Following the reissue of their Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver, Nivada Grenchen is poised to launch the next chapter of the brand’s resurgence with the Depthmaster. Re-issuing a vintage dive watch certainly sounds like a safe bet, but this is no ordinary diver. Like the CASD before it, the Nivada is offering a plethora of design options, allowing users to tailor their Depthmaster to taste, including use of the so-called ‘pac-man’ dial first seen in the original from the mid ‘60s. The dial is but one of the unique features of the Depthmaster, though. We got our hands on a pair of options that will be available to order this month, and found plenty to unpack.
Hands-On With The Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster
You can read a bit more about Nivada Grenchen’s history, which is ample, in our review of the Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver, but the key takeaway here is an historic brand that marched to the beat of their own drum has been resurrected, and that beat hasn’t changed. The CASD is very much it’s own thing, and the Depthmaster continues to eschew the well beaten path of dive watch design language.
The Depthmaster features a steel 39mm rounded cushion case with a pronounced steel bezel taking up much of the surface area. Only the rounded edges of the case peer out from underneath the bezel, attached to long straight lugs that protrude about 4mm from the case. It’s a look all its own, and there’s a gentle slope to the whole case that gives it the appearance of a fluffed pillow on the wrist. Lug to lug the Depthmaster clocks in at 47mm, creating a tight footprint with the case itself.
The steel bezel is flat and wide, marking off each 10 minutes, the first 15 of which get individual hash marks that can be had with black or red infill, including the triangle at 12 (which can be had in black or red). The bezel can also be had with a lumed triangle, bringing your bezel options to a total of 4. This is just one of the design options buyers will be given, and moving to the dial you’re faced with more substantial options. There are two dial design variations which are worlds apart in terms of personality.
The first dial design features oversized Arabic numerals at the even slots with bars in between. The viewing area of the dial is quite small so it doesn’t take much to fill out the space, which this design definitely manages to do. The minute marks at the dial’s edge almost get lost in the shadows of the hour markers. It may not score top marks for practicality, but it has personality in spades. And this is the more conservative of the dial options.
The second dial option brings back the ‘pac-man’ design, with sharp angular markers cut from circles, not unlike the titular character of the Pac-Man video game. The cardinal hours get geometric, abstract representations of the numbers, while the rest are triangles pointing inward. I can say without a doubt this is among the most unique dial configurations I’ve seen in a dive watch in many years.
Both dial designs can be configured with or without a date, and can be had with white or yellow lume. The yellow lume is quite aggressive so the look differs dramatically between the options, and the hand selection makes a notable difference as well. Oh, did we mention there are 6 different hand configurations? Along with yellow or white lume, the seconds hand and hour hand are offered in a variety of shapes and colors.
If you’ve ever had fun playing around with some of the better car configurators out there you’ll get the idea of what you’re heading into here with the Depthmaster. Nivada Grenchen will need such a tool to allow buyers to see how their selection will look paired with one of the 4 available strap and bracelet options, which include leather, rubber tropic, beads of rice, and oyster.
So how does all this net out on the wrist? Quite simply, very pleasant. This is a small watch with a unique case that sits neatly on the wrist, if a bit high with a 13mm case thickness. Considering the staggering 1,000m depth resistance, it’s a pretty svelte package. The viewing area of the dial is small but packs a big punch, and reading requires a bit of adjusting compared to more traditional divers, but it is distinctly Nivada Grenchen in many ways. Inside, Nivada Grenchen is using the Sellita SW200 in date or no date configuration (again, your choice).
Considering the breadth of options available with the Depthmaster this is a watch that can shift in personality to a great degree, but the case and 2 dial designs keep each potential configuration of the watch well within the set identity of the Depthmaster, both as it was and as it is.
The Depthmaster will be available to order next week from Nivada Grenchen from $1,000 on strap, and $1,275 on bracelet. Until then you can decide on your preferred configuration so you’re ready to go when the books open. Nivada Grenchen. UPDATE: Product pages are now live at Nivada Grenchen, right here.