Duzu Ningaloo Reef

Last week, the Duzu Ningaloo Reef prototype made its way from Western Australia to Time Bum Labs for a visit. This distinctive dive watch launches on Kickstarter later this month. It is big, highly capable, and given its unapologetically offbeat design, unlikely to ever be confused with the Oris of the same name.

At the heart of the Ningaloo Reef is a Miyota 9015. This trusty 24 jewel unit hacks, hand winds, and hums along with a smooth 28.8k bph sweep. The power reserve is 42 hours. It is widely used in more microbrand and independent watches that I care to count and is regarded as a solid performer.



I tend to get all misty-eyed over small to mid-sized divers because they fit me best but I am not adverse to a huge, honking tool watch every now and then. The Duzu definitely falls into the latter category, measuring 44mm wide, 52mm long, and a hefty 16.5mm thick from the caseback to top of the domed sapphire crystal. The case sides are decorated with a novel truss frame design extending from one thick, angular lug to the other. Deep bead blasted recesses contrast the otherwise brushed stainless steel surface (a black DLC case will also be offered). Obviously, this does not serve any structural purpose, but it reinforces the watch’s heavy engineering theme, as do the squared and notched cogs of the bezel and crown, and the screw bars’ hex heads that poke through the lugs. Lest you think that the Ningaloo Reef is all show, you should know that the screw down crown and case back and 4mm thick crystal seal the watch for a 300m water resistance rating.


While the case may be intriguing, it is neither the Ningaloo Reef’s most extreme element nor its most arresting. That distinction goes to the face, a sandwich dial featuring a combination of oversized cutaway bar markers bisected by dots, and stylized, radially arranged numbers at 2, 4, 8, and 10 (represented here as zero for symmetry). The Duzu logo at the top of the dial is also cut from the dial. A generous application of BGW9 lume shines through the lower layer and also fills the round-tipped hands. A royal blue second hand adds a welcome splash of color, accented by the same color in the otherwise white chapter index. It is a cool and exciting design until the “Ningaloo Reef” brand name ruins it. It is too large, too long, and is rendered in an incongruously antique script for a modern industrial watch. While is perfectly attractive in and of itself, it could not be more out of place if it were written with a quill. [Update: The model name is gone. This addresses my one big issue with the dial]


The unidirectional bezel surrounding the face is more conventional but does not disappoint. It is easy to grip and moves through its 120-clicks without a hint of slop or back play, which can be a real feat on a prototype. Its matte finished ceramic bezel has an engraved, lume filled index - always a plus in my book.

I really like the layout, particularly at night when the blue glow and peculiar markers make it look like a sci-fi movie prop; however, I found that its wild face was not the easiest to read at a glance, which could be a real problem if you are using the watch underwater.


Duzu supplies the watch on a tapered, 24mm Italian leather strap. It is quite nice, yet it also triggers one of my pet peeves: a diving watch sold without a waterproof strap. Yes, I know most owners, myself included, don’t scuba dive. Still, if you are selling a watch that is ostensibly intended for a particular purpose, it should come equipped to do the job. That said, the Ningaloo Reef does look rather sharp on the black leather with contrasting white stitching and a signed buckle. A hex head screw bar holds it in place. I am no fan of screw bars because I hate having to use a pair of tools to remove them for strap changes. Still, I can't deny that they provide a more secure attachment than spring bars, and if you must use a screw bar, a hex head offers better purchase for the tool, decreasing the chance of stripping or slipping. 


Overall, there is a lot to like in the Duzu, not the least of which is the price. The first 25 early birds will get the brushed/blasted Ningaloo Reef for $345 USD, the next 25 for $385, the rest for $445. After the campaign, the price increases to $545. DLC models will be $30 more at each price point. 



I suspect that your feelings about the Ningaloo Reef will depend on how you view it. If you take it at face value as a deep water diving instrument, you may be put off by the exaggerated dial, sand-catching sides, and less than seaworthy strap. On the other hand, if you approach it as a futuristic design exercise (and can get past the scrimshaw model script), you will be rewarded with a solid and uniquely stylish tool watch.

For more information and campaign updates, visit DuzuWatches.com.


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