Today, I check out two pre-production prototypes (there will be some changes before the final production) of the soon-to-be-released Dietrich SD-1 “Skindiver” watch. These two watches include the SD-1 Skindiver “Suave Black” with the black dial and bezel and the SD-1 Pacific Blue with the blue-colored bezel and dial. The Dietrich SD-1 Skindiver watches collection was first debuted on aBlogtoWatch here.
What I like about each and every Dietrich watch that I’ve worn so far is that Emmanuel Dietrich never feels as though he is making a timepiece meant to appeal to all audiences. Each of the watches designed under his eponymous brands is well-suited for some people and less interesting to others. While subsequent Dietrich designs have, indeed, become increasingly classic in their appeal, there is still a definite “target group” for each of the products. That is no different with the SD-1 Skindiver; which is really about him creating a mid-size traditional diver’s style watch with some of his aesthetic DNA. The watch very much fits that intended mold.
This is the smallest Dietrich watch I have worn, as well as the most traditional in terms of its design and conception. Emmanuel Dietrich was inspired by 1960s-era recreational dive watches, including their size, overall legibility, and wearing experience. He then combined that with various visual cues the brand is known for. Great examples are the hour and minute hands, which are actually adapted from the Dietrich OT (organic time) watch collection from several years ago. Dietrich later used very similar hands for the DD-1 watch (aBlogtoWatch review here), and once again in a modestly different form for the Skin Diver.
Another great piece of Dietrich design DNA in the SD-1 is the shape of the bracelet. The bracelet is actually a revision of the Dietrich TC (Time Companion) bracelet (aBlogtoWatch review here) which used hexagonal-style links. The TC watch’s bracelet has links that were very close together and, while they look good, they offered relatively little articulation. The SD-1 bracelet is both narrower and designed with links that have more space between them, allowing for the bracelet to fit more comfortably over more wrist sizes. Whereas the original Time Companion bracelet took years to get right and was never quite what Dietrich seemed to want, he really appeared to improve upon both the comfort and construction engineering of the steel bracelet for the Skindiver — though, as a diver’s watch, its bracelet only has an elegant butterfly-style deployant. For sportier wearing purposes, Dietrich supplies each SD-1 watch with a matching (blue or black) “NBR” rubber strap. More friendly is the fact that the bracelet and (presumably) the straps are on quick-release spring bars.
As a “mid-size” diver’s watch (a small size would be mostly for women or children) the SD-1 is ideal for those who prefer a smaller wearing experience or simply have narrower wrists that aren’t flattered by larger watch sizes. Dietrich designed the SD-1’s polished and brushed steel case to be 38.5mm wide, 12mm thick, and with a 46.2mm lug-to-lug distance. The relative thickness of the case doesn’t make it feel small, but the narrower overall proportions give this product a much more modest wearing experience than even a 40mm-wide diver’s watch.
As a diver’s watch, the SD-1 is water-resistant to 150 meters (totally fine for most swimming, snorkeling, and shallow recreational diving) with an AR-coated sapphire crystal over the dial. Sapphire crystal is also used for two other important components including over the bezel insert as well as for the dial. Sapphire crystal bezel inserts were once much more exotic and expensive, so it is very cool to see them at lower price points such as Zodiac and now Dietrich. The rotating diver’s style bezels are hip-looking with Dietrich’s combination of ergonomic sensitivity and modernity. The design of the bezels also fits very much in the “classic skindiver look” that Dietrich is going for in this model.
The most contemporary part of the SD-1 is the dial itself. Printed on a colored piece of sapphire crystal, the dial is very much classic in theme but modern in execution. Traditional touches like a crosshair-style dial and high-contrast hour markers are rendered against a gradient black or blue face. Always someone for balance and symmetry, Dietrich skillfully designs an interesting date window at 6 o’clock that also manages to appeal as a natural hour marker. There’s no stock date disc here. Dietrich prints custom date discs that even include his special font. I love this attention to detail. Other little case details include the fish-style motif-printed colorful insert in the crown, as well as the effective use of knurled edging for grip on the crown and bezel.
Inside the SD-1 watch is a Swiss Made Sellita SW200 automatic movement that operates at 4Hz with about two days of power reserve. Speaking of the movement, these watches have extremely simple, solid steel screw-down casebacks on their rears. These are so simple in design that I actually believe them to be pre-production casebacks. Very few watches have casebacks this blank anymore, and I actually believe that Deitrich might have been wise to outfit the casebacks with a bit more information. That’s just my opinion. The rule I go off is simple. If someone was to find the watch 50 years from now and wants to get information about it, is there enough data on the watch itself (dial, caseback, etc…) that would allow someone to conduct a proper search engine query? In this instance, the watch merely has the brand name, not even the model name, reference number, serial number, etc. Therefore, it would fail my test in regard to giving a future person enough information to easily research what this item is.
For all the people who requested that Dietrich design a smaller, more classic watch, the SD-1 Skindiver is surely a very satisfying answer. If anything it gives the throngs of people interested in vintage-style diver’s watches a modern choice with a lot more visual personality than most of the actual vintage stuff that is available. More so, the “in-demand” vintage diver’s watches out there often trade for so much, that their values propositions are quite poor when it comes to being suitable as actual daily wears. The Dietrich SD-1 has a price similar to other modern boutique-brand diver’s watches, but few have the attention to detail, let alone originality, as this Dietrich. More so, the higher-end list of components, such as the sapphire crystal bits, help round out this otherwise very interesting timepiece package.
Dietrich is often the quirky choice, but it is never the boring choice. While this watch is a bit small on my wrist, I really enjoy the design and know that there will be a good number of happy wearers for this product out there. A next step might be to make a sister model in a slightly larger case but assuming enough people learn about the SD-1 watches, I think Dietrich will do very well with them. Price for the Dietrich SD-1 Skindiver watch is $1,050 USD. Learn more at the Dietrich watches website here.