PUBLISHED BY Joshua Clare-Flagg ON 28 Aug, 2015.
Deutsche Uhrenfabrik are a watch brand that have managed to keep themselves out of the spotlight until recently. I hadn’t heard of them until recently, and I was quite impressed with what I found when I discovered them. Beautiful vintage inspired design, German made, and all well within the “affordable” price range. Definitely time to do some more research.
I’m happy to share with you all the Deutsche Uhrenfabrik (Dufa) Walter Gropius DF-9001-02. It’ll cost you €260 / £190, so immediately that’s a pretty good start. Let’s take a closer look to see if it’s a decent watch for that price.
The case is a rather minimalist affair, weighing in at a slight 35g. It measures 38mm in diameter, with a height of 8mm, and a 45mm lug to lug length. For my 7 1/4 inch wrist, it fits very well as a classic / vintage style timepiece. The low profile means it is extremely easy to wear, and coupled with the light weight it is also very comfortable.
The case is completely polished, and has a very good level of finishing and machining. The finish is mirror-like, and the shape of the case is nicely executed. It has a bulbous, curved edge if you’re looking at it lug-on, and this actually makes it wear and feel a little smaller than the size suggests. Another reason why it’s an easy wear.
The push-on caseback contains a very detailed design, which is deeply engraved with impressive precision. There’s a nice drawing of a building of some sort, surrounded by a well-engraved spiral guilloche pattern. Around the outer edge is the Deutsche Uhrenfabrik name, and various watch specifics such as the model number, water resistance, and model number.
The Walter Gropius has a push-pull crown, which provides excellent grip. It’s just the right size – it’s the right proportion to the case, and is easy to use. It features the Dufa logo deeply etched on the end, once again quite impressively done.
The watch has 30m water resistance, which means it’s just about acceptable to go swimming in very shallow water with it on, not that I would personally do that. But it’s certainly fine to wear everyday and not worry about moisture getting in.
The crystal appears to be mineral, although I can’t be 100% certain. There’s no mention on the website, and I’ve asked but heard nothing back. It is a lovely shape, flat with a curved edging. This distorts the very edge of the view of the dial, especially the numerical hour markers – which I love. It keeps viewing the watch interesting, as at every angle something unique is happening. It’s also very vintage by design, working well with the rest of the watch.
Whilst the case in essence is simple, and actually very minimal, it’s very well made – and I especially appreciate the high quality of engraving found on the caseback and crown.
The dial really keeps the vintage theme going, and in fact is the key inspiration. This is thanks to the thin hands and Bauhaus numbers. The golden colours used on these also aid this.
The main dial plate is a black, shiny / polished finish. This provides a bit of reflection to the dial, in particular you can see the underside of the hands, and along the edges of the applied hour markers.
The small seconds is found within a subdial located at 6, set into the main dial body. It’s extremely neatly done, the edging between the two layers is completely flawless and smooth as you like.
One thing that I always love is applied hour markers. And I’m happy to say that the Sufa Walter Gropius doesn’t disappoint in this area. The numbers are in a stunning Bauhaus style font, tall and thin. They are the same gold / bronze colour as the hands, and look terrific against the shiny black dial when they catch the light. They’re all impressively made, even though they’re reasonably complex, and application is spot on.
The hands are thin, elegant, and simple. They have a light pitching to them, and are shaped as a baton with a small point at the tip. Just like the hour markers, they reflect the light well and look the part against the black back drop. They’re made with the same German accuracy as the rest of the watch.
The printing on the dial is all a golden colour to match the hands, numerals, and to contribute to the vintage vibe. It’s all accurate and precise, with no smudging.
The dial in total is really well made, and is also excellently designed.
The strap measures 18mm wide at the lugs, reducing to 16mm at the buckle – that’s fairly thin, but it matches the vintage feel and also suits the size of the case well. The leather feels very soft – it’s thin, but feels high quality – not like your usual thin leather that can be found on cheaper Chinese brands.
The straps is very soft and malleable, meaning it’s super comfortable on the wrist – you can barely feel it.
It’s a medium brown colour with slight oaky tones to it, with matching light brown stitching. The colour goes well with the vintage aesthetics, especially the golden hands and hour markers.
Regarding the buckle, the logo is the key design feature and is excellently made and engraved, just like the one found in the crown. The brushed central band is flanked by polished bars either side, and I really like how the logo is almost like a badge, overflowing the usual domain of the buckle.
It’s a comfortable strap, that matches and works perfectly with the watch.
To be completely honest, I have no idea on the movement. It’s quartz, but that’s all there is to know. I’ve asked, but not been informed. I would hazard a guess of it being something Japanese, such as a Miyota.
If the vintage, Bauhaus look of the Dufa Walter Gropius catches your eye then there’s a couple alternatives, both of which look rather alike.
First up is the Rodina R005, which has gathered quite a following in various watch forums. It’s blatantly Chinese (it says China Made on the dial), and boasts seriously impressive specs for $120 – sapphire crystal, automatic movement, and just generally pretty well made for the price. I don’t think it’s quite as well made as the Dufa, and a watch made in Germany will get you a little more street cred.
On the opposite end of the scale is the Nomos Tangente, the watch the Rodina is actually based on. They start at £1200, but are completely Made in Germany – including they’re own in-house movement. They’ve also got a reputation of being beautifully built.
The design of the Dufa Walter Gropius really sings out to me personally. Whilst I love the idea and design behind vintage watches, they’re a whole other realm and world to new watches. So a vintage inspired, well constructed watch made in Germany for under £200 is a hit in my opinion. It’s a shame that there’s no mechanical option available, as that would complete the vintage check list.
Still, if you like it, you can be certain that you’ll be getting plenty for your money. Not forgetting that you also get a 2 year warranty, it is a stunning little watch that is very refined and well put together. If you like it, go for it.