Farer Aqua Compressor Hecla Review

Share this story:

It was only a week or so ago that we announced the newest addition to Farer’s ranks, the Aqua Compressor divers. Not ones to make a “me-too” watch, Farer, despite their young age, set the bar high, creating vintage inspired divers with modern stats that stay true to the “compressor” concept. Often mistaken to mean a dual-crown diver, a compressor case actually tightens as pressure increases, a novel design from the mid-20th century. Farer’s watches also utilize an internal bezel so they do have two crowns–one in bronze the other in steel. With a 300-meter water resistance, sapphire crystals front and back, an elaboré grade ETA 2824 movement, and a respectable price point of $1,295, the Aqua Compressors don’t just look the part, they offer a legitimate dive watch and a great value.

In an interesting and likely expensive move, rather than make one watch in three colors, Farer made three watches using the same case: the Endeavor, the Leven, and the Hecla, all named after British ships. Despite what they have in common, they offer three pretty distinct aesthetics. I got the chance to spend some time with the Hecla, likely the most modern of the three and while the Endeavor might be the version most to my taste, the Hecla was a lot of fun to wear.

Save

Advertisement
$1295

Farer Aqua Compressor Hecla Review

Case
316L Steel
Movement
ETA 2824-2 Elaboré
Dial
Blue
Lume
Yes
Lens
Domed Sapphire
Strap
Rubber Strap + Steel Bracelet
Water Resistance
300m
Dimensions
41.5 x 45mm
Thickness
12.5mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Dual Screw-Down
Warranty
60-month on movement
Price
$1295

Measuring 41.5 x 45 x 12.5mm, the barrel-shaped case of the Aqua Compressor speaks to ’70s-era design, but it doesn’t feel out of place or too vintage in a modern context. It’s a good size with a short lug-to-lug and nicely curved profile that allows the watch to sit well on the wrist. 41.5mm feels like a good diameter for this watch, and not just as a sports watch, but as one also within the context of the rest of Farer’s catalog. Their more formal/casual watches are 39.5, so a 2mm bump sets the watches apart.

Size and shape apart, the finishing on the case is superb. The sides are polished while the top is brushed from the center out, echoing the sunburst finish on the dial. There is then a polished edge around the gently domed sapphire crystal. The play of finishes works well and the edges are all super clean. I typically am opposed to polished sides on dive/sports watches and while conceptually I’ll stick to that as brushing/blasting reduces reflection, the shape of the case takes nicely to being polished, so it simply looks good. Flipping the watch over, you’ll find a sapphire case back showing off the 2824 inside. Since it’s elaboré grade, it has been plated, features spiral graining and a decorated rotor for an overall appealing look.

On the right side, you’ll find the dual crowns in contrasting materials. The time-setting crown is Farer’s signature bronze while the internal bezel crown is steel. The design of the crowns is quite unique. They are long and conical, with a diameter that tapers down away from the case. They have deep teeth, a line that bisects the teeth (which adds grip in the other direction), and then a gridded outer surface–a nod to the compressors of the 20th century. They look great and feel great between your fingers, manipulating very easily. The two-tone approach is certainly one that will be divisive, but I’m for it. I genuinely appreciate their use of a different color crown as a point of differentiation across their watches. Here, it serves a purpose too, quickly distinguishing the crowns.

Save

Save

Save

The dial of the Hecla is surprisingly complex, with multiple layers creating a modern look. The dial consists of three layers plus the internal bezel. First, there’s a layer of lume that sits underneath everything, appearing white in light and ice blue in the dark. Next is the main portion of the dial–a floating sunburst blue surface with a subtle wave pattern printed on top that sits a millimeter or so away from the edge of the bezel, allowing a ring of the lower layer to show through. The hour index then consists of applied numerals at 12, three, six and nine (making the third layer) with cutouts for the other hours revealing the lume layer again.

The result is highly legible and visually appealing. The layers create depth and texture, which is further emphasized by the sunburst blue disc. The metallic surface has a depth of its own, created by the illusion that the waves and printed text are sort of floating. It all works surprisingly well together. But beyond the aesthetics, it’s also just a matter of manufacturing complexity that makes this interesting. There is a lot of precision aligning going on as well as overprinting. Had anything been off even by a hair, you’d be able to tell.

The internal bezel is then brushed steel with black markings. I found steel to be an interesting choice over, say, a blue bezel that matches the surface, but once again it does work and feels unique. A nice detail here is that the black numerals aren’t just printed on top, rather they are milled in and filled, creating just a touch more depth. In terms of the mechanism, Farer continues their unique approach by making it uni-directional and non-clicking. Most internal bezels are bi-directional and non-clicking, and occasionally they click and are uni-directional, but this is the first time I’ve seen this combination. So, turning the crown clockwise turns the bezel counter, turning the crown the other way does nothing. In theory, this would help prevent accidental turning.

Lastly, the hands of the Hecla are high contrast and, in true Farer-style, offer an extra shock of color. The hour and minute hands are straight swords that seem like a sportier play on the syringe hands found on their previous models. Both are colored a bright red with an orange undertone that really jumps off of the blue dial. The second hand is then a stick with a fluorescent yellow tip.

Save

Save

Save

Advertisement

Each Aqua Compressor comes with two strap options: a natural rubber and a steel bracelet. That alone is impressive as typically dive watches are an either/or type of situation and not both, adding to the value. While I got to see the bracelet in person, and it seemed high quality, I only tested the watch on the rubber strap. I’m not a huge fan of rubber straps as I find them uncomfortable after a while, but this one was very nice to wear. It’s a custom-molded natural rubber that is 20mm at the lug and 18 at the buckle. It’s molded for the lugs, so there’s no gap. It’s beveled on the edges, has a channel down the center and has waves molded on the underside. What stands out to me is that despite being a few millimeters thick it’s really soft and supple, making it very comfortable to wear even for long periods of time.

And honestly, design and execution aside, the best thing about the Aqua Compressor is how well it wears. It’s a very ergonomic watch that sits nicely on my 7-inch wrist and I imagine it would wear great on wrists larger and smaller. Because of how the strap connects with the case, as well as the flowing form of the case and crystal, it also seems designed to be in the water, almost as if the shape would allow water to flow around it smoothly, reducing drag. Considering how chunky most dive watches are, even 300-meter ones, this is a nice change of pace.

All in all, Farer has a winner on their hands with the Aqua Compressor range. The Hecla is a unique watch with a slew of high quality and appealing features as well as a fun, colorful palette. If the look of it isn’t for you, chances are either the Endeavor or the Leven will be. At $1,295, Farer is also positioning this watch really well. Sure, it’s not cheap, but like the German brands we often hold to such high regard, it is fairly priced for what you are getting. It’s a genuinely Swiss-made watch with an ETA 2824 elaboré movement that is actually without a date (so there’s no phantom crown position). It has 300-meters of water resistance with a genuine compressor case. And the high-quality finishing inside and out, not to mention just a generally unique design, make this a super solid package, and I just can’t find fault in that.


For more info on the Aqua Compressors, head to Farer’s website

Save

Save

Save

Images from this post:

Save

Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
wornandwound zsw
Categories: