Firstly, I would like to share that there is no such term as DUMBO Illusion, just in case you are planning to google about it. For today’s hands-on review, I would like to introduce a new brand from Singapore, MMI Watches and they have just launched their first model – DUMBO on kickstarter. As of today while I am finishing this watch review article, the campaign has already reached 104% of its’ target goal and it’s well on its’ way to mass production and probably some stretch goal along the way. Briefly about the watch, “DUMBO”, it is inspired by a deep-sea creature (Dumbo Octopus) which dwells at 200-4800 meters beneath the ocean.

Here is a quick introduction to the brand. MMI Watches, an independent watch company based in Singapore was founded by Victor Wee and interestingly, MMI stands for Modernization, Modification and Innovation. The key term “Modernization” refers to transforming traditional watch making with a modern touch, “Modification” refers to redefine watch making and design and “Innovation” refers to constant injection of new ideas and methods to improve watch design.

Technical Specifications :

  • Case Diameter : 46mm x 46mm
  • Case Thickness : 14.6mm Thickness Without Dome Sapphire Crystal
  • Lug : 24mm Concealed
  • Case Material Options : 
    • 316L Surgical Grade Stainless Steel
    • Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) Black 316L Surgical Grade Stainless Steel
    • CuSn8 Marine Grade Bronze
  • Bezel : 120 Clicks Uni-Direction Ceramic Insert Bezel
  • Lume on Hour Marker, Bezel Insert and Hands : BGW9 Swiss Superluminova
  • Movement Options : Seiko NH35 or Swiss Movement Sellita SW200
  • Water Resistance : 500m with Helium Escape Valve
  • Crystal : 4mm Dome Sapphire Crystal
  • Crown : Signed Screw Down Crown

Here’s my detailed review…

Case : It’s definitely unique with its’ screw-down crown placement at 4 o’clock positioning and aligning the whole structure with its’ outer casing to give it a “flush” feel to the overall case design. Kudos to Victor for the bold and being different with the design. Out of the 3 case material options available, I had the opportunity to hands on both stainless steel and bronze, and I have to say that the quality is definitely on par with some of the existing diver microbrands. The bezel comes in 120 click uni-directional and I like how the contrast of the blue / white colour combination that matches well with the dial. It feels a bit too tight to my preference, but it does avoid the accidental move of the bezel. Since it’s rated 500m water resistance, there’s a helium valve on the side of case and making a statement that this is truly a divers watch.

Caseback : A bit disappointed on this segment of my review. No exhibition caseback is not what disappointed me but why wasn’t there an embossed dumbo octopus since the watch concept / design was inspired by it ?

Lug : This is my 1st time (I think) that I’m going to special mention about the lug of a watch. Victor designed the case to have its’ lug concealed (interesting concept) and that makes the watch lug to lug from side and top a well-balanced 46mm symmetric diameter. However, this would limit some of the after-market strap options (especially on bracelet). I would have included drilled lugs externally at the case to make it easier when removing / replacing the straps using a simple tool watch.

Dial : I was lucky to hands-on the stainless steel version (eventhough it was only a day) because of its’ vertical lining dial that offers a different colour from different angle based on the lighting. For the bronze version, I like the combination of matte dark blue with orange / white hands and orange white hour markers. I felt that the inner ring has too many lines of distraction. Would have love if it has similar style to NTH Devilray’s visual depth gauge as an example. On the display, the watch comes in a slightly domed sapphire crystal (nice touch) but would have prefer a curve domed instead (but I guess it will only push the price higher). I would have prefer if there wasn’t a date feature on the dial to keep the symmetric balanced feel to the overall watch design. I felt that the hands option could have been bigger and bolder.

Strap : For the stainless steel, it came with a solidly made metal bracelet and definitely within the diver specs / requirement whereas the bronze came with a thick genuine leather strap and bronze buckle. The only feedback I have for the leather strap is the length as it might be a bit too short to fit the strap keeper and I have a normal Asian wrist size (6.5″), which may impose an issue to anyone with a larger wrist size than mine.

Lume : Here’s a shot of how the full lume would looked like on the watch, where it covers the bezel insert, hour markers and the hands. BGW9 is definitely the standards for any divers watch in the market today.

Conclusion to my review : After a week of hands on, I would say this is a well-designed, well-built prototype and definitely a solid 1st model entry market to the microbrand watch industry. Congratulations to Victor and MMI Watches for achieving their target goal on kickstarter so far, and I have no doubt that the backers will be receiving a value-for-money diver watch based on the prototype I was able to experience with. However, the model name “DUMBO” is kinda debatable at the moment because most people would often reference it to Disney elephant character rather than the sea creature (Dumbo Octopus) which it was originally inspired. I do have a few names for Victor to consider if he ever plans to rename : DumbOcto or DumOct or DOctopus (Note to Victor : Royalty expected if any of the name is chosen). Nonetheless, the model name definitely has no impact of the quality of the watch, and Victor himself has made the option of not having the model name engraved on the dial too (if anyone felt uncomfortable about it). Anyway I’ll end the review as always with some watch shots and a disclaimer to this review, no Dumbo Octopus was harm during the hands-on. Haha.