The UniDesign Model One shows what microbrands are for The UniDesign Model One shows what microbrands are for

The UniDesign Model One shows what microbrands are for

Fergus Nash

Microbrands didn’t just come about because Kickstarter made fundraising accessible and non-European manufacturing improved in quality – they were also a product of necessity. As luxury watch prices went up and collectors craved unique looks, microbrands were there to fill the hole. Now there are hundreds of them, but UniDesign Watch Co. is one of few who don’t pretend to be anything they’re not. With acute awareness of current trends, spotless execution and a focus on value, the UniDesign Model One leaves nothing out of place.

The case

UniDesign Model One 1

It almost seems silly to call the return of integrated bracelets a trend these days when they’re so widespread, but there’s still a lot of room for exploration. It’s hard to quantify exactly what sets the UniDesign Model One apart from its peers, but its consistency in tone makes for an enduring and versatile design. The case is hexagonal, but done in a way which emphasises its squareness, with the clipped corners softened and polished. The majority of the surfaces are brushed vertically, giving the Model One a rugged capability every sports watch should have.

Knowing that square watches tend to wear larger than circular ones, UniDesign Watch Co. have been cautious and moderate with their case dimensions. The Model One has a 37mm width and a 35.5mm length, although the integration of the bracelet makes the lug-to-lug length a bit arbitrary. It wears similarly to a 39mm or 40mm watch, comfortably but with a potent wrist presence thanks to the wide steel bezel. It’s only 9.8mm thick as well, which is impressively slender considering the automatic movement and 100m water resistance with a screw-down crown. In all honesty, it’s like a more elegant, analogue version of a square G-Shock.

The dial

UniDesign Model One 2

At a quick glance, the UniDesign Model One appears to be sporting a familiar waffle pattern dial with inspiration from the Royal Oak, but closer inspection reveals a point of individuality. Rather than having protruding squares on the dial’s surface, it’s got sunken square outlines that add a lot of depth. It also has a bit more of a “digital” feeling, carrying a little bit of sci-fi charm to those who notice it. The applied details and hands are also quite unlike most watches of this style, with thick, applied hour markers and an Arabic numeral at 12 popping from the dial. The broad arrow hands make a powerful impression, with plenty of luminous material for after-dark legibility.

If you’re familiar with the current watch landscape, then you would be able to guess that the three available colours would be blue, green and black, however the particular shades UniDesign Watch Co. have chosen are pretty spectacular. The Santorini blue dial is both brighter and richer than the navy blues or icy blues of its competitors, capturing the Mediterranean style well. Next is an olive green, which seems to be more inspired by olive tree leaves than olives themselves. Its sunburst finish brings out a wealth of dynamic shades, including sage which is a personal favourite of mine. Finally, the stone grey brings a holistic vibe to the entire watch, keeping it monochromatic but still offering enough contrast to be satisfying.

The bracelet

UniDesign Model One 3

The H-link bracelet of the UniDesign Model One is a true integrated one, without any sneaky strap-change systems. When the finishing matches the case so perfectly, it’s hard to imagine wanting it on any other strap anyway. It’s particularly satisfying to see how the polished chamfer runs along the case edges and continues down the bracelet links, showcasing their attention to detail.

The movement

UniDesign Model One 5

Combining performance and reliability with low prices is never easy, but UniDesign Watch Co. have chosen well with the Miyota 9015. As part of Miyota’s premium but still affordable range, we’re treated to a slim calibre that’s only 3.9mm tall. That’s how the Model One can achieve its slenderness, and also enjoys a 42-hour power reserve at a smooth 4Hz beat rate. It’s not the prettiest movement, but that’s not a problem for the Model One. Its solid caseback includes grooves to promote airflow under the watch, and improve comfort on hot days which could get sweaty.

UniDesign Model One pricing and availability

The UniDesign Model One has achieved its Kickstarter goal, and is currently available for pre-order at a 25% discount. Price: US$620 (discounted price)

Brand UniDesign Watch Co.
Model Model One
Case Dimensions 397mm (D) x 9.8mm (T) x 35.5mm (L)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 100 metres, screw-down crown
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Green, blue, or grey sunburst
Strap Integrated steel bracelet
Movement Miyota 9015, automatic
Power Reserve 42 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Available now for pre-order
Price US$620 (discounted price)