I’m excited about small companies building their own watches. Making a watch is difficult. It requires design, logistics, and negotiating experience as well as an appreciation of risk and the ability to sell something that the world thinks it doesn’t need to picky, picky watch nuts.
That’s why I was so excited to see Scorpion Watch Company, really a pair of guys out in Denver, were creating a watch brand. This is sort of like a pair of roommates creating a microbrew beer or building a bar together — it’s fun, it’s cool, and it’s potentially lucrative.
So how does the Reef Diver fare? Extremely well, I’m pleased to report.
What the guys at Scorpion did was outsource the manufacture of their watches to a Swiss company and used an automatic ETA 2824 date movement. Fair enough. It’s been done before and will be done again. But they definitely didn’t skimp on style or build-quality. The Reef Diver is a solid watch with a great aesthetic and an attractive weight and wrist-feel.
Let’s begin with the fancy box it comes in. SWC sends the Reef Diver in a heavy-duty case with an extra band and a set of information and warranty cards. The entire case and watch is signed – the SWC logo is on the case, the crown, the face, the rubber bracelet buckle as well as on the clasp of the leather strap. This is quite a feat and shows great attention to detail.
The watch itself is water resistant to 30 ATM and features a hacking date mechanism. It has a uni-directional bezel with a solid click and no play in the chapter ring. Overall, this is a serious hunk of metal.
While the Reef Diver isn’t as “heavy” as some would like, I think the size and weight are quite handsome. The Godfather-esque Scorpion logo looks badass and there’s a big monstrous scorpion brushed into the back of the case along with each watch’s individual number – I got 96 out of 100 made. The model I received was featured red highlights and they’re planning orange and black models.
What’s there not to like? Not much. The price is fair for a swiss made ETA timepiece – compare it to a Tissot Sea Star and you’re in the general price ballpark with considerably less charm – and the watch is great. But John, you’re saying, I can get a Seiko for $200. Sure, but do you know that your Seiko will be one of only 100 ever made and that you’re supporting the renaissance of American watchmaking? I didn’t think so.
The Reef Diver isn’t a “me too” watch. Sure, it’s a beefy, three-handed diver with date window, but the styling makes it stand out. The black face contrasts wonderfully with the huge white hands and pips. The rubber diving strap is quite nice and the leather strap – made in the US of A – is edged in red stitching to match the face. The minutes hand is edged in red as is the seconds hand and all of the pips. The engraved bezel is easily readable and the pip at the top of the ring – noon, essentially, is lumed with a generous dab of paint.
The finish is impeccable. There were no misaligned parts and the face was well painted and the case solid and well-made. The movement is seemingly unadjusted, but it kept perfect time for the few weeks I wore it.
The lume on the pips and the hands, hover, leaves something to be desired. It’s readable in the dark, but a little more lume would have helped matters. After wearing the watch for about two weeks I was able to tell the time in daylight and in the dark with no trouble, a testament to its staying power. Finally, the screw down crown is at 2 o’clock, a clever twist on the Seiko 4 o’clock crowns.
The watch is 52mm from lug to lug and has a diameter of 43mm. It’s a big watch without being obnoxious. It costs $799 on Scorpion’s website and it will soon be joined by a number of other models. I’ve seen lots of watches in my day and lots of ridiculous attempts at creating “just another dive watch.” The Reef Diver isn’t just another dive watch: it’s a testament to ingenuity and creativity that is sorely missing in an industry that stifles the little guy and makes do with a few boutique brands that simply jumble movements, cases, and straps and call it a new line. The Reef Diver is easy to love and the company, run on a shoestring, is worth loving. I, for one, welcome this breath of fresh air.