Discover more from The Escapement
The whole collection
Ed’s post made me want to talk divers, too.
For me, the dive watch is the quintessential watch: A tool twice over. A marvel of engineering. Capable of being worn for work or leisure. With a bathing suit, jeans, or a tux.
Thanks for reading The Escapement! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
So let me give you the tour of JVL’s divers. I’m going to put these in the order in which they came to me.
Seiko Turtle Blue Lagoon
It’s the first automatic watch I ever owned and I still love it. The 4 o’clock crown is the best placement for a crown. The cushion case is comfortable. The blue sunburst dial plays with light beautifully. Drink in the sword and arrow heritage. Look at the little pops of yellow: On the second hand and in the chapter ring at 12, 3, 6, and 9.
This is total harmony of form and function with an in-house movement and I don’t think I paid over $300 for it, brand new with box and papers.
Sure, I wish the indices were polished steel filled with lume, instead of just dolloped on. I wish the bezel was ceramic and not painted. But I can live with both of those weaknesses.
The only thing that I ever really lusted for on this watch was a Kanji day wheel.
Omega Seamaster 300M
Still my Grail. My favorite edition, of my favorite watch, of all time. The greatest of the jewel-tools, it dazzles on the wrist, but also under the loupe.
Look at the raised, applied Omega badge. The gently embossed Seamaster script. The depth of the dial from the crystal. The delicate execution of the skeleton hands with their thin strips of lume and the thoughtfulness of having the tip of the minute a triangle and the tip of the hour a circle. (You really notice this in the dark.)
But more than anything . . . that dial. No picture does it justice. Depending on the light it can go from royal blue to navy blue to an inky black. It looks like a pool of liquid metal, with the indexes floating on it. If you touched it, you’d expect it to absorb your fingertip, like the mirror in The Matrix.
Before the Seamaster I’d never liked metal bracelets, but the bracelet here is a damn work of art. It feels like silk on the wrist. Easily the most comfortable bracelet or strap of any material I’ve ever worn. Nothing else is close.
Seiko Marinemaster Emperor Tuna
A beast of a tool watch, this is only really for professionals. Good to a thousand meters1 and all but indestructible because of the ceramic shroud around it. It’s rocking an unregulated Grand Seiko movement.
It’s huge. How big? This big:
Sits up on your wrist like a hockey puck. High and proud. Yet it feels smaller than it looks because there are no lugs.
I don’t bring it out very often, but I love the history and design chops of this watch.
Doxa Sub 1200t Sharkhunter
Ed wrote about his. I love this. The saw-tooth bezel. The vestigial hour hand. And the beads of rice bracelet really is great.
I own one of these, but Flash temporarily . . . misplaced it during the move. So this is a stock photo.
And it is absolutely one of the most amazing pieces of engineering you’ll ever see.
You know how crazy that Emperor Tuna was with its 3,000 meters of functional water resistance? Well ze Germans went and built a watch that is water resistant. Period. To any fucking place on earth. Head down 13 km to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. The Sinn UX will work just fine.
Here’s how it works: The UX is a quartz movement, but a high-accuracy quartz, good to ±10 seconds a year. That’s a crazy feat all on its own. But then the entire case is filled with oil, which creates counter-pressure against any pressure the ocean can throw at it.
But we’re just getting started. Sinn uses an oil with the same coefficient of refraction as the crystal on the watch, which creates a crazy effect that’s impossible to capture with a camera. Basically: It makes the entire dial and hand set look perfectly flat. Like it’s a painting—or a digital display.
The result being that the dial is fully legible to the eye from any angle, no matter how shallow.
Then there’s the steel.
Sinn makes this out of U-boat steel—the same stuff the Germans use to make submarines. And then submits it to a chemical process called tegimentation, which further hardens it.
End result: An indestructible watch that will make you smile every time you look at your wrist.
Islander Bulwark Special Edition
An incredibly limited run. Only 14 exist in the entire world.
And that full-lume dial? It more or less turns this watch into a flashlight.
I’ve had this for less than a week and it’s the first time I’ve ever bought a watch on impulse. I’ll do a full review later, but what hooked me was that the Northport gives you:
An entrancing, embossed blue dial.
A Miyota hi-beat movement.
Silver markers filled with robust lume.
Ceramic, lumed bezel.
All for under $400.
That’s a lot of bang-per-buck.
I’m very partial to Islander watches. They make great beaters. Keep in mind that this isn’t haute horologie. There are angles of light which make the limits of the dial stamping evident. The handset is well chosen, but not executed especially well. It took me a while to bond with it, to be honest.
But in most cases this thing just loves the light.
The dial almost comes alive as shadows rake across the peaks and the overall effect is like watching the surface of a pool rippling.
So those are my divers. Obviously, I have a type. Happy to chat (fight) with you about any of this in the comments.
Typical Japanese understatement. Seiko popped one of these on the exterior of a deep-sea sub and it functioned down past 3,000 meters.