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ZURINER Depth-Charge ZV-01 V12 REVIEW

BACKGROUND ZURINER are newly established Hong Kong based Watch Company. Their founder, Dave Simmons, a Canadian watch connoisseur is most likely a Paneristi and die hard Egiziano enthusiast, as his first model, the Depth-Charge ZV-01 is based on PANERAI's historic diver, the Radiomir Egiziano, which was commissioned by the Egyptian Navy in the 1950s. It housed an Angelus Cal. 240 with 8 days power reserve and measured 60mm in diameter.

Unlike some early divers from, say Blancpain or Rolex, the Egiziano's design has seldom been imitated (or should I say emulated) by anyone other than Panerai themselves, who made a re-edition in 2009, and have continued to use the Egiziano's design cues in particular its bezel and legendary crown locking device for their contemporary divers models. The re-edition maintained the monstrous 60mm case diameter of the historic model, but was accompanied by an equally monstrous USD30K+ price tag.

The Depth-Charge came in an enormous presentation box the size of small (country) DVD player. This wooden, black leatherette clad box with its black velvet lining, impressive as it was, was a little unnecessary. I appreciate the thought and effort that went into it, but feel that saving the wallet (shipping is 70USD) and the environment (do we need so many boxes in this day and age) with a simpler presentation such as a leather roll-case would have been more preferable. In the box was the usual paperwork along with an extra brown leather strap and a strap changing tool.

I can’t exactly give ZURINER full credit for the basic design, we have Panerai of yesteryear to thank for that, and we should because it is stunning. I can however praise ZURINER for an exceptional execution and for the inclusion of some of the modern tweaks that they have incorporated, in particular the DLC finish, which adds a whole new dimension to the design.

Again because of the nature of the Depth-Charge’s design heritage, the gorgeous matt black sandwich dial with its ever-so faintly orange tinged luminous hands and markers are so thanks to the Italian watchmakers and engineers, who designed the original Egiziano. Zuriner’s execution of the hands and dial is excellent. It would perfect if not for the redesigned sub-dial, which is at best a little over-designed. OK, it’s not that terrible, and I do recognize that Zuriner wanted to perhaps put their own mark on the dial, but it was already perfect the way it was in my opinion!

As mentioned earlier the case design is based on an historic Italian diver. However the Depth-Charge’s case has been CNC machined, which uses the very latest in case making technologies. It is constructed from 316L Stainless steel and measures 48mm in diameter. The case and its components have been finished with DLC (diamond like carbon) one of the toughest case finishes on the market.

DLC was originally developed by the Russian military to protect the tips of their helicopters’ rotary blades. The DLC finishing on the Depth-Charge has been meticulously carried out. A good way to scrutinize this kind of work is to look in-between the lugs and on the insides of components such as the crown guard and buckle; all are flawless in this case. Although the DLC is matt finish, it is still deep black.

BEZEL This is a 120-click-type bezel. It has a lovely dome to it (really lovely). As you can see, it’s very photogenic. The top of the bezel has 12 raised studs placed in 5 minute increments. The studs are larger at 3, 6, 9 and 12. They display elapsed dive-time. The side of the bezel has a minimal amount of coin-edging so as to give some grip when manipulating. The bezel’s fit is spot on, lovely and firm, zero play. The movement is nice and stiff, too. There’s no luminous pip at 12 o’clock, though.

CROWN The crown is a push-down type. It is nice and chunky with a solid and deliberate action. It is signed with Zuriner’s ‘Z’ logo. If I wanted to be picky, I’d prefer to see the coin-edging of the bezel echoed in the crown’s grip, but it really isn’t necessary. I’m just a stickler for continuity.

CROWN GUARD ZURINER’s crown-locking system has been designed to protect the crown from being accidentally opened. At a glance, it looks suspiciously like PANERAI’s own patented and trademarked crown protector, but that’s as far as it goes. It does the same job, but unlike PANERAI’s system the Zuriner crown guard works on a simple hinge with a screw, the guard then runs across the entire length of the crown not half-way like PAM’s. It’s a very simple and effective technology, but most importantly it looks cool. The locking arm is very rigid, no wobble whatsoever. I would have quite liked to see some ZURINER branding on the arm for the sake of detail, though.

CRYSTAL Because this is the very latest issue of the Depth-Charge it has been fitted with a Sapphire crystal not K1 Mineral crystal as earlier versions. Sapphire crystals are considered to be the toughest and most scratch-resistant that there are. K1 Mineral crystal is however said to be more shatter-resistant. Not that I’ve ever seen anyone shatter a sapphire crystal. That would require some serious punishment. The crystal is domed. I’m not sure how thick it is, but you can see from the photos that it juts out a fair amount above the bezel. There is little to no AR on the crystal. This isn’t really a concern, but it does make it trickier to photograph!

The case has been CNC machined using the best materials available to the manufacture; 316L Stainless steel, Sapphire crystal etc. The case and its components have all been finished with a DLC coating, which will protect it from any minor scratches or swirls. This model says: ‘Swiss Made’ on the dial, so I would assume that assembly of the watch was carried out in Switzerland. All components, such as the bezel, crown guard and buckle have been put together very nicely. Everything fits well, no wobbles, no rattles. It’s a very well made watch.

The Depth-Charge has 200 meters of water-resistance. Some say that this is the entry level for a divers watch; others say that ‘true divers’ should have at least 300m of WR. The Depth-Charge isn’t really the sort of diver that you’d actually take diving to be honest, it’s just not that sort of watch, but it’s nice to know that it would hold its own splashing around the pool or the bathtub. ;)

Features include: hours, minutes, sub-seconds, minimal lume on hands and dial and a unidirectional rotational divers bezel. The divers bezel has plenty of grip, but lacks a proper dive-time scale or luminous 12hr marker. As mentioned above regarding its WR, the Depth-Charge wasn't really made for diving, per se. If we were to judge it based on 1950s standards then it would be the consummate mil-diver, by today's standards it falls way short of the mark.

The Depth-Charge is powered by a Swiss made, UNITAS ETA 6497 hand wound caliber, a large movement that was developed in the 1950s and was originally used to power pocket watches. It was also used by PANERAI for many of their watches back in the day. It’s a great choice for anyone making larger watches that have any sort of historical reference to PANERAI. Furthermore, it's plain cool. If I could have seen it through an exhibition caseback it would have been even cooler.

This is a weird one really. The lume has a sort of faint orange tinge to it, vintage style. But after charging it and putting it in the dark it glows green. It’s not particularly bright to be honest, but it’s certainly there. I would rate the lume at fair.

No, it’s not hand stitched in Italy by elves, but it is hand-stitched and the workmanship is very reasonable. The quality of the leather is very nice. It’s soft and subtle and holds its shape well. It feels great on the wrist, super comfy.

BUCKLE This is basically a beefed up Pre-Vendome style buckle, DLC coated and signed ‘ZURINER’. It suits the watch very well. It’s nice ‘n’ heavy. But what I really appreciate about it is, is the fact that it fits so tightly and snuggly onto the strap. Where it meets the strap it uses screws.

Down the other end, ZURINER decided to change the screwed lugs to spring-bars. This was done in response to customer feedback, which shows that ZURINER listen to their customers. However in my opinion this is a step backward. I appreciate that screws can be fiddly, lugs get scratched etc. But if hex-screws, which offer far more stability had been used instead of regular screws the problems may not have occurred.

On the WRIST Even though the Depth-Charge is based on a scaled-down version of a 60mm watch, at 48mm it’s still pretty big. My wrist is around 7¾ inches, so it wears very nicely. There’s an ever so gentle downward curve on the lugs that offers that extra bit of stability and comfort. For those that are concerned about the size of the crown guard, the Depth-Charge is available with a left-handed option.

The ZURINER Depth-Charge watches are sold in a number of retail outlets around the world: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan (yeah) and the UK etc.. ZURINER are a newly established brand, but they have positioned themselves as a retailer not a boutique brand and as such the prices are quite fair and realistic. The list price for this model is 1519USD; the same watch without DLC is 1249USD. The price increase for DLC is a little on the steep side, but you would be hard pushed to find anything nearly as substantial as the Depth-Charge from any of the more established watch brands for the price of the steel version.

ALSO CONSIDER Well, you could track down an original Radiomir Egiziano (good luck with that) or you could buy the PAM 00341 re-edition for +30’000USD or you get the fantastic ENNEBI 5218 MM for 11’800USD. Sadly none of these are in any way realistically or practically wearable. Or you could get the Egyptian by RWC, which offers a very similar price and spec. I have no personal experience with it, though.

GOOD The ZURINER Depth-Charge achieves the look of the Egiaziano whilst maintaining a reasonable price tag and case diameter. It does it very well, too! I don’t own an original, but do own ENNEBI’s interpretation of the watch. I so badly wanted to wear my ENNEBI 5218, when I first got it. I sat on the sofa with it balanced on my wrist like a small dinner plate for hours wishing I’d get lucky and it would shrink in the wash or something, but it never did (OK maybe not hours).

There must have been other collectors like myself, who wanted to give this style of a diver some wrist time, but were unable to. The ZURINER Depth-Charge is the answer to this. It slots very nicely into a little niche of its own, where this style of watch has until now has been pretty much unobtainable and un-wearable. The execution of the watch as I have mentioned several times, is really excellent.

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REGRET My only regret now is not getting the left-handed steel version. The DLC is more unique and probably much tougher, but the steel version in my opinion offers the best value and is most like the original.

NOT SO GOOD The Depth-Charge is obviously a homage watch, but there is no mention of its incredible design heritage or recognition of the original Egiziano or even the men who designed it or indeed wore it. A pity! There should be some sort of acknowledgment in the company’s literature. Also the names ZUINER and Depth-Charge aren’t really evocative of Italian Military watches.

If we are to forgive ZURINER these very slight failings, then we have the makings of a really fantastic new watch brand with a fantastic first model!
My thanks to Dave for making this review possible ;)