Toc Ulysses

Last August, I reviewed the Toc19. It was the first watch from that Irish microbrand and while I liked its hand wound movement and slick layout, its 44mm case was far too large for my 6.5” wrist, particularly given its generally dressy style. It seems the folks at Toc had some very similar ideas in this area because their new release, the Ulysses, fills out their range by adding medium (40mm) and small (36mm) models to their product line. They let me try a 40mm for this review.

Like the Toc19, the Ulysses is a dress watch with a clean, modern layout on a fetching assortment of sunray dials. They definitely went for a mid-century look on this one and succeeded admirably. A combination of small, printed numbers and polished, applied dots occupy the outermost edge of the dial, leaving a broad expanse of color bridged by long, polished baton hands. A CD textured small seconds subdial occupies the bottom section. Dial text is limited to just the TOC logo and Ulysses model name. If you look closely, you will notice the model name is aligned with the stem of the T and not its arm, placing the word under the most concentrated field of letters above it. Aligning the U in Ulysses with the leading edge of T’s arm would look off center because if the void underneath. This trick makes it look centered even though it technically is not. I'm sure this is way more than many of you ever cared to read about typography but I appreciate the designer’s attention to detail.

In my Toc19 review, I bemoaned the fact that I had a black dial version. Sure, it was glossy and attractive, but other folks got the fun colors. This time around, I snagged a glorious Crimson Red, a fabulously rich color that changes with the play of light off the dial’s radial brushing. Other options include Deep Blue, Emerald Green, Copper Gold, Saturn Black, Burren Gold, and Graphite Gray. The 36mm loses the Copper Gold in favor of Champagne.

The Ulysses’s polished stainless steel case is simple but adorned with some tasty vintage cues like a stepped bezel, curved dial, and domed sapphire crystal. The exhibition case back is also sapphire. With a 40mm width, 47.5mm length, and 9.5mm thickness, the Ulysses was a perfect fit for me and a reliable option for the office. Its strap is thin Italian leather without visible stitching. It tapers to a simple pin buckle that is signed on the underside of the frame. Extra cost options will include Perlon and Milanese mesh. Curiously, they went with a 22mm lug width instead of the 20mm size more commonly found on a 40mm case. Tapered lugs help to slim the look but I would have preferred a narrower, more traditionally proportioned strap. The push-pull crown is coin edged and signed. In keeping with its dress watch credo, water resistance is a merely splash proof 30m.

For the movements, Toc went with some fairly uncommon choices. The 40mm sample contained a hand winding, 21.6k bph SeaGull ST1700 mechanical. They will also offer an ST1701 automatic. Both of these can be purchased in the 36mm too. The smaller watch can be ordered with a Miyota 1L45 quartz as well. The SeaGulls are not highly decorated, but they are finished to a degree that justifies the exhibition window. 

Toc has done a nice job on the new series. They resisted the urge to simply downsize their first watch, and instead created models that round out the model range while retaining many of the distinctive design cues that made the Toc19 so much fun. Best of all, they are affordably priced. Expect full retail prices of €359 ($442 USD) for a hand wound and €399 ($499 USD) for an automatic, but Kickstarter prices will start at €199 ($245 USD) and folks who register on the Toc site get in on a 24-hour pre-launch sale of just €189 ($233 USD). The campaign starts March 6, at 11:00 am UTC. For more information, check out ⬩

Update: The campaign is live. Click here.

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