Written by Contributing writer, Furry Wrist Abroad
The market for dive watches between $500 to $1000 is a highly congested and competitive arena. Dive watches are as popular in the watch industry as sport utility vehicles are in the automotive space. It’s very easy to make the comparisons between the two as to consumer psychology, but that is for another article. On one hand you have Seiko and Citizen as the general consumer’s standard choice. These are available in every mall, and at the other end of the spectrum you have micro-brands such as Nodus who seem to exist simply to put the incumbent players in the genre to shame in terms of price, design, quality, and function.
In the middle you are players such as Hamilton whose watches are available in stores but who also have to compete and create a distinct identity not only from the aforementioned brands, but from their own corporate siblings – Longines, MIDO, Rado, and Tissot. Today we shall quickly go over how Hamilton succeeds in this daunting task, and how they made a very capable and desirable watch while doing so.
Dial & Bezel
Hamilton brought closure to their entire catalogue with this timepiece through mirroring the designs of the 1960s American Space Race era. Thus far, their dive watch lineup failed to offer a cohesive offering alongside the rest of the brand regarding a consistent design language. The applied “H” logo for starters does this. The applied hour indices which still fall within this design theme also echo the attainable dive watch halo for the Swatch Group, the Omega Planet Ocean. This is also the case with the mirror-finished hour and minute hands, and that of the arrow seconds hand. The hour and minute hands lack the broad arrow tips of the Planet Ocean, but the similarities are evident. The legibility of the hands on land and under water were always brilliant and never a concern. The contrasting red-tipped seconds hand offers a beautiful contrast to the charming blue metallic dial.
Some may consider this dial to be busy, but there is a reason for this and it is executed really well with a surprising result. The addition of 24-hour markers atop the hour markers, and having every second divided into three parts, results in the date window placement at 4:30 working seamlessly once on-wrist. After about 20 minutes of wear, the date window disappeared only to reappear once called upon. Many enthusiasts in the past have expressed a violent hatred for such date window placements, but they are not the target audience for this watch. We shall revisit this at the end of the review.
The bezel functions with affirmative clicks and was easy to use on land, on a rocking boat with wet hands, and underwater while wearing 7mm wetsuit gloves. The omission of a lumed bezel pip is a glaring one, and only while I was doing some night photography in some very dark trails and alleys did I notice its absence. The unfinished section that scales the 0-15 minute markers reflects light quite effectively in all but pitch-black scenarios. It also offers a seamless transition from the dial to the brushed case. The blue section of the bezel matches the beautiful blue dial and the NATO-style strap perfectly.
The lumed hands and hour indicators performed adequately and glowed a cool blue that further added to the character of the watch, which we will touch upon at the end.
Since this Hamilton was a review example, it came regulated from the brand to perfection. While on- wrist, this watch did not gain or lose even a second per day. It only gained 1-2 seconds when subjected to the impact of the water when I leapt off the boat wearing all of my scuba gear. This result was repeatable and the watch only faltered in this specific situation.
The movement is the H10 which is now making its way into many Swatch Group offerings boasting an 80-hour power reserve. It does so by sacrificing its beat rate. While regular offerings from ETA at this price range operate at a rate of 28,800 bph, the H10 does so at 21,600 bph. The enlarged seconds hand tip does amplify its rougher travel across the dial initially, but one’s eyes quickly adjust to it. This trade-off for the average consumer, and for someone who rotates between a few watches, is appreciated.
Overall I cannot comment too much about this movement and its performance since it came directly from the brand, but we can come to some conclusions nevertheless. When regulated properly, this H10 movement can easily exceed COSC standards for some time while being worn. When subjected to jogs, its performance was not impacted in the slightest, either making this an ideal watch for those who occasionally partake in some mild athletic activities. Anything more strenuous than a power walk or light jog would probably require the owner to put the watch in his or her gym bag or locker.
Case & Wearability
The case is beautifully brushed and achieves the tool watch aesthetic. This finish was really effective at thwarting any hairline scratches. The crown guards were in perfect proportion to the rest of the watch and did nothing to draw attention to themselves. The crown with the “H” logo as on the dial nicely accents what would otherwise be a bland profile view. The 50mm lug-to-lug distance and 43mm (40mm without the crown) diameter of the watch made for a comfortable fit. The 31mm dial did an admirable job of making the watch wear smaller and thus easier on the eyes.
This review example lived a very hard life in the hands of previous reviewers and influencers based on the strap wear before I took hold of the watch. The case and bezel brushed off all the negligence thrown at it, and this is a watch that would wear well for years to come for any owner. The strap provided may prove troublesome for some, and we shall visit that next.
The Scuba is available either with a bracelet, rubber strap, or on this NATO-style strap. This NATO-style strap is not any regular strap, and Hamilton went to great lengths to make it a premium and long-lasting partner for your timepiece. The sizing holes are reinforced with a handsomely stitched leather patch that as mentioned before, took all the punishment it could from varying wrist sizes before it arrived on my doorstep.
The metal tip will prevent fraying and is a great way to secure your strap through the two keepers, but it does pose a challenge. On some smaller wrists, this metal tip will land awkwardly atop the keepers. For some larger wrists, it will be suspended between the keepers in a cumbersome fashion. My wrist measures 6.75”, so if your wrists are slightly smaller, or substantially larger than mine, you may want to try on the watch with this strap before buying it. Purchasing it with the rubber strap or bracelet is the safer option if you must buy it online.
I was not expecting to like the Scuba as much as I did. After wearing it and diving with it, I would not hesitate to recommend this watch to anyone who likes the design. I asked many people on the street what they thought of the watch and many mentioned that it looked like a really nice sailor’s watch. This brings us to the target consumer for this watch and why it may not be the watch enthusiast who frequents The WatchClicker. Given the price point and the major point of sale for this watch being retail stores, the common consumer is the intended target market and this watch should not be judged by normal “WIS” standards. The 100m water resistance is perfect for some water sports and recreational diving, and the absent lumed pip on the bezel will not be missed by most.
Not only is this handsome little dive watch a success in terms of functionality and design, it also finally has bookended Hamilton’s entire design catalogue alongside the Frogman (the Hamilton Frogman, not the Casio Frogman) as one cohesive brand offering.
A week after giving the watch back, I found myself missing the watch. Its charm and design affected me in a manner I did not expect. Thus, this review is going to close with a resounding recommendation for those who find themselves attracted to this watch.
|Lug-to-lug Height||50mm||Lug Width||20mm|
|Water Resistance||100 meters||Lume||Super-LumiNova®|
Check out the Hamilton website