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Picking A Fight With An ‘Unscratchable’ Steel Watch (What We Learned)


If you’ve ever bought a luxury watch, especially one that’s right on the edge of your budget and required serious consideration, you will be aware of the ‘flailing wrist phenomenon’.

unscratchable steel

Okay, so I’ve given it a name, but you know what I mean. You save for months and months, possibly years. You read every scrap of information, every review, every comment no matter how bad the spelling, to ensure you’re well informed. You ask your friends, the experts, the salespeople (who you’re never quite sure you can trust), and finally you make your decision. You head to the store, you hand over your cash, you strap on your new watch, you leave with a smile on your face, you throw your arms wide in celebration, smashing your new timepiece into a wall that you could have sworn wasn’t there a moment ago. You’re not alone.

I’ll wager you’ve never bashed your Casio FW-19 on the edge of a table; I’d bet you’ve never scratched your Swatch; I’m pretty positive your bare wrist has never hit anything in quite the same way it seems suddenly able to when you strap your dream watch to it.

Thankfully there is a cure for your brazen clumsiness. Some thoughtful independent watchmakers have taken it upon themselves to gift you with ‘unscratchable steel’. Bremont made a big deal about the hardness of their cases when they first went to market. Having had the opportunity to go at them with a pair of tweezers, I can attest to their resilience. But there’s another option I love even more – Damasko.

I felt like a five-year old kid who’d just been given a baseball bat and told to ‘go nuts’.

Damasko are a pretty small brand, but they make very legible, modest watches with decent movements at an affordable price. Their real USP, though, is their ability to remain unblemished by time or momentary idiocy.

I was recently handed a Damasko case and asked to scratch it. My heart filled with joy. I felt like a five-year old kid who’d just been given a baseball bat and told to ‘go nuts’. I reached for my brass tweezers to the sound of tutting from the Damasko rep before me. He pointed at my screwdrivers. I duly obliged.

Damasko's GMT and DK101 lines, with hardened steel cases

Damasko’s GMT and DK101 lines, with hardened steel cases

The cases of Damasko watches have a beautiful finish. Lightly shot-peened, the matte patina has an alluring dullness that certainly didn’t look as if it would stand up to the vicious screwdriver attack I was about to exact upon it.

I went at it with the edge of the blade and dug in. The screwdriver slipped right off. There was not a mark. I looked at the rep. He was smiling. Probably because he knew I wanted one in my collection, but I guess mainly because I hadn’t ruined the demonstration.

Hardened steel cases are a revelation. They offer a great return on the initial investment because they don’t require frequent refinishing so you save on after-sales costs. The look of such raw functionality will not be for everyone, but it certainly is for me.

Check out Damasko here. Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.