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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
From our special watch reporter and good friend, Angus Davies:

"I have just returned from Baselworld. It’s bigger, better and more spectacular than ever before. The trade fair attracts retailers, journalists and watch enthusiasts from around the globe. They come to see the latest novelties from a multitude of watch and jewellery companies.

Luxury and glamour are omnipresent. Ladies with impossibly long legs adorn the exhibition stands, reinforcing the symbolism of exclusivity conjoined with unattainability. However, there is a different side to Baselworld which few will know.

The food, entertainment and glamour on offer are openly available for journalists like myself, but the true committed workaholics seldom have time to indulge. The doors to the fair open at 9am and the frenetic merry go round ensues. As you arrive at each of your pre-arranged appointments, you establish which novelties, if any, truly inspire and you depart at breakneck speed for the next meeting.

As you rush from stand to stand, people from the trade recognise you. They want you to visit them, but you have not factored them into your tight schedule. I am “soft” as my mother would say, and find it difficult to say no to a pleading smile. The schedule enlarges and sudoriferous beading on my brow results.

I am home after eight nights and nine days of aerobic navigation around Baselworld. My feet are bejewelled with blisters and my cognitive function impaired thanks to an average of three hours sleep per day.

There is an inner compunction to secure a scoop. A need to find a journalistic gem which will delight readers and provide a point of differentiation from the numerous articles which populate magazines and websites.

I am the proud wearer of a U-Boat and make no secret of my love for the brand. The styling is bold and the UK based team have an air of merriment which elicits a broad grin on my face whenever we meet.

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It was on the Saturday evening that I was scheduled to be with a few friends from the trade for a bite to eat. A small smattering of alcohol and a few unguarded pieces of gossip were on the agenda. The assembled diners included a few journalists, watchmakers and collectors. “Schnitzel night”, is the annual institution many of us look forward to. Watches were freely passed around and a new U-Boat, temporarily in my care, was appraised by my fellow diners.

However, this was no ordinary U-Boat.

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The U-Boat Chimera 43 Solid Bronze was the only example of its type in existence and it was scheduled for a photo shoot overnight and destined for a hastened return the following morning. It was in my possession purely whilst the stand was closed.

I needed my scoop and wanted to take my own exclusive pictures before anyone else had the chance to “go to press” beforehand. This was a novelty for Baselworld 2013 and an opportunity I wasn’t going to miss.

I said my goodbyes at approximately 01:30 hours in Basel and took a taxi back across the border to my accommodation in a nearby German town. After parting with copious Swiss Francs, a king’s ransom by any measure, I arrived at my apartment in a weary state.

The alarm was set, an early morning photoshoot was planned.

At 05:00 hours, my iPhone barked like a rabid guard dog, the alarm sounding and waking me from my precious slumber. It was time to get up. I stumbled into the bathroom and faced the harsh reality of the open-hearted mirror, which callously reminded me, I am getting too old for late nights. My eyes, barely open, decorated with fine red lines needed to focus, pictures needed to be taken.

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The term “catching the red eye” refers to boarding a plane at night and arriving at one’s destination the following morning. Although in this instance no transatlantic junket had taken place, my physical appearance would have suggested otherwise.

I created an improvised studio in my apartment, chairs became tripods, lights were positioned on top of tables and wardrobes. This was my only chance to capture the images. I had to get the scoop. The pressure was on.

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Numerous pictures were taken. A stray fingerprint on the watch glass would only be revealed later in Photoshop. Another picture would be needed. The cycle of taking images, uploading them to my Apple MacBook Air and reviewing them in Photoshop was a process I would not recommend at 6am.

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“It’s a rap”. I had all the images to satisfy the desire of any demanding editor and the daily pilgrimage to Baselworld became my next priority. I walked to the local bakery in Weil am Rhein where the friendly Turkish lady would speedily chat in German to me and I would place my order of coffee and croissants in pigeon German. This had become my daily ritual.

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I climbed into a taxi and headed for the Ramada Hotel in Basel. As I sat in the back of the car, I lamented on the events of the day before and appraised the day ahead, with numerous appointments to be met.

At 9am, I stood on the U-Boat stand and waited to return the valuable cargo adorning my wrist. There bounding towards me, with beaming grin, was the charismatic Patrick Moufarrige from U-Boat UK. He is intrinsically fun and has no hint of the accountant-like personality which blights many who populate the corporate world.

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The watch was returned, pictures taken and notes recorded to tape. But what is it like?

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The dial
Typical of many U-Boat watches the dial is of sandwich construction. The upper layer is black, whilst a bronze lower layer is visible through the hourly markings.

Arabic numerals feature on the even-numbered hours, save for 6 o’clock which employs double batons, matching the odd-numbered hours. This deviation from the predictable is a facet of U-Boat ownership I love. Moreover, it is synonymous with the bold Italian styling that I have personally grown to adore through ownership of a silver cased model.

The hour and minute hands are black near their fulcrum, but bronze coloured and open worked near their tips.

A date aperture resides at 3 o’clock with the words “Made In Italy” proclaimed beneath. Whilst the watch contains a Swiss movement, the Italian prowess for style and design oozes from every pore of its masculine form.

Balance is afforded to the dial, with the brand’s nomenclature located at 9 o’clock.

Above 6 o’clock, the word “Chimera” is located. Whilst the association with a fire breathing creature from Greek mythology may be stretching artistic licence, there is no doubt, this is a hot watch.

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The case
The case is made from bronze, providing a dynamic aesthetic which will age with time, acquiring an alluring patina. The charm of this watch is that ultimately, no two bronze cased models will ever look the same. Indeed, the wearer’s lifestyle will influence the future appearance of the watch.

A case diameter of 43mm has an intrinsic virility and is not for the faint-hearted. This is a man’s watch, presented in a strapping and manly form. Quite simply, this is not a watch for wimps.

The case features the now familiar oversized crown, located on the left hand side of the case band. By featuring the crown on the opposite side to the norm, the crown does not gouge or chafe the skin. It is eminently sensible, bestowing an über masculine persona without any resultant pain.

Bronze cylindrical bolts traverse the caseband, joining the bezel, caseband and caseback in steadfast union. Everything looks robust and I can’t help wondering, post nuclear explosion, whether this watch would be the only thing left to survive along with a selection of hardy insects.

One aspect which U-Boat have refined is the inner crown adjustment, covered by the knurled crown protector. I have never struggled adjusting the hours, minutes and dates on my own U-Boat. However, the brand has added a pusher which with one depression causes the crown to move to its first position, allowing adjustment of the hours and minutes. A further press of the pusher and the crown moves to the second position, allowing adjustment of the date. It is inspired and makes ease of adjustment child’s play, with no risk of chipped nails and sore fingers.

The caseback features a tinted sapphire crystal affording a view of the movement within. Adjacent the sapphire crystal, perlage, typically found on a mainplate, adorns the bronze surface. It reinforces the link between the case and the engine which drives this maritime inspired timepiece.

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The movement
Italy is a land where architecture, fashion, food and supercars all convey passion and an eye for artful expression. The U-Boat captures the stereotypical national appetite for passion and delivers it in a becoming and august form.

Nothing about this watch is perfunctory. Every nuance of its physique is beautifully considered.

The same applies to the movement. The oscillating weight is open-worked and fashioned from sterling silver. Blued screws adorn the movement and circular graining is visible on the bridges.

There is much charm within the case to engage with the wearer’s eyes.

Conclusion
After the caffeine made its presence felt and my fatigued body emerged from temporary hibernation, I quickly came to appreciate the allure of this latest novelty from U-Boat.

As I galloped around Baselworld, I lamented on the vacant space on my wrist where the handsome Italian stallion once resided.

I am grateful for the opportunity to secure my scoop. But next year, U-Boat, please bring two watches, I need my beauty sleep."

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Technical Specification

  • Model: U-Boat Chimera 43 Solid Bronze
  • Reference: 7236
  • Case: Bronze case; dimensions 43.00 mm; height 18.10 mm; water resistant to 10
    bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; date.
  • Movement: Valjoux Top Soigné with Blue Screws, self-winding; frequency 28,800vph (4 Hz)
  • Strap: Brown leather strap presented on bronze buckle.

    Visit the U-Boat website
 
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