New U-Boat U-42 Chronograph and 47mm Limited Editions ¶
Last year U-Boat came out with the U-42 limited edition series, a 53mm titanium monster based on a diver’s watch designed in 1942 by Ilvo Fontana, grandfather of company president Italo Fontana. The U-42 was a very distinctive watch that offered a totally unique look in the U-Boat line, one that competed more with the likes of Panerai and Audemars Piguet (but for much less money). This year U-Boat has expanded the U-42 lineup to include an automatic chronograph, as well as a midsize 47mm model to suit more average wrist sizes.
The U-42 is distinguished by its hefty case design, which sits tall on the wrist and is set off by a large rotating bezel. A patented folding crown reduces the profile a bit compared to the usual U-Boat screw-on crown cap. Despite the size, it’s not a heavy watch, owing to the use of Grade 5 titanium for the case. Dials are dark brown with beige luminescent numerals and hands.
The new version take the initial design (which was originally made in a 65mm small 29 piece limited edition as the U-1942) and updates it a bit for a new series of 999 pieces per model. The big news was the release of the U-42 Chronograph in both 53mm and 47mm sizes; this adds the ever-popular Valjoux automatic chronograph to the U-42 and spices up the design of the dial by adding a useful complication. The pushers for the chrono are well integrated so as not to disrupt the case design – the reset pusher is a rectangular U-42 logo that looks like a plaque, while the start-stop button is a dummy crown-release hook as is found on the standard U-42 (it doesn’t hold the crown in place on the chrono, however).
The next big step (no pun intended) for the line was to downscale it to a more reasonable size. 53mm watches are cool, but they aren’t for everyone. To broaden the appeal of the U-42, U-Boat has released a 47mm version of the original and the chronograph. This is great news for those of us with average wrists – the 47mm is big enough to stand out, but not so big that it looks ridiculous on a small wrist. The same was done for the U-1001 series of limited edition dive watches, with the original 55mm being scaled down to 47mm, and the U-51 chronograph which went from 51mm to 46mm. Big is still in, and the 47mms are plenty big, but U-Boat is clearly recognizing that ENORMOUS watches don’t appeal to everyone. The only complaint we ever heard about the U-42 was its imposing size, so now the 47 addresses that issue.
Like all U-42s, each watch is part of a numbered limited series of 999 pieces. All U-42s have a plaque on the side of their case to indicate the serial number (non chrono models also indicate the serial on the dial). Each comes in a massive stainless steel presentation case, numbered to match the watch. U-Boat has always done a great job with presentation of its limited editions, and the U-42 is no exception.
The straps are hand-stitched calfskin leather. They are impressive on their own; the leather is thick and richly dyed with a chestnut brown finish that will age beautifully. The stitching is a heavy waxed cord that is very distinctive. It’s a little rougher than a machine-made strap, which is the whole point. It has a vintage utilitarian look that stands out in a sea of dull, ordinary straps. Anyone who likes custom straps (cough - Panerai nuts – cough) will love the design.
So there you have it – the U-42 lineup expands to suit more wearers. The original design was a very distinctive timepiece that appealed to many but was a bit difficult to wear if you didn’t have large wrists – the 47mm variants address this issue and provide a scaled-down alternative to the 53 that still maintains a significant amount of wrist presence. And the chronograph models adds the functionality of that most useful of complications with a workhorse Valjoux calibre. U-Boat continues to provide interesting and distinctive watches that really stand apart from the crowd, and the U-42 is one of their most unique designs. For more information on U-Boats you can call us at 514 845 8878 or visit our contact page.