One morning, my son asked if he could borrow my Seiko SARB035. He was wearing an attractive, well-known fashion watch at the time. After I said yes, he lifted the Seiko from my watch box and said, “Wow. This thing feels like quality.” He held both watches–one in each hand–as though sizing them up. To the eye, they are both nice timepieces, but I knew exactly what he meant. It isn’t that a good watch is necessarily heavy. I own several titanium watches that are next to weightless. It’s that a good watch feels solid. The materials are of excellent quality. The case and bracelet links are not hollow. The tolerances are high. It doesn’t jangle. Your eyes can play tricks on you, but the true test lays in your hand–or on your wrist.
In the immortal words of my teen-aged son, the Ula Diver by ZENEA “feels like quality.” The moment I lifted it from the box, I knew it was going to fulfil the promise of its slick good looks.
The Ula Diver comes in a nicely sized 41mm case that tapers to 20mm at the bracelet. There is a fine polished chamfering along the outside of the gently sloping lugs that divides the brushed surfaces on top from the polished sides. The coin-edge bezel extends just beyond the case on either edge and there are faceted crown protectors on the right. The bezel insert is lumed sapphire and colour-matched to the dial. The reference shown here is called Obsidian Black. However, there are a total of five colourways available.
What I like about the Obsidian, is the red second hand against the black, and the fact that the colour is picked up again by the subtle five minute markers in the outer chapter ring. All references have nicely-styled applied indices, in addition to applied Arabic numerals at the 12 and 6 positions. There is also a tasteful date window at three.
I always appreciate an interesting caseback, and the Ula does not disappoint here, either. There is an embossed rendering of what appears to be two traditional Oriental Koi in the form of a Pisces symbol. However, in reality, the animals are heraldic dolphins–meant to represent the continuity of never-ending time by swimming in an endless circle. Coupled with its screwed-down crown and solid caseback, the Ula offers an impressive 300m of water resistance.
The bracelet is another highlight. It is constructed of solid stainless steel with a mix of brushed surfaces and polished edges. The links are also screwed for simplified sizing. The clasp is signed and offers an easy release dive extension, as well as three additional micro-adjustment positions. It joins the case seamlessly with no play at the lugs.
The watch is designed in Canada, but is assembled in the brand’s partner plant in Switzerland. It employs the Swiss ETA 2824 calibre and does qualify as “Swiss Made.” The movement is very smooth and responsive in winding and setting, as is the screwed-down crown.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
48mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
120-Click Dive Bezel
300m Water Resistance
38-Hour Power Reserve
|Crystal & Dial||Sapphire Crystal /w AR |
Lumed Sapphire Bezel Insert
BGW9 Super-LumiNova on Hands and Markers
|Strap||Stainless Steel Bracelet /w Dive Extension|
Quick Release Leather Strap
The ZENEA Ula Diver does not appear to cut any corners. In fact, it goes the extra mile in the small details. The Ula comes in a beautiful faux mahogany box with a reproduction of the caseback embossing in gold on top. It’s a beautiful presentation of a beautiful watch. It also comes with an extra strap. The Genuine Leather band is stitched in red, taking its cue from the watch’s second hand. It also has a custom, signed buckle in stainless steel.
If I can be really picky, I think the crown could be larger and better textured. Otherwise, this watch is perfect.
Ula means “gem of the sea,” and certainly it is a pearl of a watch. The level of construction and finishing that you receive for only $759USD ($956CAD) is something only a microbrand can offer. It’s classy good looks would be perfect under the cuff of a sports jacket, but equally at home in a T-shirt and jeans. However, it’s clearly more than a handsome face. The Ula has been built for bold adventures. Around the outside of the caseback there is a short inscription. It reads, “Because Time Matters.” If the quality of this watch is any indication, the makers of the Ula Diver certainly think so.
For more information, visit their website.
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