This Affordable Tonneau Watch Is Our New Favourite Timepiece

You see a tonneau-shaped (or if you insist, barrel-shaped) sports watch, you can be pretty sure it has a serious price tag attached. It’s just the way of the world, with horologists in the vein of Richard Mille using the format to push the boundaries of watchmaking and, in some cases, taste.

In occasional watches that makes sense; you put a tourbillon into a timepiece and the price is going to skyrocket. Make that tourbillon out of some space-age material NASA would kill for and yes, you have a watch most at home in the lyrics of an overcompensating rapper.

Strip all of that away though and what you have is a cool, vastly under-utilised watch style – one that, according to revived legacy watchmaker Paul Dupuis, doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive.

Paul Dupuis may not be in the history books alongside Abraham-Louis Breguet, but back in 1920 he was creating his first movements. One-hundred years later their first watch of a new era, the DMS|001, was born.

Looks-wise, the DMS|001 is on point. The generously proportioned 41.5mm x 50.5mm case has everything that we’ve come to know and love from a tonneau sports watch, right down to the visible, industrial-style case screws flanking the dial.

Perhaps most impressively is that it continues the trend for these watches using off-kilter materials with the use of layered, custom-forged Damascus steel. Made by folding the metal countless times, when milled it creates a flowing, organic grain that’s been used for centuries. It’s not cutting edge, but it’s damn cool, helped by a daily-wear appropriate 100m water resistance.

Rather than skeletonization, the dial goes for legibility, opting for bold Arabic numerals outlined in white against a black, semi-transparent dial. It’s less ostentatious than openworking and makes the watch far easier to read. The striped, warning sign-esque date border is straight out of the Richard Mille playbook and as a final flourish the hands are coated in Super-Luminova for low-light time-telling.

Powering the watch is, at its core, a classic Swiss ETA 2824 movement. That means solid accuracy and a 40-hour power reserve. This particular number has been customised with both a branded rotor, visible through the sapphire caseback and layer of carbon fibre for stabilisation and shock protection, hammering home the sports credentials.

The DMS|001 is available in three distinct versions: plain silver Damascus steel, rose gold PVD and gunmetal black for that whole sporty, carbon fibre vibe without the weightlessness. It even has a bright yellow inner bezel, racing-watch style.

You don’t need to let your decision be based on price either; no matter which colour you decide on, the price tag is the same: an eminently-accessible £999. Compare that to the usual, prohibitively pricey Swiss sports watches – and the DMS|001 is a Swiss watch, even if it’s designed and hand-assembled here in the UK – it’s pretty incredible value.

High-priced tonneau sports timepieces do still have their place pushing the envelope of haute horology but if the unique shape’s always appealed, Paul Dupuis is a seriously affordable alternative.

Limited-Time Special Offer

The first 50 Kickstarter backers will get a 35% discount off the RRP to £650… be quick.

In partnership with Paul Dupuis watches – words and opinion Ape’s own.

Samuel Kessler

Mr. Sam Kessler is Ape's Watch Editor, alongside being Digital Editor of watch and lifestyle magazine Oracle Time. He's also a self-proclaimed writer of luxurious temperament.