PUBLISHED BY Joshua Clare-Flagg ON 14 Jul, 2017.
Dufa continue to expand their mechanical range with the Aalto; as expected, it’s vintage / Bauhaus inspired and looks pretty splendid at first glance. The main selling point is the fact that they’re marketing it as a “regulator” – a timepiece where the hour and minute hands are arranged into separate subdials (the minute hand retaining the centre pinion). However, as we delve a little deeper, there’s a bit of a flaw with this declaration.
Let’s look a bit closer at the DuFa Aalto to see if it’s worth the RRP of €499 / £435.
- Dimensions: 42mm diameter x 12mm height x 49mm lug to lug
- Weight: 64g
- Water resistance rating: 30m / 3ATM
- Movement: Miyota 8217
- Accuracy: +5.2 s/d
- Lug width: 20mm
- Warranty: 2 years
- Price: €499 / £435
- Buy here: https://www.deutsche-uhrenfabrik.de/collections/aalto-automatic-9017/products/aalto-automatic-regulator-df-9017-01
The case as a whole comprises of a pleasant bulbous, graceful form. Looking at it from the side, it has a rounded profile that encapsulates a smooth and slick form from the rounded crystal all the way through to the exhibition caseback.
Delicate, thin lugs protrude.
The swollen exhibition caseback is secured with 4 screws and shows off the movement well. Watch specifics surround the window, deeply and accurately engraved.
The push-pull crown is the perfect size for winding and setting; the grip is good too to match. On the end is the Dufa badge engraved neatly and accurately.
The dial is certainly in line with Dufa’s ethos – vintage Bauhaus inspired. There’s an interesting brushed appearance to the base of the dial, providing a small amount of texture – but only up close.
The Dufa logo is an applied badge at 12, and for me really makes the dial. It’s the only applied element on there, but it’s just enough to make an impression. It’s deep, accurately machined and achieves creating an impact.
The most annoying thing about the watch is the hour indicator at 9. The whole purpose of this timepiece is to be a regulator; that’s how it’s marketed obviously – where each hand is split into separate subdials. Therefore, you’d expect the hour hand to still behave as normal – with a rotation every 12 hours. However, they have just used a 24 hour indicator in place. This obviously behaves differently – it rotates once every 24 hours instead of every 12 hours… meaning you can’t glance at the dial and read it as normal. I’ve found I’ve managed to get used to it, but it’s still not quite the same and for the amount you’re paying, you’d expect a proper regulator.
The Aalto has splendid, elegant, long hands. The minute hand curves downwards at the tip to follow the dip around the edge of the dial which is a delicate feature.
The leather strap is on the thinner than average side to go with the retro theme. But, don’t let the slender figure of the strap deceive you – it truly is lovely, high quality and delightfully supple. It has attractive printing on the back as far as embossing goes (I though it looked cool enough to mention). The leather has a matte finish, which I much prefer to a glossy patent alternative.
The strap is very comfortable when wearing, and as it is plain black with matching stitching it suits the watch in general just fine. It also has the addition of quick release pins, which in my opinion should be included on every watch – this will ensure quick and easy strap changes.
The strap has an interesting and shapely tang buckle; a sort of triangular top bar with the logo applied and set within a badge on top. It’s an exhibit of close attention to detail by Dufa.
The movement powering the Aalto is the Miyota 8217 – which is practically the same as the more popular 8215 which can be found in the Spinnaker Cahill, James McCabe Heritage, and Ballast Trafalgar – but with a 24 hour indicator at 9.
The accuracy is rather incredible: timed using my Lepsi Watch Scope, it’s coming in at a surprising +5.2 sec/day. That’s great news – obviously it must have had a measure of regulating to get it that accurate. Other specs include a 42 hour power reserve, hand wind capabilities, and a beat rate of 21.6k bph (6 ticks per second).
The quality of finish is surprisingly smart for a Miyota, usually they have very basic finishing and sometimes they’re not the cleanest either, but that’s not the case here.
The Dufa Aalto comes equipped with a custom rotor, featuring a blue top with the Dufa logo inlaid in a metallic style. The rotor is a bit on the noisy side when it’s free spinning.
Firstly, €499 / £435 is certainly on the highest end to pay for a Miyota powered timepiece – personally, it’s too much for me, when you can Swiss Made watches for a similar price. The good news is that DuFa watches are often available for less than the RRP, so I’m sure it’ll be available for slightly less than the asking price in due course.
Saying that, the Aalto truly is a lovely watch that is well designed and comprehensively constructed. The contoured case and sophisticated dial design make it a pleasure to survey; BUT – as long as you get used to the hour subdial showing a 24 hour rotation rather than the expected 12 hour.