Draken Benguela

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about the Benguela, a new diver that Draken Watches was preparing to launch on Kickstarter. Well, we are now just two days away from launch, and I am ready to share my review of the black-dial prototype he sent me. I had the sample just long enough to get a good feel for it, and it felt darn pretty good.  


Draken Benguela

Like previous Drakens, the Benguela is not small. The stainless steel case measures 43mm wide and is a beefy 15mm thick. Hooded lugs make it appear even more substantial, although it wears surprisingly well. Bead blasting just looks badass. Like the Kalahari before it, the watch has the Draken name deeply engraved onto the side. This is generally not one of my favorite elements, but on this watch, it seems entirely in keeping with its aggressive design brief. The Benguela certainly doesn’t want for wrist presence, but thanks to some thoughtful curvature, it wasn’t at all unwieldy on my 6.75” wrist. 


Draken Benguela wrist shot

The punch-engraved case back is simply outstanding. Those ominous tentacles stand in high relief. It is probably the best case art I have seen this year. 


Draken Benguela case back

A dive watch this big had better be able to back up its Thicc Boi* posturing with some solid specs and the Benguela delivers. It boasts a helium escape valve (red-orange-ringed no less!), knurled screw-down crown, 3.7mm domed and anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal, and a whopping 500m water resistance. If you are a normal human being living a normal human life, there is little you can do to rattle this beast. 


Draken Benguela

Of course, it has a 120-click bezel, which its an impressive piece all by itself. It is one solid stainless steel unit with broadly spaced indentations that provide a secure grip. Note the angled cuts - a subtly appealing touch that makes the edge more comfortable and attractive. The markings are markings deeply engraved and filled, a yellow lume triangle at the top center.


Draken Benguela

Buyers have the option of two equally unflappable movements, a Swiss ETA 2824-2 or a Japanese Seiko NH35A. The Swiss unit boasts a higher, smoother beat rate (28.8k vs. the Seiko’s 21.6k) and, of course, Swissness. The Seiko powered version bests the ETA on power reserve (41 hours instead of 38) and is, as far as I’m concerned, utterly awesome. Moreover, it warms my heart by being $100 cheaper. There are no wrong choices here. 

Draken Benguela

All of Draken’s watches have featured cleverly detailed dials, and the Benguela’s is particularly fun. Toothy, bead-blasted markers like pop through the chapter ring to overhang similarly shaped cutouts in the sandwich dial beneath, which itself reveals a layer of vintage lume. The dial then sinks again at the center. The whole thing looks marvelously deep. The porthole 6 o’clock date window is framed in a bead-blasted ring, and the disk itself is lumed. Large sword hands (bead-blasted, of course) pair well with the oversized hour markers. A red-orange-tipped lollipop second hand finishes it off. Text is printed in a pleasing and properly proportioned typeface, the model name in corresponding red-orange color. It looks fantastic. Those chunky markers looming over the pools of lume below are an absolute joy.


I love the way Draken plays with lume. On the Benguela, X1-C3 is used to striking effect on the markers, and it also graces the signed crown. If you can’t read this watch in the dark, you really need to get your eyes checked. You might be blind.

Draken Benguela lume


I got a bracelet and two straps with the sample. For me, the standard 22mm bracelet was the best option as it looks best with the hooded lugs. It is a quality piece with more than ample links to fit those with sizable wrists — a reasonable assumption given the Benguela’s generous proportions. Quick-release pins make removal a painless process. It fastens with a signed, ratcheting flip-lock clasp.

Draken Benguela clasp

The straps worked well too, although the lug design stops any upward travel, making it impossible to lie the watch flat. Both the 70’s style black natural rubber and beefy tan leather incorporate quick-release pins, signed buckles, and look great. Rubber comes standard. Leather is an option. 


Draken Benguela leather

The Draken Benguela is a blast. The watch is loaded with cool details, and the specs are absolute overkill. Better still, it is affordable. Kickstarter preorders start on August 13 with a special launch offer of $349 for the Seiko movement, and $469 for the ETA 2824-2. For more information and to get launch alerts, visit drakenwatches.com/benguela, and sign up for the newsletter. ⬩


*See Mike? I can talk like young people.

Draken Benguela leather

Draken Benguela leather

Draken Benguela rubber
 

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