Last week’s WatchTime L.A. event was populated by many dozens of luxurious timepieces, — tourbillons, perpetual calendars, astronomical world timers, and any number of other high-end and often idiosyncratic complications. But those looking for a little “tool watch” appeal in their timepiece also found quite a few to strike their fancy, including several highly individualistic takes on the humble, albeit mega-popular, dive watch. Here are five that are worthy of note.
De Bethune unveiled its first-ever divers’ watch this year and, in typical De Bethune fashion, it’s highly memorable. The DB28GS Grand Bleu features De Bethune’s 27th in-house produced movement with a five-day power reserve and a manufacture produced balance wheel made of titanium and white gold. The 44-mm case is made entirely of titanium and offers a water-resistance rating of 105 meters. The newly designed lugs feature black zirconium inserts referencing the middle side of the case. The Grand Bleu’s unidirectional dive-scale bezel (the first one appearing on a De Bethune timepiece) rotates in the traditional manner but the scale’s numbers are actually applied to the sapphire crystal, a design De Bethune says it chose to keep the watch thin. The most intriguing aspect of the new diver is the application of a mechanical dynamo system that emits a blue-white light around four spots in the bezel. Using zero electronics or batteries, a pusher flush to the case at 6 o’clock activates a small gear train driven by the twin barrel. This gear train, via its miniature dynamo, provides the necessary energy to light up the watch. Once the five-day power reserve has dropped to a single day (indicated by a subtle display between 9 and 10 o’clock), this function will be blocked in an effort to conserve energy. De Bethune worked with lume expert James Thompson of Black Badger Advanced Composites to create a unique and proprietary blue photoluminescent material to improve the readability of the hands, indexes, and timer while remaining true to the brand’s trademark blue color.
Maurice Lacroix added the Aikon Venturer to its collection in 2019. The watch has a unidirectional bezel, with an inlay made of ceramic and the overlaying tabs and bezel made of steel and is a descendant of the divers’ version of the Maurice Lacroix Calypso — one of the brand’s most popular watch models in the 1990s, which provided some of the design codes that live on in the Aikon collection. The contemporary version is available with a blue or black sunray-brushed dial, with applied round and rectangular hour markers coated with Super-LumiNova. The stainless-steel case measures 43 mm in diameter and is water resistant to 300 meters. Both versions are available with a matching rubber strap, attached to the case with an “EasyChange system,” which allows the wearer to quickly remove and change straps without requiring tools. The solid five-link brushed steel bracelet comes with a folding clasp, the rubber strap with a stainless-steel pin buckle. Behind the solid case-back, Maurice Lacroix has placed the automatic Caliber ML115, based on the Sellita SW200-1.
Consisting of three colorful models with equally colorful names (Blue Hole, Blackfin, and Air Gauge), Reservoir’s new Hydrosphere collection is the brand’s first attempt at a legit dive watch and it’s a pretty impressive first go around. The watch uses the unconventional dial layout that has come to define Reservoir watch models — with a retrograde minute hand stretching over the upper two-thirds of the dial, a jump hour situated underneath the central axis, and a power reserve display that transitions using a satellite indication from red (needs power) to blue (full steam ahead). The white dial of the Air Gauge model (below) is the most eye-catching, as it is entirely coated in luminescent material. The watches boast a professional-grade water resistance rating of 250 meters and a helium release valve for saturation diving. The chunky 45-mm case is built from 316L stainless steel, with a brushed finish, and features an entirely lug-free design, with the three-link stainless steel bracelet and rubber strap options (the watch comes with both) screwed into the caseback. The screw-down crown is coated in rubber, and the ceramic bezel with double 15-minute indicators that enable the wearer to read dive times before and after the return of the retrograde hand.
The Bremont Supermarine S300 White has the same dimensions as those of previous S300 models, at 40 mm x 13 mm, and it uses the same BE-92AE chronometer-grade caliber. The stainless-steel case features Bremont’s proprietary Trip-Tick construction and boasts 300-meter water resistance — thanks, in part, to the screw-in caseback, which features an engraving of the Supermarine Spitfire aircraft in relief, a nod to Bremont’s focus on aviation history. The sapphire crystal is domed and anti-reflective. There’s a color-matching date aperture at 3 o’clock, and the hands, numerals and indexes are coated in Super-LumiNova — all hallmarks of existing S300 watches. What makes the Supermarine S300 White stand out from previous iterations is its painted white dial, complemented by a dark blue ceramic bezel. Following the Supermarine Waterman unveiled last summer in the S500 series, this is the first light-colored dial seen inside the S300 series. (Dive watches with white dials are, of course, notably less ubiquitous than those with black, gray, or blue dials.) It comes with a blue Temple Island rubber strap and an additional blue and white striped NATO strap.
First released in 2017, MB&F’s original HM7 Aquapod combined an annular design inspired by a jellyfish with dive-watch elements and a flying tourbillon. Last year, the brand announced new limited-edition version with a titanium case and an electric-green bezel. While not a diving watch by traditional standards, the Aquapod is very much a creature of the sea: it has an unusual unidirectional bezel that floats freely above the dial like a life buoy. In order to reach the ideal tint for the bezel, MB&F inserted a sapphire crystal ring inside of it, then added the metallized numbers and indices under the crystal along with a layer of green lacquer. Developed entirely in-house, the movement of the HM7 features a winding rotor, mainspring barrel, hour and minute indicators, and flying tourbillon, all concentrically mounted around a central axis and rotating concentrically around it. Energy generated by the tentacle-like rotor at the bottom travels up to the tourbillon regulator at the top via a series of gears that allow the power to transition from level to level in the manner of climbing stairs. The three-dimensional rotor is crafted from a solid block of titanium, with a heavy platinum mass underneath the tentacles to ensure powerful winding. The tourbillon regulator is positioned as the “hood” that protects the ring of neurons that serves as the brain of a jellyfish, the nautical inspiration for this unusual timepiece’s design.