It’s more upscale than my DI-500, with mechanical 9015 movement, included bracelet & strap, ceramic bezel and much fancier dial. For all of that, the price is incredible.
They have black, dark blue, bright blue, orange, yellow and white dial versions, all with attention to contrast and legibility. For example, the white dial version has black-edged hands and markers – nice!
The bright blue is called ‘Hydra Hat’ after a piece of dive equipment, and it’s lovely. And tempting. The black dial is the only one sporting a few color highlights, which is the only complaint I can muster.
I think the other colors would also have benefited from a bit of color pop here and there. Ahh well.
Nice saturated orange.
Me? I just ordered the white dial. I think it’ll be versatile, legible and a delight to own, and Scurfa seem to hold value very well in case the 41mm / 165g is too large or heavy for me.
By way of comparison, I’ve been debating the new Seiko SNE569:
38mm, sapphire, solar quartz movement, unknown bezel (aluminum or possibly plastic, definitely not ceramic.) MSRP is around 550USD, with eBay price of $450. The bracelet has folded end links, and that plus the cheaper bezel are my main annoyances. Great watch, so-so value.
Scurfa – the watches and the values both continue to impress me. Can’t wait for mine to get here!
This is a watch that probably has a small audience – it’s quartz, with asymmetric day/date, which most WIS find less appealing. It’s got a bit of the high-legibility look of the ‘old man retirement watch’ e.g. Timex Easy Reader:
Secondly, I actually like day/date and like how this looks on the dial. Seiko managed to just not clip the ornate ‘3’. Lovely!
Also, I like solar powered quartz. Accurate, eco friendly, it’ll have the correct time if left idle for a week or a month. Lastly, I love 38 by 9.5mm size. Super wearable.
This is arguable, but I think it’s also a Seiko version on the Tank Must SolarBeat, where Cartier carefully hid the photovoltaics inside the Roman numerals:
The bad news – as plus9time explains, this watch bears no Seiko reference number and isn’t shown on their site:
These models are produced for customers directly and are not for sale via the Seiko websites. The models have Seiko branding on the dial and case back and sometimes have Seiko style model numbers, but some models may not publicise the model number or provide the company’s own model number. Often these models are produced as a limited edition with a set number of units and other times retailers may offer the unit for presale and then once a number of orders have been received the model will then be ordered from Seiko and produced to match the demand.
In this case, the vendor is ‘Japanese shopping club LightUp.’ The collaboration is to celebrate their 50th anniversary, the product page is here. (In Japanese, though Chrome does OK translating it.)
You can only get this watch in Japan. LightUp only delivers to Japan. What’s more, since Seiko won’t sell it to you, I don’t know if stalwarts like Seiya or Higuchi can get it for you either.
I begged a favor from family and they came through – the person living there will order and cross-ship it to me here. I hope it’ll be worth the expense (~$480) and hassle. Something about that dial and font, man, I couldn’t resist. Leave a comment if you order one and let people know how you did it!
I like restraint in watch design – clarity, legibility, smaller cases that wear more comfortably. I also value accurate timekeeping. There have been some recent releases that hit that intersection nicely, so why not share in case others are interested?
Seems to be selling for about $1800 with availability in September 2021. At nearly 2k, that’s edging into Grand Seiko quartz prices; quite a big step up from the more mature models with radio control. For example, the Seiko SBTM313:
or the SBTM305, with a dial closer to that of the Astron:
Solar powered, similar in size and style, but radio set (5 band) versus GPS. Sakura has them for just under $450. 1/4th the price!
From the competition, Citizen has multiple offerings. I like the Attesa line, in particular the CB1120s:
That’s the reference CB1120-50F, a 37mm titanium beauty, also available with baton markers and/or white dial for about $450.
That’s the AT6070-57L. Nice, and I like the day-date for everyday. Maybe 600$.
I bought the CB1120-50F above and have had it about six months; it’s stellar. Best radio reception I’ve ever seen, beautifully made and just a wonderful, zero-attention watch. It’s easy to recommend. The SBTM series is a pretty direct competitor and I find the green-dial 313 rather attractive.
At 500 bucks, you’re talking expensive quartz, with competition rampant including the Apple Watch. The 2k for the Astron is mighty hard to swallow, given the super niche differences in usefulness – the difference is being able to get time sync in places without radio reception. Australia/NZ, polar areas, South America. If you live there, probably worth it. If you live in Europe, North America, UK or Japan, why bother? Radio sync, in my experience with maybe 15 watches, gets you within 0.5 seconds and sometimes closer – as mentioned the Attesa is best-ever and dead synced to NTP, radio and GPS references.
I should also note that the CB1120s have non-standard lugs, meaning you’re basically stuck with the bracelet, which is usually a thing I consider a deal breaker; in this case I loved the watch so much I bought one anyway.
On an unrelated note, I wrote this post on my iPad, not too bad as an authoring experience so I should be able to post more often.
It’s sold at cost and you literally and actually cannot buy a more legit dive watch. $268 at your door.
Framing the narrative
Back when diving was dangerous and new, companies like Comex and militaries like the French navy commissioned then-new watches to be used for measuring elapsed dive time. Advances in materials and design produced watches durable and legible enough, which combined with the cool factor of diving, led in short order to them being style icons. Back then, a professional diver could and often did buy a Rolex Sea-Dweller and actually use it as intended.
Rolexes and Blancpain and even Seiko have become luxury now, Veblen goods recast in gold and silver as high-status male jewelry. Behold the latest incarnation of the pro-diver Sea-Dweller:
Though diving is now unglamorous blue collar work, there are still divers who need watches and can’t afford sixteen thousand USD. One of them is named Paul Scurfield, and he spends 28 days at a time in a diving vessel, over a hundred meters below the surface of the North Sea:
Having first been made for divers and support staff who were left without a watch when the value of their vintage Rolex diving watches exploded leaving them the option of a large windfall or too self conscious of wearing such a valuable item in a hostile workplace, Paul Scurfield watch enthusiast and saturation diver tried to fill the void with a few affordable watches built to a high standard using the best materials.
Divers working in the North Sea are made up in teams of three and on any working dive you have a diver 1, diver 2 and the bellman, diver 1 controls the dive and this is where the name for the watches come from, diver 2 is there to make his job easier, the bellman tends the divers from the diving bell and the divers work in the water for a maximum six hours, a normal saturation diving system will house four teams of three divers covering the full twenty four hours of the working day stopping only for bad weather or crew changes, the work period for the divers is 28 days including decompression.
So we have a day-job pro diver who designed a watch for himself and his co-workers. This was his first one:
I learned about the brand from Jason Heaton’s review on Gear Patrol. At the time, I was intrigued but not enough to buy. Of late, however, I’ve rediscovered the virtues of a good quartz watch, so I was open to the idea, and then via WatchUSeek I saw this:
That yellow… I like it a lot. My first mechanical watch was a Seiko SKXA035, and I’ve missed the yellow since I sold it.
Model: Diver One DI-500 Yellow
Case 40mm by 47.7mm by 14.4mm, 20mm drilled lugs
7mm threaded crown, 120-click steel bezel with aluminum insert. His earlier models had ceramic bezels, but he found that he, co-workers and customers were breaking them, so he’s gone to more resilient aluminum bezels.
Water resistant to 500m
Spring-based helium escape valve at nine, tested by Paul Scurfield down to 154m with multiple gases mixes. How’s that for legit? Usually escape valves are poseur…
Domed sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating.
Ronda 715 movement, in the Swiss made grade, gold plated, 5 jewels, 60 month battery life with stutter-second end of life indicator. Rated -10/+20s per month. The movement has a cheaper version (non Swiss made), which you can see torn down here.
Normally I talk price at the end of a writeup, but this watch is extraordinary. Talk about burying the lede – in the middle of their history page is this bombshell:
I would like to thank all the customers of Scurfa Watches for helping us grow and be able to invest in new models, We have taken no money for ourselves and we are not looking to sell tens of thousands of watches only as many as Alison and I can handle, we turn down shops and outlets on a daily basis and think it’s too early for magazines so we turn them down as well.
Yeah, these are sold at cost. Buy one while you can, because sooner or later they’ll want or need to turn a profit; until then their prices are astonishingly low. Shipped 2-day DHL prices are:
230UKP in the UK
242UKP in Europe
So mine in April 2019 was $267.22 delivered. Holy crap that’s a great deal!
It wears quite well; 40mm is a great size and 20mm drilled lugs mean a plethora of strap options. There’s no bracelet yet, but one is promised and until then I’m enjoying trying it on a variety of straps that I’ve already got.
The yellow makes me smile. If you don’t agree, there are several other dial and hand color combinations for sale at the same price.
Lume is, of course, excellent, in BGW9 white/blue.
Timekeeping is well within spec, though mine doesn’t hit all of the seconds marks between about 35 to 50 seconds. Ahh well. It’s a solid movement, and I like the 5 year battery and that the EOL feature will stutter the second hand a few months before it dies, so that I’m not left with a surprise dead watch.
And for the price I’m fine thrashing it hard – that’s less than my recent Seiko diver cost. I love my OWC but this is so much cheaper I’ll keep both. If you want mechanical, he makes the Bell Diver with a Miyota 9015 for a bit more, see a review on ABtW here.
So there you are. This is a watch with a best-ever story, a non-profit price and superb functionality. You’ll probably never see anyone else wearing one either, so it’s super hipster in that sense and the antithesis of a luxury good too.
I chose this at Costco, and my then-girlfriend and mother both contributed to it.
Basic Seiko, 7T32 quartz with chronograph, alarm and lume dial. Served me all through grad school and Fermilab, only to be replaced by a Blue Angels Citizen when I started flying. I recently sent it to Seiko in NJ for a battery, gaskets and crystal and am rediscovering why I loved it. It’s just a wonderful, versatile, easy to wear thing that disappears on the wrist.