Duzu has returned to their diving roots with their upcoming release, the Coral Bay. I received the prototype a few weeks ago from Wayne McCay. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Duzu, they are an Australian based company. This is their third release and quite possibly their most impressive release. I will get into why I think that as we explore this prototype together throughout this review. What I appreciate about Duzu is that they stay true to their unique DNA and that they haven’t jumped on the homage bandwagon. I was initially impressed with the Coral Bay when I first handle it. The stainless steel case feels substantial. It measures in at 42mm with a lug space of 22mm. The case design is definitely a highlight of the Coral Bay, especially the crown and crown guards. You will have absolutely zero issues gripping and operating the 9mm custom crown. I’m a sucker for an well done oversized crown and I am not disappointed by what Duzu has done here. The crown function is smooth and precise which is the most important of details but appearance is also an important detail. The oversized crown is signed with the Duzu logo and the edges of the crown were designed with a no slip grip mindset which is apparent by the large grooves. I never like to worry about the watch on my wrist whether it will “be ok” when I’m wearing it for any activity. Duzu certainly shares that thought process judging by the design of the Coral Bay. The crown guards are a great example of this design plan. I appreciate the crown guards quite a bit not only for their appearance but for the mass amount of protection they offer the crown. For those concerned about it digging into the back of your hand/wrist, you need not to worry as this case wears extremely similar to a 44mm Panerai. Similar in terms of both size and weight, which translates into fantastic wrist presence for the Coral Bay. Another detail of this case that adds to this strong wrist presence are the squared lug design. There is a nice design correlation between the lug shape/design and the design of the crown guards. Both designs are bold, square shaped and feature a beautiful brushed finish. The design of both make them major focal points of the case while offering solid-abuse resistant reassurance. The case has a trio of circular, vertical and horizontal brushed finishes that all come together adding to the awesome imposing wrist presence.
The bezel on this watch carries over that same experience that the crown possesses. The large, brushed finish stainless steel bezel not only has that utilitarian appearance but it also functions like you want a bezel to function. It’s easy to grip, it rotates smoothly and most importantly it functions precisely. The bezel function and design in just another example of how this watch “punches way above” the early bird price point of $349 USD($549 thereafter). When I see a watch at this price point with a bezel that doesn’t have any extra play or backspin and that it lines up perfectly with the dial, it makes me wonder why brands like Rolex and Panerai can’t get this down at their price points?!? I certainly don’t hate those brands by any means but having experienced multiple models from both brands and others at that price point with these QC issues, it makes me want to question the why a small brand like Duzu can get it right but these “big names” can’t. A pleasant surprise of this watch is on the bezel, pertaining to the numerals and 12H marker on this bezel that are black-filled. What’s so surprising about that you ask?!? Look at the pic below and you will see why this is a nice surprise.
The bezel on a dive watch is always a popular focal point. It’s not only an aesthetically pleasing detail but it’s also an important functional detail as well. I like that this bezel is not only functionally sound but it’s also aesthetically pleasing. In fact, it’s pleasing to look at in both light and dark environments. While we are on the pleasing subject, the case back should please both fans of exhibition case backs and those like myself who appreciate a solid case back. Wayne did a little something extra with the Coral Bay case back which in my opinion took it one step further. The manta ray etched on the small sapphire crystal porthole view into the Miyota 9015 movement is a fantastic detail. That simple Manta Ray is an example of how a small detail can take the personality of a watch so much further.
The lugs definitely carry over that same rough/badass attitude of the crown guards. I love the strong geometric shape these lugs are designed with. What really completes the lugs for me are the squared shape and angled design. From a functional standpoint I wish that the lugs were drilled. I don’t just prefer drilled lugs because I find them aesthetically pleasing, I prefer them because it makes changing the strap/bracelet easier and a threaded screw bar is stronger that a spring lug bar. Another area that can use a touch of refinement are the links that follow the solid end links on this bracelet. These links occasionally stick out from the rest of the bracelet. An example of this is in the pic below at the end of the review. The bracelet is equipped with a vertical brushed clasp that is finished off nicely with a large engraved d logo. The clasp buttons and the clasp itself, all function smoothly and without any issues.
The dial on the Coral Bay is clean and legible not overly busy in anyway whatsoever in terms of too much text, unnecessary details, etc… Duzu gives you only what you need on this dial and executes it with simplistic beauty. Personally I could have done without the date window but I do like how Duzu designed the date presentation on the Coral Bay. I like that the date window doesn’t eliminate any of the hour or minute markers which helps keep symmetry on the dial. I also like that Duzu’s design choice of a black date wheel with white printed numerals. It’s an eye sore/distraction when a watch has a black dial and the date wheel is white. The date window is neatly placed between the 4H and 5H markers.
The Coral Bay’s dial features a classic three hand layout with three oversized numeral markers at 3, 6, 9. What about 12 you ask?!? Well Duzu went creative and placed their d logo at the 12H position. When Wayne showed me the early rendering of the dial I wasn’t sure how I felt about this design choice, but seeing it in person changed my feelings. Two design choices with the execution of the 12H marker are what made me appreciate it. I like that the d matches the other polished markers on this dial and I also like that it’s bordered with an application of lume. Speaking of lume, the three hands and sandwich style markers are also treated with a healthy application of lume.
I enjoy watching the progression of improvements with each of Duzu’s releases. The Ningaloo Reef was a strong freshman release, followed by their unique take on a pilot style watch. The Coral Bay is a strong third release, perhaps their strongest yet! I know we hear this quite often “you get a lot of watch for the money!”, but you truly do with the Coral Bay, especially if you take advantage of the $349 early bird price($549 thereafter). Everything on the Coral Bay prototype functions without difficulty or flaw. For example, the bezel lines up where it should, each click is precise and there isn’t any extra play or “backspin”. The crown is executed with the same precision. Overall I am impressed by the Coral Bay prototype. I don’t see anything that is a dealbreaker for me personally. I definitely can recommend this diver for those looking to dive into something different in the flooded sea of submariner homages.
The Coral Bay is coming to Kickstarter on August 1st. Thank you all for reading, thank you to Wayne and Duzu.
Nice designed/finished case
Clean legible dial
Rugged case and bracelet
1000+ feet water resistance
Areas of improvement:
Adding drilled lugs
Bracelet link refinement