Some of my favorite watches to cover these days have been those produced by smaller brands. Whether they’re brands I’ve written about for this series, such as Maen and Nezumi, or those I’ve been beaten to covering by WatchTime editor Logan Baker (he’s quick), such as Brew and Seals Watch Co.— what has impressed me most about these micro-brands is their “blank slate” freedom of design, and the resulting stylistic creativity that emerges from it. As no one who reads these columns would find surprising, I find this process most interesting in vintage-inspired watches.
It’s fascinating to observe how these companies mix and match old designs with new, placing the watches and their burgeoning stories in the canon of the industry’s history, with the ultimate goal of creating new and interesting pieces that strive to find lasting space for themselves on the wrists of modern consumers. This week we come to another such brand, and another historical remix of a watch design, in the Evant Decodiver. The 2018-released watch is an amalgam of mostly 1960s and ‘70s designs in the pursuit of a contemporary and fashionable dive watch.
From its outside in, the Decodiver treads into experimental design territory. With a multi-faceted 41-mm steel case and a 4 o’clock crown, the design seems like a cross between a 1968 Seiko 6159-7001 and an old, military-grade British G10 field watch, though the brand only explicitly refers to legendary watch designer Gérald Genta as an inspiration for the case. Its rounded unidirectional bezel is filled with a ceramic insert — itself a very uncommon trait at this price point — and does well in imitating the Bakelite inserts common from the 1950s through the 1970s. I’m most reminded of those produced by Blancpain in the Fifty Fathoms and Bathyscaphe models, with this source possibly further referenced in the Arabic numerals and diamond-shaped 12 o’clock marker on the watch’s dial.
On the face, behind the painted hour markers, is a sunburst fumé color scheme produced in blue and the (now sold out) black style. This style of dial reached its peak in the 1970s, and might be best remembered today through Glashütte Original and its heritage collections. Other dial details include the applied steel accented hour markers between each of the quarter positions; slim, almost-dauphine hour and minute hands alongside a vintage-style seconds hand; and some suave, script dial descriptors at the top and bottom of the dial. Overall, I don’t think I can accurately attribute this style of dial to any specific brand’s designs, but in the combination of these elements — especially the fumé color, hour markers, and hands— the funky ’70s styling is clear.
Powering the watch and protected by a simple screw-down caseback is the automatic ETA 2824 movement, storing a 38-hour power reserve. This ETA caliber is a very common and reliable movement for both start-up and established brands alike, so it’s good to see its use by Evant. The piece, as expected of a diver, is accented throughout with Super-LumiNova and has a 300-meter dive rating—although it’s conspicuously not offered with a diving-appropriate rubber strap, with the manufacturer instead opting for leather. Currently, the watch is available through Evant for $599, and is backed by a two-year warranty.
As a whole, the watch does well in bringing together a variety of details from over two decades in one coherent piece. More importantly, for all the different elements and allusions to the past it displays, it’s overall a unique and handsome watch unlike any other on the market today. I will add that some writers have noted the finishing on the case and dial, specifically in the brushing of the steel and application of Super-LumiNova, was not at the standard they would have liked, though for a start-up taking on such a complicated design this isn’t unexpected. In all likelihood, Evant will continue its trend of releasing a new limited series each year, and with luck 2019 will hold an even further refined and more meticulously polished version of the Decodiver.
For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare the Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 with its historical inspirations, click here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.