The latest product from Swiss watchmaker Dietrich is the SD-1, and it is scheduled to start shipping in the summer of 2021. Known as the “Skin Diver,” the SD-1 is a new type of Dietrich product that also happens to represent a novel direction for the brand. As of 2021, Dietrich founder Emmanuel Dietrich will focus on designing watches that are “reinterpretations of iconic watch templates from the past.” That’s a shift in direction from most previous Dietrich watches that were conceptual looks into the future. In keeping with current tastes and watch enthusiast interests, Dietrich is displaying its agility and ability to adapt to the times.
The current trend to rally around vintage sports watches is directly related to a nostalgic focus on purposeful products and leisure activities. Skin diver watches of the past were among the first recreational diving watches available to the public — at a time when SCUBA diving and snorkeling were relatively new sports. From roughly the 1950s through the 1970s, a wide array of diver’s style watches were released, each with the promise of being comfortable and legible under the water, or in other challenging conditions. The focus on practical utility, as well as visual beauty, has made vintage-style diving watches an area of particular interest for consumers. Emmanuel Dietrich now offers his own studied interpretation of a classic skin diver watch cast with Dietrich brand DNA.
Despite its vintage-style form, the SD-1 is a thoroughly modern watch with original design elements never found in earlier skin diver-style watches. The resulting timepiece is a true merger of old and new, in a way only Dietrich could have imagined. The SD-1 is also the most compact timepiece produced by Dietrich yet, with a classic case size of 38.5mm-wide. The brushed steel case is water-resistant to 150 meters, is 12mm-thick, and has a lug-to-lug distance of 46.2mm.
Over the dial is an AR-coated sapphire bezel, and another piece of sapphire sits over the rotating diver’s-style timing bezel. Sapphire bezel inserts are prized among enthusiasts, and the Dietrich SD-1 is one of the most accessible watches to be given this design feature. Dietrich also re-engineered the distinctive hex-link bracelet for the Dietrich TC-1 watch into a fitting bracelet for the SD-1. The bracelet is now more flexible and also lighter in weight. Dietrich also offers the SD-1 with a matching rubber strap.
Inside the Dietrich SD-1 watch is the Swiss Made Sellita caliber SW200 automatic movement, which operates at 4Hz with 38 hours of power reserve. The Skin Diver SD-1 watch will debut with either a gradient “suave black” or “pacific blue” color dial. The symmetrical face incorporates the brand’s Organic Time-style hands with Emmanuel Dietrich’s own take on the classic dive watch dial — with floating-style hour markers.
The first 100 buyers of the SD-1 watch will receive both a watch bracelet and rubber strap with the watch for the price of $1,050 USD. Henceforth the Dietrich Skin Diver SD-1 watch will be priced at $970 USD on a rubber strap, and $1,050 USD on the bracelet. Learn more or order at the Dietrich website here.
aBlogtoWatch now presents a special interview with Emmanuel Dietrich of Dietrich Watches about the new SD-1 watch and fresh focus of the brand:
aBlogtoWatch: A major part of the Dietrich brand ethos was the creation of modern/futuristic watch designs. With the Skin Diver (SD-1), you make a point to indicate a new future direction for the brand. That new direction will see Dietrich “reinterpreting the templates of iconic watches from the past.” Can you explain what this means for both you and the consumer?
Emmanuel Dietrich: As a designer, I have to push the boundaries and use all the freedom of creation I have offered myself by creating my own brand. But on the other hand, I am also “just a guy” who loves all the classics of watchmaking. And I always knew that the most successful designs are often a new interpretation of an archetype. Someone like Philippe Stark was extremely successful in furniture with this process, changing the material of a chair from wood to plastic and making it a real novelty, while keeping a feeling of deja-vu.
The creation of the first models of the brand has allowed me to lay the foundations of the brand’s identity in all freedom. But now I want to use this DNA to give the iconic templates of watchmaking the Dietrich identity and modernity. At the same time, the ATELIER preserves my ability to be creative when working on projects with individual clients.
aBlogtoWatch: You also mention the creation of a new concept called the Dietrich ATELIER. What is that, and how will the products that result from it interact or relate to the core Dietrich watches?
Emmanuel Dietrich: Well, the crazy designer in me is not dead. On the contrary — Dietrich was launched as an affordable brand from the beginning, and we will go back to this by going 100% online and suppressing distribution.
And since I wish to continue exploring complicated watchmaking but cannot do it at this price, I asked myself: How can I achieve it? What can I bring to this world? I am a designer, not a watchmaker, so hand-beveling and quest of precision wouldn’t feel legit.
My passion is the creation process itself. And during my career as a designer for big brands, I learned that the best creations always come from a good briefing, from the encounter between a designer and a strong demand.
This gave me a crazy idea: What if I was inviting a “guest,” someone with high horological culture and the collection gene, and asked him to give me his briefing for the watch he always dreamed of but never found? And I would create this watch for him, produce it in a limited edition, and record the creation process to share it with the community. The end goal here is to give me the ability to create something truly original and unique with as few design-parameter limitations as possible.
This is something that was never done, and I am sure, very exciting and interesting. We all have seen so much of production and handcraft, but the real beginning, the creation process, was never shown. Once I had this idea, I couldn’t wait to start.
And here we are, the first project with the first guest is happening, and I can already tell you that it works very well. The briefing was great, the creation was a blast, and that led to what I call a great “simplification” with tons of character. I cannot wait to start sharing this!
This ATELIER will allow me to continue exploring and enrich the universe of the brand. That is the research unit, the laboratory, the concept cars department of the brand. But you will be able to actually buy the concept car.
aBlogtoWatch: Talk a bit about the iconic “Skin Diver watch design template” and both why it appealed to you and how you worked with it to make an original Dietrich watch creation.
Emmanuel Dietrich: I was always in love with diver watches because they are the best incarnation of a tool watch. It is a “form-follows-function” but refined item, with tons of sexiness. I have wanted to make one since the beginning of the brand. The team also felt that, among popular vintage tool watches, skin divers were a bit underrated — meaning it was a relatively fresh area to explore.
I had to make decisions: water resistance, size, technicalities, style, etc. And I realized that as much as I desired to create a diver, I wanted it to be wearable all day and discreet enough to be another “Time Companion” (TC-1 watch)… and not a heavy tool for serious professional diving.
Dietrich was always about natural forms and seeking harmony with your environment. That is why the skin diver category felt right. It is a watch to wear all summer, from snorkeling to dinner, a watch dedicated to moments where you feel the communion with this other world underwater before you come back to the surface, feeling reborn. We called this floating moment — when you look at the sun rays on the surface above you — “equilibrium,” and that was my mantra during this creation.
I have used the best parts of previous creations — the hands of the OT, the bracelet of the TC, the hexagonal shape — to give identity to this timepiece and avoid, at all costs, making just another vintage copy. And this fits extraordinary well. There is a lot of sapphire on the bezel, the crown — even the dial’s made of it. This translates the feeling of depth and mirroring on the water surface. All of this is very modern, very Dietrich, and serves to completely renew the genre of the brand.
aBlogtoWatch: What type of watch enthusiast community feedback did you consider when creating both the visual design and technical specs of the SD-1 watch?
Emmanuel Dietrich: During the last years, building this brand gave me the opportunity for many great human encounters. One of them is Marshall (@marsh_kai), from @thematick.blog, who was always a supporter and became a close friend. He is representing exactly the type of client I want to work for: young, passionate, extremely cultivated and discerning, seeking individuality.
I have asked him to help me out with this new venture and write the briefing for me. He was my best judge during the creation process. My kids, too, are always my first critics!
aBlogtoWatch: At 38.5mm wide, the SD-1 appears to be the smallest size Dietrich watch released so far. Explain why this new size was appealing for you and if you believe that the Skin Diver watch will appeal to a new audience that, until now, hasn’t worn a Dietrich product?
Emmanuel Dietrich: I had to realize that even though I personally love bigger watches and can wear them, they don’t fit all our customers. We want to be able to adorn all kinds of wrists all over the world, and with the 44+ fashion out of the way, it made no sense anymore to resist elementary logic.
I asked around, especially the younger generation, and 38 to 39mm came as the gold standard. That will certainly open our audience, and since I see my products as suitable for men or women, being correctly balanced is important. In terms of design, anyway, size doesn’t really matter, only proportions do.
aBlogtoWatch: You mention that Dietrich recently underwent a “metamorphosis.” The brand’s strength has always been in its agility. Give fans some more understanding of the current goals of the brand and what to expect next.
Emmanuel Dietrich: The bigger step will be to entirely stop retail distribution and focus on direct sales only. We’ve always had a great relationship with our final customers, and it will be so much nicer to be in touch directly with all of them.
This will also allow us to considerably lower prices and give more potential customers access to our products. I will use this new work frame to continue exploring and reinventing other templates. Which one will be the next? Well, it is the question I am asking myself right now…
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