Italo Fontana has always been obsessed with design – often to the detriment of legibility, actually. Which, really, is incredibly ironic considering the size of his many chosen canvases. In fact, in many instances the front man of U-Boat has gone out of his way to create rugged and masculine designs in a “retro-style” theme, just for the sake of creating rugged and masculine designs in a “retro-style” theme.
Indeed, it can be posited that Italo Fontana’s overriding conceit for U-Boat is the pursuit, not of horology, but of a particular lifestyle that just happens to be reflected IN horology. Which is probably why the man has begun looking for other avenues to display his particular brand of “lifestyle.” Look no further than 2013’s Venenum, Italo Fontana’s take on Triumph motorcycle culture, or in the many U-Boat “lifestyle” accessories, if you need further proof of this.
Having said that, Italo Fontana will never leave the core of his beloved U-Boat behind. Which is why this year, U-Boat’s self-appointed Master of Ceremonies is back with another outrageous set of rugged and masculine designs not JUST in a “retro-style” theme but one that shockingly channels Captain Jack Sparrow, the new skeleton model, the Chimera Net.
DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES
OK, it’s true that bronze dive watches are all the rage nowadays. But has Italo Fontana gone too far off the deep end with this one? The simple answer is, “maybe.” It may be just in time for Halloween but, to be fair, the new Chimera Net is far from simple costume jewelry. Developed on the basis of the iconic Chimera B&B and Chimera Bronze, the new Chimera Net is U-Boat’s latest “lifestyle” offering that really has the Italian designer stretching the creative envelope. Albeit with amusingly positive results. Indeed, as far as Italo Fontana creations go, nothing has come close to the Chimera Net’s free-spirited frivolity, eschewing the Italian designer’s penchant for self-seriousness with a flip of a pirate’s hat.
“Conceived” in two different versions, the Chimera Net makes an initial splash with a bezel and caseband in blackened steel, matched to short lugs and a caseback forged in naturally aged bronze. However, it is the second version all in naturally aged bronze that will surely get all the attention. Indeed, it is Italo Fontana’s patented obsessive compulsive attention to detail that makes these watches.
Looking like a deck ornament from The Black Pearl, the exterior of the new Chimera Net is all U-Boat with a 46 mm diameter case, a titanic left-handed crown, two equally massive pushers, and the brand’s signature protective lever. Like previous iterations of the Chimera, Italo Fontana has added an additional layer of security: to adjust the time and date, the crown must be ejected from its recessed position by pressing on the sculpted pusher between the crown and its guard.
To get that “fishnet” look, the dial of the Chimera Net was grafted from three superimposed discs with the last layer made of a fine laser cut wire mesh in stainless steel. This allows the U-77 modified Valjoux Top Soignè automatic movement, modified and personalized to U-boat specifications to be half-seen.
Nothing has come close to the Chimera Net’s free-spirited frivolity, eschewing the Italian designer’s penchant for self-seriousness with a flip of a pirate’s hat
As previously mentioned the design of the Chimera Net has been meticulously studied to increase its inherent “vintage” look and to allow the materials to naturally age with time. The bronze, for example, has been treated with carefully selected acids and has not received any rhodium coating in order to keep the raw material natural. Another example are the hands on the dials of both watches, which were painted first, discolored and then purposely scratched by hand to age them.
A second model for those who would rather forgo the Pirates of the Caribbean associations has also been made available. Called the Chimera Net Tungsten, this third version is more contemporary in all respects, and is forged in steel but features a bezel made of (you guessed it) tungsten.
Last but not least is the range of leather straps especially chosen for these limited edition watches. Great examples of Italian handiwork, the leather straps have been deliberately and patiently distressed, shaped and hand-stitched by craftsmen from Tuscany, the homeland of finest leather craftsmanship, of Italo Fontana, and of course, of U-Boat.
And finally, what is it to be fashionable if it isn’t hard to get? Which is why to make it even more desirable the Chimera Net is a limited edition of only 300 pieces. And yes, even if you search in Davey Jones’ Locker.