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Citizen takes its light-powered, GPS-connected wristwatch technology underwater this week as the Japanese watchmaker debuts two Promaster dive watches set for the first time with the Citizen Cal. F158 Eco-Drive Satellite Wave GPS movement. 

Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive Satellite Wave GPS Diver 200m, with Duratect-hardened Super Titanium case.

The new watches are being billed by Citizen as the first light-powered dive watch with GPS satellite capabilities. The newest Promasters are also fully compliant the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard for dive watches and feature water resistance to 200 meters.

Citizen Promaster / Eco-Drive Satellite Wave GPS Diver 200m, with black DLC Super Titanium case.

To use the new models beneath the waves, a diver first presses the push buttons at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock simultaneously, which sends the watch into Dive mode. All functions, except time display, will then stop in order to prevent erroneous user operations. It will not enter into Dive mode if the charged battery amount is insufficient.

Both watches are cased with Citizen’s proprietary Super Titanium, which Citizen then enhances with a surface-treatment hardening technology called Duratect MRK. While both models measure 47mm in diameter, the blue dialed option (model CC5006-06L) is finished in a glossy black hue using a DLC layering technique, which enhances scratch resistance.

Sea of features

These are professional-level dive watches, echoing much of the Promaster collection, which features a range of high-spec dive, aviation and racing watches. Citizen has ensured that each model boasts a unidirectional bezel with knurled notches, a screw lock crown, sapphire crystal, charge capacity display function and light-level indicator.

And, as is required for ISO compliance, the Eco-Drive Satellite Wave GPS Diver 200m dials are easy to read with large, luminous indexes and hands.

Citizen’s proprietary light-powered Eco-Drive Cal.F158 will operate for about seven years on a full charge – even without a light source. This insures that the various high-tech functions will operate uninterrupted.

Thus, the watches will continue to receive location and time information anywhere in the world using GPS satellite signals. This data will automatically correct the time and world calendar. Even without GPS satellite function, the watch is rated to an accuracy of ± five seconds per month. The wearer can also manually adjust the crown to change city and calendar, if desired.

For experienced or aspiring divers, Citizen has emblazoned the dial ring on both watches with the abbreviated names of eight famous diving locations, including Sharm El Sheikh, Maldives, Phuket, Great Barrier Reef, Fiji, Hawaii, Galapagos and Fernando de Noronha.

Each watch comes with a urethane strap with extension band.

Citizen supplies each watch with a urethane band and an extension band for wet suit use.

Prices: $1,395 (Super Titanium case with black DLC coating and blue dial) and $1,350 (Super Titanium case and green dial).

 

By Cordwainer Byrd

Seiko’s rich legacy of products that represent absolute real estate in the rich tapestry of wristwatch history lend themselves to recreations and homages, with 2020 delivering a singular treat in the release of a three-watch edition that charts the story of Seiko’s indelible mark on adventure, diving and outdoor sports.

Released this September, Seiko’s Prospex “Built for the Ice Diver” collection represents a material homage to Seiko’s 55-year history of producing sports diving watches, beginning in 1965 with the release of Japan’s first dive watch, the 62MAS.

The Original Seiko Diver’s watches. From left we see the 1968 Hi-Beat Diver’s 300m, the famed 1965 62MAS and the 1975 Professional Diver’s 600m.

New classics

The new collection is comprised of recreations of highly desirable classics that represent modern technology brought to bear on a vintage subject.

“Built for the Ice Diver” is a reference to Seiko’s position as Japan’s watch for the adventurer, tested in extreme conditions both underwater and as a companion to high mountaineers. The 62MAS set the standard for many subsequent Seiko dive watches, with an automatic movement, quickset date and 37mm stainless steel case capped with a plexiglass crystal and rectangular tritium minute markers, ratcheted bezel and broad hands. Vintage examples sell for more than $4,000.

This particular watch, of the many, many variations of Seiko’s developed across multiple markets, grew to prominence because of two men, one real and one fictional. The first, acclaimed Japanese Adventurer Naomi Uemura, chose the original Seiko 62MAS because it was a robust, waterproof watch, and made in Japan to boot.

Japanese Adventurer Naomi Uemura, pictured with the historical Seiko dive watches.

Sure, he could have picked a Rolex Explorer or Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, like any other run-of-the-mill international adventurer, but Uemura was a standard bearer for his country and selected that most Japanese of all brands, Seiko. He (probably) wore the watch throughout many of his treks, which included a one-man dog sled run from Greenland to Alaska, the first solo walk to the North Pole and ascension of the North American Denali Mountain, which marked his last adventure. He disappeared on the Denali hike, presumably with a Seiko on his wrist.

The second man in the Seiko storybook is the legendary “Captain Willard” from Francis Coppola’s film, “Apocalypse Now.” Willard, played by Martin Sheen, wore a Seiko in the same dive watch family, which gave rise to the watch’s status among collectors, (we love our little tribute names, don’t we), and its value on the secondary vintage watch market.

The legendary “Captain Willard” from Francis Coppola’s 1979 film “Apocalypse Now” wearing his Seiko diver.

Seiko has re-issued this watch in several variants over the years, and at varying price points, creating secondary and tertiary collectors’ markets for the multiple iterations of this product.

The new collection

For the uninitiated collector, deciphering the complicated soup of Seiko designations, per market, is itself a treasure hunt and the stuff many lengthy Seiko forum discussions. Suffice to say, the current Prospex Ice collection is alluring enough to satisfy anyone interested in wearing a tough watch that looks like a classic from the analogue era. So, let’s get on with now.

The Ice Diver collection is comprised of three watches, each with its own twist on our theme. Shop for SKUs SPB175 (grey dial/bezel), SPB177 (green dial/bezel) and SPB179 (blue dial/bezel), packaged in the Seiko Sumo case, released exclusively in the North American market and priced at a very competitive $900.

The Sumo variant is a wide (44mm), thin (12mm) all stainless watch case and signed bracelet, powered by a Seiko automatic caliber 6R35 movement, beating at a frequency of 21,600 BPH, pivoting on 24 jewels, with a 70-hour power reserve. It’s water resistant to 600 feet and has a dual curved sapphire crystal. It has a date indicator, rotating bezel, Lumibrite hands and markers and a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Seiko Prospex Ice Diver SPB175, priced at $900.
Seiko Prospex Ice Diver SPB177, priced at $900.

And if that’s not enough, it’s supplied to the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE), which means that the homage on an homage on an homage is now itself a bona fide collectible with its own nascent back story. Face it folks, for $900 this is one hell of a watch – and by the time you read this it will probably be sold out anyway, and headed to become a $1,500 watch on the collector’s market. And so it goes with Seiko.

Seiko Prospex Ice Diver SPB179, priced at $900.

Prospex is Seiko’s mid-range sports watch brand, with its own higher end LX series. It’s fascinating to watch Seiko grow and prune their brands into unique shapes, like an artistic gardener tending to a Bonsai tree.

With the chain-sawing of brands across many U.S. distribution points in 2019, Seiko drew a line in the sand: cut broad distribution, cut SKU’s, focus heavily on retailers and educate the consumer on the products to create new demand.

This release reflects that tactic in action. The Ice Diver collection plays off the perception of heritage, coupled with limited availability, backed by a lot of watch for the money. Instant collectible equals increased market desire for subsequent releases. Hats off to the company for delivering sales during a time period when we’re seeing other companies disappear into the vanity fueled, limited edition, lofty priced abyss.

Seiko Extra: The Spring Drive Prospex LX SNR029

For those seeking a classic-looking Seiko homage with all the attributes of current issue Seiko technology, take a look at the GPHG-award-winning Seiko Prospex LX SNR029.

Seiko Prospex LX SNR029

This watch literally straddles both of our planet’s unknown universes: space and water. At a list price of $6,000, this watch gives its Grand Seiko cousin a run for the money. This Prospex LX is titanium, with a case developed by Porsche designer Ken Okuyama and powered by Seiko’s 5R65 Spring Drive movement that is less susceptible to atmospheric deviations than a standard automatic watch.

 

The movement is found in Grand Seiko models and was actually worn in space by video game designer Richard Garriott, a citizen who paid the Russians to make him the sixth non-astronaut to travel to space. Needless to say, he wore a Seiko Spring Drive watch (whaddya think about that, Omega, Breitling, Casio, Rolex and Fortis). If you can get your hands on this classic – grab it!

 

TAG Heuer has updated its sea-focused Aquaracer collection with two colorful automatic models sporting a so-called tortoise-shell-pattern bezel. In addition, look for new Khaki-colored quartz Aquaracer model with an olive-green aluminum bezel and a matching fabric strap.

The new Aquaracer 43mm Tortoise Shell Effect Special Edition.

The new Aquaracer 43mm Tortoise Shell Effect Special Edition and the new Aquaracer 43 mm Khaki Special Edition watches enhance Aquaracer, TAG Heuer’s dive watch collection known for its 300-meter water resistance rating, unidirectional rotating bezel, luminous markers and hands and easy-to-read dials, as befits an ocean-centric sports watch.

All three of these debuts also feature a 43mm stainless-steel screw-down caseback engraved with the image of a vintage divers’ helmet.

Tortoise-pattern

To set these new models apart from earlier Aquaracers, TAG Heuer has subtly decorated the bezels with blue or brown resin that has been modified to create an interesting pattern that, according to TAG Heuer, mimic the sun’s reflection on the ocean.

Often seen on sunglasses, the tortoise-shell effect is rarely used to decorate watches, and represents TAG Heuer’s first attempt beyond variations in dial patterns to inject a bit of style into the generally sober Aquaracer line.

TAG Heuer even enhances the blue or brown bezels on these two debuts with blue or black sunray-pattern brushed dials with horizontal lines. Like the bezels, the dials can catch and reflect light, effectively doubling the ‘summertime’ focus of the new design.

TAG Heuer adds another novelty here with a rubber strap that features the exterior pattern of another reptile: the alligator.

The unidirectional bezels on both Aquaracer 43 mm Tortoise Shell Effect Special Edition models retain the Aqua-racer’s sixty-minute scale as well as the familiar angled magnifying lens over the date window at 3 o’clock.

The strap is held tight with a folding steel clasp with double safety push buttons. Inside is TAG Heuer’s Caliber 5, the brand’s reliable ETA-based or Sellita-based automatic movement. Price: $2,600 (Available in August).

New quartz Khaki

TAG Heuer’s new quartz-powered Aquaracer 43 mm Khaki Special Edition combines a sturdy olive-hued fabric strap and sharp-looking anthracite sunray brushed dial. And rather than a sun-dappled steel bezel, the watch’s aluminum unidirectional rotating bezel is tinted with a down-to-earth olive hue.

Like the new models above, this quartz debut features a polished and fine-brushed steel case, rhodium-plated and luminous hour, minute and seconds hands and the same angled date window.

Likewise, the back of the watch echoes the Aquaracer standard with a solid caseback engraved with an image of a vintage divers’ helmet. Price: $1,600.

 

Oris has once again partnered with the Florida-based Coral Restoration Foundation to create the new Aquis Carysfort Reef Limited Edition, a steel version of the fifty-piece gold limited edition introduced earlier this year. The new model will offered as a limited edition of 2,000 timepieces. Sales will support the Foundation.

The new Oris Aquis Carysfort Reef Limited Edition, with steel bracelet.

The Carysfort Reef collection is named for the eponymous coral reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It is part of the Florida Reef Tract, the third largest barrier reef in the world and the only barrier reef in the United States. Sadly, a changing climate has caused it to degrade over the past several decades and the coral populations to concurrently dwindle. This, in turn, affects the health of our oceans, which produce seventy percent of the world’s oxygen.

The watch

The new watch features a 43.5mm steel case with a bi-directional ceramic bezel and GMT scale. The watch’s blue gradient dial forms the backdrop for SuperLuminova-treated hands and indexes and a date window at three o’clock, while the solid screwed caseback features special engravings alluding to the brand’s support of Carysfort Reef. Oris has worked with the Coral Restoration Foundation since 2014.

As you might expect, Oris has made the watch fully prepared for use outdoor and even underwater. The watch is water resistant to 300 meters, thanks in part of its screw-in stainless steel security crown.

The automatic movement (the Sellita-based Oris 798) includes multiple functions: hours, minutes, seconds and 24 hour indication via central hands, as well as an instantaneous date and 24-hour corrector, fine timing device and stop seconds. Its power reserve is 42 hours.

The back of the watch shows its solid screwed caseback with engravings noting Oris’s support for the Carysfort Reef.

In its new steel case, the Oris Aquis Carysfort Reef Limited Edition can be strapped to the wrist with a solid Oris stainless steel bracelet or an orange rubber strap, both of which are complemented by a stainless steel security folding clasp with an extension. The presentation box is both attractive and satisfying: it is constructed using sustainable algae.  Prices: $3,000 (metal bracelet) and $2,800 (orange rubber strap).

 

Tudor expands its flagship Black Bay Fifty-Eight this week with a new model sporting a navy blue dial and matte blue bezel.

The new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue, also available with two different fabric straps.

The retro-styled 39mm Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which quickly became a Tudor best seller after it debuted in 2018, traces its lineage back to Tudor dive models from the early 1950s, with most of its features linked to the Tudor reference 7924 from 1958, known as the Big Crown edition.

Gone are the gilded touches to the markers, bezel and the hands we saw on the Black Bay Fifty-Eight from two years ago. Here Tudor replaces those accents with sportier steel on the dial and silver-colored markers and numerals on the bezel, perfectly matching the case and bracelet.  

Modern movement

As with the 2018 black-dialed edition, the new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue inhabits its retro style while steeped in modern technology, most notably underneath its dial. There you’ll find an in-house Tudor Caliber MT5402, an automatic caliber with a non-magnetic silicon balance spring and an impressive seventy-hour power reserve.

Tudor’s own automatic manufacture Caliber MT5402 with bidirectional rotor system,  Swiss chronometer certified by COSC.

Tudor notes that its caliber, tailor-made by Tudor for the 2018 Black Bay Fifty-Eight, performs with greater precision than its official COSC chronometer certification requires. Where COSC allows for an average variation in the daily running rate of a watch movement of between -4 and +6 seconds in relation to absolute time, Tudor says it applies a tolerance of between -2 and +4 seconds’ variation in its daily rate on the assembled watch.

While the front and even the sides of the new watch recall their origins in the 1950s and 1960s (notably regarding the Snowflake hands, seen first in 1969), the closed caseback gives away the game with engraved references to the manufacture caliber within.

Unscrewing the back, a watchmaker (or intrepid owner) would see a distinctly modern finish on the MT5402 caliber, notably a one-piece tungsten rotor that Tudor has open-worked, satin-brushed and sand-blasted. Tudor also alternates sand-blasted surfaces, polished surfaces and laser decorations on the movement’s bridges and mainplate.

Straps & bracelet

Those familiar with Tudor will know that its modern identity, and its success, is in part due to its unerring facility with fabric NATO-style straps, which the brand has embraced wholeheartedly since at least 2010.

Tudor continues that tradition with the new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue, for which Tudor offers a handsome navy blue and silver-striped woven fabric strap (above) made in France by Julien Faure, a 150-year old family company. Tudor also offers a riveted steel bracelet (polished and satin finish) with folding clasp and safety catch and a blue “soft touch” strap with folding buckle and safety clasp.

Tudor offers this blue “soft touch” strap with folding clasp and safety catch as an option with the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue.

The remaining Tudor-curious collectors who were not sold on the 2018 Black Bay Fifty-Eight’s slightly luxe black and gold accented dial and bezel back in 2018 have their watch with this new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue. It’s sportier, beautifully blue-hued and supplies the same Tudor high-value mechanicals teamed with expert retro dress.

With the same pricing as the earlier model ($3,700 for the bracelet model and $3,375 for fabric strap), the watch serves up no visible obstacles to any motivated fan.  

 

Specifications: Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue

(Ref. 79030B)

Movement: Automatic manufacture Caliber MT5402 with bidirectional rotor system, Swiss chronometer officially certified by COSC, 70-hour power reserve, variable inertia balance, micro-adjustment by screw, non-magnetic silicon balance spring; 28,800 bph (4 Hz) frequency.

Case: 39mm steel with polished and satin finish, unidirectional rotatable bezel in 316L steel with 60-minute graduated disc in matte blue anodized aluminum and silver gilded markings and numerals, steel screw-down winding crown with the Tudor rose in relief, with circular satin-brushed 316L steel winding crown tube, domed sapphire crystal, water resistant to 200 meters

Dial: Navy Blue, domed

Bracelet: Riveted 316L steel with polished and satin-brushed finish, or blue “soft touch” with folding clasp and safety catch, or blue fabric strap with silver band and buckle.

Prices: $3,700 (bracelet model) and $3,375 (either fabric strap)

 

Ulysse Nardin has partnered with Ocearch, a scientific organization that works with researchers and educational institutions to better understand the movement and habits of sharks.

The Le Locle watchmaker has historically manufactured marine chronometers and has even more recently released dive watches symbolized by the shark. The new partnership means Ulysse Nardin will financially back Ocearch’s mission and assist researchers in their work and provide resources to better understand the shark’s role in the ocean’s fragile ecosystem.

Ulysse Nardin U.S. brand president François-Xavier Hotier says he has wanted to align the brand with a nonprofit marine life conservation organization since he started with the watch company in 2018.

Ulysse Nardin U.S. President Francois-Xavier Hotier

“Ocearch’s passion and their commitment to the shark species equaled that of our company’s and I knew Ulysse Nardin could make a positive impact toward their, and truly our, collective mission to save the shark species and therein help balance the ocean’s delicate ecosystem,” he said in a press release.  

“In speaking with François-Xavier Hotier we came to realize, not only our shared passion for the impact of shark-based research but of the importance of doing good work for good,” says Chris Fischer, founder of Ocearch. “We rely on companies like Ulysse Nardin to help raise awareness for our mission and look forward to working with the team behind the scenes and on future research expeditions.”

Ulysse Nardin will support Ocearch on its upcoming expeditions and work together to raise awareness around marine research. The organization is currently planning two expeditions for the end of 2020. The first will take place August 5-20 in Massachusetts and the second from September 3-28 in Nova Scotia.

Recent Ulysse Nardin dive models that pay homage to different shark species include two limited editions, the Diver Chronograph Hammerhead Shark and the Lady Diver Great White. Both are pictured below.

The Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronograph Hammerhead Shark Limited Edition. Hammerhead Shark Limited Edition. The watch is offered with a titanium or rose gold case and with rubber or fabric strap.

 

 

The Ulysse Nardin Lady Diver Great White. The watch has a domed crystal and a concave unidirectional bezel and its dial is designed to look like the granular skin of a great white shark.

 

 

Caseback view of the Ulysse Nardin Lady Diver Great White Limited Edition.

Just a few months after releasing its BR 03-92 Grey LUM, Bell & Ross adds an even brighter brother to the LUM family with a limited edition BR 03-92 Diver Full LUM.

Where the previously seen dive watch features brightly illuminated numerals, hands and five-minute markers, this newest family member features a full dial painted with green SuperLuminova.

In addition to a fully painted dial, the new watch also glows with a second hue because Bell & Ross has filled the watch’s metallic applique skeletonized indexes and the numerals on the bezel with a different shade of green SuperLuminova.  In order to maximize the period of luminescence for these markers, Bell & Ross opted to use a type of SuperLuminova (C3) that offers very long durability in the dark.

Bell & Ross notes that ever since it debuted its first square-cased BR 03-92 dive models in 2017 the watchmaker has been sure that its dive collection maintains all international ISO 6425 standards for dive watches. Those standards include water-resistance to a minimum depth of 100 meters, the presence of a unidirectional rotating bezel with a graduated minutes scale, an operation indicator and luminescent markers, legibility in the dark; anti-shock and anti-magnetic protection.

With this newest model, Bell & Ross exceeds those standards by wide margins, with a 300-meter water resistance rating, a black ceramic uni-directional bezel (for enhanced contrasts) and, in reference to its name, superior dial legibility with a more-than-gimmicky focus on luminescence.

Added bonus: Bell & Ross includes a rubber strap and a fabric strap with each watch.

Price: $4,500.

  

Specifications: Bell & Ross BR 03 92 Diver Full LUM

(Ref: BR0392-D-C5-CE/SRB, a limited edition of 999 pieces.)

Movement: Sellita-based automatic Caliber BR-CAL.302

Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date.

Case: 42mm matte black ceramic, unidirectional rotating ceramic bezel with 60-minute scale, sapphire crystal, 300-meters of water resistance. 

Dial: Luminescent green painted with SuperLuminova. Metal applique skeleton Super-LumiNova-filled numerals and indices.

Straps: Woven black rubber and ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric with pin buckle of black PVD-coated steel.

Luminox underscores its direct links with the Pacific Ocean with the Pacific Diver 3120 Series, a new dive watch collection named for the body of water central to the Luminox story.

The watch brand, founded in California in 1989, initially designed its watches to align with requirements of the Navy SEALS, whose members train in the Pacific Ocean near San Diego. 

This new Pacific Diver 3120 Series of four 44mm by 12mm quartz-powered steel diver watches all boast a carbon uni-directional bezel and a healthy water resistance rating to 200 meters.

Luminox also ensures that each watch features a screw-in crown and caseback, sapphire crystal and Luminox’s own tritium-gas-based Always Visible dial illumination, which Luminox says will keep the dial readable in the dark for up to twenty-five years.

Luminox engraves its motto, “Every Second Counts,” on the stainless-steel caseback, which protects a Ronda 515 quartz movement.

The four versions of the Pacific Diver 3120 Series include: An all-black model with dark dial, black bezel and black DLC case ($595) sold on a rubber strap, a black dial and black bezel model sold on a steel bracelet ($640), a model with blue dial and a black bezel sold on a steel bracelet ($640), and a black dial and black bezel model on rubber ($545).

Alpina Watches has partnered with the Netherlands-based Gyre Watch to create the new Alpina Seastrong Diver Gyre Automatic collection featuring watchcases crafted from recycled materials. Sales of the watch, with its case forged from a mixture of fiberglass (30%) and plastic debris (70%) caught in fishing nets in the Indian Ocean, will support the National Park Foundation.

The new Alpina Seastrong Diver Gyre Automatic collection is composed of five models and is being officially launched to support World Oceans Day (June 8th). Alpina will donate $100 for every watch purchased through us.AlpinaWatches.com in order to help maintain the U.S. parks, both inland and coastal.

The collection

The full Seastrong Diver Gyre Automatic range includes three men’s models (44 mm, $1,395) and two models designed for women (36mm, $1,295).

All five watches share blue-shaded dials, including turquoise and dyed mother-of-pearl, and luminescent hands. Inside each watch Alpina places its Sellita-based AL-525 automatic movement.

In addition, as a dive model, the watch features the requisite unidirectional bezel and water-resistance to 300 meters.

The Alpina Seastrong Gyre Diver Automatic, 36mm size. Each case is made using recycled materials.

Alpina will ship all the new watches with one of three two-tone NATO-style straps made from recycled plastic bottles. In addition, Alpina will include a black vegetable leather strap made of recycled apple waste with every 44mm watch.

Gyre origins

Alpina explains that the word Gyre is a reference to giant circular ocean currents. The Geneva-based watchmaker adds that the new collection represents the start of a long-term collaboration with Gyre Watch.

Gyre Watch, founded in The Netherlands in 2017, makes watches from recycled ocean plastic. Local fishermen along the Indian Ocean earn a fee collecting fishing nets from the sea for recycling, which means Gyre also contributes to local economies.

Alpina will make the Seastrong Diver Gyre Automatic as a limited series of 1,883 pieces of each model, in reference to the year of Alpina’s founding. Each watch will be sold in an eco-friendly gift set made of recycled plastic and recycled plastic bottles.

To further enhance the collection’s ecological profile, Alpina is printing each watch’s guarantee and certificate of authenticity on one page of recycled paper and will utilize a paperless user manual, accessible via a QR code. The code will direct buyers to a dedicated site for the Gyre collection as well as the instruction and maintenance manual.

 

By Steve Lundin, Watch Culture Editor

There is a crucial moment that every watch collector faces in those fast seconds before a multi-day excursion: picking the watches to wear. My personal go-to for changing time zones includes a GMT for tracking home time and a rugged dive watch for everyday wear. Fate, in the form of a press release from Rado, showed up two days before I was scheduled to leave for Tamarindo, Costa Rica, with an offer to review the new Captain Cook dive watch.

I told their very responsive rep if he could get me the watch before I left, it would become my travelling companion on the trip for a hard-core review. Literally hours before departure I was unboxing their bronze beauty and tossing it in the carry-on bag. Welcome to the manifest, Captain.

The Rado with my usual traveling companions.

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and its counterpart the Rolex Submariner have collectively set the standards by which all other dive watches should be measured. Like the Eames chair, they sport all the elements, on functional and aesthetic levels, that serve to define the breed. Virtually every other dive watch developed in the past seventy years has drawn from the feature sets of these two watches.         

                                  Rado side-by-side with the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms.

Rado’s reissue of its original 1960’s Captain Cook diver teases elements of these classics, with updates that tastefully reflect popular contemporary treatments and materials.

Let’s get into it…

The Rado delivers a rich wrist statement, utilizing the green and gold of the old Marshall Field’s logo (not John Deere, thank you), and is a striking take on the traditional dive treatment.

The Captain’s green dial is surrounded by a matching ceramic bezel and lives in a bronze case with a titanium back. While I would have preferred a matching color scheme on the bezel indices, the silver is subtle enough to work with the theme.

Its dial is called “green sunray” in the press materials and is slightly domed, giving the high gloss face a three-dimensional glean reminiscent of a highly polished fender on a British racing green Jaguar XK-120. Par for the vintage theme, the hands and markers are a cream-colored Super LumiNova.

The dial also sports a swiveling gold anchor at 12 o’clock, a neat, very, very subtle touch that gives users and excuse to twirl the watch around and wonder “why is my anchor spinning? What does it mean?” Tres 60’s!

The Movement

The Captain is waterproof to 1,000 feet and powered by an automatic ETA C07, 25-jewel, three- hand movement with a date at 3 o’clock and up to eighty hours power reserve. This is the ‘Powermatic 80’ movement with silicon balance spring, found in many models of Tissot, Certina and Mido watches.

The movement is a no-nonsense performer, offering an impressive power reserve and anti-magnetic properties through the use of a silicon escapement. For those interested in a deep dive into this movement, check out this article in Monochrome and complete technical specifications, including use in other watches, here on Watchbase.

The Bronze Case

The payoff for owners of the Good Captain is found in the bronze case, with a material that has been showing up in increased usage over the years. Unlike stainless steel or gold, that simply scratch and get dirty, bronze develops a unique patina as it’s worn.

The result of the oxidation of the copper component of the bronze can appear as brown, black, red, blue or green. Costa Rica provided the perfect environment to see if the Captain could live up to its name as a sea going adventurer and emerge as a newly colored denizen of the not so deep seas.

Wearing experience

The Captain looks and feels solid. The bezel has a nice loud ratchet sound that indicates things are properly aligned. It’s a medium-weight timepiece with a nicely unobtrusive 12.5mm x 42mm case.

While I prefer a horned watch crown and more aggressive ridges on the bezel, the coin-edged style has a more subdued look and feel than, say, the Rado Hyperchrome Captain Cook 2017, with its Fifty Fathoms-esque treatment.

The watch is incredibly easy to read and maintains a night’s worth of luminescence. I’m a personal fan the Captain’s titanium case back because of weight savings and hypoallergenic properties. 

The sample I received had a single-piece leather band, and would be better served with a lined Horween, but that’s strictly a personal preference. If anyone was actually going to use this as a dive watch (probably one tenth of one percent of the buyers), the strap and shallow ridges of the bezel would prove a problem underwater. However, for the moisture-averse who will more than likely purchase this product, that won’t be an issue.

Getting it wet                                                                     Rado in the pool.   

Given the Rado’s pedigree as a dive watch, ala the original 60s iteration, I intended to get the Captain wet and dirty, covered with sunscreen and oil, and then hang it out in the sun to dry. To this end the watch accompanied me in the surf, by the pool, up and down daily ten-mile walks through dusty hills and was worn while sweating and spilling margaritas and tequila shots.

Any dive watch that remains neat and clean and dry should be forcibly taken from its owner and that misguided individual barred from ever owning another watch with a water-resistant rating over one meter. But I digress.

The watch swum through the week of abuse with no undue scratching, scarring or unwanted mutating. The bronze case picked up a dull finish with some blackish highlights, answering the question of how it would tarnish. While the user’s manual states that the watch can be returned to Rado for cleaning (really), I found using metal polish worked just fine – see the before and after photos with minimal elbow grease.

Rado case before polishing.
And after polishing.

Would I buy this watch?

Absolutely – and for many several reasons. It’s great looking, in a non-blingy way, and punches well above its class for the price. Unlike stainless or gold watches, it feels organic.

The bronze changes and reflects the activity level of the user. It features a whopping four anchor logos between the case and strap, and three starfish on the case back (It would have been nice to see a mermaid as well), but who knows what the future may hold! It has a domed crystal and a groovy domed dial – a double dose of domage – awesome! And, finally, it holds its value: check out the used prices on eBay against the street price on this watch (as a comparison look at Romain Jerome as well – a cringe-worthy value dropper!).  

As a daily wear in dry conditions, the watch as configured with a leather strap will serve most users well. For those who actually wear dive watches for diving I’d suggest investing in a metal bracelet model. The Captain was a great travelling companion, and kudos to Rado for delivering exceptional quality at a realistic price point. Price: $2,600