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Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

Earlier this year, I reviewed the Scurfa Bell Diver One, a 500-meter water resistant helium release valve and sapphire crystal equipped, automatic diver’s watch with a design injected with brand owner Paul Scurfield’s years of experience in commercial saturation diving. After a dozen working dives as a commercial diver as well as ample time on the surface wearing the Bell Diver 1, I came away impressed by what Paul was able to accomplish at a remarkable $400 retail price.

But what about the watch that made Scurfa Watches, the budget-friendly, quartz Diver One,  which currently sells for an even more staggering $230? How can an analog watch that isn’t a G-Shock from such an undeniably entry-level position hope to survive some of the harshest subaquatic conditions to which a watch can be subjected? I bravely and selflessly set out to answer exactly this question in our latest Wrist Time Review.

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

SCURFA WATCHES, DIVER’S WATCHES DESIGNED BY A COMMERCIAL DIVER

Scurfa Watches was founded in 2012 to fill the void on many diving industry professionals’ wrists that followed the meteoric rise in popularity and value which saw many divers sell their Rolex Submariners, Mil-Subs, and Sea-Dwellers, which they had, until then, roughly treated as the essential tools they were originally designed to be. Paul Scurfield (street name: “Scurfa”) initially designed the Diver One as a durable, barebones quartz diver to keep time both subsea and on deck in the rough and tumble North Sea commercial diving industry. With each successive iteration of the Diver One, of which there have already been several, Scurfa Watches have managed to upgrade the watch’s features while maintaining the entry-level price point.

Scurfa’s most recent Diver One is a 500-meter (up from 300 meters) water-resistant, 40mm diver’s watch with a sapphire crystal, newly included helium release valve, custom natural rubber strap, and full SuperLuminova treatment as standard. I just so happened to be on my way to a muddy river commercial diving job in Georgia when I received the Diver One, and decided to wear the watch throughout every second of the job, on land, on the boat, on the bottom, the shower, the bar, and everywhere in between.

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

Despite the Diver One’s apparently sturdy build, the inland commercial diving industry represents a uniquely dangerous environment for any watch or other piece of equipment. Stumbling around on the bottom in zero visibility as we often do in inland diving, it’s too easy to slam the watch into underwater structures, rocks, cables, etc… For the extremely few inland guys who dive with a watch, it happens all the time. I assumed the Diver One would be irreparably scarred by the process if it survived at all. But before we dramatically delve into the Diver One’s eventual success or failure, let’s discuss the watch itself.

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Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

SCURFA DIVER ONE ORIGINAL CASE

The biggest difference in wearing the Diver One compared to the Bell Diver One and many other dive watches of our time is the size. At first, the Diver One can even feel a bit small in the best way. Paul, a passionate Rolex fan, designed the Diver One with a very Submariner-like 40mm diameter, 47.7mm lug-to-lug, 20mm strap width, and a 14.4mm thickness owed largely to a domed sapphire crystal. In a stormy sea of oversized diving watches, I really appreciate the Diver One’s more diminutive stature. It is with good reason that the Rolex Submariner was similarly sized for decades. Forty or so millimeters is a case diameter that works well for diving without being so large as to become a hindrance in daily life.

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

On the wrist, perhaps especially my spindly 6.25” wrist, the Diver One is just right, with enough heft to avoid the possibility of any dainty-ness. The relatively short lug-to-lug, in particular, ensures the Diver One will work on a variety of wrists without hanging over. Also, heartfelt thanks to Paul for utilizing drilled lugs, perhaps as a nod to early Submariners and other tool watches, and perhaps simply for the ease they provide, as well as the ability to utilize highly-secure shoulderless spring-bars. Every tool watch should have drilled lugs, full stop.

Another value proposition in the Scurfa Diver One package is the excellent slightly-domed, anti-reflective sapphire crystal, which instantly adds perceived value and actual durability, a trait I tested very vigorously. A 120-click bezel with a simple printed aluminum bezel insert rotates with just enough resistance, has a nice positive “click”, and no play whatsoever. The bezel also proved easy to operate with the rubber-coated work gloves most divers wear. For the Rolex homies out there, a luminescent pearl sits at the zero/sixty-minute mark, giving the otherwise modern Diver One just a bit of a vintage feeling.

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

In order to ensure the water-resistance of the now five hundred meter Diver One, Scurfa has beefed up the watch with a 1mm caseback gasket, as well as an overbuilt screw-down crown with no less than four gaskets. The newest Diver One also features an automatic helium release valve, a feature almost no one other than Paul Scurfield himself requires. Despite the upgrades, the case feels about the same as the previous 300-meter version.

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

DIVER ONE ORIGINAL DIAL AND HANDS

While virtually unchanged from the most recent versions, the Diver One dial is well executed and features large, rectangular hour markers all oriented toward the dial’s center. A larger twelve-o’clock indicator makes orientation and time-telling easier and faster, especially at night or underwater. Simple white hash marks serve as a minute scale, and dial text is pleasantly minimal, with the Scurfa Watches logo at twelve and “Diver One” in modern script at six o’clock.

Sword hands, a personal favorite of mine, also aid in the Diver One’s excellent visibility, with enough of a difference in length between the hour and minute hands to make confusion all but impossible. On this particular model, the Diver One Original, the hands are yellow, a nod to the high-viz, bright yellow stock color of Kirby Morgan Superlite diving helmets, a commercial diving industry staple and by a vast margin the most ubiquitous helmet in commercial diving. Even though Paul has more than earned the right to claim the badassery of deepwater saturation diving, the watches he makes are pleasantly void of ridiculous diving helmet imagery, an overused cliche present in some other microbrand watches and marketing material.

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

No shortage of SuperLuminova is used throughout the Diver One, including a reasonable helping on the stick-and-ball seconds hand, which makes for a highly nighttime-visible package. While the lume on the Diver One is really good and lasts all night, it’s still not quite as impressive as on Scurfa’s Bell Diver One, which offered a real light show, owed in large part to the fully-lumed sapphire bezel insert. While the slightly-less incredible lume is no real surprise, given the difference in price point between the two diver’s watches, it’s worth mentioning. Amongst watches of similar price, the Diver One’s lume is still as good as anything other than perhaps the brightest Seiko divers, which are in turn better than almost anything at any cost.

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

BUT IT’S QUARTZ

Frankly, the idea of a quartz-powered watch does not always incite arousal among the often petulant world of watch enthusiasts, but quartz as a time-telling medium simply makes sense in this case. Hear me out. For starters, quartz is inherently more resistant to magnetic fields, a real threat in the heavy equipment laden world of commercial diving. Second, the “set it and forget it” nature of quartz watches means less crown unscrewing, and therefore less wear and tear on crown gaskets, which, along with accidentally leaving the thing unscrewed, are the number one cause of water intrusion in watches used subsea. Finally, quartz movements are more durable, shock-resistant, affordable, and accurate than even the finest mechanical movements. In a professional diving oriented watch, quartz very directly makes more sense than an automatic caliber.

With the Diver One, Scurfa has utilized a custom metal movement holder to secure the excellent Ronda 715SM gold-plated, 5 -jewel, Swiss-made movement, which has a battery life of around five years, as well as an end-of-life indicator. My Diver One is within two seconds of spot-on accuracy after a few months of purposefully aggressively rough wear, even though I haven’t given it a second thought since the first time I set it.

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

CUSTOM NATURAL RUBBER STRAP

The standard 20mm rubber strap which comes on the Diver One is absolutely excellent, especially for the price. Natural rubber is durable, flexible, comfortable, and lint-free, and is therefore utilized in some of the most expensive sport watches out there, as well as one of the least expensive, the Diver One. The fact that Scurfa has managed to supply a natural rubber strap made specifically for their least expensive watch shows their dedication to quality for the price, as well as the actual on wrist customer experience.

While the buckle on the Diver One strap is simple and unsigned, it’s a great strap to wear and has ample, closely-spaced holes almost to its end to fit purt-near any wrist, and even over a variety of diving suits. I wore the Diver One over a 7mm wetsuit on typical dives, and over a 7mil and coveralls (a flight suit in this case) on some of the more unsavory dives, and never had any strap related issues or failures. The aforementioned shoulderless spring-bars did add to my sense of security, and I wore the watch in all diving conditions without fretting over losing it.

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

AT WORK UNDERWATER

As I mentioned, I approached the first few working dives wearing the Diver One with some trepidation. While I fundamentally believed the watch would survive just like it’s sibling, the Bell Diver 1, I assumed I would beat the shit out of it. To set the stage, I was diving in a muddy, fast-moving river and directing a crane as it lowered two-ton bags of gravel over my head to backfill an underwater ditch to cover a newly installed pipeline. Think fast-moving river, actual falling rocks of myriad sizes, sharp metal edges, alligators (I wish I was kidding), sand and concrete all around me, with no visibility – a hard situation for a brand new watch.

But why do this to such a nice looking watch, you may ask? I felt strongly about testing the Diver One for its intended purpose. I decided to take no extra care to protect it as I worked, a challenge for a watch nerd like myself. The nature of my work was also challenging, with the river constantly wanting to pick me up like a sack of wet kittens to toss me downriver without a second thought, so I wasn’t really able to worry about the watch even had I wanted to.

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

Somehow, despite untold unseen collisions with subsea stuff which I was sure had marred the watch, day after day and dive after dive, the watch remained intact. In fact, other than a somewhat marred buckle on the rubber strap, my Diver One looks about the same as when I received it. As far as time-telling underwater, I was always able to tell the time even in poor visibility conditions, though that at times meant placing the watch right up against the glass of my helmet. Frankly, I was surprised by the Diver One’s resilience, especially the ability of the sapphire glass to remain scratch-free despite my best efforts and multiple direct attacks by all kinds of underwater debris. The Scurfa Diver One is the real deal for a quartz diving watch supplied at a price which embodies the “tools not jewels” mentality we need more of in the watch industry.

Watch Review: Commercial Diving With The Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Original Wrist Time Reviews

Scurfa’s Diver One Original is a real tool watch, informed by Paul Scurfield’s own underwater adventures and overbuilt to handle even the most extreme subaquatic work and wear. It is a simple, straightforward diver’s watch where every feature has been carefully selected and implemented for operational effectiveness. For the price of $230, it’s likely the best and most capable analog diving watch available for actual diving, as well as a ridiculously capable time-teller for the rest of the watch buying public. scurfawatches.com.

Necessary Data

>Brand: Scurfa Watches
>Model: Diver One D1-500 Original
>Price: $230 or so depending on GBP exchange rates.
>Size: 40 mm by 47.7 by 14.4mm with 20mm lugs
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: The diver or fan of diving watches in need an overbuilt beater.
>Best characteristic of watch: The case size and proportions are near perfect.
>Worst characteristic of watch: For some reason, I wish the dial didn’t say “Watches” on it as part of the logo.

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Comments

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  • James Honour

    Great tool watch, good value, no brainer.

  • Lucifer Luv

    At first look great tool, very legible, five years battery Swiss quartz movement. At a very sharp/shark price.

  • Mikita

    Just right for $230. Solid WR, sapphire + AR, quartz, good legibility, acceptable strap. A printed aluminium bezel is also kinda acceptable considering the price. For those who don’t want SKX007 or Orient Ray / Mako for some reason 🙂

    • Olifac3

      About the bezel, I think it’s not just a compromise of cost but of functionality. If the watch is designed to take such a beating, a sapphire or ceramic bezel would crack. I like how everything is so well thought out on this watch, and that there is a specific reason to why something is the way it is. Very tempted to get one of these!

  • Stephen Dubsky

    If you have zero visibility in the water then do you really need to be wearing a dive watch?

  • H.S.M.

    A well priced tool watch. And a great article.
    Firs I was like ‘oh boy, another sub’, but this was refreshing to read.

    It’s tempting to grab one just to have a ‘not g-shock’ reliable beater in the collection.

  • SMB

    Nice article and great to see a watch used and tested as a tool. I love a mechanical movement, but quartz regulation and battery/solar power have some advantages that you described well. I had a look at the Scurfa website and there are some nice colour combinations and no-date models. If I hadn’t just bought a beater watch these would be on my shopping list.

  • Jeffwb65

    As I write this I’m wearing one (MS18) of 3 Scurfa Diver One models I have bought. One of the others is the No-Date Blue, which gives me the same “feelings” as the Blue Tudor Submariner Snowflake I had in the late 80s-early 90s. Wish I’d never sold that one. Not because of how much they sell for now, but because it was a great looking watch that was tougher than I am. Paul is also a real Gentleman to deal with as far as customer service, and his Wife also does a great job. Huge kudos to them. I hope they’re ready for the surge in sales this article will trigger.

  • Jared

    pretty amazing bang for your buck

    but I’m getting a bit tired of all these divers…they all look the same. There is no creativity, everyone just copies either the submariner or yachtmaster.

    and yes I get it, it costs millions of dollars more to offer a unique case, which raises the cost of the watch and its a risk you take knowing that not everyone might even like it…where with divers you can just shop from the catalog and offer something tried and true dirt cheap that will sell out quickly…but sometimes I wish more companies would take risks with their designs

  • Nello Alexandri

    Yellow disappears around 100ft down. I do not understand the use of this color on a saturation dive watch.
    We all know that less than .001% of these watches will ever go below 10ft., so I guess it matters not.

    • Scurfa

      That may be correct but we have artificial light so no colours disappear, yellow is just as bright on the job as it is on the surface, our dive hats, boots, knife handles and anything else we don’t watch to lose is coloured yellow, check out my dive videos on my website, yellow is fully visible at about 260 feet and beyond

      • Nello Alexandri

        Agreed.
        Like I said. It matters not. There is plenty of artificial light in most offices.
        The watch is still a winner either way.

  • James Brickwood

    I’m a big fan of scurfa. I stumbled across them this time last year as I was wanting a diver I could just grab and wear and not worry about damaging or losing it when heading for a surf etc. As well as at work where I’ve beaten up some dearer watches unfortunately.

    I gave them a go based on quite a lot of digging around on the net and ready a whole bunch of user reviews. It has been a year with my D1 and it’s gotten a lot more time on th wrist beyond jusr surfing

    I love Scurfa’s no BS approach to making a tool watch and the strap is unreal. In fact i recently purchased another scurfa – a yellow D1-500.

    I wish my other rubber straps wore are well as the Scurfa ones

  • Dennis A Houle

    You had me until i heard quartz, would consider an eco or solar.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Not a bad watch though, but nothing to get exited about. I would rethink the logo. You need to get rid of the box round the logo and drop the word watches, it’s superfluous. How does the end-of-life indicator for the battery work?
    From your collection i would be happy to wear the slightly bigger Bell Diver 1 with a Miyota 9015 automatic movement even though it would cost me £62.33.

    • Malcy

      The watch indicates battery end of life by moving once every four seconds rather than the normal movement every second.

  • wejpasadena

    I like this watch. I am pro-quartz especially if it is Seiko’s mecha quartz movement. Automatic watches are wildly overrated!

  • HectorAsuipe

    I got one last month. Fabulous watch, great value. Full stop.

  • Swiss_Cheese

    For $230 I’ll keep the complaints to a minimum: downsize the logo by 50% and maybe offer some more bracelet options (there are currently two aftermarket options – PVD and Non PVD). It would be nice to see an automatic in the future, but quartz is fine in this price range. All in all, though, doesn’t look half bad.

    • Jeffwb65

      Actually the bracelets currently on the website are for the bigger, automatic Bell Diver 1. Paul plans to have metal bracelets available for the Diver One in September 2019.

  • Veeery nice looking watch! The aqua blue one on the page is even better I think!
    Hands on the short side, and lume should fill them, other than that near perfect, as mentioned. A bit of work on the logo, maybe just removing “watches”.

  • JTK Awesome

    A quartz watch at a Seiko SKX007/009 price. Hard pass.

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