Deaumar Ensign Prototype

Deaumar Watches is a new venture that will sell its first model on Kickstarter February 18  [Update: early launch! The campaign kicked off on February 16]. The Ensign is a handsome, Seiko-powered, automatic diver's watch. Deaumar founder Antony Villa sent me a prototype to evaluate ahead of the launch. This is a very professional piece so I was not surprised to learn that Antony had done this before. In 2004, he created the Bravus Aquanaut. Yes, Antony was microbrand before microbrands were cool, but sadly, not in a good way. The Aquanaut was a failure, but Antony learned from his rookie mistakes. The Deaumar Ensign is attractive, well sorted, and represents a solid value. 
The Ensign is a dress diver that does not forget the "dive" part of the equation. It is rated for 200m water resistance with a screw-down crown and a domed, anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal. Opening the package, I was greeted by the Ensign's shimmering blue sunray dial and matching blue bezel. The watch is also available in black, orange, or red with black bezels. It has a very traditional face, but it is nicely executed. Polished applied markers and pencil hands are filled with SuperLuminova, as is the tip of the bright red, lollypop-tailed second hand. The hands are a proper length, extending right up to the markers on the dial and chapter ring. A polished frame surrounds the black-on-white day/date discs at 3 o'clock. I was delighted to see the Deaumar brand rendered in a tall, stylized typeface. It recalls a bit of 1930's glamour and lends a measure of maturity to the name. 
Antony wanted "a big watch for a smaller wrist." Being on the smaller side myself, I can appreciate this. I like chunky tool watches, but these designs often look heavy on my 6.5" wrist, so the watches are really only suitable for occasional, casual wear. If I am to wear a diver style during the work week, it has to be small to mid-sized and sufficiently tailored so that it does not look out of place with a suit. The Ensign achieves this balance with a brushed and polished stainless steel cushion case that tapers at its short, integrated lugs. Measuring 42mm wide the case is a standard men's size, but it is only 46mm long, which should allow it to fit neatly within the confines of all but the smallest wrists. 
The 120-click, unidirectional bezel is surrounded with a polished, square-toothed edge that affords easy grip. Its action is firm and positive without even the slightest hint of back play. It has an aluminum bezel with silver printed markers and a lume-filled triangle. I would have preferred a lighter weight font to tie back to the thin lines of the dial text, but this is a minor quibble.

Inside is a Seiko 4R36, a 24 jewel automatic that hacks and hand winds. It is a solid, reliable unit common to many micros. It may not be an exotic choice, but owners can expect trouble-free operation and easy servicing. The unit's coin-edged, 4 o'clock crown suits the streamlined case. It screws down and is decorated with the Deaumar logo.
In keeping with the retro feel, the watch comes on a 22mm H-link bracelet with a signed, flip-lock clasp. The prototype had folded end links that will be upgraded to solid on the final, but even as is, the bracelet is comfortable, well finished, and free of unwanted rattles or squeaks. Indeed, the fit and finish is top-notch on the entire piece. If you are not keen on the bracelet, drilled lugs allow for quick strap changes. 
Pre-sales are expected to start at £131, or about $189 USD, which is an excellent price. The Ensign is clean, versatile, and functional, offering big dive watch presence and style in a compact package you can wear every day. For those of us looking for smaller sized options, it's a no-brainer. Check it out on Kickstarter, but check it quickly. Unlike the Bravus, I predict this one will be a roaring success.

Pro: Slick dial, compact proportions.
Con: Fat font on the bezel is not my favorite. 
Sum: A classy dive watch and an impressive value. The Time Bum approves.

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