In the 1960’s and 1970’s it was fairly common in the dive watch world for a case maker to sell their cases to a variety of different watch companies who would brand the dial and sell the watches as their own. Caribbean, Squale and the EPSA Super Compressor cases are all well known examples of this marketing practice. Another but less well known case is the Sous Marine brand, which appropriately translates to “undersea” or “submarine”. While not nearly as famous as the Caribbeans or as sought after by collectors as the Super Compressors, the Sous Marine watches were well built tool divers that frankly came out looking pretty darn good.
Some of the ‘illustrious’ brands found on the Sous Marine dials include Yema, Huf Prestige, Kelbert, Tinnes, Bernwatch, Magador and Edma Super. Not quite the same caché in that list as Longines, Universal Geneve, Jenny, O&W and Bulova found in the Caribbeans or Super Compressors, right? The French brand Yema is easily the most recognizable of the Sous Marine brandings, and they made quite a few models over the years, some of which are quite collectible.
The subject of this review is the Edma Super Sous Marine 300m diver. Of course, Edma Super is a brand that pretty much no one has ever heard of except those that own one. I certainly had never known about the brand until I was lucky enough to acquire this diver. It’s amazing how many watch brands that existed that have faded into obscurity with little fanfare, and Edma Super is one of those. There isn’t a lot of info available on the Sous Marine 300m’s, but from what I can gather they were mostly made around 1965. The case is a nice hefty, solid, stainless steel with a screw in case-back that features a polygon style tool grip, like that of Super Compressor backs, along with a generously large rubber seal gasket.
The case measures a healthy 41mm wide by 49mm long, with 20mm lugs. I find the 39-42mm vintage divers to be the “sweet spot” for me, and this one is right in there. The shape is a slightly non-traditional round case with squared off lugs. The top and side of the case have a straight brushed finish, with a nice chamfered polished edge between the top and side. It’s just different enough to stand out a bit, but not overly so. The bi-directional friction bezel has a beautiful acrylic insert in black and red. Other brands used different combinations of colors or just one solid color. Personally, I really dig the black and red “Coke” look of this one.
The crown is somewhat unique on these Sous Marine 300m’s. It is a 6mm diameter screw down type, with a helium release valve built into the crown assembly! This is not something that is seen very often, and I can’t speak to the engineering robustness of this design. Not sure if the valve still works on mine, but I don’t think I’ll be diving to several hundred meters with it any time soon. Still, it’s a pretty cool feature that you just don’t see. A nice thick, domed acrylic crystal rounds out the classic vintage diver look.
The dial is a beautiful and functional matte black, with applied faceted steel markers at 3, 6, 9 and 12, and painted lume dots at the other hours. The steel markers look very much like many of the vintage Squale dials, and they are quite cool. The marker at three also doubles as the date window frame. I’m not usually a big fan of the date function, but the way the date window form is incorporated into the hour maker is well done here, and makes it less obtrusive than usual.
The dial is signed “Edma Super” in white fancy script print below the 12, and “Incabloc, 300 Metres, Sous Marine” above the 6. Just above the lower script is a cool round geometric logo. Instead of “Swiss Made” at the lower edge, this one is signed “Ebauche Swiss”, which is kinda neat. The Sous Marines seem to have mostly come in this matte black, but I’ve seen some that had silver dials. I’ve also seen a couple that had a day and date function at three o’clock. The hands really help set this one apart. The hour hand is a smallish square tipped baton style, while the hour hand has a bold arrow tip that makes it really easy to read. The second hand has a classic lollipop tip. The watch is powered by an 25 jewel automatic AS 1882, a plain but robust and reliable movement.
The Edma Super Sous Marine 300m diver is a uniquely styled and seldom seen vintage diver with its two tone acrylic bezel, matte black dial with applied markers and screw down crown with integrated helium release valve. Like the more famous Squale, Caribbean, and Super Compressor cased divers, these Sous Marines can be found in a variety of differently branded dials. They don’t come up for sale frequently, but when they do the price can vary greatly. If the seller is knowledgeable (and/or a dealer), the price can be high since they know they’re a bit scarce and are well-made, unique divers. That said, because the brands associated with them are usually “no-name” or otherwise unknown, they can be found for a reasonable price on eBay or other venues. I’ve seen them priced anywhere from $300 to upwards of $1500 depending on condition and seller. This one is definitely worth the effort to find!