One of the last things I was expecting from Cartier for 2014 was a dive watch, and now that we have one I can barely imagine not wanting it. That is how the peculiar “desire engine” of the watch industry works. As mixed up and backwards as the industry may be, it still has the power to create items that I suddenly desire which I would have never thought appealing until they were brought to my attention. I am not even sure that a dive watch from the famously elegant and classy Parisian brand makes sense on paper, but now that one exists I sort of really want it. Yes, there are Cartier “sport” watches… but a legit diver, water resistant to 300 meters that you can still wear with a tie and be taken seriously by Europeans taste makers? I didn’t think it possible but the Calibre Diver is it.
We debuted the Cartier Calibre Diver here back before we got a hands-on look at it at the SIHH 2014 watch show. The Calibre has been one of our favorite men’s pieces from Cartier and we’ve known that it was to serve as a foundation for a range of new models. While I sort of expected that 2014 was going to bring us a Calibre GMT, it rather gave us a diving version of the original. To be honest not that much is different from the standard three-hand Cartier compared to the Diver. Sure the diver has a rotating diver’s bezel and a slightly bolder dial, but aside from the rubber strap and deeper water resistance this is the same classy men’s watch I’ve come to really enjoy.
Many people will already like the Calibre Diver without me having to explain it to them. What I want to do is explain the watch to guys who typically like dive watches but not Cartier – at least a sporty Cartier. Honestly, if you are a typical dive watch guy there is a lot to find appealing here if you want to ignore that you suddenly have a status watch on your wrist when wanting to be active. First of all, this is among the thinnest 300 meters dive watches out there being 11mm thick. That isn’t exactly “ultra-thin,” but is certainly not thick for a modern dive watch. It is also just over 1mm thicker than the standard Calibre model. Overall I feel that most “thickness conscious” watch lovers will have nothing to complain about.
As a “real diving tool” the Calibre Diver is ISO 6425 certified and pressure tested in water before leaving the factory. Much of the watch is standard Calibre which is a good thing. The 42mm wide case is a great size that wears large but is really reasonable in its dimensions. For my wrist at least it wears wonderfully, wrapping around my wrist with those curved lugs. It is honestly incredibly comfortable. The last Calibre I wore was on a bracelet. I do tend to like the look of a Calibre on a bracelet but on the rubber strap it fits so snugly and wears like a glove.
Much of the Calibre Diver case is brushed but there are fine polished elements along the edges of the lugs and other areas. Cartier typically is very keen on ensuring the finishing is something they focus on in their very high to mid-range luxury watches such as the diver. There are few watchmakers out there that offer a dive watch, at this price range, with a comparable level of case finishing.
Thinly profiled dive watches are uncommon because the trend is often to “go big” and be serious about size and durability features. With 300 meters of water resistance the Calibre Diver will go where most people diving will ever go and has a water resistance rating on par with the gold standard product at this price level – the Rolex Submariner. While the two timepieces are different, Cartier is clearly aiming at the same or very similar buy as someone who is interested in a Rolex Submariner.