Review of Damasko DA45 Black Automatic

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Model # DA45
Brand/Model:  Damasko DA45 Black Automatic
Movement:  Swiss automatic
Material:  hardened stainless steel case with black Damest layer, leather strap
Complications:  day/date display
Price:  $1,550 USD


Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.
This is one of those reviews I was looking forward to writing.  When I purchase a watch that exceeds my expectations and has such a unique look and set of features compared to other watches, I am happy and excited to write about it.  This is the case with the watch being reviewed here, the Damasko DA45 black automatic.
Damasko is a German company that makes a fairly wide range of technologically advanced, extremely well-built tool watches that are designed to withstand environmental extremes and hold up well during everyday wear.  The list of features that are built into Damasko’s watches reminds me of reading a Mercedes Benz catalog for one of their cars…loaded with useful, real technology that is not a lot of marketing puffery.  It’s technology that’s real, thoroughly engineered and it’s built into everyone of their watches.  It’s also pretty darn cool.
Damasko has been around since 1994.  Their engineers have spent a lot of time designing watch cases that can be hardened way beyond a watch case made of standard 316L stainless steel.  The stainless alloy that Damakso employs in their cases is entirely nickel free and is hardened to a value up to four times harder than any other watch case used in modern watch production.   The value is up to 800 Vickers.  The DA45’s case is ice hardened to 710 Vickers.
Damasko also has taken considerable lengths to design and patent a superior gasketing system for the screw down crown mechanism.  Their secret is a lubrication cell inside the crown tube and double Viton™ o-rings.  The screw down crown mechanism is also patented.
The DA45 also has a very high resistance to magnetic fields (due to an inner cage), a super durable black Damest coating on the case, superior design and construction of the bezel, etc.  I could go on and on, but let’s just say this is a very bad-ass watch and these technological advancements help place Damasko watches at a higher echelon than other watches.
There are also many other innovations that are featured in higher end models of Damasko watches (but not the model reviewed here), such as an oil-free escapement mechanism and a proprietary balance spring.  You can read more about all of these nifty design features in-depth at Damasko’s web site.
The DA45 black automatic has the super hard stainless steel Damest layer case that measures 40mm without the signed screwdown crown; 44.9mm crown inclusive.  Thickness is 12.3mm and lugs are the nice standard 20mm (which makes aftermarket strap shopping much easier).  The lugs are also drilled, which makes strap changes easier as well.  
The screwdown crown has small shoulders protecting it.  One note on the crown, despite the patented design with the lubrication cell, etc., the feel of the crown as it screws down should be smoother in my opinion.  It screws down fine, but to me, there is still a slightly gritty feel to it, which the design is supposed to take care of.  Not a huge nitpick (as long as the screwdown action continues to seal the crown properly and nothing strips out), but it definitely bears mentioning.
The caseback is fully Damest layer coated and is screwed down, with lots of information stamped into the caseback as it pertains to the features and performance of the watch, most of which is in German.  All in all, the look of the case and the evenness and smoothness of the black Damest layer is superb and it appears that it will stand the test of time.
The DA45 is factory rated for 100 meters of water resistance.
There were two reasons the DA45 appealed to me.  The first was the superior black case and the second was the white dial.  But wait, the dial is also fully luminous!  Most full-lume dials either have a slight translucency to them or have a greenish tint, telling you right away that they’re luminous.  Not so with the DA45.  Damasko had the foresight to use pure white Superluminova C1 to evenly and perfectly coat the entire dial.  So in normal light, the dial is a great stark white. Only in dim light or darkness does the dial reveal itself to be luminous, emitting a soft green glow.  Fantastic!
The dial is a study in simplicity and readability.  The sword-style hands are pure matte black and the seconds hand is red, with just a small part (near the attachment to the pinion) being matte black.  The markers are also screened matte black.  Everything shows up well against the luminous dial.  The marker at 12 is red to add a bit of style and the wording ‘Damasko’ appears just above the day/date display at 3.  There is also a small vertical line that runs from 12 to 6 and a horizontal line that runs from 9 to 3 on the dial.  Very subtle.  
Capping the dial is a flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides.
A note about the day and date display.  The wheels are black on white (the day wheel is in English and German) but instead of being perfectly aligned at the 3 position, the windows are just slightly below, which is a unique and useful way to display the day and date on this watch. Just another detail that differentiates this watch from others.
The bezel on the DA45 rides on ceramic bearings and unlike most watches these days, the bezel is bi-directional.  This is a refreshing change.  The bezel is Damest layer black with white inset arabics every 5 minutes and white hash marks on the other minutes.  The bezel pip is a sealed pip that’s luminous (although faintly) and RED!  It looks super cool!  
The action of the bezel is one of the most precise, if not the most precise of any rotating bezel on a watch that I have ever experienced.  It has an absolutely positive, smooth and precise feel about it.  Just superb.  I wish more bezels had such a great feel and action as the Damasko DA45.
Inside the DA45 resides an ETA 2836-2 25-jewel Swiss automatic, with gold wash and a decorated rotor (you can’t see any of this because the caseback is not a display type, but the specs. say so).  The movement is a workhorse in the industry and beats at 28,800 bph.  Of course, it hacks and manually winds.  Power reserve is the expected 41 hours.  The movement winds, sets and performs as expected, with one major difference; it is extremely accurate!  This watch runs at an honest +1 second per day on or off the wrist.  I cannot fault this performance at all. Hats off to Damasko for taking the time to regulate their movements.
Even the strap on the DA45 goes above and beyond the normal.  It’s a nicely grained high quality slightly padded black leather with double colored stitching (white and red) that adds a bit of style without looking garish.  The buckle is of course signed and finished in black Damest to match the case on the watch.  
Two keepers are featured (one fixed, one floating) and a nifty extra tab of leather that sits under the buckle where it resides against your wrist.  A nice touch!  The strap measures 20mm at the lugs and tapers to 18.5mm at the buckle.
Presentation is a weak point, especially at this price point.  The box is a rather non-descript inner and outer pair that would better suit a $100 watch.  The instructions and documentation are also sub-par, being just color photocopies.  Please, Damasko, ramp up the presentation to better match the exclusivity and quality of your watches!
Damasko has other models similar to the DA45, with bead blasted cases instead of black, different dial colors, different bezel functions, various strap options, other accent colors, etc.  The selection is decent and should have something that appeals to everybody.
While the DA45 is not cheap by any means, it is a watch with a purpose.  It features real technology designed to increase the durability, performance and longevity of the watch.  You won’t see this watch everyday and it’s bound to attract attention because it looks like nothing else out there.  Congrats to Damasko for creating such a unique, robust and overall superb timepiece.
Pros:  great fit and finish, usable technology that’s not all hype, super smooth and durable black Damest coating, superb accuracy, Swiss engine, very nice strap, great bezel action
Cons:  could have a higher water resistance rating, despite lubrication, crown feels oddly gritty, presentation needs improvement
Verdict:  worth every penny, the Damasko DA45 black automatic is an engineering marvel that you wear on your wrist, with features above and beyond most watches on the market today.  A great look, great performance and high quality make this watch a real winner.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.
Excelsior!

-Marc


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