Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean watch review! This Sunday, I’m reviewing the new UNDONE X ULTRAMAN Color Timer.
To celebrate the reboot of Ultraman on Netflix this year, UNDONE has partnered up with the franchise to develop a collaborative piece. Let’s take a look and see if it’s any good!
UNDONE – the Brand
I have previously covered UNDONE as a brand here. In that article, I covered UNDONE’s philosophy, as well as my opinion on the customisation process. If you’re interested in the UNDONE brand story, do check out the above article!
In addition, I’ve also reviewed multiple UNDONE watches in the past. For those interested, you can read my review of the Aqua here, the Urban Vintage (one of my favourites) here, and the Urban Tropical here.
UNDONE X ULTRAMAN Color Timer – Build Quality
In terms of build quality, the UNDONE Ultraman is almost identical to the UNDONE Urban Tropical which I reviewed previously.
Firstly, the UNDONE Ultraman uses a hardened domed K1 crystal. While I felt that a hardened domed K1 crystal was acceptable on the Urban Vintage due to its low price point ($239 USD after promo code), the MSRP of the UNDONE Ultraman is substantially higher – at this price, I find the lack of sapphire crystal an oddity. As stated in my previous reviews, I almost always advocate for the use of sapphire crystal in watches due to its high scratch-resistance. While I understand that a domed sapphire crystal is significantly more expensive than a flat sapphire/domed K1 crystal, the lack of a sapphire crystal makes me worry about the durability of the crystal here. In addition, the WR rating of the UNDONE Ultraman is stated at just 30M – it would be best to avoid contact with water with this watch on!
Secondly, the Seiko VK61 mecha-quartz movement powers the UNDONE Ultraman. For those uninitiated with mecha-quartz movements, a mecha-quartz movement basically allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds – the accuracy (and affordability) of a quartz movement (which also negates the need to wind the watch), and also the sweeping second hand that’s characteristic of a mechanical chronograph. With the Seiko VK61 movement, you get the capability to instantly reset the chronograph by pressing the bottom pusher. However, despite UNDONE’s claims otherwise, the Seiko VK61 is not a flyback chronograph movement. I have consistently pointed this out in my previous reviews, but unfortunately UNDONE continues to advertise the movements as such. While the second hand can be instantly reset (without needing to be paused first), the second hand does not continue timing thereafter like a true flyback chronograph movement would. However, if you’re looking for a fully mechanical flyback chronograph, you will need to look at 4 figure price-points, probably something from Longines or Baume & Mercier – which would easily cost you at least $3000.
The UNDONE Ultraman comes paired with an bright orange cordura strap, though you can customise your strap option through UNDONE’s online customiser. I personally think that the orange cordura strap matches the dial perfectly, and accentuates the casual cool vibe of the watch. In addition, I personally love cordura straps. As compared to standard nylon or fabric straps, cordura straps are much more durable, and also more water resistant. As usual, the strap is quick-release, allowing you to swap straps on this watch in a matter of seconds. I really like quick-release straps – the convenience that they bring is unparalleled. For those who find the bright orange cordura strap too vibrant for your liking, UNDONE does allow customers the option to customise the straps.
On the UNDONE Ultraman, “asian lume” is used. It’s not as bright as Swiss Superluminova found on some of the other watches (for example, on the Gruppo Gamma Vanguard I recently reviewed), but it’s decent for an everyday watch. What I really like about it, and what I feel separates it from the previous UNDONE Urban Chronographs, is the lumed chronograph sub-dial. I think it is a really neat feature, meant to obviously evoke the Color Timer found on every Ultraman.
Overall, I would say that the UNDONE Ultraman has decent build quality. The most glaring weakness of this watch – from a durability standpoint – would be the lack of a sapphire crystal, which means that one has to be careful not to bump the watch against rough surfaces. However, the orange cordura strap is a nice touch, and I really like the lumed chronograph sub-dial.
UNDONE X ULTRAMAN Color Timer – Design
One thing’s for sure – the star of the show here is the Ultraman themed design of this collaborative watch.
The dial of the UNDONE Ultraman is designed to resemble the chest of Ultraman. Firstly, the dial is silvery, and almost sunburst in texture – meant to evoke the silver suit of Ultraman. I think UNDONE got this spot-on. It looks great, and it is instantly reminiscent of Ultraman’s costume even to laymen. Secondly, there’s Ultraman’s iconic orange/red pattern incorporated in the dial as well. Lastly, the iconic blue Color Timer of Ultraman is also included, strategically placed in the center of the chronograph sub-dial at the top. For those unfamiliar with Ultraman lore, Ultraman’s power is limited to a mere 3 minutes on Earth. The Color Timer essentially shows the status of Ultraman’s power – it’s blue when Ultraman is at full power, and becomes a blinking red when the 3 minutes are almost up. I love that they incorporated the design of the Color Timer in the chronograph sub-dial as it makes great sense thematically. In addition, I appreciate the details present here as well. Traditionally, the Color Timer is depicted with a silver ring surrounding it, and UNDONE made such to include this little detail on the dial. Elsewhere, Ultraman’s original Japanese name – ウルトラマン – is included in the running seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, which is a nice touch. However, I would have loved to see the concept of Ultraman’s 3 minutes limit presented on the dial. For example, in Omega’s recent release of its Ultraman watch, Omega paid homage to the “3 minute rule” by colouring the first 3 minutes of the chronograph sub-dial in orange. Unfortunately, such a detail is lacking on the UNDONE Ultraman.
I like the faux-patina indices of the hands and indices – a page undoubtedly taken from Omega’s own Ultraman watch, which featured vintage Super-Luminova in the indices and hands. Here, the pale orange colour of the faux-patina matches well with the overall orange/red theme of the watch. On this note, the red chronograph hand matches the colour scheme of the watch well too! As usual on Urban Chronographs, the UNDONE logo is inconspicuously incorporated at 6 o’clock. Unfortunately, I felt that the inclusion of a date-window is a miss here. Not only does the plain cut-out look cheap, it also disrupts both the symmetry as well as the orange Ultraman pattern on the dial. Personally, I think it would look much cleaner and sleeker without the date window.
There are 3 versions of the UNDONE Ultraman, with this version coming with a stainless steel tachymeter bezel. By far, this is my favourite variant of the trio. I find the stainless steel bezel to match the silvery texture of the dial perfectly. In addition, the tachymeter lends more presence to the watch, giving it an added edginess. Given that time -or more accurately, timers- is integral to Ultraman, the tachymeter bezel makes sense thematically as well. Furthermore,the Omega Speedmaster “Ultraman” comes with a tachymeter bezel. However, non-tachymeter variants of the UNDONE Ultraman are available for $50 USD less, which makes them great options if you find the price of this variant a tad too prohibitive!
The case finishing on the UNDONE Ultraman is identical to the finishing found in the other Urban chronographs, and is overall quite impressive at this price point. There’s great contrast in finishing present here. The middle strip of the case is brushed, while the bevelled edges are polished to a gleam. This contrast in polishing extends to the lugs as well, whereby the sides of the lugs are brushed finished, with the fronts polished. In addition, the tachymetre bezel protrudes a little on the sides, creating a contrast in depth.
As usual, the crown is nicely signed and grooved. In addition, the chronograph pushers are well-sized and study, making the usage of the chronograph function an ease. Furthermore, I simply love the aesthetics of the domed crystal. It’s a nice vintage touch, and is visually reminiscent of domed hesalite crystals found on watches such as the original 1967 Omega Speedmaster “Moonwatch” Ultraman.
Lastly, the caseback of the UNDONE Ultraman features a simple, but rather cute depiction of Ultraman in his iconic fighting post. As this collaborative series is only limited to 100 pieces per variant (making it 300 pieces in total), the limited edition number of the watch is also stated, giving the timepiece an air of exclusivity. I have to say, this is limited edition done right – there are microbrands out there who, when doing limited edition releases, simply state “1 of 50” or “1 of 100” on the caseback, instead of the individual serial number. What’s the point of putting “1 of 50” on all 50 casebacks of the watch, aside from cost-saving? I never understood that, and in my experience customers are also often confused, thinking that they got the serially first model of the watch. I’m glad UNDONE has not been lazy here and gone down that path! In addition, Tsuburaya Productions (the creators of Ultraman) is also engraved on the caseback, confirming that this is an official collaboration between the two companies. All in all, the caseback of the UNDONE Ultraman is simple, but hits the right spot.
Overall, i think UNDONE has done a good job with the aesthetics of this Ultraman watch. It is clear that UNDONE has put much effort in trying to incorporate as many elements pertaining to Ultraman as they can. Furthermore, the finishing on the watch is superb, and the vintage look of the domed crystal is a nice touch. Despite the “3 minute rule” not presented on the watch, as well as the egregious placement/presence of the date window, I think that UNDONE has created a watch that would resonate with the millions of Ultraman fans worldwide.
Shootout: UNDONE X ULTRAMAN Color Timer vs UNDONE Urban Tropical
In terms of specifications, vintage look and price, the UNDONE Urban Tropical that I reviewed previously is probably the closest to the UNDONE Ultraman in UNDONE’s Urban line.
In terms of specifications, both watches are identical. Both watches features a domed K1 crystal, a Seiko mecha-quartz movement, lume, with a wide variety of straps available for customers to customise.
From an aesthetic perspective, both watches share similar vintage faux-patina indices and hands, and a stainless steel tachymeter bezel. The finishing from both watches are identical as well. However, the UNDONE Tropical goes a step further in the vintage vibe, with a faux-patina tropic dial. In contrast, the dial of the UNDONE Ultraman is inspired by the lore of Ultraman, with many Ultraman-inspired details incorporated into the dial.
Based upon MSRP, the UNDONE Ultraman is a whooping $95 USD more expensive than the UNDONE Urban Tropical. That’s a stark price increase, when the specifications and finishing remain largely the same. The increase in price undoubtedly goes towards the hefty licensing fee that UNDONE had to pay Tsuburaya Productions for this collaboration – I don’t see an increase in cost anywhere else. Which watch is better for you largely rests on one thing – are you an Ultraman fan? If you’re into the story of Ultraman, the UNDONE Ultraman is definitely the watch for you. If not, the UNDONE Urban Tropical offers near identical specifications for $95 USD less!
Conclusion – so the UNDONE X ULTRAMAN Color Timer “shiok” or not?
If you’re an Ultraman fan, the UNDONE Ultraman will definitely be an appealing watch. The popularity – and immediate sellout- of the Omega Speedmaster “Ultraman” is evidence that there’s significant demand for an Ultraman themed watch. For those of us who aren’t exactly crazy rich Asians (the Omega Speedmaster “Ultraman” is now trading in the 5 figures), the UNDONE Ultraman offers a lot of Ultraman wonder at literally a fraction of the cost. In fact, to my knowledge the UNDONE Ultraman is the only affordable official Ultraman collaborative watch on the market currently.
For those interested in getting the UNDONE X Ultraman Color Timer, click on this link here and use the code “WAHSOSHIOK” for 10% off! After the discount, this tachymeter variant of the UNDONE Ultraman can be had for $396 USD/~$536 SGD. If you’re looking to pull the trigger on this affordable Ultraman watch, do so quickly – as aforementioned, each variant of the UNDONE Ultraman is limited to just 100 pieces, and the last I checked, this particular tachymeter variant is almost sold out!
View UNDONE’s full collection of watches here.
Case Width: 41.8mm excl. crown
Case Thickness: 13.5mm incl. crystal
Watch Movement: Seiko Instruments Inc. VK61 Mechanical-Quartz Hybrid Chronograph
Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Crystal Material: Hardened Domed K1 Crystal
Water Resistance: 3 ATM / 30 Meters
Strap Size: 20 mm
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