When friends ask me about my fascination with horology I tell them it all stems from watching James Bond films. Even though I was born a few years after the release of Dr No this movie was repeated on TV frequently. I vividly remember a suave young Sean Connery sporting a Rolex Submariner (Reference 6358) without a date display and presented on a leather strap. At the time this timepiece looked chunky and suited 007’s (Connery’s) masculine frame. I also believe this iconic watch popularised diver style watches and inspired many brands to design their own contemporary versions. One of my personal favourites is the ‘Diver’ by luxury Swiss brand Franck Dubarry.
I became aware of Franck Dubarry as was completing a book about independent watchmakers. In the scheme of things the brand is relatively young and was only launched 5-years ago in 2015. However, the owner (namesake) of the company Franck Dubarry is a veteran of the industry. In fact, most people associate him with the brand Technomarine that he established in 2007. This label was synonymous for producing trendy diver watches with diamond-set bezels. Certainly, at the time this was a glitzy twist for this style of timepiece. After a decade of global success, Franck sold his interest in the business and pursued other ventures.
Within the ‘Diver’ range my particular favourite model is the DIV-02. For continuity, Franck Dubarry uses the same innovative case design for all collections. However, depending on the design, material choices can vary. In this instance, the angular case is constructed from Damascus steel, which is traditionally used to make swords but has filtered into the world of horology. What makes this material so special is the distinctive continuous wave pattern that has the effect of water. Even though this forged metal isn’t a lightweight as titanium it still feels very comfortable on the wrist. Personally, I could also imagine wearing this timepiece for both casual and formal occasions.
From recent conversations with Franck Dubarry, it’s clear that he’s a very visual person. Ultimately he draws inspiration from everyday objects and incorporates them into his watch designs. Primarily he drafts an ideas board and then refines the concepts with his 3D designer. For this model, he intended to reinvent the classic divers watch. In my opinion, far too many brands fall into the trap of trying to imitate the iconic Rolex Submariner. That is why it is refreshing to see a timepiece which veers away from the conventional and dares to be different.
What makes the ‘Diver’ DIV-02 so special is translucent epoxy resin dial, which is a first in watchmaking. This inspired detail perfectly exposes elements of the Swiss mechanical movement. Apparently, this revolutionary material offers UV thermal protection and is highly shock resistant. That is ideal for this type of watch that is suitable for diving and energetic water activities. I can see that Franck is influenced by modern architecture because of the multi-layered elements of this watch. This is illustrated with the large laser-cut date window and revolving date wheels. Other fine details include oversized Mauri tattoo engraved open-worked hour/minute hands, unidirectional rotating bezel (luminescent index markers) and anti-reflective sapphire crystal lens.
Beneath the contemporary façade is a self-winding movement sourced from high-end watch component manufacturer Dubois Dépraz who are located Vallee de Joux, Switzerland. The Calibre 14580 comprise 26-jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. Due to the fact, this is a professional diver watch the case back is solid with ornate engraving. Functionally the ‘Diver’ DIV-02 features, hours, minutes, seconds and dual wheel date indication. The watch also has a power reserve of approximately 44-hours and is water-resistant to a depth of 300-metres.
As a perfect finishing touch the ‘Diver’ DIV-02 is presented on a stylish crocodile pattern (Elastogator) black rubber strap with classic pin “Ardillon” type buckle. Certainly for $10,897 I believe this timepiece is an attractive proposition for buyers who want an exclusive diver watch, with a modern twist.