One of the most interesting things I’ve found as a watch collector is how certain timepieces are head of their time. By that I mean certain watches are produced and released into the market without much noise, only to be “discovered” by the collector community months, or even years, later. Something like that is happening around Carl F. Bucherer’s diver’s watch collection known as the Patravi ScubaTec. Today, I go hands-on with one of the latest models, the 2019 “special edition” Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Black Manta (originally debuted on aBlogtoWatch here).
This is the second watch produced as part of Carl F. Bucherer’s relationship with the wildlife conservation charity known as The Manta Trust. With an international presence and based in the UK, The Manta Trust has a simple mission: to educate people around the world, from tourists to fishermen, about why manta rays are threatened, why they are important animals to protect, and what people can do to prevent damaging the environment they live in. The Manta Trust is part of a larger effort to provide education about pollution and human effects on our oceans. In addition, they are also helping to fund scientific research about a species we don’t actually know much about.
A good example is how many black mantas exist — or why they exist. What I learned as part of getting to know the people who work at The Manta Trust is that black mantas are actually a naturally occurring variety of manta rays and not a different species. Similar to albinism in humans and other animals, black mantas have additional pigmentation in their skin which accounts for their special dark colors. Science still does not understand how or why black mantas come into existence or if there might be other reasons for the morphological difference within the same species.
Black manta rays are the subject behind this special edition (it is not a limited edition like the first Carl F. Bucherer ScubaTec Manta Trust watch, which aBlogtoWatch reviewed here), the Patravi ScubaTec Black Manta watch.
This is also the first time Carl. F Bucherer has made its ScubaTec out of titanium (versus steel) — not just titanium, but black DLC-coated titanium. Not only does this offer a great look, but it also offers scratch resistance, a welcome addition. The case is water resistant to 500 meters with an automatic helium release valve and is 44.6mm-wide and about 13.4mm-thick. It actually wears very comfortably, especially on the rubber strap. I also like that the watch is relatively compact overall for a 500-meter diver’s timepiece.
Around the dial is a rotating diver’s bezel in metal, but with a ceramic inlay. The polished surface, which includes the numerals, is an interesting design feature that doesn’t look like other Swiss divers out there. The inlay colors in the bezel are black and a sort of bronze/burnt orange, which is handsome and distinctive. That same bronze color is used on the dial for the swimming manta motif. I really like this artistic element because it suggests the theme of the watch, clearly suggests diving, and also doesn’t distract from one’s ability to read the hands. Speaking of the hands and hour markers, Carl F. Bucherer decided to coat them in black, as well, which offers a nice look along with the generous amount of luminant. Overall, the dial is both distinctive and exceptionally easy to read.
Compared to the steel ScubaTec watches, this titanium case is appreciably lighter (30% lighter, I believe) and is a good choice for this type of watch. The stubbier lugs help even the nearly 45mm-wide case feel good on almost any wrist size. Attached to the case is a rubber strap with a plastic inlay produced from recycled plastic. This goes with the theme of the watch because plastic in the ocean is among the things killing manta rays (and countless other species). This strap is specifically made of PET plastic bottles that were collected in the ocean and then made into the material in the strap. The strap is connected to a folding deployant buckle that comes with both a micro-adjustment system and a diver’s extension clasp.
Inside the watch is what the brand calls its caliber CFB 1950.1. It is a slightly modified Swiss ETA 2892-A2 automatic that operates at 4Hz with about two days of power reserve. Carl F. Bucherer has all of the movements COSC Chronometer-certified (and says as much on the timepiece’s dial).
Unlike the initial Patravi ScubaTec Manta Trust Limited Edition (188 pieces) product, the Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Black Manta is not a limited edition, but will not be produced forever. It is a good-looking Swiss diver’s watch that is very capable and has a satisfying relationship with an authentic charity. Price is $7,200 USD. Learn more at the Carl F. Bucherer website here.