A large part of the appeal of vintage reissue watches is being able to enjoy a fan-favorite retro design or rare historical piece without the worry of potentially damaging a fragile, irreplaceable, or potentially very expensive vintage collectible. Unless the specific watch is recreating some legendary model that simply isn’t attainable (either due to price point or availability), vintage reissue pieces are arguably most satisfying when they are positioned on the affordable end of the price spectrum. Nivada Grenchen seems to recognize this, and as a follow-up to its successful meca-quartz Datomaster that was unveiled last year, has just released a new limited edition version of the Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver for 2023 that is powered by a meca-quartz movement and priced at less than $500.
Crafted from 316L stainless steel, the case of the Nivada Grenchen Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver offers a similar overall profile to the brand’s various Chronomaster models. Overall, it measures 38mm in diameter by 12.95mm-thick. Finished with brushed and polished surfaces, the lugs feature large tapered bevels and feature drilled spring bar holes for easy strap changes and a proper vintage appearance. Fitted to the top of the case is a double domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating. This element is surrounded by a bidirectional rotating bezel with a black anodized aluminum insert that has a 60-minute elapsed time scale. A signed crown and pump-style pushers protrude from the 3 o’clock side of the case and offer access to the movement, while a solid screw-down stainless steel caseback helps to create 100 meters of water resistance.
The matte black dial fitted to the meca-quartz Nivada Grenchen Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver features a trio of aged silver subdials, along with a set of baton shaped hour markers that are finished with Super-LumiNova. Surrounding the periphery of the dial is a thin tachymeter scale, while the “Nivada Grenchen Chronoking” branding appears just below the 12 o’clock marker. The trio of centrally-mounted hands receive black finished centers to give them somewhat of a floating appearance, and just like a number of other chronograph watches, the timekeeping hands and chronograph hands are color coordinated to help with legibility. With that in mind, the color coding for the hands is a bit mismatched. Instead of having only the chronograph hands finished red, it is ultimately the central chronograph seconds hand, along with the 24-hour hand and running seconds hand for the time that receive a red finish.
Powering the new Nivada Grenchen Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver is the Seiko VK64 meca-quartz chronograph movement, which is a favorite among many independent brands operating on the affordable end of the price spectrum. Like other meca-quartz calibers, the Seiko VK64 is powered by a battery and relies on quartz timekeeping technology. However, it uses a traditional system of cams and gears to operate its chronograph mechanism. Since it is ultimately still a quartz movement, the Seiko VK64 benefits from the accuracy, durability, and affordability that is inherent to all quartz calibers, while still offering the snappy feel and smooth motion of a traditional mechanical chronograph. That said, since the Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver Meca-Quartz features a running seconds hand at the 6 o’clock location (something many other brands using this movement choose to omit), you will still see the once-per-second tick that serves as an ever-present reminder that the watch is ultimately still powered by a battery.
Despite being named the Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver, the new meca-quartz powered version is not an exact aesthetic recreation of the original vintage model. While vintage examples feature a two-register layout and a date window at the rather unusual 12 o’clock location, the new Nivada Grenchen Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver Meca-Quartz opts for a three-register layout and lacks a date display entirely. The decision to change from two to three subdials is a bit puzzling, as it guarantees a once-per-second ticking motion for the running seconds hand, and partially defeats the aesthetic allure of using a meca-quartz movement in the first place. Similarly, not including a date display also seems like a bit of an unusual decision in this particular instance, since the Seiko VK64 naturally includes a calendar function. Historical inconsistencies aside, by opting for a meca-quartz movement, the new Nivada Grenchen Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver Meca-Quartz is able to offer a similar overall appearance to the brand’s popular Chronomaster models at less than one third of the price.
Like other contemporary Nivada Grenchen watches, the Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver Meca-Quartz is available with a variety of different strap and bracelet options including everything from leather and rubber straps to a beads of rice bracelet, plus a handful of additional options from the third-party strap/bracelet manufacturer Forstner. That said, with standard 20mm lugs and the additional convenience of drilled spring bar holes, a near endless variety of aftermarket options will also be compatible. Pricing for the Nivada Grenchen Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver Meca-Quartz starts out at $479 USD as of press time and increases from there depending on the desired strap or bracelet, which makes it one of the most affordable models in the brand’s entire lineup. That said, production of the Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver Meca-Quartz will be limited to just 100 examples, so rather than being a budget-friendly entry point into the brand’s modern catalog, this will likely end up being a model that will quickly be picked up by existing collectors. For more information on the Nivada Grenchen Chronoking Aviator Sea Diver Meca-Quartz, please visit the brand’s website.