Studio Underd0g brings some much-needed fun and light-heartedness to the watch scene. As a one-man, one-product microbrand, British designer Richard Benc decided to follow his instincts and inject some fun colours into watchmaking combined with excellent design and manual-winding chronograph movements produced by Seagull. Teaming up with watch and tennis journalist Miguel Seabra, the latest Studio Underd0g watch is this delectable Strawberries & Cream chronograph, a colour combination designed to evoke lazy days in the summer sun watching Wimbledon with a bowl of strawberries and cream. The watch will be available for pre-orders from the 9th-16th of August and then whisked out of production.
Forget about the big luxury brands that kit out famous tennis wrists with ludicrously priced watches represented by alliances like Roger Federer and Rolex, Rafa Nadal and Richard Mille or Serena Williams and Audemars Piguet. There are also tennis-themed watches for the rest of the world. Recently, Maurice de Mauriac, a small, family-run brand, released a second tennis watch known as the Rallymaster with soft pink and yellow tones inspired by the heyday of tennis during the 1970s and 1980s. The Zurich-based brand also collaborated with Stan Smith for its green and white Stan Smith tennis watch.
Studio Underd0g’s Strawberries & Cream was made in collaboration with Miguel Seabra, a renowned Portuguese watch journalist who also happens to write about tennis. This is not Seabra’s first watch partnership; he collaborated with another UK-based watch company, Isotope, to create the Terra Marris GMT 0º traveller’s watch, with an attractive colour palette inspired by Seabra’s home town of Cascais in Portugal.
Miguel Seabra and Underd0g
Earlier this year, we covered a Studio Underd0g chronograph made for Fratello watches with an aubergine-coloured dial and lime green accents. The latest collaboration involves Miguel Seabra and, somewhat unsurprisingly, revolves around tennis themes. What started as a joke in the comments section of an Instagram post materialised in Strawberries & Cream, with a dial inspired by Seabra’s vision of a perfect day in the British summer watching his favourite sport and indulging in a bowl of strawberries and cream.
Like the Fratello Aubergine watch, the Strawberries & Cream is based on Studio Underd0g’s vintage-inspired bi-compax chronograph, enlivened with a refreshingly modern dial. As a trained designer, Benc has invested a lot in aesthetics, which by no means translates into empty horological content; quite the opposite.
The dial features a creamy peripheral tachymeter scale framing a textured strawberry pink dial. Composed of two layers, the rough texture is obtained by a satin sandblasted base with a coarse gradient or dégradé top dial, meaning it is lighter in the centre and gets darker at the periphery. In this context, the rough material recreates the pitted skin of a strawberry very well indeed.
A large cream-coloured 30-minute elapsed time counter at 3 o’clock with a green-tipped hand is offset with a smaller, snailed counter at 9 o’clock for the small seconds. The asymmetry provoked by having a larger and smaller counter on the same plane is attractive and adds interest to the watch. Instead of conventional hour markers, Benc uses orange seed-shaped markers like those found on the skin of strawberries. The slim hour and minute hands are filled with luminescent material, and the central chronograph hand has a green tip to match the hand in the 30-minute counter.
The silhouette of the stainless steel case has an attractive 1950s feel and measures 38.5mm across with a thickness of 13.6mm (including the double domed sapphire crystal). The rectangular chronograph pushers flanking the large crown and the bezel are polished, contrasting with the brushed surface of the lugs.
The Strawberries & Cream comes with two straps: a tapered Milanese mesh bracelet and a beige handmade Epsom calfskin strap made by The Strap Tailor with a Haas Zermatt lining for additional comfort. Equipped with quick-release spring bars, the bracelet and strap are interchangeable.
An inscription on the dial reading ‘Bicompax ST-1901’ refers to the mechanical manual-winding movement powering the chronograph. Calibre ST-1901, produced by the Chinese manufacturer Seagull, has an interesting history. In the 1960s, Seagull acquired Swiss movement manufacturer Venus along with its machinery and designs, and its movements are still made on Venus equipment. The ST-1901 started life as a Swiss Venus calibre 175 before the tooling and technical drawings were sold to the Chinese Air Force in the 1960s. The architecture of the movement and the swan neck regulator can be admired through the flat exhibition caseback. Beating at 12,600vph, the movement delivers a 50-hour power reserve with the chronograph off and a 45-hour power reserve with the chronograph on.
Assembled in Great Britain, Studio Underd0g ensures the accuracy of the movement with independent quality control inspections – demagnetisation, accuracy/rate review in 3 positions and regulation – undertaken by Horologium before shipping the watches from the UK.
Launch and Orders
The Strawberries & Cream model will be available for pre-order from the 9th-16th of August 2022. The launch time on the 9th of August is 3 pm BST, and the watch is sold exclusively at underd0g.com. Once the 7-day pre-order window has closed, the order page will not be reopened, and the watch will not be produced again. The reason for adopting this launch method is to improve the checkout experience and ensure the watches go to enthusiasts and not flippers. The price is GBP 575 / EUR 600 / USD 675 and includes free worldwide shipping.
For more information, please consult the official underd0g website.