The wrist watch Delbana Della Balda 41603.722.6.034 can be called exemplary. Thoughtful design and ease of use; own style and bright, but not defiant details; a brand with history and honest Swiss production.
Swiss stamp with roots in San Marino
Delbana is a full-fledged Swiss made brand. It was founded in Grenchen, Switzerland in 1933 by an immigrant from San Marino, Goliardo Della Balda. Actually, the name Delbana comes from his name. Well, the silhouette of the tower on the logo refers to the three legendary fortress towers: Montale, Cheste and Guaite, which have been defending San Marino for 800 years and are depicted on its coat of arms.
Coat of arms of San Marino and Delbana logo. Continuity is evident
Before founding his own watch company, Della Balda worked in several others and drew conclusions. Delbana immediately began to position its watches as high-quality, but affordable - for example, by 1940 it successfully brought an inexpensive bicompax chronograph to the market. Perhaps that is why the brand was successful in poor countries: in the 1930s, its main market was South America, and in the 1950s, after World War II, socialist Eastern Europe.
In the 1950s, Delbana prospered, producing over 100 watches a year. In the 000s, the quartz crisis swept through it like a steamroller; to survive it, she teamed up with the watch company WEGA. In 1970 Delbana was bought by Delma and moved to Lengnau, Switzerland.
Well, now Delbana is headed not only by Fred Leibundgut from Delma, but also by Daniel Kessler, a descendant of the company's founder.
To me, this is a great story. Yes, Delbana did not fly to the moon like Omega, nor was it created by a legendary 18th century craftsman like Breguet. But for almost a century now, it has been run by the same family and follows the principles of the founder: it makes relatively affordable, simple, but pleasant and high-quality watches.
At least I really liked the model 41603.722.6.034. By the way, she also has her own name: Della Balda. Four versions of this model, with different colors of the case and dial, were presented before the 90th anniversary of the brand and named after its founder. Referring to the anniversary is the retro-inspired design and the huge shield with the historic Delbana logo that occupies the top quarter of the dial.
Logo on modern Delbana Della Balda and Delbana of the second half of the 20th century
And Della Balda pleases with a large number of subtle, beautiful and thoughtful details.
The main feature of the watch is an amazing dial, which the manufacturer himself describes as “guilloche Sunray”. Usually Sunray is a flat dial with tiny rays that radiate from the center and are only visible when played in the light. And here these rays are a deeply guilloche pattern - I have never seen anything like it before! In the photo in online stores (strictly full face under harsh light) it looks rough. But in fact, the pronounced texture gives the watch an interesting, sophisticated and fresh look.
Pleased with the labels. The minute markers are marked with miniature applied metal discs. Sentinels are marked by major risks, which are also by no means simple. At first glance, they seem flat, but if you look closely, then something is wrong with the light in them. And with a magnifying glass you can see that although they do not have pronounced edges, there is a smooth bend: the mark is thinner at the tip than at the base. Here are the overlay marks on "3", "6", "9" and "12" - those are really flat, no surprises. Neat light green circles of luma are applied next to the hour markers. The only objective negative that I could find in the watch is connected just with the lume. The circle at 4 o'clock is slightly off to the right and up from the center of the hour mark. But if you do not look for flaws on purpose, you are unlikely to notice it.
The date is exemplary. She does not "eat" the label "3", as is often the case, but fits next to it. The date disc is black, in the color of the dial, and does not dissonate with it with a white spot. The date aperture is decorated with a metal applied frame covering the cut of the dial. Not to say that this is some kind of unique finish; however, I have seen watches where the unpainted section of the dial on the date aperture was open and indecently illuminated against a dark background.
Delbana - well done. If you make a watch with a date, do it like Delbana
The minute and hour hands are voluminous due to longitudinal bending, polished and with lume. The second is flat, but the boldly colored triangular tip looks thicker and nicely enlivens the hand. No flaws are visible: no cutting artifacts, no lume or paint blunders.
However, I have a big (and subjective) complaint about the dial. Why, well, why was it necessary to draw a huge white shield with a tower emblem and a text logo in the upper quarter? Yes, this is a relevant and valid reference to the history of the brand. But I didn’t find out about it right away, and at first it reminded me of an anniversary watch - something like “To the participant of the 20th congress of shock workers of the Grenchen Watch Factory”. As for me, a small, elegant polished applied tower would have looked much better on a laconic dial.
See how well the clean Delbana logo looks on the Retro Quartz! The shield with the inscription is also there, but removed to the back cover. It is a pity that on one of the most expensive models of the brand - Della Balda - they decided to do it differently
The case is also worthy of compliments. A thin chamfer runs along the edges of the lugs - though almost imperceptible, because it is polished in the same way as the adjacent surfaces. And on the bezel, if you look closely, you can see a smooth edge, from which it gradually tapers upwards. These decorations are not striking, but contribute to the overall perception of the watch.
The crown is large, but flat, so it does not interfere with the wrist. It is decorated with a logo in the form of a tower (here everything is done beautifully!). This is a simple, but quite solid and deep engraving.
Della Balda is an example of reasonable economy without sacrificing quality and appearance. Let's take the bodywork. Above, I praised its outlines, but in terms of finishing, everything is simple: solid polishing, there are no complex surfaces or clear edges. However, from an arm's length, this is not visible!
On retro models, domed sapphire crystals are appropriate - a reference to the convex plexiglass, which was often installed 50 years ago. But a domed sapphire is significantly more expensive than a flat one. This is probably why the Della Balda sapphire is flat, but very cunningly set: it is raised above the bezel, and the bezel itself is domed and tapers upward. From a short distance, it seems as if the watch has domed glass, and only the absence of distortion hints that this is not the case.
The rear view also hints at the budget. The Sellita SW200 mechanism is undecorated, the glass in the case back is mineral, the self-winding rotor is customized with just a small engraving of Delbana (not even in a corporate font, and this is in an anniversary model). However, who, besides yourself, will look at the back of your watch and check the type of glass in it?
However, in fairness, let's look at another budget Swiss made from a much more popular brand - Tissot Classic Dream. So, there is also a mineral water on the back cover and a minimal decoration of the mechanism.
If desired, Sellita can also be decorated: on the left - Formex, who approached the matter creatively, on the right - Oris, who attended only to a bright branded rotor
There is a common idea in all this: Delbana watches, worn on the wrist, look elegant and stylish. And everything that was saved on is not in sight in everyday wear.
Movement: Sellita, like Tag Heuer
The caliber here is not bad: the automatic mechanism of the Sellita SW200.
Since 1950, the Swiss factory Sellita has been assembling ETA movements for half a century. And when ETA's patent for the legendary movement 2824-2, the workhorse of the Swiss watch industry, expired, Sellita itself began to produce its copy of approximately equal quality. This is the SW200.
Sellita calibers (or those made based on them) can be found in watches of a rather high price segment: Tag Heuer, Tudor, Oris, Ball and others. These are good, fairly durable machines. However, the SW200 has a peculiarity: Calibercorner.com advises to wind it less manually, because this can cause the mechanism to fail faster.
The declared power reserve of the SW200 is 38 hours, but in practice the watch runs even a little longer. The frequency is a gentlemanly 28 semi-oscillations per hour. But I have not been able to find the passport accuracy. I believe, because the declared accuracy would allow to determine the grade of the installed Sellita mechanism. There are four of them: from Standard (accuracy +/-800 seconds per day) to the five-position Chronometer, which corresponds to the Swiss COSC accuracy standard (-12/+4 seconds). The price is also significantly different. And since the manufacturer does not advertise the accuracy of watches, the mechanism in them is probably not of the highest grade.
As usual, in the second position of the crown, you can quickly change the date, in the third position you can set the time in the presence of a stop second.
"Cut off all unnecessary." Usage impressions
"What is the art of the sculptor?" asked a student of the great Auguste Rodin. “Take a block of marble and cut off everything superfluous,” Rodin replied. It seems that Delbana Della Balda watches are made according to this recipe.
The proportional body has simple classical outlines. The watch would have looked good 50 years ago, it looks good now. Diameter - 40 mm: they will sit on almost any hand. This size is exactly in the middle between the "big" watches, the fashion for which is still holding on. And "small", to which popularity is gradually returning. It looks like Della Balda is always in style with its one-size-fits-all and timeless retro style.
Delbana positions itself as a model for a suit - dress watch. Well I do not know. Yes, with their size, 11,5 mm thickness and tapered profile, they really easily “jump” under the cuffs, and the retro lines and leather strap are appropriate with business attire. Still, they are oversized for a clean suit option, and green and red accents and a large pattern on the dial tip the balance towards sport. As for me, Della Balda's element is casual of any kind: a jacket with chinos, a shirt with jeans, a polo and so on. And thanks to these casual accents, you can expand the range of belts for these watches and put them on something other than classic leather.
Readability is perfect! Traditional Sunray dials can glare; the ribbed black dial of Della Balda, covered with a flat sapphire crystal with anti-glare, stubbornly does not want to glare. Light polished metal indexes and hands contrast perfectly with the black dial in the shade, and even in the light they completely shine against its background. The lume is acceptable: of course, not a diver with a dozen greasy layers of phosphor, but for several hours after exposure, the time to disassemble is quite comfortable. Water resistance is 50 m universal for everyday life, and the movement is proven by Sellita SW200.
Seriously, this is the best watch that can confidently cope even with the role of the only one. They have everything you need and nothing more.
Balanced, comfortable, beautiful, versatile Swiss watch with an honest history.
To whom would I not recommend this watch? I see no reason to dissuade from these hours. There is nothing uncomfortable or provocative, but there is a seasoned style and its own face. Finally, practicality is combined with comfort and a reasonable price.
To whom would I recommend this watch? Anyone who picks up a Swiss automatic watch. Anyone who is not versed in the watch world will simply get a comfortable watch for every day. And those who have already plunged into it will appreciate the thoughtful design from the unbroken and historical brand. You can even buy it as a gift: the watch is versatile enough to please the addressee.
Subjective assessment. An extremely successful model!