The Unimatic × Massena LAB Modello Uno U1-ML6

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The Unimatic × Massena LAB Modello Uno U1-ML6 A toast to the Rolex 6538 and Royal Navy Commander Robertson by Tomas RosputinskyMarch 02, 2020 MIN READThe Unimatic × Massena LAB Modello Uno U1-ML6

When renowned wristwatch veteran William Massena partners up with Unimatic watches, you get hot news that doesn’t need a leaflet to tell its story. Allow me to introduce the Unimatic Modello Uno U1-ML6.

I didn’t even manage to blink an eye before seeing the iconic Rolex 6538 in the new Modello Uno U1-ML6. It was a lightning-fast call from my heart. And the more I look at the new Unimatic Massena LAB piece, the more I like it. You don’t need to read much about the watch, you just need to look at it long enough to understand it.

The busy low budget segment

I swear, if I was in the habit of buying every entry-level watch I liked, I’d be buying a new piece every two weeks. There’s just so much great stuff coming up lately. Think of Ming or AnOrdain. It’s incredible what one’s mind and hands can do. The possibilities are endless with creativity being the only limitation. In my opinion, an obsession with perfection and details is key for successful execution. It just depends on how far you want to take your ideas and the level of determination from your partners.

Massena DNA

Everyone who has ever seen William Massena, whether in person or on a photograph, wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised that a watch born under his direction looks like an indestructible badass mountain with the elegance and class of a high-born gentleman. You can’t unsee the Rolex 6538 in the new Modello Uno U1-ML6, despite the fact that it is a completely new watch. Some neo-vintage releases are “just” re-editions. Others say they are re-interpretations. The Modello Uno U1-ML6 is neither. It is truly one of a kind. Actually, 99 of a kind. The strictly limited run featuring a, “tie my hands with a rope otherwise I will buy it immediately,” price tag offers a ton of attitude. Do you dare to sport it?

Hot property

The second you see the dial, you’ll feel your eyes burning. I am not sure if I’ve ever seen a better-painted dial pretending to be any variation on a vintage patina. You know why? Because it’s not painted at all. To achieve the unique patina, each one of the U1-ML6 dials was subjected to a galvanizing process. “The original color of the dial is black, with the galvanization process creating a loss of color similar to overexposure to UV light.“ explains William Massena.

During the hot galvanization process, the dials were submerged in a chemical bath. All this happens near Milan, Italy. “The dials are processed in batches for the bathing process, so they may be of different color depending on their exact position. We narrowed it down to a specific tropical brown color range. We then print the dial with the outline of the markers and the signature. Finally, the lumina on the markers in the style of vintage Rolex with dome shape plots is added.”

Made in Italy

I never thought I would be eager to see a “Made in Italy” sign on a watch, let alone on a Rolex inspired watch. I stared at the dial for a long time, yet failed to find a single detail I would single out for criticism. Nothing. Just perfectly dirty indexes, with a flat twist at six, matching the indexes at three and nine. I don’t have the watch yet, but I feel like the seasoned patina is already challenging me: What adventure have you gone through lately?

It was not easy convincing Unimatic to do a 15 min counter bezel with a red triangle. – William Massena

The Unimatic branding is typically odd. Notice how low uncommonly low it sits? I can’t explain it, but it is something that would otherwise bother me. Here I vouch for it, just as I do for the hands. It is not easy to find a non-obtrusive fit for such an iconic dial. Everything is clean, firmly framed by one of my all-time favorite minute tracks. What I just named a “reverse lollipop” central second seals the deal.

It was not easy convincing Unimatic to do a 15 min counter bezel with a red triangle. – William Massena

Bezel perfection

If I had to gamble on where Massena played his design wild card on the new Modello Uno U1-ML6, I would go all-in on the bezel. I was not asking about it specifically, but William gave some insights anyway. “It was not easy convincing Unimatic to do a 15 min counter bezel with a red triangle. That took some convincing arguments. And I don’t think you will see another one in their editions,” Massena unveils. The truth is that a 15-minute marker on the slightly overhanging bezel has been featured on an Unimatic watch for the first time ever. In my eyes, this daring extra-wide 120-click unidirectional bezel with a decent typeface is near perfect.

Unexpected turn of events

I could not omit what U1-ML6 stands for. While U1 and ML were easy to guess, I was not sure what the 6 referred to. “The 6 represents the first reference number of early Rolex Submariner,” William explains. We can all unanimously agree that the red triangle makes the Modello Uno U1-ML6 very much like the Rolex Submariner “Big Crown” (the watch James Bond wears in Doctor No). Massena was curious to know what ship James Bond served on as Royal Navy Commander prior to joining MI6. Fleming doesn’t mention it, but Massena found an answer in a modern post-Fleming novel. The fictional James Bond served on the HMS Ocean, which was exactly the same ship where Lt-Commander Alistair Robertson was a ship pilot.

Robertson came from a long line of military men and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 13. He was a navigating pilot in the fleet arm, was the first Brit to shoot a German plane during WW2, and then because there were too many aircraft pilots, he became a ship pilot later on in the war. Robertson was everywhere where there was action. The last ship he served on was the HMS Ocean before retiring from the Royal Navy in 1947. “There are too many homage watches to Bond and none to Alastair Robertson. So I thought that the fictional James Bond could have met the real-life hero Alastair Robertson,” William continues. Why is this so important to him? Alastair Robertson was William’s wife’s maternal grandfather.

Poseidon behind your back

After learning the rich history behind the watch, I felt different. You might have never heard of Unimatic before, but if you ever came across the names William Massena or Alastair Robertson and you see what I see, it is hard not to be hooked. There are countless watch designs trying to find a better Submariner. This one checks all the boxes. That also includes the reliable and easy to repair Seiko NH35 hidden behind a case back engraved with the Greek god, Poseidon. This again is a reference to Alastair Robertson and the HMS Ocean ship’s crest. And don’t forget the attractive price tag below €1,000.

Who started the project?

“I had noticed Unimatic in 2016 and really liked the design of the U1. Unimatic used very classic watch design codes and made it their own design, it is original yet familiar, which is very hard to do in watchmaking. When they released the watch with Japanese designer Mihara Yasuhiro, I was smitten. They produced a watch with a cerakote blue washed case. They were not afraid to experiment, so I was in,” Massena explains. The process on Modello Uno U1-ML6 started last summer, the result kicks off its online sale today. Exclusively at only. Would you take out your credit card for one of the 99 pieces?

UNIMATIC_Massena_00012 UNIMATIC_Massena_00011 UNIMATIC_Massena_00006 UNIMATIC_Massena_00004 UNIMATIC_Massena_00009 UNIMATIC_Massena_00005 UNIMATIC_Massena_00008 UNIMATIC_Massena_00007 UNIMATIC_Massena_00010 UNIMATIC_Massena_00003 UNIMATIC_Massena_00002

Watch specifications

Brand Unimatic ModelThe Unimatic × Massena LAB Modello Uno Ref. U1-ML6DialGalvanized tropical brown, Hand-applied Super-LumiNova® Old radiumCase Material316 stainless steel, Brushed finishCase Dimensions40mmCrystal2.5mm thick double domed sapphire, Inner side anti-reflective coatingCase BackUnimatic x Massena Lab Poseidon, Numbered xx/99MovementAutomatic calibre Seiko NH35A, 21600 bph, Hacking seconds handWater Resistance300m = 1000ft = 30atm WRStrapMahogany Horween Cordovan Shell two piece strap, stainless steel brushed hardware signed Unimatic, Black heavy-duty Unimatic nylon nato strap, stainless steel brushed hardware signed UnimaticPrice$850Special Note(s)Black aluminium “15 minute” diver insert with red triangle and raised lume dot, Alchemical Sun ☉ 8mm screw-down Watch of the Week

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About the author

Tomas Rosputinsky

During the day time, Tomas is an entrepreneur in the advertising, automotive and IT software industries. At night he turns into a watch enthusiast searching for quirky movements or vintage pieces with strong stories behind. Tomas was born and bred… read more

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