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.
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.
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.