Over the past few years, themed watches have seen a major resurgence in the enthusiast community, moving from retro kitsch returns to true fashion statements, and much of the success of these new character watches has been built on the philosophy of the brand. design. These modern character watches are not so much watches with a slapped character as watches with character, designed from the ground up to match the look and feel of the fictional character they conjure up. UNDONE has been at the forefront of this character watch revolution for years, bringing to life timepieces inspired by fictional characters as disparate as Astro Boy and Batman. The brand’s latest and most exclusive series to date aims to launch an aggressive, black new take on existing models, starting with a pair of watches inspired by the famous cartoon sailor Popeye. The limited edition UNDONE Popeye Mono and UNDONE Brutus Mono are an utterly stylish launch for their new Monochrome Series concept, giving these familiar characters a new rock-and-roll design sensibility without losing any of their playful charm.
The UNDONE Popeye Mono and UNDONE Brutus Mono both start with 316L stainless steel cases with matte black DLC coating. The Brutus Mono takes the pair’s bolder and more modern approach, measuring 43mm wide and 16.5mm thick with a contemporary rounded take on traditional diver’s watch markers. Everything about the design of the case, from the wide, curved crown guards to the large knurled “pistol grip” edge of the diving bezel, reflects well the towering, torso stature of Popeye’s longtime nemesis, Brutus (or Bluto, according to the version). While unmistakably bold and beefy in the initial images, the Brutus Mono’s case showcases solidly nuanced visual details, especially through the raised polished numerals on the diving bezel and signed wallpaper. In contrast, the Popeye Mono takes a slimmer, more traditional approach, measuring a balanced 40mm width. The Popeye Mono’s case is fluid and skin-deep in the initial images, with a slightly tapered chamfer on the sporty lugs and an unprotected octagonal crown. The most impressive feature of this case, however, is its etched zirconia ceramic bezel insert. Ceramics of all kinds are scarce at this price point, and UNDONE’s full dive scale appears crisp and sullen in the initial images. Like its counterpart, the Popeye Mono uses a signed display case back with a frosted effect in the initial images. While both models are certainly inspired by divers, there is a marked difference in capacity between the two. The larger and more modern Brutus Mono is ready for diving with a water resistance of 300 meters, but the smaller Popeye Mono is rated at 100 meters significantly less impressive.
Faithful to the minimal black philosophy of its new Monochrome series, the UNDONE Popeye Mono and Brutus Mono simplify the design of their dials as much as possible. This new black-and-white look matches these characters particularly well, reminiscent of the pre-war black-and-white cartoons from Fleischer Studios that made Popeye an international star. Both dials use the same diving indexes printed in glossy optical white, complemented by bold exterior minute tracks and heavily grained dial surfaces in matte concrete gray. The dial text is equally minimal, limited to a well-hidden UNDONE signature integrated into the 6 o’clock section of the minute tracks. This uncluttered approach keeps the focus as much as possible on the characters themselves in the pictures, allowing the classic line art of Popeye and Brutus to stand out. The lack of color on these classic pre-war cartoon drawings ground them solidly in the past and give them a sharper, punchier edge.
UNDONE powers both the Popeye Mono and the Brutus Mono with the reliable Seiko NH35A automatic movement. While the finish of the NH35A is decidedly professional, UNDONE’s use of a frosted display window for both watches allows some of the visual complexity of these automatic movements to shine through in the images without revealing too much of their non-nature. decorated. In terms of performance, the NH35A is fairly average for the price, offering a 42-hour power reserve at a rate of 21,600 bph as well as a reported unspectacular (but probably conservative) accuracy of + 15 / -15 seconds per day. To complete the monochrome look of these watches, UNDONE combines the two models with black straps. For the Brutus Mono, the brand goes for a minimalist black rubber strap, while the Popeye Mono takes its more vintage-inspired case even further with an oyster-style strap covered with black DLC in matte 316L stainless steel.
With sharper, blackened designs and minimal presentations, the limited editions UNDONE Popeye Mono and UNDONE Brutus Mono offer a more aggressive and avant-garde take on the watch with a modern character. Only 300 examples of the UNDONE Popeye Mono will be manufactured, while the UNDONE Brutus Mono is additionally limited to only 100 examples. Additionally, both watches will be limited to just 50 pieces per region – for example, once 50 pieces of each model have been sold in the United States, those watches will only be available outside the country. The UNDONE Popeye Mono and UNDONE Brutus Mono are available now for purchase at MSRPs of $ 599 and $ 699, respectively. For more information, visit the brand’s website.