Duzu has returned to their diving roots with their latest release, the Coral Bay. I received the watch a few months 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 production piece 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 the prototype and now the actual production piece.
The stainless steel case feels substantial. It measures in at 42mm with a lug space of 22mm. The watch doesn’t wear substantial though, it wears like you would expect a “smaller” case to wear. 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 in all conditions. By conditions I mean in wet/dry/hot/cold/with gloves/bare hands.
I love a well-executed oversized crown. I am not disappointed by what Duzu has done here. The crown function is smooth and precise which is the most important detail. Appearance is also an important detail. The oversized crown is signed with the Duzu logo. A detail that I like about the crown is how when the crown is screwed down in the closed position it sits flush with the crown guards.
The edges of the crown were designed with a “no slip grip” mindset that is apparent by the large grooves cut into the circumference of the crown. I never like to worry about the watch on my wrist whether it will “be ok” when I’m wearing it for outdoors activities. 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 oversized 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 (off the bracelet it’s extremely lightweight), 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/angular 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 fantastic wrist presence.
The bezel on this watch carries over that same experience that the crown possesses. The large, brushed finish stainless steel bezel is an example of “form and function”. The utilitarian appearance teamed with the function makes the experience exactly how you want a bezel to function. All the components come together nicely; easy to grip, rotates smoothly and most importantly functions precisely. I definitely use the bezel on my watch multiple times during the day. I don’t want to deal with a bezel that’s hard to grip or one that is going to move after setting it in place. The bezel function and design in just another example of how this watch “punches way above” the early bird price point of $525 USD.
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 QC issues, it makes me want to question “the why?” a small brand like Duzu can get it right but these “big names” can not. A pleasant surprise of this watch is on the bezel, pertaining to the black-filled numerals and 12H marker on this bezel. 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 I mentioned earlier. 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 ETA 2824-2 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. It should be noted that DUZU only made 17 with the ETA movement, and the rest come with a Miyota 9015.
The lugs definitely carry over that same rough/badass attitude design language of the crown guards. I love the strong geometric shape these lugs are designed with. What really completes the lugs for me is the squared shape meshed together with angular design. The lugs are more angular than curved. 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. I had a difficult time getting the bracelet off of this watch because of the spring bars, which having drilled lugs would have eliminated that said issue.
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. This isn’t a deal breaker for me because I rarely ever keep a watch on it’s bracelet. 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. There’s also a nice micro adjustment so you can fine tune the fit when you are on the go. The best part is you don’t need any tools to do so.
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 they have executed 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. There is a no date option available now via DUZU’s website.
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. Any doubts I had were eliminated after seeing it in person. Two design choices with the execution of the 12H marker are what made me truly appreciate it. Duzu carried over the same font from the d on the crown and bracelet clasp. I also like that the 12H d is bordered with an application of lume. Speaking of the lume, the three hands and sandwich style markers are also treated with 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, which is listed at $549 USD ( https://www.duzuwatches.com/shop/ ) . 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. If brushed finish isn’t your thing there’s are bead-blasted models available. DUZU also have lume options available C3 or BGW9. I don’t see anything on the DW-D2 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. I have to warn you, this watch is a strap whore! It looks fantastic on any strap combo you put it on. This custom canvas was my personal favorite.
Thank you all for reading, thank you to Wayne and Duzu.