For around $1,000-$1,500, you can get yourself a few different entry-level premium watches from the famous brands — Tag Heuer, Oris, and Seiko. However, sometimes you want to stand out from the crowd a bit. Especially when everyone with a bit of money wears a Tag. Maybe you want to try something new, something fresh and untested. If so, you might want to check out DWISS and their interesting R2.
(Full Disclosure: DWISS sent me this watch to review, along with two bands; a blue rubber strap and a stainless steel bracelet. However, that doesn’t stop this review from being completely objective and honest)
To be completely honest, I was never one for upstart watch companies. When it comes to watches, I like a bit of history, especially with expensive watches. I’m not a rich man, so the idea of spending more than $1,000 on a watch from a completely untested company usually makes me a bit nervous, no matter how cool or interesting it looks. However, when DWISS reached out, I was intrigued because of its story and its designs.
Brief History Lesson
DWISS was founded by watch designer Rafael Simoes Miranda. Miranda was a watch designer for several different brands and even taught watch design in Milan, Italy. So DWISS was founded by a true watch enthusiast, someone who not only lives and breaths watches but understands proper watch design. When I saw that, I knew that DWISS wasn’t some silly cash-grab but a true passion project.
DWISS is also a unique company in that it’s also an online watch club that allows for community voted watch designs. As DWISS designs new watches, it asks for its community’s input, having them vote on certain aspects of the design. So not only was the watch DWISS offered me to review interesting looking but its brand provided a bit of intrigue as well.
The DWISS R2
I honestly didn’t know which watch I was being sent. When the company first reached out, I was told they wanted me to review the DWISS M3, which made sense, considering the M3 is supposed to be an automotive-themed watch and its name is shared with one of BMW’s most famous cars. However, that’s not the one I was sent.
Instead, I was sent the DWISS R2, which is a bit older but, I’m glad to say, actually better looking in my opinion. The R2 has a “floating hours” display, a 40 mm case made of 316L stainless steel, a sapphire crystal, and Super LumiNova BG-W9. Mine came with a blue and orange color scheme that’s unique and interesting. Unique color schemes seem to be DWISS’ thing and the blue/orange combo on my R2 fits that bill.
It’s also, in my opinion, the best looking of all the R2 variants. The rubber strap it came with is also blue with orange stitching. With that rubber strap, the DWISS R2 retails at $990. But the stainless steel bracelet bumps the price up to $1,140.
The movement is a Peseux P224 automatic movement, decorated with “cote de geneve” and “perlage”, and has a date display, a hacking seconds hand, and a 38 hour power reserve. It’s not the sexiest of movements but it’s affordable, accurate, and reliable. Plus, while DWISS’ decorations aren’t extensive, they are pleasant and dress up the watch quite a bit. It’s about as decorated as a $1,000 watch’s movement should be.
What’s it Like to Wear?
When I first opened the box, I was amazed at how small it actually looked and felt, in a good way. In photos, most DWISS watches look a bit chunky and oversized, even the R2. However, in person and on the wrist, the R2 is far more delicate and sophisticated than I thought it would be. It also looks premium and expensive. It might not have the wow-factor of something from Rolex, IWC, or Breitling — which you can tell are extremely expensive from the moment you see them — but it certainly has the same quality look as an entry-level Tag Heuer, which is appropriate given that they’re similar in price.
It feels good, too. Again, it’s no Rolex but it also costs a tenth of the price. I keep going back to entry-level Tag but, in terms of quality, fit, finish, and feel, that’s the best comparison I can make.
The quality feels solid and the detailing is nice; such as the mix of different finishes on the case and lugs. The face of the case, bezel, and lugs are brushed, while the side of the bezel is polished, and the crown features a lovely blue emblem. None of the edges feel rough or poorly made and it all feels solid. Even the crown feels nice to turn, with nice positive feeling detents as you pull it out.
The dial features a floating hour hand display, which seems to be done by placing an hour arrow on a mostly transparent wheel, while the minutes and seconds hands are more traditional. There are three different ringed layers on the face; the central semi-transparent circle, the blue ring for the hour legends, and the outer white ring for the minute and second legends. The blue hour ring sits above the other two, creating nice depth, which is made even nicer looking by the domed sapphire crystal. Overall, it’s an interesting design that’s drawn compliments from almost everyone that’s seen it.
All of the legends also seem really well made. Their contrasting colors on the hour and minutes make them really easy to see and they look nice and sharp. I don’t own a loupe, and I’m not that much of a stickler, but even upon really close inspection, the legends quality seems to be top notch.
Four hexagonal flat-head screws adorn the bezel, in a Audemars Piguet Royal Oak-sort of way. At first, I wasn’t sure I liked the four screws; I couldn’t tell if I wanted there to be more or none at all but I wasn’t quite sure four is the right number. Now that I’ve worn it for awhile, I’m beginning to like the look.
However, it’s not perfect, as there are some inherent issues I have with the design. For starters, the central semi-transparent circle is meant to show off the movement underneath but have a frosted sort of look. However, it just looks foggy. At first, I actually thought the watch was damaged and moisture had gotten in, until I’d seen photos of other R2s that looked exactly the same. Because of that fogged look, it’s very difficult to read the date legends, which are too small to begin with and placed on the outside of that fogged circle. I like the idea of the frosted look but I wish the date legends were easier to read.
Also, the hour arrow placed on the transparent wheel, which is done to create the “floating hours” look, sort of just looks like a decal and doesn’t match the high quality of the other two hands, which are both really nicely done. I get why it’s done that way but I’m not sure if the execution is as good as it could have been. That said, it’s not a deal breaker and it does create a cool floating effect.
Another issue I have is with the lume. The LumiNova illumination on the hands is both too scarce and ineffective. There’s only lume on the back of the second hand, which is normal, and the tip of the minute hand. While that’s not unusual, it barely works and is difficult to see at night. Admittedly, most of my watches lack lume altogether, so I’m sort of used to not having it. Interestingly, the hour arrow looks like it’s supposed to have lume but it either doesn’t or mine doesn’t work. I’m not sure if this is intentional or an issue with my review example but my hour hand doesn’t glow even a bit.
By contrast, my Seiko diver’s lume is bright, easy to see, and lasts seemingly forever and it costs a fifth of DWISS R2’s price. I do understand not putting a lot of lume, as some enthusiasts find it to be tacky on more premium watches, but I wish what little lume that’s there was more effective.
My watch came with the rubber strap already on, with the stainless steel bracelet in a nice leather box. So far, I prefer the rubber strap to the bracelet. For starters, I’m not a stainless steel bracelet kinda guy. I prefer either a leather strap for dress watches or a NATO/rubber strap for sporty/diver watches. So it’s no surprise that I prefer the rubber strap here. While it’s not exactly a sport or tool watch, like a diver’s watch or a chronometer, it has a sportier aesthetic, which I really like and feel the rubber strap works better with.
Also, the blue strap adds a pop of color and makes the watch stand out. I was never a fan of flamboyant colors on watches but I find myself wanting to wear this more and more. The blue and orange color scheme has really charmed me so far. It’s also a nice, thick strap that feels high quality and is surprisingly comfortable. The clasp on the strap feels really good, too. It’s chunky and made from brushed stainless steel and feels high quality.
I also love the quick band release mechanism. A little slide lock sits at the base of the strap or bracelet and allows for incredibly quick release and installation. You can swap bands out in seconds, without any tools, and it’s extremely convenient. I honestly don’t want to have a watch strap without it, now.
While I prefer the rubber strap, for its pop of color and comfort, the stainless steel bracelet feels nice. Though, I’m coming from mostly Seikos and, as much as I love Seiko, their bracelets always feel pretty chintzy and rattly. This one doesn’t; it feels tight and well put together.
How Does it Wear?
Honestly, I really like it. It wears much smaller than it looks and it’s thinner than I expected it to be. The lugs perfectly hug my admittedly thin wrists, and the crown doesn’t interfere with my hand when I bend my wrist, like some of my Seikos have in the past. While the stainless steel band is nice, the rubber strap is more comfortable.
The R2 looks good, too. It looks great with jeans and a t-shirt and maybe a nice blazer. I wouldn’t call it a dress watch, it’s more of a sporty, casual watch, especially in this color scheme, but it wouldn’t look out of place with some dress/casual clothes as well.
Should You Buy One?
When DWISS reached out, I was initially hesitant. I’ve gotten countless requests to review upstart watches that always seemed like cynical, overly-styled, fashion watches. However, DWISS’ owner and its story, along with its unique designs, piqued my curiosity enough to review one. So I agreed to review the watch but, being a very new, very small company, I had my doubts. However, I’m very impressed with its quality, its style, and just how comfortable it feels on the wrist.
There are some design issues I have and it’s certainly not perfect. It also lacks the prestige and name-value of brands like Tag Heuer for the same money. Also, I’m a bit of a loyal Seiko fan and think that anyone spending under $5,000 on a watch should just get a Seiko. However, if you’re looking for an interesting, unique, and stylish watch with intriguing color combinations, DWISS should be on your radar. The R2 is a handsome, stylish, and surprisingly high-quality watch that will bring you compliments and will act as a nice addition to your collection. Had DWISS never reached out to me, I’d have never considered them. However, I’m glad they did and I’m happy I found such a cool new brand.