Back in December, we brought you word of the latest offering from Tempest, the Tempest Carbon. In that writeup, I lamented the fact that our friends over at aBlogtoWatch were able to spend some time with the prototype. Well, supporting the saying that “good things come to those who wait”, we actually got to spend some time with the prototype ourselves. So, what is it like having the Tempest Carbon on the wrist?
In a word, nice. As we mentioned in the earlier writeup, the case is created by mixing carbon fiber with resin, forming a blank, and then machining out the final shape. While this does mean that there is still a steel core required (tolerances on the case creation did not really make it reasonable to keep things all CF), you are presented with a relatively light watch (82g) that has a look unlike anything you have ever seen before.
In fact, forged carbon (and similar processes) really seem to have picked up steam in the last 6-9 months, with several brands coming out with their own interpretations and processes. In some ways, it is very similar to the boom we saw (and still continues in some regard) with bronze getting used as a case material. The big difference here is that the carbon-cased watches are a good bit more expensive, though Tempest manages to keep things affordable (more on that later).
Of course, there are affordable watches with carbon cases (as we saw in the carbon fiber reinforced polymer case of the ITAnano), but the forged carbon is a different beast altogether. It ends up giving a rather unique pattern all of its own, due to the small strips of carbon melt and deform under the heat and pressure of the forging process. While this differentiates it from other carbon cases, it also means that no two cases in the line will look quite the same – they’ll all have their own unique “fingerprint”, if you will.
This also translates to a unique feel. Being non-metallic, it is not cold in the slightest, and it has a rather smooth (yet not slippery) tactile feel to it – once again, setting it apart from other divers you may run across. And make no mistake, this is indeed a diver (rated to 200m), because that is what Tempest is known for (demonstrated aptly by our reviews of their Viking and Commodore watches).
On the wrist (well, at least my wrist) the 43mm case (47.5mm lug-to-lug; 14.75mm thick) is very comfortable, in large part due to the lightweight nature of the watch. The lugs do have a slight curve to them, which helps the strap snug in, making for a good fit that keeps the watch in place. The strap itself was nice enough, with a leather backing for comfort against the skin. Against the patterning of the case, though, the strap just feels a bit out of place, almost too plain. Then again, this is likely a problem that many straps would have against a case of this nature. It’s a shame that tolerances can’t be tighter for the material, because a bracelet made of it would be perfect.
As far as readability goes, things are pretty good. The double-domed sapphire crystal gives a distortion-free view of the dial, which itself stands out in crisp legibility with large, lumed indices applied against the flat dial. The white-on-black approach is the clearest combination I have seen for readability, and the orange accents used (of note, the Tempest logo is lumed as well) give things a bit of a pop, as well as making the minute hand easily distinguishable from the hour hand.
About the only ding to visual clarity that was to be seen came from the sapphire crystal. Not, it’s not the high dome as we saw on the Viking, but it is domed, and it caught a lot of reflections, depending on the angle it was held at. Then again, this is a prototype, so I would not be surprised to see the production version getting some AR coating applied to help out in that regard.
The use of carbon also inspires the caseback. Yes, it’s made of steel, but on the Tempest Carbon, they have opted to go with a way of displaying the information that is reminiscent of the periodic table (ala the Breaking Bad intro). Here, all the relevant details are called out, including the usage of the Miyota 9015. As aBlogtoWatch noted in their review, this is a refined movement, offering 42 hours of power reserve along with hacking, hand-winding, and a 4 Hz frequency. In other words, a lot of great functionality at a reasonable price, which is why we see it in a lot of dive watches.
With a price just under $885, this is an affordable micro-brand diver unlike any you have seen before. While the Tempest Carbon is a premium offering for the brand (compared to what came before), I think that it is definitely reasonable considering the material that is used in the construction. This is a diver that has both capability and good looks, making for an eminently likable piece. While these were originally made available via Kickstarter, you can place your pre-orders now directly with the brand, with delivery expected by early May. tempestwatches.com
- Brand & Model: Tempest Carbon
- Price: $885 (plus $45 for shipping)
- Who’s it for?: You’re like me and you enjoy the indie micro-brand divers, but you want something that does not look like “just another” vintage-inspired piece
- Would I wear it?: Yes, I most certainly would.
- What I’d change: Aside from the AR needed on the crystal, I do wish the strap could hold it’s own -visually – against the case a bit better
- The best thing about it: The patterning of the case – think of it as a lightweight interpretation of Damascus steel.
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