By TLex ZURINER is newly established Hong Kong based Watch Company founded by Canadian watch connoisseur, Dave Simmons. I can't tell you who he is because I don't know. But I can tell you about his creation, the ZURINER Depth-Charge, a cool new dive watch that recently came up on my radar!
Whilst the ZURINER 'Depth-Charge ZV-01', a PAM clone / homage watch will most likely have die hard Paneristi spitting out their coffee, it might well be the perfect solution for some others (read on). The PANERAI Radiomir 'Egiziano', which the Depth-Charge takes its inspiration from, is an historic diving instrument that measured a massive 60mm in diameter. It housed the legendary Angelus Cal. 240 with 8 days power reserve and was commissioned by the Egyptian Navy in the 1950's. This brought about its nickname 'The Egyptian'.
In 2009 PANERAI gave the legendary Egiziano a re-edition in the form of the PAM 341, which boasted a new Titanium case construction and Panerai Manufacture movement (the Calibre P.2002, also with 8 days power reserve). However like its ancestor it still measured 60mm in diameter! Not to mention its MSRP, which was just south of 30K, so is it any wonder that someone thought of making an affordable and wearable alternative? In steps ZURINER . . .
Well not quite, because ZURINER weren't in fact the first to clone the legendary Egiziano. RWC ‘Retrospective Watch Co.’ have been producing a 200 piece Limited Edition watch called the ‘EGIZAINO 1954’ for several years now. This watch’s dimensions are a far more reasonable at 47mm (53mm inc. crown). It has a sapphire crystal and a Swiss mechanical movement. It ships for just 1098USD, a fraction of the cost of the PAM 341.
Of the two watches the RWC leans more towards homage than the ZURINER. It recalls the name and history of the Egiziano and makes a connection with the name ‘Egyptian’ with a depiction of an ancient Egyptian style Griffin engraved on its caseback. It hasn’t used any deviation of PANERAI’s trademark and patented crown-locking system, either.
Both watches house the Swiss made UNITAS ETA 6497 hand wound caliber, a movement that was in fact used by PANERAI for many of their watches in the days before they made such a name for themselves. The 6497 is large movement, which was once used to power pocket watches. It’s an obvious choice for anyone making large watches that have any sort of historical reference to PANERAI. Further more it's just plain cool!
So what do you think of watches such as the Depth-Charge!? Are they just rip-offs or are they fitting tributes that make the unobtainable obtainable? Before we cast judgment, let’s give a thought to the plethora of Sub clones that we have become so nonchalant about, some of which are praised for the exceptional value that they offer, others evoke no more emotion than a grunted ‘seen that somewhere before’! And who said only Subs were fair game for cloning, anyway?!
Personally I believe there is just as much a place in the watch market for watches like the ZURINER Depth-Charge as there is for any other wannabe Omega, Pam or Rolex. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, such is the nature of any industry that produces exotic items that because of their sheer expense and or rarity, or in this case size included, are out of reach for so many, that someone sees fit to provide a solution. So I guess it was only matter of time before someone set up an entire watch company based on the Egiziano. ZURINER is that company.
The ZURINER Depth-Charge ZV-01 has a 48mm (exc. crown guard) x 15mm 316L ASI Stainless Steel case with a 24mm lug width. Its case, which has a water-resistance of 20 ATM, 200 meters or 660 feet features a PANERAI-style crown locking device that is probably as close to PANERI’s trademark crown-locking system as one could get without a lawsuit. It also features a rotational bezel and has been fitted with AR treated K1 mineral crystal. As previously mentioned it houses the UNITAS 6497 hand cranked movement with 46hrs of power-reserve. Shame there isn't an exhibition caseback to showcase the movement!
The dial recalls PANERI’s famous sandwich dial, a dual-layered black dial with applied indexes painted with SuperLuminova. There are two different sub-dial designs. I’m not sure ZURINER should have
messed with them to be honest, but I guess they wanted to out their own mark on them. The Depth-Charge ZV-01 comes in 6 different variations: two case finishes: brushed or DLC and two crown positions: regular or lefty.
The brushed steel versions goes for 1099USD, which might be seen as a little pricey considering its lack of sapphire crystal. And the DLC versions cost 1369USD, a 300USD price increase just for the DLC! Ouch! Each version of the Depth-Charge ZV-01 has been built in a Limited Edition of 300 pieces, so that's a total 1’800 pieces. They come with a two year international warranty and ship for a further 70USD. What do you think?