This review was first published on Scottish Watches on December 11, 2019.
I will be honest, Creux Automatiq was not a brand that I was in any way familiar with before one of my friends @ian_cognito started posting pictures of their watches on Instagram. The Creux Automatiq Diamondback stood out for me in a sea of dive watches and dress watches. It is smart but with a sporty edge, much like a Vacheron Constantin Overseas or an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the bracelet was quite unlike anything I had seen before. I contacted Creux Automatiq to ask if I could review one of their watches and they obliged, sending me the Diamondback CA-06 to try out for a few days.
A little about the brand (gleaned from their website and their marketing guy). Creux Automatiq is an Australian company that was founded by some luxury diamond jewelry specialists. They are interested in creating affordable, high-performing luxury timepieces but with their own creative design input – “Australian design meets Swiss production”.
Founded in 2015, it is a brand that looks to meld together respect of the classics and elements of modern design. Their mission is to offer quality pieces at an affordable price point. Their first piece, the CA01, was launched in 2016 and they have subsequently released the Diamondback, which is the subject of this review.
My first impressions of the watch were very good. It comes in a sleek gloss black octagon-shaped box, which is nice and not too large. No major issues with box storage here. That’s more than enough watch box talk! The watch itself looks smart, verging on blingy, with its mixture of fine-brushed and polished finishes. The thing that really struck me was the integrated bracelet – the links really catch the light and pop. It reminds me of when I tried on a friend’s Royal Oak: in a static photo the bracelet looks nice, roll your wrist and it comes to life as it catches the light. It changes from the cold practical 316L stainless steel bracelet of a tool watch to a more elaborate and eye-catching piece of jewelry. This is far removed from your standard three-link steel dive bracelet. It is almost remarkable that both are made from the same material.
According to Creux Automatiq, “The bracelet design draws inspiration from one of nature’s most fierce and resilient desert predators – the Diamondback Rattlesnake.” I am not an expert on snakes – I clearly do not watch enough nature programs – so I googled it. Apparently it is the largest and scariest rattlesnake in America, responsible for the majority of snakebites in Mexico and the U.S. I would have thought that an Australian company had an abundance of venomous creepy crawlies on their doorstep that they could take inspiration from, but I guess there is nothing as striking as a Diamondback Rattlesnake. To be fair to them, the rattlesnake has a very distinctive look and you can see how this inspiration has carried through to the design of the watch.
The bracelet itself is very comfortable on the wrist. In fact, I would go as far as saying that this is the most comfortable watch bracelet that I have tried to date. I think the size of the links and the degree of articulation is near perfect. I do appreciate that this is, to an extent, subjective and that it will be influenced by the size of your wrist. But for me, the bracelet – with its butterfly deployment clasp – curved around my wrist really well without voids. It certainly adds to the smart jewelry look of the bracelet. One consideration with the bracelet is the lack of micro-adjustment. Like many people my wrist size changes depending on the temperature. Whilst right now in Autumn the bracelet is very comfortable, in Summer (or if I was on holiday somewhere warm) I would be concerned that it would feel too tight. I think that some form of micro-adjustment or a quick tool-less way to add a half link would take this bracelet from very, very good to outstanding. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very fine bracelet; my niggle regarding micro-adjustment goes way beyond Diamondback. I should probably start my own R&D department and patent a universal solution!
The integration of the bracelet with the watch case is really good. I am sure you could switch the bracelet out for a smart leather or rubber strap to make the watch look a little more dressy or sporty, but in all honesty, having tried the bracelet I am not sure that this is something you would ever want to do. The bracelet has quite a quick taper to it, which is certainly in keeping with the Diamondback-inspired look. I think that this adds to the comfort of the bracelet and it is a lot smarter than the chunky dive watch bracelets that I normally gravitate towards.
The watch is finished with a 1.2um (micron) clear IPS PVD coating which is intended to add additional protection to the watch. A micron is 1/1,000,000 meter; a human hair is roughly 75 microns. Physical Vapour Deposition is a process (or more accurately a number of methods and processes under a common banner) as opposed to a material. Generally, when we think about PVD in terms of watches, blacked-out watches or rose gold finishes come to mind, but there are actually a lot of different finishes and applications available. PVD finishes are often in the 0.15um – 5um range, but it really depends on the material used, the technique it is applied with and the desired finish/effect. A 1.3um PVD coating won’t make the watch a diamond-hard scratch-resistant tool, but it will certainly help to protect the watch and maintain the desired finish for longer. In many ways it would be interesting to wear the watch for six months while typing at a desk and inadvertently bashing it into door frames (we’ve all done it) to see how the finish holds up. Or maybe an even better test would be to have two: one with the PVD coating and one without. You could wear one on each wrist and see how they compare after a few weeks.
I’ve realised that I am quite a way into this review and so far I have only really talked about the bracelet and the PVD coating. I guess that is the engineer in me honing in on the technology. I will get on to some broad sweeping lifestyle statements soon, I promise!
The fantastic bracelet integrates really well with the 40mm case which is 10.6mm thick and has a lug-to-lug length of 47mm. This is a fairly safe, conservative size of a watch by modern standards that will suit a wide range of wrist sizes. Whilst it is not big, bold and in your face, it is also not dainty. I know the current trend (amongst us watch geeks at least) is for slightly smaller watches, but in my opinion, this is a size of watch that absolutely makes sense. It is easy to read at a glance and will work well in many settings. The overall case shape is a well-proportioned oval with a large polished bevel between the face and sides of the case. The large polished bevel is a clever bit of design that makes the case appear both substantial and slight at the same time. It is a similar story with the crown guards, which are long but slightly slimmer than the case. They almost look like buttons or pushers as opposed to crown guards; maybe a future Creux Automatiq will change them into pushers for a chronograph function. I am speculating, but this would certainly be a nice feature to be able to add whilst maintaining the overall aesthetic of the watch.
As the crown guards are slimmer than the case, I don’t think they detract from the symmetry, whilst at the same time adding an asymmetrical element depending on how you look at the watch. The crown on this watch is gold and it has a CA symbol, which interestingly is different from the CA symbol on the face of the watch. I think the gold crown is going to be one of the most divisive elements on this watch. Personally, I think a steel crown would have been more consistent in terms of the overall look. If there were more gold elements, such as the screws on the bezel then the gold crown would have seemed more appropriate to me. Speaking of the screws on the bezel, they kind of remind me of the security screws on the floor panels of substations. They add a slightly more rugged, industrial edge to the design – in a good way.
The dial itself has some quite interesting features. Underneath the flat anti-glare coated sapphire crystal, the dial features Creux Automatiq’s signature diamond dial pattern. According to their website, “The signature diamond pattern dial is meticulously crafted from a single sheet of brass, plated with anti-corrosion tinted lacquer.” It is probably my engineering mind doing overtime again, but I would love to watch a video of how they create this. It is certainly an interesting looking dial that changes its appearance depending on the light. There is a gentle black to grey fade on the dial from the edge to the center which adds to this effect.
In general with three-handed watches I prefer a central second hand. The Diamondback has a gold ringed sub-dial at 6 o’clock for the running seconds and you know what, I really like it! They have managed to make something that often feels like an afterthought into a real feature of the watch. It somehow adds a luxurious classic element to the look of the dial. There is also a small round date window at 3 o’clock. I think I have touched on my thoughts on date windows in previous articles. I prefer the symmetry of a watch without a date window, but at the same time I find it to be the most useful complication, especially in a watch I wear day in day out to work where I have to sign and date things every day. The date window is relatively small and discreet, so I don’t think it detracts too much from the look of the watch whilst at the same time providing important information. The hands and indices on the watch are a decent size. They are not large and in your face like on a dive watch, so they feel very appropriate for the style of the watch. Where the points of the hands fall in relation to the indices and chapter ring feels very well proportioned. Finally, the hands and indices are coated with a decent amount of Super-LumiNova. If like me, you like to be able to check the time at night without illuminating the entire bedroom with your phone, then you will be pleased to know that the watch performs well at night. It’s not dive-watch-night-light bright, but more than adequate for telling the time.
Inside the watch is a Swisstech CA24-041 movement that was manufactured for Creux Automatiq. It has 33 jewels, a 36-hour power reserve, operates at 28800A/H and has a recommended service period of 5 years. There weren’t a lot of details on the website or in the manual regarding the movement, so I contacted Creux Automatiq to find out more. They advised that its function and operation is very similar to ETA 2824, but with Swisstech’s own twist to it. “It has been tried and tested for years and has proven to be extremely robust, reliable and accurate.” They did advise that they would supply some more information about movement materials. As and when that information becomes available I will write an update to this article.
The watch has a water resistance of 5ATM (50m), which is perfectly respectable for a watch that is more at the smart/dressy end of the spectrum rather than a tool watch. I am sure it is more than adequate for sitting in a hot tub with a glass of champagne. As it is, in the manual, it recommends against wearing the watch when undertaking sporting activities that could result in vibrations such as tennis, golf or mountain biking. (Realistically, I think a G-Shock is going to be your best option for serious mountain biking). It also recommends avoiding extremes of temperature, chemicals and magnetism. Based on that, it is certainly not a watch I would wear in a HV substation. Interestingly, in the preamble in the manual it says that the watch can be worn in the office, skiing in the alps or sailing on the weekend. I guess gentle skiing when it is warmer than 0C is allowed.
Joking aside, I think this would make a great Monday to Friday work watch. It will look fantastic with a suit and tie, it is a smart functional watch, which is a little bit flashy but not over the top. (I saw someone wearing a Rolex President in a meeting the other day and it was more than a little distracting). It is also perfect for when you want to dress up for a nice evening or occasion. I see this as more of a restaurant-with-a-nice-view rather than splashing-in-the-surf kind of a watch. During my week with this watch, I did wear it with a suit where it felt right at home. I also wore it on a rainy day with my Barbour lightweight waxed jacket. It really popped against the waxed jacket and it did make me think that it could elevate a more casual outfit.
In terms of price point, it retails at $1850 (£1480), which obviously is prime TAG Heuer, Oris, Longines territory. But in a sea of dive watches, pilots watches and dress watches, I think this Diamondback CA-06 makes a good case for itself. It has a bold but not crazy look that stands out. It is distinctively different like a Royal Oak or Overseas, yet in many ways shares that kind of aesthetic. It has an exclusive movement (okay it is not in-house, but it is unique to the brand) a two-year warranty and a good specification. I know that ‘affordable’ is a relative term, but in the grand scheme of watches, this seems like a good proposition.