Hands-On with the Unimatic Modello Due U2-AG

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Often, the best dishes are made with just a few simple ingredients. Complexity, both of form and function, is no prerequisite for greatness, and our love for minimal timepieces is great evidence of this. It’s not too often, though, that we can see this kind of slick simplicity in the world of field watches. Sure, the designs are often basic enough, but with that can come a lack of a certain kind of overall cohesion. Today’s hands-on review piece, the Unimatic Modello Due (ref. U2-AG), has overall harmony in spades while still giving a sturdy, utilitarian feel. But is it worth a serious look for the field watch lover? Let’s find out.

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Introducing the Unimatic Modello Due, ref. U2-AG.
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$370

Hands-On with the Unimatic Modello Due U2-AG

Case
316L Stainless Steel
Movement
Seiko NH35A
Dial
Green
Lume
Super-LumiNova C1
Lens
Double-domed sapphire
Strap
Calf leather
Water Resistance
300 meters
Dimensions
39 x 47.6mm
Thickness
15.7mm
Lug Width
22mm
Crown
8 x 4mm
Warranty
2 years
Price
$370

A big part of the Modello Due’s streamlined, but masculine, charm comes down to the case. From the look of it, it’s been milled from a solid chunk of stainless steel and plays with symmetry and proportion in fascinating ways.

Looking down from above, it’s deceptively simple, with short, squared-off lugs and a sharp bevel to the smooth bezel as the only major visual landmarks. From the side however, the whole watch is almost a perfect oval, with the lugs having the same gently tapering proportions both topside and around back. Above this, the tall sloping bezel rises almost like a volcano to support the nearly three-millimeter crystal. While it all makes for a striking profile, it also makes for a very tall watch–just a hair under 16 millimeters, and the lack of any sort of wrapping around the wrist (quite the opposite, if anything the Modello Due’s unique case pushes the watch away from the wrist) leads to a ton of wrist presence.

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It wears like a hockey puck, especially for its 39mm proportions, but it’s a bold look and not at all uncomfortable.

The engraved case back, meanwhile, features a complex diagram for determining a target’s distance. It’s not only visually interesting, but a potential lifesaver in the wilderness should that unlikely scenario ever arise. It’s an unorthodox choice for sure, but it earns this piece a little extra utility cred.

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Speaking of utility cred, the case is rated to 300m.
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The dial then is elegant in its simplicity. Alternating Arabic numerals and short rectangles make up the bulk of the graphic complexity of the dial, set above a base layer of matte army green. The handset is equally simple, just pointed batons and a stick seconds hand with lume-filled lollipop counterweight. What makes them interesting is that apart from the lume fill, they’re exactly the same finish as the dial–something Unimatic calls “ghost hands.”

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The internal AR does away with some, but not all of the reflections on the dramatically double-domed sapphire crystal.

It does produce an almost ghostly effect, with only the lumped segments floating above the dial at a glance for sort of a lower-contrast mystery dial look. It makes for an extremely clean appearance overall.

The strap the Modello Due comes with continues this theme of rugged, but streamlined, simplicity. It is a thick, malleable calf leather strap in an attractive tobacco brown. Much like the case and dial, nothing is allowed to break up the lines of the strap, and neither stitches nor surface variations are allowed here. It’s a great companion for the watch, finishing off the overall look brilliantly and going well with plenty of clothing options. In fact the Modello Due, for all its thickness, is extremely easy to wear. If you’re generally a casual-wear kind of person, you could get away with this in almost any situation. That said, I wouldn’t advise suiting up with this one.

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The Modello Due wears well on a 7-inch wrist. Boots courtesy of Grant Stone.

One of the greatest features of the Unimatic Modello Due is one we haven’t even touched on yet: the price. At approximately $372 at current exchange rates, this is a steal, with fit and finish that would be impressive for twice that much. Sure, there may be only a workhorse Seiko NH35A under the hood, but it’s a venerable movement from one of the best in the business with a history of reliable timekeeping. If you’re the type that lusts after mil-watches, but still likes the minimalist vibe, definitely give this one some consideration. Unimatic Watches

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Hailing from Redondo Beach, California, Sean’s passion for design and all things mechanical started at birth. Having grown up at race tracks, hot rod shops and car shows, he brings old-school motoring style and a lifestyle bent to his mostly vintage watch collection.
seanpaullorentzen
  • I was drawn to this watch, but I was worried that it would wear too high on the wrist. I’m still not convinced, 16mm is very thick for a basic 3 hander that also wears tall because of the case design.

    I find it surprising that there is no mention that these clearly draw influence from Rolex bubblebacks of yesteryear. It’s a great design.

  • sean

    Way too thick… I honestly think manufacturers are losing touch with what consumers want. 16mm ?!?! Come on. We want MAX 13…preferably 10mm…and they can do it. Think of the vintage dive watches (tudor) very thin & 200m…40 years ago.

  • Sean-how did you arrive at 315; about $100 more from their site.

    • Mistake on my part. With current conversion rates, it’s about $370 from Unimatic.
      -Ilya

  • Evan

    I got it to my door in Cali for about $415. Add a benj. I took a chance on a somewhat quirky design with the strict symmetry from the side. I’m glad I did. Lug holes are at center line of the mid case and this somehow offsets the thickness. Magic pure form Italian minimalist design? I have a smallish wrist and was concerned the lugs would make for uncomfortable wear. That hasn’t been the case, it’s form grows on me every day. Do wish they had used C3 lume. The hand set and dial numbers/marks are relatively thin and don’t carry a lot of paint. And I love a workhorse Seiko movement. Even the humble NH35.

  • sensh

    I have a Modello Due, but the “AB” version with black strap and gray dial, and concur with almost all the conclusions in this excellent review. It is an incredibly pleasing timepiece, particularly at this price.

    I wasn’t worried about the height, I was worried about the diameter, as I am a fairly big guy with a fairly big wrist, but do not like “oversized” watches. My concerns were unfounded. For me, it’s the perfect size, and although the height is significant, it doesn’t wear that way. I’m sure they could have made it thinner, but it’s a design decision, and the “UFO” profile is part of the aesthetic. I dig it, and find myself wearing it more than anything else I own. Further, the legit diving grade water resistance means I never have to think about it. I live at the beach, and it goes where I go – shower, restaurants, ocean, mountains…

    Only nit to pick? The lume is weak and doesn’t hold its punch long enough for my taste. If I wake up in the middle of the night and check it, it’s very hard to see the hands. Compared to the excellent lume on something like a Seiko SKX007, whatever is on these hands isn’t up to the task.

    I drive a Lancia Delta Integrale. I consider it a chunky, purposeful, but exceptional example of Italian design. This Unimatic is another.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4762a7e8b8f065200172d1b613e5095ac0e247178625dc764f4e58c65378166c.jpg

    • Ordered mine (olive) just in the nick of time before it sold out! Really seems to hit both the utilitarian and vintage Italian design notes perfectly. For the money this seems to be a fantastic watch.

      • sensh

        Good call. There can’t be many of the black ones left. I’ve had mine a couple months now, and it’s numbered 135, I think. Glad you got your olive version (which is stunning, IMO) before they were all gone.

        • Mine is 97, so I suspect they distributed 50 or so to resellers. I am still a bit flummoxed by the target notations other than the size of the target being related to the distance…Looking forward to their next watch. They’ve done sea and land, so maybe air is on deck. Good luck with the black one–classic!

          • sensh

            Air. Hadn’t thought of that! Or maybe a racing chrono? Then again, based on what they did with the Modello Uno, maybe they’ll come out with new versions of the Due…

  • thanks for the updates guys–very nice photos

  • Dhruv Patel

    Well these are sold out 🙁 before i could grab one. how frequently they come out with new editions. i love the modello due and i wish i found out about it sooner!