Baltic’s Aquascaphe twin crown is on pre-order right now and it’s a wel equipped tool watch that’s built to dive. With a serious 200m depth rating, sapphire crystal, 316 steel compressor case and dive time crown at the 2pm position, this model will do the job. The top crown moves the internal bezel, so you can set the minutes underwater accurately.
The second crown at 4 o’clock is used to wind the automatic movement and to set the time. The first 300 pieces are numbered on the caseback This watch is also slim, at just under 12mm in height from crystal to caseback. That might suit many watch fans who find the big chunky cases on say a Zelos, or some bronze indie watches just too much on dry land.
You can also buy it with a black dial and black bezel, plus there’s a PVD coated case option.
The pre-order price is £660, which is reasonable for something this well finished and manufactured in Europe, rather than China or Singapore. There will be import duties and perhaps some BS delivery company admin fees on top don’t forget.
Rivals include much of the Zelos range, plus dive brands like Enosken (1000m depth) or Marloe, who are based in the UK. There’s a great deal of choice when it comes to dive watches under £1000 these days, although twin crown models are not as common as single crown watches in general.
Ball has launched a new variant on their Engineer Hydrocarbon dive model, called DeepQuest II. With a depth rating of 1000 metres, they are serious about the deep bit.
Made from titanium, this 42mm case sized watch is a high spec watch. The usual brilliant set of tubes illuminate the hands, bezel indices, plus 12 and 6pm position numerals. It’s a COSC certified, in-house Cal 7309 movement, with an 80-hour power reserve. It’s something Ball can be proud of as many watch brands use modified Sellita or ETA 2824 movements.
There’s also a neat twist on the usual helium escape valve; the DeepQUEST II features a patented diving innovation.
An automatic helium release valve is directly incorporated into the crown, which allows helium gas that develops underwater to safely escape during decompression. A standard helium release valve, is an extra opening on the case, which might compromise water resistance. So, Ball’s crown-integrated helium release valve, which they note as a world-first in watchmaking, gets around that issue.
A super-tough clasp is another Ball trademark feature that we love too. Those links are something Brunel would be proud of we say. This is an expensive watch at £3000, but you are getting something truly over-engineered, down to the last screw and pin.
The only question mark is on resale values. How popular would a three year old Ball Engineer watch be with collectors? Compared to an Oris Aquis Carysfort, or a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms you might find the percentage depreciation a bit higher.
The Powermatic 80 hour auto movement is one of the biggest bargains in Swiss watchmaking. Most commonly found in the entry level Tissot or Hamilton watches at about £450 or so, this movement is being fitted to the latest, special edition, Certina DS PH500M dive watch. Consider this; many Rolex automatics can only manage 40 hours reserve, so the technology inside this sub-£1000 Swiss watch is impressive.
The orange dialled beauty, captures the spirit of 1968, when Certina made an orange dialled DS dive watch. This modern re-creation features a steel case, screwdown crown, 500m depth rating and a pair of straps, so you can do that Tri-athalon swim without any worries. One strap is extra long by the way. There’s a sapphire crystal too.
The watch retails at a reasonable £795 in the UK and offers excellent value compared to many other Swiss dive watches with a 500m depth rating. On the rear of the case you get the logo of the German Divers Association, as they had a hand in the development of this watch. There’s a uni-directional bezel so you cannot click-stop the wrong way – essential detail for diving we reckon.
It’s a 43mm case size so a very nice compromise between making a statement and being big enough to see the time at a glance. We love the 60s vibe this has, which is very reminiscent of Yema, Doxa or Favre Leuba models from those heady Austin Powers days.
For us, this makes a versatile everyday watch that nails the retro look very well, has the cachet of Swiss quality and an 80 hour reserve so you won’t spend much time winding this one to get some tension on the mainspring.