Hands-On With The Stunning Tusenö Shellback V2 Dive Watch
As it has been said before, dive watches are perhaps the most ubiquitous style of watch out there. In fact, they’re the type of watch that many budding enthusiasts first go for and that many veteran watch lovers proudly own and enjoy. This can easily be explained by their aesthetic versatility and solid build. That is, of course, if the watch is indeed well thought-out and constructed using quality components. If that’s the case, then we find ourselves owning a watch that could last decades and can do it all. For some of us, that’s all this obsessive hobby is about — finding the one timekeeping device to rule them all. And I might have found a very good option for you in the Tusenö Shellback V2.
In 2023, I found myself going back many times to Nacho’s article on his beloved Omega Seamaster Professional 2254.50.00. It’s a beautiful, well-built, and multifaceted timepiece. I had similar feelings handling the new Formex “Baby Reef,” which Thomas recently reviewed. This is another example of how versatile a dive watch can be. There is something unique about having a good one. So today, we’re going to talk about the new Shellback V2, which offers outstanding value wrapped in a brilliantly executed package. Subjectively, I find the Shellback handsome, and objectively, it comes with many tricks up its sleeve that make it a solid choice.
When quality has weight
In theory, one should never judge a book by its cover. But sometimes, one could and should. In the watch world, this analogy equates to judging the quality of a watch by how it feels in the metal — how much it weighs, how the crown operates, and how the bracelet feels and drapes around the wrist. Sometimes, a watch just feels right even before we know what’s ticking inside or how much it retails for. That’s the feeling I got when I first took the Tusenö Shellback V2 out of the box. I was immediately drawn in by its subtle heft and an overall feeling of quality. If you’ve handled a Sinn watch before, you’ll most likely know what I’m talking about here.
Sized for my 17cm (6.5″) wrist, the Shellback V2 weighs 153 grams on the bracelet. Maybe this doesn’t mean anything to you, but many say that the Goldilocks weight for a diver is around 150 grams, regardless of its size. I couldn’t tell you why or who came up with this, but I’d say that I tend to agree. I put the Shellback on my kitchen scale — something I’ve never done before — to better understand where this initial feeling of quality came from. Being hefty, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good. But there is something about the Shellback that does prove this theory right.
The wearing experience
Weight alone cannot explain the joy I feel when having the Shellback V2 on my wrist. We need to dig into its dimensions and how they relate to the bracelet. The Shellback V2 has a 40mm diameter, a 47mm lug-to-lug, and a 13.1mm total thickness. The bracelet tapers from 20mm at the lugs to 18mm wide at the clasp. This means the profile of the bracelet matches that of the natural contour of the wrist. The clasp is also substantial in the sense that it’s long and thick but not excessively so. This is good news given the fact that it features a toolless micro-adjustment mechanism. Overall, Tusenö created a perfect balance between the size and weight of the watch head and that of the bracelet.
Speaking of the bracelet, it has a three-row construction with beveled links held together with screws. So adjusting it couldn’t have been made any easier, but Tusenö also offers half-links to ensure a perfect fit. The underside of all the links is fully brushed, and the edges are rounded off. The top side shows an alternation of brushed and polished surfaces, with the polished accents found on the bevels. These links fully articulate and create dynamic, luxurious-looking reflections in the light. The end links are of the female type so that, once again, the bracelet drops straight down from the lugs for superlative wearing comfort.
The visual character of the Shellback V2
What the Tusenö Shellback V2 has, which seems to be rare nowadays, is an original design. Its bespoke hour hand showcases a hollowed-out circle towards the tip, encircling the word “Shellback” below the pinion when passing over it. A long, sword-shaped minute hand reaches out to the edges of the narrow railroad minute track, while an even longer seconds hand — easily noticeable given its orange triangular tip — fully covers the track. These hands are set against a semi-matte white dial where the hour markers are indicated by circles and batons. Notice the framed date aperture at 6 o’clock, which blends in perfectly.
Although they’re fully polished, the hour and minute hands are easy to spot. This is due to them having a slight bevel in the center and a dark gray coating. The dial is endowed with a harmonious ballet of geometrical shapes that instantly won me over. Everything looks round, smooth, and bold at the same time. This boldness is accentuated by the sandwich construction, which guarantees a bright light show after sunset. Tusenö has indeed been generous with the applications of Super-LumiNova BGW9 on the hands, hour markers, minute track, and inverted triangle on the bezel insert. The bezel on this version is made of brushed stainless steel with black-filled, engraved minute increments. On the blue and black models, all of the markings on the bezel are fully lumed.
Top-notch finishing and details
The model pictured in this article is a prototype press sample that has made many rounds on our small planet. I’m saying this to explain potential imperfections you might see in the photos. That said, the case and bracelet don’t show any scratches, which is impressive, especially when it comes to the clasp. This can be explained by the fact that the latter received a hardening coating (1,200 HV on the Vicker’s hardness scale.) This small detail makes a world of difference for those who enjoy wearing watches on bracelets. However, should you not care for the bracelet, each Tusenö Shellback V2 pre-ordered now comes with a complimentary rubber Tropic strap.
More than its design and specs, to me, the Shellback V2 shines for having a balanced design and outstanding finishing. It has great proportions, and I find the dial to be particularly well laid out. The hands are well proportioned in regards to the hour markers, and the lugs perfectly match the bracelet construction. Seen from the side, the Shellback V2 has a simple profile with lugs that turn down towards the wrist. Satin-brushed finishes can be found on the top of the lugs and case flanks, while high-polished chamfers match those found on the bracelet links. Again, it’s harmonious, and everything is crisp and in place.
Price and availability
At the time of writing, the Shellback V2 is currently available for pre-order in limited quantities with shipping estimated for the summer of 2024. It comes in four versions — blue, black, white, and DLC black. The first three versions have a pre-order price of €699 / US$649, while the DLC version is currently selling for €799 / US$749. After the pre-order slots are filled, the regular versions will retail for €749 / US$699, while the DLC variant will sell for €849 / US$799. Earlier, I mentioned the extra rubber Tropic strap. That will only be included as a gift when pre-ordering this model.
I would normally bombard you with all the specs at the beginning of the review. But that’s not what the Shellback V2 is all about. However, specs are very important to many, so here they are — a 200m depth rating, domed sapphire crystal, polished ceramic bezel inserts on the blue and black versions, a Sellita SW200 caliber within, and BGW9 lume in many places. Setting aside subjective opinions on how it looks, you get a lot of watch for your money, even if you were to order it at its full retail price. I would also venture to say that the heft I mentioned at the beginning of this review has something to do with the attention to detail the brand put into designing and manufacturing the Shellback V2.
Among the hundreds of options we have today for a solid diver, I feel that the Tusenö Shellback V2 constitutes a serious option. But this is just my opinion, and I would like to hear yours in the comments below.