U-Boat in the world of luxury watchmaking can only be described as innovation at its finest. If not generating new devices, the brand is transforming existing ideas into them to constantly update and offer up something new to their customers.
U-Boat has only been around for almost 18 years but its designs had been conceptualized long before when other luxury watch brands it competes with today were only just in their beginning stages.
Ilvo Fontana, a precision engineer, was given a commission work to design and create a watch model for the Italian Navy. It didn’t push through to the end, but it worked out for the best because the timing wasn’t right. It won’t be until the beginning of the new millennium that his initial design sketches would become the inspiration of his grandson, Italo Fontana, and U-Boat would become a brand – a successful and luxurious one at that. The new motto, “A New Dimension in Time,” fit the theme of the newness of the time and the watch brand back then, which really plays a witty spin on U-Boat’s launch.
Those early years would only matter to a few who would be interested now because U-Boat has become more relevant and well-known since. From their booth at Baselworld in 2005, Matt Baily found something of great potential. U-Boat was carried by the multi-brand shop from then and looked promising beginning its first year.
The scarcity appeal
Unlike Swiss alternatives, U-Boat can boast of many features not only in their products but in the way they do their business that others can take note of. As one of the few watch brands that has products still manufactured in Italy, it’s not questionable that the brand is not a fan of mass production.
Every piece is handcrafted by expert craftsmen and every model of their watches is a limited edition. This alone adds more value to their timepieces and appeals to people twice as much, like golds and diamonds.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the compromise of the materials and design aspect. The company switched out from quartz materials to high-end Swiss movements and their luxurious watchmaking methods to produce the Classico collection. Production was increased but the products were kept to a low supply as the prices were doubled. The market didn’t drop at all and the quartz watches became somewhat of a collector’s item because of the switch.
The new models immediately caught on and got Hollywood star, Sylvester Stallone, to be one of the brand’s VIP fan.
Trademark pieces and designs
The Classico collection is just one of the most popular collections of the brand. As the name says, they’re classics that come only in a limited number. The watches had a thicker case and engraved metal on the strap fastening, but it’s the see-through back that allows to see the complex mechanism inside.
The Classico collection watches can come close to being the originals but the U-1942 has taken that place because of its design that’s been inspired by the one made by Ilvo Fontana in 1942. Only 29 pieces of this model was made in 2009 and the features were specifically intended for the military during the ‘40s, so it has the advantage of being water-resistant and the ability to survive deep sea pressures of up to 1,200 feet.
Some more notable watches from the brand over the years are the U-Boat Flightdeck Automatic Men’s watch, U-51 Rattrapante Chronograph, U-42 & Flightdeck Ceramic Bezels, U-Boat Flightdeck Chronograph, and U-Boat Classico Automatic Chronograph. These represent some of the brand’s firsts in producing complicated watches, using high-tech ceramic, and innovative designs.
Even with all the complex components and construction, the signature details are more the focal point in each of the watches. U-Boat timepieces have a left-hand configuration in the shape of a crown with no exception. It makes the watches more durable in extreme weathers. The brand also boasts of personality and readability almost everywhere, so all their watches have large numerals and visible hands that display time clearly and easily from a distance.
U-Boat is known to be a brand that applies new techniques and use unexpected materials. Their attitude and approach towards improvement is through experimenting with new things and not blindly following market trends. For U-Boat, sapphire crystals are now a default material used in every piece. The crown caps, which had always been there, were enhanced in sturdiness, but new materials, particularly acid baths, carbon fiber, titanium, tungsten, among others are continually experimented with.
All of U-Boat’s watch models are constantly updated. Judging by how U-Boat turned age-old designs into contemporary timepieces, there’s no doubt the brand is up to something great with all that grind and hustle.
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