The Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver: Microbrand Magic?

The Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver: Microbrand Magic?

9 min read
Don Russell



Don Russell



Occasionally, just occasionally, a watch emerges that has that 'special something' about it, and holding the Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver I suspect that this is one of those rare occasions.

Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver: Credit WatchGecko

As many of you will know, I've penned quite a few articles on various watches, all of them submersible, but with this one I'm going to go that little bit further. Why? Well, the reason is that the company, Ligure Watches, has endeavoured to go that little bit further with the Tartaruga. The name 'Tartaruga' is, as I'm sure many of you will know, the Italian word for Turtle, and refers to the shape of the case. When I write an article about one watch in particular it's really no more than my own personal view, indeed, a watch is a very personal item and as they say, 'One man's meat is another man's poison.' I know, just by holding it, that I'll have my work cut out to find the right words. Let's start off with the easy part, a basic technical appraisal.

The specification:

  • Case material: 316L low carbon austenitic stainless steel.
  • Case width: 41mm.
  • Case finish: Brushed.
  • Overall thickness: 13,50mm.
  • Spring-bar centre-to-centre dimension: 37mm.
  • Lug to lug distance: 41mm
  • Distance between the lugs: 22mm.
  • Crown: Screw-down. 7mm diameter, straight knurl on diameter with dive flag logo in relief.
  • Bezel: 316L low carbon austenitic stainless steel with coin edge.
  • Bezel insert: Ceramic.
  • Luminescence: Hands, indices and bezel insert markings are Grade X1 Super-LumiNova.
  • Crystal: Double-domed sapphire with anti-reflective coating on the underside only.
  • Case back: Screw-down. Polished 316L low carbon austenitic stainless steel with logo in relief.
  • Strap: Fluorine rubber (FKM) quick-release type.
  • Clasp: Butterfly design in brushed and bead-blasted 316L low carbon austenitic stainless steel. Twin-button release, investment cast and machined with etched Ligure logo. 5 fine adjustment holes.
  • Additional strap: Black padded sailcloth with leather underside. Buckle in brushed 316L low carbon austenitic stainless steel with etched Ligure logo. Quick-release type.
  • Movement: Sellita SW200-1, self-winding and hacking, 28,800 vph. 4Hz.
  • Water resistance: 200 meters / 660 feet / 20 bar.
  • Accuracy on timegrapher: Beat error: 0.00. Timing: +1 sec./day in one position at 20 degrees C.

 Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver: Credit WatchGecko

As you can see, I've listed the basics without going into nauseating detail and, on the face of it, there's nothing really that extraordinary, just a solid, good quality specification. Other than confirmation that we've managed to get off on the right foot so to speak, we're still no nearer to explaining why the Tartaruga is any different to all the other watches that fall into this category.

What's the difference? It's Complicated!

Unfortunately, this is where things start to get a little complicated; it all starts with the unboxing. Many people are completely uninterested in the packaging and just tear it away in order to get to the watch, but for me, it provides an insight into what lies ahead. The Ligure comes in a well presented package containing all the bits & pieces including a Ligure branded cloth, a Ligure buoyant keyring, warranty card in a small red wallet and, of course, the watch itself contained in a zipped travel case. There's no instruction book as these are downloaded directly from the Ligure website should they be required. When I look at a watch I tend to see the individual components that make up the watch, but more importantly, how those components interact with each other. Now, that may just be the engineer inside of me looking at things from a clinical, mechanical point of view but strangely, when I look at the Ligure Tartaruga, I only see the watch. Every single component is so intimate with its mating part that their own individual identity is somehow lost. It's often said that something is more than the sum of its component parts, but this doesn't appear to have any parts; it seems to somehow exist as a whole.

Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver: Credit WatchGecko

A short word on price and value

I don't normally cover the subject of cost in my reviews but I feel that on this occasion I have little choice. If memory serves, I think that it was Warren Buffett that said 'Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.' and that information was bestowed on him by Ben Graham many years earlier. The price of the Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver is currently €850, but the value is much more, after all, if you look after it and have it serviced when required, it will serve as your trusted companion for many, many years. It's undoubtedly true that there are many other, more expensive watches out there, but the list of those that offer exceptional value is much, much shorter. 

Convention and its problems

Earning my living as a diver for a number of years, virtually all of my watches are diving watches, as you'd expect. Those slab-sided leviathans of the deep that refuse to sit under a shirt cuff and eat door frames for breakfast. That's what diving watches are, indeed, that's what we've come to expect, but can a diving watch also be a thing of beauty? There's certainly no technical reason why it shouldn't be. When Ligure's Jannieke van Geet, an internationally renowned designer with more than 30 years experience took on the task of designing this watch, she had virtually no experience in this particular field. Jannieke's design met all of the criteria for a dive watch, but in a creation that brings joy to whoever may be fortunate enough to hold it, or indeed, wear it. Does beauty mean weakness? No, certainly not! This may have been the case many years ago when dive watches had to be 'ultra beefy' to take the pressure, but knowledge, along with material technology have moved on since then, unfortunately, many manufacturers have decided to remain in the dark ages; the reason may be that they feel the customer prefers that style of watch.

Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver: Credit WatchGecko

A watch or a timepiece?

Many would say that they're one and the same and, in many ways, I suppose that they're correct. My own view on this is that once a watch becomes a thing of beauty it becomes a timepiece, but exactly where the line is drawn I really couldn't say. I think that it was Margaret Wolfe Hungerford who coined the phrase 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.' and I feel that's about as close as one can get; however, once that threshold from watch to timepiece has been crossed, it takes on a completely different identity.

The gentleman's diver

It's strange, but when a watch becomes a timepiece I'd expect it to be worn by a gentleman. I can't explain why; it has no connection with reason, or indeed, common sense for that matter, nevertheless, it's the feeling that this particular timepiece evokes. In an odd way, it transports you back in time to a slightly more formal age, but in an informal way. It's not 'retro' in the true sense but when you glance at it there's just a hint of time gone by, and then it's gone. It's a timepiece that you'd expect to adorn the wrist of a gentleman, a gentleman that would always hold the door open for a lady and allow her to pass first, or a gentleman that would offer his seat on a crowded train to someone older than himself, it's something, and then it's nothing. A watch tells the time; a timepiece tells the story. It's quite a special moment when you and your timepiece become one, sharing those almost forgotten values. 

The bits that move!

Let's now take a look at the bits we need to play with from time to time; first up is the crown. As soon as you start to unscrew the crown the quality of workmanship becomes evident; the diameter and straight knurl are just right. The rotation of the crown is buttery-smooth in operation and it catches immediately, without hesitation when screwing back down. Hand winding is smooth and precise, as is the date and time adjustment; a typical Sellita SW200-1 one might say! The bezel is 120-click and uni-directional as one would expect and on my particular watch lined up perfectly. It blends so majestically with the case that it's coin edge is little difficult to grip in the normal way; however, once mastered, its operation is firm and resistive with no back-play. At this point I should mention that as a diver I'm used to tool watches that have bezels you can grip and turn in the most slippery and slimy conditions imaginable.

Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver: Credit WatchGecko

The dial

The dial is matt black with applied markers. The text is well proportioned, clear and well positioned. The date aperture at the 3 o'clock position is integrated into the 3 o'clock applied marker,  and the white background of the date wheel blends perfectly with it's opposite number at 9 o'clock. A nice touch is that the date aperture is polished on the inner sides. The minute hand is of sword design and is outlined in red, as is the tip of the second hand. The hour hand is of baton design and blends perfectly with its surroundings. Both hands align perfectly and the date clicked over at 2 minutes to midnight on this example. The luminescence is more than adequate but obviously nowhere near as bright as most dedicated dive 'tool' watches. There's no getting away from the fact that there has to be some compromises in all sorts of areas in order to achieve the vision of the designer, and the Ligure seems to have struck a sensible middle ground. The sapphire crystal has anti-reflective coating on the underside only, this eliminates any unsightly scratches on the top of the crystal as the years tick by; touches like these often go unnoticed but it's confirmation that the whole design has been thought about, and the watch is, indeed, fit for purpose.

A timepiece for everyone?

That's a tall order indeed! It would be unrealistic to suggest that this is a timepiece for everyone; we all have our own ideas on what our perfect watch should be and I certainly wouldn't want to change that in any way. I feel that the Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver is for the man that doesn't want to fuss about a watch, but at the same time expects it to go where he goes, do what he does and look good in any situation; for me, it's at this point that a watch makes that magical transition into a timepiece.

What about the strap and clasp?

The Tartaruga's black FKM rubber strap is exceptionally comfortable; the red underside is well vented and doesn't irritate the wrist in any way. The strap suits the watch perfectly, while still maintaining that functional, no-nonsense whisper about it. The butterfly clasp is easy to operate but needs to be pressed shut firmly as it compresses the rubber slightly; this results in the clasp being completely firm and silent. The twin-button release is easy to operate and doesn't stand out like a sore thumb.

A replacement for the dedicated dive instrument?

No! That was never the intention. The category for the dedicated dive instrument is not under threat and will remain as strong as it always has been. The Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver has been plunged into another category that already contains a myriad of watches that can be worn by the more active among us; however, the Tartaruga does it all with a certain style and elegance that undoubtedly sets it apart from the vast majority and, in this 'sub-category', only a few remain. There's no doubt that the Ligure Tartaruga Scuba Diver nestles comfortably within this small, select group; it's as confident 100 feet below the waves as it is while caressing the hand of the one you love over a romantic, candlelit dinner. It doesn't need to push or jostle; it's position within this small, elite family is secure, and is likely to be so for some considerable time.

The last word

My affinity for dedicated, deep-dive watches will, I suspect, never change but that should not, and will not  diminish my admiration for a project that has been brought to life not only through passion but also through the lifelong friendship of three, extremely talented individuals. Is it perfect? Indeed, is any watch perfect? The Ligure Scuba Diver attempts to play both sides and, to be fair, does so extremely well; if you look on it as an extremely capable dress watch you will not be disappointed. Ligure would have us believe that 'Time is a gentleman.' and, as I glance across at my wrist while attempting to do this exquisite timepiece justice, I have to say that I'm very much inclined to agree with them. 

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Don Russell

About the Author: Don Russell

The timepiece of an adventurer serves not only as a trusted companion, but also as a portal to their inner self. My interest in watches goes back more than half a century; my reliance and passion more than half of that time. My hope is that I may inspire others to use their timepiece on their own adventures so that they may share a passion that has enriched my own life and given me so much enjoyment.

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