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.
Hands-On with the Unimatic Modello Due U2-AG
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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