As I think you’re aware (because we talk about it from time to time), we get random solicitations coming in for taking a look at watches. This can be for crowd-funded projects, someone getting stuff started up from scratch, or even from seemingly established brands that we had never heard of. It’s in that later category that I was lumping in the correspondence from Deutsche Uhrenfabrik (aka DuFa). They had some interesting looking stuff, so I agreed to take a look at one of their watches, the DuFa Aalto Regulator.
When I received the DuFa Aalto Regulator in, I saw a name on the packaging that was familiar – Solar Time. I knew I had seen watches coming in from that company before, but it was escaping my mind as to what ones. Fortunately, Victor has a better memory for this than I do, and quickly placed it. You see, Solar Time is actually the company behind a number of brands. DuFa, of course. But also AVI-8, Earnshaw, Ballast, Fjord, James McCabe, and Spinnaker. I’m not bringing this up in any way to cast aspersions, or otherwise make you think less of it. I feel when we run across these sorts of relationships, it’s of benefit to share them with you. Perhaps you like what you’ve seen (or owned) from a brand listed, and then can carry that good will forward. Or, should something have gone wrong, again, fore-warned is fore-armed. Anyways, the big Swiss brands make no secret of the relationships, so who knows why they are doing it here.
Alright, mini industry insights session is now concluded. Back to the DuFa Aalto Regulator. On the surface of it, a regulator watch should be like just about any other regulator watch – big central minutes hand, a smaller hour hand, and then (maybe) a seconds hand. And sure, we’ve got that here. But there are some important differences as well.
For starters, I consider the DuFa Aalto Regulator very much a dress watch. A broad white dial is set into the 42mm polished case, you have minimalistic indices, and the handset is comprised of thin sticks. All smacks of a dressier piece, no (should you want a more truly dress watch, they do have a black dial option as well). The next area of difference comes in with the hour register.
As I quickly learned, the DuFa Aalto Regulator actually has a 24-hour indication there on the left side of the dial, rather than a more common 12-hour orientation. If that wasn’t obvious from the number of pips marked out, the 6-12-18-24 markings make it painfully so. This is interesting, but it also seems like a miss. You see, if they had started the scale right at 9 o’clock (making that midnight) then you could have also had an easy day/night indication, depending on which half it was in. Then again, that may just be my own fever dream.
The rest of the handset on the DuFa Aalto Regulator works as you would expect. You’ve got what amounts to running seconds down in the lower right (with some vestigial indications, not useful for timing in the seconds though), and then of course the centerpiece, the large central minute hand. This was, I felt, quite well-crafted, going right out to the edge and stitching each of those minute markers on the outer track. In other words, there’s no mistake about the minute being indicated. And that’s the genesis of the regulator clock, so it makes sense that it carries forth here.
The rest of the dial of the DuFa Aalto Regulator is pretty vanilla (and I say that as someone who enjoys vanilla as a flavor). You’ve got the ‘Regulator’ text at 2 o’clock (which is just plain redundant, and should be struck), the “Made in Germany” mark on the lower portion (perhaps why they hide the Solar Time association), and then the DuFa applied logo up at 12, which is rather nice.
Powering all of this you have a Japanese automatic (we presume this is the same Miyota we’ve seen pop up on SevenFriday, Spinnaker, and CJR regulators), which – along with the custom rotor – is visible via the exhibition caseback. Given that neither the watch nor the spec sheet calls out the material, I’m going to go ahead and assume that the crystals are mineral. Why assume? Well, that’s because, for as wide-ranging as the catalog is, Solar Time is not so great as responding to our questions, so we roll with what we can know or suss out.
Rounding out the rest of the watch, you’ve got a fairly basic leather strap that has a nice buckle (again, that logo pops up) and quick-release spring bars, and a whole 3 ATM of water resistance (no swimming for this one). It’s a fairly basic set of specifications, and that’s ok – regulators really are fairly basic watches, albeit with a different way of display the time than we might otherwise be used to.
That then leaves the question – is the $535 DuFa Aalto Regulator the one for you? It is certainly the dressier option of the various ones I mentioned at the outset, and it does use the same movement common to all of them. At the end of the day, you just really need to decide how it is you want your regulator styled. And if that style is “suit ready”, well, then, I think this DuFa Aalto Regulator should fit in nicely. deutsche-uhrenfabrik.de
- Brand & Model: DuFa Aalto Regulator
- Price: $535
- Who’s it for? You’re intrigued by regulators, but also want a dressier piece
- Would I wear it? Intermittently, sure
- What I’d change: Rotate the 24 hour scale for a day/night indicator, and lose the markings for the running seconds
- The best thing about it: Aside from compactness, I’ll call out the minute hand going to the edge of the known world
Tech Specs from DuFa
- MOVEMENT : Japan Automatic 3 Hands
- CASE MATERIAL : Stainless Steel
- CASE DIAMETER (mm) : 42
- CASE THICKNESS (mm) : 12
- CASE SHAPE : Round
- CASE COLOR : Stainless Steel
- DIAL COLOR : White
- BAND : Genuine Leather Strap
- BAND COLOR : Black
- BUCKLE : Strap Buckle
- BAND WIDTH (mm) : 20-18
- WATER RESISTANCE : 3 ATM
- WATCH WEIGHT (g) : 70
- WARRANTY : 2 Years International