Hands-On: Nivada Datomaster Mecaquartz
No, this is not Part Two of Tomas’s #TBT article about the Nivada Dato Ref. 4368. What we have here is a hybrid watch. First and foremost, inside the new Nivada Datomaster is the Seiko VK64A meca-quartz movement. That may be a bit of a turn-off for a lot of you, but please, bear with me. Also, the Datomaster is not really a Datomaster. It’s basically a Nivada Dato in looks, but a Datomaster in the new Nivada watch collection. Despite being a hybrid, a mix of two, the Nivada Datomaster Mecaquartz is an incredible timepiece, especially in its price range.
I received a few watches from Nivada, and I must admit, this was not the first piece I picked up. But the time had come for me to wear it, and after a few days, I actually did not want to put it down. It is on my wrist as I type this, and that’s big news, as I hate to write while wearing a watch. So, what’s the secret of this Nivada Datomaster Mecaquartz?
Like every watch that Nivada Grenchen releases these days, the Datomaster is also a re-edition of a vintage piece. Back in the day, Nivada made a little, chunky chronograph with Valjoux 7734 (the version with date) in a 36mm case under the reference 4368. While the dial only had the brand name at 12 o’clock and nothing else, the watch is now known as the Dato. It was very similar in size and looks to the Nivada Datomaster, but it wasn’t quite the same. The Datomaster had the date aperture at the 12-o’clock position and a gray dial. The vintage Nivada Dato, on the other hand, came out with a white dial and the date window at 6 o’clock. This new meca-quartz offering shares the look with its vintage Dato, but it bears the Datomaster model name instead. Confusing? Maybe, but it’s not a one-to-one copy.
True to its roots
The Nivada Datomaster Mecaquartz looks and feels just like the vintage Dato, which might be puzzling for some. One might also assume that the proud owner is wearing the vintage version from a distance. However, the new model has the Datomaster name printed on the dial, just above the 6-o’clock position. At 36mm, it is not the largest of chronographs, not to mention its thickness is only 12mm. But while the vintage Dato took a 19mm strap, the new Datomaster has a 20mm lug width and many straps to choose from. Three leather options and a beads-of-rice bracelet, to be exact. Mine came on a brown leather strap, but you can have it on a perforated or smooth black leather. Thanks to the meca-quartz movement, the watch is light too, so it feels incredibly comfortable on the wrist if you like small, lightweight watches.
Weight is significant, but it’s not everything. While the straps are smooth and the Datomaster Mecaquartz wears well, the most crucial part is the watch head itself. The white/black panda dial is easily legible and works excellent in the dark thanks to the lumed hands. The orange chronograph hand is a nice touch that gives a splash of color to the dial. Furthermore, it almost matches the red highlighted portion and the 12 numeral on the 24-hour sub-dial. I would’ve loved to see those colors totally matched, but that may be just me being picky. Lastly, the date aperture is large and easily readable on the otherwise simple and balanced watch face. While the case is mainly brushed, the smooth bezel is polished, and that looks pretty cool in my view. It provides just enough shine on an otherwise low-key-looking timepiece.
Yes, the movement is not entirely mechanical, but the price reflects that. This model sells for €437.95 on a strap and a tad more on the bracelet at €476.95. That’s not a lot of money for what you are getting, even if you compare it to other meca-quartz watches. Inside the Nivada Datomaster Mecaquartz beats the Seiko Instruments caliber VK64A. It offers three years of battery life and has the smooth-gliding chronograph hand that we love in mechanical watches. I understand that a quartz movement might be a turn-off for many of you, but this is still a super fun watch. And let’s be honest, it’s pretty inexpensive. If you need a daily watch or a grab-and-go option that looks funky and wears well, this might be a contestant. All you need to do is try it on and see.
It might be surprising that Nivada is “spoiling” the name Datomaster for the Mecaquartz. If you are looking for something else, you might need to wait a bit longer. However, that’s a remark for the vintage fans out there. If you love the look of the vintage Dato, or perhaps didn’t know about it but think this Datomaster is awesome, why not check it out a bit more? In my opinion, the lug-to-lug, which is 43.5mm, is large enough for most wrists. The solid steel case back, 100m water resistance, and K1 mineral glass are functional features that suit this timepiece. It may just be the perfect summer watch, especially if you are not into chunky dive watches.
Do you think that Nivada did a good job with the Datomaster Mecaquartz? Or would you have liked a see a more faithful mechanical reissue? Let us know what you think of this piece in the comments.