I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Draken’s previous two releases: the Tugela, a diver; and the Peregrine, an aviator. I’m now checking out their latest release: the Kalahari.
Named after the biggest desert of Southern Africa, and using an altimeter for inspiration – it has a distinctive “tool watch” theme to it. Talk about versatility from the brand; 3 watches, 3 completely different looking watches covering 3 major themes.
Currently on Kickstarter (launched on July 15th 2018), let’s take a closer look to see how it fares.
- Dimensions: 44mm diameter x 15.1mm height x 51.3mm lug to lug
- Weight: 124g
- Water resistance rating: 10ATM / 100m
- Movement: Seiko NE57
- Accuracy: +5.4 sec/day
- Lug width: 22mm
- Warranty: 2 years
- Price: Pledges start from NZD$634 / $429 / ~£324, RRP $699 / ~£525
- Buy here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tugela/the-draken-kalahari-automatic-military-watch
Like it’s siblings, the case utilises the splendid “flowering” shape – which is wider at the bezel than the base. No only does it make the case more interesting than a standard barrel shape, it also makes the watch wear smaller than the 44mm diameter suggests – as the section in contact with your wrist is more like 40-42mm.
I really love a good blasted finish, and the case has the Draken logo text engraved on the side. Very desert inspired.
There’s an intriguing radial chevron texture to the bezel, flowing through seamlessly from the case to the domed crystal.
The cool thing about Draken watches is that there’s always lume a plenty – here we have a helping on both crowns and also the caseback; much like their other offerings. Whilst it’s not really required or technically functional, it’s a nice touch to see the effort that’s been put into creating a really interesting case.
Dual crowns are always welcome, there’s something unconventional about them due to their rarity – and I like that. Both are screw-in, the top at 2 is for the movement whilst the bottom at 4 is for the internal rotating GMT bezel. When you unscrew them they pop out nicely allowing you to rotate, and have a really smooth thread; which is lovely to use. The top has the logo and the bottom crown has a circle, with both boasting decent knurled grip which is easy to use.
The screw-in caseback is very interesting – with the lumed logo in the centre, surrounded by a really rugged patterned black backdrop. Details on the outer edge are deeply and accurately engraved.
Sitting on top of the case is a very thick, double domed sapphire crystal – tapping it provides a considerable thud. It has decent anti-reflective coating on the underside which splashes a blue flash when the light hits it right.
The dial is completely lumed – sand coloured luminous paint continues the desert theme. If I’m being really picky, perhaps it’s not quite sandy enough – maybe a little too yellow, but that’s me being very harsh.
It’s multilayered, with an upper central disc which is also the power reserve, a lower surround containing the date and inset hour markers. These are completely flanked by an inner rotating GMT bezel. As you can imagine, there’s lots of depth going on and plenty to see.
The hands are interesting; bold thanks to the sheer size and the thick borders too, yet the skeletonised aspect allow them not to be too overbearing. The seconds hand is a simple straight red point providing a flash of colour to the dial.
The power reserve and date indicators are discs rather than the usual hands. The date is located at 4, nice and snug underneath the central power reserve disc. The power reserve indicator is basically a coloured section below the top central disc – which is what rotates clockwise. The more charge, the more the disc rotates, allowing more coloured filling to be displayed.
It’s interesting that there is no logo on the dial; at first I didn’t even notice. It’s obvious why – as the entire central section rotates with the power level, placing it there is out of the question. I find it honourable that Draken have decided to leave it off. Rather than cram it on the dial somewhere else, they’ve opted to go for legibility and overall aesthetics rather than obvious brand awareness.
The strap is canvas, and suits the watch style perfectly. The cream / sand colour is a pleasant alternative to the norm, but has the potential to get grubby quickly. The leather bottom ensures the strap is comfortable on the wrist.
Ah, quick release pins. I’m so happy to see you. They should be on every strap – making taking them off a doddle.
The sand blasted buckle matches the case, it is very chunky and well designed. The Draken logo is engraved on the top bar, perhaps it could be a tad deeper but that’s just me being picky.
The movement used is the Seiko NE57. It’s one I’ve not seen used before – the main reason we have it in the Kalahari is for the central axis power reserve indicator, and date as a hand 6. The entire movement is rotated 30 degrees to offset the date, move the main crown to 2, allowing the additional crown at 4 for the internal rotating bezel.
Specs include ~41 hour power reserve, 29 jewels, hand & automatic winding, 21.6k bph (6 ticks per second), and a hacking second hand.
I’ve found the Draken Kalahari to be as well-built and thought-through as their previous models. Every angle is obviously deeply considered, creating a very pleasurable viewing experience. Yes the price is more than the others – but you’re getting a more unique look, with more unique features too: especially the power reserve indicator and concealed date wheel.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m a sucker for rugged tool watches, and this is a perfect example of one. It’s sure going to take a beating, whilst looking very cool. In a market where pretty much every watch seems to be a diver; the Kalahari is a refreshing foray into that little bit different, that little bit extraordinary.