Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of trying out Undone Watches’ Basecamp Cali watch. This is the second watch they’ve released for the Basecamp collection.
What Is Basecamp Cali?
Basecamp Cali is the second watch that Undone has released for their Basecamp collection. Their first Basecamp watch was the Basecamp Classic and they offered the Classic watch in blue, original, and blackout.
The Basecamp Cali watch has three versions: Cali Basic, Cali Green, and Cali Vintage. The Cali Basic uses a black-on-black color scheme, the Cali Green has a distinct green bezel green dial combination, and the Cali Vintage has a black dial, black bezel combination with a NATO strap.
The Cali Basic and the Cali Vintage both use a black-on-black color scheme but the two differences are that the Cali Basic does not have markings on the bezel compared to the Cali Vintage and the Cali Vintage uses a green NATO strap while the Cali Basic uses a black leather strap.
However, you aren’t limited to the Cali Basic, Cali Green, and Cali Vintage because Undone offers a customization process that allows shoppers to add on features they want.
Undone Watches Customization Process
The first thing that really caught my attention with Undone is that they allowed me to customize whatever watch I picked. While I started out with a Cali Green, I ended up adding features that I thought would suit my style and I really loved that about the brand.
I wasn’t limited to three choices and I didn’t have to go through the agony of choosing my favorite one out of the three. I could create my own watch by adding the customizations I wanted.
Of course, this does mean that the watch will take longer to arrive because the Undone team will need some extra time to create your watch. However, that’s the standard whenever your watch is made bespoke.
When you choose your watch, you have the option to customize seven things:
- Dial Color
- Case Color
- Bezel Color
- Hour, Minute & Seconds Hand Color
- Strap Type & Color
1. Basecamp Cali Dial Color
The dial comes in a black or green color. If you choose the black dial, the text in the middle of the dial will be in red and yellow. If you choose the green dial, the text in the middle of the dial will be pure white.
2. Basecamp Initials
This is pretty straightforward. You can choose whether or not you want to have your initials engraved on the watch. If you do choose to have your initials engraved, you can use a maximum of three letters and you can choose from four different fonts.
3. Basecamp Cali Case Color
There are four different colors that can go with the case: black, silver, gold, and rose gold. This allows for a variety of color combinations you can make between the case and bezel.
4. Basecamp Cali Bezel Color
The bezel is available in three colors: green, black, or navy. This does not affect the markings on the bezel as the markings stay the same.
5. Basecamp Cali Hours, Minutes & Seconds Hand Color
The hours & minutes hand colors give you three options to choose from: rose gold, gold, and silver. The seconds hand colors also give the same options.
6. Basecamp Cali Strap Type & Color
The Basecamp Cali watch offers a wide variety of strap types and colors. In total, there are seven strap types to choose from: NATO, rally, leather, alligator, Cordura, perlon, and vintage. Of these seven strap types, they also offer a wide range of colors.
You can get anywhere from four color choices for a strap to sixteen colors for a strap. They offer these colors in hues ranging from vintage grey to genuine red.
In my opinion, the best part about the Basecamp Cali is the option to customize the caseback. You can either choose to have an open caseback and see the movement at work or you can choose a picture of your liking and have it printed out on the back.
I customized my caseback with a picture of a sunset from my hometown because our sunsets here in Lubbock are well known. So, of course, I thought it would be a great addition to add something that I’ve grown up with on my caseback for sentimental value.
My Favorite Features of the Basecamp Cali
There are a lot of things to be loved about the Basecamp Cali watch and after getting to spend a few days with it, I’ve been able to test each feature extensively. Here’s the list of all the features that I love about the Basecamp Cali.
- Smooth Bezel
- Fluid Movement
- Clean Design
- Nice Strap
- Clear Lume
To start things off, what I noticed first was the smooth bezel. The bezel could rotate extremely well and there was basically no friction when I moved it. This made it very convenient to use, especially whenever I was using the watch to time myself.
The fluid movement of the watch was also very nice. Undone uses Seiko Instruments Inc. NH35A Automatic Winding Mechanism movement so the sweeping hand is very smooth. You won’t see any micro-ticks with the seconds hand unless you look very close.
The watch design itself is very clean. The dial isn’t overcrowded. The stuff they do have on the dial is neatly placed. The numbers are spaced out evenly and the text at the top and bottom half of the watch don’t take up too much space.
Personally, I went with a design that complemented both the case and the dial so I decided to have the dial and bezel both be black while customizing the case to be rose gold. However, there are dozens of variations you can choose from.
Another thing I liked about the watch was the strap. For my watch, I used an alligator strap. The strap held well against my wrist and it didn’t agitate the skin as some poorly-designed watch straps can do. Whatever option you choose, I’m sure Undone will uphold the same level of quality as they did with my strap.
The final thing that I thought they did a good job with was the lume on their watch. Some watches I’ve had in the past have struggled with providing proper lume to keep the dial bright when it’s dark. However, this wasn’t a problem for the Basecamp Cali.
The lume was bright enough so I could see everything from the numbers on the dial to the automatic movement on the seconds hand. It’s clear that they put an emphasis on the visibility of the watch, something that other brands should take into account.
What I Think Can Be Improved
Here are a few of my concerns with the Basecamp Cali.
- Clunky and heavy feel
- Readability of the text
- Confusing three-numeral dial design.
While I did enjoy wearing the Basecamp Cali and the many features it offered, there were some concerns I had with the watch. For one, the watch was pretty clunky. It was heavier than most watches and along with the 40mm case width, the watch felt more like it was hanging off of my wrist rather than being attached to it.
Another issue I had was with the readability of the text. This seems to only be apparent with the black dial but the markings on the watch that show the water resistance were not very clear.
The red text contrasts nicely with the black background. But when it comes to readability, they leave something to be desired because the text is smaller than what you would get on a Seiko SKX007.
My final issue is a small one and it’s in regards to the numbering on the watch dial. The Basecamp Cali uses three types of numerals: Arabic numerals, Roman numerals, and dashes.
The dashes are designated for the 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock positions. The Roman numerals are used for the 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 10 o’clock, and 11 o’clock positions, and the Arabic numerals are used for the 4 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 7 o’clock, and 8 o’clock position.
Most watches only go with one numeral. On the Timex Weekender, they use Arabic numerals. The Seiko SKX007 uses dashes, and even the more expensive options, such as the Rolex Oyster Perpetual, only use dashes.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this, such as the Nomos Tangente which uses a combination of Arabic numerals and dashes, but you won’t see very many watches use three numeral types on a dial.
In some ways, I think this is a bold move and even a refreshing feel from the standard design most brands opt for. However, my only concern with this three-type numeral system is that it can confuse watch-wearers.
For watch novices, the three-type numeral system might not be as big of a problem. But for people who wear watches on the daily, this could confuse them since they’re more accustomed to the traditional designs.
I think Undone’s Basecamp Cali watch provides a lot of value for the price. Going anywhere from $295.00 to $355.00, Undone gives you more than what you pay.
They allow you to customize your watch, which is something that not very many brands allow you to do. They use a superb automatic movement, and the lume in the watch provides total visibility, no matter how dark it is.
They do have a few minor issues. The clunkiness of the watch can make it uncomfortable to wear at times and I found it difficult to read the dial’s text. These won’t be major issues for people who are buying their first watch, but experienced watch veterans might see this as a vital factor.
Overall, though, I think that the Basecamp Cali is a pretty great watch. They provide several key features I find important in a watch and the few issues they do have are overshadowed by the fact that they’re providing substantial value for a below-market price.
If you’d like to learn more about Undone, check out their Basecamp Cali Collection here.
A Note: Undone Watches provided Gentleman Within with the Basecamp Cali for review. These are my thoughts and opinions based on my experience. Gentleman Within holds all control over editorial content.
Tristan is an avid follower of men’s fashion. He loves wearing a well-fitted white t-shirt and talking about watches. When he’s not writing about the latest Seiko timepiece or the best outfits for the season, he’s playing tennis, watching Mad Men, and taking naps.
HAVE YOU CUSTOMIZED A TIMEPIECE LIKE UNDONE WATCHES BEFORE?
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