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The Draken Tugela 2.0 is an upgrade of the previous Tugela, which I reviewed here. Influenced by their homeland of South Africa, it’s refreshing to see a watch with genuine and obvious inspiration – such as the case mirroring the shape of the Protea flower, and the Zulu inspired hour markers. It’s a hell of a lot of watch for $349 – it’s one to check out!

The specs

The video review

The case

The first thing that impressed me was the tapering case, mirroring the shape of the Protea flower. It’s delightful how the shape flowers through the case through to the grip of the bezel. It has “Draken” engraved down the side; however it’s not gaudy like Invicta, but subtle and looks and feels pretty cool.

The matte bead-blasted finishing of the case helps hide scratches and looks very tool-like, a welcome alternative to the usual steel.

The 120-click unidirectional bezel features a bold blue insert to match the dial. It’s supremely accurate in use – there’s no back play, it’s accurate, and offers a very satisfying click. It has solid grip with a sharp edge – and as a result, is easy to use. The markings are all filled with strong lume (more on that later).

Like the bezel, the screw-in crown is a joy to use due to great grip and a perfect size. The grip is a utilitarian style knurling, and the Draken logo is engraved on the end and filled with lume (which is pretty darn epic).

Sitting on top of the case is a domed sapphire crystal – I feel this could be a little clearer and have a better anti-reflective coating. This is probably the only slight gripe I have with the entire watch.

The caseback features a detailed deep-stamped view of the Drakensberg mountains with various specifics surrounding it.

The dial

As this is the Super Blue limited edition, the dial is a vibrant blue to match the bezel. This makes the watch a real eye-catcher. However, in my opinion, it does make it slightly unwearable at certain occasions though, as the regular editions with the black dial and coloured bezels would fit in better across all situations (such as in a suit).

The dial features very distinct hour indices, inspired by the shapes found in Zulu beadwork. On top of that, the hands are wonderfully unique. This truly is a beautiful, bold watch that stands out.

The legibility is superb, as the design of the hour markers and hands are purposeful and strong.

One thing is for sure: the lume is strong and well above average for a watch at this price point; thanks to a whopping 10 layers of X1 C3 Superluminova. Lume is all over too: the hands, bold hour markers, and bezel. But that’s not all.

One awesome bit of attention to detail is the custom blue date wheel to match the dial. Not only is that cool, but even the numerals are lumed.

There’s a striking splash of orange throughout the dial too, provided by the borders of the minute hand and date window, as well as the seconds hand tip. It complements the blue very well.

The bracelet

The bracelet is bead-blasted steel which matches the case. The silky matte finish and grey colour is a welcome alternative to the regular steel finishing, and it should also prove to be pretty hard-wearing thanks to the rugged finish.

The fit to the case is with tight tolerance thanks to the custom moulded integrated end links. The links themselves are angular and despite the dull reflective properties, the angles provide a variety of reflections at different angles keeping it interesting. The links are all very thick and the build quality is apparent.

The double locking buckle feels reliable, is easy to use, and features the logo on the top bar.

The movement

I’m sure that 90% of the watches I’ve reviewed in recent memory house the Seiko NH35A. It’s everywhere, especially in the affordable microbrand market – but with good reason. It’s cheap, easy to source, and reliable. Specs include a low beat rate of 21.6k bph (6 ticks per second), hacking seconds hand, and hand and automatic winding. It’s pretty industrial to look at, but thankfully it’s behind the solid caseback on the Tugela.

Final comments

I may as well start with the two very minor niggles. Firstly, the wearability of the Super Blue limited edition. It’s a distinctive and unmistakable watch, that’s for sure. But, it’s limited to a more casual situation. I’m sure that won’t bother most, but if you’re after a watch that can handle all situations, then perhaps the regular versions with the black dial would be more suitable.

Secondly, the only other minor thing is the domed sapphire crystal – I’d love to see a more effective anti-reflective coating. But that’s all I can find about this watch.

Everything about it is truly remarkable for a watch costing $350. Epic lume everywhere. Solid build quality. Decent water resistance rating. Dependable movement.

But what strikes me most is the story and inspiration behind it. I see so many fluffy namby-pamby rubbish flaky stories that mean nothing. Not here, not Draken – you can see it for yourself: the Zulu beadwork, the Protea flowering case, the mountains on the caseback. They are all obvious inspirations taken from Michael’s homeland.

The Draken Tugela 2.0 is a real treat for the eyes and wrist. That’s why it’s impressed me so much.


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