Personally I love Lagavulin, with its unapologetic taste of smoke, salt and inhibition smashing alcohol, but I appreciate that it’s not to everyone’s taste. Actually I don’t appreciate anybody disagreeing with me, especially on whisky, so I mostly think of these individuals as lesser men. This philosophy is very much present in my feeling for U-BOATs. I think that like Islay single malt whisky, it’s a brand that creates lovers and haters…so it’s only fair to share a piece of theirs that graced our hands (and wrists) recently…
The limited edition Carbon Fibre Chimera has a self-assuredly masculine 46mm case that weighs next to nothing. Normally I find the weight of a U-BOAT one of its selling points. In the unlikely event of being involved in a 1970’s style bar brawl then a U-42 doubles as a pretty useful weapon, but in this case the light weight is refreshing. The chronograph pushers stand out from the forged carbon fibre case because, like the five rods that lock it in place, they are sculpted from titanium. There’s something about titanium that just makes it sound bad ass, as if it should be on the wrist of a comic book hero. Somehow comic book hero seems a little too kitsch though, almost like a costume.
The movement inside this embodiment of Italian machismo is a continuation of U-BOAT’s attention to detail and borderline Asperger’s devotion to unusual materials. This is a company that has, to date, made watches in sterling silver, titanium, PVD, and bronze, black titanium, ceramic and now carbon fibre. I understand the horological purists when they say this is just a distraction from their lack of in-house movement, a case (pun sadly intended) of misdirection. My argument is… let me enjoy the distraction. The same way I’d rather watch the scantily clad magician’s assistant then the creepy guy with the goatee who’s sawing her in half. Regardless of this the top soigné is customised for the left hand crown and the sterling silver auto-weight is fixed with blued screws. All of this is visible through the smoked glass exhibition window. The Valjoux 7750, though used with alarming regularity by so many brands grasping for the “Swiss Made” badge at an efficient price for their mechanical chronograph pieces, is still a movement of note.
The strap is made from distressed calf leather with a titanium buckle. Tell me that doesn’t sound reassuringly manly in a vaguely futuristic way. Essentially that’s what U-BOAT have produced, the kind of watch you would expect Burt Reynolds to wear if he was in a sci-fi movie. With Italian subtitles.
I’m sure that Freud would say that both U-BOAT and I are worryingly concerned with projecting our masculinity. In our collective defence though, Freud was a cocaine addict obsessed with people fancying their mothers, so I don’t really care what he would have said. Plus, he didn’t drink Lagavulin :)