What is a tool watch ? There are too many definitions of it in various forums. Some defined it as a watch designed for a purpose (eg. diving, rock climbing, automotive, flight, etc); some defined it besides being built for a purpose, it gives a ruggedness substance that offers a beautiful aesthetic from engineering standpoint; some defined watches created more than just telling time of the day and aesthetically of the design is secondary. There is no definite term for a tool watch in today’s watch industry, and it varies from brand to brand on its’ definition. However, D.M. 1936 offers a variation of series (ArmyAir ForceNavy & Tourbillon) in its’ current collection today, and in my opinion, the Navy series does fit the tool watch category. Why ? That is what this review is all about as I have the opportunity to field test the model U-3001-BLK from the Navy series and to share my experience with it.

Technical Specification of U-3001-BLK

  • 48mm Case Diameter excluding E-Tool & Crown
  • 316L Sand-Blasted Stainless Steel Case
  • 24mm lug width
  • 90 click Uni-directional rotating bezel
  • Domed mineral crystal
  • Mineral glass exhibition caseback
  • Luminous hour markers and hands
  • Chinese made self winding automatic movement with power reserve feature
  • 40 hours power reserve
  • 4mm thickness tapered genuine leather strap
  • Water resistance of 10atm
  • Limited edition 50 pieces worldwide for each colour variation

Here is what I think about the U-3001 :

Case : It’s not for the weak hearted ! Yup, that’s right… if you have a small wrist or just not into large sized watches, then this is definitely not the watch for you. Measured at 48mm excluding the crown and the E-Tool, this is definitely a chunky sized watch on an average wrist size. The design of the case is definitely one of the eye-catcher for this model because on the left side of it may look like a decorative design (eg. torpedo or a submarine) to match the Navy theme, but it’s actually an Emergency Tool (E-Tool). The screw-down crown is on the right side of the case with a unique touch of a black rubber stamped “DM” onto it. This matches the whole case with the black bezel and black dial. On the caseback, it showcased the automatic movement via the exhibition mineral glass. Around the caseback glass are the engraved model, brand, water resistance and the serial number individually assigned.

article continues after ad

E-Tool : What is this about ? It’s a detachable tool by unscrewing and it’s used for changing the strap whenever, wherever. This is one of DM1936‘s unique invention that differentiates themselves from the norms and offering a unique experience when wearing it. I do like the idea of having a strap tool with me all the time, as it’s really a useful tool during emergency, hence the naming. I do like to suggest an enhancement of this E-Tool, by offering dual set of tool onto it rather than 1. Basically if you unscrew the top you get (eg. small strap pin), whereas if you unscrew the bottom you get (eg. philip screw). And that’s where the endless possibilities for this is possible by offering accessories like swiss-army knife capabilities to go with it. The owner will decide what tools from the accessories to attach onto the E-Tool and wear it on wrist. Now that’s a “tool watch” there… !
Bezel : The bezel is matte black (which matches the colour of the stainless steel case) and is vertically raised with a 90-click uni-directional rotating bezel that resembles the look of a submarine Porthole. The feel of the bezel is tight, which is good to avoid accidental rotation when wearing it. The design of the bezel is somewhat similar to other divers watch, but with a single dash line on 3 & 9 o’clock position and a double dash line on 6 o’clock position. The 12 o’clock position has a 3d pearl like marker with lume whereas the rest are stainless steel small rounded circle marker.
Dial : Now this is an interesting dial because it may look busy, but in fact it’s rather a well-balanced design on the overall concept. Let’s start off with the obvious hands. I really like how big the hour & minute hands with the minute in red colour being slightly bigger & bolder. The date is positioned at 6 o’clock and it’s measured similar to height as the hour markers around the dial with the width measured similarly to the 12 o’clock larger triangle marker. These are the minor details that DM1936 really took serious note of to make it a well balanced design. Now to the 2 circles in the middle of the dial, which are for the second movement on the left and power reserve indicator on the right. Again, the alignment of the 2 circles are smack in the center between the 2, 4 o’clock and 8, 10 o’clock positioning. With the domed mineral glass effect, the busy dial actually provided a clearer indicator of each features without interfering each other’s display. Each triangle hour marker and hands are lumed accordingly.
Movement : It’s not equipped with neither Swiss ETA / Selita nor Japanese Miyota / Seiko here, but a Chinese made self winding automatic movement with 40 hours power reserve feature and a custom engraved “DM1936” onto the rotor. I was a bit skeptical about Chinese movement, but they have improved a lot of late and I too was finally impressed with its’ timing measurement of ~ +15 seconds per day. Not forgetting the 40 hours of power reserve, it truly lived up to its’ ability as I have left it untouched for nearly 36 hours and the results were accurate on the indicator of the hours left.

Conclusion to my thoughts on the U-3001 :

Again, I really have to re-iterate, it’s really not for the weak hearted ! It’s large but not too huge, chunky but not to clunky, and finally it’s a tool watch for me from design & feature perspectively ! I had the chance to mix & match the U-3001 with some of my existing 24mm straps, and it looked amazingly good on leather, metal bracelet, mesh and even pilot theme strap. Best of all, each colour variation is limited to 50 pieces only. I really like the overall concept where the details of each features are carefully designed in detail by DM1936. If you are looking for a tool watch, here is one you should not miss out ! Do check out the review on the other series of Air Force BV-138-BLV by Bert Kanne.