Review of Nautec No Limit Barracuda Automatic

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Model # BC 8215/IPBK
At a Glance:
Brand/Model:  Nautec No Limit Barracuda
Movement:  Japanese automatic
Material:  Black IP stainless steel case and bracelet
Complications:  Date display
Price:  MSRP:  $250 USD
Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.
I had been searching for an all-black watch in the past few months and wanted to make sure I made the right choice.  I didn’t want an all-black ‘stealth’ model (dial and hands black to create a stealth look, but impractical and hard-to-read) since I had already gone down that path with both Wenger and Invicta stealth models and deemed my attraction to this design to be over.  I simply wanted an all-black watch with a good looking dial and hand set, preferably with an automatic movement.
I considered a Steinhart Ocean Black but decided against it for two reasons; the first being the price, I really didn’t want to spend upwards of $500 to acquire my-yet-to be-determined all-black watch and second, while the look is pretty cool, the Ocean Black is still too derivative of a standard sub-clone, just done in black.
In the meantime, I had become interested in trying out a Nautec No Limit brand watch because a few of the designs looked interesting and some of their models were available with Miyota 8200 series automatic movements.  Nautec also makes a range of quartz chronographs and other automatic models with Chinese (Seagull?) engines.
I really don’t know too much about Nautec as a brand, but I do know they are assembled in China and seem to be mostly available from the German Revue Thommen seller I have been very pleased with over on ‘the bay.’  I have a suspicion, which is entirely my own, that this seller, which is a watch distributor/retailer named MacArthur’s, has developed this line on their own and are having the watches contract manufactured in China.  Whatever the real genesis of this brand is, it piqued my interest and about the time my quest for an all-black watch started, a new model called the Barracuda was introduced under the Nautec moniker and it grabbed my eye.
The Barracuda is a Miyota-powered automatic diver that is available in several varieties, with different colored bezels, case finishes and features.  I became captivated with the all-black Barracuda and fell in love with the nifty reddish/orange dial and hand set.
So I dutifully waited my turn and decided to bid on a ‘pre-owned’ example of an all-black Barracuda from the German seller.  By pre-owned, they pretty much mean that the watches have been used as samples or showroom models, as they are in nearly as-new condition and come with a one-year warranty, while costing 30 to 40% less than the ‘new’ price.  I took a chance, won the auction and three days later (again, excellent service, watch won on Monday, delivered to me Thursday from Germany) I had my Nautec all-black Barracuda.
The Barracuda is a substantial watch, heavy and thick in most respects.  The all stainless steel IP coated black case is polished/gloss IP on the sides and brushed IP on the top.  Case measures 42.5mm without the signed screwdown crown, 45.4mm with the crown.  Large crown guards shield the crown from errant knocks.  Lug width is 20mm, thickness is robust at 16.5mm.  Factory water resistance is rated at a fine 1,000 feet/300 meters.
The rear of the watch is polished black IP and features a Rolex-style screwdown caseback with the Nautec logo etched into the center.  The 120-click bezel is black IP with a black and silver bezel insert with lume pip (the Germans refer to it as a ‘lightpoint’) at 12.  The bezel is the worst part of this watch, as it has considerable backlash and as much slop as the pig trough at Fester’s farm. 
Aside from the bezel woes, what did impress me right away with the Barracuda is that the entire watch is all black.  Many times on all black watches, either the case back and/or the deployant part of the clasp is still polished stainless steel.  Not on this bad boy, everything is coated in black IP, all of it being evenly applied and well finished.
The flat crystal is sapphire with no cyclops (thankfully!) and no anti-reflective coating. 
The dial is simply superb, with a black dial with orange and white markings, small orange Arabics underneath square white lume markers.  An orange and white printed chapter ring encircles the outer edge of the dial, while a simple white minute track consisting of hash marks rides below the Arabics.  Overall, it’s a legible, unique and useful dial layout. 
A note on the shade of orange used in this watch.  It is not a fluorescent or bright orange, it’s a bit reddish in tone and strikes the perfect balance against the black.  It doesn’t have the ‘halloween’ feel that some orange and black watches have, which suits me fine.
The hour and minute hands are basically stick style with slightly pointed ends, painted the nifty orange hue with inset lume.  The seconds hand is all orange with no lume, so serious divers would not want to use this watch.  The lume quality is good, but not great.
A quickset date resides at the three o’clock position and its window seems a bit small.
The Miyota 8200 series automatic hand winds but does not hack, winding action is smooth and easy as we’ve come to expect from this tried and true workhorse of a movement.  Seconds hand sweep is smooth and not jittery and timekeeping/accuracy has been fine.  Power reserve is the expected 40+ hours.
The solid link bracelet is all black IP, with brushed IP outer links and polished IP inner links.  The edges of the links are polished.  The end links are black IP, but folded; solid end links should be installed on this watch.  Links are secured with screws, which are not a favorite of mine, but posed no problems with removal or re-installation during sizing.  The bracelet measures 20mm at the lugs and tapers just slightly to 19.6mm at the clasp.
The clasp is a pushbutton double locking variety that is signed and done in polished black IP, while the deployant is a cheapish stamped steel variety in brushed black IP.  Much like needing solid end links, the deployant on this watch should be a proper machined type.  There is also no diver’s extension, so serious divers need not apply.  Three micro-adjustment holes are included on the clasp.
This watch has acquitted itself well during my initial test wearings.  Due to its rather thick case and 20mm lug width, I was afraid it could be top heavy/floppy on my thinner wrist, but it hugs the wrist nicely and feels substantial while wearing.  A note about polished black IP; this finish tends to be a fingerprint/smudge magnet, so this may be off-putting to some.  So far the IP finish on this watch seems durable.
Presentation on this Nautec Barracuda is a large square rugged looking thin metal box with molded hard foam insert.  A heavy black cardboard outer box with separate lid completes the packaging.
MSRP on this watch is $250 or sp, which is getting a bit pricey.  Afterall, you can get an all-black sub clone from Invicta for $100 or so with pretty much the same features.  But if you don’t want ‘just another sub clone’ watch, the Nautec starts to make more sense.
Overall, this Nautec Barracuda has the look I was seeking in an all-black automatic diver and while some aspects could be better executed, the overall effect is one that I am pleased with.
Pros:  all-black good looks, reliable Miyota automatic movement, sapphire crystal, hefty build quality, great dial and hand set
Cons:  bezel looser than Snooki from Jersey Shore, needs solid end links and a machined deployant, tends to be pricey if not bought right
Verdict:  the Nautec Barracuda presents a solid, sleek black image that with a little more effort in a couple of spots could turn a good watch into a great watch 
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.
Excelsior!
-Marc
UPDATE!
I decided to sell my Nautec Barracuda in part because I couldn’t get past the looseness of the bezel.  Little things like that tend to bother me more than they should.  The watch still looked good to me, but I have also recently acquired another all-black watch which has taken the place of the Nautec in my collection.
-MCV, 5-25-11

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