The SUBDELTA story
Every year, Holland’s largest watch forum (Horlogeforum.nl) launches a Limited Edition. Members can pre-order a modified, existing watch for a few hundred Dollars. Usually, an average of 25 watches was being sold. In 2014 however, a few true watch aficionados talked about doing something that has never been done before (and will probably never be done again): to design and build a watch of their own.
They met in a pizzeria in the city of Utrecht and shared their ideas on what was to become the perfect pilot’s watch – awesome specs, yet still affordable. The result was the production of exactly 52 pieces (then a forum record) of a watch named “P1lot One”, a hand-wound titanium “lefty” pilot’s watch built for a group of really passionate watch enthusiasts. It was built by hand out of grade 5 titanium. In the Netherlands.
After redefining what horological passion really meant to them, some members of that group under founder Hans de Ree got together again for the next project – and that’s when SUBDELTA Toolwatches was born. Time to go pro!
The first SUBDELTA watch
The first watch built under SUBDELTA was the 2016 Periscope, a one-hand 24-hour automatic piece, forged from bead-blasted grade 5 titanium and housing a bespoke movement from Russia. The matte hardware and day/night dial totally fitted in the submarine theme. It was built for 25 enthusiasts around the globe, referred to as “Commanders”. They all have their personal build number, which is engraved in the crown. This teutonic design is something completely off the beaten track and watch enthusiasts all over the globe are waiting for a second hand specimen. They rarely come available though.
Being now built under SUBDELTA, nothing had changed from the spirit and quality of the “P1lot One”, as the watch was built to the highest standards and specifications defined by watch enthusiasts and a sharp pencil when it came to budgeting – cutting corners was not an option, neither was making a big profit a consideration.
Ace and Blue Ace
The 2017 project is called the “Ace”, a rugged, 42mm, purpose-built tool-watch made out of grade 5 titanium and a dial providing maximum legibility day and night. The Swiss hand-wound and re-engineered pocket-watch movement (ref. 6497) with central seconds hand and Swan Neck fine regulator can be seen through a sturdy sapphire crystal case back.
The prototype of this Ace was on a world tour, where it met future owners in the USA, Singapore, Hong Kong and Switzerland. The 2017 model is sold out completely. The latest iteration of this remarkable watch is a blue-faced, steel version of the Ace, called Blue Ace. It will be made in a maximum of 30 copies only: 15 with a polished crown and 15 with a beadblasted crown, both in titanium.
What’s SUBDELTA up to?
SUBDELTA continues to redefine all the rules that make a brand, in an attempt to build that perfect timepiece, true to its origins. Next up will be the SUBDELTA Quattro handwound version (2019 Limited Edition Dutch Watch Forum contender). This 40mm blasted toolwatch with a Swiss mechanical heart has a unique revolving seconds cap, amongst other fine details and specs. This Einzeiger is modified by hand by our Dutch watchmaker and can be worn with the crown on either side and thus on either wrist. Hence the name “quattro”. This can be achieved by swapping the strap halves: the dial has no north or south, so the watch can be turned around.
SUBDELTA watches are designed by the brand’s founder Hans de Ree in close collaboration with a team of passionate watch fans, namely the Swiss brothers Philipp and Daniel Piaz. Throughout the development of the project, the team received valuable input given by industry experts from Asia and Switzerland. All parties involved share a huge passion for watches – and many other good things in life, such as whiskey, cigars, wines and good food.
Over the course of regular and countless WhatsApp-, email- and FaceTime sessions as well as face-to-face meetings in Zurich and Amsterdam, many ideas came to life while others wouldn’t quite make it. Despite the geographical distance, the team forged a strong bond and fruitful collaboration where each individual would contribute based on its own strengths but in the end everybody’s input would be considered and discussed before agreeing on how to move a step further.
Last – but not least – our engineer Mathieu Verberne contributes a lot in terms of 3D renders and realising my ideas and his own into images.
SUBDELTA’s assembler has been a certified watchmaker and repairer for over 30 years for brands like Rolex, Omega and Rado – his meticulous approach and near-sterile workshop ensure each SUBDELTA is spotlessly assembled, runs beautifully and will withstand at least 10 ATM of pressure, as well as underpressure. This is particularly important in case of sudden pressure drops during for instance flights. SUBDELTA’s engineer is an experienced, enthusiastic architect, who is an expert in 3D technical drawings. He’s also a watch guy 😉 Together the three of them have many decades of experience to create the best possible watches for you.
Sales and marketing
Jeroen de Ree (LinkedIn profile) has been responsible for sales and marketing of SUBDELTA Watches since March 2016. Jeroen has been a watch geek for as long as he can remember. Many brands and models have been in his possession, so he’s able to crawl under the skins of (potential) customers and knows which models and features work. Or not.
Founder and owner
Hans de Ree (LinkedIn profile) is the proud founder and owner of SUBDELTA Toolwatches. He develops new models and manages production.
It’s not difficult to buy an expensive, famous brand watch (if you have the means, that is), but it’s far more difficult and interesting when you put in some effort to acquire something personal. Whatever its price tag, because you can wear a US$50 Seiko or Swatch passionately too. Being also an active Horlogeforum.nl member since 2004, he has been a watch enthusiast for a long time.