Davosa Argonautic Ceramic Gunmetal

Featured | Review | 03.14.2013

Photo credit: Zach Weiss

Davosa is a brand that does things a little differently. Their designs are interesting and their prices are fair for a Swiss made watch. We last took a look at their Vigo GMT model, which was a nice mix of vintage and dress styling with a textured dial, hot orange lume and a quality Swiss ETA 2893-2 movement. This time, we’ll be examining a watch that is somewhat the opposite of that… a bold, modern diver with mean looks and a dark palette. The Argonautic Ceramic in Gun Metal has a fierce presence that is the result of a bold dial design, high contrast bezel, and a dark grey case. The watch is Swiss made, has a sapphire crystal, water resistance of 300m and an ETA 2824-2 automatic movement inside. For $719, the Argonautic also offers a very good value.

Case: Gunmetal IP Steel
Movement: ETA 2824-2
Dial: Black
Lume: Yes
Lens: Sapphire
Strap: Gunmetal Bracelet, NATO
Water Res.: 300m
Dimensions: 42 x 50mm
Thickness: 13.5 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: 7 x 4.5 mm screw down
Weight: 205g on bracelet (our measure)
Warranty: NA
Price: $719.00

Case

The Argonautic’s steel case measures 42 x 50 x 13.5mm making it a medium to large sports watch. The design of the case is overall fairly simple, but everything has a nice thickness to it, giving the watch a substantial feel. At 3 there is a signed screw in crown with chunky guards on either side, and at 10 there is a second crown. This is the manual Helium escape valve. While the usefulness of a manual HEV is unknown to me as I am not a diver, the added crown gives the watch a touch of asymmetry that adds to its overall aggressive demeanor. In other words, the HEV looks cool.

The bezel of the Argonautic is a few millimeters tall and features several sets of small teeth, making it easy to grasp. It’s a 60-click unidirectional bezel with average stiffness, good accuracy and a nice, loud snap. While I don’t think the bezel would turn accidentally, it is a bit easier to turn than some bezels I have played with.

The obvious highlight of the case is actually its gunmetal coloring. Though black PVD is more common, and often associated with an aggressive look, I find the dark grey of the gunmetal to be even more sinister looking…in a good way, of course. The grey, which is applied over a brushed surface, has a depth to it that adds texture and emphasizes the blackness of the bezel and dial. Overall it’s dark and sophisticated, giving the watch a unique feel. The gunmetal is on all of the case surfaces, crowns and bezel, but not on the case back, which is an etched surface with various watch details.

Dial 

The dial of the Argonautic is bold and dynamic, while maintaining legibility and simplicity. It consists of a matte black face and a single index of large white rectangles for the hours save 12, which is a massive inverted triangle. The markers are all nearly too large for the dial, but manage to be perfectly sized to make a very aggressive look. In between each large marker are smaller markers for the individual minutes. At 3 there is a date window with a black on white date. Around the aperture are two lines, which emphasize the date and help integrate it into the dial design. There is also a fair bit of text on the dial, with a Davosa logo under 12 and some details above 6, which consists of 3 lines, “Argonautic” printed in red, “1000ft/30atm” and “automatic”.  The stacked text gives the dial a technical feel, and the drop of red text adds a bit of color and personality to the mix. It also gives a nod to some classic dive watches, while not being too obvious.

The bezel insert is made of black ceramic with white inlays. The ceramic is stark gloss black that glints in the light and simply looks great. The white index is a typical diver index, with dense markings for the first 15 minutes, numerals for 20, 30, 40 and 50 and larger hash markers in between. The font they used has a very sporty feeling, like a font from a varsity jacket that works with the look of the watch. I was very surprised, however, by the complete lack of lume on the bezel. This seems like a standard feature on dive watches, if not lumed on all markings than at least the 0/60 marker is. As such, I’m not sure how functional this would be in a dark, underwater environment. That being said, the bezel is very easy to see in normal light and the lume on the dial and hands is fairly potent.

The hands on the Argonautic are one of my favorite features of the watch. The hour is a large white triangle and the minute is a large roman sword. Both have skeletonized black segments towards the center of the watch, giving them a floating appearance. The scale and shapes of the hands are fun and bold, playing off of the aggressive dial design and adding something unique to the design, while maintaining maximum legibility.

Straps and Wearability

The Argonautic comes mounted on a 22mm steel bracelet with the same gunmetal finish as the case. The links have a simulated 5-link design and a brushed finish that works nicely with the overall watch design. The bracelet is decent quality and quite comfortable to wear with the watch, if you don’t mind added weight. Once again, the gunmetal finish really looks great and adds something different to the look of the watch. Though I would consider this design to be a sport watch through and through, the bracelet does lend it some elegance. Whether or not you could pull the watch off in a dress environment is up to you, but I see this more as a fun watch to be worn in an active environment.

Davosa also includes a 5-stripe Nato with the watch for a lighter strap option that also adds a bit of a more active look. The Nato that accompanies it is dark grey, light grey and black, which plays nicely off of the gunmetal case and blacks of the bezel and dial. In the end the mix of monotone is very cool looking, more energetic than the bracelet, and touch more stylish. The Nato is decently well made, though I did find it a touch short.

The Argonautic is a comfortable and easy watch to wear. The 42mm diameter is big, but not oversized making it very tolerable. I was very glad that kept things relatively compact, as too many brands make watches large just to be large. The 13.5mm height also makes the watch not too tall, so it won’t catch on things. That being said, the bold dial, high contrast bezel and gunmetal finish give this watch a lot of presence and a fierce demeanor. It definitely looks like it means business.

Conclusion

The Argonautic is a great looking modern diver with looks that stand out. From the bold dial design to the gunmetal coating, this is a watch with a handful of unique design features that separate it from the herd. Throw in the sapphire crystal, ETA 2824-2 movement and Swiss manufacturing, and you have a pretty good deal at $719. Of course, I was surprised to find it lacked lume on the bezel, leading me to believe this is better as an active lifestyle watch, which could include being in water, than as a genuine diver, which belies the HEV at 10. In the end, this is a watch with an aesthetic that either appeals to you or not. I found it to simply be a great looking watch with an aggressive edge that you don’t see too often. It’s worth noting there are other Argonautic models out there too. There are cheaper ones, without the gunmetal coating at $599, chronograph versions that run about $1,300 with Valjoux 7750’s inside, and a new line with tritium gas tubes, prices TBD.

sample watch supplied Davosa Watches

by Zach Weiss

  • http://URL Alex C

    Awesome watch and review. I love it on the nato especially!

  • http://URL Louis

    Agree it looks great on the NATO, nice combo, great watch for the price .

  • http://URL Joe Reid

    Very nice! Davosa has managed to capture a lot of the functionality of the classic Submariner design without looking like a “me too!” or a clone. Love the ceramic bezel and gunmetal case. Very clean looking, masculine, attractive watch!

    I’m pleased to see them offering options for a Valjoux 7750. And tritium! I love tritium. I wish more manufacturers offered it as an option.

    Davosa is really rolling out some impressive products these days.

  • http://www.wp.pl Krzysztof

    Forget this watch. I admit, it looks great, but it is endless problem. My first got its bezel insert out after lightly hitting door, then screw-down crown can’t be screwed-down anymore and no one in Scotland is willing to repair it. Too much trouble.