Monday, April 30, 2012

Wrapping up the Aquadive Bathyscaphe 100

We have now gone well beyond the normal 15 day review period!  And frankly, I wish that this review could go on and on.

I have now worn all three of the current models - the NOS Diver, the Bathyscaphe 300 and now the Bathyscaphe 100.  Thus far, I would have to say that the Bathyscaphe 100 is my favorite in terms of frequent/everyday wear.

It is clearly a good size watch, but it does not overwhelm the wearer's wrist.  at 43 mm wide by 49 mm length you would expect a rather unwieldy, almost "discuss-like" look and feel, but the Bathyscaphe 100 has a very pleasant appearance on the wrist.  I think a lot of this is due to the 60s/70s design influence that you also see in the DOXA SUBs of today.  There is certainly a "high point" at the top of the crystal where the watch's height is at its peak - 15 mm in thickness.

The performance has been first rate.  The greatest deviation I experienced was + 2 seconds.  This was confirmed by getting a "rate reading" from a local watch maker in the area.

The movement is the ETA 2836 - 2 without the day function found in other versions of this movement.
The hour, minute, second and date functions work flawlessly.

Like its "big brother", the Bathyscaphe 100 also has an HRV (Helium Release Valve) subtly located between the lugs at the 6 o'clock position.  This is perhaps one of my favorite features.  I am not a diver, and swim only on special occasions, but the "cult of the dive watch" is made up of plenty of people living in "dry environments".  Whether a professional "Saturation Diver" working under the waves, or a "Desk Diver" preparing status reports and crunching numbers, the Bathyscaphe 100 is a nice option for either occupation.

The level of finish work is beyond reproach.  The bezel is solid and tactile, but smooth in function.  The clicks are solid - and quite reassuring, and the bezel's height and mass ensure easy operation.

Courtesy of Aquadive
And because I feel that a better photograph is in order, with Aquadive's permission, here is a professional shot of the Bathyscaphe 100 - with the optional mesh bracelet.  This bracelet is available for an additional $99.00 US (according to the Aquadive website).  The Aquadive that I tested came with the standard ISOfrane strap with an Aquadive buckle. They also kindly included both a blue and an orange strap, so I have been mixing and matching a bit.  I have to say that the ISOfrane straps are really about the best "rubber" strap I have worn.  Better than Panerai's, and light years away from several others.  And the hint of vanilla scent is a great touch!  The thickness of the strap lends itself to the very "tactile" nature of the Bathyscaphe 100 - and in fact to all Aquadives for that matter.

And speaking of tactile, the applied indices are a particularly nice touch.  They remind me of the DOXA SUB 5000T and they really enhance the look and feel of the dial - and greatly enhance the effect of the lume on the watch face.  This is consistent with the Bathyscaphe 300.

I think with a lot of watches out there, it is sometimes hard to understand (apart from inflation) why the cost what they do.  In some instances you can point to a manufacture movement, COSC certified movement, precious metal, etc.  In others it is down to the brand name. But in the case of Aquadive, it is actually pretty easy to see where the money "is".  Moreover, when compared to other comparable watches, it is difficult to understand why it might not cost more.

Every Aquadive case is CNC'd in Germany.  These are not "stock" cases bought from a case maker.  The finish and attention to detail is extremely good.  The finish and quality of the case is better than several SWATCH and LVMH cases I have seen lately - sorry but it's true.

In summing up this particular Aquadive, I would have to say that although it is currently only available online (i.e. direct sales), I suspect that it will not be long before retail stores will want to carry it.  There is something about the Aquadive that is hard to convey in 2 dimensional images.  It has more to do with not just the feel of the watch, but the way that you interact with it - again I'll say it - tactile.  For the money  ($1,990 direct) I have really not seen anything out there in the dive watch offerings to compare to it.  And lastly - it is easy to lump Aquadive into a "reissue"/ "reedition" classification, but would really be selling it short.  This is a modern dive watch that dollar for dollar really exceeds everything else out there right now, and is comparable to watches costing twice as much.

For those of you who like all the specs - here they are courtesy of Aquadive:

Hours, minutes, seconds, date at 3 o'clock
German made and CNC machined Solid Stainless steel case, Stainless steel screw down case back. Limited edition of 500 pieces engraved ***/500. 43 mm diameter excluding crown, 49 mm from lug to lug, 15mm height. Water – resistant to 1000 meters (3300 feet). Integrated automatic Helium Release Valve (HRV) at 6 o'clock.
Swiss Made ETA 2836-2 , Hours, minutes, sweep second, Self-winding mechanism with ball bearing rotor, Date, corrector, Stop second device Regulator system ETACHRON and regulator corrector, Novodiac Incabloc shock protection, 28.800 vibrations per hour; 4 Hz.25 Jewel, adjusted in 5 positions with an individual certificate that accompanies each watch.
43mm stainless steel uni-directional rotating bezel, 120 clicks, laser-cut ratcheting spring, scratch-free Ceramic insert, engraved with elapsed time markings. 31mm Sapphire crystal
Aquadive stainless steel bracelet based on a vintage Aquadive design, with automatic ratcheting dive suit extension; or an optional stainless steel Mesh bracelet at $99.00.
130 grams excluding strap/bracelet
2 year limited warranty

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