The Direnzo brand hasn’t been around for that long. Their first model was launched on Kickstarter in 2017, and they appear to have been busy designing new watches ever since. I first got to handle one of their models here and towards the end of last year reviewed their Mondial sports watch here. To help me keep track of their releases, I’m pleased that Direnzo use a numbering system within their model names. Their fifth watch, the DRZ05 ‘Solaris’ is a dual crown dive watch with the same combination of retro and modern touches that I’ve become accustomed to from a Direnzo.
Reviewed: The Direnzo DRZ05 Dual Crown Solaris
On my first viewing of this model just over a month ago, I was struck by the dial. A busy yet coherent combination of hands and indices with two crisp white circles and a crosshair all drawing the eye inwards. It may have been tempting to keep the case fairly plain and let it act as simply a vessel for the dial, but some of the case lines are just as pleasing. Viewed from the side, the midcase is kept relatively thin with the case back and the bezel/crystal protruding roughly equal amounts in opposite directions.
On the top side of the watch this works very well. The bezel rises almost-but-not-quite vertically from just inside the extremities of the case with an almost-but-not-quite horizontal surface on top. That same pattern is repeated as the crystal sits a good millimeter or two higher still. This isn’t only a good way to break up and disguise height, but can add some extra visual appeal as is the case here. On the underside of the watch I find that the depth isn’t quite as easy to hide and my main grievance with the watch is the gap that is presented as the midcase is lifted away from the wrist.
From above, or from any normal viewing angle, the huge polished scalloped areas of the lugs start to dominate – either making the lugs appear more slender and elegant as those surfaces disappear as they reflect darkness, or make a show of themselves as the glint in the light. The two crowns, just after the two o’clock and before the four o’clock positions, are large enough that they start to dominate visually – but if that’s marked as a negative here then it’s probably a positive when we get to function.
The Solaris dial will feel familiar if you’ve seen the previous DRZ03 Eclipse model linked above, but there are plenty of differences. The sense of continuity between models is something Direnzo seem to value strongly, and the presence of the ‘sector’ ring here is one of those connecting features. Seven different dial variants are available, with date and no-date versions of black, blue and deep red dials in additional to the more limited meteorite seen here. The crisp white circle on the dial marks the change from a textured meteorite center and an outer section with radial brushing on this version, but the other colorways will feature a more solid colour central area with a sunburst outer. Meteorite is always a visually interesting material to use in a watch dial. At its most subdued it adds texture, and at its boldest gives a silvery shine that can overwhelm any dial. For that reason, curbing the amount of meteorite to just the central section is probably wise.
In addition to the dial partitioning, and the shape and size of the applied indices, the other familiar feeling part of the watch is the handset. The large arrow-shaped hour hand is similar to that of the DRZ03 but the high polish and crisp chamfers feel a little more grown up. The minute hand mirrors that same sharpness. The lume plot of the second hand emulates the trick I grew used to on my succession of Stowa Prodivers – following the circle around the whole dial and then perfectly covering the date window at six o’clock as it passes. Another nice touch on this special meteorite edition is the date window printed on a red background to loosely mirror the Direnzo logo above.
The internal rotating bezel, operated by the second crown, begins to turn as soon as it pops out when the crown is unscrewed. I did notice a small amount of drift a couple of times as I screwed the bezel crown back in, so I would pay close attention if you want to time things with great accuracy. The bezel is only graduated for the first 15 minutes, with markings every five minutes for the remainder of the circumference. The transition from open circle at 15 minutes, through to a circle with a dot at 30, then a filled circle at 45 minutes is quite a subtle differentiation. I like the idea, but it’s probably not something you would ever end up registering and being able to read without a second thought.
Direnzo have opted to use the Sellita SW200-1 here. This Swiss automatic caliber is based on the ETA 2824-2 and offers hacking and hand-winding with a power reserve of 38 hours and beats at 28,800. My own experience of this movement, in this watch and many others, is generally positive and tends to outperform the stated accuracy of -7 to +20 seconds per day. On the dateless versions, the ghost date position in the crown has been removed.
Straps and wearability
The DRZ05 Solaris comes complete with Beads of Rice bracelet and vintage style leather strap. The drilled lugs aid switching out of straps, and I did just that regularly during my time with the watch. I’ve gone on record before stating how I’m not a fan of the look of a Beads of Rice bracelet, but I can’t deny the comfort. The same is true here. The pliability of the bracelet can’t be ignored as it wraps around the wrist. The clasp also has six micro-adjustment holes so hopefully most people can get a good fit from it. The clasp itself feels slightly too chunky for the lithe bracelet and watch head though.
Where the bracelet excels in comfort, the dark brown leather does so in looks. This is partly due to my own personal feelings about Bead of Rice, but also because the dark leather shows off the case and lug lines a little better. Having two contrasting but equally suitable strap options is the reason I kept switching between, without picking a favorite.
At 39mm in diameter, the minimal bezel and full dial (including internal bezel) make the watch wear slightly bigger than this absolute number, and although not thick the case isn’t super-slim either. As such, on the bracelet the overall tone is set as compact but substantial. When paired with the leather strap however, the weight is reduced and the slim lugs and fairly short lug to lug length have much more of an impact on how it wears.
As I mentioned at the start, although Direnzo are still a relative newcomer in the watch game they succeed in cementing their brand identity and an evolution of design across their five models to date. The DRZ05 feels like the most mature (less quirky) design to date, but that doesn’t translate to being tame or boring. The case, lugs and dial all have sufficient flair, with dial choices to suit your preferred level of extravagance.
When it comes to backing the aesthetics up with quality, Direnzo have mostly had that sorted from the outset. There are a couple of improvements that I think could have been made (partly based on my own personal preferences) but the DRZ05 hits most of the right notes with this release. The Direnzo DRZ05 Solaris is currently available for pre-order with prices starting at 650CHF (720CHF for the meteorite dial). Direnzo.