A year ago, I couldn’t have told you one thing about the JeanRichard brand. My, how times have changed. In that intervening period, I’ve reviewed their Aeroscope (link) and Terrascope (link), which is how I really came to appreciate their case construction and styling. If you couldn’t tell by the names, those watches were air and land oriented. That leaves just one family in the lineup, their divers. And for that, we’ve got something pretty special – the JeanRichard Aquascope Hokusai.
Let’s address the obvious question – what is Hokusai? The more accurate question would be who is Hokusai? The answer is that Katsushika Hokusai was a famous painter in Japan in the 19th century, and he’s one who’s works you’re likely familiar with. He painted the image known as “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” . It’s that famous wave pattern that makes itself known in the dial of this watch.
With this particular version of the Hokusai dial, it can be a little tricky to get a good view of the pattern, as the dial is a black one (there have been other versions with blue and gray that make the pattern easier to see). However, should you work to get the right angle, you’re in for a very nice treat. The pattern is instantly recognizable, and provides a level of artistic detail we’re not used to seeing on a dial.
That dial, of course, is the main focus of the watch (and drew a tremendous amount of favorable comments when I brought it to the July gathering of the Commonwealth Club. While the color choice can make it a touch hard to see the pattern, it allows allows the watch to be a bit more subtle (well, as subtle as an all-black 44mm watch can be).
With the black dial, case, and strap, your eyes are initially drawn to the bright blue handset and indices (which, I should note, float over the dial somewhat, rather than being applied as we’ve seen on the other JR models). Which means, to the untrained eye, this is just another watch, with the dial keeping it’s secrets hidden until a closer examination occurs – something I think is a nice trick.
The use of the blue makes it a snap to read the time, day or night (the blue lume is nice and bright) courtesy of the broad handset. On the wrist, the Aquascope is pretty comfortable. While 44mm is on the upper end of what I consider a good size for my wrist, I’ve grown to like how the JeanRichard case fits, especially with it’s shorter lugs.
Being as it’s a dive-oriented watch (with an attendant 300m WR rating), it’s not a surprise that the Aquascope is then paired to a rubber strap, complete with a deployant clasp. It’s a single-sided deployant, which means you may end up (as I did) with a delicate balance between having a snug fit on your wrist (when the deployant is closed) and being able to get your hand through the strap (when the deployant is open).
Ticking away inside the watch is the Sellita SW200 that, in my experience both in this watch and others, has performed without any issues. Here, we’re just driving a simple three-hander and a date display, but that should keep things robust. You do, of course, have additional functionality courtesy of the uni-directional bezel. Speaking of that bezel, it’s only a 60-click, but boy oh boy, does it ratchet with a very satisfying (and solid) feel – no wiggling on this bezel.
Due to the dial, this was a particularly fun watch to wear. Aside from the comments it gathered, it was a nice diversion to spend a minute getting the angle of the light right to see the details in the wave pattern. As far as actually wearing the watch goes, if you’ve had any wrist time with a JeanRichard watch, you know how this one fits (as the cases are all but the same).
For me, it’s a good fit, and it wore well for my particular usage patterns. While I liked the black-and-blue motif in general, I think I might opt for a lighter dial if I were buying this myself, as it looks to make seeing that dial detail a bit easier. Regardless of the color, there’s no denying this is a sharp dial. If you’re looking for an affordable luxury diver that offers something different from the norm, the JeanRichard Aquascope Hokusai very likely will fit the bill. jeanrichard.com
- Brand & Model: JeanRichard Aquascope Hokusai (ref. 60400-11-G606-FK6A)
- Price: $4,200 (other models in the line start at $3,200)
- Who’s it for?: This is for someone who definitely wants more than a simple, flat dial
- Would I wear it?: Yes, I likely would, although (preferably) in a lighter color scheme
- What I’d change: Let’s extend that pattern in the strap – or better yet, onto a steel bracelet
- The best thing about it: If it wasn’t obvious from the writeup, it’s the dial.