The MMI Dumbo is a new watch with an admittedly very funny name, but it comes with some interesting design elements that I think are worth taking a look at. MMI is a new watch brand based in Singapore, and it’s in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign for the Dumbo diver. Now, there are no shortage of new watch brands popping up on Kickstarter and elsewhere all the time, but there’s a playfulness to what MMI has created here and a novelty to the design that is worth taking a look at. Digging through their press materials, it’s clear that real thought has gone into the look and feel of the Dumbo. Let’s take a closer look.

MMI Dumbo

  • Case Material: Stainless steel, marine grade bronze, DLC coated stainless steel
  • Dial: Black, white, blue, green, grey
  • Dimensions: 46mm
  • Crystal: Sapphire
  • Water Resistance: 500 meters
  • Crown: Screw down
  • Movement: Sellita SW200 or Seiko NH35
  • Strap/bracelet: Leather strap or stainless steel bracelet
  • Price: Starting at $296
  • Expected Release: Kickstarter campaign currently ongoing

First of all, the name. MMI doesn’t seem to mind that you’ll conjure images of Disney’s famous elephant when you think about their watch, although they claim the name of the timepiece is inspired not by a flying elephant, but by the “Dumbo octopus,” whose ear-like fins extend over its eyes. You can see in the shape of the watch where this inspiration comes into play, as each corner of this somewhat exaggerated cushion case design looks like a flap protruding from the watch. Of course, it makes a tad more sense for a dive watch rated to 500 meters to take its name from a sea creature than an elephant, although a Dumbo aviation watch suddenly seems like a missed opportunity.*
The case of the Dumbo has a symmetry to it that is often missing from watches with a square-ish shape because of the unique way that the crown is recessed into the “corner” of the watch to fit flush with the case. This allows the Dumbo to present much more cleanly than if a substantial screw down crown had been placed at the normal 3:00 position. With the crown tucked into the 4:00 corner instead, it’s protected by the Dumbo’s shape itself, and as an added bonus doesn’t protrude or offer any sort of aesthetic distraction.

From the top down, the Dumbo appears to have a lugless design. MMI has smartly hidden the lugs on the underside of the watch, ensuring that the pole-to-pole distance is manageable for a variety of wrists despite the 46mm case diameter.
MMI will offer the Dumbo in a total of 11 variants, which includes cases in bronze, stainless steel, and a DLC treated version. Bezel inserts are ceramic and come in black, blue, and green, against dials in black, white, blue, green, or gray. Hour markers are traditional diver all the way, with circular lume plots all around and a trapezoidal marker at 12:00. MMI has given their dials a subtle vertical brushing to add visual interest.
With stainless steel models on leather straps priced at a little under $300 (prices go up depending on case, strap package, and movement), the Dumbo represents an interesting value proposition for watch enthusiasts looking for a dive watch with a unique case if one of the 11 different case/color combos really sing to them. To be honest, it’s kind of refreshing to see aggro divers make a return after years of heritage-inspired releases, and this one is full of little fun details that make the design all the more interesting. It’s also a great opportunity to own a watch with the name of a classic Disney character on the dial (or not — you can choose a dial without it), which is not something you’re likely to see outside of a theme park gift shop. MMI Dumbo via Kickstarter

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