hands, making the dial the focal point. The presence of the left-side crown is more discreet, and the model faithful to the concept of exploring the dark side of the moon is likely the all-black novelty.
Darkmoon Curve Black
In line with the collection's inspiration from the dark side of the moon, U-Boat has introduced the darkest Darkmoon watches this year. Maintaining the oil immersion concept and available in both 40mm and 44mm sizes, these curved dials cover stainless steel cases treated with black PVD.
For uniformity, the indices and numbers are treated with gray superluminova, and the straps are made of highly durable vulcanised rubber in deep black. This model truly embodies the spirit of the line, perfect for Total Black enthusiasts.
Especially aiming to bring vibrant colours to summer, the line recently welcomed the five most eye-catching models to date. Breaking away from the original black vulcanised rubber straps for the first time, these new editions feature equally durable straps in vivid yellow, orange, green, or aquamarine silicone. Matching the chosen colour, the indicators and hands stand out against the characteristic black dials of the Darkmoon.
However, a fifth model deviates from the original chromatic line of this collection, presenting an all-white watch with a matching silicone strap and a 316L IPB stainless steel case maintaining the code. All highlighted by the contrast of black indicators. And, of course, with 44mm cases.
Once the door was opened to experimenting with the aesthetics of Darkmoon, the Camouflage models were introduced this year. Maintaining the oil immersion, these models, available in 40 and 44mm, embrace the completely dark style of the line but venture into a new and surprising camouflage pattern on the cases.
The special paint applied to the black PVD-treated steel case matches the buckle, also steel, with a camouflage-effect paint. As the only discordant note, the rest of the watch remains true to its classic appearance with a black vulcanised rubber strap and a black dial with indices and hands in grey superluminova. On the other hand, the other model features a dial in the same grey colour as the Camouflage case, giving the impression of a single unit, with black highlights on the indices.
In an aspect that, once again, takes the collection to a novel place, these two new Vintage models explore retro style from a spirit of innovation. With 40 and 45mm steel cases treated with bronze PVD and coated with several layers of special paint to ensure their preservation, these watches are crafted by hand.
Both pieces, with an aged effect, feature an antagonistic chromatic design, available in the traditional deep black dial, this time complemented by bronze-coloured indices and numerals with Superluminova, or conversely, a bronze-coloured dial seemingly merging with the bronze PVD case, highlighted by indicators in the same black colour as the strap.
All while maintaining the traditional spirit of Darkmoon and, therefore, Capsoil: offering a Swiss quartz movement Ronda 762 immersed in oil and accompanied by its compensation bubble.