My Holiday Watch — The Sherpa × TRTS OPS

My Holiday Watch — The Sherpa × TRTS OPS

9 min read
Rob Nudds



Rob Nudds



Suddenly, she stopped packing her suitcase. She’d been bent over her hand luggage, arranging her toiletries so the case would close, totally focused on the task at hand, before something “in the air” broke her concentration. She reared up, back straight, neck muscles twitching. She didn’t even turn to face me.

“No,” she said. It wasn’t the kind of “no” that left any room for negotiation. I decided to feign ignorance.

“What do you mean?” I asked in a syrupy sweet tone. I gently lowered my watch box to the floor, hoping not to make a sound. I succeeded, but it didn’t matter. She’d read my mind.

“You’re not taking all of those watches with you.”

“But I…”

“We haven’t got enough space in the car.” 

You’re taking two pairs of skis!” I protested.

Big mistake.

She stood up and turned to face me, hands on hips and eyebrows locked and loaded in their standard position of incredulity.

“One of those pairs of skis is brand new,” she explained. “What if I don’t gel with them? What if they’re not comfortable? What if they’re too slow?”

I saw an opening and decided to take it rather than argue with her about skis.

“Well, look, I have a new watch too. Maybe I can take that and another watch in case I don’t gel with it, or in case it’s not comfortable, or in case it’s running slow?”

“You can take one watch.”

“One additional watch?”

“One watch on your wrist.”

I made a sound like a lanced warthog and threw myself to the bedroom floor in despair. She was unmoved.

One watch it is. But which watch to choose?

The Sherpa × TRTS OPS is the most ready-for-action watch I own 

Sherpa × TRTS OPSSherpa × TRTS OPS

Sherpa × TRTS OPSSherpa × TRTS OPS

For those of you who don’t know what “TRTS” is, let me get this out of the way and my motivation for choosing this watch out in the open: TRTS stands for “The Real Time Show” and it is the podcast I host with my dear friend and long-time collaborator, Alon Ben Joseph of Ace Jewelers in Amsterdam. You’ll have read about Alon’s work with other brands on these pages before, most recently with the excellent Nivada Grenchen × Ace Jewelers Super Antarctic Polar Edition.

Alon and I started The Real Time Show in 2022 and it has since expanded into a syndicate of podcasts now referred to en masse as The Real Time Network. It is the first audio alliance of its kind in watchmaking and has, rather quickly (and entirely thanks to this spirit of collaboration) become the largest primarily audio channel about watches.

One of our goals when establishing first The Real Time Show and then the Network was to continue collaborating with brands on special edition watches as we have been doing for years. Happily, Sherpa was the first brand to grant our wish soon after we both met the brand’s founder Martin Klocke separately at different events, and suggested (by complete coincidence) the same aesthetic changes to the two-watch collection he was, at that time, showing.

Both Alon and I loved the highly technical and tactical dial of the DLC-coated OPS model but neither one of us loves DLC-coated cases. We suggested Martin produce a hybrid version of the standard Ultradive and OPS models that featured the OPS dial in an uncoated stainless steel case, treated with a fine media-blasted finish.

Martin was curious enough to try it and so try it he did. The result was even better than expected (in our opinion), and the project was immediately green-lit. We opted to keep the TRTS branding as minimalistic as possible, and so subtly engraved the show’s initials on the breastplate of the diver shown on the closed (compressor) case back.

What’s so special about it? 

Sherpa × TRTS OPSSherpa × TRTS OPS

Sherpa × TRTS OPSSherpa × TRTS OPS

Unlike most media/brand collaborations, the TRTS OPS isn’t limited. It’s simply a core collection piece. We hate “FOMO” (the Fear Of Missing Out) culture and don’t believe it’s conducive to making a smart purchasing decision, so, simply, we’re not pursuing that wherever possible. 

But best of all is the watch itself and that’s entirely thanks to Martin and his extremely high standards.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the Sherpa name has been around in watchmaking for quite some time, but, until recently, it was a model within the catalogue of Enicar rather than a brand itself. Having fallen in love with the Enicar Sherpa, Martin acquired the Sherpa name and set about reproducing a model heavily inspired by the original true compressor Sherpa but made to today’s standards.

Needless to say, that wasn’t easy. To achieve the highest grade finish possible, Martin explored countless suppliers in Europe before he found engineering partners capable of bringing his vision to life. Complex crowns, a caseback that actually “compresses” as the watch descends beneath the waves, actively increasing the watch’s water resistance, and a custom-made box sapphire crystal that recalls the original hesalite lens used but adds strength and durability to the watch do not come cheap. Especially not when a custom crystal itself is not enough on its own...

Satisfied with how the crystal profile echoed the form of the original hesalite but frustrated with the “milky” edge of the crystal caused by its steep and unusual drop-off, Martin conceived an aesthetic technique I’d personally never encountered before. On the underside of the crystal’s edge, where it meets the case, a black metallised ring is deposited, which eliminates the milkiness and, instead, provides an incredibly high-contrast border to a deeply satisfying display.

Displaying its credentials for all to see

Sherpa × TRTS OPSSherpa × TRTS OPS

Sherpa × TRTS OPSSherpa × TRTS OPS

And it is that display that perhaps stole my heart before the other elements got a look in. It was very much the reason why I picked it to be my holiday watch.

The watch is built like a tank right here in Europe (with “Made in Germany” proudly displayed on the dial). Its 200 m water-resistance rating, scratch-proof sapphire, and stealthy matte steel surfaces (which are just begging to be beaten up) make it the perfect GADA (Go Anywhere, Do Anything) watch. Better still (and something that really didn’t dawn on me until I’d been wearing the watch for a while) is its versatility.

I’m not saying this watch is ideal for a well-to-do evening soiree. It’s not. That’s a step too far. But everything else? I’d say so. You can easily rely on this watch to be your faithful companion during activity, whether that’s diving, skiing, paragliding, sky-diving, cycling, running, kayaking, or whatever the heck you like to do that’s movement-related.

It has an easy-going nature (probably thanks to the orange, which is at once focused and friendly), and works with jeans and a T-shirt. It’s a Goldilocks size, with its 40 mm diameter visually reduced by its slightly sloping sapphire that runs almost from edge to edge. And, perhaps most surprisingly, it has enough gravitas to work in a business environment more often dominated by Rolex Submariners, Patek Philippe Nautiluses, or Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks. 

Why is that?

Sherpa × TRTS OPSSherpa × TRTS OPS

Sherpa × TRTS OPSSherpa × TRTS OPS

I believe it is because of two things. Firstly, the watch is a verified strap monster. While some might immediately see the orange as restrictive, the presence of a red-on-white date disc changes the watch’s relationship with colour entirely. It seems not to play by normal aesthetic rules, which basically means it will happily ride on your wrist on whichever band you choose.

And that leads to the second reason: because the watch eschews standard “fashion” conventions, it looks even more like the highly functional item it is. This is a tool in the truest sense of the word. It does not exist to fulfil the same function as a big-brand sports watch. This watch exists for you and for others like you in the know. It wasn’t designed to be flash or to flex. Quite the opposite. It is a humble warrior built properly and to last, by people who are unhealthily obsessed with the creation of true quality.

This is a serious watch for lovers of highly engineered, European-made products. It is unlike anything else I’ve owned or worn for an extended period of time. It is so much built for its intended application that it doesn’t even feel like a watch. It feels entirely other. It is a tool, with a character more akin to a gauge to measure outmoded units from a bygone era.

Although it would work surprisingly well as a one-watch collection (because it somehow feels separate from the collecting hobby/addiction), it strikes me more and more as a watch that would specifically appeal to older people who either have a lot of big-name brand watches already or those who like to do their research, to buy consciously after much consideration, rather than a knee jerk purchase motivated by trends, misguided investment strategies, or a fear of missing out. This is a patient product that rewards deep study of it and its origins.

Full of surprises 

Sherpa × TRTS OPSSherpa × TRTS OPS

Sherpa × TRTS OPSSherpa × TRTS OPS

Functionally speaking, the Sherpa impressed me most in one area I didn’t expect. I was very excited to see the lume in action as, quite unusually, Martin decided to use orange lume on the bright dial accents. Historically, orange lume (or anything on the red side of the spectrum) is awful. Decent lume in this shade has only really been available for the past couple of years. Here, it is serviceable but doesn’t match up to the performance of green or blue emissions. However, it is not in total darkness when this lume leaps into life, rather, it is twilight or beneath heavy cloud that it truly wows.

And wow it does. In dim but not dark conditions, the Sherpa is one of the most legible (and actually the most attractive) watches I have ever seen. This may seem like a niche environment but given the name and spirit of the brand calls the high mountains home, it couldn’t be more appropriate.

It is, in a word, ridiculous. To allow myself two words, I’d say it is ridiculously good. I’m beyond impressed. I am in love.

I liked the watch before. I respected it greatly. I hoped for all the world that the brand would find its feet and audience in time to build a modern-day success story. But now I’m more than hopeful it will; I’m desperate for it to. I want this brand to flourish because this is what I believe watchmaking sorely needs more of. It is pure.

And so the Sherpa × TRTS OPS edition was the watch I took with me on my recent trip to Austria. I took it downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, paragliding, running, hiking, and kayaking. I also took it out for dinner every night. My girlfriend came with us too and didn’t mind that I spent most of every evening shooting suggestive glances at my wrist. She’s used to it by now. And after that week, and the love she saw blooming in my eyes, I think she knows she’d better get used to the Sherpa being relied upon to be more than just a holiday watch. This one’s for the long haul.

  • Brand: Sherpa
  • Model: TRTS OPS
  • Price: €6,200 (including taxes in the EU)
  • Material: Finely blasted stainless steel
  • Movement: Mantramatic MM01, based on Sellita SW200-1 automatic, premium (Top) range, fine decoration on both sides, gilt finish, custom rotor, 38 hrs power reserve, world’s first and only “spiritual complication”
  • Complications: Time and date
  • Crystal: Custom box sapphire crystal with metallised black printing around the outside edge
  • Dial: Black centre dial with a charcoal grey internal bezel with bright orange accents
  • Size: 40.0 mm × 13.5 mm, with a 49.3 mm lug-to-lug measurement
  • When the reviewer would personally wear it: This is about as versatile a watch as I’ve come across. What it reminds me of most, is an original Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in that it feels so much like a tool one should only be able to source from a specialist gear shop that it somehow exists in a category of its own. It doesn’t feel like a watch in the way I expected it to. Rather, it feels like a very serious piece of kit that one simply shouldn’t embark on an expedition without.
  • Best characteristics of the watch: Extremely high-grade build quality and historical fidelity to the source material (thanks to the genuine compressor case).
  • The worst characteristics of the watch: Some people may find the red date jars against the orange, but for me, it just adds to its throwback character.

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Rob Nudds

About the Author: Rob Nudds

Rob started working in the watch industry for the Signet Group, aged 17. Following university, he undertook the WOSTEP course at the British School of Watchmaking, developing a keen interest in watchmaking theory. After graduating, he worked primarily for Omega and Bremont before leaving the bench in 2015 to become Head of Sales for NOMOS Glashütte in the UK. After three years of managing an international retail network that grew to encompass 17 countries, he began writing full-time.

Since then, he has written for aBlogtoWatch, Fratello, Time & Tide, Grail Watch, SJX, Get Bezel, Borro Blog, Jomashop, Bob's Watches, Skolorr, Oracle Time, and Revolution USA.

He currently co-hosts The Real Time Show Podcast ( with his friend and long-time collaborator, Alon Ben Joseph of Ace Jewelers, Amsterdam, as well as working with several brands as a consultant in the fields of brand building, product development, global retail strategy, and communications. Follow him on Instagram @robnudds.

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