Italian watch brand U-Boat draws great inspiration from the city it is based in – Tuscany.
Perfectly combining Italian craftsmanship and styling with precise Swiss movements ensure U-Boat’s success. Amongst the most recognizable watch brands, U-Boat credits this character to its large crown design. In the twenty years of the brand’s existence, U-Boat has grown exponentially to an internationally sought after watch brand.
U-Boat Brand History
The Brand’s Backstory
To better understand’s the brand’s legacy and birth, we must start in the year 1942. The Italian Navy commissioned wristwatches for its pilots with precise technical specifications. A pilot’s watch is an important and integral instrument in the cockpit. As a result, the task itself was quite a challenge. More importantly, watchmaker Ilvo Fontana drew up designs that guaranteed optimum visibility and waterproofness. The unique design was unlike anything before. However, Ilvo’s designs never made it to production, and the designs remained shelved.
The Brand’s Founding
Meanwhile, decades passed and the new millennium arrived. In the year 2000, Ilvo’s grandson chanced upon the designs and blueprints of his grandfather. Subsequently, grandson Italo Fontana founded the U-Boat brand with his grandfather’s designs proving to be a great source of inspiration. Above all, Italo envisioned the brand with the motto – ‘A new dimension in time’.
This marked the beginning of the brand as we know it today. Meanwhile, Italo Fontana elevated these designs with his own personal signature. His contemporary vision, design aesthetics, and personality combined with the vintage designs presented the brand with a distinct USP.
Present and Future
Italo Fontana’s creative drive and perseverance to innovate stand out through the brand’s timepieces and success story. “I’ve always been fascinated by design, I create in total freedom, I don’t follow any trend. I try to do what other brands don’t do. I don’t have an obligation to always create the same things.” His quote, even to date, stands as a testament to his creativity.
Consequently, U-Boat in its twentieth year of existence continues to grow. Based out of Tuscany, the brand currently boasts of presence in sixty key markets.
U-Boat Watch Collections
Currently, the brand offers nine very distinct collections to choose from. In addition, the brand garners acclaim for the extensive configuration options available under each collection. Under Italo Fontana’s leadership, U-Boat embraces modern and unusual techniques. In a similar vein, the brand also explores a host of materials to manufacture its watches. Above all, U-Boat watches feature the crown at a unique 9 o’clock position. We will look at such examples as we detail the collections.
The Chimera collection stands out with its iconic case design, large buttons, and unique crown cover. For instance, the case features five screws that bind the bezel, side, and rear case together. The large and intricately designed case bestows the watch with a masculine character. The Chimera collection makes up four subcategories – Net Skeleton, Pearl, Bronze, and Sideview. We discuss these categories in detail, for it is one of the most loved collections by watch aficionados.
Instantly recognizable by its perforated/wire mesh dial design, the Net Skeleton line up features four watches. These models feature subdials, chronograph functions, and host automatic movements. At 46mm and manufactured using different materials, the four models under this lineup remain limited editions. This includes 888 pieces of Carbon / Titanium, 999 of Net Tungsten, 300 of Bronze, and 499 of Titanium Skeleton.
The Pearl lineup features two watches with a mother of pearl dial. With each model limited to 300 pieces, this watch is a true fashion statement. Both the models feature a date display and a 24hour indicator. The stainless steel variant measures at 40mm and the bronze variant is slightly larger at 43mm.
The Bronze lineup features two very unique models – The chimera Day-Date model and The Chimera Bronze Chrono. The Day-Date model boasts of being the first U-Boat watch to simultaneously showcase the day and date. The 46mm naturally aged bronze case features laser-cut indices on the black dial. The Bronze Chrono is smaller at 43mm. This model features a chronograph function along with the date display.
However, both watches also share similar features. For instance, the clear rear, and the patented crown opening system. In addition, both models offer only 300 pieces as they are a limited series and are water-resistant up to 100m.
Limited to 300 pieces, this lineup’s unique USP is a design feature. The case features a clear side window that showcases the movement inside.
Like the Chimera, the Classico collection, too, features a number of lineups under it. These include the U-47, Bronze, Tungsten, and the Stratos. The Classic collection draws inspiration from the robust and basic styled military watches.
The U-47 lineup features three watches. One with a 47mm bronze case and two in 47mm stainless steel. Apart from this, these watches are entirely the same. Powered by the Swiss automatic winding movement, the U-47 features a date display at 3 o’clock. The dial hosts a ‘U’ at 12 o’clock and is water-resistant up to 10ATM.
Tungsten watches replace the ‘U’ with ’12’ on the dial. For better understanding, we have divided this lineup into four variants.
The first variant being the Movelock with a 24hour indicator on the dial. Available in two color options, you can also choose between a 45mm and 50mm case. The second variant is the AS2, which takes on a more simple approach with a clean dial. The third variant, the CAS 2, features an additional chronograph in the 45mm dial. Finally, the Moevlock chronograph features both the 24hour indicator and additional subdials. This variant is available in titanium as well.
However, all the watches remain powered by Swiss movements and feature a date display. In addition, every model is water-resistant up to 100m.
This line up offers Bronze variants of the Classic 50 Tungsten and the Classic 45 Tungsten Movelock.
Unlike other U-Boat models, the two Stratos watches feature a more flatter and elegant case. As a result, these watches are ideal for dresses and tuxedos. The Stratos 40 BK is as simple and clean as it gets. The dial features only the hour and the minute hand. On the other hand, the Stratos 45 BK features seconds, date display, and a 24hour indicator. However, both watches measure only 9.50mm and 11.70mm in thickness respectively.
U – 42 Collection
Limited to a series of 882 models, the U – 42 collection features GMT watches. The timepieces are capable of showcasing three timezones. The case hosts three traditional hands and a red hand that works in tandem with the rotating bezel. In addition, a small red hand showcases a third timezone. Made of titanium, the lockable rotating bezel also features a ceramic hemispherical indicator. The watches host automatic movement customized to U-Boat’s specifications, and the dial features superluminova treated markers and hands. In addition, these watches are water-resistant up to 30ATM. Above all, the rear features Italo Fontana’s signature and the watch comes in a stunning case.
The Capsoil collection stands testament to Italo Fontana’s unique and radical design philosophy.
The retro-themed watch features Swiss electromechanical movement, entirely submerged in low viscosity lubricating oil. Consequently, the dial turns absolutely black and an air bubble remains. The air bubble moves freely and also magnifies the view of the hour markers. The collection features two variants – Just Time and Chrono. Both the variants host the same movement lubricated in an oil bath, housed in a 45mm case. The Chrono series features additional chronograph functions. In addition, all Capsoil watches are water-resistant up to 10ATM.
Dual Time Collection
For the constant traveler and the modern globetrotter, U-Boat offers its Dual Time collection.
With an additional hand apart from the conventional hand, the watch displays a second timezone. The 46mm case houses mechanical with automatic winding movement under an anti-reflective sapphire. In addition, the models feature a date display at 9 o’clock. The models also feature a unique ‘U’ shaped clear rear to see the movement. The bezel allows a bidirectional movement.
On the dial chronograph functions, superluminova markers & hands are present. The watches are water-resistant up to 100m. You can choose from steel, bronze, or naturally aged bronze options. The Dual Time collection also offers a limited-edition lineup.
1938 Double Time
Limited to just 200 pieces, the watch draws inspiration from the model created for the famed 9th parachute assault regiment. The 43mm 316L satin steel case features Swiss automatic winding movements. Most of all, the case hosts an internal bidirectional numbered bezel that works in tandem with the additional hand. In addition, the dial features a date display and two crowns on the outside.
As the name suggests, this collection features U-Boat’s precious, extravagant, and more exquisite pieces. These watches are a feminine reinterpretation of the Classic collection. Keeping true to the founder’s belief in using different materials, the collection features four variants. The variants are – Shiny Case, Sapphire Houses, Diamonds, and Black Swan.
Shiny Case & Sapphire Houses
The Shiny Case and Sapphire House variants are the same in technology and movement but differ in design.
Both variants feature Ronda 704.3 quartz movement in a 38mm 316L steel cases. In a similar vein, both are water-resistant up to 5ATM and feature a pink mother-of-pearl dial under an anti-reflective sapphire. However, the difference between the two is easily visible on the dial. While the Shiny Case variant hosts 42 white sapphires set on the digits, the Sapphire Houses variant goes beyond. Apart from the same number of sapphires on the dial, this variant hosts 152 white sapphires on the bezel. An additional 76 white sapphires sit on the lateral part of the case. You can choose between pink, turquoise, and black mother of pearl options in both the above variants.
The Diamond variants feature slightly larger models with 40mm steel cases and 42mm ceramic cases. The former features white diamonds set on the digits and a ruby on the dial. These remain housed under a special glass in Red Sapphire. The 42mm comes in two models – Classic 42 Ceramic Black Diamond and Classic 42 Ceramic and Rose Gold. The former hosts 39 black diamonds set on the digits, while the latter hosts 39 white diamonds. In addition, the Classic 42 Ceramic and Rose Gold model also features rose gold details.
Finally, the crown jewel of the U-Boat brand – the Black Swan. The 45mm 18-carat gold case remains entirely covered with 11 carats of black and white diamonds. These diamonds vary in size and the case also features a U-Boat branding in diamonds. Featuring mechanical with automatic winding movement, the Black Swan also hosts a ruby on the dial.
Dive Watch Collection
U-Boat also offers a host of stylish and capable professional dive watches under this collection. Currently, the collection features two models – the Sommerso and the U-1001. The Sommerso lineup features 46mm cases that are water-resistant up to 300m. These watches feature a unidirectional rotating bezel to keep your dive time. In addition, the dial hosts a date display and an additional 24-hour counter. The Superluminova treated hour marker and hands ensure legibility during dives. The Sommerso lineup is available in four options to choose from.
For divers looking to go deeper, the brand offers the Classic 47 1001 SS Blue model. Limited to just 300 pieces, this series is water-resistant up to 1001m. In addition, the watch features an automatic helium escape valve in the 47mm titanium case. Powered by mechanical with automatic winding movement, this dive watch also features a date display.
Inspired by the dark side of the moon, this collection elevates the “immersion in oil” concept of the Capsoil collection. The Darkmoon watches feature a dial completely immersed in the oily liquid. As a result, the dial transforms into an absolute black creating an illusion of the absence of glass. Consequently, an air bubble appears in the dial, to compensate for any change in temperatures. The collection hosts Ronda 712.3 quartz movement, lubricated in an oil bath. The 44m case is available in steel, IP black, and bronze variants. In addition, you can also choose between a clear or red mineral glass. The Darkmoon watches are water-resistant up to 5ATM.
The Rainbow collection furthers the brand’s vision and drives toward unique timepieces. U-Boat watches under the Rainbow collection take a slight departure from the brand’s larger watch designs. The more elegant and sleek Rainbow watches feature a domed iridescent mineral glass. This creates a rainbow-like effect on the mother of pearl dial, giving the watch a vivid look. Pink and blue variants are available to choose from. In addition, you can also pick from either a shiny steel finish or an IP Gold polished finish 38mm case. These watches feature Ronda 712.3 quartz movement and are water-resistant up to 5ATM.
U-Boat Brand Reputation
There aren’t many successful watch brands that design such inspired models. U-Boat has garnered global attention and followers due to its design and use of materials. Amongst them are leading celebrities from many cultures. Legendary actors Nicholas Cage and Arnold Schwarzenegger have worn U-Boat watches in their films. Furthermore, artists like Emin, Till Lindemann, Renato Zero, Cesare Cremonini, Claudio Baglioni swear by these watches. This validates the brand’s growing stature and Italo Fontana’s vision of memorable timepieces.
Is U-Boat A Good Watch Brand?
Much like any other watch brand, U-Boat attracts mixed reviews. While watch enthusiasts love the brand for its designing and looks, they also believe that the prices are way off for using basic quartz movement.
If you love chunky watches that are big on your wrists, then you may fall in love with U-Boat. However, this is a major disadvantage for smaller wrists as these watches may not fit properly. That said, watch lovers also point that these watches do not retain their value post-purchase. Unlike Rolex, U-Boat will be subjected to heavy depreciation just for the fact that their movement and face of the watch are plain and basic.
Yet another word of caution from the watch aficionados, some U-Boat watches may come with a marking on the movement when you look closely at it. While the exact reason for such a marking is unknown, this internal scratch could potentially give rise to problems.
However, as we say across all our reviews, don’t let just the style or design of a brand be the deciding factor. Consider options like pricing, watchmaking history, usage, purpose, along with its competitors to make your final call.
Where To Buy U-Boat Watches?
Head to the brand’s official website to check out their current collections and updates. Watches are available for purchase directly on the website. However, if you want to pick up your U-Boat model in person, check out the brand’s store locator to find an official retailer close to you. The brand has multiple single-brand boutiques called U-Boutiques. In addition, several multibrand retailers also offer watches for purchase.
Shoppers in the UK can find U-Boat watches on Jurawatches.co.uk.
You can also find new and pre-owned U-Boat watches on eBay.
Where Are U-Boat Made?
‘Made in Tuscany, Italy’ – the U-Boat brand is proud of its Tuscan heritage. While the brand uses quartz movement in their watches, U-Boat adds its innovation to the movements, giving them extra functions and sturdiness for accuracy and precision.
The company remains in an Italian country villa, amidst beautiful hills and about 15 minutes away from Lucca. Most importantly, master craftsmen at the Lucca headquarters continue to create and assemble every U-Boat model to date. Founder Italo Fontana swears by the surroundings of this environment for his creative inspiration. However, the movements remain Swiss made.
All U-Boat watches come with a two-year warranty from the date of purchase. In addition, new buyers can sign up for the U-Club membership availing an additional five-month warranty extension for free. The brand also suggests you purchase from an authorized retailer and hold on to the sales invoice. Ensure that your warranty certificate remains filled and stamped appropriately.
The brand considers the warranty void in cases of defects and damage caused by misuse. This also includes modifications or replacements by unauthorized personnel. In addition, using non-U-Boat parts and accessories will cease the warranty.