As some of you may remember, my favourite watch is one that was made for a few short years from 1973: the Aquadive Time-Depth, an electronic** watch with an oil-filled Bourdon Tube depth gauge, that was the first of its kind. It also came in a rather fetching orange dial – and everyone loves an orange diver’s watch (see opposite). The Time-Depth Model 50 was an incredible piece of engineering. Don’t believe me? Ask Scott Carpenter, the famous astronaut and aquanaut who put his name to a series of ads for the watch. Actually, ask our good friends over at Hodinkee – they know their onions, and even they think it’s cool. You can therefore imagine the excitement I felt when I saw that Aquadive are back. Back, and making watches again.
There was a little fanfare on Watchuseek – one of the oldest watch forums on the ‘net – as Aquadive appeared, complete with their own sub-forum. Three watches were announced – a new old stock (NOS) watch made with parts from the sixties; and two cases that share certain similarities with the Time-Depth model: the Bathyscaphe 100 and the Bathyscaphe 300. The latter watch is WR to 300 ATM / 3000m / 10,000ft and seems to share a very similar case to the original Model 50, but with a passive Helium Release Valve (HRV) between the lugs where the entry to the Bourdon Tube used to be. It’s a huge watch, just like the Model 50: 47mm wide and 20mm high (see left). Rather than keep the crown on the left, the designers have flipped the watch, but it’s still instantly recognisable as an Aquadive. The 300 is not cheap – a shade under $3,000, but (until the end of the year) it’s available at a heavily discounted price of a little under $2,000. It’s also available to pre-order in a “DLC” version***. The 300 features an ETA 2824-2 movement that is, apparently, suspended. We’ve seen a lot of people “suspending” their movements recently, and it will be interesting to see what the new owners of Aquadive have done to the ETA and, indeed, whether they plan to release a Time-Depth Model!
Which brings me to my final comment. The owners of the brand have a strong following. Even before they announced the brand, there were a great many people for whom Aquadive watches represented the pinnacle of real dive watches. It therefore seems a little strange that they appear to have been a little heavy-handed in communicating with their nascent clients. I won’t link to the WUS thread, as I’m sure it’ll be deleted / amended shortly. Suffice it to say, we all know that old brands get bought and relaunched all the time. There’s a thirst for knowledge among prospective buyers that can sometimes verge on the fanatical, but many of us are just pleased to have these fantastic old brands back.
Photos courtesy of www.aquadive.com
**The watch featured an electronic, 13 jewel Dynatron movement if I remember correctly.
***I say “DLC” as it’s not entirely clear what the coating is. The website refers variously to “TiAcN” and “TiAn” – which is neither the titanium nitride (TiCN), nor titanium aluminium nitride (TiAlN) that I’ve seen previously (e.g. on the superb URWERK 103.08). Perhaps it’s a new coating containing Actinium? I’ve no idea what TiAn is at all… Answers on a postcard please.