The Patravi ScubaTec is Lucerne-based Carl F. Bucherer’s high-end diver’s watch collection. It is currently the Carl F. Bucherer model that is the most popular with timepiece enthusiasts. As is the case with many luxury timepieces that endeavor to explore new designs, the Patravi ScubaTec was not an immediate success when it was originally released nearly a decade ago. Today, as Carl F. Bucherer shifts much of its marketing focus back to the West (including Europe and the United States), models such as the Patravi ScubaTec (there are many variants of the watch at this point) are going to be those timepieces that will attract much of the attention. Today, I review a two-tone steel and 18k rose gold Patravi ScubaTec with a bright blue dial that is the reference 00.106188.8.131.52.
When the Patravi ScubaTec was first released, the luxury watch landscape was vastly different from today — and accordingly, Carl F. Bucherer was much less on the minds of timepiece collectors. Today, a few notable things have happened since the Patravi ScubaTec was first debuted. One of the things is the new prominence the Bucherer name has in the United States. This is because Carl F. Bucherer’s parent company (the Swiss watch retailer chain Bucherer) purchased the legacy American watch retail chain Tourneau. While the transition from Tourneau stores to Bucherer stores is proceeding with calculated slowness, the importance and power of the Bucherer name is becoming more apparent to consumers in parts of the world where, until a few years ago, the Carl F. Bucherer name didn’t mean much to them.
The second thing that has happened in the last several years is Carl F. Bucherer’s diligent focus on particularly satisfying inclusion in a number of Hollywood movies including Rambo, Atomic Blonde, some of the Marvel superhero movies, and the entire John Wick series. More relationships with fun, action-focused movies are in the works, and the strategy seems to be working particularly well for the brand in both the United States and around the world. For example, one of the most popular Carl F. Bucherer watch articles published on aBlogtoWatch recently was of a special edition “crew only” Patravi ScubaTec that Carl F. Bucherer produced for John Wick 3.
With more attention than ever before, Carl F. Bucherer’s goal now is to channel the right products to consumers newly interested in seeing what the brand has to offer them. The good news for Carl F. Bucherer (and watch lovers) is that the brand’s timepieces are very well-made and boast a number of impressive technical features that collectors are currently looking for. This goes to show that impressive timepieces, even if not immediately popular with consumers, will find their stride if the companies that produce them put in enough effort and apply patience. My experience has demonstrated to me, time and time again, that a great but novel watch can take three to four years to gain enough momentum with even the keenest of consumers. In some instances, an otherwise great watch can take a decade or more.
The Patravi ScubaTec is a serious diver’s watch and very masculine in its presentation. It is, however, a design that takes a bit of time for some wearers to appreciate. I’ve often asked myself why, and the answer I come to is that while this is, indeed, a luxury timepiece in both construction and features, the designers chose an inherently playful, almost toy-like design that is complete with big fonts and a lot of interesting angles meant to appease (or at least attract) the eye.
After wearing a few Patravi ScubaTec watches over the years, I’ve come to really appreciate what Carl F. Bucherer got right in the collection, how these are both comfortable and ergonomic, and also how these pieces compare with other similarly priced “luxury lifestyle” diver’s watches. What actually came to mind the first time I wore this steel and 18k rose gold on bracelet version of the Patravi ScubaTec was that the wearing experience was very much like a last-generation Breitling Chronomat or other similar watch that is heavy (literally) on well-polished metal and that has a substantial yet comfortable feel to it. With that also comes a very jewelry-like presence on the wrist, given the attractive polished surfaces and how light reflects on the many angles and facets of the case and bracelet’s design.
One thing I have really come to appreciate in the Patravi ScubaTec is how Carl F. Bucherer took an established formula (the luxury diver’s watch) but rendered it a manner entirely unique for the brand. This is the biggest challenge when a brand wants to produce a contender in an existing product space. The question they have to answer is how those new products can feel familiar to consumers, but also have enough points of distinction to not get lost in the mix of many available products.
To answer this question, Carl F. Bucherer began by coming up with a design that simply doesn’t look like any other luxury dive watch out there. You don’t look at the Patravi ScubaTec case, dial, or hands and think of any other brand. This is what Carl F. Bucherer was going for, and after all these years since the watch was debuted, it still has a distinctive design to it. That level of product originality is probably what took the Patravi ScubaTec so many years to become popular but now serves the brand well and seems to say, “Look, we’ve had something original and well-made all this time now — you too can discover it.”
As a diver’s watch, the Patravi ScubaTec has enough technical merit to be relied upon by serious professionals, but in fancier forms such as this with gold and on the available bracelet, I think most owners will enjoy this as a lifestyle diver’s watch that can easily handle some pool or beach time in a pinch. The case is water resistant to 500 meters, has a uni-directional rotating bezel, a very legible dial with excellent lume, and an automatic helium release valve designed into the side of the case. I will talk more about the diver’s extension in the bracelet when I get to that part of the watch below.
The case itself is 44.6mm-wide with a not-terrible 13.45mm of thickness. The lug-to-lug distance is not too bad at 52mm, which helps the watch maintain good wearability even for smaller wrists such as my own. Note how interesting the Patravi ScubaTec case is designed, with angles and surfaces further enhanced by contrast polished and brushed surfaces. In my opinion, the case work and level of detailing is superior in the Patravi ScubaTec than those in many other similarly priced luxury diver watches. Over the dial is a flat AR-coated sapphire crystal that suffers from very little glare.
Carl F. Bucherer uses ceramic inlay for the rotating bezel that here is in black and blue tones. I really have to admit that seeing this watch merely in pictures left me concerned about how serious and high-end this color palette would look in person. On top of that was a memory of how I wore a Rolex Submariner Rolesor (two-tone) with the blue dial — and it didn’t fit my personality nearly as well as with a black dial. In fact, Carl F. Bucherer offers this exact same watch with a black dial as the reference 00.106184.108.40.206. Going back to the blue dial, I happened to not only find it fitting for my personality but really enjoy the attractive blue pop on my wrist, as it looks especially good with the rose gold hands and hour markers.
Dial design for the Patravi ScubaTec is a matter of taste, but as I said, it grew on me after wearing it for a few days. The applied rounded hour markers and matching hands are legible and distinctive in their appearance and, ultimately, very effective in their job. Look closely as the dial itself and you’ll notice a “fish scale” pattern that an interesting alternative to the similar “water waves” pattern we often see on dive watches that attempt to create a texture for the face. Otherwise the Patravi ScubaTec is straight-forward and utility-based in terms of the design and layout of the time+date dial design.
Inside the Patravi ScubaTec is a sourced Swiss Made ETA 2892-A2 automatic movement that has been regulated in-house by Carl F. Bucherer and also given a COSC Chronometer certification. Carl F. Bucherer is a Swiss watchmaker that does produce in-house movements but not in all of their timepieces. Unless the brand wants to add some novel complications to the Patravi ScubaTec in the future, I don’t really see the need for an in-house movement here, but given the price point of this watch, I know that at least some collectors will feel that this watch should include one of Carl F. Bucherer’s very compelling in-house movements such as the A1000. Perhaps, in time, new versions of the Patravi ScubaTec will experiment with in-house-made Carl F. Bucherer movements, but I’m not going to lose any sleep or appreciation for the Patravi ScubaTec collection while waiting.
I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think the Patravi ScubaTec watches originally all had mantas on the caseback (though I could be wrong). In the last few years, Carl F. Bucherer began to support an oceanographic wildlife preservation charity known as The Manta Trust (and has subsequently released two watches connected to the organization). Now, manta rays and the Patravi ScubaTec seem to be connected, and that is where I think this particular caseback came from. While it is a matter of taste, the combination of the Manta Ray motif on the rear of the case and the fish scales on the dial is a fun way of connecting this lifestyle luxury watch with the “world” that inspired it. It is also good to know that if you actually want to take this timepiece diving to see Manta Rays, then the Patravi ScubaTec will submerge with you more than willingly.
Most Patravi ScubaTec watches come on custom rubber straps with high-end deployant clasps. Those probably make the most sense for sporting activities or actual diving. That said, I’m a big sucker for bracelets, and that is why I was so interested in this particular model. Here you see it in its two-tone style with mostly steel links and a double row of 18k rose gold center links. The best part of the bracelet is the deployant clasp, which is not new but, given consumer demands right now, was clearly ahead of its time.
The deployant claps opens semi-butterfly-style and, when open, has two segments. One segment includes a fold-out diver’s extension (which allows you to wear the watch over a diving/wet suit or even just a jacket. The other side of the deployant includes a welcome micro-adjust system, which is really what collectors are looking for now. This system allows the user to easily adjust the size of the bracelet in small size increments. This allows you to loosen the bracelet when your wrist naturally expands, and then to tighten it again if you want the watch to be worn more snugly (such as for any sports or active duty).
Carl F. Bucherer has really started to refine the style of the Patravi ScubaTec over the last few years — notably in the interesting limited editions. I have a feeling that given how popular the collection is, we will see even more novelty in the core (non-limited) collection. The Patravi ScubaTec isn’t the least expensive product line from the brand, but I actually feel that it is a good place to start for many collectors (unless you really want to start with the “John Wick” watch — that is a rather demure dress-style Carl F. Bucherer that also has an ETA movement — worn on the wrist of Keanu Reeves while playing the John Wick character). In my opinion, the Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec is a good alternative to a Rolex Submariner since it has more personality and is more masculine in style; it’s also a good alternative to an Omega diver’s watch because the case and bracelet are better made; and it’s a good alternative to a Breitling for those who see more appeal or prestige with the Carl F. Bucherer brand.
For me, the quirky visual charms of the Patravi ScubaTec give it differentiation in the marketplace that I, as a seasoned collector, admire. Underneath the design is a very solid diver’s watch and a high-end jewelry-style timepiece product which offers what consumers should be looking for in a watch at this price point. Starting price for a Patravi ScubaTec in all-steel on a rubber strap is $6,200 USD, and as configured on steel and 18k rose gold on the matching bracelet, this Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec reference 00.106220.127.116.11 has a retail price of $11,800 USD. Learn more at the Carl F. Bucherer website here.
>Brand: Carl F. Bucherer
>Model: Patravi ScubaTec reference 00.10618.104.22.168
>Price: $11,800 USD as tested
>Size: 44.6mm-wide, 13.45mm-thick, and 52mm lug-to-lug distance
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a daily-wear high-end diver’s watch that attracts some nice visual attention but that is a familiar, comfortable tool at the end of the day.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: As the brand continues to gain popularity, this is great for someone who wants a straightforward luxury diver’s watch but isn’t interested in anything from the other established brands.
>Best characteristic of watch: Original design built on a tried & true luxury dive watch formula. Comfortable on the wrist despite size and weight. Excellent construction and detailing throughout. Really hasn’t given me any ergonomic things to complain about. Deployant clasp design will appeal to collectors.
>Worst characteristic of watch: “Big boy toy” design isn’t for everyone — but it does grow on you. With mostly limited editions as the newer ScubaTec watches, the brand might be due for a refresh of the core collection. Some fans will feel that this model would be more appealing with an in-house-made movement (for the price).