Friday, November 9, 2018

Wrapping Up the Draken Kalahari

Okay, some reviews go longer than others, and this is a case in point.  After much time, and trial, I am pleased to say that I have finally completed my review of the Draken Kalahari.  I also wanted to hold off a wee bit to get closer to the delivery date of the watch to the customers who have already ordered.  So for those of you who have ordered, or may order shortly, my understanding is that the delivery date is mid-December (a little over a month from now).

So a little prologue, I was fortunate enough to meet the man behind Draken (Michael Blythe) at the District Time show back in September.  He had made his way over from New Zealand for the show.  In point of fact, he is a transplant, originally hailing from South Africa (if I have understood the chronology correctly).  And this, in part, is what inspired the name of this watch - the Kalahari.

Courtesy of Draken
The Kalahari has an internal rotating bezel which is adjustable by way of the lower (4 o'clock) screw down crown.  This allows for a second timezone.  What I have found with some of the other watches with this feature is a bit of "slippage", meaning that the crown is a little sloppy, not really engaging correctly and the internal bezel does not correctly align.  Obviously, this is down to manufacturing, and at least in so far as the model that I reviewed, the crown engages cleanly, and the internal bezel sets precisely.  It is graduated in 12 hour segments as opposed to 24, so it also allows you to use for a timing countdown if that is your preference.

The watch case is 44 mm in diameter, and of stainless steel with a DLC (Diamond Like Coating) treatment.  This seems to be pretty much the way that the industry is going, so PVD is rapidly disappearing in the rear view mirror of the watch making world.  Now what I think sets the Kalahari apart is the clear devotion to utilizing this finish for every imaginable aspect of this watch.  Obviously the main case and bezel -

but also...

The caseback...

The crowns...

And even the buckle!

All too often, the finish level of these secondary items is somewhat lacking. But in the case of the Draken Kalahari, it was very, very well done.

The crystal is sapphire, the inner side treated with an anti-glare coating.  

The movement is a Seiko NE57.  This is an automatic movement and in this configuration provides a power reserve function that is ingeniously displayed via an inner disc that seemingly floats above the main dial.  This offers a really cool level of depth and texture to the overall face of the watch.  The indicator goes from red to black as it stores power.

In addition to hours, minutes, seconds (central), the aforementioned power reserve indicator, there is a small date indicator at the 5 o'clock position.  The number at the red arrow is the day's date.

In this instance, it is the 8th.  The movement itself ran true and steady.  I also commend the decision to utilize a solid case back rather than the cheap and all too easy decision that is often taken to use a display back for a watch that is really meant for wear and tear rather than looking at (in most cases) an unfinished movement.  So well done Draken!

The dial is described as sand, and it is a very soothing color choice.  The black indices hand hand outlines and red indicator and second hand are wonderful choices as they pop visually without looking vulgar.

The strap is canvas with a leather lining, attached with a quick release spring bar.  The strap was comfortable and sensibly sized, neither too long or too short.  To quote that other great commentator on watches, Goldilocks:  "It was just right".

The fit of the watch was good, and it was quite comfortable to wear.  Now it does bear mentioning that the lug to lug length is 51.3 mm, which for some is going to be a bit longer (and therefore, bigger) than they are comfortable with, but for me it was a nice fit.

All in all, it was a great watch to review, and at the price (currently listed on the Draken site at $479), you get a lot of bang for the buck.

Here are the pertinents, direct from Draken -

Case 316L stainless steel, 44mm diameter, 22mm lugs, 51.3mm lug to lug
Movement Seiko NE57 automatic
Crystal Sapphire with inner anti-reflective coating
Strap Genuine leather or canvas with leather lining, 22mm buckle, quick-release pins, length 80mm and 125mm
Water resistance 100m


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