Introducing the Modello Uno U1-MY, a Collaboration with Japanese Designer Mihara Yasuhiro

Like any other consumer product, watches can be divided up into any number of categories, from the completely broad and almost all encompassing, to the hyper specific and niche. One of the easier dichotomies to understand in the watch world is the division between tool watches and fashion watches. The former being purpose built for a given task, generally designed to last, and sometimes, but not always, created with a looks-be-damned design ethic. Fashion watches, on the other hand, can be defined as timepieces that are representative of a larger brand. They exist to look a certain way, to capture a particular aesthetic, and act as a sort of self contained marketing tool. I’ve been using, collecting, and studying watches for a long time, and I can’t easily recall a watch that straddles the line and inhabits the best elements of both of those disparate camps in the way that this new collaboration between Unimatic and Mihara Yasuhiro does. Let’s take a closer look at their new, limited edition Modello Uno U1-MY.

Case Material: 316 stainless steel with Cerakote coating
Dial: Dark blue
Dimensions: 41.5mm x 13.6mm
Crystal: Sapphire
Water Resistance: 300 meters
Crown: Screw down
Movement: Seiko NH35A automatic
Strap/bracelet: Dark navy cordovan shell
Price: $875
Expected release: Limited edition of 50 sold through MY boutique in Tokyo (sold out) 


First, a bit of a history lesson on both collaborators. Unimatic is an Italian brand that has become well known in recent years for their minimalist and design forward tool watches. These are serious tools with all the modern technical features you’d expect (300 meter water resistance, lume that glows like a torch, high quality materials and coatings) but with a unique and fashionable look inspired by (but not copying) military watches of the past. Unimatic watches are clean and minimalist, but still retain a dramatic visual punch. 

Mihara Yasuhiro is a fashion label, and the man himself is a designer of clothing and shoes that fit most easily into the streetwear category. Yasuhiro’s sneakers in particular have an enormous following, and even if you aren’t familiar with his brand by name, you have almost certainly stumbled onto his designs or designs influenced by his designs if you’re at all interested in the modern sneaker landscape.

So, the principals here each have extremely distinct design languages, and have each obtained a good deal of success in their own corners of their respective enthusiast cultures. The result is, in my opinion, the most interesting Unimatic release to date, and a watch that asks us to think about tools, and fashion, as an art product.

First and foremost, U1-MY looks like something that was left at the bottom of the ocean 50 years ago and found just yesterday, and it’s quite striking. It’s loaded with shades of blue on the dial, bezel, case, and strap. Most predominantly, the stonewashed navy blue case has been coated with Cerakote, which is a ceramic product that is normally used on firearms to prevent wear and corrosion. Because it’s ceramic, the case’s hardness is also enhanced. The stonewashing process (yes, just like you’d see on denim) gives the watch a vintage, broken-in feel, and it’s all done by hand, so each of the 50 pieces in this limited run will have a unique look.

You can definitely feel the Mihara Yasuhiro influence in the watch’s bold color choices and almost avant-garde processing of the case, but I think it’s interesting that it’s still unmistakably a Unimatic, with their signature numeral-less dive bezel and unique horizontal baton indices at 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00. And as I alluded to, the watch forces you to think about the nature of something that is “vintage inspired,” or, more plainly, a new thing made to look like an old thing. While some may be turned off by the fake patina, I think if you can get past that, and appreciate the high quality of the piece’s execution and the artistry involved and choices that were made to make it look like this, it really becomes special.

As expect, this limited release has already sold out, so keep an eye out on the secondary market if you’re looking to land one. Unimatic

Let us know what you think about the collaboration below.

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.