The story begins as I was surfing on one of my favorite watch addicts forums… A simple post. New brand: Direnzo watches. A single picture. The DRZ 03. Blam! 2 minutes later I was pledging for the first time of my life on a crowdfunding project…
The delivery schedule was perfectly hold by the brand. But because of shipping issues with the French custom and my local Post Office (Thank you COVID 19!), it took about 9 months before I was able
to carry my child in the arms to put my watch on the wrist. But the waiting was worth it, and I’m very happy to share this review with you.
The DRZ 03 is the 3rd watch designed by Sergio Godoy Di Renzo. It comes after the DRZ Type 250 F, first watch of the brand, funded after only 4 hours on Kickstarter in September 2017, and the DRZ 02, launched on the same platform in 2018. The latest is a very original design watch, with a very special curved dial. I’ve never seen that before! The DRZ 02 has been qualified of “microbrand watch of the year” by the eponym website.
The DRZ 03 has been designed in three colors: gray-black, blue, burgundy red. I couldn’t resist and I bought two of them…
The Direnzo microbrand
Before going further in the watch detailed review, let’s spend a few minutes discovering the brand and its founder.
Who is Sergio G. Di Renzo ?
He seems to be quite a discret man. You will not learn a lot about him reading the “About” part of the Direnzo watches website, the brand he founded in 2016. I neither found any information on Linkedin, that is often a convenient way to find information about the professional past of watch brand owners
His Instagram profile gives a first clue about the man: someone fond of Leica can’t be nothing else but a man of taste, interested in clean an simple style design, with an strong requirement regarding the quality for the watches he produces
I always ask this question when I interview the owner of a new brand, what made you decide to start your own watch brand?
It was not premeditated. I always liked to do new things and have a new challenge. While working as an architect, I studied watch design in Geneva, then I started to make some prototypes and, in 2015, I decided to create my own brand. I am not a watch salesman, I am interested in the process of designing and producing a particular object that has a sharp sense of design and utility.
What is the vision you wish to convey with DIRENZO?
It is very simple really: to produce a range of uniquely exquisite watches, inspired by the timeless aesthetics of mid-20th-century racecars and aircraft. I think there are a lot of people interested (like me) in having a collection of different watches and styles without having to spend a considerable amount of money.
How is/will be DIRENZO different from other microbrands?
I think we are having a great time, specifically when it comes to the micro brands’ world. DIRENZO watches can provide a specific connection with people looking for a classic and emotive design. What I try to do is to project this idea into an object, using the tools I have learned through a long trajectory in the design world. Finally, I’m located in Switzerland, which makes the process of supervision for assembly and quality control easier and more reliable than with other brands. In a nutshell, DIRENZO’s differential is its simplicity, its symmetry and the fact that it tastefully celebrates the past in modern times.
About the brand logo
Proudly engraved on the crown, the logo is worth a few words of explanation.
Thanks to my efficient search engine (don’t ask which one…), I discovered that the Direnzo logo has been designed by Juan Pablo Solari, who is a “graphic designer and musician living and working in Germany with a long background in graphic design and art direction for well established brands and independent multidisciplinary studios.”
While answering the questions and remarks of his 572 buyers during the crowdfunding and production period (488 comments have been registered!), Sergio explained that he wanted a “rounded logo so it could perfectly fit in a crown”. The logo “is the symbol of an automatic movement (the mass spinning around)” with “3 arcs (seconds, minutes and hours).”
And yes, it fits well! As far as I’m concerned, the story about the 3 arcs seems more as a marketing argument than a real creating choice. But anyway, you know what? This doesn’t matter at all. I like this logo.
The DRZ 03 Eclipse inspiration sources
The solar eclipse
I have been seduced at first sight by the harmony of the DRZ 03, whose design illustrates perfectly the natural phenomenon that inspired Sergio G. Di Renzo: the solar eclipse. Dark matte center disk of the moon, luminosity around the edge due to the intense sun light hidden behind. The saphire cristal glass doesn’t help for the pictures…
For the Kickstarter release, Sergio used an old etching to illustrates the solar eclipse. It reminded me of the 1949 “Prisoners of the sun” Tintin album, by Hergé, the famous Belgium cartoonist, where an eclipse causes panic among the Incas who were just about to execute the young reporter and his friends, as a sacrifice offered to Pachacamac, the sun god.
Through the Kickstater supports or other interviews, Sergio G. Di Renzo delivered a few pieces of information regarding his other sources of inspiration. I looked for them in order to better understand. Here is the result.
From left to right :
- Breguet 1646. Probably inspired the DRZ 03 bezel design
- Omega Seamaster 300. Obviously inspired the DRZ 03 broad arrow hour hand
- Jaeger LeCoultre Deep See. I assume the DRZ 03 dial design has something to do with the central black disc surrounded with “sun’s rays”
- FP Journe. The DRZ 03 hands shape was not totally unknown to me. Now I know why.
With such influences, the DRZ 03 design couldn’t be a common one!
A designer watch rather than a tool watch
Despite its 20 ATM water resistant and its 120 clicks unidirectional bezel with lumed markers, the DRZ 03 is obviously not a tool watch, nor really a dive watch. It is a “designer” watch in the popular meaning of the word. What I mean here is that, unlike a tool watch where the function is the first criterion that determines (or should determine) appearance, the parts design of the DRZ 03 seems mainly thought according a graphic purpose.
This point is particularly obvious regarding the bezel without any mark to estimate precisely the diving time, which is the main purpose of a diving watch. But not only. Look how the logo and inscriptions blend into the matte black of the central disc of the dial, in order to simulate as much as possible the original idea of the eclipse.
My point of view is not a criticism. I bought he DRZ 03 for its very elegant and evocative design. Not to explore sunken shipwrecks. But this didn’t prevent me to make it pass a little seaside test!
The DRZ 03 in details
A careful observation of the DRZ 03 reveals a multitude of small details that testify to the attention paid by Sergio G. Di Renzo to every part of the watch.
The first thing you notice on this watch is the captivating dial. Suggesting a solar eclipse was a challenge. Sergio G. Di Renzo succeeded. The color circular variations, from the dark center toward the external edge of the dial, are fascinating and are undoubtedly the best asset of the DRZ 03.
The date window
The tiny circular date aperture at 6 o’clock, underlined by the same thin edge line than the central dark disc, is one of my favorite details on this watch. And even more after having noticed that the circular lollipop on the second hand is following the edge line and passes exactly over the aperture. A date eclipse within the solar eclipse?! Wow.
Hands, Indices and lume quality
Like for the dial, the lume color is the second main difference between the DRZ 03 black-grey model and both the blue and red versions. Rather discret and elegant for the first one, very flashy and tonic for the red and blue models. That makes the black-grey DRZ 03 probably easier to wear in any circumstance.
The applied indices are very present and legible. The large round indexes at 3, 6 and 9 give the watch an extra touch of personality. I am totally won over by the stretched shape of the hands. They help bring to the watch that “little something” that makes the difference.
Now let’s see if the reading of the time remains comfortable in a dark environment.
I agree with customers who pointed out that the lume on both the dial and the bezel indices is underwhelming for a dive watch. It’s a little frustrating, but as I mentioned sooner, I don’t consider the DRZ 03 as a real tool watch. I neither dive. And I have a good bedside lamp if I have to get up at night.… Consequently this detail doesn’t matter to me.
The screw down crown of the DRZ 03 is very easy to handle. The different adjustment steps are very firm. There is no excessive play and that inspires confidence. As you can see on the picture, the screw thread is on the outside of the tube. A classical but simple and reliable solution. The DRZ 03 may not be a real dive watch, but its crown seems perfectly up to scratch. However I don’t know wether the tube in itself is screwed or just punched into the watch case.
On this watch, the dial is the star. Therefore, the 40x48mm case of the DRZ04 is a perfect example that, most often, simplicity is the best. Its quite short legs, with a low strap attach point make it very comfortable on the wrist, even on a tiny 17,5 cm wrist as mine. The polished chamfers provide to the brushed surfaces a welcome touch of refinement.
Without much surprise, I find the logo on the screwed steel caseback. The name of its creator as well as the number of the watch among the 740 examples (for each dial color) produced are engraved there.
The Sellita movement
Thanks to a very effective crowdfunding campaign, Sergio G.Di Renzo was able to equip the DRZ 03 with a Sellita SW200-1 caliber in its “elaborate” version, enhanced by an Incabloc shock absorber instead of the Novodiac, guaranteeing greater reliability and accuracy of the watch movement. A very good surprise for the customers who registered. I’ve been wearing my DRZ03 for nearly one month and the watch keeps perfectly good time.
Take a few minutes to watch the video of the modern Sellita manufacture visit by Chrono24. It’s worth it!
You’d like to know more details about the SW movement? I found the technical documentation for you:
The Steel Strap with its quick release system
The stainless steel strap is thick, with as nice brushed finition. The manufacture quality inspires confidence. It’s length is easy to adjust. I like the screwed pins. The folding clasp, engraved with the Direnzo logo, provides 6 micro adjustment holes. I just regret its thickness that could have been optimized, I think. I will probably round off the slightly aggressive angles to make the strap more comfortable to wear.
But let me draw your attention to the strap quick release system of the DRZ 03
That is a real asset of the DRZ03. Anyone who has already change a steel strap knows how boring this operation is, even with the right tools. As you can see on the above pictures, the lugs have been specifically designed for this. Thanks to the sliders dug in the lugs, over the main hole, you just have to clip the endlink to put the strap in place.
Yes ! There is an end to this neverending review! My conclusion will be very short: after what I have seen, I’m convinced that the Direnzo microbrand has everything to become a macro brand. As I was writing these last words, Sergio G. Di Renzo was just announcing the coming DRZ 04 Mondial on his web site. Potential confirmed! This watch is… arrrgh. Want one.
A good review must have plenty of good pictures and video. For your eyes only, you’ll find some more below.
Hope to see you soon on clockmetender!
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Take care of you.