Hands-on with the U-Boat U-42 Titanium LE

The first of the U-Boat U-42 limited edition series was a clearly-not-for-the-average person sized 53mm giant (itself a ‘reduced version’ of a mindbogglingly sized 65mm 29 piece LE called the U-1942) based on a diver’s watch designed in 1942 by Ilvo Fontana, grandfather of U-Boat President Italo Fontana. Perhaps realising that although a bit of a lark to create, it left something to be desired in the wearability stakes, U-Boat expanded the U-42 lineup to include 47mm models, presumably on the grounds that a lot more people can actually bring off a still-rather-large 47mm watch on their wrist.

This U-42 (Ref. 6471) is the non chrono 47mm version containing an automatic Calibre U-28 movement (40 hour power reserve) and made in a limited edition of 999 pieces, like the other smaller variants. It is distinguished by its hefty case design (though arguably, U-Boat is nothing but hefty cases), which sits tall on the wrist but interestingly, despite its size, it is not a heavy watch because of the use of (matte-finished) Grade 5 titanium for the case. In fact, it’s strangely comfortable.

A quirky patented folding/ protruding crown definitely adds novelty value and interest, and opposite the elaborate crown there is an inconspicuous lever that unlocks and fixes the rotating bezel.

The dial is dark brown with beige luminescent numerals and hands. The large beige coloured numerals and hands are big, simple and wonderfully legible, the hours are marked by uncomplicated bold indices. The hands are a simple wide baton style, and luminescent.

As is the case with all of the U-42s, there are a surfeit of reminders as to the limited edition status of your watch. If you can’t see your number on your dial, there’s also a plaque on the side of the case with the serial number, and of course it’s there on the case back as well. Perhaps they should have just stuck to the case back. Just a thought.

The straps are hand-stitched calfskin leather dyed with a chestnut brown finish that is intended to age well. The stitching is a heavy waxed cord. The titanium tang buckle has a U-shaped tongue to indicate the U-Boat name.

With a water resistance of 300m, it is considered a diving watch but really, it’s not anything other than a desk diver. The bezel is one of the most disappointing things about the watch – it’s lightweight, a bit ‘tinny’, and has no lume markers for diving purposes.

If you want a watch that stands out, then U-Boats definitely fall into that category both design wise and size wise. Nonetheless, although 47mm is big enough to stand out, it’s still important that it doesn’t look stupidly big on your wrist.

Whether or not you can bring off a watch of this size will be up to you to determine. Clearly, it’s a tad too big for me, but I will admit that I found it kind of fun to wear because it was so unexpectedly comfortable and light. If you are looking for a big watch with big numbers and a big presence, don’t intend to use the bezel much, don’t mind a series number splashed everywhere, and are not averse to paying a decent amount of money for it, visit an AD to take a look. These are not watches that should be purchased without a wrist-trial.

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