Hello everyone, and welcome to another of my reviews. In this article, I’ll be reviewing the new R2 from Swiss watch microbrand DWISS.

The R2 is currently DWISS’ entry-level model, being a relatively conventional time-only watch. It’s also the most affordable – but is it worth the price? Let’s take a look.

DWISS R2 – Video Review

For those interested in seeing some hands-on footage of the DWISS R2, do check out my Youtube review below:

DWISS – the Brand

DWISS (short for Design Watch Independent Switzerland) is a Swiss watch microbrand that was founded in 2011 by Rafael Simoes Miranda. Known for its unconventional designs, DWISS has quickly garnered a reputation for left-field watches in the decade or so that it has been in operation. For those interested in learning more about the brand, I covered it in detail in my review of one of its earlier watches, the RC1, here.

DWISS R2 – Build Quality

As expected for a Swiss watch brand, the specifications of the DWISS R2 are rock solid.

Firstly, the R2 uses a double-domed sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of having a sapphire crystal due to its inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. DWISS states that there’s an anti-reflective coating applied on the crystal, but there were still plenty of reflections when I tried to photograph the watch due to the domed nature of the crystal. The R2 also has a water resistance rating of 100M, making it robust enough for most scenarios that don’t involve prolonged submersion in water.

Beating inside the R2 is the Peseux P224 movement. Founded in 1923 as an ébauche maker, Peseux was absorbed into Ebauches SA – which later became ETA – in the late 1980s. As such, it’s perhaps no surprise that the P224 movement is essentially a clone of the ETA 2824 movement, with identical specifications to boot: 38 hours of power reserve, 28 jewels, and a frequency of 4 Hz. It’s also relatively well decorated, with perlage and cote de Geneve finishing present.

When I reviewed the RC1, I stated that the strap was the least impressive component of the watch. While it’s slightly better in the case of the R2, the strap still remains the chink in the armour. The R2 comes standard on a rally rubber strap with colour matching stitching, which is comfortable to wear but cheapens the feel of the watch. It’s the sort of strap that one can find for $20-30 online, and also collects dust and lint easily. I would have much preferred for the R2 to come on a nice alligator embossed leather strap, perhaps with matching stitching – a quality leather strap would definitely have elevated the watch.

DWISS states that the hands are applied with BGW9 Superluminova, but it’s almost negligible – don’t expect to be able to tell the time in the darkness.

All in all, the R2 has decent specifications for its price, with a Swiss movement and a double-domed sapphire crystal. The strap could be improved, but it’s nothing an aftermarket option won’t fix.

DWISS R2 – the Design

However, the unique selling point of DWISS’ watches has always been their intricate designs.

While the R2 is relatively simple as compared to its pricier siblings, it’s still a complex looking watch. For starters, the dial is full of depth – the centre is actually openworked to expose the movement underneath. Its smoked nature reminds me of the Hermès Arceau Squelette, which is not a bad watch to be compared to at all. There’s also a skeletonised date wheel surrounding it that’s very Hublot-esque in its execution. It’s not the most legible of date displays, but it’s cool looking. However, the highlight of the dial would be the “mystery” hour hand, or what the brand calls the “DWISS floating hour display”. The hour hand is printed on a clear sapphire disk, which rotates as time passes, giving the impression of a “floating” hour hand. It’s an aesthetic that was first made popular by vintage watches such as the Zodiac Astrographic, and it certainly adds an intriguing feature to the dial.

The R2 comes in two colourways – a blue and orange variant that’s perfect as a summer watch, and the above-pictured black and red counterpart that’s more stealthy and sporty in nature. Although both variants share an identical design, the different colour scheme changes the vibe of the watch drastically. The blue and orange model feels more quirky with a hint of a vintage touch, reminiscent of watches such as the Tudor Heritage Chronograph Monte Carlo. In contrast, the black and red version comes across as more contemporary and sleek, evoking watches like the Tudor Fastrider Black Shield. I think both colourways have their own merits, so which variant is better for you simply depends on personal preference.

In my previous review of the RC1, I wrote that I absolutely loved the case of the watch. The case of the R2 is less intricate, but still well finished for the price. There are faceted lugs, contrasting finishing on the bezel, as well as slightly bevelled edges. Like the RC1, the R2 features four hexagonal screws on the bezel, which is something of a DWISS trademark. It’s not easy to have screws on the bezel without looking like a Royal Oak/Santos ripoff, but the R2 definitely doesn’t fall into the pitfall here.

The case for this R2 variant is PVD-coated black, and shouldn’t fade over time. There’s also a lovely signed crown – rendered in black – that makes winding the watch an enjoyable experience. Due to the slim nature of the case, the watch sits low on the wrist, resulting in a much more wearable watch as compared to the bulky RC1 that I reviewed previously.

That’s because the watch has a thickness of only 10.5mm, which allows it to slide under shirt cuffs with ease. Coupled with a mere 40mm case diameter, the R2 actually wears wonderfully on my 7-inch wrist. Usually, watches with “louder” designs tend to be of a larger size – SevenFriday, Hublot, Dietrich, etc – so I’m pleasantly surprised by its very wearable dimensions.

Overall, the DWISS R2 is a striking watch that is bound to be a conversation starter on the wrist. The dial has multiple noteworthy details – an openworked centre, a skeletonised date wheel that surrounds it, and a floating hour hand – while the case is bold and eyecatching as well. But the most impressive aspect is in the restraint with the dimensions, with DWISS managing to cram all those details into a relatively petite watch that’s great for smaller wrists or even ladies.

Shootout – DWISS R2 vs Zodiac Astrographic

If you’re looking for a Swiss-made watch with svelte dimensions and a mystery dial, then the only alternative would be the recently re-released Zodiac Astrographic that’s based upon the 1969 original.

Both the DWISS R2 and the Zodiac Astrographic feature sapphire crystal as well as a Swiss movement – the Peseux P224 movement on the former and the STP 3-13 movement on the latter. However, I would say that the Astrographic has a slight edge due to the use of a swan neck regulator and a slightly higher power reserve (44 hours, as opposed to 38 hours on the P224), though the difference would be barely discernible in everyday usage.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the fight is equally close. The Astrographic has perhaps the more iconic look, given that it’s a re-issue of one of the original “mystery dial” watches of the 1960s. However, I’m not a fan of its UFO case, which looks clunky to wear. In contrast, the case of the R2 is definitely better proportioned, and it has more details up to its sleeve too with the skeletonised date wheel and open-worked dial.

Furthermore, the R2 is undoubtedly the better value. Despite having similar specifications and an equally – if not more – intricate dial, the R2 costs 50% less than the Astrographic. If you’re looking for bang-for-buck, the R2 will be the more appealing option.

Conclucion – so the DWISS R2 “shiok” or not?

The DWISS R2 is definitely one of the more intriguing watches that I’ve reviewed recently. I appreciate the various details of its intricate dial, which is nicely complemented with a strikingly angular case. It also has decent specifications (sapphire crystal, a Swiss Peseux movement), and restrained dimensions that makes it more wearable than most watches of similar design. It’s well-priced too, making it an attractive value proposition. It’s entry-level in price, but definitely not in its design and construction.

Those interested in purchasing the DWISS R2 can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” for 15% off the R2 collection. After the discount, the R2 can be had for just US$841, or approximately S$1130, which is more than fair for what it offers.

View the DWISS R2 here.

View the full range of DWISS watches here.

DWISS R2 – Specifications

Dimension: 40,0 mm diameter, 10.5mm thickness
(case thickness: 6.8 mm + 1.6mm sapphire crystal + 2.0 mm caseback)
Movement: Swiss made automatic movement, Peseux P224
Number of jewels: 28 jewels, Frequency 28’800 bph. Power reserve: approximately 38h. Fully decorated with “perlage” and “cote de geneve”
Case: 316L Stainless Steel, See-through case back
Dial: Black and red details with floating hours display
Hands: Sapphire crystal hour disc using Super LumiNova BG-W9
Glass (crystal): double domed sapphire with anti-reflective coating
Strap: Racing rubber strap black with red stitchings
Water resistant: 10 ATM – 100 meters

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P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.