I always look forward to checking out a new release from Direnzo. There’s always more than meets the eye, and the DRZ06 Wandering Star is no exception. The watch is a marriage of the familiar and the unexpected. In this case, the ‘familiar’ is an evolution of Direnzo’s retro-futuristic design language, including a dish-shaped dial, bold colors, and organic-feeling markers cut into a sandwich dial. The ‘unexpected’ is the presence of a mystery dial. It’s now some years since I wrote about the originals and heyday of the Mystery Dial here, but it’s still a feature I’d like to see more of. I guess many watchmakers might be deterred from attempting this as it’s difficult to avoid the mystery being the interesting thing about a watch and therefore becoming little more than a gimmick. Perhaps the reason it has been implemented successfully as part of the DRZ06 Wandering Star is that we just have a mystery sub-dial for the running seconds, with a lone red dot slowly spinning around against the lumed backdrop.
Last summer I spent some time with Direnzo’s previous release – a reworking of one of their earliest models. The case of the new DRZ06 is similar in shape to that of the DRZ02 Aerolite, but with some subtle changes that blend to give a different character. For starters, the brushed steel bezel is larger in every way. Despite the main watch case being a soft square shape, this strong bezel makes the watch feel far rounder. The Wandering Star still pulls quite a neat trick, as the watch feels much more quadrate once you flip it over and look at the reverse. The case sides are different too. Instead of swooping scallops running from lug to lug, this new release has crisper sections cut out from the case walls.
Aside from the dial, the only concave shape remaining is that of the reworked lugs as they curve downwards and inwards to meet the bracelet. All of these shapes, curves, and planes are a lot for the wearer to take in. No doubt the dial draws the eye at first glance, but the complexity of the case surrounding it is significant. However, the only surface that acts as a distraction from an otherwise successful and suitable housing is that of the polished indentation closest to the lugs. It reflects more light than any other nearby surface, and distorts it at the same time. With that all said, the scratch-resistant coating (with a hardness of 800 HV) will keep those reflections consistent at least.
Hands-On: the Direnzo DRZ06 Wandering Star
And so to the dial. Three colorways are being produced by Direnzo, and they have sent the best (in my opinion) for me to have a look at. The black dial looks more sedate, as you’d expect, and the fumé green dial will no doubt appeal to some. But the bold combination of red, white and blue is a winner for me. The main section of the dial features prominent radial brushing and a vibrant shade of blue, which darkens towards the outer edges. Although the hour makers are painted white dots on the dial, there are cutouts between each hour index and for the seconds subdial itself revealing the lumed sandwich dial below. The same blue glow of BGW9 SuperLuminova is used on the hour and minute hand. The seconds ‘dot’ is not lumed, as it effectively forms a shadow against the lumed backdrop.
As I pondered above, I think that this inclusion of a mystery dial as only a small part of the watch is rather well thought out and therefore quite successful. The seconds hand is not usually part of the primary time-telling functions. Being able to tell that the watch is running, and being clear enough to measure elapsed seconds approximately if forced to, is sufficient. So why not have a little fun with it too?
The Wandering Star is driven by the Sellita SW216-1 in Elaboré grade. This hand-wound caliber sits in the same family as the more commonly seen automatic SW200. A full wind should give 38 hours of power reserve, and a beat rate (not that you’ll be able to notice as you watch the red dot wander) of 28,800bph – or 8 beats per second. The selection of a manual wind movement in this watch, and the absence of a rotor, enables a thinner overall profile.
In its standard configuration, the SW216-1 has a date complication in the three o’clock position, but the date wheel and associated crown position have been removed for use here. The view through the exhibition case back is rather plain in this prototype example but will be decorated with Côtes de Genève and the Direnzo logo in the final production pieces.
Thanks to a combination of wide flanks and a strong taper, the bracelet continues the contours of the watch case and allows it to also wear comfortably on my 7-inch wrist. The bracelet links are fairly shallow, with half links closest to the butterfly clasp. I’ve managed to get a good fit on my wrist with those links in place, but their presence/absence should go a long way towards attaining a good fit for most people even in the absence of any micro-adjustment on the clasp.
The pattern of brushed and polished areas on each bracelet link demonstrates some nice finishing, but the result is more polished steel on display compared to the watch case itself. The bracelet is fitted with quick-release spring bars at the 20mm lugs, so other strap options are possible. However, a standard strap would completely change the look, and probably not in a positive way. Thankfully, suitably shaped leather strap options are available from Direnzo if you don’t want the bracelet.
As with each Direnzo release, the DRZ06 Wandering Star represents a further leg of the Direnzo design journey. If you are already a fan of the brand, and perhaps already own a couple of models, then the chances are you’ll see the value in this watch too. The manually wound movement, mystery dial complication, and nuances of the case give a watch that feels different enough from each watch in their catalog so far. If you’ve been waiting for the first Direnzo to really get you reaching for your credit card, then maybe those elements will be enough to push you over the edge.
Pre-orders begin on February 10, with the watch priced at CHF 780 on the bracelet, or a little cheaper on the leather strap, and delivery is expected in the summer of 2024. Direnzo