The Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver watch hands-on
The business of vintage watches' re-issues is very prolific, yet few are the brands whose historical pieces are so highly sought-after to deserve a modern counterpart. The Bulova Oceanographer is on top of this list: conceived during the 70s upon specific request of NATO, the Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver helped reinforce the American brand's reputation further, confirming its attitude as a pioneer in crafting professional diving watches as well as in producing professional instruments designed for NASA's most demanding space missions. In 2015 Bulova re-edited some of its most celebrated watches, launching its signature Archive Series collection. This collection includes, for example, the Bulova Computron.
The roll-out of this project saw the involvement of Analog/Shift, a respected American vintage luxury watch store, and the Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver came out as a faithful-to-the-original collection geared towards vintage divers aficionados, a community of enthusiasts that are proliferating.
Why is the Bulova Oceanographer named Bulova Devil Diver?
The nickname Devil Diver derives from the watch being water resistant to a depth of 203m, or 666 feet. The original Bulova Devil Diver belongs to a group of vintage, now iconic, diving watches, that include Doxa, the Omega PloProf and the Seiko 6105. The inside story can be found inside the book "BULOVA: A History of firsts". When the brand introduced the Oceanographer, it decided to raise the bar in terms of water resistance at the time (600 feet) by engineering a diving watch capable of withstanding depths up to 666 feet. This figure is, in the New Testament, the number of the Beast, hence the devil.
Regarding the standard Oceanographer and the limited edition model: when they first appeared, the reaction from the watch community was nothing short of enthusiastic. The re-issue project included two product variations, a smaller and more technically refined 40mm limited edition watch showcasing a vivid orange dial, and a more accessible and subtle 44mm version featuring a black dial instead.
The 40mm limited edition watch encased a Sellita automatic movement, whereas the standard one adopts a Miyota caliber, as you'd expect from a brand that is vertically integrated into the Citizen Group, that provides technology through its sister company Miyota inside and out. Regardless of the technical equipment for a while, the Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver has plenty of leads in its pencil, and the main one is its design that perfectly mimics the vintage Devil Diver's shape; the original one was a step ahead of its peers' thanks to a distinctive style.
The tall and transparent 3D cylindrical applied indexes and the two-clour insert on the bezel are a nod to the first ever Devil Diver; and the cherry on the cake are the Bulova historical logo along with letterings that reproduce that same 70s looking font, as it is with "Oceanographer" wording placed at twelve, and the "Automatic Snorkel 666 feet" inscription at six. A key design element that differentiates limited edition to standard version apart from case size and dial color, is the shape of the hour and minute hands .
Despite its quintessentially vintage feel, the Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver is state-of-the-art and complies with the standards set out in the ISO 6425 certification; this is a plus that derives from belonging to a group leader in making authentic diving watches. The Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver is not a new watch, then, but so are its 2019 new variants that extend a successful collection that is finally available in Italy too, after hitting stores across the US and beyond. Bulova has this year launched three new color combinations, that include a green dialed version (the only one to officially hit the Italian stores) along with other two ones that offer an unusual blue and orange combination, or more interestingly, a barely seen yellow and blue combination.
What a pity Bulova is not selling the current Devil Diver with a two-strap option: you can get just a stainless steel bracelet, whose letdown is overall weight and a somehow fall-off from the wrist given the not-negligible difference in thickness between case and bracelet. Moreover, there are competitors in the same price range, and I would cite Seiko, that offers a replacement rubber strap on its Turtle, that has nearly the same price tag as a Devil Diver's (a Devil Diver retails for €559).
The 40-hour maximum power reserve is more than enough: the Miyota 8215 beats at 21,600 alternations/hour, is a no-decorated workhorse (it also powers watches outside the group), that provides proven shock-resistance, that is among the ISO's main requirements, thanks to the latest generation Parashock system. Please find additional information about the Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver green bezel 96B322 by clicking here.
(Photo credit: Peter Tung for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®