A couple of weeks ago, the Taniwha Ururoa made its debut on Kickstarter, but a high funding goal and no advance publicity hindered the effort. It's creator pulled the plug to regroup for another try later this year. I had noticed the watch when it briefly flickered on the crowd funding scene, so I was delighted when he sent me a prototype for review.
In Maori, Taniwha are supernatural undersea dragons and Ururoa is the word for Great White Shark. With a name like that, it should come as no surprise that this is a diver's watch, and this is borne out by its specs: 200 meters water resistance, screw down crown and case back, unidirectional timing bezel, and a sapphire crystal. The brushed stainless steel case is 42mm across. A relatively small dial makes it appear slightly smaller, but the thick bezel and aggressive crown guards ensure substantial wrist presence. It was an easy fit on my 6.5" wrist, tucking neatly under a shirt cuff.
Let's talk about those crown guards. They flow from the lugs, twisting inward bombe style, tapering to menacing points at the bottom of the fat, coin-edged crown. A beveled edge runs along the upper part, enhancing the dramatic effect. I can't recall seeing bombe crown guards before and I really have to wonder why they aren't more common. They offer easy access to the crown while still providing more than adequate protection and best of all, they are freaking awesome. Taniwha and Ururoa are toothy creatures, so it is perfectly appropriate that a watch bearing their names should have fangs. The guards look positively lethal, but I assure you they are quite safe, menacing neither the wearer nor his surroundings. My only criticism is that this element has not been carried far enough. As it stands, the guards are an outrageous embellishment on an otherwise staid case. Continuing the theme with an inward curve on the lugs would tie it in better and take the watch to the next level.
Three bezel options are offered: solid steel, PVD black, and steel with a black aluminum insert. I had the black bezel option. I loved the deep, military style index and knurled edge. It moved easily with only a little play but lacked the firm, mechanical click I find so satisfying. The case back is decorated with its namesake Ururoa Great White. A 24 jewel Miyota 9015 automatic beats inside. This micro brand favorite hacks, hand winds, and vibrates at 28.8k bph for a smooth second hand sweep.
Unlike the case, the dial is conservative. It has a sun ray effect in black or blue, polished markers, and plongeur hands. White luminous material on the hands, markers, and bezel pip provides a bright green glow at night. A Maori design called "Jaws of the Taniwha" serves as a logo, appearing on the dial and crown. The text is a bit too casual for my taste. It is not unattractive, but strikes a kind of slouchy, beach bum chord that may not resonate with everyone. The black-on-white daye wheel is neatly integrated at 4:30, nestled between the similarly sized markers.
The Ururoa arrives on a 22mm black leather strap with white stitching. It was well made, quite comfortable, and I love the look of a diver on leather, but I think a tool watch needs a waterproof strap. Of course, this is a cheap and easy fix for the buyer, but shipping it with something as simple as a nylon NATO would help underscore its functional nature.
I liked the Ururoa. There are some things I might have done differently, but overall I found it to a very appealing watch. It had all the right specs, a quality movement, and the coolest crown guards I've seen in ages. The initial campaign started at $320 NZD, or $200 USD. This is an excellent price, particularly considering the 9015 movement. I hope to see it back up Kickstarter again soon.
Pro: Outrageous crown guards, nice price.
Con: Guards outshine the rest of the case. Not currently available.
Sum: The Time Bum thinks you should keep an eye out for it.