Some of my favorite watches to cover these days have been those produced by smaller brands. Whether they’re brands I’ve written about for this series, such as Maen and Nezumi, or those I’ve been beaten to covering by WatchTime editor Logan Baker (he’s quick), such as Brew and Seals Watch Co.— what has impressed me most about these micro-brands is their “blank slate” freedom of design, and the resulting stylistic creativity that emerges from it. As no one who reads these columns would find surprising, I find this process most interesting in vintage-inspired watches.
While Italian watch enthusiasts have embraced the timepieces of Eberhard & Co. for well over a century, only a relative handful of American collectors are aware of the brand’s rich history and diverse offerings. Now, buoyed by a surprise Geneva Grand Prix win for its most historically significant model, Eberhard is making the U.S. sit up and take notice.
When we discuss the history of diving watches, we usually focus on a handful of acknowledged icons, like the Rolex Submariner, Omega Seamaster and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. When we discuss important historical chronographs, we inevitably bring up Heuer, Breitling, Zenith, and Rolex’s Daytona (which, of course, for much of its existence, used a Zenith-made movement). The Daytona, Heuer’s Monaco and Carrera, and perhaps Chopard’s Mille Miglia collection tend to enter the conversation when it turns to watches connected to auto racing. All this is as it should be, though another venerable Swiss watch brand – one that was founded in 1887, yet operated for much of its existence under the radar of many American watch aficionados – makes a fairly convincing case for inclusion in the conversation. Here is a family-by-family tour through the inventions, world’s firsts, and remarkable technical and design achievements of Eberhard & Co., a Bienne-based watch manufacturer that continues to innovate after 130-plus uninterrupted years.
Last year, Omega introduced the revamped Seamaster 300M with a 42-mm case. This year, the Bienne-based brand is launching a 43.5 mm version with black ceramic case (as well as dial and bezel insert) and elements made of titanium (caseback, bezel, and crowns). Here’s a brief preview courtesy of our sister blog, Watch-Insider.com.
The transparent caseback uses Omega’s NAIAD system, which means that it is perfectly aligned. Inside is the Omega Caliber 8806 movement, which comes with Master Chronometer certification (and no date). The latest Seamaster Diver 300 Diver with black ceramic and titanium is equipped with a black rubber strap and a buckle in black ceramic. Price of the Ref. 18.104.22.168.01.001 will be CHF 7,500.
Rado is rightly regarded by most knowledgeable watch aficionados as a very avant-garde, design-oriented brand, but it has gained substantial renown in recent years for going retro — introducing the Hyperchrome Captain Cook, named for the famed British naval explorer and inspired by a nearly forgotten 1960s dive watch, to critical acclaim in 2017. Rado’s newest Captain Cook lands this year, and like its somewhat surprise-hit predecessor, combines faithful vintage homage with modern technical innovation. Here’s this week’s Watch to Watch, the Rado Tradition Captain Cook MKII Automatic Limited Edition.
There are dozens of watch brands, at price points across the board, that produce timepieces inspired by or even developed in cooperation with military units, from Panerai’s divers to IWC’s pilots to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Navy SEALs field watches. There are, on the other hand, just a small handful of brands — most of them on the affordable end of the spectrum — that military professionals and law enforcement officers actually wear on missions. One of the leaders in this category is Luminox, which collaborated with underwater explorer, filmmaker, and seasoned counter-terrorism operative Scott Cassell — you may have seen him in documentaries on the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and the BBC, among many others — to produce a special series of professional-grade diving watches in its Deep Dive Automatic collection. I got my hands on one of the latest models in the series and had the chance to speak with Cassell about its origins.
Swatch Group-owned Certina is a Swiss watch brand that few American consumers are familiar with, but it is a company that has long specialized in sports watches, and even has an extensive history, both in the American market and among military personnel. Yet, as was the reality for many historic Swiss manufacturers, the Quartz Crisis of the ‘70s and ‘80s forced the brand to reorganize and re-strategize, in the process largely withdrawing from the United States market.
This is a circumstance that is largely unchanged today, although the brand’s surprising 2018 release of the “new vintage” Certina DS PH200M certainly caught the attention of vintage-watch aficionados across the globe, including in the States. This is a divers’ watch inspired by a 1967 model of the same name, and one using the same DS (Double Security) technology originating from 1959 and used until its discontinuation in 1970. During its time, this tech was one of the distinguishing factors of Certina dive watches, most prominently acting as a thick rubber water seal protecting the movement inside the case, but also working as a shock absorber to larger pressure changes common in deep sea diving.