In the world of micro brands, one way to get ahead is to start something new with the name of something old. To take a defunct brand an revive it, baking in some history and context to a new brand. Eza watches did just this by taking the name of a German brand founded in the 1920’s that, like so many others, died off in the 70’s. Though the Eza of the past is not a household name by any means, nor is it a brand whose vintage pieces you’re likely to come across, they do appear to have been a formidable company, having even manufactured their own movements in the late 50’s and 60’s.
The new Eza is a very different brand, now based in the Netherlands their focus, at least to start, is on high-value vintage inspired sport watches. Though their name might not yet carry with it much significance, by having the history of the previous brand behind them, they at least have something to live up to.
Eza’s first watch after being reborn is the Sealander, a mid-20th century inspired diver. We’ve seen a lot of classically inspired divers in the last few years, so making one that stands out is becoming more and more a challenge. Eza achieved this through simplicity in design and value in components. In terms of the latter, the most notable feature is an ETA 2824-2 that has been additionally regulated, in-house, in six positions. Additionally, the Sealander features a sapphire crystal a ceramic bezel and a 300m water resistance, making it an overall compelling package at around $780 (price varies based on strength of dollar/euro).
Hands-On with the Eza Sealander
The Sealander comes in two colors, a striking blue and a classic black. We were sent both to play with and test out. Overall, both watches have immediate vintage appeal stemming from the use of aged lume color, applied indices and simplified bezel markings. The case comes in at 41 x 49 x 14mm (to the top of the domed sapphire) making it more modern than vintage, but still on the comfortable side.
In terms of design, the case does have some vintage cues that give it a softer and more elegant shape than typical modern divers. The lugs are slender with a nice contour and bevel that gets wider as it goes down the lug. This is an attractive detail that also gives the lugs a more svelte profile. In true classic dive style, the Sealander lacks crown guards, emphasizing the 6.75 x 4.3mm screw-down crown. The crown itself is a cylinder with wide teeth and an attractive “E” logo on its outer side.
The bezel really steals the show with its either black or blue ceramic insert. The blue in particular is gorgeous. It’s a rich, medium blue that is neither too bright or too ostentatious, but still a bold, saturated color. I also quite like the proportion of the insert to the case and dial. They hit a sort of perfect medium, making it wide enough to be sporty, thin enough to feel balanced. The rim of the bezel is then brushed steel with grooves cut in for grip. Interestingly, the grooves only go down part of the way, giving the bezel a turret-like appearance.
In terms of finishing, the bezel, lug tops and bevels are all brushed while the case sides are polished. This is the one detail I might have changed. It’s my preference, of course, but I definitely rather more brushing than polishing on a dive watch, so the sides feel a bit too shiny. If they had a nice horizontal brushing, while the bevel had been polished, both would have been accentuated.
Getting into the dial, both colors have the same applied indices, markings and hands, but different surfaces. The blue is, well, blue and matches the bezel perfectly. I can’t help but feel this is an achievement, as it’s such a specific hue of blue that any variation too great would have ruined the look, and given that the surface textures are different (the bezel is gloss while the dial is matte), it’s all the more difficult to get them to look right. The black, while less a challenge, looks great as well.
The dials consist of an index of applied markers, one per hour, with steel surrounds and an acidic yellow lume. It has that “aged” tritium look that immediately shouts vintage. On the black, it makes a lot of sense, though on the blue, it’s a bit harsh. Not overwhelming, but the contrast is stronger, making it jump out more. A creamier, softer color might have worked just a bit better here. Around the very edge of the dial is then a printed index, all in white, with rectangles at 12, 3, 6 and 9, long lines per minute/second with shorter lines per half minute/second and numerals every 5. This adds some sportiness to the dial as well as some visual noise. Had there only been the applied markers, the dial would have felt too sparse. They also complement the bezel markings, which are stripped down to numerals at 15, 30 and 45, a diamond at 12 and rounded lines at intervals of 5.
Perhaps my favorite detail on the watch all together is the blind debossed crosshairs in the center of the dials. Blind meaning there is no print color, rather they are just grooves in the surface, adding some texture while also eating up some empty space without becoming too busy. Another fantastic detail is the color matched date wheel. Yes, once again a micro brand has done what so many giants cannot, and matched the color of the date to their dial, making it more discreet. This is especially notable on the blue dial.
For hands, Eza went with a modified Roman sword style for the hour and minutes. They are long and slender, giving the style an elegant twist. They remain legible, however, and work with the overall aesthetic. The seconds hand is then a classic style with a diamond tip and counterweight.
The Sealanders come mounted to 22mm vintage style leather straps of good quality. The blue comes on a medium tan brown with off-white knots, while the black comes on a similar black strap. After seeing so many blue dialed watches come on black straps, much to my dismay, it’s great to see one on a complementary brown. The two colors play off of each other beautifully, creating a very stylish watch/strap combo out of the box. The black on black works well too, just has no surprises. The straps are mounted with quick-release spring bars, which we are seeing with more frequency.
On the wrist, the Sealander wears very well. 41 x 49 is a good modern size that is at the upper end a sweet spot for sport watches. Since it’s a diver, and bezels have a tendency to make watches feel smaller, I think it works just fine. After all, it’s a modern watch with vintage cues, not a watch that is trying to be vintage. It also wears thinner than 14mm suggests. More over, they just looks great. They are simple and clean, with just the right amount of sportiness to have some edge, but not feel aggressive. Similarly, they speak to vintage without feeling like an homage or looking too retro. The blue then adds some energy and color to the mix, making it very summery and going great with more subdued outfits that need a little punch. The black is classic and handsome, a no brainer for someone looking for a more conservative approach.
All in all, the new Eza has gotten a strong start with the Sealander. With so many vintage inspired watches out there, it’s easy to get jaded to the concept, but when it’s done well, which is to say with restraint, it’s very appealing. The Sealander is just that. Style wise, it gets the cues right without trying to be something it’s not. The modern additions are then just the cherry on top. 300m water resistance makes sure it stays dry (inside), a ceramic bezel and sapphire crystal will stay nice and scratch free and the ETA 2824-2 has proven reliability. For $780, Eza really has put together a very compelling package that while not throw-away-money cheap, is certainly a very good value. Oh, and each Sealander comes with a leather watch roll, strap changing tool and complimentary nylon strap. Not bad. So, if you’re looking for a new vintage inspired diver, be sure to check the Sealander out. We’re definitely looking forward to whey they have next in store.
Come see the Eza Sealander in person at our Wind-Up Watch Fair Oct, 21-23, 2016 at Chelsea Market, NYC. Click here for more details.