I’ve been a fan of Visitor Watch Co. for some time now. The brand is one of only a few that offers truly unique designs at reasonable prices (or at any price, it could be argued). You won’t find homages or even noticeable inspiration taken from iconic watches. To be sure, scouring the brand’s full line-up, you’d be hard pressed to find anything that looks like any other watch.
So, too, it is with the Visitor Duneshore Shallows. The watch’s conceit is simple: take the Visitor Duneshore and retool it into a dive watch. But can the likes of the original Duneshore–with its dramatic angles, polishing, and elegance–be so easily transformed into a diver? Thank goodness I’m here to answer such pressing questions.
On the Wrist
Visitor proclaims the Duneshore Shallows to be an “unashamedly casual sport watch.” The specs are that of a diver, but they’re acknowledging the reality of this watch: you’re unlikely to wear it diving (if it helps, I can confirm the watch withstands toddler bath time with ease). It’s pronounced hands and markers make it easy to read at a glance, though the bezel markers could use a bit more contrast.
The case is simply a marvel with its sharp angles, clean lines, and pops of polish amidst the dominant brushing. Visitor Watch Co. was one of the first brands to introduce curved casebacks to their watches. The Duneshore Shallows benefits greatly, as it drops the effective height of the watch to about 14mm. While the thickness is mitigated by the caseback, unangled lugs mean the watch wears true to its lug-to-lug.
There’s heavy inspiration taken from fountain pen design, most notably the handset, markers, and lugs. That unusual source is part of what makes the Visitor design language so unique. Add to that an amazing, if bulky, bracelet, and everything just comes together.
Available in teal, dark green, orange, and taupe (plus a blacked-out DLC version), the dial of the Duneshore Shallows remains mostly unchanged from it’s less hydrophilic predecessor. The big changes are the omission of a date window and the changing of the hour and seconds hands. And you won’t notice unless they’re side by side, but the Shallows dial is 2mm smaller in diameter.
Much like when Damasko puts their day-date windows below the reticle, I like the look of the “Visitor” text on the Duneshore Shallows (and their other models). If you look closely, you’ll also notice that the lumed minute markers are a separate layer, as this is a sandwich dial. And, not ones to miss an opportunity to remind you of their awesome logo, the counterbalance on the seconds hand is a pared down iteration of the Visitor Watch Co. knocker.
A lollipop lume plot has been added to the seconds hand (the standards for a dive watch–ISO 6425–require presence of a running indicator in total darkness). But the most dramatic dial change is the massive fountain pen nib-inspired minute hand. I’ve been thinking of it as a fanciful take on the plongeur style.
The lume is solid on the Duneshore Shallows, though slightly uneven. The height of the hands seems to get them a bit more light than the dial lume, so they shine brighter along with the bezel plots. But I do want to point out how brightly the sandwiched minute markers shine–bottom layer lume often suffers, but not here. And none of the lume is dim–just varying degrees of solid brightness.
Case and Bracelet
Where to being with this case? Sweeping curves and angularity don’t always play well together, but here they work. The brushing throughout reinforces the conversion from bulky dress watch to casual dive watch. The bezel grip is thin and pronounced, making it easy to grip but almost sharp in doing so. One issue I did have with the Duneshore Shallows was getting my bearings with the bezel. While the 12 o’clock pip is apparently larger than the others, that’s barely noticeable, and the light that catches the in-filled hashes and numerals reduces their contrast against the finely brushed bezel.
Note the polished band on the midcase. It’s the only polished portion of the case itself, and it’s a safe decision: this area is quite guarded from dings and nicks that may be inflicted during adventures on the high seas or elsewhere. The crown is brushed along with the rest of the case, and is easy to grip and operate. Check out the dramatic curve on the caseback. That valley is apparently 2.6mm, and I found it allowed the watch to wear closer to a 14mm watch than true to its 15.6mm thickness. The small lugs are helped by being drilled, but due to their size, leave little room for error when changing straps.
Sea lion! With the Visitor knocker in its mouth!
The Duneshore Shallows is available on your choice of custom rubber, rubberized textile, or bracelet. The bracelet is an extra $100, and is available separately for the same cost. And it’s one of my favorite bracelet designs ever: while you may think they’re simple beads of rice, they are in fact the same shape as the hour markers on the dial.
The bracelet does, however, have some drawbacks. As it’s a carry over from the original Duneshore, it was not designed as a dive bracelet (unless use as an anchor counts). As such lacks the microadjustments you may be used to on divers. Further, the buckle–while awesome in design–is entirely too large. I’ve seen other similarly styled bracelets with logo clasps which omit the massive platform on which the Visitor knocker sits. I think I would’ve preferred that here–the logo buckle being a small protuberance from a continuation of the bracelet.
The Visitor Duneshore Shallows has succeeded, I believe, in turning it’s forebear into a dive watch. More than just a bezel slapped on an old model, the finishing and hands have been changed, water resistance increased, and sportier straps made available.
The Duneshore Shallows isn’t going to be for everyone: it’s large and its styling and design aren’t as approachable [read: uninspired and derivative] as many offerings in the same price range. But it’s arguably the most geometrically complex case design available under $1000. And that’s no empty superlative: creating a watch this engaging with such high levels of finishing, while maintaining functionality and wearbility, is no small feat. But it’s one Visitor has ably accomplished.
Check out more dive watch reviews at The Watch Clicker
Check out the Visitor Watch Co. website
Visitor Duneshore Shallows Specs
Bracelet or rubber
*Height of the watch from the wrist to the top of the crystal