Anything but divers

March 16, 2010

I wrote this blog while waiting in my office lot for the column of stopped traffic to slowly move and disappear over the horizon. I had about half an hour to kill and I’d been going crazy, jonezing for a watch. I ended up at my TJ Maxx presented with three choices: a Rotary Chrono with a rotating bezel in a dive configuration with a pressed steel sing deployent and a face marked “A Swiss Institution”; a Victorinox chrono with a high set polished thin bezel devoid of markings, three different rings and a dual deployent and finally a Zodiac chrono with silver face, hidden pushers and scissors deployent…

IT’S been over a year since I bought a Zodiac Air Dragon Chronograph. This watch grabbed me because of the $90 price tag and my experience with 4 other Zodiac models.

Since I was but a boy leaning to haggle with flea creeps and people who equate age with value, I’ve always sought the “Deal”. But with the simultaneous rise of fashion brands relative to their quality, the deals, real deals on quality Swiss made pieces are far and few between. Today we see both the Grandfather of faux provenance along side the fashion brands, both, for the most part, Million Smart clones that differ only in the European name on the dial. Their Côtes de Genève pressed and not engine turned into the bridges of Chinese dials. If there is any Swiss today, it’s 40mm which I’m even guilty of abandoning.

I guess there are always dive watches.

Jesus Christ, it’s all there are! From eBay to forums, ShopNBC to TJ Maxx the story is the same. Desk Divers. How many ways can it be done? Big markers, distinct hands and a rotating bezel. Variety comes in the form of Invicta’s appropriated Soviet divers. I’m over all of it. I’ve embraced 44mm watches but i refuse to wear a saucer nearly as big as something on my arm that Flavor Flav had strung around his neck 25 years ago. With the exception of a handful of models, most of these oversized pieces look almost as if they are a parody of themselves. I’m thinking of the Invicta Venom and the CX Swiss Military Watch rated to 20,000 Feet. Come on – the deepest I go is 12 feet in the pit of my pool. I don’t need a watch that is an inch high of my wrist. I don’t crave attention and can accept my insignificance. Absurdity is the new Rock n’ Roll in horology. Who’d a thought people would embrace something like the Invicta combat (I.E. All Black) editions of established models; “sport” watch sans lume.

Will we ever again see aviator watches with slide rule bezels? How about Max Bill style minimalist dials that Nomos once resurrected? I can appreciate what both Invicta and Croton are doing with the vintage, minimalist dials and case designs, but I’d buy if they took this design nod seriously.

Anything but divers…

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3 Responses to “Anything but divers”

  1. jr Says:

    The bathtub Cousteau’s want sweatband width watches to compensate for dwindling testosterone levels. Give me a NOS watch any day

  2. darksider Says:

    Valid points. I own two diver watches that I wear only on occasion. The rest of the time, I prefer a nice dress watch or a casual one. There are too many boutique companies out there making very similar versions of the same watch. They pick up a pre-fabricated case, pick the dial and drop a Japanese or swissese movement into them. Companies and models that come to mind are varied but include Debaufre Ocean 1, Ocean 7, Boschett, Bathy’s and Benarus are just few that come to mind.

    They are though, a large step above the stuff Invicta and companies like them spew out in ever-increasing numbers. I happen to own a few versions of the first Invicta Russian Diver models that sold several years ago. They were all Swiss made and mechanical at that point. The were never purchased to be used as divers but as a casual fashion watch worn with Levi jeans. They sit for the most part today in a watch box because the product line of RDs has been in my opinion tarnished with the over-done crap out there today. I do not know how many versions of the RD there are today, but purples and reds are not a serious watch. In my opinion, they do not even meet the minimum standards to be called a fashion watch.
    When the Invicta 9937 came out years ago, it was all Swiss made. A nice watch and I still own my original. For the price, it is still a decent purchase but now it has been done in countless versions that to me, cheapens the original idea of it. I suspect people are still chasing the companies that make real dive watches that are prized by collectors and worn by those who appreciate quality. Companies such as Rolex, Omega, IWC, Longines, and a few others. Seiko has clones out there now of the Monster, which is a great, watch and can be used as a dive watch.
    I suppose this trend will pass into the sunset like many others have but I do not see that happening for a while yet. Some of the largest watch forums are devoted to military and or dive watches. Places where some can mingle with real dive enthusiasts and vets. Places where someone can be a PJ or an Army Airborne Ranger and not the company cook they really were. I suspect that as long as we are fighting wars, the dive watch and military watch community will be larger than it really is and these types of watches will continue to be pumped out. This is not a knock on collectors or enthusiasts, but rather an observation.
    Add to this mix the constant hawking of wares on cable channels by watch commanders, failed poker players and cigar salespeople who push product out day after day. When I see a forum that is sponsored by a watch company go black or private, it raises a red flag to me. What are the members of this private forum being told? There are forums out there that require membership but less than a handful are blacked out. Places like Watchuseek, Timezone, Watchandclock forum, watchlords, BDWF and many more are open forums.
    The “combat” versions of watches you mentioned are a joke as far as I am concerned. Just another variation of a common watch offered to the unsuspecting public. CWC makes watches for the British military, Marathon makes the CSAR and other variations for military organizations worldwide. BUND Watch Boccia / Tutima provides watches to NATO and the German military. Others include Sinn, Casio, MWC, Bell and Ross, MWC, CBI, Orfina, Hamilton and KOBOLD. The aforementioned are true military watches, not the oversized, blacked out Invicta Venom or whatever else is being hawked as “combat” versions.

  3. 9937 Says:

    Darkside, very valid points indeed but the 9937 was NOT Swiss Made, rather it has a Swiss Movement inside.


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