Direnzo DRZ_03 Eclipse Hands-on (P)review
When a project is funded on Kickstarter in one minute and then in the next two days it beats its goal by more ten times, as it happened with the DRZ_03, there are two explanations, either the owner had a large budget of marketing, or the brand does not need any more publicity because it can rely on its good reputation and a large base of faithful return customers. With the DRZ_03 Eclipse it was the latter.
I knew it will be popular, I could feel the excitement in the Microbrand Facebook Group, this is why I even posted an article here before the DRZ_03 would go live, reminding our readers that this will be a huge success. I was hoping that I will be able to post this review before the project would go live on Kickstarter, but due to some delays with customs officials, it is just now that I can have a closer look at the prototypes of the DRZ_03. Is this excitement and quick success justified? Is the DRZ_03 such a great watch? Let’s see.
For those of you who are not familiar with Direnzo, it is a microbrand started about four-five years ago by Sergio Godoy Di Renzo, an architect and watch designer based in Geneva. My first contact with Sergio was in 2017 when he sent me an email introducing his brand and his upcoming debut model, the DRZ_Type_250F. I got immediately hooked, there was something fresh, something very original about the design of the watch, even if Sergio used the Maserati 250F as inspiration, the DRZ_Type_250F was a modern watch (see my full hands-on review, here). When the project went live on Kickstarter, it was very well received and the Direnzo brand took off with confidence.
One year later, Sergio surprised us with a new model, the DRZ_02, a watch with an unconventional, yet harmonious design, solidifying the reputation of Direnzo as a trailblazing microbrand (see my review here). By this time, Direnzo watches had a proven track record that their good looks are also accompanied by high quality, offering an interesting choice for watch aficionados.
In terms of design and innovation, the bar was set really high for the DRZ_03 Eclipse by the two previous models. If the DRZ_02 has an audacious personality, the DRZ_03 drawing its inspiration from iconic dive watches from the past, such as the Breguet ref. 1646, the Omega Seamaster 300 or the Jaeger LeCoultre Deep Sea, is more on the conventional side.
I have vintage diver fatigue, there are way too many re-editions these days, sometimes I wonder if some of the major brands have any watch designers left because all I see from them are old models inflated by a couple of millimetres, with a new movement and here is their 2019-2020 collection. No creativity at all…
If we would take a close look at the DRZ_03 Eclipse, we’ll recognize the Breguet bezel or the Omega big arrow hand, but on the DRZ_03 Eclipse, but there is more to it because these are expressions of respect for the past from a watch that wants to steer dive watches to uncharted waters.
The Eclipse dial is a very innovative way to use a fumé dial with a dark circle at the center to create the illusion of a solar eclipse. The contrast with the lume filled stainless steel indexes and hands is excellent, they pop out as they would float above the dial. The brand name and the red logo are hardly visible, it is not something that really bothers me, I prefer having a good contrast for time reading than to have the prints add noise to the magic of the dial. If the eclipse effect is more visible on the grey dial, Sergio confirmed that the central disk and the bezel in the production models will be darker on the blue model, I think this will make it look even more stunning!
Since we’re at the dial, I find it quite an interesting idea to dedicate a dive watch to a celestial event. I can’t look at the Eclipse without it taking me back to the summer of 1999 when I first witnessed a total eclipse. I was on the coast of the Black Sea and as everyone around me, I was really happy that the sky was clear and we will have a first-row seat at one of the most impressive shows of the universe. The sea, the sky and that moment of darkness, when the chatter stopped, it is the very moment that the DRZ_03 Eclipse brings back. Of course, this is a very personal feeling, others will probably won’t have the same experience with this watch.
The lumed markers in the bezel are really cool in the dark, the kind of light show that only diver watches would bring.
The crown is another one of my favourite features of this watch. It is large, there is a gap left between the case and the crown to easily handle it, yet it did not heart my hand as it happens with some other watches.
If the two previous Direnzo watches had a unique case design, the DRZ_03 is more conventional, but it kept the combo of brushed surfaces and polished edges from the DRZ_02. I have the feeling that this time, the case has a minor role, the main character here is the dial.
Strap-wise you are very well served, every watch will come with a metal bracelet, a parachute style nylon strap, plus a tropical strap for every Kickstarter backer since the project has surpassed $150k.
Is the excitement for this watch justified? I think it is, and the 530 backers and counting will have a wonderful watch in the mail, sometimes in September. The Kickstarter campaign will run till March 4, there is not much time left. It is not too late to get the early bird price at CHF 505 (about the same in USD), full retail will be $699, still a good value for this diver that combines innovative design with great quality.
- Case material 316L
- Crystal sapphire with anti-reflective coating
- Water-resistant 20atm
- Diameter without crown 40mm
- Lug to lug 48mm (20mm strap)
- Height 12.5mm
- Case-back screw down
- Movement automatic: Swiss Sellita SW-200-1
- Dial Matt + sunburst fumé with applied indices