Unimatic has been making waves in recent months with a number of excellent collaborations with big industry names. And anything that means more Unimatic watches makes me (as well as more than just a couple of people from the team here at Fratello) very happy indeed. The latest addition to this ever-growing list is the Unimatic × Massena LAB U1-MLB. This diver looks back to what I would label one of the most exciting eras of watch design for its inspiration — the 1970s. More specifically, the dive watches of the era. Sound good so far? Well, read on to get the low-down on this fantastic new release.

I firmly believe that there’s a sweet spot in the history of watchmaking and watch design. It lies somewhere between the late ’60s and early ’70s. So many awesome watches hail from that era. The Doxa Sub 300T, the Omega Flightmaster, the Rolex Explorer II ref. 1655, and the Blancpain “3H Bund”, just to name a few. Now, you might notice that these four watches have something in common. That’s right — it’s their over-the-top use of bright color, especially on the hands. Or should I say, “hand”? The Doxa is the only exception (other than in the Sharkhunter and Searambler colorways), where the bright flash of color comes from the dial instead of one of the hands. It’s a cool, quirky, of-the-era feature that never fails to add excitement to an otherwise toolish and function-forward timepiece.

The Unimatic × Massena LAB U1-MLB “Bund”

Now, you definitely already spotted what I’m getting at here. And if you’re paying close attention, you might have even found another clue as to where this latest release from Unimatic gets its looks. The clue is in the name, which it shares with a Blancpain military dive watch. This watch was issued to an elite force in the West German Navy, known as the Bundeswehr Kampfschwimmers. This is the reason why both the Blancpain and Unimatic share the “Bund” nickname. The members of this force wore all black, in order to remain unseen as they navigated below the surface of murky waters. This blackout livery extended to Blancpain’s watches, which were specially produced for the unit. The only bit of color to be found on those watches (other than the H3 logo on the dial) was the bright orange minute hand.

This look is echoed by the Unimatic U1-MLB. Honestly, there is no brand out there better suited to create an “H3 bund”-inspired dive watch. Even the original’s sterile bezel is now something very much associated with Unimatic’s design language. And in its collaborative trilogy with Massena LAB, Unimatic hastouched upon two of the key decades of watchmaking, the ’50s, and ’60s. It was only logical that the brand fast-forwarded 10 years and paid tribute to the 70s. As you can see, the U1-MLB incorporates the looks of the Blancpain into Unimatic’s unmistakable design.

Unimatic magic formula

The watch will look quite familiar to those who know the Unimatic brand. And to those who have either just woken up from a coma or who live under a rock, the watch will still look familiar. The dive watch formula is distilled down to its essence, then given the Unimatic magic touch. Big lume markers stake their claim on a matte black background, into which the Unimatic brand name and dial text stealthily disappear. Above the dial, the black hour hand containing a healthy helping of lume and an equally subtle seconds hand are outshone by a big, bold, and bright orange minute hand. A single lume pip on an otherwise black bezel insert ensures that the watch can still be used to count down a time interval. Will this watch be used for diving? Maybe. Does it look awesome? Well, no doubts there!

If you did want to take it diving, you certainly could! The Unimatic × Massena LAB U1-MLB has a water resistance of 300m. This is thanks to the lovely AR-coated crystal, the chunky screw-down crown, and the rugged case. Inside this steel case, you’ll find the ever-reliable Seiko NH35A. And if you’re one of the lucky 200 people who will be able to get their hands on one, you’ll have the choice of how you strap it onto your wrist. The watch will come with two TPU straps. One in black, for those stealthiest of missions, and another in burnt orange, for when you’re feeling bold and want to channel your inner Thor Svaboe love for the #PumpkinSpice life!

Priced at $895, they’re sure to be gone in the blink of an eye. So head on over to the Massena LAB site where the watch is now available!