A watch to make you smile!
A few months ago we shared the news that well-adored watch brand Nivada Grenchen was making a return through the re-release of their serious-looking Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver chronographs. Well, it seems the new Nivada team show no signs of slowing down as their next release is here, the Depthmaster.
But first, a little history lesson...The Depthmaster was initially released in the mid-1960s to meet the newly founded desire for ‘water proof’ watches. The brand not only met this demand, but smashed all the competition out of the water (literally) as the watch came with an impressive 100 atm (1,000m) water resistance rating, a record that would stand until a little known brand called Rolex released their Sea-Dweller.
Stats aside, the Depthmaster not only had a pretty cool name (come on, Depthmaster sounds amazing) but its compelling case and many dial variations ensured it remained a memorable watch for many. Panerai popularised the cushion style case but with its reduced size the Depthmaster became known as the ‘baby Panerai’.
The other distinct feature came via this specific dial variation which encompassed an art deco era via its hour markers. Thanks to its 6 and 9 resembling a dot eating, ghost evading yellow playable character known as Pacman, a new nickname was born. ‘The Pacman watch’ from Nivada Grenchen joins a long line of other funky names that all play a part in helping these watches stick in people’s mind.
And thanks to modern Nivada Grenchen, they can now be on your wrist with just a few clicks on a website...
The Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster - What it does
When we took a look at the Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver from Nivada recently, we praised the brand for staying true and honest to their original models.
There is a reason why the originals are so loved. Why change a working formula? Fortunately, Nivada continued down this path with the Depthmaster with many of the original designs, proportions and charm still being retained. The case width has received a small buff from 38mm to 39mm the thickness is just over 13mm at 13.3mm and the distance between each set of chunky lugs is just 47mm.
There is no solid chamfered edge here, just a rounded off smooth transition from radial brushed steel on the top of the watch to a beautiful polished side. It makes for a refreshing change actually and one that suits this watch's purposeful past. Speaking of the past, the same 100 atm or 1,000m water resistance rating remains on the new re-issues with a helium escape valve on the left-hand side of the case.
Next, we come to another huge stand out visual feature on this watch, the all-steel rotating diver bezel. It is surprisingly bold for a watch that has quite a small footprint, a common theme for the Depthmaster. The bezel is easy to use, solid and very clicky. It’s exactly what makes watch collectors tick.
Another reason why the Depthmaster will make you tick will be down to their unique dials. To start with let's run through your available options when looking to buy the Depthmaster. First up are the two Arabic numeral models which are available with a matt black dial with yellowed hands & hour markers and a date at 3 o'clock. The other colour option here is a sunburst green dial, also with matching yellowed lume and date at three.
Where this model further stands out is thanks to its lollipop seconds hand in red and spade hour hand. This dial version did feature on original models however it isn’t as recognisable when compared to the Pacman dials.
Speaking of Pacman, the remaining three dial options are all ‘Pacman’ numerals either in yellow lume with no date or the white lume option again but with a date. Bursting with character and individuality with an extra bonus of being able to make you smile, the Pacman is an enjoyable, happy watch on the wrist.
Under the hood so to speak is the Sellita SW200 for both date and no date version of the watch. What more can be said about this movement? It's a brilliant choice and a sensible one for the price point. Nivada even went to the effort of removing the ghost date position on the no date version.
Hands-on thoughtsYou can't help but smile when wearing this watch. Way back in 2018, I went hands-on with the Rado Captain Cook which was the smallest diving watch I’d experienced. At 37mm wide it really tricked the mind as everything tells you that a watch with large hands filled with lume and a rotating bezel needs to be bigger. It looked and felt like a baby diver, and the Depthmaster has a similar impact.
This is a small watch on the wrist, the case width is wonderful at 39mm but the lug to lug doesn't tell the whole story as they protrude by around 8mm meaning the watch is framed perfectly on the wrist.
The cushion case is gorgeous; it is both comfortable and looks the part. Cushion cases do have the tendency to feel quite uncomfortable and bulky on the wrist sometimes, but thanks to its disappearing caseback and rounded soft edges the Depthmaster is a pleasure.
My pick of the bunch is certainly the Pacman dial. Yes, the numeral options with dates are quintessential vintage divers, but I found the charm of the art deco style, the clean no date look and the quirky, cheeky personality of the Pacman ruled my decision making. I’d have liked to see the yellow lumed Pacman as I believe this would be my pick of the offering but the white lume version didn’t disappoint. Much like their Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver, Nivada has been clever here by offering a healthy choice of dials for different tastes. A level of choice is exactly what the industry goes crazy for.
Maybe you want something that leans into the 'small but mighty’ language of this watch? In that case, the sunburst green is the one for you.
The final touches on this watch are impressive. The screw-down crown is tight and reassuring. The bezel is that addictively level of clickiness, turning with ease. As you’d hope as well, the lume is strong and bright. The details have been executed extremely well here which is great considering the watches start price of €860.
Watch Straps for the Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster Pacman
This watch is all about fun, so when it came to watch straps I knew this was going to be a good time. With a lug width of 20mm we have tons of options so let's kick things off with a statement combo.
It's worth mentioning that for the straps we will focus on the Pac-man model as this is the most well known and likely the most popular for Nivada.
ZULUDIVER Marine Nationale NATO Watch Strap in Green / OrangeLet’s just jump straight into it with a combination that makes a statement. Although there is no matching green on the dial of this watch, the tone of the strap is extremely complementary to the general aesthetic of this piece. Check out the Marine Nationale NATO here.
Crosby Padded Genuine Leather Quick-Release Watch Strap in Chocolate Brown
Next up is a newer strap for the site, the Crosby Padded Leather in Chocolate Brown. A favourite of mine on the Depthmaster, this strap offers an extremely subtle pull-up leather which when combined with the padding throughout the strap is very comfortable, especially for daily wear. This strap tapers 2mm down to the buckle which makes it a great match for the Depthmaster as a too severe taper could make this watch feel a little too small.
ZULUDIVER Vintage Tropical Style Rubber Watch Strap (MkII) in Blue
Considering this watch is water-resistant to 1,000m we thought we should probably show it on a rubber strap. So here it is on our Vintage Tropic Rubber in Blue. We have a couple of Tropic straps on the site with this one adopting a more traditional and classic look compared to the chunkier modern version. Naturally, then it was the only choice to go for when dealing with the Depthmaster.
Nivada Grenchen really knows how to win over watch collectors. They clearly understand and listen to the desires of vintage fans around the world from minute details such as including drilled lugs, to hugely important aspects such as the price point.
You can even personalise your own Depthmaster on their website choosing which dial, handset, bezel and strap you want. Pretty neat as if you don’t like a certain aspect of their standard range, you could build a watch exactly how you want.Starting from €860, once again Nivada Grenchen offers tremendous value for money in an incredibly respectful and well-made package.
Pre-order’s for the new Depthmaster 1000 are now open so be sure to click here to reserve yours directly from the Nivada Grenchen website.
We’d like to thank Nivada Grenchen for sending the Depthmaster in on loan.