Vintage dive watches always seem to be a popular category, and we’ve seen quite a few hit the market in the last year or so. Many of these draw inspiration from the famous Blancpain Fifty Fathoms (here’s a modern version of the original) which first appeared in 1953. This is the precise model the latest watch from Prometheus draws from.
How does the Sailfish accomplish this? Well, to me, the most recognizable aspect of the Fifty Fathoms is the domed bezel, which the Sailfish obviously has. Here, this is a domed sapphire crystal overlay on the 120-click bezel, which is rather nice.
If you’ve not seen this in person, I’d highly recommend you seek one out – it’s a very nice look and feel to the piece, and adds lume quite easily to the bezel. I was a little surprised to note that they went with a flat sapphire crystal (with AR coating on the underside) to protect the dial, though. Against the domed bezel, it feels, well, flat. I’ve had some watches in with the “double bubble”, and I personally prefer that look (if the bezel is domed, of course).
Under the crystal, you’ve got a matte finish dial in one of four colors (black, grey, blue, or yellow). Our sample came with the colorful yellow dial, which I imagine would be quite legible underwater (the Sailfish is rated to 300m). The numerals on the dial are decently sized – perhaps a touch bigger would have been nicer, but not necessary.
I was initially concerned about the readability of those numerals, with the yellow C3 Superluminova paint (it’s a sort of pastel yellow) against the yellow of the dial (which is more like a schoolbus yellow). It was an unfounded concern, as it was easy enough to read – and of course the other dial colors would be that much crisper of a difference.
Spinning around on top of the dial is, of course, the handset. These hands are polished and lume-filled; the seconds hand is additionally red-tipped. The hands seemed to be well in proportion to one another, and with their narrow nature, seem to keep to a more vintage look and feel (as does their styling). All told, it’s an interesting look, especially paired to the yellow color.
The minute track also adds a nice bit of visual interest to the edge of the dial, which would otherwise be a wide open expanse. As a nice surprise (at least it was for me) the five-minute marks in this outer track are lumed. Add in the luminous of the bezel, and you’ve got a watch that’s going to be very easy to read in the darkness. Perhaps not as robust as their other tritium offerings, but still a nice bit of glow.
Holding things in place you’ve got a fairly nice bracelet. It has a nice heft to it, and makes use of single-sided screws to hold things in place (so, no balancing two screw drivers to adjust the size of the bracelet). The signed clasp is a fairly beefy one, as it has a built in ratcheting extension.
As a nice bit of design, the buttons you use to trigger the extension have a curved taper, which serves a two-fold purpose. First, it differentiates it from the main clasp release (which are simple rectangular pushers), making sure you’re pressing the right ones. Second, it’s a reminder of what direction to slide them to make the bracelet bigger. This is handy even for us non-divers, as you can give your wrist a little extra room throughout the day if needed.
The one thing I was not as much of a fan of was how the bracelet curves away from the endlinks on the case. Perhaps on a larger wrist (mine is 7.25″) it would curve more gracefully. For me, however, I was left with a choppy transition from case to bracelet (more precisely, endlink to bracelet) that neither looked nor felt smooth. Given the size of the case and the shape of the 22mm lugs, I’m not sure how it would be corrected.
Which means, for me, the watch probably just simply falls into the “too big for me” category, which is a surprise given it’s stated diameter is 42mm (43mm if you measure the bezel). That just goes to show how much lug design can end up impacting the fit and finish (on your wrist, not of the piece itself) in actual wearing. That is, at least with the included bracelet. Swapping to a strap may change this…
In daily wear, the watch was as comfortable as most dive watches I’ve been testing out. You do definitely feel it’s 206g weight, and I did on occasion have the grippy 7mm crown digging into my wrist. At least for me, while I prefer a slimmer watch, I quickly acclimate to the weight and bulk of a dive watch – and if you’re used to steel divers, you’ll feel right at home with this one. I was also thankful for the built in extension, as I often needed to bump it out one notch at some point during the day. Depending on how much typing you’re doing in a day, you may also feel that the clasp is a bit bulky, and will want to pop the watch off for a bit (then again, some folks do that all the time, regardless of the watch).
All in all, it was a bit of a mixed bag. I’ve been a fan of what Prometheus has been doing when I first came across them, and I feel they do have some unique offerings. Nothing ground-breaking, but they give us some unique twists here and there. For example, aside from the Fifty Fathoms references, we’re also getting exposure to a new automatic movement – the SII Time Module NH36 (well, it was new to me), which also offers hand-winding and is hacking. While only time will tell how this 3hz movement will hold up, it kept accurate time while we had the watch in for review.
UPDATE: It’s been pointed out that the NH36 is actually an OE version of the Seiko 4R36 (which is commonly seen in the 7S26 and 6R15 movements) – so it’s not really a newcomer. And SII stands for Seiko Instruments Inc – so you can rest assured these are built with the utmost care.
At an asking price of around $460 (depending on exchange rates), this is quite an affordable dive watch with some retro-inspired touches. While many might consider the NH36 to be an untested quantity, and avoid it for that sake. For me, it’s not that much of a concern. While I appreciate having time-tested reliability on my wrist, I’m also a fan of seeing different movements getting into the mix. Not only does this give us interesting watches at different price points, it also gives some competition to the market place, spurring improvements in the long run.
While this isn’t my favorite of the sapphire bezel watches I’ve reviewed, I can understand it’s appeal. Additionally, I think the yellow dial we had give an additional bit of visual flair (while increasing readability), and offers up a color that we really don’t see that commonly. For those who prefer a more understated look, you could opt for the black or grey dial. Whatever the choice, I’d just make sure that the lug configuration will work for your own wrist. Past that, enjoy that bezel – they’re a treat to play with. prometheuswatch,com
- Brand & Model: Prometheus Sailfish
- Price: €339.00 (approx $460)
- Who’s it for?: Someone who likes the looks of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, but needs something in a more affordable configuration
- Would I wear it?: Likely not with the included bracelet – it just didn’t fit well. Swapping to a strap (perhaps a B10) may change this up
- What I’d change: First, I’d love to see a domed main crystal in there. And, if the lugs could be tweaked for a better/smoother fit on smaller wrists, that would be a superb move.
- The best thing about it: The lumed and domed crystal. I don’t wish that every watch had them, but for those that do, it’s by far my favorite design feature.