Don't Captain a Submarine Without This Dive Watch

The Massena LAB X Unimatic U1-MLB is based on a special diver issued to West German naval commandos.

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Noted collector and expert on all things horological William Massena and his independent Massena LAB have been very busy indeed, turning out special limited-edition collaborations with our favorite brands since its inception.

For the past few years, they've been hard at work on a series of dive watches made in concert with Unimatic, a boutique Italian firm that specializes in funky, minimalist, affordable divers, field watches and chronographs. While the first of these, the U1-ML6, took the form of a 1950s-inspired diver and the second, the U1-MLM, was inspired by 1960s-era Tudors issued to the Marine Nationale, the latest and final entry in the trilogy is based on a very rare watch indeed: the Blancpain "Bund," a Fifty Fathoms variant issued to the West German Bundeswehr Kampfschwimmers in the 1970s.

unimatic u1mlb
The U1-MLB in its natural environment...the conning tower of a submarine.
GIOVANNI MORO

The Kampfschwimmers are an elite force of the German Navy that specializes in amphibious warfare. In the '70s the unit commissioned Blancpain to develop a special version of its famous Fifty Fathoms specifically for their use, a military watch that was never available to the public. Featuring a unique, highly visible, orange-framed minute hand, tritium indices, date, and "sterile" bezel with only a 12 o'clock indicator, the "Bund" is a wildly rare military watch seldom seen in the wild.

For Massena's version, he utilized the Unimatic U1 41.5mm steel case, with its 2.5mm, double-domed sapphire crystal, 22mm lug width and 200m of water resistance. The matte black dial is indeed a spitting image of that of the "Bund," with its orange-framed seconds hand and vintage-colored lume plots — though these take Unimatic's typical, dash, round and triangular form.

unimatic case back
The case back features a cool "sonar wave" motif.
Simone Nunziato

Powered by the automatic Seiko NH35A, the U1-MLB, as it's been dubbed, features the minimalist "sterile" bezel of the Blancpain original. The case back, always an unexpectedly standout feature of a Unimatic dive watch, features a cool "sonar wave" motif along with the watch's unique serial number. Shipping in a Unimatic X Massena LAB case, it's accompanied by an Italian-made, burnt orange rubber TPU strap, plus a bonus black TPU strap. Limited to 200 pieces, it's available from Massena LAB for $895.

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