Watch Being Reviewed: R1 Black and Brown
Movement: Swiss Ronda 513 quartz
Case: 316L surgical brushed stainless steel
Case: 43mm x 11mm high, 5 ATM (50m) water resistant
Crystal: Double curved - K1 hardened mineral crystal with anti-reflective coating
Strap: Italian vintage calf leather with nubuk lining w/ push-button release butterfly clasp
Warranty: 2 years limited warranty
Shipping: $18 worldwide shipping, all taxes and import duties included
About (direct from website): "The idea of Ragazzo the brand emerged in the mid-nineties from a desire to create lifestyle products and a company that would reflect our values. It took the next fifteen years, but the idea has matured into a Italian lifestyle accessories brand brining our versatile and unique products to customers who can be confident that they are wearing a true original. Passion for details — This is what Ragazzo represents. Each product is built to express personality in a subtle but elegant way. Utilising fine materials, finishes and colours to emphasise the character of the design, while delivering real quality to the customer. Our heritage and engineering background drive most of our design decisions, making sure a product not only looks unique but delivers on its promise of being a simple yet emotional lifestyle accessory.
Andrea Ragazzo was born and raised in Switzerland, where at the age of seventeen he attended the Art Institute of Bern to follow his passion for design. Two years later, the commercial side of his career began with an apprenticeship as a draftsman. Since then, the pursuit of creating unique consumer products has been his focus. While developing products in a Swiss engineering firm, Andrea studied mechanical engineering at the University of Applied Science in Bern. During this time, he began working with Chinese factories, establishing a deep understanding of design for manufacturing. After graduating, Andrea took an opportunity to work in Hong Kong. Three years later, he followed his passion again creating a successful design and product development company — Ansema. Having not only the desire to create unique products, but also the theoretical understanding and practical experience, he took the final step and Ragazzo was launched. Considering Andrea's Italian origins, Swiss upbringing and passion for details, the choice to start with watches just felt right."
Packaging and First Impression: Fantastic packaging. The watch comes in a nice presentation box that is padded well which will protect your watch during shipping. At first glance and feel I thought the watch had a good weight and clean layout with a cool lug design.
Case: The case 316L stainless steel with a superb 0.8µm PVD coating. The PVD is applied quite evenly throughout the entire case. The case measures a generous 43mm including crown and right around 42mm without. The lug to lug measures right around 44-45mm. Combined with the 11mm case thickness the watch has a nice presence on the wrist. The push/pull crown measures mm and I found it easy to grasp with no play on this particular example. The non crown side of the case is unremarkable but shows off the nice PVD finishing of the case.
Overall I like the case design but have concerns about the lugs. While I like the lug design the lugs are integrated into the case in some fashion. I believe in order to detach the lugs the case back would need removed first. The issue is that the strap choice is limited currently to the strap that comes standard with the watch. I'm a strap guy so it is really important to me to be able to swap out straps as quickly and easily as possible. From my understanding upgrades in relation to the lugs and straps will be available in the future.
Crystal, Dial and Hands: I really appreciate the approximate 38mm dial opening on the R1 but am not a huge fan of the domed K1 hardened mineral crystal. In certain lighting conditions the domed crystal makes it somewhat difficult to view the dial not to mention attempting photographing the dial. A flat AR coated sapphire would be a much better option. The size of the opening is still fantastic. Beneath the mineral crystal is a black dial that is far from ordinary in appearance. The dial is probably my favorite feature of the R1. The dial is clean with very limited branding which like so many I prefer with only the Ragazzo logo above center dial.
The hour numerals surrounding the dial appear to be applied which a detail I wish more watch companies would include on their models. The high polished finish of the hour markers provide some flair and contrast to the dial. The minute markers are painted on the dial in a great beige color adding addition color contrast to the overall dial appearance. The handset looks great and corresponds well with the colors of the watch. I believe the hands would look even better with the same finishing of the hour markers. There is no lume anywhere on the dial. I believe lume on the hands should be standard and sufficient for the model. Overall great looking dial that is extremely clean and uncluttered.
Case Back and Movement: The R1 has a screw in case back which is also PVD coated. I prefer the finish of a case back on watches to match the rest of the case finish. The case back is nicely etched with the Ragazzo logo with various specification information surrounding the interior portion surrounding the logo. The only potential concern with the PVD finish would be marring up the case back during battery and strap changes. Beneath the case back is a dependable Ronda 513 quartz movement. The accuracy has be spot on as expected with a quartz movement. I'm really glad Ragazzo decided to use a Swiss movement over other options but hope that the company examines the possibility of using a Miyota 9015 in future productions. I believe an automatic movement in this style of watch would be rather popular.
Strap and On the Wrist: The R1 models come with a 22/22mm Italian leather strap that is approximately 3mm thick. The strap is soft and comfortable on the wrist but at mm in length could be problematic for the large wrist individual. On my 7 3/4 inch wrist there are two holes for upward sizing leading me to believe the watch will fit up to about an 8 inch wrist without difficulty. The watch strap comes with a fairly standard PVD coated butterfly clasp and the style is appropriate for the watch. I have heard of some difficulties with the butterfly strap closure but have had no issues with this particular sample.
Keep in mind that due to the lug design the stock strap is pretty much going to be the only strap one can use easily on the model without going through a bit of trouble. My understanding is future productions may eliminate the situation with having to remove the case back to install a different strap.
Summary: Overall I believe Ragazzo has a potential for a bright future. Even though the company is based out of China it was made quite clear during discussions that designing a quality timepiece was very important resulting in sourcing of the main components outside of China. The 316L steel originates from Korea, the movement from Switzerland, crystal from Japan and the strap from Italy. Obviously component sourcing greatly impacts pricing thus the R1 retails for $399 which is somewhat reasonable based on the above information. Ragazzo includes all customs fees with the price of the watch and for a more than reasonable $18 the watch will be on your doorstep in 2-3 days generally. I look forward to seeing where the company's vision leads next and hope to see even higher grade sourcing of components especially quality automatic movements.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to your comments as always.