The new Franck Muller Skafander integrates a diving theme with a tonneau-shaped case – a combination rarely seen among marine-focused watch designs. Because divers require a unidirectional rotating bezel to assess correct dive time, watches for divers typically utilize a round case built with a round bezel.
Here, Franck Muller has devised a functional round diver’s bezel, but has placed it inside the Skafander’s large tonneau case, a shape deeply familiar to aficionados of this iconoclastic independent watchmaker. Once set and locked, the Skafander’s dive time is secured with a clearly labeled lock, which insures that the bezel won’t be accidently altered.
While not an officially certified dive watch, the Skafander will retain its water resistance to 100 meters, which allows wearers full, worry-free use while at the beach, boating – or in the pool.
Franck Muller offers the Skafander in a range of case metals, including titanium, steel and rose gold, all with a semi-skeletonized dial that allows a view into the automatic movement below.
Skippers might prefer the highly visible titanium-cased models with blue or yellow accents, or even the blue-accented watch cased in steel. We suspect the boat’s owner, however, might opt to the ritzier rose gold model.
Price: CHF 14,800 (about $16,100, for titanium models only).
Specifications: Franck Muller Skafander (titanium case edition)
Case: 46mm x 57mm x 15.60mm titanium with black PVD treatment. Water resistant to 100 meters.
Movement: Automatic, offering 42 hours power reserve.
Dial: Unidirectional internal rotating bezel indicating the diving time. Half-openwork movement in the center.
Strap: Blue rubber. More colors available with steel and gold models.
If diving with the eye-catching Reservoir Limited-Edition Hydrosphere Bronze on your wrist isn’t enough of an inducement to buying the technically unique dive watch, perhaps you’ll be enticed by an invitation to dive wearing it alongside renowned diver and photographer Greg Lecoeur.
The new inducement means each buyer of the Hydrosphere Greg Lecoeur Limited Edition will be offered a half-day of diving with Lecoeur in the Port-Cros national park in Hyères, France, during a session in September (not including insurance, accommodation and transportation).
Lecoeur is also a supporter of coral protection, and funds from the sale of each special edition Hydrosphere Bronze will be donated to the replanting of a coral through the Coral Gardeners Association.
Reservoir and Lecoeur have teamed to design and produce the fifty-piece limited edition of the bronze-cased watch. Lecoeur chose a blue sunray dial for the limited edition, and each watch will be delivered with a package of photographs from one of his exploration notebooks, all placed into in a handy waterproof carrying case.
The new fifty-piece limited edition series also features a Greg Lecoeur engraving on the back and his name on the dial.
Reservoir’s Hydrosphere stands alone as the only single-hand functional dive watch we’ve seen. And while we’ve seen bronze encase more than a few nautically themed watches in recent years, the Hydrosphere’s unusual retrograde minute display and jumping hour module set it apart from traditional dive models while still upholding a diver’s need for highly legible dive timing, unidirectional bezel, helium valve and strong water resistance (here rated to 250 meters). Price: $4,850.
Case: 45mm bronze with satin finish, unidirectional ceramic rotating bezel with double scale for reading the time at different diving depths before and after the retrograde minute hand’s return, helium valve, stainless steel screwed back, screw-down crown, water resistant to 250 meters.
Dial: Blue with sundial finish, white index, magnifier on the jumping-hour window. Movement: Automatic with patented proprietary 124-piece module on ETA 2824-2 caliber, with retrograde minutes, jumping hour, power reserve of 37 hours, power reserve indicator.
Strap: Black rubber screwed onto the body, additional blue NATO strap provided, mounted on bronze stirrups.
As summer ramps up, Tutima Glashütte launches two brightly colored versions of its appealing M2 Seven Seas titanium dive watch series. The 44mm series now includes a model with a bright orange dial and one with a yellow dial. Both colors are familiar to dive watch enthusiasts, though Tutima seems to utilize somewhat brighter examples of these two high-visibility hues to draw attention to the dials on the new pair.
Also new here is a special two-component strap made of dial-color-matching rubber inside and black Kevlar exterior lined with yellow or orange stitching. Tutima also offers both watches with its excellent titanium bracelet (priced with a very fair $400 premium).
These new models are the first additions to the German-based Tutima’s M2 Seven Seas collection since 2015, and as such they retain the collection’s full array of dive-ready specifications, including a screwed crown, a threaded caseback and, critically, an extra-thick (three-mm) pane of sapphire crystal protecting the dial.
As is required on a dive watch, the hands and markers here wide and exceptionally easy to read. Tutima enhances that visibility by placing a generous coat of SuperLuminova on the markers, hands and the dot at the 12 o’clock position on the unidirectional rotating bezel.
Tutima’s use of both a screw-in caseback and an extra-thick crystal contribute to the very strong 500-meter water resistance rating for the M2 Seven Seas series. Inside the M2 Seven Seas Tutima places its automatic ETA-based Caliber 330 that exhibits a standard 38-hour power reserve when fully wound. Prices: $1,900 (strap model) and $2,300 (titanium bracelet model).
Early diving watches were purpose-built instruments designed to tackle the rigors of our underwater environments. In the earliest examples the focus really was on function. The ability to withstand the static and dynamic pressures of submersion was joined by the need to register time under water at a glance as well as being able to tell that the watch was in-fact running.
These basic needs drove the form-follows-function groundwork for all diver types now homologated under the ISO 6425 standard.
During the early days of hard hat and SCUBA diving, these designs first came to life as underwater tools that have now (d)evolved to become themselves an iconic look that both SCUBA and desk divers alike have come to appreciate.
In the case of the Ulysse NardinLemon Shark Diver series you can be assured that the sensual interaction with the watch confirms it is in-fact a well-built timepiece comfortable in or out of the water. And while some brands take the basic type into stranger waters with extraneous bells, whistles, and shocking palettes of color, the Ulysse Nardin Lemon Shark watch is, like the Lemon Shark itself, a subtler example of evolution.
The Ulysse Nardin Lemon Shark won’t jump off your wrist and demand to be seen like the “porthole” watches from the early days of our universe any more than a Lemon Shark will jump fifteen feet out of the water to grab a seal like its bigger cousin, the Great White.
Playing with a luxury watch like the Ulysse Nardin Lemon Shark is always a multi-faceted experience. The click of a unidirectional rotating bezel excites both aural and physical feedback and can quickly indicate the nature of the watch under it. Connoisseurs look for a smooth action paired with a subtle “snicking” of 120 (or 60) clicks with little to no backlash – as opposed to the sandy crunch of lesser watches that have rotating bezels that sound and feel like you’re working a peppermill over your Caesar salad.
Details like the easy-grip concave bezel (protecting the crystal), machined crown (easy to manipulate), and recycled netting strap (clean conscience) don’t necessarily leap out at you by themselves, but they combine to form a complete wristwatch that is well built, tough as nails, and easy on the eyes.
Even the touches of yellow are not overdone. Ulysse Nardin could have easily decided to place an all-yellow dial with black accents on the Lemon Shark – and few would argue that is not a great look, but that bold look has been done time and again. Credit to the brand for taking a more sober and refined approach to this 42mm black DLC beauty.
Under the recessed and slightly domed sapphire crystal is a matte-finish dial, wide stick-type hands, and applied markers with touches of “lemon” yellow and superior lume on the hands and markers.
Rated to 300 meters without using the superfluous helium release valve, the Lemon Shark is powered by the automatic winding mechanical caliber UN 816. The 816 will hum away at 28,800 bph for 42 hours when fully wound and benefits from Ulysse Nardin’s long history using silicium components in the escapement for both accuracy and longevity. Limited to 300 pieces, each Lemon Shark Diver features three sharks on the oil-pressed case back and retails for $7,300.
Beyond the watches, Ulysse Nardin has partnered with Chris Fischer and the Ocearch research team as well as the Florida International University to sponsor research and conservation of lemon sharks as well as other marine species and also supports the Aquarius underwater research habitat for humans located 63 feet under water off of Islamorada in the Florida Keys.
De Bethune’s new diver, introduced late last year and affectionately called the Yellow Submarine, brings a whole new look to the dive genre. While the DB28GSVY embraces the warmer tones of gold, amber and orange, its case and components are not crafted in gold but are actually made from heat-treated titanium and steel.
Mounted on De Bethune’s articulated case/lug platform, the Yellow Submarine embodies the past and future of watchmaking in a single case. Space-age design and materials are married to traditional watchmaking solutions and then taken to the next level.
Powering the watch is the DeBethune manual-wind caliber DB2080, which is comprised of 400 individual components, including 51 jewels. Power reserve is stretched to five days thanks to a dual-barrel system as well as the fine-tuned escapement, with its titanium balance, white gold inserts and a profile designed to minimize fluid friction. The balance wheel cycles at 28,800 beats per hour.
Releasing power to the unique balance is an escape wheel crafted in silicon. The entire escapement assembly is protected by a triple Pare-Chute system developed in-house by De Bethune. Other unique aspects to this particular timepiece include that it eschews the normal practice of slathering luminous paint everywhere to read the time. Only the hands have slim strips of lume while an amazing electro-mechanical system creates light via a micro-dynamo and LED lighting system activated by the push of the actuator at 6 o’clock.
Push the button and watch the repeater-like regulator spin while four LED sources cast light across the dial. Since this is technically a dive watch it also incorporates a rotating bezel, but in this case the outer coin-edge grip actually rotates an inner rehaute with pierced cutouts showing beautiful blue numerals. The 44mm case mounts the crown at 12 o’clock. Each example of the twenty-five in this very limited edition is priced at $110,000.
A year after Doxa launched a small-production series of SUB 300 Aqua Lung watches with a forged carbon case, the famed independent Swiss dive watchmaker revisits that high-tech case for the new SUB 300 Carbon collection, a non-limited, eye-catching array of ten models with six colorful dial and matching strap options.
At the same time, Doxa launches these bright new SUB 300 models at Watches of Switzerland locations in the United States, marking the brand’s first official U.S. brick-and-mortar distribution in years. Previously, Doxa sold its watches only online through its e-commerce web site. With the new Watches of Switzerland partnership, shoppers can try on the full Doxa collection at all Watches of Switzerland retail stores, as well as online.
The new collection expands Doxa’s use of color within its SUB 300 collection, which already includes a range of colorful steel-cased options. Now with the forged carbon case, the newest collection sets six dial colors, including navy blue, turquoise, orange, yellow, silver and black, framed within the patterned matte black forged carbon case and unidirectional bezel and blackened crown.
The swirled, high-tech carbon pattern and dark hue offers a starker contrast to Doxa’s colorful dial and strap options than we’ve seen with the collection’s existing steel models. And all are currently offered only on black or color-matched rubber straps, unlike the steel-bracelet option available for the steel-cased SUB 300.
Doxa touts its current SUB 300 collection as the heir to its groundbreaking original 1967 debut of the same name. Rated as water resistant to a depth of 300 meters feet, the original Doxa SUB 300 was the first consumer watch to feature a unidirectional bezel with a dual indication of dive time and depth, according to Doxa. But the model itself gained fans for another reason as well: its full-on bright orange dial.
Even as the SUB 300 Carbon’s 42.5mm case is lighter than the steel models, Doxa has been careful to maintain the full dive specs of the all-steel SUB 300. To that end, the watchmakers have fit the newest watch with a pressure-resistant titanium chamber and screw-down crown.
The new series also features a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment that retains the same dome shape of the curved Plexiglas found on the original series in 1967. The COSC-certified ETA-based automatic movement provides a power reserve of approximately 38 hours.
Doxa ensures an easy-to-read dial on the new series with a white dive time scale punctuated with a dot at 12 o’clock. The inserts of the bezel (graduated in meters) for depths are colored – either in orange, yellow or turquoise – for visual differentiation, with a light dot at 12. Generously set with SuperLumiNova, the dial’s hour indices are also very clear.
Specifications: Doxa SUB 300 Carbon
Case: 42.50mm x 45.00mm x 13.40mm forged carbon, glass box sapphire crystal, unidirectional rotating forged carbon bezel, titanium chamber and screw-in case back, screw-down crown, water resistance to 300 meters.
Dial: Painted indices and hands with SuperLumiNova luminescent inserts, painted minute track.
Movement: Automatic ETA-based, COSC-certified with power reserve of 38 hours, Doxa decorations.
Bracelet: Black or matching to dial color, folding clasp, PVD-coated, featuring the brand’s fish symbol, diver’s wetsuit extension.
Among Seiko’s wide-ranging 2021 debuts, two new Prospex models stand out for near-perfect fidelity to the original Seiko watches that inspired their re-interpretation. One, the Seiko Prospex Alpinist, revisits a Seiko sport model from 1959, while a second, the new Seiko Prospex Naomi Uemura 80th Anniversary Limited Edition, revisits a historic dive watch Seiko made in 1970.
What makes both these debuts even more vital for Seiko collectors, and sports watch enthusiasts in general, are the updated collections based on these historic designs.
As worn by Japanese adventurer Naomi Uemura in the mid-1970s when he completed a 12,500-kilometer solo dog-sled run from Greenland to Alaska, a 1970 Seiko dive watch offered both reliability and protection. The watch was also notable for its unusual asymmetrical extension that protected the crown at the four o’clock position.
Revisiting that 1970 design, Seiko in 2021 offers two new 44mm steel models. One (Reference SLA049) is a limited edition of 1,200 watches that echo the case’s original shape, high-visibility and three-hand dial, but now offer a special ‘mountain-pattern’ blue dial and blue bezel, said to recall the “blue tones of the earth’s upper atmospheric layers.”
Seiko of course has modernized the tribute watch in several ways, primarily with the updated movement. Inside you’ll find Seiko’s dive-centric Caliber 8L35, made at the Seiko Shizukuishi Watch Studio in northern Japan.
The dial is also extra luminous, with all hands and all hour markers coated generously with Lumibrite. Seiko has also coated the case with a protective, anti-scratch layer, and has placed an anti-reflective coating on the dual-curved sapphire crystal.
Finally, Seiko has increased the watch’s water resistance, now rated to 200 meters. For this limited model, Seiko includes a blue silicone strap that has the same train-track pattern as the original model.
In addition to the blue-dialed limited edition that commemorates the 80th anniversary of Naomi Uemura’s birth, Seiko adds a gray dialed version to the Prospex collection. The watch shares the same textured pattern dial as the limited edition but is in a charcoal gray color that is similar to the 1970 original. It shares the same case design, features and specifications as the commemorative watch and will also be available at the Seiko Boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide in July 2021.
Seiko introduced its first watch made for mountain climbers in 1959. Called the Seiko Laurel Alpinist, it marked the start of Seiko’s march into the much broader sports watch market. Seiko followed that debut model with a series of watches specifically tailored for sports, including stopwatches and diver’s watches.
For 2021 Seiko revives that debut 1959 design with two odes to the original. One, the Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Re-creation, is a 36.6mm limited edition that retains the original’s dial markings and its sporty leather cuff. A second model, the Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation, is slightly larger, at 38mm, is fitted with a different movement and is offered on steel bracelet (and two dial options) and on a leather strap.
Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Re-creation
The re-creation brings back the black dial and large markers found on the original, but now adds a date window and stronger water resistant (to 100 meters). In addition, its box-shaped sapphire crystal is now treated with an anti-reflective coating on the inner surface. Finally, the movement is updated with Seiko’s thin automatic Caliber 6L35, which has a power reserve of 45 hours. Despite the addition of a date and the new automatic caliber, the case is just 1.0mm thicker (11.1mm) than the original model. And of course, Seiko has faithfully reproduced the leather strap and cuff, using the same jagged stitch design as its predecessor.
The re-creation will be available as a limited edition of 1,959 at the Seiko Boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide in August. Price: $2,900.
Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation (below)
The three other new watches that pay homage to the 1959 Alpinist sport a more contemporary dial treatment and offer a choice among two steel bracelet models and one attached to a leather strap. This collection of three models is one of Seiko’s best values among all its 2021 debuts.
Their slightly larger (38mm) polished cases are notably more modern than the Re-creation, and the Caliber 6R35 offers a stronger power reserve, at 70 hours. In addition, the water resistance is to 200 meters, twice the rating of the Re-creation. Two watches (cream-colored dial and black dial) are offered on stainless steel bracelets while the green dial version comes with a leather strap.
All three of these Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation watches will be available at the Seiko Boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide in August. Prices: $750 and $725 (leather strap).
The new 44mm chronograph, based on a 2019 Omega Seamaster Diver, has a blue ceramic dial with the collection’s familiar laser-engraved wave-pattern and white enamel diving scale on the bezel. Less familiar is the regatta countdown indicator ring in red anodized aluminum.
The indicator’s red anodized aluminum minute hand, with a shape inspired by a boat hull, provides the countdown indication, supplemented by a rhodium-plated small seconds hand at the 9 o’clock position. Chronograph hours are visible in a window within the countdown subdial.
Omega maintains the watch’s America’s Cup distinction with a central seconds chronograph hand, also in red anodized aluminum, that features an America’s Cup icon in red on the counterweight. More Cup tributes are visible on the back of the watch, including “36th America’s Cup” and “Auckland 2021,” both spelled in blue lacquer.
Also seaworthy, even beyond the already strong Seamaster Diver specs, is a helium escape valve and soft-touch red and blue rubber pushers, designed to work efficiently when wet. That efficiency is backed with a new chronograph lock-system that secures the chronograph functions when needed, presumably during a race at sea.
The new watch continues Omega’s longstanding relationship with the America’s Cup, which the brand also officially timed in 2000 and 2003. This newest watch is the second Omega has launched in support of the 36th America’s Cup, which takes place in New Zealand starting March 6. Last year Omega released the Seamaster Planet Ocean America’s Cup Edition.
New Quick Change
Omega offers the new Seamaster Diver 300M America’s Cup Chronograph with a metal bracelet and an additional rubber strap, both equipped with Omega’s brand new Quick Change system. The watchmaker says with the system, the owner can quickly “switch easily between the bracelet and the strap without having to use tools.”
Inside Omega fits its excellent Co-Axial Master Chronometer Caliber 9900, an automatic chronograph movement with column wheel and Co-Axial escapement. The movement is approved by METAS, resistant to magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss and features a silicon balance-spring and sixty hours of power reserve.
It goes without saying that Dive Watches are one of the most popular styles of men’s watches sold today. But what many don’t know is that invoking the “dive” moniker actually has legal implications. Writing the word “Divers 200M” or any similar mark with “Diver” written on the dial or case back immediately invokes ISO 6425. The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an international body that writes standards for the commercial industry.
Before we get into ISO 6425, let’s talk about dive watches first. In modern times, very few SCUBA divers actually rely exclusively on a wristwatch while underwater. As an example, my own dive master had a beautiful Rolex Submariner on his wrist during classroom lessons, but once we hit the water, the Rolex was replaced with a dive computer.
Before the advent of these modern and multi-function computers, divers relied on their mechanical watches to keep track of the key data points of total time submerged as well as bottom time in order to calculate residual nitrogen in the blood, and determine when, how many, and how long decompression stops should be if needed.
The dive watch, in this case, was performing a critical function, where a malfunction could spell disaster for the diver. This is why the ISO spec was developed, because dive watches were so critically important as instruments that protected the user’s health and safety. Today the analog dive watch continues to be worn while diving, but is more of a fashionable backup in the unlikely case the computer fails.
ISO 6425 is a rigorous specification titled “Horology – Divers’ watches” that supersedes older specs first released in the mid 1990s. In essence, it spells out what qualities a Dive Watch must have, and the methods with which to test them.
Among the tests that ISO 6425 calls for includes, but is not limited to; temperature extremes, day and night visibility, magnetic resistance, salt spray, shock resistance and of course, water resistance. Obviously, we all expect water resistance to be one of the parameters checked. However, since water resistance is so important to the function of the dive watch, the actual pressure (depth) to which the watch is tested is 25% beyond the stated water resistance limit of a particular watch.
For example, a dive watch rated to 200 meters (20atm) is actually tested to 250 meters in order to meet ISO 6425. And it’s not a dry air test. It is a true wet test, with a follow up condensation test to see if any moisture has found its way into the watchcase.
Furthermore, ISO 6425 states that EVERY watch certified to the spec needs to have its own water resistance individually tested. This means that if you are wearing a watch bearing the “Divers” mark on the dial or case back, that particular watch has been tested to 25% beyond the depth stated on the dial. Not a sample, but the very piece you are wearing. This is the ONLY way to ensure it will perform flawlessly under the stresses of diving.
On my YouTube channel I discuss ISO in detail in my Watch and Learn series. In addition to water resistance, another ISO test that was actually quite fun to perform was the requirement that the strap needs to withstand about forty pounds of pull (simulating getting snagged on something) without the spring bars popping or tearing the strap itself. It was a great test to replicate, and the results were pretty eye opening.
So the next time you see the word “Dive” on watch dial, you’ll know that you are looking at an individually proven and tested dive watch that meets or exceeds the ISO 6425 quality standard!
Thank you for reading, and thank you for watching.
Two brand-new releases from Seiko Prospex recall historic diver’s models from 1968 while a third new diver’s watch, offered on a silicone strap or a titanium bracelet, features a lighter titanium dial and a bracelet built with references to a Shogun’s helmet and armor.
Seiko has updated both models with the solid 6R35 automatic mechanical movement, which is appreciated for both its robust nature as well as its 70-hour power reserve.
Bi-directional winding via the magic finger system adds power to the movement while wearing the watch, but you can also manually wind it as well. Also, for all the watch “hacks” out there fixated on stopping the second hand in order to coordinate their next mission, the 6R35 does in-fact offer this over-appreciated feature.
While critics may search for other depredations in the fact that the frequency of the caliber 6R35 at 21,600 vph is a bit slower than other Japanese options, accuracy is the same or similar to those slightly faster mechanical heartbeats. One wonders if the internet’s instant experts have considered that putting less stress on a system that will inevitably need service and/or repair down the road might actually be a benefit rather than a detriment.
Seiko fits this movement into its Propex “Shogun” series (SPB189 and SPB191) are crafted in a 43.5 mm hardened titanium case rated to 200 meters of water resistance with the crown at the traditional 3 o’clock position. A super-huge date display is made even larger by a magnifying cyclops window, with a uni-directional diver’s bezel atop. The sapphire crystal over the dial will be difficult to mar or scratch unless you shatter it entirely.
Like its sister dive models, the Seiko Prospex ‘Shogun’ could not be any easier to read; Broad hands coated in a thick layer of LumiBrite glow brightly – just like the hour markers. Time is clearly of the essence with these masterful classics. Offered with a choice of a silicone strap at $1,350, or a titanium bracelet for an extra $200, the Shogun will be a fan favorite for both real and “desk” divers.
For Japanese warrior fans, Seiko says the triangular notches in the rotating bezel on this model resemble the ornaments of a traditional Shogun helmet. The yabane or “arrow feather” link shape of the bracelet version, according to the brand, calls to mind weapons and armor.
Bringing us back to 1968, the Seiko Prospex Diver SPB185 and SPB187 are slightly smaller at 42mm, slightly heavier as they are cast in steel, and slightly less expensive due to the aforementioned reasons.
Broader shoulders separate the sister-types, as does a crown migrated slightly south to the 4 o’clock position. Other nuances of design define each as the hands, markers, and bezel are endemic to each design. Otherwise these are very similar in the chassis build quality. Available only on a solid link steel bracelet, the 185 and 187 retail for $1,200.