Undone Goes Retro With Their Basecamp Diver
In Partnership with Undone
Article By: Logan Hannen
FROM THE PRESS | MAY 02, 2019
UNDONE Watches was founded in 2014 by a team of industry professionals, headed up by the “Rolex bracelet magician,” Michael Young. The brand’s philosophy is, at its core, to provide high quality watches at reasonable prices but, moreover, to do so in a way that harkens back to the boutique, made-to-order origins of many luxury brands, giving clients as much power as possible in creating a watch that is uniquely theirs.
Previously, they offered two models for customization. The first was the Aqua, a 45mm diameter, highly rugged dive watch. This was followed by the Urban collection, a series of vintage inspired chronograph watches using the Seiko VK64 meca-quartz movement. Now, the brand has updated their range with a new offering, this one called the Basecamp.
The UNDONE Basecamp
The UNDONE Basecamp Standard
As far as basic specifications go, there aren’t all that many given the range of customization possibilities. However, there are a few constants. The Basecamp measures in at 40mm in case diameter, with a 15mm thickness (including the piece’s LEXAN polycarbonate crystal, a material similar in nature to the kinds of covering found over headlights on cars). The watch also features the tried and true Seiko NH35A automatic movement. The Basecamp takes a standard, 20mm strap width, meaning options for strap swaps are endless. The watch is marketed as a diver’s watch, although I wouldn’t go much beyond washing dishes with it, due to its 50 meter water resistance rating.
Where the Basecamp, like many of UNDONE’s pieces, shines is in its ability to be customized. Currently, though there’s yet to be implemented a customizer option for the bezel, there is the ability to customize the case color, movement (insofar as whether you want a white or black date disc), and the strap. Though there is a section for customizing the dial, there is only currently one implemented dial option. It is highly likely that, as with the Urban and Aqua before it, the Basecamp will receive further options here as time progresses.
The Basecamp’s Lume
In keeping with the vintage pieces that inspired it, the Basecamp’s bezel is not the standard, unidirectional rotating, clicking bezel seen on most divers, but instead is a bidirectional, friction fit bezel without any audible or tactile clicking to speak of. The bezel insert is acrylic, chosen to mimic the glossy sheen of vintage Bakelite bezels, as seen on early Rolex GMT Masters, for example. There is also lume applied to the bezel, along with the hands and indices.
As far as even further customization goes, the watch can feature a custom design on the sapphire display back, as well as your own name or logo printed on the dial at 12 o’clock, where one would traditionally expect to see the brand logo, a way of further cementing the true individuality of your watch. UNDONE’s brand marquis, instead, can be found at 6 o’clock, under the Arabic numeral 6.
The standard Basecamp model, without any customization, starts at $295, and additional options, such as a gold or PVD coated case, contribute to slight increases in the price accordingly.
I’ve been itching for UNDONE to produce a more modestly sized diver for a long time. Ever since my own journey into smaller watches began, something about the idea of a fully customizable, classically proportioned dive watch just sang to me. It took them a minute to get around to it, but I’m not the least bit disappointed. The twisted-looking lugs (they are probably just thick bevels) give the watch a very distinctly Omega feel in many ways, but that is truly the only element of the watch’s design that feels like it pays tribute to something that came before. The choice to use a highly domed crystal, let alone one made of a material not commonly used for horology, is a bold one, but perfectly in keeping with the watch’s vintage inspiration.
Also keeping with the vintage inspiration is the brand’s choice to use a bi-directional bezel. Many vintage divers, especially the first batch of them from brands like Rolex and Blancpain, featured bi-directional bezels as a result of the then-limited technology. As the tech and construction developed, the bezels became uni-directional to improve their functionality for divers. While it’s very likely that this is also to do with simply having the bezel as a matter of aesthetic over function, knowing the brand does produce a diver with a uni-directional bezel (the Aqua) means that they’re plenty capable, and the choice seems very intentional as such.
If I had one critique, it wouldn’t be so much of the watch itself as much as UNDONE’s decision to roll out the customizer without having implemented all of the features it plans to launch (especially given the intended release date of another bezel option as soon as May of this year). It feels a bit rushed, in that regard, and though I have no doubt that those new features will be very much worth the wait, I can’t avoid the sense that the customization options, as they exist now, don’t inherently add much to the standard model beyond a case color.
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