Back in late 2018, William Massena simultaneously launched his own project named “Massena LAB” as well as the first watch resulting from this venture, the superb bronze Habring2 Erwin LAB01. Known as an avid watch collector (among many other things), Massena has a few connections in the watch industry (to say the least) and knows who to team up with. His latest collaboration watch is different from his first attempt with Massena LAB and has been made with a contemporary and trendy Italian watchmaker. Meet the cool, accessible and vintage-inspired UNIMATIC x Massena LAB Modello Uno Ref. U1-ML6.
William Massena is one of those inescapable names in the watch industry. He’s an active participant in the world of horology as a collector, consultant and former auctioneer. He was a retailer with stores in Miami and New York, and later became the Chief Operating Officer of Antiquorum in Geneva. He discovered the watch collectors’ forum TimeZone in its earliest days in 1995 and has been affiliated with the website ever since, first as a moderator, and now as its Managing Director. In 2018, William launched “Massena LAB”, a company that creates and proposes concepts to brands, and offers limited editions.
The first watch resulting from this project was a bronze deadbeat seconds Habring2, with sector dial – an elegant, original watch with personality. The second Massena LAB collab-watch reflects William’s passion for vintage dive watches. For this one, the idea was to make it unique yet accessible, which is why UNIMATIC, a contemporary Italian watch brand blending vintage and modern design with reasonable prices, was selected.
The UNIMATIC x Massena LAB Modello Uno
UNIMATIC is known mainly for its signature Modello Uno. The idea of the two founders was to mix vintage and contemporary design cues and to offer unique edition watches. Not only have these watches proved to be well designed and well built, but they stand out with a unique take on minimalism – some of their creations don’t even have markers or feature a “nude” diving bezel.
For this Massena LAB edition, according to William, that idea was “what would a UNIMATIC watch from the 1950s look like today?“. So, take the classic Modello Uno and imagine it after a tough life, worn as a diving instrument, just like those vintage, patinated, faded old “tropical” Submariners that are so popular on auction.
The Modello Uno Ref. U1-ML6 mainly differs from the standard model by its bezel, dial and caseback. The rest is based on the praised watch that UNIMATIC offers in multiple variations already. This means a 40mm case – the bezel’s diameter is 41.5mm – made of brushed steel with a classic dive watch look. The lugs are robust, the crown is oversized (8mm) and highly protected by two raised shoulders and the watch has a 2.5mm domed sapphire crystal on top. It is also 300m water-resistant.
Then comes the specificities. The UNIMATIC x Massena LAB Modello Uno doesn’t hide its connection with 1950s divers, including the world’s famous “Bond” Submariner ref. 6538. This is shown on the bezel, in black anodized aluminium, with a red triangle and raised lume dot at 12 o’clock, as well as a 15-minute graduated section – a first for a UNIMATIC Modello Uno. The bezel is, of course, unidirectional and rotates with 120 distinct clicks.
And then we move on to the “cool factor”, the dial. To achieve the “tropical” look desired by Massena, each one of the U1-ML6 dial’s went through a galvanizing process, fading from the original black colour to its warm brown hue. As each dial reacts differently to the process, no two are exactly alike. This patinated colour is combined with hand-applied “old radium” Super-LumiNova indexes. The dials are “fatto a mano” (handmade) in Milan, Italy. The display is, thankfully, no-date and the time is indicated by blackened hands, with matching “old radium” paint and a reversed lollipop seconds hand.
Turning the watch over, the screwed caseback features a special engraving, depicting Greek god Poseidon. It is also a tribute wanted by Massena: “Aside from the reference to the god of the sea, the engraving pays tribute to World War II hero and veteran Alastair Robertson, an officer in the British Royal Navy. Before his retirement, he served as the navigator for the aircraft carrier HMS Ocean, the ship’s crest was that of Poseidon.”
To maintain an accessible price, the UNIMATIC x Massena LAB Modello Uno is powered by the tried-and-tested Calibre Seiko NH35A, an automatic movement with a 41h power reserve and a 3Hz frequency. A movement that is easy to service and known for its decent accuracy and its longevity.
This limited edition UNIMATIC is presented in a robust flight case and comes on a Horween Cordovan Shell leather strap and a black heavy-duty nylon NATO strap.
Price and availability
The UNIMATIC x Massena LAB Modello Uno Ref. U1-ML6 is a limited edition of 99 individually-numbered pieces and is priced at USD 850. It will be available for orders as of today (March 2nd, 2020) through massenalab.com only.