At the end of last year, Massena LAB had an unexpected hit with a pair of limited edition Type XX chronographs signed by Mathey-Tissot. Those watches were inspired by a watch in Massena LAB founder William Massena’s personal collection, and that’s also the genesis of his latest project bearing the Mathy-Tissot name. This time, the watch in question is the Mergulhador Skin Diver, a watch that you’d be forgiven for being enamored with based on name alone. “Mergulhador” means “diver” in Portuguese, and as you’d probably guess, the original version of the watch was marketed to the Portuguese market in the 1970s, and was aimed at both military and civilian customers. It’s a bit obscure, but that’s what’s fun about it, and why it makes sense for someone with Massena’s knowledge and background to bring it to a larger audience.
The main attraction here is the dial, which is a rich amber fumé that gives the appearance of being weatherbeaten for decades. The amber color is complemented by bright orange hour markers and an orange minute track against a black background that feels right out of the 1970s central watch casting. The dial also features oversized white lume plots at each hour, the size of which is certainly in keeping with the general 1970s aesthetic. I think Massena LAB deserves credit here for resisting the urge to use a “faux-tina” tone for the lume. That might have been the obvious way to go for such a vintage influenced watch, but the tone of the dial and overarching design language already communicates age quite successfully, so adding yellow lume might have been overkill.
The stainless steel case is pure skin diver, measuring 41mm in diameter and 12.8mm thick, and with a distinctive cushion shape. The steel bezel rotates in both directions, another nod to the watch’s humble 70s roots. Hardcore divers might bristle at what now seems like an uncommon bi-directlional bezel functionality, but this would have been far more common in the 70s, particularly on value oriented skin divers made for recreational use. It lends the modern version a certain charm, while maintaining most of critical functionality you need from a timing bezel.
Powering the watch is the Sellita SW200, an automatic movement with 36 hours of power reserve. Other specs include a box style mineral crystal, a closed caseback that has been individually numbered, and a choice of a black rubber or black calfskin strap. Water resistance is rated to 200 meters.
The Mathey-Tissot x Massena LAB Mergulhador is available right now at the Massena LAB website at a price of $995, which strikes me as a fair and appealing price for a watch with this level of charm and such a unique backstory. A total of 99 Mergulhadors will be made. Massena LAB