We’ve had our eye on this Milan-based maker of minimalist, limited-edition tool watches since its early days. From the beginning, we’ve loved how UNIMATIC interprets and re-interprets classic elements of watchmaking, from the quintessential dive watch to its latest take on what’s arguably the most in vogue metal in the industry: bronze.
Instead of employing the alloy as we normally see it, UNIMATIC goes straight to the source, using the element copper in its pure form. However, in typical UNIMATIC fashion, don’t expect to see copper applied in the way you’re accustomed to seeing bronze in watchmaking. Instead, the brand teamed up with a premier maker of waterproof, extreme outerwear, Norwegian Rain, for two limited edition Modello Uno watches, now in the Shop, which explore how “time weathers everything.”
Time Weathers Everything
The universal truth that “time weathers everything” provides a unique jumping-off point for UNIMATIC and Norwegian Rain to come together and illustrate this concept on the canvas of a timepiece. Both brands have a shared history through the evolution of the modern man; the watch resulted from the evolution of man’s ability to measure time, and waterproof outerwear resulted from the evolution of man’s desire to shield himself from the elements.
Drawing upon each of these notions, the brands landed on the nature of copper oxidation as the focal point of their collaborative efforts. For UNIMATIC, this provided a unique opportunity to play with one of the most increasingly popular metals in the watch industry. And for Norwegian Rain, it presented the perfect occasion to explore the various elements that weather copper over time. The resulting palette covers a vast spectrum of Pantone colors, from the peachy Pantone 164U of unexposed copper to a mint green Pantone 2254U (after 25-30 years of oxidation) and everything in between.
Who Is Norwegian Rain?
You’re likely familiar with UNIMATIC but may be wondering – who is Norwegian Rain? Norwegian Rain is an extreme outerwear brand with a focus on waterproof garments inspired by Japanese sensibilities as well as life in Europe’s rainiest city: Bergen, Norway. Its story begins 13 years ago when Alexander T. Helle, now Creative Director and Manager, and T-Michael, now Chief Strategist and Head Designer, decided to focus their energy on one simple garment: the raincoat.
Living in Bergen, Norway, where it rains roughly two out of every three days, a functional and fashionable raincoat is a necessity. With three guiding principles – it must be 100% waterproof, it must be breathable, and it must be recycled – Helle and T-Michael birthed Norwegian Rain.
The Modello Uno ‘Norwegian Rain’ Limited Editions
The Norwegian Rain Limited Editions build on the classic Modello Uno framework with a totally unique dial design. Like the Modello Uno models you know and love, the new watches offer 300 meters of water resistance in a 40mm x 13.6mm stainless steel case, topped by a 120-click bezel, which brings the total diameter to 41.5mm to enable easy gripping and use. Similar to the U1-FMN and U1-FM, the ‘Norwegian Rain’ Limited Editions are what UNIMATIC terms a “Minimal Diver.” Gone are the bezel markings that characterize “Professional” versions in favor of a sterile black bezel, recalling those found on certain military divers supplied to the German Navy in the 1970s. The only marker is the raised luminous pip, which allows the 120-click unidirectional bezel to be used to time events; however, the amount of time that one can track is more of an approximation than a to-the-minute reading. Inside, you’ll find the tried-and-tested Seiko automatic caliber NH35A beating at 21,600 vph and offering 41 hours of power reserve, hacking seconds, and hand winding.
In addition, a few important features distinguish the two “Norwegian Rain” Limited Editions. With the U1-NR, you get the all-black, DLC treatment you’ve seen in other UNIMATIC divers in a limited run of just 54 pieces, the age of founder T-Michael. A black nylon NATO-style strap with a DLC-treated buckle that matches the case completes the overall monochromatic look, which really makes the distinctive dial treatment pop. Alternatively, the U1-NRN comes in an even smaller run of only 39 pieces, the age of founder Alexander T. Helle, and boasts a more traditional stainless steel construction that, for the first time, extends to a three-link stainless steel bracelet. Once more, the entirely stainless steel build provides the perfect homogenous backdrop that really allows the dial to shine.
Of course, the show point of the Norwegian Rain Limited Editions is said dial. This intricately designed sandwich, two-layer dial is made with solid copper oxide and galvanized brass that has been expedited through the weathering process. This alchemical art involves a number of variables, which means the outcome can differ significantly. In addition, the process can be largely impacted by outside factors, such as atmospheric pressure or ambient temperature, making the result challenging to control or forecast. In turn, UNIMATIC painstakingly devoted the time and energy to refine this process to its exact standards until the most pleasing result was achieved, revealing the different tones, patterns, and nuances you see in each Norwegian Rain Limited Edition. Plus, since each dial is individually processed, each watch is entirely unique.
The resulting dial exudes a rich color palette, playing with the deep tones that would result from roughly four months to seven years of organic copper oxidation. Never uniform in wear, the oxidized copper also displays a distinctive pattern, much like patina, which creates a sense of movement and depth. In contrast, totally unexposed copper, boasting a bright and peachy hue, is used for the handset and hour markers. Here, you’ll notice the hour markers are in a relatively similar style to previous UNIMATIC models with one exception at 10 o’clock, where there’s a Roman numeral in place of the large, circular plot. This X along with the 10 years engraving on the caseback is a nod to the anniversary celebration of Norwegian Rain’s brand birthday, resulting in a number of limited edition collaborations and culminating with the UNIMATIC Norwegian Rain Limited Editions.
Explore UNIMATIC Dive Watches In The HODINKEE Shop
Alongside the Norwegian Rain Limited Editions, we’re excited to welcome the Modello Uno U1-FD and U1-FDN to the Shop. These models build on the existing U1-F and U1-FN respectively, with the welcome addition of a date display conveniently tucked at six o’clock.
You can explore these two models in further detail as well as the Norwegian Rain Limited Editions right now in the Shop.