TWCO Salvage Diver Review

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TWCO (Technical Watch Company) is a young, Netherlands-based micro-brand focused on producing value-driven, professional tool watches. To that end, TWCO’s first watch was the Sea Rescue, a hearty diver with an impressive water resistance of 600 meters. The company’s sophomore effort was the equally pleasing Air Controller, a robust pilot’s watch loosely pulling inspiration from the Fairchild Republic a-10 Thunderbolt (read our review here). TWCO is back with their third timepiece, this one dubbed the Salvage Diver. It’s a dual-crown, dive watch with an internal rotating bezel styled after EPSA Super Compressors produced from the ‘50s through the ‘70s.

twco-salvage-diver-30Dual-crown Super Compressor-style divers are quite popular these days, with many brands releasing their own iterations of this vintage classic. The Longines Legend, Halios Laguna and the newly release Alpina Seastrong Heritage are just a few such examples. As a huge fan of these watches myself, I was excited to give the Salvage Diver a whirl. It’s certainly a cool looking watch and on paper it checks out, but does it stand up to scrutiny? Let’s take a closer look.

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$880

TWCO Salvage Diver Review

Case
316L Stainless Steel
Movement
Miyota
Dial
Black (light sunburst)
Lume
Super-LumiNova, BGW9
Lens
Double-domed sapphire with internal AR
Strap
Metal; nylon mil-strap
Water Resistance
300 meters
Dimensions
43mm x 51mm
Thickness
14mm
Lug Width
22mm
Crown
Dual crown
Warranty
Yes; one year
Price
$880

Case

The case is 316L stainless steel, and measures a hefty 43mm wide by 51mm long and 14mm thick. While this is a fairly big watch based on the numbers and it certainly has some wrist presence, it does wear a bit smaller than its measurements might suggest. The lack of a beefy external bezel here helps soften that perception. The case features mixed finishing—fine brushing along most of the case surface with high polished bevels on the lugs. The finishing also helps mitigate some of the height, which is important because the case is rather slab-sided. Overall, it’s well-executed.

The Salavage Diver features even brushing throughout.
Polished bevel along the brushed side.

TWCO really nailed the dual-crown design. Both crowns are big, measuring a whopping 8.2mm in diameter by 5.2mm. They’re also well machined, with deep, sharp teeth for an easy and sure grip. Despite their size, when the watch is on the wrist they’re perfectly comfortable and do not interfere in any way.

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Both crowns have finely machined teeth for ease of grip.

The crown at two controls the bi-directional internal countdown bezel and does not screw down. The operation of the internal bezel is precise and smooth, and a testament to quality engineering. The crown at four o’clock, which does screw-down, winds and sets the watch. In use, both crowns feel very secure with tight tolerances. Both crowns are engraved with TWCO’s “T” logo. To maintain the integrity of the case, the crown at four features not one, but five Viton gaskets, and the case back has two.

The case back features an aperture showcasing the Miyota 9015 automatic movement. I’m a fan of exhibition case backs when the movement is a work of art, but the 9015 is underwhelming in terms of decoration. I would have preferred a solid back with some sort of interesting engraved logo or design.

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Dial and Hands

The dial is simple, and in my opinion, it’s what a tool-diver should be. It’s black with a very subtle sunburst finish. It features Submariner-esque hour markers—the 12 o’clock marker is diamond shaped, and the markers at three, six, and nine are simple bars. The rest are round. The markers are applied, with thin polished steel borders and Super Luminova filled centers. The dial text is relatively limited—there’s a circle-T logo and “TWCO” below the 12 and “Salvage Diver” and “300m = 958ft” above the six in white. The bi-directional internal bezel features a count down configuration, with lines denoting the minutes and Arabic numerals at intervals of 10. Overall, I adore the simplicity of the dial and TWCO’s clean approach.

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The Salvage Diver features a clean, to-the-point dial.

There is a small, round unadorned date window just off the four o’clock marker, with white numerals against a black base to match the dial. As someone who is partial toward dial symmetry, I am not the biggest fan of this type of date window placement, but this is certainly a matter of personal preference. My inclination would have been no date, or at least one at six o’clock. Nevertheless, the application here is reasonably inconspicuous with the matching date wheel, and it is likely something most won’t mind.

The hands are classic pointed swords, painted white with BGW9 Super-LumiNova fill. The hour hand is notably smaller, giving the minute hand much more presence against the dial (Doxa divers feature something similar, though the execution there is a bit more dramatic). The second hand is a long needle with a lume-filled lollipop near the tip. The second hand is painted white to match the other two, and the counterweight is painted black.

twco-salvage-diver-3The glass is a double domed, which aids in clarity and minimizes distortion. Furthermore, the underside of the crystal has an AR coating, which generally keeps the crystal glare-free and ensures that the coating does not get damaged accidentally.

The lume, while not overly bright, is sufficient and does last through the night. The application, however, is a tad fuzzy around the edges under magnification, but looks okay with the naked eye (at least to my aging ones!).

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Movement

TWCO chose the Japanese-made Miyota 9015 automatic movement for the Salvage Diver. The 9015 is a popular choice among micro-brands, and for good reason. The 9015 hacks, hand-winds, features 24 jewels and beats at 28,800 bph (beats per hour) with a power reserve of 42 hours. As mentioned above, the movement can be seen through the exhibition case back. While it isn’t going to win any beauty competitions, there is some finishing here with a custom rotor. To be frank, I’m a vintage guy so this is really my first extended experience with the 9015, but I found it to be very accurate and reliable with no issues whatsoever.

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Miyota 9015 with a custom rotor.

Bracelet and Wearability

The Salvage Diver bracelet is an impressive bit of hardware. It’s beefy and well-built, with heft that helps balance the watch on the wrist.  It takes after a classic oyster style and has a prominent deployant clasp with a handy ratcheting system. This is likely meant as a wetsuit extension, but I’m not sure it extends far enough to actually fit over a wetsuit (but what do I know, I’m just a desk-diver).

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The impressive deployant clasp with ratcheting extension.

However, this feature is certainly useful when the weather gets hot and your wrists swell. I used the extension quite a bit over the time I had to test-drive the watch. The fit and size of the case itself, combined with the high quality bracelet and clasp, make this one a joy to wear and I found it to be quite comfortable for a bigger watch.

The solid end-pieces are superbly made with tight tolerances. This is something that even mid-tier brands fail to get right, so it’s welcome here. That said, the end-pieces are a very snug fit and make it somewhat of a task to remove and install the bracelet. It’s doable, but it takes time, patience and a steady hand.

The Salvage Diver on the provided mil-strap (6.75″ wrist for reference).
On the bracelet (6.75″ wrist for reference).
Some extras.

Two facilitate in sizing and removing the bracelet, TWCO supplies a pair of screwdrivers and a spring bar tool, respectively. Furthermore, TWCO includes a black nylon mil-strap–a natural fit for the watch. I generally prefer a good bracelet, and that’s no exception here, but the watch does look good on the provided strap.

Conclusion

The watch world is flush with a multitude of micro-brand divers, and they run the gamut from weak to stellar. I’d make the case that the TWCO Salvage Diver falls closer to the stellar side of the spectrum, and I say that as someone who has handled a lot of divers in my time. I really like the subdued aesthetic, the overall specs, and the high level of fit and finish across the case. And special praise deserves to be given to the bracelet, which is absolutely top notch. I noted a few issues, but they’re not enough to detract from the overall appeal of the watch. To answer the question I asked at the beginning of this piece, the TWCO Salvage Diver certainly does stand up to scrutiny.

With an approximate MSRP of $880 (as of this writing), the Salvage Diver is a reasonably-priced watch for the package you get. If you are looking for a solid,  dual-crown diver from a proven micro-brand, you would do well to check out the TWCO Salvage Diver.

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Christoph (Instagram’s @vintagediver) is a long time collector and lover of all things vintage, starting with comic books when he was a kid (he still collects them). His passion for watches began in 1997 when he was gifted a family heirloom vintage Omega Genève by his step-father. That started him on the watch collecting path—buying and selling vintage watches of all sorts, with a special appreciation for vintage dive watches and Seiko.
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  • Никита

    Good looking watch! But still don’t understand why its almost $900?

    • Frazzl

      It makes as much sense as a $2200 Oris diver sporting a SW200 movement and only a 100 m depth rating.

  • I like nearly everything about this except the bezel. I don’t get why it’s a countdown bezel. It just looks wrong.

    • egznyc

      That bezel also appears to have no luminant treatment. Kind of a downer.

  • egznyc

    Overall nice watch but the crowns just seem a little too prominent and the date window just seems badly placed (and I don’t like round ones). As Nikita said, not sure why it’s nearly $900. I could forgive the little things if it were closer to sub-$500.