Hands-On With The Studio Underd0g 02Series Full Mo0n Field Watch
At the end of my recent introduction article on the Studio Underd0g 02Series, I said I would get some hands-on experience with the new watch. And here it is! For a couple of weeks, Studio Underd0g graciously provided one of its 02Series Field Watches for review. While I could view all four watches in person, only the Full Mo0n was in my temporary possession. This is partly because the watch felt most at home on my wrist but also because it highlights the key new features of the collection. Namely, the Full Mo0n includes the luminescent dial, unlike the black-dial Midnight. The more extroverted Pink Lem0nade and Steffany Blue dials also have seven layers of custom-made Super-LumiNova pigment. However, the creamy/white dial of the Full Mo0n offers a perfect platform to assess the 02Series as a collective.
Before I get going, if you’re looking for technical specifications on the new Studio Underd0g 02Series, check out the introduction article here. For this review, I’m covering the look and feel and any areas for improvement. When checking out the watches, what immediately stood out was how different they were from the 01Series Chronograph. It would’ve been easy to bank on the success of the (now-renamed) 01Series with derivative non-chrono variations. But this simple approach does not match Studio Underd0g’s daring attitude. Instead, the young British brand went all in on an entirely new execution in a separate category. Starting from scratch is risky yet commendable, especially as Studio Underd0g only has a few years under its belt.
Bark at the Mo0n
As my first interaction with the collection was under natural light, the dial’s luminescent show hadn’t begun. So, while waiting for nightfall, the clear and crisp numerals caught my interest, first for the nicely proportioned and weighted balance of the typeface and the shadows cast below. There’s an almost holographic effect as the transparent sapphire disc containing the numerals and branding sits above the dial plate. With seven layers of luminescent paint coating the dial, you’d be forgiven for believing the dial has a constant glow. The luminous color can breach the dial in other watches, even in direct light. This can lead to a rather unpleasant (to me, at least) light minty green/cream glow that appears clinical.
It’s hard to pinpoint what this faint green hue reminds me of, but some examples like the Citizen and Heuer in Jorg’s article here are what I am referring to. The lume dials in these examples seem unintentional and off-color. On the other hand, the Studio Underd0g 02Series Full Mo0n achieves a pleasant dial shade of a consistent white creamy hue. This color appears purposeful and can surprise in low-light conditions due to this disguise. While the Steffany Blue and Pink Lem0nade versions go all out to dazzle in the sunlight, the Full Mo0n is a real test for the Super-LumiNova application. Studio Underd0g also continues its partnership with The Strap Tailor as its strap supplier since the 01Series second generation. We’ve covered The Strap Tailor before, but it’s worth reiterating how supple these handmade straps are compared to Studio Underd0g’s initial offering.
Studio Underd0g spirit
The combination of the white/cream dial with the Epsom calfskin brown leather strap is harmonious and classic. It’s almost a vintage aesthetic, but the modern dial prevents it from appearing pastiche. Once on the wrist, the 37mm steel case fits flawlessly. My wrist size slots into the “standard strap length” category, giving you a good idea of my wearing experience. But I believe that with the appropriate strap length, this sweet-spot diameter suits wrist sizes on either end of the scale. There is a handy quick-release spring bar on either side for affixing the strap to the lugs. However, the drilled lugs already offer practicality in removing spring bars with a pin tool. For someone who often changes straps, I am a big fan of quick-release spring bars. That said, I know many are skeptical due to the possibility of the release tab unintentionally catching and unseating from the lugs.
Therefore, having both drilled lugs and quick-release spring bars is a little overkill. Drilled lugs are a throwback to military-issued field watches, so they are more appropriate here. And when it comes to swapping the leather strap for the included pass-through strap with standard spring bars, the drilled lugs make the process much easier. Unlike the 01Series chronograph, the solid steel case back hides the Swiss-made Sellita SW210-1 hand-wound movement. As a fairly standard workhorse caliber, you’re not missing out on much. But in place of an exhibition window is an embossed jellyfish. At first, I was a bit unsure of the medallion on the case back. The 02Series is a land-based field watch, so the aquatic sea creature seems at odds with the intention. However, the depiction quite cleverly symbolizes the transparency of the sapphire disc and the luminescence of the dial.
Comfort and style
Walking around with the Studio Underd0g 02Series over 24 hours is a real treat, especially with the Full Mo0n model that’s understated during the day and lively at night. Depending on its daylight exposure, the Full Mo0n can keep its glow well into the early hours. However, to achieve the sapphire hologram, two pin screws hold it in place. I said in the introduction article that the screws could disrupt the clean dial. Seemingly, some of the readers agree as Goldenyears states:
I could do without the two screws in the middle of the dial.
While the screws appear prominent in photos, they turned out to be pretty discreet in person. It helps that the screws sit on the same line as the central pinion. Still, I do wish Studio Underd0g had utilized an alternative solution, perhaps with clamps on the outermost edges. No doubt other solutions were sought, but for the correct execution and security, the screws were the best option. For £800, it’s still incredible that Studio Underd0g incorporated the sapphire disc. Usually, details like this belong to watches in much higher-end categories.
It has been a pleasure to behold the new Studio Underd0g 02Series and witness the evolution of the young British brand. As an 01Series owner, I fully understand the £300 increase over the £500 chronograph. The 02Series is a natural step up, and I look forward to what the team has up its sleeve for next time.
Tomorrow, November 1st, 2023, is the pre-order window between 14:00 and 23:00 GMT. For other time zones, the windows are 18:00–03:00 GST, 10:00–19:00 EDT, 07:00–16:00 PDT, 15:00–00:00 CET, 22:00–07:00 SGT. The watch has two straps and a two-year warranty for £800 / €850 / US$900. For details on how to order, check out the Studio Underd0g website.