It’s been quite some time since I wrote about a Swiss Favre-Leuba watch (2009 was the last time, actually). The interesting company has been around for ages, and today mostly produces quirky-cool sport watches with interesting complications and aesthetics that remind you of the late 1960s/1970s. For 2017, the Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon is something timepiece lovers should know about, especially given the patented system for telling the time.
At first glance, the functionality of the Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon dive watch may produce a quizzical look from most viewers. You would be totally forgiven for looking at the dial and asking yourself “what am I look at here?” True enough, there is just one hand on the dial, and then a very stubby disc-style hand in the center. Most people think what they are looking at is a watch with one hell of a contrast between a longer minute hand a tiny hour hand in the center.
In fact, that small disc-style hand with the arrow in the center of the dial is the seconds hand, and there is no hour hand. There is, however, an hour disc. Watch the included video to see how this watch works. The minute hand operates as normal, but the hour disc literally follows it. Thus, to see the time, you just read the minute hand’s position as on any other watch, but the minute hand is also pointing to the current hour on the disc. A good argument could be made that such a system is actually easier to read (and thus more legible) than a traditional two-handed hour and minute display.
I’ll admit that I saw a system like this a few years ago, but in concept form and not in an actual watch. That was from a different independent watchmaker, and as far as I know, that never got made. According to Favre-Leuba, their system is mechanically a bit different from the one I saw a few years ago, even though they functionally display time in the same way. In any event, what is important is that consumers can finally get a cool dive watch with this innovative system for telling the time that, in my opinion, is a brilliant concept that offers actual time-reading efficiency – meaning that it is more than a mere novelty.
The design of the Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon is masculine, retro, and clearly not for everyone. If this time-telling system works out well for Favre-Leuba, I hope that they offer it in a range of watches that are meant for a larger variety of watch enthusiasts. There is just too much mechanical fascination here to leave the hand and disc time-telling system to just this one style of watch.
Lovers of retro-loud (as I call this classic yet bold style) sport dive watches will be drawn to the Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon, which emulates the late 1960s-era diver watches, but with a distinct modern edge. It feels very much like a real diving instrument, and comes complete with aesthetic cues from the colors, blocky indices, case shape, bezel design, and bracelet that remind you of “heyday” diver watches.
The case is large at 46mm wide in brushed steel. There is also a PVD-coated black case option as well. Water-resistant to 500 meters (with a manual helium release valve), the Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon case is also 16.5mm thick, with a double AR-coated sapphire crystal. In full retro spirit, the rotating diver’s bezel is topped with an anodized aluminum insert. You can also get the Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon with either orange or blue color accents and on a range of straps or a matching steel metal bracelet.
The bracelet is said to have a diving extension system, and strap choices range from rubber to a few leather strap colors. I think a lot of people who love diving and sport watches and have a particular weakness for designs of this era will fall in love with this concept because it actually offers something different. Note that if you like the design of this watch and want something a bit more traditional (or need to spend less) Favre-Leuba produced two other versions of the Raider. Both of the other models come in a slightly smaller 44mm-wide case (with the same design) and include the Favre-Leuba Raider Sea Sky Chronograph, as well as the three-hand-with-date Favre-Leuba Raider Deep Blue. Though, for me, the Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon with its special time display system is the most interesting of the models.
Inside the watch is a base Swiss automatic mechanical movement, with a module system developed by Favre-Leuba for the hour and disc system to indicate the time. It’s a lovely innovation and way of making reading an analog watch different enough to be interesting, and actually quite useful. Price for the Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon is 4,450 Swiss francs in steel on the strap, 4,750 Swiss francs in black PVD-coated steel on the strap, and 4,950 Swiss francs in steel on the matching steel bracelet. favre-leuba.com