Like many watches that I review on aBlogtoWatch, I took my time with the Tempest Viking. Sure it frustrates brands when it takes several months or longer to review a watch, but the honest truth is that we are rather backed up and go as fast as we can, publishing a full hands-on "wrist time" review once or sometimes twice a week. The benefit, however, is that when I review a watch, I get a lot of time to consider it and mull over it. My experience with this indie dive watch is a perfect example.
Before sitting down to write this review, I revisited my video review of the Tempest Viking that we published on our YouTube channel last year. I do this a lot in order to remind myself about how I felt about a watch closer to the beginning of a review period. What I found is that my review of this watch is pretty useful to listen to: I not only review this particular independent dive watch but actually discuss the entire segment–I suggest you give it a listen. So now that I have spent time wearing the Viking Tempest on and off how do I feel about it?
Tempest is a brand I had been in contact with prior to them having a completed product. I experienced the founder (Ben) going from a concept phase to a completed product and having to change his mind a bit a few times during the process. Like many independent watches, the Tempest Viking represents one person's idea of a dream watch, that they toiled to put together given the resources available to them. There is a good and bad side to this. The good side is that the result is a very pure form of timepiece in the sense that it is a watch made specifically to satisfy a single watch lover's desires. Love it or hate it, you have to appreciate that a single person struggled to bring their dream to market–and their own wrist.
The bad side is that, unlike large companies, small independent watch makers lack large budgets, marketing plans, deep industry connections, and the experience of having made watches for years (for the most part). So what you get is often a dream and a compromise and these range from pitiful shells of their own potential to truly impressive timepieces that combine a load of features for a fair price. The Viking is much closer to being the latter.
I don't necessarily know why dive-style watches are the most common indie watches out there, but they certainly are. Watch guys love the idea of creating their own ultimate tool watch, which often takes the form of a diver. The Tempest Viking certainly epitomizes the concept of one person wanting to throw in as many ideal features as possible. There really is a lot to the Viking, and it is rather unlike much of the competition. That starts with the uniquely designed, massive 45mm wide case.
That isn't to say that all 45mm wide cases are massive, but this one is. It is 52mm lug to lug and 17mm thick. Actually, that is the thin version. The watch comes with two sapphire crystal options; one is flat while the other is a "super dome crystal." So, the thickness of the Viking case ranges from 17mm thick to 22mm thick. That is a really thick watch, for sure. It wears large on the wrist given the length of the watch and how tall it is. It is also heavy–which is a blessing for those that love chunky watches and a warning to those who do not. All of this, however, is part of the Viking's rather massive water resistance rating of 2000 meters. Most professional dive watches are "only" water resistant to 300 meters. Is anyone going to take this watch down to 2000 meters? That is highly unlikely, but we are currently in the world of fantasy performance–so it really sounds cool.
The Viking case is also high detailed with inset sides, a complicated crown, and a lot of little features that make it more interesting than most large watches. Even the three-link bracelet has interesting angles to it that prevent it from being just another big dive watch. The case is available in brushed steel, but also in black PVD-coated steel, which adds a totally different look. The lugs and bracelet links each use hex-screws versus normal ones, but thankfully Tempest includes a tool in the box.
Around the dial is a pretty hefty looking rotating diver's bezel, and it is among the more impressive elements of the design. Tempest really wanted a bezel with a sapphire crystal insert, and that is what they got. The core bezel is fully lumed with minute markers, and over that Tempest places a sapphire crystal ring which is highly scratch resistant. This is a feature you'll not find in any watch at this price that I am currently familiar with.