Manufacturer: Signum Watch Co. | Price: from $299 USD (£215 GBP)
If you follow what’s going on in the microbrand world, than I’m pretty sure you would have heard of Straton Watch Co. You have? Good. Well, Signum Watch Co are their sister brand, offering watches with some pretty crazy dial materials and finishes. You’ll be glad to hear that Signum are also a bit more easy on the wallet too, which is always a bonus. Their first model is this Cuda 200m diver, which I’m presuming is short for Barracuda, given that the owner, Kyle, is also a bit of a petrolhead, much like myself. Anyway, let’s dive right in and see what the Signum Cuda is like, shall we…?
- Dimensions: Case – 38.6mm, Thickness – 13.1mm, Lug to Lug – 44.7mm, Lug Width – 20mm
- Movement: Seiko SII NH35 or NH38, 21,600vph, 3Hz, Hackable, Self Winding, 41hr Power Reserve
- Case Material: Brushed 316L Stainless Steel
- Bezel: 120 Click Unidirectional, Ceramic Insert, Lumed
- Dial: Full Lume, Applied Indicies, Date at 4 (😱), Sword Style Handset
- Lume: Swiss Super-LumiNova® C3 / BGW9
- Bracelet: Brushed 316L Stainless Steel, Solid Links, Push Pins, Milled Clasp
- Crystal: Flat Sapphire, Anti-Reflective Coating
- Water Resistance: 200m / 20 ATM / 660ft
- Caseback: 316L Stainless Steel, Screw Down, Etched Artwork
- Crown: 5.5mm, Screw Down, Signed, Lumed
- Weight: 145g (Sized up for my 6¾″ wrist)
- Where to Buy: Signum Watch Co.
- Warranty: 2 Years International
Signum Watch Co.
Case & Crown
The case of this version of the Signum Cuda has a diameter of 38.6mm. The lug to lug is 44.7mm and the overall thickness, including the sapphire crystal, albeit flat, I measured in at 13.1mm. The entire case, caseback, coin edge bezel, crown and bracelet are all 316L stainless steel. The finishing is entirely brushed, with not a hint of polishing to be found anywhere. The Cuda also has a water resistance rating of 200m, thanks to the screw down caseback & crown. The dimensions of this watch, in my opinion, are just a little bit too small for my own personal taste, as the bigger version of the Cuda is 42.5mm in diameter, with a lug to lug of just under 48mm. I would have much preferred the larger version, as both of these versions are a bit like comparing them to the very popular Seiko SKX007 and the smaller SKX013.
The Cuda does wear well on wrist and it is relatively comfortable, although I do feel it could be slightly improved, especially with regards to the way the bracelet has been designed and manufactured. More on that later on in the review though… The signed crown is very nice indeed and does look great with its deeply etched Signum logo and tons of grip courtesy of its coin edge design, that matches the bezel perfectly. You will also find zero wobble when the crown is in use and you can also feel a very nice wee pop as you unscrew it. The caseback is also rather nicely done, with the usual specs around the edge, with some very well executed artwork etched into the centre.
Strap / Bracelet
The bracelet that’s fitted to the Cuda is beautifully made and there is not a great deal that I could initially fault it on. It has everything you’d want in a decent bracelet. First and foremost, it’s nicely manufactured with no squeaks or rattles to be found anywhere. It has solid links throughout, push pins for adjusting & re-sizing and a milled clasp with 5x micro-adjustment holes. There’s one negative point though, the end links. I’d have much preferred female endlinks over the chosen male links, as they’d given the bracelet better articulation, rather than extending the effective lug to lug length.
Movement / Accuracy
The movement selected for the Signum Cuda is none other than the microbrand go-to movement of choice, the super reliable SII NH35 / NH38 manufactured by Seiko. The SII NH35 is a fantastic workhorse with 21,600vph, 3Hz, 24 jewel automatic movement with a 41hr power reserve, self winding and of course hacking. Checking the accuracy after running the Signum Cuda for almost a month, mainly on wrist and occasionally in my watch winder, I thought the accuracy was decent, with it showing an average of +12 seconds per day. Not too bad, but it’s still a result up there in double figures.
Dial & Hands
The seconds hand is a bit rough too, but it is complimented by a wee lumed paddle style section with an orange surround, giving the dial a much needed small splash of colour. Right, onto the elephant in the room. That fuckin’ date position! WHY!? I wish brands would just STOP doing this, it is ugly as fuck and it totally ruins the whole aesthetic and symmetry of the dial. Signum also thought slapping a frame around it too would be a good design choice. WRONG! All a frame does is cheapen the watch in my opinion and cast a shadow over the date. Sorry Kyle, this was the main reason I initially requested the no-date version, as I just knew I’d be ripping this date version a new arsehole.
Onwards & upwards people, as it’s not all doom & gloom with the Signum Cuda. The lume is nothing short of 20th Century Fox searchlight level. It’s bright! Ok, let me rephrase that, it is FUCKIN’ BRIGHT! It also lasts a good few hours, although the lume on the bezel insert does fade rather quickly. The actual lume that’s been used on the Signum Cuda is Super-Luminova® C3 on the dial, with BGW9 used for the hands, hour markers, as well as on the bezel insert.
Maybe I’ve drank a bit too much coffee today, so I apologise if I’ve come across as slightly angry during this review. Or maybe it’s that bloody date position that has just annoyed me!? Anyway, as a budget watch, the Cuda from Signum Watch Co is a very good offering and it’s also great value for money. The build quality is superb for the price point and the quality control from Signum is excellent. If they do a v2, I’d love to see the date at 6, with that change to female end links on the bracelet. I still very much recommend the Cuda though, but I’d personally pick the larger version with no date.