Aquadive Bathyscaphe 100SS
Rick Hossam Marei, the man who relaunched DOXA watches, repeats his experiment with the American timepieces once worn by astronaut Scott Carpenter
How often have you caught me writing about diver's watches? Many times! How often have I talked about independent brands and the passion of their creators? Less often than those brands deserve and it is a habit that I will start getting into, because many of the brave entrepreneurs who work to re-launch those brands are driven by a real passion for those products and their history.
The passion for diver's watches is like the passion for motorbikes - it has no boundaries and no class difference
I have a strong passion for authentic and radical diver's watches. When someone introduces me to a new diver's watch I don't care anymore about what season we are in - I wear my Orient Pro Saturation Diver as much in winter as in summer and I go regularly to the mountains and I write with gusto about historical re-issues, like the Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 which, as you can see from the photos in that article, was worn in combination with a suit before being taken to the beach.
When it comes to independent brands, I am actually looking forward to trying on an Italian diver's watch and, in the meantime, I discovered a brand I did not know existed. One day I walked into Orologeria Duomo - a Milanese shop specialized in trading-in and trading-out new and used timepieces. This store shares a common feature with Horbiter® - it takes photography very seriously and takes in-studio HD pics of all the watches on display.
It is a plus feature among Italian e-commerce stores and it adds value to the physical store that is located only a few meters away from the Duomo, in this store, moreover, you can have your watch evaluated too. The photos of the Aquadive Bathyscaphe 100SS that you can see in this article are the property of Orologeria Duomo. About this product - I think a diver's watch is like a motorbike, as everyone likes it and it is the only timepiece that you can always wear throughout the summer. Moreover, even considering the low level of complication involved, diver's watches can boast the widest price range on the market.
Who is Aqua Dive?
Aquadive is a historic brand that focused its production exclusively on professional diver's watches. This is its core business and is not a secondary aspect for a brand. Scott Carpenter, the famous American astronaut, wore an Aquadive on his wrist when, in the early 60s, he used to train in a pool to get himself ready for the Mercury mission. The reborn Aquadive is managed by the same person who re-launched the Doxa brand and decided to remain faithful to the original concept of the watch, bringing back to life the historic diver's watch with a tonneau case from the 70s (the golden age for fans of diver's watches and a period of constant development of diving techniques and technologies).
It is no coincidence that you can then see similarities between an Aquadive and a Doxa. What must a professional diver's watch feature to be defined as one? An exceptional sturdiness, the ISO 6425 certification that testifies the design quality (they are tested one by one and not by random samples), a rating of resistance to the appropriate depth (> 200m) and a perfect readability, despite the fact that we live in an era of sophisticated digital back-up systems for diving. An Aquadive Bathyscaphe 100SS is the synthesis of these simple but solid concepts, which remain the basis of the crafting of a true diver's watch.
About the Aqua Dive Bathyscaphe 100SS
The brand launched an entire product range, but the 100SS is the quintessential diver's watch in its most ancestral form. The 43mm case is the faithful reproduction of the original 1972 model. It is made of AISI 316L - a non-exclusive standard in the current panorama, but, at the same time, not too common either, considering the price range of the Aquadive (it retails at about € 2,200) and, what matters the most, this timepiece's case is made in Europe, more specifically in Germany.
An entire page of the brand's official website is devoted to the description of the construction of the case, the dial, the hands and so on. The page gives a clear vision of the origin of all the components - a message directed to the customer and an indirect message to some emblazoned brands that do not manufacture all of their products in Europe. The Aquadive Bathyscaphe 100SS is designed to reach a depth of 1000m, so it was also designed to be used during saturation diving.
It is equipped helium release valve (that I, however, always underline it is not mandatory), but that valve was cleverly positioned between the lugs, rather than on the case-middle (a very bad location, in my honest opinion). The 120-click rotating bezel features a ceramic insert with a graduated scale and, this yet another valuable historical reference, the strap is an Isofrane that was often chosen in the past by connoisseurs and professionals of the sea depths. Sturdity can also be seen in the choice of the caliber; an ETA 2836-2 with 42 hours of power reserve that can be adjusted to 5 different positions.
Yes or No?
The Aquadive Bathyscaphe 100SS was produced in a single batch containing 500 specimens. Each specimen costs € 2,150: would it have been more attractive if the retail price had stopped at the limit of the € 2000 psychological threshold? I do not know, perhaps it would, but to be honest with you, the logic of the threshold price could be a teaser for the customer and it is something that big watch groups use often to generate economies of scale by producing their timepieces in the Far East.
Personally, this is a practice that I don't like much. Truth is that, on this watch, volumes, specifications and the crafting of the case, the dial and the bezel are of high level, it seems as if they were manufactured in a fine mechanics workshop and these are manufacturing choices that affect the final price, but that also guarantee, on paper, a long-term product quality.
Many commercial diver's watches can undergo a performance, brightness, color of the dial deterioration process in the medium term - I have witnessed this and I am sure you have too. The choices made by this brand are geared towards quality in the long run and this is one of the drivers that might lead to purchasing such a timepiece. In that sense, the retail price can be considered enticing - the style is very beautiful and evocative but this is, of course, my personal opinion.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Orologeria Duomo)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®