Hands on review of the David Rutten DR-01 Streamline
Foreword: The pictured watch is a prototype and some details will be improved. In particular, a plate is missing on the caseback and the contrast between the numerals and the discs will be increased.
David Rutten claims that he was born in Belgium but I do not think so. He comes from a very distant planet. At least, it's his watch, the DR-01 Streamline, that gives me that impression. I don't know exactly where it was created but when I discovered it, I told myself that it had fallen from a flying saucer. In any case, I did discover it on Earth during the last edition of Baselworld thanks to my meeting with David Rutten and his crewmate and company partner, Malik Bahri. The DR-01 Streamline, whose purpose is to be produced with a maximum number of 88 pieces, is currently the subject of a subscription campaign which is accessible via the website of David Rutten. The watch is in this context proposed at an extremely attractive price on which I will come back at the end of the article. But before going into these considerations, it is important to present the object and what makes it unique.
What is paradoxical and exciting with the DR-01 Streamline is that it is both original and futuristic but also inspired by the past, reinterpreting in its own way the watches that have existed for a long time. Imagine a Tank à guichets (featuring two windows) of the late 1920s that would have rocked into a spatio-temporal flaw, which would visit the year 3175 on Mars and return to Earth roughly a century after its creation: you get the DR-01 Streamline.
With such a description, I give the sensation of describing a wacky and bizarre object. But don't be wrong: the DR-01 Streamline is not this type of watch. It is disconcerting, intriguing but it is mostly coherent and well thought out. It has one main purpose: to highlight the case material, machined from a metallic meteorite block (which bears the official name of Muonionalusta) found in Sweden in 1906. And the whole watch stems from this ambition: design, time display and mechanism.
I was obviously surprised when I discovered the DR-01 Streamline. At first I was surprised by its aesthetics that manages to renew the concept of the "non-round" watch. The watch has a rectangular base but its shape features a lot of fluidity. A rectangular watch has never been so ... round! And how not to mention the gadroons that obviously characterize the Streamline inspiration ... you know this school of aesthetic that existed for several decades in the middle of the twentieth century and that materialized through beautiful land, rail or air machines, in everyday life objects and also in architecture. The gadroons play a very important role. They break the uniformity of the case and bring subtlety. They then highlight the main material because their relief effects give to the texture of the meteorite the opportunity to express itself. Finally, they immerse the design of the DR-01 Streamline in a very 1950s atmosphere that evokes me the beginnings of the space conquest and the science fiction novels of that period. This constant back and forth between past and future is also one of the driving threads of the DR-01 Streamline.
Then I was surprised by the visual rendering of the meteorite, its texture, its brilliance. I must admit that I rediscovered it from another angle. Generally confined to the role of dial background, it takes here a whole new dimension. I understand perfectly why David Rutten wanted to structure the watch around the material. The metallic meteorite offers an incomparable and unique spectacle. How could I qualify this material? Precious? Perhaps because of its rarity and brilliance. In any case, rarely a watch will have me so much questioned because of the appearance of its case. Again, a striking contrast appears between the gross dimension of the meteorite revealed by the irregularities, the veins and the refinement that is expressed in the way of capturing light through the polish finish. Imperfections even add charm and audacity: the piece I handled features an inclusion of Cobalt in the left part of the case. This random inclusion (which depends on the section of the meteorite block) expresses a mysterious and fascinating side. The lightness of the case is also surprising. I thought the DR-01 Streamline was a heavy watch, I was wrong. The density of the meteorite which is used is close to steel. The weight of the watch remains reasonable (around 120 grams) and the weight is not felt once put on the wrist. The base of the case, in permanent contact with the skin, is made of titanium just like the crown.
The dimensions of the case are, taken in the absolute, imposing: the width is 37mm and the length is 53mm. And we all know that every millimeter counts in a non-round watch. However, the DR-01 Streamline didn't appear to me as bulky. First of all its thickness of 12mm is mastered. The style is slender and thanks to the curve of the case, the whole appears fluid. The case has no real lugs or rather the bracelet "enters" in the case as with the Tank. The watch is placed on the wrist without requiring additional space. And then this generous size has an asset, not necessarily noticeable at first: it makes you want to stroke the gadroons continuously. Yes, the DR-01 Streamline also offers a touch experience.
Unlike many watches "à guichets" (with windows), the DR-01 Streamline brings together in a single zone the different displays: jumping numerals for the hours (which is extremely important for me to not be confused on the hour display), permanent movement for the minutes and seconds. The shape of the opening looks like a kind of space capsule and allows to gather on a small area all the necessary information. Reading the time is easy since we only need to follow the index at the base of the opening. The disks are obviously moving clockwise, the minutes and seconds discs turn from left to right. The second disc brings a nice animation and prevents the watch from appearing static. I like the aesthetic approach which has been implemented since the numerals seem to "radiate" from the index. The readability is quite correct on the prototype thanks to the size of the numerals larger than what is usually met on traditional watches "à guichets". The contrast between the numerals and the discs will be improved in the final version and the sapphire crystal will undergo a double-sided anti-reflective treatment.
Such a watch must be animated by a movement at the expected level. What good is it to evoke space and flying saucers if behind there is a moped engine? On this point, we must pay tribute to David Rutten and Malik Bahri: the movement that powers the DR-01 Streamline is not only coherent but it responds to this challenge.
The DR-01 Streamline is a powerful handwind movement with a 4hz frequency and a power reserve of 120 hours obtained with two barrels. This exclusive movement was developed with Christopher Ward from a SH21 movement base (which we recognize the regulating organ) on which was added the display module. This movement occupies the case generously because of its diameter of 33mm ... which leaves only a space of 2mm on each side in the direction of the width! This proves that the size of the DR-01 Streamline is optimized since it couldn't actually be smaller.
The python bracelet matches the spirit of the watch. Its flexibility is appreciable:
I like the presentation of the movement. It doesn't offer spectacular finishes but its appearance is neat. The geometric shape of the large bridge inspired by the octahedron structure of the meteorite, corresponds to the spirit of the watch, just like the monochrome rendering obtained with a ruthenium treatment. The whole appears very concentrated and the movement gives the impression that there is not the least free space. From the visual point of view, the two barrels on the right impose their large size and the regulating organ in the lower left side seems relegated to a corner. I also regret that the balance wheel is not a little more visible so there is more animation on the movement side. The power of the movement is felt when winding it. It is necessary to turn the crown in a manly way in order to wind it. Clearly, this is not a Lange movement, but after all, this muscular winding experience almost seemed compatible with the design of the DR-01 Streamline. My only real complaint in the end is the absence, in the context of a long power reserve, of an indicator of this power reserve, ideally located movement side. I like to know what is the status of the power reserve if I don't wind the watch on a daily basis. In any case, the movement works very well. Beyond its long power reserve, its asset is the perfect instantaneous jump of the hours: it is clean and net with a very pretty triggering noise.
Despite its size, and for the reasons explained above, the DR-01 Streamline is easily and comfortably worn. The case fits well, even under the shirt sleeve and the flexibility of the black python strap ensures effective maintenance on the wrist. In any case, I had a lot of fun wearing this intriguing and exciting watch. The rendering of the case, the efficiency of the design and the perfect integration of the display make it attractive.
Beyond this overall success, the DR-01 Streamline appeared to me as an important watch in this year's offer. It is daring and let's say it, divisive in a fairly conventional general context. And especially it gives the opportunity to purchase a meteorite case with a 4-digit subscription price ... while the few examples of similar cases that come to my mind were sold with 6-digit prices.
Of course, and this is its strength, this watch will not please everyone. It surprises, it can even disturb. But wearing such a piece creates new sensations and not just because its raw material comes from space. The reflections, the texture, the display, the shape, everything is finally an opportunity to discover every day a new detail of the DR-01 Streamline. The great news is that the watch is currently in a subscription campaign. The subscription price is for the least aggressive given the uniqueness and quality of the watch: 7.650 euros if the price is fully paid when the order is made, 8.500 euros if a deposit of 40% is paid. Moreover, adhering to the concept through this type of campaign corresponds to support the development of the company and the project. It is a way to support creators who dare and more widely creative and independent watchmaking. Is it not a nice way to act against the generally highly formatted offer of the market?
You will notice the inclusion of Cobalt on the left side of the case:
+ an attractive price for a meteorite case
+ an original and coherent watch
+ the performance of the movement
+ the comfort on the wrist
- a quite virile manual winding
- I would have liked a power reserve indicator on the movement side considering the long power reserve