New microbrands pop up every week, making it more and more difficult to identify which ones will deliver, but sometimes you’ve just got to take a chance and something a bit special might happen.
The tac/SAR was the premier release by independent microbrand P. Dubé, based in Detroit, USA. The result of an original design concept for a one off piece, which escalated into a limited edition run (and then came back full circle here, to a one off piece), took inspiration from a military based initiative which is explained later in this journal.
The idea (based on the initiative) was to create a tool watch influenced by the armed forces, in which the dark colours of tactical and covert operations, are contrasted by the bright colours associated with search and rescue teams.
Founder and microbrand owner, Pierre Dubé explains the original design concept behind the tac/SAR:
The aim of the design or the tac/SAR was to meld tactical and search and rescue, using dark, muted colours (seen throughout the case), combined with bright, high visibility accents (rehaut, minutes hand, and buckle).
Face & case
The 45mm case is similar in design to the Seiko “Turtle” watches; also stainless steel, however in this case it is coated with a titanium grey cerakote, giving it a matt grey appearance. The bezel is slightly smaller at 43mm, giving the watch a smaller appearance than it actually is.
The unidirectional bezel is finished in the same grey coating, has a coin edge to it for easy manoeuvrability and a black ceramic insert has highly prominent white markers (with 10 minute numeral identifiers), which has been treated with a high brightness blue lume, for low light level visibility.
The sapphire crystal fits snugly next to the ceramic insert and although it does not appear to be from above, is actually a double domed glass, with a clear anti-reflective coating on the inside.
Moving inside towards the dial, there is a deep rehaut, finished again in cerakote, but this time a satin canary yellow. This is where things have become unique, as the original P. Dubé tac/SAR which was a limited release of 50 pieces, actually featured orange highlights.
The dial itself is in forged carbon fibre; look closely and you will see all the different monochromatic colours from the built up layers. Hour markers are applied, in a similar fashion to many other diving watches, but with a stainless steel edge and a large white area which has been treated to the same high brightness blue lume. The 3 o’clock marker is missing, making way for the date window, which cleverly mimics the shape of the 9 o’clock hour marker and also has a stainless steel frame. The date wheel is in black, with white numbers, also featuring the same blue lume as in the other areas.
P. Dubé and their logo is printed in white just beneath 12 o’clock and tac/SAR is printed in yellow, with 200m right below in white.
The hands are in military spec style, filled with white (and this time green lume) the minute with a yellow outline and hour with a black outline. The seconds hand is black, with a small rectangular area towards its end.
Looking at the case from the side, the triple gasket, screw down crown, which is between 3 and 4 o’clock, has a similar coin edge for grip and with the brand’s logo embossed on the edge. You may notice the case is quite straight; the lugs don’t curve much towards the shape of the wrist.
Turn the watch over and the screwdown caseback is solid, featuring the brand’s 3 cog design laser etched into the centre, with a few other words framing it in 4 areas, including 316L, P.DUBE, 200M and UNIQUE PIECE.
The P. Dubé tac/SAR utilises the automatic Seiko Calibre NH35 workhorse, featuring 24 jewels, adjusted in 5 positions and beating at 21,600 vph. The NH35 does actually have hand winding capabilities, however this has been forfeited to allow for the screw down crown allowing 200m water resistance.
Functions provided are hours, minutes, central seconds (hacking seconds) and date.
41 hours power reserve should be expected once fully wound.
The strap is a black Artem synthetic sailcloth strap with black stitching and a black leather underside which has been coated with a layer of natural rubber (caoutchouc); a 22mm lug width tapers to 20mm at the buckle end.
The buckle (also by Artem) is in stainless steel, finished with the same yellow cerakote as used in the rehaut.
The P. Dubé tac/SAR was originally the result of a collaboration between P. Dubé Watch Works and Rico’s Watches Podcast (a podcast where host Eric talks watches with enthusiasts and industry professionals) and initially dubbed “Project Black Fish”.
The project objective was initially to create a one off custom design piece. Realising they had a fantastic design, the project quickly grew into a small batch of watches, individually serialised, with the end goal of raising awareness for a great program: The Veterans Watchmaker Initiative. A portion of the profits from the P. Dubé Tac/SAR sales would be donated to support this amazing movement.
When I first saw the original orange version of the limited edition P. Dubé tac/SAR, I liked the aesthetics of it and was really quite intrigued by the overall design, but personally thought it was missing something. So I asked Pierre if he would be up for making a one off, which didn’t really stray from the initial concept – basically to use canary yellow, with a grey case; and I do think the end result has turned out rather well and exactly what I was thinking.
I would probably class this watch as a “weekend watch”, as we always seem to be drooling over expensive watches, with high end movements and complications, but the reality of my life, is that although in my head it’s a great idea to be wearing my flashiest watches all of the time, I really can’t (afford to) get away with wearing them all of the time.
This watch really does that – it is a comfortable, casual watch that would likely withstand a fair bit of bashing, falling in a loch, or getting covered in my daughter’s arts and crafts. It is very lightweight for the size (compared to the 44mm Panerai Luminor, it’s as light as a feather) and the attention to detail is astounding, especially at this price point. At 15mm thick and with the coin edged bezel, it is a bit chunky and doesn’t really like getting or staying under cuffs.
There are a few minor things that I could comment negatively on; the fact that although the bezel does turn very smoothly, it feels and sound a bit plasticy and the only other thing (and now I’m being really fussy) is the case back would have been better to have been engraved, rather than etched, as that would have matched the crown and also given a slightly more defined finish.
I think the owners who received 1 of the 50 made in the original series of orange tac/SARs would have been very impressed with the build quality, especially at only $575 USD – to receive a one off build of this quality for this budget, is certainly something that I really didn’t expect. And, just to add that Pierre does all the building and testing (himself) by hand.
Unfortunately the tac/SARs are all sold out, however, Pierre Dubé has just announced a new model (Titan), which is a totally different concept and style, but I would say keep an eye out for what comes from this one man microbrand, as quality is clearly a key driver for him.
Just to add on a personal note, that Pierre is an absolute gent to work with, so easy going – I feel that some of the veterans in the industry could potentially learn a few tricks from the way he handles himself. As long as he keeps replicating that level of service and quality, I’m sure he will do well.