Last July, I wrote about the Redux COURG, a cool new tool watch that set Kickstarter on fire with its military style, mid-size titanium case, and $199 pre-order price. I liked what I saw. So much so that I ordered one – along with 2199 others. When it was all over, Redux had raised a remarkable $692,912, and then raised another $131,166 through BackerKit, selling for $399 for grade 2 titanium, and $450 for grade 5. Six months later, I have my watch in hand. Did the COURG live up to the hype? If so, is it still a good value at double the pre-sale price?
I won't reiterate all the features and specs here as I have already covered them in my initial preview, but I will hit the highlights and identify any significant changes. The COURG has a 40mm diver's style case with a choice of five dials, with or without a date. (There were originally only four options but a Nav-B was added as a stretch goal.) The case and bezel are titanium. The movement is the familiar Seiko NH35 automatic.
I opted for a Zero Hour with no date in a grade 2 case. I had fallen for this dial right from the start, digging its oversized numbers, the big triangle at 12, and the hoop-tailed bright yellow second hand. Like all of the available dials, it is sterile, leaving the company logo to the crown and case back. The numbers, hands, and bezel triangle are SuperLuminova, providing a respectable, two-tone glow at night.
Partway through the campaign, Redux offered an option to upgrade from grade 2 titanium to a higher quality grade 5. I stuck with my grade 2 titanium because frankly, I did not see the point in upgrading. It is true that the grade 5 alloy is stronger than pure grade 2, and there was only a slight price difference between the two ($25 at pre-order, $50 retail), but I was willing to save a few bucks by waiving metallurgical bragging rights. This is a wristwatch, after all, not a spy plane.
The COURG arrived in a simple, unfinished wooden box and a waxed canvas travel roll. The roll was included in the Kickstarter campaign and may be purchased separately for $39. It is a dandy piece of kit, offering protection for four watches with room in the top pocket for a passport or similar small documents. It secures with a stamped leather strap that happens to be 20mm wide. In theory, you could use it as a watch strap, wrapping the length around your wrist twice. The warm brown color pairs well with the cooler black and grey, but the wrap look is not for everyone and the brass hardware clashes. Personally, I think the strap functions better on the roll.
I was pleased to see that the watch is faithful to its promotional photos, although it looks a shade brighter and more silver than many expected. It is not a huge difference, but it does look rather clean. Redux has advised that the finish will darken over time as the titanium oxidizes, forming its characteristic blue-gray patina. I'm curious to see how this develops. When I last covered the watch, Redux was soliciting case back designs from its backers. They ultimately chose an engraving resembling an aircraft data plate, complete with serial number.
The watch has a screw down crown at 4 o'clock, flanked by asymmetrical guards. It operates smoothly, and the deep gear toothed edge affords an easy grip. Bezel action is equally good, moving with positive clicks and no back play. Some buyers have reported a gritty feel that Redux has chalked this up to the blasted finish on the two surfaces. They say the bezel will wear in with use, but as I did not encounter this problem on mine, I neither comment nor complain. The engraved numbers are nice and deep, easily visible under normal lighting conditions. Close examination reveals a rough, pebbled surface inside but this does not detract from the bezel's appearance.
Different straps were available during the campaign, but I went with the standard 20mm nylon NATO. The strap has angular custom hardware that is signed and matches the case. It looks fantastic, but it is just over a foot long – far more than I need and too much to reasonably tuck into the keepers. Small wristed folks like myself will need to cut it down or find other options. Lucky for me, I have a healthy stock in the strap drawer and soon found an olive drab canvas strap from a Bulova Hack Commemorative and a thick suede NATO. Swapping was a breeze as the COURG has drilled lugs and sufficient room between the case and spring bars to swallow the heavyweight leather on the pass through strap. The difficult part is finding suitable strap hardware. Titanium buckles are not common, but a blasted finish will do nicely.
The 40mm COURG is the perfect size for my 6.5" wrist. I was worried that the 14mm thickness would make it look unbalanced, but this is not the case. The fat case has the appropriate wrist presence for a tool watch without being ungainly, and will carry off a beefy strap with ease.
Overall, I am thoroughly satisfied with the Redux COURG. It looks great, wears well, and represents a good value, even at its new price. My only gripe is the length of the NATO, and that a fairly minor quibble. I got a heck of a deal on the pre-order, but I still recommend it at full price.
I hear a new Redux site is in development, but for the time being, you can buy a COURG of your own at the Redux Backerkit page.
Pro: Titanium case, modest size.
Con: Long strap.
Sum: Everything I wanted. The Time Bum approves.