Review: Studio Underd0g Mint Ch0c Chip

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Introduction 

A graduation watch carries a lot of emotional baggage. I had no problem giving it to the Studio Underd0g Mint Ch0c Chip just over a month ago when I proudly walked across the stage to finish my high school career. In 3rd place, I might add. There were a few reasons why I wore it on that day starting with it matching my gown, being a fun design that would bring a smile to my face in a slightly anxiety-inducing situation, and I could show off to my friends an eye-catching complication especially through the exhibition case back, be satisfied knowing that I’d have a quality watch on the wrist, and perhaps most importantly a watch thought out by someone that I respect immensely. As a young enthusiast, since first hearing of Rich on Jody’s channel and then on the podcast, I’ve been in awe of what he’s been capable of achieving. Creating a bold design that works and then taking the community by storm is not easy. Of course, the brand will go to greater heights, but I already see him as someone whose done it and is living the dream. He is someone to aspire to for sure.

On The Wrist

Case: D38.5mm * W13.6mm (10.8mm excluding crystal); Additional dimensions: 20mm Lug width, 44.5mm Lug to lug; Architecture: 3-part case construction, screw-down case-back, and a signed crown; Material: 316L Stainless Steel; Crystal: Sapphire crystals (Double domed front and flat exhibition back); Water-resistance: 5 ATM; Band: 20mm tapered to 16mm Bespoke Alran Chevre Goatskin strapA watch on a person's wrist Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Thirty-eight millimeters can sound too small and 13.6mm too tall but I love the case size and being that its height is 10.8mm excluding the double domed sapphire crystal, great distortions, by the way, this case sits wonderfully on the wrist. A 44mm lug to lug also helps a lot. When it comes to the finishing it’s brushed on the laterals, on top of the lugs, and polished in between the lugs. That lugs are also beveled, transitioning into the polished bezel. The water resistance is on par with the most famous chronograph, out there, the Omega Moon Watch, with 50m WR (screw down case back). My personal experience shows that you can wash your hands with this so the Speedmaster should survive as well. Anyways, throughout this one month of ownership, I’ve come to really like the rectangular chronograph pusher design and enjoy its tactile manner of them. I haven’t used them for the tachymeter function yet because I simply haven’t been in a situation that warranted it, but I have timed stuff with it although I probably didn’t need to. I find myself forgetting that the chrono is activated, then looking down to see it close to 30 or restarting. I just like to play with it. 

Strapping the case to the wrist are the best straps that have ever graced my wrist. The Gen 2 and all subsequent models will come with handmade straps done by David Richards AKA The Strap Tailor. This is part of the brands’ effort to champion UK businesses in the watch space. You’ve heard Dave rave about how good The Strap Tailor’s straps are, expect me to do the same once I’m back on. They are thin, soft, well build, and look superb. The Mint Ch0c Chip comes with the bespoke Alran Chevre Goatskin strap, but I also got the light brown strap that comes with the Desert Sky. A watch on a table Description automatically generated with medium confidence A month after and they are still pristine. I have also been wearing it on a Strap Code Milanese bracelet because of the immense heat of recent times (the world is ending and you’re here reading about watches, we deserve to go extinct).

Dial

Dial: 2-layer with a satin sandblast base dial and coarse dégradé top dial; Lume: Super-LumiNova C3

Why so serious? That’s the question posed by Studio Underdog from its conception and the way that translates to the dial’s designs and color combinations has taken the watch community by storm. Rich’s outgoing color combinations, more than anything are what attracted me to his watches. The Watermelon was a bit too extroverted for me, I already have a couple of blue watches so I didn’t want to add another with the Desert Sky, and I did also like the Go0fy Panda but I wanted something with a bit more color. Out came the Mint Ch0c Chip and I knew it was the one. Hot take: mint is one of the worst things to happen to chocolate! But the color combination is wonderful on a watch dial. The two-layer dial starts with a sandblasted base in a light brown color where we find the tachymeter markings. In the same plane, there are the minute lines on a bark brown background. These marking are a bit tough to at a glance and depending on a shadow being cast by the top dial, kind of impossible. I would suggest increasing the saturation on the printing or, here me out, make them white and not make that the only white element on the watch, like on the Watermelon, make the end of the chrono and 30-minute counter white. Would that work? Rich? Moving on from my possibly terrible design ideas, we get to the top level which has a coarse degrade texture in mint green and also features snailing for the 9 o’clock seconds sub-dial and a three brown tone smooth finish for the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. One of the major highlights of this piece is how the textures work together so well. I find the overall design brilliant because the off-centered text and different size sub-dials are pleasing to the eye but if you were just describing it to me, I wouldn’t think it could all come together as good as it does. I’ll end this section with the things that make me chuckle every time I check the time, chocolate hour markets. Why have rectangular, circular, or any other type of marker when you can have chocolate ones? Again, why so serious everyone?

Movement

Martins of Glasgow Watch Servicing and Repair

Movement Type: Seagull Manual Winding ST-1901(with Swan Neck Regulator); Beat Rate: 21,600; Winding crown: Clockwise wind system; Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, and tachymeter; Power reserve: Chronograph off: 50h Chronograph on 45h

Do you know how it is said that first impressions are everything? Thankfully that saying isn’t completely accurate. My first impressions of the movement weren’t good since for some unknown reason the mainspring couldn’t hold a charge thus the hands couldn’t move, and time couldn’t be told. To add salt to an open wound, I wanted this watch to be on my wrist for my graduation, so I was annoyed that I had to send it back and not have it for that special occasion. But as you’ve read above, I did walk across the stage with it. How was the problem solved? Messages and videos were sent and the question “why are you winding it counterclockwise?”. As you can imagine, I just wanted to crawl inside a coffin and be left to die. I wind all my other watches clockwise. Don’t know why I went counterclockwise for this one, but I did, and I did not stop until it was pointed out by Dave.

So glad that I’ve been able to put that two-day ordeal behind me and I am happy to report that I’ve come to appreciate the Seagull ST-1901. Since the movement wasn’t broken, I’d like to applaud the QC work of Horologium which is another UK partner of Studio Underdog that carry out a full independent inspection on all watches before they’re shipped. The process includes demagnetization, accuracy/rate review in 3 positions, and regulation wherever necessary. A neat inclusion in the package is the report card on the watch’s accuracy. Mine is +8 s/d dial-up, +13 s/d crown down, and +9 dial-up with chrono on. That’s pretty good but to be fair I’ve tried not to focus too much on accuracy because the movement doesn’t hack. That is something that you will have to learn to live with or maybe you’ll get lucky, and it will stop around 60 like it’s done for me a few times. What I have focused on is the looks of the movement. And sure if A. Lange & Söhne’s chronograph movements are the gold and silver city of the gods the ST-1901 is man in the industrial revolution, it’s still impressive to my eyes. Just seeing the mechanical movement that activates and resets the chronograph justifies the sapphire case back. It makes you appreciate this movement’s achievement of being the only fully integrated column-wheel chronograph movement at under $4000. In fact, after my friends and family finished exclaiming “why did I need another watch”, it was seeing this watch’s complication in action from the back side that captivated them. To all brands, unless you have a very cool case back design, use a display one because it will attract younger people’s attention. That’s a guarantee. With this also being a manual wind (I’ve never forgotten to wind it), the movement is in full display, so it’s been amazing to observe everything from the balance to the column wheel.

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I went to my graduation with it, and I even got a matching Polo shirt so yes, I do recommend this. Because many people agree that I love Rich’s pieces, they are all currently sold out and I am unaware of precisely when they will be back in stock. But if you’ve listened to our latest podcast, you’ll know that he is releasing a new design called the Strawberries & Cream whose pre-order window will open soon. No matter which version you pick, know that a good product it is and a smile it will cause.