Spurred on by the success of last year’s Archive Series Oceanographer Devil Diver, Bulova has recently announced the release of two new color variants to expand its heritage-informed collection. The new watches are, except for updated dial colors, identical to the last year’s non-limited, slightly less true-to-the-original, 44mm-wide Devil Diver, originally available with a black and red color scheme. While the new dial colors do not represent a totally new watch, the pieces are bold and representative of Bulova’s (and, indeed, the entire watch industry’s) ever-increasing interest in reissues.
The general layout and design of the Devil Diver dial is the same, with large applied, luminescent 3D hour markers, a crosshair design, and simple, almost Doxa-like hands. Carried over from the previous (and original) version is also the traditionally positioned 3 o’clock date wheel and complementary square cyclops for easy date viewing. Dial text remains old-school, with an applied Bulova signature at 12 o’clock, “Oceanographer” just underneath, as well as “Automatic,” “Snorkel,” and the Devil Diver moniker “666” located at 6 o’clock.
The two new dial colors are a sort of turquoise-like green and an orange and blue model, both with matching bezels. I am impressed with Bulova’s willingness to employ a couple of color schemes that are seldom seen in the watch industry, harkening back to the glory days of funky-looking and colorful watch dials, especially on divers.
Bulova’s modern Devil Diver case features a retro cushion style, with polished sides and a polished top that slopes steeply to meet the acrylic inlaid bezel, one of the most powerful throwback elements of the reissued Devil Diver series. Each model’s bezel is color-matched to its respective dial in the first 15-minute section. The case itself is mostly polished, though parts of the bracelet and caseback are brushed. These watches are not meant to be subtle, and the shiny case presentation fits in with the showy 1970s look and feel.
While 44mm would have been huge in the era of the original Bulova Oceanographer Snorkel, in today’s world it fits in nicely with comparable diver watch offerings. Those with very small wrists may find Satan’s most beloved diving watch ever so slightly hefty, but I would argue that diver’s watches are often at their best when they are slightly oversized. Though a bit large, the case does wrap, making the watch easy to wear and comfortable even for the smaller-wristed out there, myself included.
A somewhat restrained but aesthetically complimentary screw-down occupies the traditional 3 o’clock spot, and crystal duties are handled with anti-reflective sapphire, a nice touch for the not-unreasonable price.
Last year’s limited-edition (and more expensive) Archive Series Devil Diver came complete with a Swiss movement (a Sellita SW 220), whereas the more pedestrian model featured a Miyota Cal. 821D. These two new Devil Divers also sport the more-than-capable 821D, a workhorse of an automatic movement that beats at a somewhat slow 21,600 vph and does not hack (gasp!).
The lack of a hacking function will be a turnoff for some but does add in a small way to the vintage feel, as many older automatic divers were not bothered with the need for precise synchronization. The Japanese movement is also indicative of Bulova’s owners, Japanese watch giant Citizen. And a Miyota movement positions the Archive Series Devil Divers at a more affordable price-point, something we as watch nerds can get behind.
As before, the Devil Diver comes complete on an eccentric stainless steel bracelet with entirely too many types and rows of links, as well as alternating brushing and polishing. One almost hopes the bracelet will rattle just enough to complete the vintage feel.
As I mentioned, Bulova has done nothing new other than to add a few more colors to its 44mm non-limited Devil Diver. While not a huge deal, the expansion of the Devil Diver collection indicates, at least to some extent, the success of its forebears, therefore indicating a market that can support still more heritage reissue models. More and more watch nerds are eschewing the often turbulent vintage market in favor of similar looking, yet modern, watches with the same feel, and the Devil Diver reissues are the product of that decision making process.
As before, the Archive Series Devil Diver watches are still a reasonable value proposition at their full retail price of $795 and an even better deal at what are likely much lower Internet prices. For those who take their vintage inspired divers a bit larger and with some flair, the Archive Series Oceanographer Devil Diver ($795) in its new colors represents a welcome and interesting choice in a crowded market. You can learn more at bulova.com.