DiRenzo DRZ 02

Today, Swiss microbrand DiRenzo launches their second watch, the logically named DRZ 02. Like the DRZ Type 250F, it drew its inspiration from automobiles, but where the first watch bore strong hints of antique dashboard gauges, the new model goes much farther afield. Four variants are offered: blue, green, or gray sunray dials in brushed stainless steel cases, or a matte black dial in a PVD black case. A 6 o'clock date window is optional. For this review, I test drove a green dial, no date prototype.

DiRenzo DRZ 02 green

Brand owner Sergio DiRenzo says he started with the idea of 1930's Bugattis, but he did not take the literal approach like the Ralph Lauren Sporting Automotive (itself, a gorgeous watch). Instead, he veered into what he calls the "retro-futuristic," synthesizing those streamlined forms and dramatic curves into something very different. He let me test drive a prototype, and I was astounded at what he had created.

The Bugatti influence is most apparent in the DRZ 02's brushed stainless steel case. It is a flat cushion shape with tapered ends that measures 41mm wide, 48mm long, and just 11mm thick. The sides are concave, forming narrow, sharply delineated, asymmetrical ellipses that travel the length of the case to meet the lugs' rounded edges. A polished chamfer surrounds each ellipse, highlighting this already striking design element. I can certainly see how this echoes the sensuous fender lines and dramatic two-tone paint on cars like the Bugatti Type 46, but my American eyes see the side scallops of a 1956-62 Chevy Corvette -- neither of which is a bad association.

DiRenzo DRZ 02 green

Atop this sleek base is a "floating" bezel. Taken from the DRZ Type 250F, it slopes dramatically inward from its polished outer edge to its base. Its brushed top surface is convex, following the curve of the domed sapphire crystal. There is another sapphire lens around back, set into a threaded ring bearing the serial number and other vitals. Exhibition case backs usually reserve all of the decoration for the movement, leaving the display window's frame unadorned. Not so here. The information on the ring is embossed on blasted recesses, and the case tool perches are deep portholes instead of the usual utilitarian notches. It is a small detail that goes far to show the level of attention Sergio lavished on this design. 

DiRenzo DRZ 02 green

A signed, coin-edged 3 o'clock crown finishes off the case. It is a simple push-pull (or it will be, the prototype screwed down), but nicely proportioned. I'll admit that after seeing all of the uncommon aspects incorporated in the rest of the case, I was a little disappointed that there wasn't some extra treat waiting for me here too. I suppose this is a matter of knowing when to quit. There is so much visual action in this case that you really don't need a trick crown too. Water resistance is only 50m, which should be sufficient. The DRZ 02 is hardly a tool watch. 

DiRenzo DRZ 02 green wrist shot

For as much as I like the case, the watch would fall short if it had a familiar dial. Fortunately, the DRZ 02's face is anything but predictable. It is both layered and dished, forming a bowl shape that adds even more depth than the usual flat sandwich dial. (There is a terrible "soup and sandwich" crack to be made here, but I'll spare you all my Dad jokes tonight.) The cutaway layout consists of a triangle at 12, dots at 3/6/9, and bars joined by two separate bridges for the remaining markers that bracket the center of the dial. All of these cutaways are accentuated with fine outlines. Printed minute and second indexes bend upward with the dial's filleted edge. You can opt for a 6 o'clock date window. This one came without.

DiRenzo DRZ 02 green

The hands also defy convention, with broad, round bases that taper to narrow, rounded tips filled with BGW9 SuperLuminova. All are long enough to reach just below their respective markers, including the lollipop second hand. 

Unlike most watches, each colorway has a different color lume on its second layer: this British Racing green dial has Old Radium, the black dial has green C5, the gray dial has dark orange, and the blue has blue; however, the hands on all of them have white lume. One of my watch-loving friends noticed the different lumes right away and declared it a deal breaker. I disagree. The white on the hands is a neutral choice. It doesn't announce its presence on the brushed hands in the way blue, orange, or green would. White on the hands and colors on the dial works for me. Also, I can't help thinking that keeping the hands consistent across the line probably eliminated a host of production headaches.

DiRenzo DRZ 02 green lume

Inside the DRZ 02 is a 25 jewel Swiss Sellita SW-200 automatic. It hacks, hand winds, and hums at 28.8k bph with a 38+ hour power reserve. The prototype had a standard unit, but production models will feature a signed rotor and Geneva stripes. 

DiRenzo DRZ 02 case back movement

For such a cutting-edge design, the choice of strap is quite conventional: a handmade, 22mm rally style of vegetable-dyed, perforated leather with a minimal stitch.  Production watches will have a signed buckle too. It's a fine quality strap, quite comfortable, and it fits the watch's automotive roots. Still, I can't help but wonder if a slick, unadorned leather or rubber strap might have better showcased the DRZ 02's futuristic aesthetic. 

DiRenzo DRZ 02 strap

Finally, DiRenzo packs the DRZ 02 into a dandy leather watch wallet that has space for two watches and a spare strap. Like the book-style travel case provided with the DRZ Type 250F, it is a thoughtful, nicely made accessory that you can actually use. I'll take one of these over a useless display box every time. 

DiRenzo DRZ 02 kit

The DRZ 02 is definitely futuristic, but not in a sci-fi way. There are no blinking lights and no glowing touchscreen. Rather, it is fresh, streamlined, modern take on a very traditional analog layout. If you had told me it was the dash clock for the next generation Audi R8, I wouldn't have been at all surprised. It works, and the overall effect is stunning, day or night. 

The full retail price will be $699, but Kickstarter pre-orders start today at $460 USD, which is excellent for a watch with this level of design and quality. I'll update this post with the campaign link when it is active, but if you want to get timely notice (as opposed to whenever I remember to do it), head over to DiRenzoWatches.com.  [Update: Kickstarter is here. I told you not to wait for me!] ⬩

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