Making judgments off photos alone is a necessity in the world of microbrands, a subset of watches often sold exclusively online. Unless you are lucky enough to attend an event such as Windup Watch Fair, purchasing a microbrand usually requires some educated guessing based on pictures and dimensions, and then praying you like the watch once it arrives at your doorstep, long after your money has left your bank account.*

Forming opinions without seeing a watch in the metal as I had many times before, I made up my mind weeks ago that the DUAL Series 01 from UBIQ was a watch I would love to own. With an impressive 200 meters of water resistance and a sapphire crystal, it had the specs enthusiasts such as myself want. Featuring a 39mm diameter and 47mm lug to lug case, I knew it would be comfortable. And, drawn in by the photos of captivatingly colorful dials and bezels, I was confident it would be a playful addition to my collection of mostly bland dive watches. After spending some time with the DUAL Series 01, I can confirm it is indeed a well-built, vibrant tool watch prepared to add spice to any collection. However, I am also walking away with a reminder that pictures alone fail to capture the entire story.


Hands-On: the UBIQ DUAL Series 01

Stainless steel

Miyota 9015




Rubber or bracelet

Water Resistance
200 meters

39 x 47mm


Lug Width

Screw down



Maybe itís just because I follow hashtags such as #Miyota9015 and #Microbrandwatch, but buzz for UBIQ has been gracing my Instagram feed fairly consistently. UBIQ, based in Singapore and founded last year, has made a digital splash with ads of their brightly colored, unconventional dive watches. Even if you’re not into color, it’s hard not to notice when a teal dial paired with an orange strap is glowing on your screen. Especially after you learn the fun doesn’t stop with teal, and there are five colorways including a purple dial with a red strap ready to add some pizzazz to your wrist for the post-Kickstarter price of $649.
However, even though my algorithm seemed custom made for the DUAL Series 01, it was quickly buried every time it popped up. Afterall, the microbrand market is booming, with new releases constantly fighting for my attention (and wallet). Many, like UBIQ, use Kickstarter, which makes jumping on deals time sensitive- leaving consumers prone to scrolling by if they aren’t ready to make an immediate purchase.

In such a crowded and now-or-never market when provenance is removed from the equation and all brands have access to the same third party movements, there are two ways to stand out: value and design. With Miyota 9015 powered watches from established brands such as Islander and Phoibos readily available for under $500, Iím immediately skeptical of any Kickstarter that lacks reputation yet charges more than their established counterparts. Unless prices are shockingly low, standing out by value alone is no easy task and a race many new brands (for good reason) choose not to enter.
That leaves distinguishing by design- a task that UBIQ undertook with great zeal. I mean, come on. These watches are fun! With dual purpose bezels featuring two colors, bright dials, equally bold straps, and even custom date wheels, at first glance they are all about color. But looking beyond color quickly reveals that UBIQ saw every millimeter of the DUAL Series 01 as an opportunity to try something unexpected.

The indices are a hybrid circle/square shape that is oddly original for its simplicity. At a distance, youíd be forgiven for thinking this was a time only watch because the 6:00 white date wheel is framed in this same shape. Beyond the dial, UBIQ was committed to making the stainless steel case entirely their own. From cutouts above the lugs to ďUĒ shaped ridges on the crown and bezel as some subtle branding, to call the case ďuniqueĒ would be an understatement.
What sets the DUAL Series 01 apart is its dedication to the dual theme, starting with the bezel. Of course, dual purpose bezels arenít new. Weíve seen them on the Serica 5303, which features a timing bezel and dual time 12 hour bezel similar to the UBIQ. Any combination of bezel complications is possible (and has been done) with various combinations of count up, countdown, compass, 12 and 24 hours.* But it gets more interesting when UBIQ continues the dual concept into seemingly every aspect of the watch. BGW9 and C1 are utilized to put on a rather impressive two color lightshow, contrasting hand colors provide accents to complement each unique colorway, and the date window pulls double duty thanks to its thoughtful placement and shared shape with nearby indices.

While I will always commend and seek out brands trying something new, UBIQís most ambitious attempt at duality is one that left me questioning if the DUAL Series 01 offered the enthusiast experience I was hoping for. Case sides are usually boring. Apart from notable finishing or perhaps an irregular shape, we rarely mention or think about them. UBIQ took that as a challenge, and sought to enhance this space with (you guessed it) dual textures with an indented bead blasted center framed with a raised polished perimeter. In photos, the effect is striking. In fact, forming opinions from photos, it’s one of the features that initially tempted me to back the Kickstarter.
But photos donít always accurately convey tactile experience, and when I unboxed the UBIQ DUAL Series 01 I quickly learned the visually striking dichotomy of pairing a pronounced frame against an indented case side had a downside. Without hyperbole, this framed section could almost be described as sharp. No, you won’t cut yourself on it, but it feels just like you would expect a 90 degree corner of well-finshed stainless steel to feel. And because the first thing I do when a watch arrives is set the time, I immediately experienced how this edge felt on my thumb and index finger while turning the crown.

For an average watch consumer, the tactile experience a case provides might not be a consideration, let alone a deal breaker. I donít recall rolling a Casio around in my hands looking for flaws before I was drawn into the hobby as an enthusiast. But the DUAL Series 01 feels like an enthusiast watch considering its fan favorite movement, excessive water resistance that we for some reason crave, a 60 click bezel that will make any Promaster owner feel at home, and a signed crown – not to mention other details like a quick release bracelet and some really cool packaging that slides open with the pull of a tab. Just as enthusiasts care about those details that UBIQ clearly put significant effort into, we also care about tactile experience. When we watch YouTube reviews, we expect them to mention crown knurling and how grippy a bezel edge is. I canít speak for everyone, but a case edge interfering with operating the crown might be viewed as a considerable flaw for some.

After too much internal debate on if I should even care about crown operating experience when actual time spent turning a crown is minimal, I came to the following conclusions: I donít know how this sharp look could be achieved without the sharp edge. So maybe the visual success is worth the tactile sacrifice. This is a watch distinguished by detail, including some daring ones. Thatís worth celebrating, and maybe even owning. Each enthusiast has their own details they celebrate and deal breakers they just canít tolerate. Thankfully, we are good at identifying these, and you can probably decide for yourself how much this particular detail would (or wouldnít) bother you before hitting the buy button.

As for me, I approached this review with the confidence I would end up purchasing one of these visually striking watches during the Kickstarter campaign. While I still find myself enamored with their appearance, Iím no longer convinced the DUAL Series 01 offers the tactile experience I was hoping for. But considering this freshman releaseís ability to command attention while expertly embracing the emerging market trend that any color is fair game, Iím genuinely excited to see what UBIQ does next. UBIQ

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