It is my pleasure to introduce you to a new microbrand, DIRENZO Watches with a review of the final prototype of the DRZ_TYPE_250F, their debut model inspired by the aesthetics of the Maserati type 250f. Before the review since this watch comes from a new brand, here is a quick Q&A with its founder, Sergio Godoy Di Renzo, an architect and watch designer based in Geneva.
Sergio, please tell me about your background. I know you’re an architect, how that happened? What inspired you to become one?
I think it all started with a game of “Meccano” that my parents gave me… At that time, each piece was an opportunity to do build new and not predetermined as it is in most games nowadays. I loved creating cranes and cable cars that were hanging in my room… Then a book by Frank Lloyd Wright fell into my hands, and that was the moment I realised that I was passionate about architecture.
Watches, when did they come into your life?
Since I was young I’ve had a special thing for mechanical objects, especially antique cameras and watches. I think what attracts me the most is the direct connection with the past. Being able to use a watch that was made 50 years ago (or more), which works, is exciting to me. The same happens with the cameras, I have a Leica M4 from 1969 that works perfectly and with which I take black and white photos. I think I’m a bit nostalgic and I’ve passed that onto DIRENZO watches. My oldest watch is an Omega that my father gave me and that belonged to his grandfather. Clearly one establishes relationships with objects that go beyond the object itself.
I always ask this question when I interview the owner of a new brand, what made you decide to start your own watch brand?
It was not premeditated. I always liked to do new things and have a new challenge. While working as an architect, I studied watch design in Geneva, then I started to make some prototypes and, in 2015, I decided to create my own brand. I am not a watch salesman, I am interested in the process of designing and producing a particular object that has a sharp sense of design and utility
Do you have someone in your company who will do take care of the sales and marketing part of the business?
I do have someone who is doing all the marketing campaign, (generate the content, pictures and now we are working on the video). If everything goes well in September, we’ll decide during production time who will take care of the sales. But as I mentioned before, I’m focusing on the design area.
What is the vision you wish to convey with DIRENZO?
It is very simple really: to produce a range of uniquely exquisite watches, inspired by the timeless aesthetics of mid-20th-century racecars and aircraft. I think there are a lot of people interested (like me) in having a collection of different watches and styles without having to spend a considerable amount of money.
How is/will be DIRENZO different from other microbrands?
I think we are having a great time, specifically when it comes to the micro brands’ world. DIRENZO watches can provide a specific connection with people looking for a classic and emotive design. What I try to do is to project this idea into an object, using the tools I have learned through a long trajectory in the design world. Finally, I’m located in Switzerland, which makes the process of supervision for assembly and quality control easier and more reliable than with other brands. In a nutshell, DIRENZO’s differential is its simplicity, its symmetry and the fact that it tastefully celebrates the past in modern times.
The TYPE 250F is inspired by the Maserati 250F, why this car?
What inspires me about this car, particularly, is Jaeger’s tachometer but also the fact that the Type 250F is a rough competition car. Each piece, each screw is designed to make it run faster. This is what impresses me about this car. Another of my favourites is the Mercedes 300SLR, driven by Stirling Moss
Is Maserati your favourite Italian car brand?
I have an Alfa Romeo and I feel closer to that brand.
When it comes to watches, what are the brands/watch models that you find inspiring?
Bell & Ross is a brand that has evolved a lot in the past years, starting always with a strong idea. Another brand I look up from a more traditional standpoint is F.P. Journe: it is not only a beautiful timepiece but also a technological challenge.
You will go live on Kickstarter in September, do you have already something on your drawing board that would follow the Type 250F?
I have the next model of DIRENZO watches in my head, but I am trying to focus all my energy on launching the DRZ_Type_250F, that will be on Kickstarter on September 18, 2017. That’s the main goal right now!
I’m calling this a pReview as the watch I received on loan is the final prototype and Sergio assured me that it is very close to the production model. There are two versions of this watch, the DRZ_Type_250F_C with cream dial and the DRZ_Type_250F_B with a black dial that I’m reviewing here.
First things first, I’m a big fan of the packaging. Without even opening the dark grey cardboard box, I can tell that inside it has something special. The proportions of the box, its length, width and height, as well as the size of the top compared to the rest, or even the size of the logo printed in white, there is something perfect about them. Inside, the watch is kept in a brown leather travelling folder laser engraved with the Direnzo logo, which can serve you later when travelling with an extra watch. Beautiful meets practical, isn’t this the best way to describe design?
Sometimes, I wonder, am I true watch geek or more of a design geek? I don’t even care about adjusting or winding the watch, I want to try it on, see it on my wrist. The size is perfect, 40 mm without the crown is the ideal size for my small wrist and the black leather strap is very soft and comfortable, it’s a real pleasure strapping it on. As I close the buckle, I notice the small DIRENZO engraving on it, very subtle yet it shows that it did not escape the attention of the designer.
The dial is deep black with plenty of empty space for the eye to rest, yet not devoid of details that will catch the attention. Everything is printed with a light yellow colour, giving the impression of a vintage watch with a certain patina, the only other colour is the bright red colour of the slender second hand that enhances a racing edge of the watch. The minutes and hours hands have the same light warm yellow colour as the printings, their shape is inspired by the hands used by Maserati in the instruments of the Type 250F. They are effective, the contrast with the dial is perfect and reading the time is very easy. While it might have ruined the white dial version of the DRZ_Type_250F, on the black dial model I wish it would have SuperLuminova on the hands, but this is not deal breaker for me.
On the outside of the railroad minutes track, every five minutes there are tiny numerals, only at 12, there is a small triangle pointing down. The small triangle is reused on the railroad minutes track, every five minutes pointing to the centre of the watch, another design cue borrowed from the Type 250F instruments. Clearly visible, 12 o’clock is marked by 00, followed 3, 6 and 9 numerals. The brand name is placed under 12 o’clock, while the logo with the inscription “Automatic” is above 6. Everything looks well balanced.
At the first, the case might look basic, and then you discover the dual-cylinder design and everything becomes a lot more fun. Sergio calls it a floating bezel, and I have to agree, the whole architecture of the case becomes lighter and more sophisticated. Every surface is polished, there is no need for playing with textures and finishing, it’s more simple and honest, it leaves the leading role to the floating bezel. The solid back is also polished and it’s decorated with the DIRENZO logo. Under the hood, there is an automatic Seiko NH35, which solid movement that will be easy to service and your watchmaker won’t have any issue finding parts for it.
I was wearing this watch for almost a month and in all circumstances, it felt appropriate. At the office with a shirt or on a weekend in a t-shirt, it was a great companion. To me, it is not the Maserati racing story that makes this watch fascinating, but the design, the proportions, the colours and the comfort on the wrist. This was a prototype, but the production models will be assembled in Switzerland, a bold move that can only have a positive outcome for the consumers.
The DRZ_Type_250F is a great debut for a new microbrand and I’m looking forward to seeing how DIRENZO will develop in the future. Make sure you follow DIRENZO website so that you won’t miss their Kickstarter launch in September. Pre-order prices will start at US$270 and the final retail price is expected to be in the US$420 range. You can also find DIRENZO on Facebook and on Instagram.