As the weather gets warmer, the presence of the ever popular dive watch seems to balloon exponentially. Of course, it could only be a question of visibility, as people transition to short sleeves and tank-tops and outdoor activities. The essential accessory for that warm weather, sporty look often reliably rests on the wrist with a watch that looks good and functions in and out of the pool or the ocean. With so many falling into what is affectionately called the “beater” category, it seems easy to find a satisfying look with which it isn’t too difficult to part if it drops off your boat into the Sound or winds up under a dumbbell at the gym.
On the higher end of the spectrum dwell watches such as the familiar Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster, followed on various price tiers by brands such as Squale and Zodiac, and most visibly with the classic line of Seiko divers. Inspired by the latter, a small, upstart manufacturer known as Athaya Vintage, based in Jakarta, Indonesia, has released its second offering to the world, closely modeled after the ever popular Seiko 6105-8110 in a limited batch of 500 pieces. As Athaya Vintage’s website remarks, the AV002 “Lamafa” Dive Watch makes no pretense at being a totally unique design, but is an homage to its Seiko forebear with a few twists of individuality.
While the sleek, shark-like lines of the hefty, stainless steel case and pebbled texture of the rubber strap are near duplicates of the Seiko 6105, the AV002 is by no means a counterfeit or pure look-alike. The name, Lamafa, pays tribute to an ancient clan of whalers from the Eastern part of Indonesia, native to the village of Lamalera. This waning group of traditional hunters pursue their prize with hand-thrown bamboo spears, leaping from wooden boats and risking their lives in individual combat with these animals, ultimately utilizing every piece of their bounty as sustenance for the village.
Their prey is restricted to Sperm Whales by local folkloric tradition, which dictates that a Blue Whale once saved the ancestors of the villagers from drowning and is therefore protected from the harpoon. To memorialize this compelling piece of national pride, the AV002 bears two different engravings on the case back (depending upon whether the buyer chooses the black model or the blue model) illustrating a Lamafa whaler leaping into the air, harpoon in hand. One version of this engraving shows the whale, the other just the whaler.
Athaya Vintage AV002 Lamafa Review
Case: Stainless Steel 316L, Brushed
Movement: Seiko NH35A
Dial: Sunburst Blue or Sunburst Black
Bezel : 120 clicks, Unidirectional
Lume: Swiss C1 Superluminova
Lens: Domed Sapphire
Strap: Blue or Black Rubber
Dimensions: 44.3mm x 48mm
Thickness: 13.5 mm
Lug Width: 20mm
Crown: 8 x 5 mm
Case and Movement
As mentioned above, the case of the AV002 is a hefty, solid, stainless steel clone of the well known Seiko 6105. The quality in manufacturing is immediately apparent, from the moment it leaves the handsome, leather zipper case within which it ships. Enclosing a handsome sapphire crystal with beveled edges (giving the slight illusion of having a domed surface) the unidirectional bezel, which makes 120 crisp clicks, feels strong and secure. The lettering is clean and precise and even with wet hands or under water it is easy to manipulate.
The screw-down crown, sealed with triple O-rings, is offset at four o’clock, and is signed with the clever Athaya Vintage logo; the letters AV reimagined in the shape of pendulum-driven escape wheel. The movement is the Seiko NH35A, which features hacking seconds and the desirable ability to wind the mainspring by hand using the crown. In terms of accuracy, the model I was provided ran just slightly slow, but stayed within a minute of accuracy over the course of a week. The high rate of pulsation of the NH35A also makes for a very attractive and satisfyingly smooth sweep in the second hand.
The dial of the AV002 is simple and utilitarian, keeping in line with the practicality of other divers, but deviating more significantly from the inspiration of the Seiko 6105 that inspired it. There are two varieties, sunburst blue or sunburst black, the color of the dial matching a corresponding bezel insert. The hour markers at twelve, three, six and nine are slender triangles pointing toward the central axis, alternating with clean circles at the remaining hours. All the markers are applied, outlined attractively in stainless steel and filled in with white Superluminova, which glows effectively in low light though does not retain much illumination over time.
The date window is offset to align with the crown, interrupting the hour markers at four o’clock. In terms of branding, the dial is quite clean, with only the Athaya Vintage logo below the twelve o’clock marker, and the name Lamafa in stylized lettering suggestive of the whaler’s harpoon accompanied by “automatic” and “200m” water resistance indications. Minutes are marked by clean, white lines and along the lower radius of the dial, flanking the six o’clock marker is the model number (AV002) and the movement (NH35A). The fully lumed hands make no compromise on quality and individuality, somewhere between straight batons and flanged swords, the second hand is particularly attractive, with a luminescent rectangle set back an appealing distance from the tip.
Straps and Wearability
In order to give the best assessment of what is billed as a sport watch, I gave the AV002 a rather extreme “week on the wrist” test. I resolved not to take it off even once and wore it to bed, in the shower, to the gym and, perhaps most uniquely, while engaging in my weekend hobby of cave exploring, which involves clamoring through tight passages, wading through waist-deep water and operating in near total darkness surrounded by rocks and rubble. In the end, I found this watch to be incredibly comfortable and reliable. I am not a huge fan of rubber straps in general, and the durable, rubber strap included with the AV002 feels somewhat more like hard plastic. Nonetheless, it was never uncomfortable and always felt totally secure on the wrist. After my experiment had concluded, I was able to easily swap out the strap with a blue and silver NATO, which (for me) greatly enhanced the appearance and feel.
Weighing in at a very accommodating $350 direct from the manufacturer, this watch is a great alternative for the casual collector looking for a dressy diver that won’t break the bank or succumb to the elements. The AV002’s inspiration piece, the Seiko 6105-8110, can be found on eBay for an average price of around $1,500, so as a well-built, somewhat unique alternative, the AV002 is a steal while it lasts. The individuality that Athaya Vintage has achieved by using this piece to tell the story of the Lamafa whalers, making this watch distinctly Indonesian, pushes it into its own category, giving the wearer a cool story to tell that goes beyond the object itself and inspiring confidence that as Athaya Vintage continues to grow, their lineup will expand in exciting ways. For the time being, the small scale niche of this off-the-beaten-path venture will assure you that few others will be wearing the same watch in the immediate vicinity, and will certainly start a conversation or two.