Damasko DA44 Review

Featured | Popular | Review | 09.11.2013

Usually, when we talk about what sets a certain brand apart it’s an interesting aesthetic design feature, or better than average finishing for the price. Occasionally, but less often, it pertains to something unique with the movement, like an in-house complication or extended power reserve. Well, what sets Damasko apart is something entirely different, the very materials from which they are made and the engineering behind them.

DAMASKO_DA44_WHOLE1

Located in Regensburg, Germany, Damasko has been going about watch making differently since 1994. Rather than just making quality watches, which is more than enough in most cases, they wanted to set all new standards. So, they’ve re-designed and engineered everything, owning dozens of patents for materials and mechanisms. These include the very steel from which the watches are made to their own silicon hairsprings, all of which they make themselves. In 2010 they also became a genuine manufacture with two in house movements, the A 35-1 and the H 35, both of which feature EPS springs and a patented winding system.

Of course, at this point you are probably imagining prohibitively expensive watches, but that’s not the case. Damasko’s all are under $5k, with entry-level models starting at $1,125, making them an exceptional value. The watches themselves have very to matter of fact designs, drawing largely on military and pilot watches, with an emphasis on legibility and use. No giant signs suggesting they are anything but an average watch, which is part of the appeal.

The model we’re going to review, the Damasko DA44, was released within the last couple of years. It’s a very sporty design that features a bezel and many of Damasko’s amazing technologies. For $1,450 it offers more than most watches 3 or 4 times that price. Though not inexpensive, I am certain you’ll be impressed.

DAMASKO_DA44_FACE1Case: Ice-Hardened Steel
Movement: ETA 2836-2
Dial: Black
Lume: Yes
Lens: Sapphire with AR coating
Strap: Leather
Water Res.: 100M
Dimensions: 40 x 48mm
Thickness: 12.3 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Crown: 6 x 4.5 mm
Warranty: Yes
Price: $1,450

Case

Though understated and matter-of-fact, the case of DA44 is where most of the watch’s magic happens. Measuring 40 x 48 x 12.3mm, the matte ice-hardened, nickel-free steel case has a dull grey luster, similar to titanium. Aside from the interesting coloration, the ice-hardened nickel free steel is a very unique feature to Damasko, who manufacture their own steel… That’s not something most brands do, so let that sink in for a second. In fact, not only do they make it, they developed it and own the patents on it.

DAMASKO_DA44_CASE3

At 710 Vickers, the case is about 4 times harder than standard steel, making it highly resistant to scratches and bumps, keeping a “like-new” look for a longer duration. You might be familiar with Sinn’s Tegiment technology, which touts a hardness of 1200 Vickers. The difference between the two technologies (other than the manufacturing is totally different) is that Damasko’s steel is hardened the entire way through, where as Sinn’s is a surface treatment. In both cases you are getting higher than average performance, but it’s worth knowing the difference.

The design of the case is pretty straightforward with a design that speaks to pilot and military watches. From above, it has a cylindrical central area with long thin lugs that elegantly sweep in. The lugs are drilled for easy access to the spring-bars, which is a design feature I wish every watch had. At 3, two simple and effective crown guards protrude out, encasing the long, but well-proportioned crown.

DAMASKO_DA44_DIAL4

The crown itself has a simple deign with a fluted edge for easy gripping and a Damasko “D” logo on the end. Not surprisingly, Damasko has a patented crown system. Everything, from the exterior of the crown to the threading is made of ice-hardened steel, which should help with wear and tear as well as limit stripping. The tube the crown threads into, also threads into the case, for a more secure fit than a standard pressure fit. The crown is fitted with a Viton gasket (Viton being a highly chemical resistant material that is “superior to every other gasket material”) and passes through 2 Viton o-rings as well as a patented lubrication cell… Yeah, this is the most serious crown out there, and you’d never know it just from the looks. more details here

The DA44 also sports a remarkable bezel, which is one of the other real strong points of the watch. There are several interesting things to talk about here, beginning with the function and feel of the mechanism. Damasko developed their own patent-pending design that features in-house manufactured ceramic ball bearings and a bi-directional 60-click mechanism. Turning the bezel is literally a joy, in fact, I found my self endlessly turning it back and forth during the day. The bezel snaps with authority from one minute to the next, lining up perfectly every time. Simply put, this is the best bezel I’ve felt.

DAMASKO_DA44_BEZEL1

The fun doesn’t stop there though, the bezel, which has large teeth for easy gripping is also made of ice-hardened steel. The insert is ceramic with Damest coating… It’s another proprietary treatment developed by Damasko that layers materials to create an absurdly hard and scratch resistant surface, that also has enough elasticity to not crack. Once again, it just looks like an even matte black surface, belying the amount of technology present.

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  • http://www.teeritz.blogspot.com.au teeritz

    Beautiful photos of a very nice watch. Damasko are an underrated brand, but those who know them swear by them.

  • http://URL Brad B

    Nice review. I went from “Why is this watch so expensive” to “When can I buy this watch”.

  • http://URL James D

    I wish you wouldn’t have posted this, I’ve been looking for one on the used market for a while, this will only make it harder!

    Great watch though!

  • http://wornandwound.com/2013/09/11/damasko-da44-review/ Toni

    Another really well written review. You are able to analyze and describe elements that I would have overlooked – and you manage to bring all of these details to life.

    Oh, and the watch is very nice too.

  • http://URL jja

    Have owned the DA34 model (the same, sans the movable bezel) for about a year. It would be one of my favorites, but for a few annoyances. In my daily wear, it loses about 10-15 seconds per day; it would be tolerable if it gained a similar amount, but I dislike running slow. The band was too short for my 8″ wrist, so was replaced with a black/grey/red Zulu for summer and a similar Hirsch band for winter. The worst feature is the appearance of the red 12 o’clock markers. There is NO lume underneath, leaving a blank space in the dark; in daylight is dull, unappealing, and clashes with the red of the second hand. For the same price, one can get a pawn shop Datejust or AirKing here in the Reno area if you wanted a rugged automatic “beater”. Or get a Bernhardt Binnacle for a lot less.

  • http://URL Kevin M

    Have owned a DC56 for many years and its an outstanding watch. I just picked up a new DA 46 in PVD and its equally exceptional. Both very accurate. Damasko is worth the money and as you point out for the added features a bargain. Excellent review as always.

  • http://URL Richard P

    with all that crown technology and only 100M?

  • http://URL Traviss

    Beautiful watch

  • http://URL phillip chouzenoux

    The Damasko supersedes the Dievas Pro and with the Day-Date worth the 300.$ extra. Very. detailed review.

  • reemas

    looks like a beautiful watch and face, but it could use just about ANY other band / strap