Hands-On: Farer Aqua Compressor Endeavour Titanium

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At this point, Farer is no longer a “new” brand, but one that quite often graces the pages of Worn & Wound. I have reviewed several over the past few years, and have even picked one up for my own collection. The point I am getting to is that I know what to expect from their watches, more or less. While each is unique, from the big-eyed Cobb chrono, to the hand-wound Stanhope, to the global-traveling Markham, they share certain aesthetic qualities that unite them. Color, texture, and precision over-printing are all hallmarks of Farer’s style that you’ll find present on each of those watches. This is why the semi-new Aqua Compressor Endeavour is sort of an odd duck within the brand’s catalog as it lacks all of those things.

To be fair, the Endeavour has existed for some time in Farer’s catalog but recently got an unexpected makeover, furthering its unique position. As Zach Kazan wrote a couple of weeks ago, the whole Aqua Compressor line, Farer’s only dive watches, got an overhaul, ditching their steel chassis for lighter, titanium ones, building off their goal to be a more technical sport watch. Of the three watches, one, the Leven, was mostly unchanged. The Hecla, which I reviewed the original version of here, got a substantial redesign, making it a true 2.0.

A Farer Sans Color

The Endeavour is sort of in-between. What once was steel is now black DLC coated titanium, and where there was a mix of green and blue toned lume, there is now just clean, stark white. While small changes on paper, their effect is large, allowing the Endeavour to come into its own as a toolish-sport watch with an aggressive attitude, that depending on your choice of strap can feel like a sleek and modern diver, or a stealthy, retro military watch.

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$1175

Hands-On: Farer Aqua Compressor Endeavour Titanium

Case
Black DLC Titanium
Movement
Elaboré Sellita SW 200-1
Dial
Matte Black
Lume
Super-LumiNova
Lens
Domed Sapphire
Strap
Natural Rubber
Water Resistance
300m
Dimensions
41.5 x 45mm
Thickness
12.5mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Dual Screw-down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$1175

When I reviewed the Hecla, I recall thinking that the 41.5 x 45 x 12.5mm dual-crown, barrel case deftly rode the line between vintage and modern design. A sentiment that is still true for the Endeavour, though at a glance it leans more modern thanks to the DLC coating. Still polished on the side and brushed on top, the black coating is accentuated by the mixed finishing. By seamlessly flowing into the dial and the strap, the black case feels curvier and more aerodynamic than the steel version.

Sleek, curvy

Continuing this sleekness, Farer got rid of the contrasting bronze crown (it would have been the crown at two) applying DLC to both. While I enjoy their use of bronze crowns, it would have broken the look they cultivated on this model. While on the crowns, it’s worth a quick reprise of their internal bezel mechanism. Rather than the seemingly standard non-click bi-directional style for internal bezels, Farer developed a non-clicking uni-directional mechanism. So, by first unscrewing the lower crown, and then turning it clockwise, or away from you, you can rotate the internal bezel counterclockwise. Turning the crown the other way does nothing. It’s a great concept and feels nice to play with, but I did find that if you turn the crown the wrong way, it still allows about a minute of back play. This is more of an aesthetic annoyance since if you use the bezel correctly – i.e. unscrew, set bezel, re-screw – there is no issue.

The fact that the case is titanium is a bit hard to perceive, especially without the steel model for comparison, but it’s not heavy, and the material is technically 40% lighter. I asked Farer for the different weights and the new version is 92 grams, while the old is 112 grams. So, a not-insignificant drop, but what stands out to me is that it wasn’t a very heavy watch to begin with. Regardless, I’m certain on the wrist, after a long day, that extra bit of added comfort is appreciated.

No bronze, but still a unique crown design
Polished sides
Display case back

The Aqua Compressor case is a fantastic design, one that I perhaps underappreciated the first time around. Maybe it’s that 38/39mm is now almost the norm for dive watches that makes the 41.5mm x 45mm feel so different, but it’s a welcome change. The case is appealingly compact and sturdy, and features a proper 300 meters of water resistance, yet boasts a massive dial opening, which it needs for the internal bezel, a pleasantly slim profile of 12.5mm to the top of a domed sapphire, and true “compressor” construction, which is very rare. It also has a display window to show off the true-no-date Elaboré grade Sellita SW 200-1 movement inside. When you put that all together, you realize that while the case appears almost simple, it’s quite the piece of engineering.

Stripped down and purposeful

After the DLC coating, the dial of the Endeavour is what sets it apart from other Farers. Where typically Farer show off their remarkable talent at mixing seemingly too many colors into ultimately successful dials, here they show complete and utter restraint. Like, almost an infuriating amount of it. Any other brand would have made some small piece of text red, you just know it, but Farer didn’t, not this time. Nope, the Endeavour dial is all matte black with applied steel markers filled with crisp white lume and some white print. The internal bezel follows suit, with an applied arrow at zero and white lume print for all other markings. The hands are polished steel with, you guessed it, white lume. No color anywhere, no surprising texture, just simple, clean surfaces with some applied markers and white lume and print that glow ice-blue in the dark.

And guess what? It looks great. It’s bold, purposeful, and appealing. What more can you ask for? Well… there is one thing. There was something that just felt slightly off about the dial that took me a moment to pinpoint. Then it hit me. There are no minute markers on the main dial surface and only marks for the first 20-minutes on the bezel. While this adds to the austere spaciousness it has going on, it does take away from legibility, as you’re always approximating the time, if only a little, and there is a lack of points to align the internal bezel with. While I’m sure Farer didn’t forget them, rather chose to leave them off, I can’t help but feel like they are needed for making this a truly functional sport/dive watch (for the record, the Leven has minute markers on the dial, while the Hecla has them on the bezel).

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A little minute marker would go a long way
Large numerals on the internal bezel
Everything glows

Moving on, the Endeavour is wonderful on the wrist. It’s a great size for something with a bolder presence, thanks to the wide dial, yet still fits well, thanks to the short lug-to-lug. It’s appealingly ergonomic and rides very low, adding to the sense that it’s a purposeful sport watch that would be comfortable during rigorous activity. As I said in the Hecla review, you get the sense it would cut through water and have little drag, thanks to its curvy form.

The accompanying custom-molded natural rubber strap is a smart addition as it integrates with the watch, for a complete, seamless look. This is especially true on the Endeavour as the strap, case, and dial are all black. Generally speaking, it’s quite comfortable too, though as is the case with all rubber straps, especially during the summer in NYC, the lack of breathability eventually gets unpleasant. Also, when worn at a desk, I did find the keepers, which are quite thick, pressed into the underside of my arm more than I’d care for.

Sleekness on the fitted rubber strap
Rugged and vintage on leather

As said before, when mounted to the rubber, the Endeavour has an almost tactical quality to it that works well with the design. For a change, however, I did try it on a green leather Model 2 Premium (prototype), which required the use of curved spring bars to get on as the Aqua Compressors have very short lugs. The result was awesome. It really brought out the ‘70s aspect of the barrel-design, and made it feel like a piece of military history. This would definitely be the way I’d wear it during the colder months.

The steel Aqua Compressors also came with a bracelet, which is not an option for the titanium models. I didn’t get to try the bracelet originally, but in pictures it looked decent, if less tailored for the design itself. In foregoing it this time around, I know some fans are likely a bit upset, but Farer also did drop the price by $120, and are donating £25 of the profit per watch to the HWDT charity research program, which makes up for it.

 

Big dial and a well-proportioned case on a 7″ wrist
Rides nice and low

The way I think of this watch is like this: in a parallel universe, Farer is a brand that dates back to the 1950s. Back then, they were asked to develop a dive watch for the military and came up with some proto-version of the Endeavour, likely one with an external bezel. Whether it was chosen or not by the military doesn’t matter, it became their blueprint for a family of dive watches. Then, at some point in the ‘70s, they decided to make a MKII barrel-case version of the watch. It was a passing success but didn’t surpass the original. Then, maybe late ‘70s early ‘80s, stimulated perhaps by a contract with German special-forces, they developed the dual-crown Endeavour, which featured a novel matte black coating for stealth missions, a pad printed tritium dial, and was likely not available to the public, though some made it out and eventually became very collectible.

Fast forward 40-ish years, Farer is basically the brand we know today, and the black DLC titanium Endeavour is, like the Black Bay P-01, an obscure military reference from their archives turned into a modern timepiece (except, well-received). If it wasn’t for those dang missing-minute-markers, I’d say it’s a near-perfect option for a sleek, modern diver that can pass as a rugged, vintage military tool watch. As is, it’s still great, just stuck at 99%. Farer

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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.
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