Sherpa is a brand new brand with a name that is meant to ring a bell with fans of classic sports watches from the 1960s and 70s. While Sherpa is in no way associated with Enicar, the now defunct watchmaker who produced the much loved Sherpa line, they are attempting in their debut collection to harness the spirit of those classic watches in a subtle way, not just through the use of the Sherpa name, but in the sporty aesthetic of their watches, and the use of a genuine, functioning compressor style case. The founder of Sherpa Watches, Martin Klocke, is also a practicing Buddhist, and he’s infused aspects of Buddhist teaching into the design of these watches as well. So, a vintage inspired watch, with a well known name not directly linked to a watch from the past, a case design rarely seen in modern watches, and a little bit of Buddhism as well. Just like every other watch we write about, right?
The Sherpa Ultradive and Sherpa OPS are essentially identical except for the case finish and some small dial and bezel differences. The OPS sports a black DLC coating, while the Ultradive has a more traditional polished finish. The steel model has a bezel in silver with orange accents to contrast the black dial, while the coated watch is a bit more monochromatic all around. Both measure 40mm in diameter and 13.5mm thick, with a domed sapphire crystal and inner rotating bezel, a hallmark of classic compressor cases. Compressor cases were quite popular in the early days of dive watch production, and were built in such a way that increased pressure on the case increased its water tightness (much more on compressor cases can be found here). While Sherpa claims to have made the first complete compressor watch in more than 60 years, regular readers of Worn & Wound know that other brands have tried their hands at modern compressors with some success. Still, a working compressor case in 2021 is uncommon and worth celebrating.
In terms of the watch’s design, the dominant feature here is without a doubt the extra large crown guard system on the 3:00 case flank. We have two crowns of course, one for the bezel, and one to set the time, and they are each protected by a chunk of metal that breaks up the circular case’s symmetry in a way that is certain to either repulse or delight depending on how you feel about the type of funky 60s and 70s style tool watch designs that Sherpa is drawing on here.
Klocke has put a personal touch on these watches by way of a hidden engraving on two of the movement wheels. The Tibetan Buddhist mantra “Om Mani Peme Hung” has been laser engraved in microscopic lettering that you’d only find by taking the entire movement apart. The idea here is that these wheels are constantly in motion, sending out positive vibes of love, wisdom, and compassion as the watch spins into action. Is this a little bit high concept and niche? Absolutely (Klocke refers to it as the “Mantramatic” movement). But as we’re all well aware of, when it comes to small, independent watch brands, finding a mass audience isn’t really the goal. If Klocke’s vision for Sherpa resonates with a small but enthusiastic group of collectors who share a common interest, it’s likely he’ll find success.
The specs for this watch are impressive and in line with what you’d expect from a modern dive watch. The Ultradive and OPS have 200 meters of water resistance, run on a Sellita SW200-1 caliber, and come mounted on a Tropic style rubber strap, which is completely appropriate given the 1960s inspiration here. According to Sherpa, all the components of these watches are produced and assembled in Germany and Switzerland. The Ultradive has a retail price of €5,900, and the OPS comes in at €5,800. Sherpa Watches