Sunday Morning Showdown: Affordable Antagonists — Unimatic Modello Quattro Vs. Serica 4512
We’re back again for another Sunday Morning Showdown! This series is where two of our writers go head-to-head in an opinionated duel. One, two, or more watches are thrown into the arena to be either torn to shreds or effusively exalted by each defending editor. This week is a battle of two military-inspired watches that pack plenty of punch with their combination of style and substance. Not coincidentally, both of these brands are also amongst the hottest small brands in the watch industry. Who will take the modern military crown this week? Will it be the minimalist Unimatic Modello Quattro or the stylish Serica 4512? It’s all in your hands to decide who comes out on top. But first, let’s see who is up against who this week.
This week’s battle sees the entrance of our resident Viking to the Sunday Morning Showdown ring. It’s Thor’s first time taking on another writer in the battle of the Sunday crowd. In this week’s battle, he is up against Jorg, a Sunday Morning Showdown veteran. But can Jorg withstand the northern European storm and come out on top? We will find out when you, our readers, decide which of the two watches is the most popular. Thor will fiercely defend the Serica 4512. This charming military-inspired field watch won over a lot of the Fratello editors quickly, including Jorg, who wrote the review for the 4512. But this week, Jorg takes his beloved Unimatic Modello Quattro into the ring. The Modello Quattro is also a military-inspired field watch, but is bolder, more modern, and has the minimalist aesthetic that made the brand famous. Which is the better pick? You decide!
Diving into last week
But before we dive into this week’s battle, let’s take a look back at last week’s showdown. Nacho’s Tudor Black Bay Ceramic took on Balazs’s Doxa SUB 300 Carbon. It was a fierce battle of two characteristic dive watches executed in modern materials. In the end, the Tudor took last week’s win with 63% of the votes against 37% of the votes going to the Doxa. A surprising winner? We would say it’s hardly surprising to find out that the Tudor came out on top.
Not only is Tudor one of the most popular and talked-about brands, but the Black Bay Ceramic is also a surprisingly modern new take on the usually vintage-inspired Black Bay divers. The Black Bay Ceramic is a strong testament to the great versatility of the Black Bay line. So in the end, the Tudor won last week’s battle hands down. Time to move on to this week’s battle and find out if this one will be a closer one. Without further ado, let’s hand it over to our writers!
Jorg: Unimatic Modello Quattro
Thor, I have to be honest here. You know very well that both of these watches have a special place in my heart. Thus, I take my spot in the ring very well aware that I will give the Serica 4512 a hard time despite the fact that I love it. As you will probably point out to our readers, the Serica 4512 has a ton of charm, wears like a dream, and was created by Jérôme Burgert, one of the industry’s nicest and most inspiring people. But no matter how much I love Jérôme and the Serica brand, I have to put on my battle face. So I am here to take the 4512 down with the bigger and bolder Unimatic Modello Quattro.
Most of our readers will undoubtedly know about Unimatic by now. The Milan-based brand has released a great number of exciting watches in the past couple of years, which have won over the hearts of both the hardcore watch crowd as well as the more fashionable people that like watches. That’s something the brand is actually very proud of. When I talked to Giovanni Moro, one of the two founders, he explained that he and his partner Simone Nunziato could only have dreamt of attracting such a varied audience of fans. It shows that the watches that they’ve come up with stand out in the overcrowded world of new, small independent brands that are trying to make it.
First impressions were deceiving
The Unimatic Modello Quattro is the latest of the four models added to the brand’s collection. When it was first released at the end of 2020, it came as a total surprise. I remember that the Modello Quattro landed on my desk completely out of the blue just before the year ended. After having reviewed two of the popular Modello Uno dive models, I had to look twice at the design of the Modello Quattro. What stands out immediately if you look at the watch is the thick monobloc bezel. The first impressions at the Fratello offices weren’t so positive, I must confess. Part of that comes from the fact that if you take a first glance at the watch, it looks like the Modello Uno diver has misplaced its diving bezel.
My personal feelings were mixed. While I definitely could understand those negative first impressions, I felt there was something to this design. Knowing that Moro and Nunziato are industrial designers by trade and that they really spend a lot of time on their designs, I knew this was not as simple as it might look at first. So to give you an idea, the watch features the same 40mm stainless steel case as the Modello Uno. The case is characterized by its modern round shape and angular lug style. The crown guards and the substantial crown are elements that help give the watch its character. Additionally, the brushed finish gives the watch an understated presence.
Substantial yet easy to wear
On the wrist, the watch is anything but understated. The reason is that big, fixed stainless steel bezel with its circular brushed finish. After wearing the watch for only a day, the design made perfect sense to me. As I expected, the Unimatic guys balanced the width of the bezel and the size of the dial to make it feel perfectly natural. I must admit that the bezel is substantial, giving the watch a total thickness of 13.9mm. But while it makes the watch beefier than the Modello Uno, its overall thickness has never bothered me at all. The watch is a modern, minimalist, and sturdy military-inspired watch, and as such, it is a joy to wear. Once again, Moro and Nunziato succeeded in creating a case that looks modern and simple but has a ton of character.
That character is further defined by the typical Unimatic dial design. The faded black dial has a familiar minimalist Unimatic layout with a combination of dots, rectangles, and a triangle as hour markers. An off-white 60-minute scale on the dial’s periphery surrounds the hour markers. It ensures that the dial design is not too minimal. The hour and minute hands have the familiar phantom ladder design that we know from other Unimatic models. Additionally, the thin seconds hand features a lollipop-style counterweight. To finish it off, the Unimatic logo is placed on the lower part of the dial, and it creates a very balanced dial design overall. I can say from experience that the proportions made sense very quickly and the watch is a joy for the eyes.
The Seiko NH35 movement is a deciding factor
Inside the case, Unimatic uses the automatic Seiko NH35A caliber. The movement operates at 21,600 vibrations per hour and has a power reserve of 41 hours. It features hacking seconds and bidirectional automatic winding. The movement is the go-to movement for all the mechanical Unimatic models and has proven robust and reliable. The Serica will definitely win it over the Unimatic when it comes to comparing the two movements. However, we have seen that the guys at Unimatic are not necessarily sticking to the Seiko movement. We have seen the brand use Sellita movements for a string of newer models, and that would be a great pick for this Modello Quattro as well. An updated movement would take care of the one gripe that I have when it comes to the Modello Quattro.
With its nearly 14mm case thickness and added NATO strap, this is a chunky slab of steel. It has never bothered me for one second, but I can see if people are less drawn to the chunkier of the two watches in this battle. But if you are looking for a modern 40mm military-inspired watch that is a great daily wearer at €425 excluding taxes, look no further than the UC4 that’s on offer as part of the permanent Classic collection. After having the Modello Quattro U4-A in my collection for 18 months, I can honestly say that it’s one of my most-worn pieces. Not to mention, the watch is a strap monster. I currently wear it on a leather Zulu strap like the one in this article, and it’s a perfect match, just like the Modello Quattro is for my wrist. But tell me, Thor, what makes the Serica better than the Unimatic?
Thor: Serica 4512
Bien sûr, the Serica is obviously worth more at €690 including tax while being the smaller watch of the two, but why am I also conflicted? Not the best way to enter the battleground, but it puts Jorg and me on equal footing. My day job involves Italian design produced outside Milano, my wife is Milanese, and I got married two blocks from the Unimatic office. Dammit… I also happen to love the minimalist-tough language of Unimatic. But the brilliant and slightly conflicting nature of the Serica 4512 will win the day, undoubtedly. Mi dispiace ma tu, Quattro, e troppo ciccione.
Slim yet chunky in all the right places
My Italian sentence above tells Signor Quattro that he is just too chubby. Sorry Unimatic, I love your sweet-sized Modello-Uno-esque case, but save it for a legit diver’s watch. The Quattro is a super-sized field watch, and that’s a bit weird. The Serica 4512, however, is what my politically incorrect subheading says, and boy, does it work. I will also add that neither of us is being completely objective here, as (disclaimer!) we both personally own our combatants. But there is a good reason I spent my own cash to buy the Serica 4512, and the word is one of my favorites — Goldilocks. A field watch should be small for trail-hiking comfort — think the Rolex Explorer or the Seiko Alpinist. The 37.7mm case of the 4512 is sublime with a short lug-to-lug of 46.5mm. It is also delightfully slim at 11.3mm, which makes it unobtrusive like a dress watch but built like a tank.
With its all-brushed main case, the 4512 is a tool watch, don’t misunderstand me. But with the broad, polished chamfer on the vertically brushed bezel, it’s actually rather elegant in its own way. The Bonklip bracelet seems way too thin for the chunky case at first, but it makes it a time-traveling device through its loose-but-solid feel. It also means that it’ll slip under a cuff with ease, unlike the chunky case and fat NATO on the Unimatic tool. So this might be a battle of bruiser versus welterweight, but remember this: the Serica has almost the same solid specs with added wearability, and looks equally cool scratched up. It also looks super cool on a distressed canvas strap as witnessed in my article here, don’t you think? And I haven’t even started on the brilliant movement.
My hand-wound conclusion
My calm approach here is that the innate elegance of the Serica will win it without any personal attacks. And even if it should come to that, the Serica 4512 is tough enough to fight it out with the Italian. The compactness of the Serica imbues it with quiet confidence, and what else? Well, you have no less than four choices of dials, as well as left or right crown positions. If you add the smooth-winding manual Swiss STP1-11 caliber with a 45-hour power reserve, I’m dropping my mike. Oh, and if the Unimatic decides to retire after this trouncing, I’ll be happy to buy it from you, Jorg. What was that? No, I am not fighting for the Serica simply because I haven’t got the manly wrists of Jorg, shut up!
It’s in your hands now
After hearing the story of both watches, you know that both Jorg and Thor are passionate about their contenders. Both men own them and wear them a lot, but the final verdict is out of their hands. Which one of these two watches will emerge victorious is a choice that is not theirs but yours to make. Be sure to vote for your favorite below, and may the best watch win!
Tune in next week for another installment of Sunday Morning Showdown!