Posted on July 07 2022
So is it a motorsports-inspired chronograph?
Or, with its 300M of water resistance, is it a dive watch?
And the Bullhead name?
Neminus has taken that a step further. Rather than being a quirky nickname for a chronograph with pushers that resemble horns, Neminus has taken it literally. The Neminus Matador references Spanish bullfighters; each variation is named after a breed of fighting bull.
Let's try and make sense of this stunning release from the Singapore-based microbrand.
Neminus Matador Bullhead Chronograph 300
Neminus Matador Bullhead Chrono 300 Review
The Neminus Matador is an intriguing watch that demands your attention. I've recently worn the brand's Xtreme Diver and thought that watch made a statement. But this Bullhead Chronograph takes things to a new level.
Where to start?
The Bullhead is a large, chunky piece and it's unusual for a number of reasons. The case is designed like the classic Bullhead watches of the past. It has a top-heavy build and signature pushers at the top. It's a distinctive style previously employed by Breitling, Bulova, Tissot and Omega.
Normally I'd describe this as a sporty aesthetic, most often associated with motorsports. But on this variation, Neminus has reinterpreted the look. They've applied a PVD coating to the case and used a gorgeous deep red on the gradient dial. Yes, the watch is busy, but the colour palette is reassuringly sedate. I like that. The watch has enough going on without the need for complicated colouring.
So my first impression was of a complex, retro-inspired watch, that tones down the look by the simple use of black and red.
The Neminus Matador is a large Bullhead watch with dive watch specs and a chronograph function. It has a substantial stainless steel case, a sapphire crystal, 300M of water resistance and a reliable Seiko Meca-quartz movement.
You're definitely going to like this one once we get into the details.
The Neminus Matador Gallardo 300 in Detail
The Matador is a bullhead-style chronograph - with this model being limited to 100 pieces.
Of course, the distinctive case and pushers catch your eye immediately. And the case is big - that may not be for everyone. But if you do like your watches to have a real wrist presence, then you'll like the heft of the Matador. It is a thick case, with a width of 44mm and a depth of 15mm. That's significantly beefed up from the original bullhead watches of the '60s and '70s.
But remember, the chronograph pushers were originally repositioned to the top of the watch, precisely to make the watches more comfortable to wear. They're at the top of the watch for ergonomic considerations.
So, despite the amount of space that the Matador takes up on your wrist, I found it surprisingly comfortable. The case is stainless steel and on this model (the Gallardo) it has a PVD coating. It tapers towards the bottom. But get this, the height also tapers. So the bottom of the case is both thinner and slimmer than the top.
That's why watch geeks love bullhead watches. They're unique.
There are two angular pushers at the top, with text noting their functions. It's pleasing that the angular pushers compliment the lines of the case. And the crown at the top, which screws down, doesn't dig into the strap. In a nice touch, the strap has a cut-out section to accommodate the crown.
It's these small points that help make the watch a success.
The second crown mirrors the design and positioning of the first and is used to rotate the inner bezel. Like the primary crown, it screws down and is signed with the Neminus logo.
There's also some Spanish text engraved on the side of the case and a stainless steel screw-down case back. As you'd expect if you're familiar with Neminus, the case back features a graphic. This time an embossed bull's head.
Arguably the dial, with its rich colouring and intricate sub-dials, is even more eye-catching than the case. Again, it's not going to appeal to everyone. You have to want your watch to be a conversation starter to really enjoy the Matador. I had this watch in at the same time as Archimede's Klassik 200 and the contrast was stunning.
The Archimede is designed to offer more than is obvious at a first glance. Where the German designers had pared down the Klassik 200 to its core elements, the Singapore-based brand has opted for the opposite. It's a bold strategy - one that often fails. But Neminus does get away with it. They've managed to add numerous features and design points and still finish with a coherent and well-balanced watch.
So what is happening on the Matador's dial?
Obviously, there's a chronograph feature. That means two sub-dials (the top for 24hrs and the bottom with a 60min display) and a rotating inner bezel. There are also bold hands and plates with the brand and watch names.
The red gradient dial is inspired by a Matador's clothing. It transitions from a rich red to black and is ringed by a red hour scale. This in turn is bordered by the rotating minute dial.
There's a nice symmetry to the dial layout without which the design probably wouldn't have worked. The sub-dials are at 12 and 6, with the plates at 3 and 9. My only critique is that both the sub-dials and the text plates can be difficult to read. The bottom dial includes a bull's head - but it's not obvious.
The markers are applied and use BGW9 Superluminova.
It's easy to focus purely on the aesthetics of the Neminus Matador. But it's worth taking a minute to highlight the specs. Make no mistake, this watch can function as a diver.
Look at it again, and then ask yourself - do you know of another dive watch that looks like this?
I assume that you don't.
This watch has 300M of water resistance, screw-down crowns and a helium release valve built into the side of the case.
The dial is protected by a domed sapphire crystal that also features five layers of anti-reflective coating. Like everything Neminus does, there are no half measures.
The chronograph feature is provided by a Seiko VK64 Meca-quartz movement.
Rounding out this impressive watch is the strap, and it's a great addition. The American Horween leather strap reinforces the quality feel and the contrast stitching continues the black and red combination. It's a meaty strap that just about worked for my slim wrist - I used the smallest hole. Again, the buckle is distinctive and the black PVD matches the case.
As I've come to expect from Neminus, the packaging is exceptional for this price point. The Matador Chrono 300 comes in a tough vegan leather watch roll. This can display 3 watches and is held in a bag with the Neminus logo. The bag sits inside a sturdy black box.
Neminus Watches FAQ
Who is Neminus Watches?
Neminus - or Neminus Labs - is a young microbrand from Singapore. Founder Perry Khor launched his first Kickstarter campaign in 2018.
That debut watch - the Spaceman - was a Swiss-made model limited to 300 pieces. Now sold out, it's a quirky watch that set a precedent for later models. It matches great specs with a unique design.
Importantly, it let the world know what Perry aimed to achieve with the brand.
Although the company is new, Neminus has already established a house style. Neminus watches are easily recognisable. And they certainly hit Perry's goal of creating watches for those who like to show off their love of timepieces.
What is a Bullhead Watch?
Bullhead is a nickname given to chronograph watches that have their pushers and crown on the top of the watch case. The two pushers resemble the horns of a bull. This style is retro and sporty, with the cases often being quite chunky. It’s a bold aesthetic that originated in the 1960s and is still available now, albeit without ever gaining a popular appeal.
What is a Helium Release Valve?
A helium release valve is only required in a dry environment. It's used when a diver is decompressing after a deep dive.
There are two types of helium escape valves. In one - usually a small circle on the side of the case - the helium build up in the watch creates enough pressure for the valve to automatically let the helium out.
On the second - featuring an additional crown - the user can unscrew this second crown to manually release the helium.
What is a Meca-Quartz Movement?
A meca-quartz movement has two different parts working together. In a movement like Seiko's VK64 the standard timekeeping is controlled by a quartz movement. However, the stopwatch element of the chronograph is controlled by a mechanical feature. Both the regular timekeeping and the chronograph are powered by the same battery.
Like the Neminus Xtreme Diver 300, the Matador Chrono is going to appeal to a small audience. But if that's you - if you're looking for a very distinctive watch - then the Matador would be a great choice. It reworks a classic Bullhead chronograph design and adds the functionality of a modern diver's watch.
For a sub £400 watch you're getting a lot. A unique design, 300M of water resistance and a Seiko Meca-quartz movement. Nobody else is making watches like the Matador Bullhead - so if this is your thing snap it up. Remember, there are only 100 of each model.