Recently, while filming an episode of 'Expedition Unknown' for the Discovery Channel in Cornwall, I took the opportunity to try out the Tropical TYPHOON watch strap from ZULUDIVER. I have to admit that I didn't warm to this strap immediately, in fact, I'd go as far as to say that I wasn't really that keen on it; I even took a spare strap down with me as a backup! Nevertheless, I said that I would review the strap and strapped it on a HELM Vanuatu to do just that. The Tropical TYPHOON is made for, well, shall we say more 'moist' environments and, with that being the case, it needs to be tested in those environments; wearing it in the office or while partaking in afternoon tea won't tell anyone anything! For the next 7 days, this strap probably endured more than a year's worth of normal wear and tear.
It's strange how humans tend to make their minds up about an item without knowing too much about it; the initial look of something being enough to discard it altogether. In this particular case, the TYPHOON looks perfectly presentable; it's finished to a high standard and looks great on the watch. Just why I didn't take to it from the start is a mystery to me. The Tropical TYPHOON is of double pass design and has a brushed stainless steel buckle, it has three stainless steel keepers along with 12 adjustment holes. It is black in colour with grey stitching throughout; the first keeper after the buckle floats within its allocated space of 48mm while the others are fixed. What's not to like? I should mention at this point that the straps in the TYPHOON series do not all share the same dimensions and that the metalwork is also different.
The very fact that it had ZULUDIVER on the buckle put my mind at rest on that front; the quality of the buckle, the keepers, the stitching and the overall presentation are as good as it gets. But does it do what it's supposed to do? Although we initially buy a watch strap because we like the look of it and obviously feel that it complements our particular watch, it also has to work. Under normal circumstances, this demands little more than keeping your 'pride and joy' safely on your wrist along with being relatively comfortable for eight hours or so at a time. Unfortunately, this particular strap was just in the wrong place at the wrong time! Let's look a little deeper to see just what it had to put up with.
It all started at 2 am in the morning with a 350-mile drive, nothing out of the way there. After arriving at the dive site I needed to check and test some gear; a chilly 45 minutes submerged in seawater, culminating in an impromptu encounter with some barnacle-encrusted rocks during a swim-through in heavy surge got the whole thing off to a good, although painful start. On to the hotel and a quick shower before a swim in the pool and a soak in the hot tub. By the time I went to bed the watch had been worn continually for 20 hours or so. The next day it was more diving and a run on the coast path followed by a shower, a stroll, and some research; there was also a cream tea involved, but we'll gloss over that. 16 hours in all but a mixed bag of stuff. After a couple of days of checking gear, snorkelling and investigating locations followed, the strap remained comfortable throughout. The next two days involved boat diving off-shore, filming and covering as safety diver; long 17-hour days with a good deal of mauling gear on and off the boat. The last day involved the 350mile drive back, rinsing and checking all the gear and drying it off.
I think most would agree that 7 days of that is a fair test for any watch strap! I can honestly say that the strap remained comfortable throughout, even when slept in for two nights. The seawater didn't bother the strap in the slightest, and the fact that the strap sheds the water immediately means that there are no salt crystals to rub your skin! The chlorine in the pool didn't bother it and neither did the hot-tub. The soap in the shower didn't bother it and neither did the brush with the barnacle-encrusted rocks (I wish I could say the same for my left hand!). In fact, much to my annoyance, nothing bothered it at all and it still looks brand new! A nice touch for diving is that the Tropical TYPHOON is a little longer than normal but tucks back out of the way when not needed. There are a few variants of this strap but the material is the same, so don't think that you're stuck with this particular one!
Am I Convinced?
Because of my initial attitude to the strap, it started off on its back foot so to speak; however, its comfort, functionality and performance have certainly won me over, despite almost subconsciously willing it to somehow fall short. In actual fact, it's excelled in every area that it was subjected to! To say that it surprised me is an understatement, and for harsh, wet environments it's difficult to imagine anything that could beat it. The Tropical TYPHOON suited the Vanuatu perfectly, each complimenting the other and really, that's what we strive to achieve in the first instance. The Vanuatu contributed to the assessment as it's a 'beefy' lump, and not all straps hold it securely in place; the Tropical TYPHOON held onto the Vanuatu like a limpet without being tight on the wrist. The Tropical TYPHOON really does cut the mustard and not just sit there looking the part. Although it pains me to say it, I was wrong to start off negatively with this strap; in truth, I remember being wrong once before, I do hope this isn't the start of a trend! Seriously though, the Tropical TYPHOON pushed through regardless, stood its ground admirably and won me over to such an extent that it's now become my first choice for adventures where wet, high abrasion conditions are likely to be encountered and rinsing-off may be hours away. The material is incredibly tough and scuff resistant to the extent that I can't imagine anything in normal, everyday life affecting it! I've just fitted a TYPHOON to my PVD-cased Certina DS Action 200m GMT. A black strap with black stitching and black PVD metalwork; this one being just a tad shorter!
The Last Word
This must be the shortest 'Last Word' I've ever written, and here it is. Sailcloth material, military configuration and ZULUDIVER quality. Enough said!