A few weeks ago we took a look at the Maranez Layan, a brass (yes, brass) cushioned case watch with familiar but classic looks, decent components and a hard to resist price of $250. Today, we’re going to take a detailed look at the Layan’s more robust sibling, the limited edition 1000M Racha. The Racha has several stand out features that make it stand out from the heard of dive watches falling in the under $1000 range. To name a few; it has a mighty water resistance of 1000M (which we assume has been tested by the brand), it has a proven and reliable Miyota 9015 automatic movement at its heart, it has a thick domed sapphire crystal, and handful of extra straps and perhaps most interestingly, two interchangeable bezels. For $599 plus $50 shipping, the watch offers a lot of value. That being said, the case and dial designs are very common. So the question remains, are there enough unique and interesting things going to warrant buying the Racha?
Movement: Miyota 9015
Strap: Leather, 2x Rubber
Water Res.: 1000m
Dimensions: 44 x 53mm
Thickness: 15.5 mm
Lug Width: 24 mm
Crown: 8 x 6 mm screw down
Weight: 160g on leather (brand measure)
Warranty: 1 yr
The Racha has a typical cushion case design that measures 44 x 53 x 15.5mm. Essentially, if you’ve ever seen a Panerai-inspired cushion case before, you know what’s going on here. From the top it has the appearance of an inflated square, hence cushion, with short, but sturdy lugs. From the side, the design becomes quite dynamic, with various smooth curves and rounded elements. It’s an attractive design for a masculine sport watch, hence its regular usage. The Racha also features a HEV at 12, which is an interesting location for it, as it minimizes its visibility. Typically, HEV’s are shown off by being at 9. The lugs feature single-side screw in lug bars, which is a great feature as they are very sturdy and secure, yet easier to remove than double sided screw bars, and there are no small screws to lose. The whole case has an even brushed finished.
At 3 is one of the largest crowns I’ve ever seen (well, it’s the same as on the Layan). Measuring 8 x 6mm, this screw down behemoth makes a statement. It’s also very easy to grasp and turn, though the size does come with a downside, which is the obvious potential discomfort of pushing into the back of your hand. The most unique feature of the case, and the watch as a whole really, are the interchangeable bezels. The bezel mechanism itself is quite respectable. It’s a snappy 120-click unidirectional bezel that is also precise, which is all you can really ask for.
The watch comes with two thick and nicely made bezels. One has a sapphire insert and vintage military styling, and the other is all steel with polished markers. The procedure for changing the bezel is quite simple. There are four screws located around the bezel, which you loosen with the included screwdriver. Once they are all loose, you don’t have to fully remove them, the bezel will pop off. Place the other bezel over the mechanism and simply press down and tighten all of the screws around. Each bezel actually has its own set of screws, which is great for those of us who can’t ever find a screw once it has fallen on the floor. One thing to note, do test the bezel out by turning it a few times to make sure it is properly attached before putting it on and going outside, I did have it pop off once, though luckily I was not far from my screw driver.
The Racha has a simple dial with roots in divers from the 1950’s. It goes without saying that there is a Panerai-ness to the whole watch and dail, but I also see hints of the Fifty Fathoms in the included bezel, which is a welcome influence. The dial is a deep gloss black with a primary index of numerals with large 12, 3, 6, and 9 in a very attractive rounded font. On the outer perimeter is an index of white has marks for the minutes/seconds and lume dots every 5 minutes or for the hour. This immediately made me think of tritium dots on watches from the 50’s – 60’s, which emphasized the mid-century military aesthetic. At 4.5 is a small circular date window, revealing the white on black date disk beneath. There is very little text, just the brand name below 12 and “1000m” above 6. The whole dial is very clean and legible.
The two bezel options have very different effects on the overall look of the Racha. The sapphire bezel has a vintage mil aesthetic that combines with the dial to create a very legible and functional watch. The additional black of the bezel extend the dial, increasing the general perceived size of the watch and therein giving it a more aggressive edge. This bezel also has lume for every marker, which when combined with the potent lume of the dial and hands, makes for a very bright and readable watch in the dark.
Differently, the steel bezel has a more formal appearance. This bezel consists of a matte surface that has been milled out and a set of numerals and markers, consistent with the other dial, that are polished and in relief. Oppositely, the all steel look makes the dial feel smaller, as the case seems to be pushing in towards the center. While I think that both bezel designs are elegant, the all steel does have a dressier feeling, though this is far from a dress watch. That being said, I personally preferred the aesthetic of the sapphire bezel, but greatly appreciate having the option to switch between the two. They do truly give the watch a different feeling, and potentially more versatility.
Straps + Wearability
The Racha comes with 3 different straps, a perfectly matched rugged brown leather strap with contrast black stitching and two black rubber straps. The leather strap is gorgeous and while perhaps not the quality of a $150 strap, will certainly last a while and suits the watch just right, emphasizing the vintage feel of the watch. It’s also a strap that brings out its masculinity, looking great with work boots and some jeans. The two rubber straps are matte black and made of fairly soft and comfortable leather. They are not the most exciting straps on earth, but for a rubber option to wear in the water, they are more than sufficient. I don’t know if they really needed two, but I can’t complain.
On the wrist, the Racha is a sizeable watch, but tolerable. My wrist is 7″ and while I find 44mm watches to be large, the nature of cushion shaped watches makes them more wearable. For one thing, the dial is fairly small compared to the rest of the watch, making the watch appear smaller. That being said, it definitely is a very large and fairly bulky watch. The 15.5mm height is noticeable, but if you are looking for that big, manly Pan look, the Racha definitely will get you there. As I had mentioned earlier, the crown will push into your hand given its large size. It’s not unbearable, and this is hardly the first watch with this issue, but it’s worth noting as you will notice it. Overall, the look of the watch with either bezel really comes through on the wrist. It’s a very handsome and bold watch with a surprisingly tasteful and restrained look.
I’m always hesitant to call a watch great simply because of what a good deal it is. There is more to think about. Build quality, obviously, but there is also the aesthetic. The Racha is another cushion-cased diver, that at $600 is probably a better deal than other similarly priced watches given it’s components, but why this watch is worth recommending is because it’s well executed. The dial, interchangeable bezels and rugged leather strap come together to make an aesthetically successful watch. While originality clearly was not the goal, I mean in the end it is more or less a Panerai homage, the dial and bezel combos give it a unique and quite enjoyable look. For the watches like this I’ve come across, the Racha currently is the one I like the most. Now, throw into that the sapphire and steel bezels, sapphire crystal, Miyota 9015, 3 straps and the complimentary 5 watch roll, and you have a reason to seriously consider the Racha.
by Zach Weiss