Undone Urban Tropical

If you wear your watches, they will eventually start to show it. A nick here, a scratch there, a bit of weathering, over time they all add up to a unique patina. Many watch fans appreciate watches that show their age and I am one of them, but I must admit, that this affinity can sound odd. After all, watchmakers go out of their way to produce products that are identical to each other and free of imperfections and watch buyers are notoriously picky customers. So why would a company like Undone release a watch that deliberately looks imperfect?

Undone Urban Tropical

Well, we humans have a strange affinity for inanimate objects, be they buildings, cars, watches, or anything we regularly encounter. The more time we spend with them, the more we tend to project a personality upon them. We love them, we hate them, we learn their quirks and divine their character. It’s a little crazy. The inevitable accumulation of wear and tear tends to accentuate that phenomenon because we can actually see the object becoming different from all its other mass-produced brethren.

Undone Urban Tropical

The tropical dial is perhaps the best example because dials are the most prominent feature on any watch and aside from the movement, the most protected. Watchmakers go through great pains to make sure they are perfect when they leave the factory but heat, light, and air all inevitably take their toll. Watches from hotter climates seem to suffer the effects sooner, hence the “tropical” designation. Smooth black surfaces may go brown and spotted. White lume mellows into beige or gold. It is unpredictable and to a devotee of wabi-sabi, delightful.

Enter the Urban Tropical. Undone offers three main varieties: the lightly aged Amazon with its creamy lume, the slightly mottled Caribbean, and the grizzled brown Sahara. All can be optioned with silver, black, gold, or rose gold cases and bezels, stepped or tachymetre inserts, and a wide variety of straps. They gave me my choice for this review, and I selected a black case, black tachymetre, Caribbean dial, on a 20mm Mud Brown leather rally strap. This being Undone, you can, of course, add your own little flourish. I had “ttb” printed at` the top because “The Time Bum” look terrible on a watch face and I like the way the Palm Canyon typeface I selected made it look like an older logo.

Undone Urban Tropical macro custom printing

I was immensely pleased with the results. A silver case and bezel might have been the retro choice, but I do love the look of the beige paint in the engraved index. I can’t bring myself to do it yet, but wearing down the PVD on the edges would go a long way to enhancing the illusion of age.

The dial was clearly inspired by 1960’s chronographs. Lumed bar markers and a finely printed off-white index surround the sunken 9 and 3 o’clock subdials (60 minutes and 24 hours). Unlike a real vintage piece, the lume is strong and bright.

Undone Urban Tropical lume

There is a white date at 6 o’clock, which ties to the white baton hands, and, if you like, your own printed initials. You can choose black printing for that last item but I can’t imagine it would be easy to see. I requested the middle tropical effect option so the surface is still identifiably black with a patchy brown emerging. It is important to note that unlike a real tropical dial, the Undone dial is a printed pattern. It may look like the unique effect of decay, but it is neither unique nor decaying, so to speak. I have no idea how the dial will ultimately age, but its current aged look is an illusion, not the result of a chemical treatment or baking.

Undone Urban Tropical

The case is 39.5mm wide (41.8mm across the bezel) and 13.5mm thick from the case back to the dome of the lovely box style crystal. I kind of wish Undone had offered it in acrylic for even more of a throwback look, but the hardened K1 mineral will serve just fine. The watch isn’t much larger than many late 1960’s chronographs (think Speedmaster Professional) and it fit my 6.5” wrist without issue. The lugs are slim and faceted and a signed, bun-shaped crown is a period appropriate touch. Water resistance is just 30m so you may wish to exercise some of caution with regard to immersing it, but you can approach water with more confidence than you would while wearing an actual vintage piece.

Undone Urban Tropical wrist

You have options for the underside too. Undone offers solid or exhibition case backs and both may be personalized. I went for unadorned glass. Some may question the choice to show off a quartz movement, but I like the look and the Seiko VK64 MechaQuartz is an oddly satisfying unit with the firm click and snap-back of its mechanical chronograph module and ruthless quartz efficiency.

Undone Urban Tropical movement

Undone is, as always, generous with their range of staps, offering four styles of leather, Cordura, Perlon, and numerous colors of each. My Mud Brown leather has two linen colored stitches on each side and two-tone effect that gets darker at the edges, further embellishing the worn-in look. The pin buckle matches the case and is signed with the Undone logo. A quick release spring bar is a nice modern touch.

Undone Urban Tropical strap

The Urban Tropical sells for $345 on the Undone webstore. Personalization of the dial and/or case back is another $20 per printing/engraving, which is a reasonable price for a customizable watch. Having owned other Undone watches, I have every confidence in its quality.

This watch is not a “real” tropical that is experiencing real-time degradation, but it does a nice job of capturing the look. If you like a tropical patina, but don’t want to wait for Father Time to do his work on your watch, or if you don’t want to risk wearing a gracefully decaying original every day, then the Undone Urban Tropical may be an ideal addition to your collection.

Undone Urban Tropical crown

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