Nezumi Corbeau

David Campo of Nezumi Studios is back with the Corbeau, a vintage styled MechaQuartz chronograph. This is not the brand's first chronograph, but where the others were clearly automobile-inspired, the Corbeau is more of a military watch, calling to mind certain 1960's era pilot's watches. For this review, David let me try a black and off-white Corbeau 2 prototype.


Like other Nezumi watches, the Corbeau is mid-sized measuring 40mm wide, 47mm long and a scant 11.75mm thick (not including the crystal). You would be forgiven for thinking its case looks familiar. It is nearly identical to those used on other Nezumi models, sharing the same general size, flat sides, and hooked bombe lugs; however, all of the cases are unique to their particular model. They just really like that design. When I reviewed a DLC black Baliene, I criticized its overall lack of sharpness, particularly where the lugs twist inwards. David told me at the time that the lines on brushed models were a bit crisper, and he was right. It is hard to say conclusively since I don't have the other watch in front of me for comparison, but the "soft lines" issue I identified on the black Baliene did not bother me on the Corbeau.


There are three Corbeau's from which to choose: the Corbeau 1 gray dial with off-white lume, the Corbeau 2 black dial with vintage lume (featured here), and the Corbeau 3 which has the 2's dial in a PVD black case. There is more than a little Dodane Type 2 in the layout, and that is not a bad thing. The Seiko VK63 positions its subdials at 3 (24 hours), 6 (small seconds), and 9 (30 minutes), and allows just enough room to squeeze in the rest of the numbers on the dial with only minimal clipping. All subdials are recessed, CD textured, marked in black, and indicated by chunky black hands with square centers. I love that last bit. There is just something appealingly utilitarian about those stout pointers.


The hours are rendered in tan lume (Old Radium perhaps?) as are the short bar markers just behind them. Off-white syringe hands filled with matching lume underscore the vintage military feel. You may not notice right away, but the tip of the off-white second hand is also treated with lume. Surrounding it all is a white minute track with vintage lume numbers on the 5's. This was one of my favorite touches. Of course, even with lume, those numbers are far too small to read at night, but it sure looks cool.


The Corbeau prototype's bezel was not quite ready for prime time, so I can't give you a proper evaluation. I've been told the finished product will have 60 clicks and will be smoother, although I had no issue with the feel of the sample. The crystal was also not representative of the final. The watch had a relatively shallow dome while production watches will have a taller one for the right retro look. It will be sapphire, of course, and AR-coated on the inside. They sent me a spare case fitted with the correct crystal, and you can see the difference in the head-to-head shot below (tall crystal on left).


As with other Nezumi watches, the caseback art is molded in high relief as is the Nezumi "N" on the push-pull crown. Water resistance is 50m, which is not terribly high, but likely more than adequate for most users. The Seiko MechaQuartz weds a quartz timekeeper to a mechanical chronograph module, giving the Corbeau a smooth 1/5 second sweep, firm action on the buttons, and a snap-back reset.

Buyers will get their watches on 20mm nylon NATO straps. The model 2 arrived on a handsome greyish green that suited the Corbeau's retro military style. It had a substantial weave but not so heavy that I couldn't tuck the tail back through the loop. Other options include black, gray, and burnt gold. Leather straps will also be available as extra cost options. (I'd be inclined to pop on a two-piece leather strap with minimal stitching in either the lume or subdial color.) If you go that route, drilled lugs will make it an easy swap.

I like the Corbeau. The size is right in the sweet spot, its color combinations are tastefully muted, and the overall design is meticulously thought through. Pricing isn't bad either. When pre-orders open on April 1, the watch will be €316 in the EU and $288 for everyone else, a 20% savings off list. To stay informed, check in at NezumiStudios.com. ⬩






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