Full Review With Damasko DC66
In the world of independent replica watches, brands like Damasko stand out. Small, family owned and operated, they produce a limited amount of replica watches per year with a focus on quality and technology that surpasses most brands many times their size.
The replica watch we’re looking at today, the DC66, is a Valjoux 7750 powered chronograph with a bezel. The same replica watch is essentially also available without a bezel and in PVD. The dial also has a lot in common with the DA36, which we reviewed in PVD some months ago. It’s about as no-nonsense as a pilot’s chronograph can be with a focus on legibility and sheer toughness. The DC66 is for those who are looking for a chronograph that can take a beating, and emphasize at-a-glance legibility over decorative flourishes. At $2,305 the DC66 is not inexpensive, but it’s worth every cent.
Unlike with many replica watches we review, this replica watch happens to actually belong to me (and was purchased by me), and has for quite sometime. As such, these opinions were formed over a longer than normal period, as the DC66 is one of my most worn replica watches.
Though in a year, they might produce a fraction of what other sport replica watch brands do, and their name is not on buses or on shelves in replica watch shops across the US, Damasko still manages to produce truly exceptional pieces of engineering and for a good value too. And I mean value in the true sense. You get something of quality that exceeds its price tag, not something for as little as possible.
As such, Damasko is a favorite around w&w, with this being our third review of their replica watches. If you’re familiar with the brand, you’ll know they focus on modern pilot’s replica watches and chronographs. While they have a bunch of models, the differences between them are often slight. With and without bezel, with and without PVD, a different color hand, etc… The dials are often the same or similar within a couple of styles. More importantly, they all share the same astounding case tech, which is the driving force behind their replica watches.
The case of the DC66 is a clean take on the modern pilot, accentuated by a bold bezel and lots of great hidden tech. As with most pilot chronos, the DC66 is on the larger side, coming in at 42 (about 44 at the bezel) x 48 x 14mm. Despite the dimensions, and my preference for smaller replica watches, I’ve always found this replica watch very wearable regardless of its size on paper. This is largely due to the very slender lugs, which taper to a narrower thickness than normally found, putting more emphasis on the dial and bezel. Though in general there are few surprises to the case design, (slab sides, typical profile) the shape of the lugs is almost elegant, nicely contrasting the overall utilitarian and almost harsh pilot elements.
This keeps your replica watch looking just-out-of-the-box longer and gives you some additional confidence when wearing it. Not to say I intentionally bump into things, but if I knew I was going to do something where that was more likely, like go to a concert, I’d wear the DC66 over other replica watches. It’s not just aesthetics though, they use the ice-hardened steel though out the replica watch, including in the pushers, crown and crown tube, increasing their durability.
The ice-hardened steel also adds an appealing color to the replica watch. The DC66 has a gorgeous, satin bead-blast finish (something that would normally be easier to scratch) that is made all the more attractive by emphasizing the steel’s dark gray color. It approaches the color of titanium, but to my eyes has a different luster.
Of course, few things are perfect, and there is a downside to the metal. The process of hardening actually gives the replica watches a slight magnetism of their own. I’ve tested this with my replica watch and a simple magnetic compass… when next to the replica watch, the magnet points at it. The movement is protected from this and other magnetic fields by way of an anti-magnetic inner cage, giving it 80,000 A/m of protection. Nevertheless, this is considered by many to be an issue.
The DC66 has a nice, wide pushers that measure about 5mm in diameter. Along with the guarded screw-down crown, which measures 6.3 x 5mm, the right side of the replica watch has a lot of nice details. Aesthetically, the chunky pushers and long crown are aggressive, playing off of the bezel. More importantly though, they both work and feel great. The wide pushers are a pleasure to push, and the crown is one of the easiest to grasp and re-thread I’ve used. As with everything else, they are both loaded with tech. The pushers and crown have self-lubricating cells, ensuring smooth action, and feature Viton gaskets. As said before, everything is also made of ice-hardened steel including the threading, so stripping is very difficult.
Flipping the replica watch over, you’ll find Damasko’s signature, text-heavy caseback. In several lines of arching text, you’ll find all of the technical details of the replica watch engraved into the metal… It’s all in German, save the “Made in Germany” line, so I mostly appreciate it for reinforcing the no-nonsense design of the replica watch.
One of the most fundamental technologies at play in the case of the DC66, and all Damaskos for that matter, is the use of their proprietary ice-hardened, nickel-free steel. Coming in at 710 vickers, which is much harder than typical 316L steel, Damaskos are very hard to scratch. I can speak from personal experience in that I’ve worn this replica watch fairly regularly for the last 1.5 years and have not damaged it at all…not even marks on the backs of the lugs from strap changes.
One of the major visual elements of the case is the bezel, which is fairly broad at around 5mm wide. It features a proprietary, super hard bezel in black with white numerals, and a chunky grip. I particularly like the grip design as it’s so purposeful, and works as intended. When you grasp the bezel, your fingertips immediately find an edge to hold on to. It also has an almost gear-like industrial feel that is aesthetically appealing. Looks aside, it’s also the best bezel mechanism I’ve felt. Damasko uses in in-house developed and manufactured ceramic bearing system (!) giving the bezel bi-directional, ratcheting functionality. In other words, it’s a 60-click bezel that turns both ways, but more importantly, it lines up literally perfectly every time, has little to no back-play and has one of the most satisfying clicks I’ve ever felt. To say that I play with the bezel when it’s on my wrist is an understatement… it’s almost distracting.
Straps and Wearability
The Damasko DC66 is available on leather or their ice-hardened bracelet for an additional $500. It’s a lot for a bracelet, but it’s basically scratch-proof. That said, as someone who prefers leather generally speaking, I’d save my money. The replica watch here is pictured on one of our Model 1 straps, a nylon mil-strap or a Di-Modell Pilot strap, as I do not have the original. That said, the Di-Modell Pilot definitely comes with many Damaskos. The replica watch features 22mm lugs, which makes sense for the diameter of the replica watch. The Pilot strap actually is wider than 22, and has cutouts to create a flow from the case sides down the taper of the strap. It’s an aggressive look that works very well with a replica watch this style. The black leather with white contrast stick is an obvious albeit stark choice.
The gorgeous gray steel works really well with certain drab and dark colors. On a khaki/brown nylon mil-strap, another obvious style for a pilot’s chronograph, the metal is emphasized and takes on an even more aggressive feel. This is a great way to wear it on a hot day, as the heft of the replica watch plus thick leather, will be noticeable when sweating.
I also really like the look of DC66 on either an Olive or Color 8 Model 1… Given that the DC66 has been a replica watch in my normal rotation, I’ve worn it with both quite a lot, though more with the Olive. The green and brown combo gives the DC66 a more outdoorsy, and slightly less military feel, while not sacrificing any of the replica watches’ ruggedness. This with brown boots and blue jeans is an easy combo. The Color 8 provides a darker and more striking look. The burgundy of the leather works especially well with darker grays and matte metal, so it’s a natural pairing with the DC66. I like this strap when wearing more black, as the dark leather provides a nice, subtle contrast.
As said, the DC66 isn’t a small replica watch, but it’s not too big either. The 42mm case, though wider at the bezel, wears well thanks to the thin lugs and general proportions. Having a wide bezel sort of shrinks things visually too, as an all dial 42mm would wear much larger. On my 7″ wrist, the DC66 might be about max, but it’s still pleasurable to wear, and this is coming from someone who most often wears 36-38mm replica watches. That said, it’s not svelte. It’s a chunky tool replica watch, but one that fits. The height is the most annoying dimension, but 14mm isn’t atypical for an automatic chronograph, especially one with a bezel and internal anti-magnetic cage.
Beyond that, it’s also a true tool replica watch. A replica watch that is meant to withstand more than a normal replica watch, given the various techs built it. As such, when wearing it you feel a bit more care-free. It’s a replica watch you don’t have to fear bumping into things with, and while there are smaller replica watches from Damasko that are equally tough, there is something about the chunkiness of the DC66, combined with the ice-hardened steel, etc, that makes it feel even tougher and more impervious.
Speaking of no-nonsense, the DC66’s dial is purpose driven through and through. The matte black surface provides a clean backdrop for the stark white markers and hands to sit a top, providing maximum contrast. The hour index consists of large, almost over-sized, arabic numerals in a crisp sans-serif type. It’s such a clean type that it lacks any real stylization, instead focusing on pure legibility. You’re not going to misread this replica watch. 6 and 12 are lacking due to the sub-registers, though in true pilot form, there is a triangle at 12.
Encircling the dial is a minute/chrono seconds index of white lines with bolder squares at intervals of five. This provides some added accuracy for reading the exact minutes, as well as reference for the chronograph when in use. Staying true to the no-fuss design, the lines and squares are stark an blunt; easily readable at a glance. One curious choice they made in the design of the dial was with the lume placement. One might think that the large numerals would be lumed, but they’d be wrong. Actually, only the small squares on the edge of the dial, the triangle at 12, the hour and minute hands and the pip in the bezel glow. As such, at night it’s actually very minimal. The lume itself is decent, though not amazing.
At three you have a Damasko logo as well as the day/date windows. You’ll quickly notice that the date is off center from the dial, though the text and numerals are not at an angle. This is a cool thing that Damasko does to all of their replica watches with dates, via customizing the date disks. I love the idea, and am always happy to see a brand customize the date to suit their design, but it makes for one small design quirk that sometimes gets under my skin. Above the date and below the logo is a very awkward and seemingly pointless gap. On their three-hand replica watches, there often are cross-hairs running from 12-6 and 3-9, which fill in that space, thus giving a logic for the logo to be high and the date low… not here though. What I don’t get is why the Damasko logo wasn’t just lowered to fill the space. Seeing it there, floating away, just makes me wish I could select it and drag it down a few millimeters with some virtual mouse. But no luck, I just have to ignore it.
The DC66 features three sub-dials in typical 7750 arrangement with the 30-minute counter at 12, 12-hour counter at 6 and active seconds at 9. As you might have guessed, the design and execution of each is as simple and blunt as possible. The minute and hour counters just feature white lines and a few numerals. Both are printed flat on the dial, no indenting or graining…no distraction. The active seconds is then just a cross-hair, giving little to no aid in reading to the exact second, though that’s a unit that is largely irrelevant. I like the cross-hair design as it reduces the weight of the sub-dial within the dial as a whole, putting much more emphasis on the registers at 12 and 6. This also gives the dial a feel of a vertical two-register design, making it a bit different that most 7750 chronos.
The bezel is available is two formats, the 12-hr or Zulu bezel shown here, or a 5-55 bezel. I’m a big fan of 12-hr bezels, even if at a glance it looks redundant when set to home. What’s great is that it’s the easiest and cheapest way of adding a second time-zone to a replica watch. Simply turn the bezel the select amount of hours of difference between your current location and the one you want to read, and then base the hour off the bezel, not the dial. This is made especially convenient on the DC66 with the bi-directional bezel. Once again, the bezel index consists of pure white numerals and markers against a black surface.
The hands on the DC66 keep with the pilot/aviator concept. The hour and minute are roman sword style with edge to edge lume. Many a replica watch feature roman sword hands, but not all look or feel right. They can be too wide, too long, too narrow, their widest point can be too towards their tip or their center… It’s a crap shoot that comes down to good eyes and judgment, and luckily Damasko got it right. They are the right size for the dial, the right size compared to each other and just work on the replica watch.
The chrono-seconds hand is then a tapering stick. While it’s bold enough to be legible, there is so much black and white on the dial, that it could get a bit lost. Considering that adding a blue hand to some of their replica watches was a big enough deal for a whole new model number, I’m surprised that the hand here is white. It’s the one place a touch of color would have been great. I particularly would have liked the tennis ball yellow hand they use on the DA36. All of the sub-dials have small stick hands in white.
Visually, the DC66 is undeniably a pilot replica watch. It’s all about contrast and legibility. As such, it has a harshness to it, one born from the severity of the shapes and stark coloration. It’s this severity that you’ll either find appealing or not. I enjoy it, as the replica watch rides between graphic and military styles, which is where my tastes fall. Overall, it’s more understated than some pilots or aviators, but there is a no-fuss aggressiveness to it that regardless of the strap you have on, will be present. I particularly like to wear this replica watch in colder weather, when I have heavier materials to balance it out.
There’s no lack of pilot replica watches out there, so for one to stand out, it really needs to be something special. The Damasko DC66 achieves this through a solid build, great technology and a somewhat unique design (while obviously a pilot, it’s not a clone of the flieger format). For someone looking for a real tough-as-nails chronograph, the DC66 will be on the shortlist, only being rivaled by Sinn, and perhaps Bremont at a higher price point. As far as the DC66 vs a comparable Sinn, namely the 757, there is a lot in common. So much so, that I think it would honestly come down to personal preferences in terms of design and branding. The DC66 is a bit less money, but the 757 has additional anti-humidity technology.
Regardless, as someone who has owned a DC66 for sometime, and worn it quite a bit, I can say with confidence it’s a great replica watch that feels good, wears well and is seemingly impervious to daily wear and tear. At $2,305, while not cheap, it’s absolutely on par with the lower end of where Valjoux 7750’s land these days, and the additional tech adds an an immense amount of value. It’s worth noting that there are many other chronographs in Damasko’s line up as well, some of which come in for less and are smaller. Their bezel-free chronographs are a modest 40mm while featuring the same dial and tech throughout, with a starting price tag of $1,995 for the DC56. Or, if you want something fancier, you can go up to their Si models, which feature silicon hairsprings and reinforced barrels, starting at $2,495. Given the ice-hardened case, Damaskos are also great second-hand pick ups, as they will still look like new after years of normal wear and you can save a few hundred easy.