With enthusiasm for vintage watches at an all-time high — in particular, those used for diving — a bevy of brands has been resurrected over the past few years. Among those names to rise from the depths is Le Forban Sécurité Mer. Though the company lay dormant for more than 30 years following the quartz crisis, 2019’s release of the Malouine signaled a promising return — like a lighthouse beacon within a sea of reissues. Now, the introduction of the new Brestoise further locks the brand’s distinct style and heritage design.
Proudly hailing from France, Le Forban Sécurité Mer leans heavily on its Parisian heritage – and rightfully so. The rise of SCUBA – both recreationally and professionally – has a significant amount of history tied in with France. Emile Gagnon and Jaques Cousteau’s development of the “Aqua-Lung” self-contained underwater breathing apparatus in the 1950s was effectively the key to Davy Jones’ Locker and laid the foundation for decades of future underwater explorers and oceanographers. In addition, The Cousteau Society (and Jacques himself) brought attention to the environmental impact and significance of our oceans through film in a way that had never been truly documented before.
Le Forban Sécurité Mer saw the opportunity to capitalize on the increasing popularity of skin-diving and SCUBA in 1969 and subsequently created the first iteration of its dive watch. The genesis of this timepiece was inspired not only by recreation but also by the French Navy’s search for reliable and rugged tools especially equipped for the day-to-day tasks of divers and maritime personnel. In order to ensure that it would live up to the rigors of military and adventure applications, a strong emphasis was placed on legibility and utilitarianism. The successful accomplishment of this objective led to the birth of a true tool watch that Le Forban Sécurité Mer proudly endorsed with its iconic anchor logo, which continues on today.
As the successor to the flagship 1969 model, the new Brestoise heeds the same siren song and longs for the sea. Each model that has been released since 2019 is named after a famous French port. In this case, the Brestoise references the port city of Brest on the coast of the Celtic Sea. It is fitting that the model shares the moniker, as there is deep maritime history relating to both Le Forban Sécurité Mer and the city of Brest. Additionally, each Brestoise is assembled in Paris, France.
Simplicity is a theme that runs throughout the design and execution of the Brestoise. Measuring in at a perfectly balanced 38.4mm in diameter ensures that it can be worn comfortably while remaining unobtrusive and ready for duty. A lean case thickness of 12.75mm further adds to the wearability whether you are wearing a coat to protect against ocean spray or a wetsuit for a day in the water. The black dial is a paragon of legibility, a feat accomplished through the implementation of bold, heavily lumed Arabic numerals and alternating rectangular indices. The minute hand is accented with a broad-arrow tip, allowing for easy tracking of elapsed time when used in conjunction with the unidirectional bezel. The use of Super-LumiNova C3 on the bezel pip, as well as the hands and indices, guarantees a torch-like glow in low-light conditions, be it under the ocean swells or during a night out on the town.
Continuing to blend a vintage aesthetic with contemporary components, Le Forban Sécurité Mer made the decision to utilize an aluminum bezel insert, which is what would have also been found on the original model. The high-dome sapphire crystal is far more scratch-resistant than what would have existed in the ’60s, but the mild distortion around the perimeter of the dial gives an authentic, retro vibe and warmth generally reserved for acrylic. The 3 o’clock date window is trapezoidal; another nod to the classic skin-diver aesthetic. Supplied on a tropic-style silicone strap and with a screw-down crown, this is a timepiece rated to 150 meters of water resistance. In the horological community, depth ratings are often over-glorified, so, while this may seem conservative compared to others on the market, it is more than sufficient for all but the most extreme saturation divers.
The Brestoise is powered by the Miyota 8215. This self-winding, Japanese movement has been around since the late 1970s. With decades of proven reliability, Le Forban Sécurité Mer recognized that the track record of durability is completely in line with the aura of the Brestoise. Not only is a mechanical movement faithful to what was found in true vintage divers, but the lack of battery or electronic components means that it will remain dependable for many decades to come. Fitting for a watch tailored to the high-seas, the caseback is adorned with a ship’s wheel and water motif.
The Brestoise is currently available on Le Forban Sécurité Mer’s website and retails for €408.33 ($486.17 USD). Whether you are a coastal crusader or someone who prefers a more landlocked life, the Brestoise is a timepiece that possesses a chameleon-like quality to blend effortlessly into any lifestyle. It pairs just as well with beaches and boardshorts as it does with coffee and a croissant, so whatever your ideal day may be, this offering from Le Forban Sécurité Mer has got you covered.
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