We’ve already covered the creations of Massena LAB on multiple occasions here, at MONOCHROME. And the timepiece creation studio has proven to be able of great diversity, with collaborations ranging from quite accessible pieces to a high-end, ultra-classic model paying tribute to traditional horology. Among these watches, the LAB has been hard at work together with an Italian contemporary watch brand named UNIMATIC, already bringing to the market two attractive dive watches. Today, the new watch that both parties are presenting will be the final chapter to the trilogy, a watch that once again pays tribute to vintage watches, reinterpreted with modernity. Here’s the Bund-inspired UNIMATIC x Massena LAB U1-MLB.
Saying that the collaboration between Massena LAB and UNIMATIC would be an understatement. One one side is the creative studio created by friend and industry veteran William Massena. One the other is an intriguing, yet fresh and creative Italian brand that is known for its vintage-inspired, functional and often ‘nude’ approach to design. The collaborative process between them has already resulted in two watches, with different inspirations. First was the Modello Uno Ref. U1-ML6, a watch that was an ode to classic 1950s dive watches with its red triangle on the bezel and tropical dial. It was followed by the Marine U1-MLM, a tribute to dive watches issued by the French Navy in the 1960s – each unique due to a depigmentation process that produced a range of dial colours from navy to turquoise. Today, Massena LAB and UNIMATIC give an end to their trilogy, by looking at the 1970s.
While the golden age of dive watches clearly was the late 1950s and the 1960s, the next decade still had a lot to offer for vintage enthusiasts and one of the most emblematic watches of that era is, without a doubt, the Blancpain “Bund” watch delivered to the Bundeswehr Kampfschwimmers, a group of elite special forces in the West German Navy – and we’re not talking about the famous No-Rad version, but the slightly more infamous 3H version. And if you look at this watch, you’ll immediately see that it already had a lot in common with the classic Modello Uno of UNIMATIC… The Bund watch indeed was characterized by its deep black dial, its clean markers, its oversized orange minute hand and its bezel with only a triangular marker and no scale.
With this in mind, closing the trilogy inspired by some of the most important dive watches of history, the UNIMATIC x Massena LAB U1-MLB brings back the flair of the Bund watch in almost all details. The case takes on the specifications of the classic Modello Uno, with a matte finish, a 41.5mm diameter, a thick sapphire crystal of 2.5mm, with anti-reflective coating, a well-protected screw-down crown and a 300m water-resistance. Utilitarian, robust and clean as you’d expect from a military-issued dive watch.
To create the connection with the 3H Bund watch, the Massena LAB U1-MLB features a classic element of UNIMATIC’s design language, the sterile bezel that only features a luminous pearl to mark the zero. The dial is also a mix of classic Modello Uno elements and typical Bund features. All black with a matte surface, it features oversized painted hour markers and a clear minute track, as well as a black-on-black ghost signature at 6 o’clock to maximize the legibility. The large hands for the hours and minutes are contrasting, either in black or in orange, of course… All elements are picked up in ivory Super-LumiNova for a retro-looking touch.
Under the screwed caseback is a tried-and-tested movement, the Seiko NH35A. This automatic calibre beats at a 3Hz frequency, can store up to 41 hours of energy and comes with a hacking feature and hand-wound capacity. A no-brained movement that is known for its reliability and that helps to keep the price reasonable. The caseback is engraved with sonar waves, like those coming from a submarine… typically the place where you’d want to wear this watch!
The UNIMATIC x Massena LAB U1-MLB is delivered on a TPU strap in burnt orange, thus matching the all-important minute hand. For a more restrained look, it also comes with an additional black strap, also in TPU.
Availability & Price
The Bund-inspired UNIMATIC x Massena LAB U1-MLB will be produced in 200 pieces, delivered in the classic Unimatic tough case. It is now available (exclusively) from www.massenalab.com and is priced at USD 895.
For more details on the base watch, please visit www.unimaticwatches.com.