A few months ago, I had a couple of loan watches residing on my desk. They had been sent for evaluation by two manufacturers and my intention was to write about them in due course. Over a number of weeks, I would wear each watch for a few days and record my comments to my trusty red notebook. To fully appreciate a watch, there is no substitute for extended acquaintance or, as some bloggers like to say, “getting hands-on”.
I decided to take the watches on vacation and take a few photographs in various European destinations, posting images to my newly opened Instagram account. My fourteen year old son, who is increasingly becoming interested in watches, asked if he could wear one of them, a U-Boat Flightdeck 45 CAS 0.
The über-masculine aesthetics of the U-Boat, clearly appealed to this rugby playing youth, who brims with testosterone. I thought it would be interesting to garner his feedback and contrast our respective thoughts. However, what proved surprising was that we shared many opinions in common.
U-Boat Flightdeck 45 CAS 0: The dial
Bright orange Arabic numerals indicate hours against a black canvas. The charming sandwich-type dials found on some of the costlier U-Boat models was sadly absent from this particular watch. Nevertheless, the contrast of the numerals against the dial, together with their large format, provided ease of read off.
Although U-Boat use Swiss movements, the watches are made in Italy. This is a fact you are often reminded of as you notice small flourishes of style synonymous with the boot-shaped country. The numerals depicted on the dial are of varying size, with those imparting 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock and noon being the largest.
At 3 o’clock a subdial displays subsidiary seconds, featuring an unusual three-armed second hand. The subdials at 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock feature 30 minute and 12-hour chronograph counters respectively.
A date display is located at 9 o’clock completing the ensemble of functions presented.
On the loan model, I did note that there was a small variation in shade between the orange depicted on the hands and those on dial. It may irritate a perfectionist, but in all honesty it did not unduly detract from the attractive appearance of the dial.
U-Boat Flightdeck 45 CAS 0: The case
With an increasing number of male watch buyers craving behemoth dimensions, case diameters have grown over recent years. Whilst some may not like the trend for bulkier timepieces, many would-be buyers clearly do like the perceived value in having a physically substantial watch adorning their wrist. This particular model has a case diameter of 45 mm.
The problem with some large watches is that the crown can gouge or chafe the arm. However, this is not an issue with the U-Boat. The location of the crown and pushers, on the left hand flank of the case, means they do not dig into the wrist with flexing or movement of the arm, ensuring remarkable wearer comfort.
This particular watch is constructed of 316L stainless steel, employing a satin-brushed finish. On the right hand side of the caseband, the brand name is engraved in bold letters. I did find some of the text a little sharper than on my own sterling silver U-Boat and on balance I would have preferred the letters to have had a smoother finish, albeit it did not present any issue with wearing. Interestingly, whilst the watch was being worn by my son, some debris did accumulate within the text, however, this did not become apparent until taking photographs with a macro lens. Moreover, it may say something about the dirt-magnet characteristics of my son’s lifestyle than any deficiency in the watch.
Viewing the reverse of the watch, reveals an exhibition caseback with a Valjoux 7750 self-winding movement openly revealed.
The black leather strap has a superb tactile feel with a slightly retro appearance, courtesy of repeated circular motifs on its surface. A steel pin buckle, featuring a broad pin, ensures a positive interface with the strap and less distortion of the leather, typical of smaller round section pins.
U-Boat Flightdeck 45 CAS 0: The movement
The convenience of a self-winding movement should prove popular to those men who wish to focus on an active lifestyle and do not wish to be burdened with the need to wind their watch. The U-Boat Flightdeck 45 CAS 0 contains the legendary Valjoux 7750 movement. Known for its robust character and reliable operation, the 7750 is a highly regarded calibre and has featured within many chronographs over the years.
The movement has a power reserve of 44 hours, contains 25 jewels and has a frequency of 4 Hertz (28,800 vph).
On some models, U-Boat have shown enhancements to the 7750 such as open-worked sterling silver oscillating weights, Côtes de Genève motif and blued screws. However, these features are absent from the movement within U-Boat Flightdeck 45 CAS 0 and reveal where some of the economies have been achieved to hit the target price point. Those prospective purchasers seeking these details can find them on alternative models further up the U-Boat range.
U-Boat Flightdeck 45 CAS 0: Conclusion
I enjoyed my time with the U-Boat Flightdeck 45 CAS 0. It does not make pretensions to be a haute horlogerie timepiece. It is a large, robust, chronograph priced at an attractive £2,100. For many men, it will meet their needs admirably with its bold masculine lines, highly legible dial and handy stop-watch function for timing sporting challenges.
The reaction of many casual observers was that the watch looked very impressive and expensive. Indeed, my son swaggered along with his new-found love on his arm and enjoyed the statement it made. This was a holiday romance he still talks about, but unfortunately, as the saying goes, “all good things must to come to an end” and “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”.
More resources about the U-Boat Flightdeck 45 CAS 0 on Official U-Boat Website.