It is rare to find a U.S. watchmaker who cares as much about his products as David McReady of D.Freemont watches. In a market full of cheap quartz and high profits, McCready is what is known in the business as a “nice guy” and a “shrewd businessman.”
The latest piece in his collection, the D.Freemont Sapphire Power Reserve Diver, caught my eye immediately. Strangely enough, it’s not a beefy diver nor does it look like it belongs on the dashboard of a semi. Instead, it is a staid, clever piece using a high-quality 2892 ETA movement and two excellent complications rouded out by a strong aesthetic that harkens from another, simpler era.
The first thing you’ll notice about this diver is that it has no lume. Oversight? Design decision? Problem? If you are a fan of the Orange Monster and other lume-tastic watches, you’ll definitely be disappointed. This watch is for folks who stay on deck, soaking in the sun and making business deals. If your business is bringing up sunken treasure at 10,000 feet, look elsewhere.
That said, the Power Reserve Diver is an excellent travel watch. This 40-hour watch has a power reserve indicator and GMT/second time-zone dial that is eminently usable.
Setting this watch is simple. First, unscrew the crown. At its lax position, the watch can be wound like a standard mechanical, although it also has an automatic rotor. At first position, you set the GMT hand one hour ahead by turning the crown clockwise and you set the date read-out by turning the crown counter-clockwise. You then set the time at second position.
I didn’t pop the back on this one, out of deference to the water-fastness, but this diver is water resistant to 330 feet. It comes with a black rubber or brown leather band. The rotating bezel is black and marked at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock with a standard, non-lumed dive triangle at 12 o’clock. The face is delicately guilloched with gold pips and no hour markings. There is an internal chapter ring showing minutes.
The watch is a full 40mm and the crown is protected by stainless-steel lugs. The dial has a slight champagne color to it and the hands are all blued steel, which matches well with the watch itself. I was slightly displeased by the brown band, as it didn’t quite match the bezel and face in this model. Luckily, they also carry a version with a black rubber strap.
Because there is no lume, this diver is usable primarily on snorkeling low-depth SCUBA expeditions. I wore this watch in LA, Hannover, and Boston in the past four weeks and it’s been a quiet and staid helpmate, allowing me to keep home time on the main dial and local time on the GMT dial, thereby ensuring I was almost always on time, hangovers permitting.
In terms of wrist feel, this diver is quite comfortable and small enough to remain unobtrusive. The deployant clasp allows for quick on and off and you size the band by moving the buckle up and down the standard leather band. The leather band is quite nice and the clasp is signed. The crown is nice and fat and easy to grasp even between the lugs.
As we said before, it’s rare to find passion in American watches. RGM and a few other folks are producing some great things, by D.Freemont makes things that are inexpensive – this diver is $750 – and beautiful. Each watch is hand-timed by Mr. McReady and includes a timing read-out indicating the average error and instability. This watch had a +/- 3.1 sec/day loss, which is definitely just fine by me. This diver bucks trends and keeps you on your toes, just as any good watch should.
Product Page [D.Freemont]
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