Why not? Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Manta Trust
It's all about emotions.
Maui (Hawaiian Archipelago). Night has fallen over Hawaii. Slowly, a few small sailing boats set out from a little fishing harbour and head for open water. Away in the distance, we can see the lights of the hotels and villas spread along the (still relatively unspoiled) coast of Maui.
For Southern Californians, Hawaii is a rather special destination for a holiday, or even a weekend break. Maui has none of the industrial tourism we associate with Oahu (Waikiki, Pearl Harbor and Honolulu); it’s still quite a wild island, as are Kauai and Hawaii (the Big Island).
The boat drops anchor and we prepare to dive. This time we won’t be scuba diving. A rather different experience awaits us: our first encounter with manta rays.
Once in the water, we gather around a surf board equipped with small projectors aimed at the reefs and the ocean floor. Around 15 metres below us, a couple of divers are filming the coral reef while they wait for...
Suddenly, from an unlit area to the right, the first manta rays appear. These gigantic creatures glide majestically towards us. There are five of them, coming straight for us with no sign of slowing down. With just a few centimetres to go they veer off towards the bottom. The ballet lasts over 45 minutes.
Maui, Hawaiian Archipelago
Moorea (French Polynesia). We leave the harbour in a boat skippered by some Tahitian friends and head for Cook’s Bay. The plan is to do a spot of snorkelling, followed by a light lunch, on a small island off the coast of Moorea, away from the island’s tourism hotspots. The weather is incredible, and our first Tahitian outing looks set to be very enjoyable.
After several dives around the coral reefs, it’s time to stop for a well-earned bite to eat. The “table” is laid in the sea, a few metres from the boat. While we chat with the local sailors and fishermen, our feet dangling in the water, several fish come up to us. There are some small sharks, but what we’re most excited about are the stingrays.
After the Hawaiian manta rays, this encounter with stingrays is another magical and delightful experience. We spend a long time swimming with them, and also sitting quietly in the water, waiting for them to come and brush up against us.
For once, the start of today’s Why Not doesn’t begin with watches. At least, not directly. It’s about nature and travel, but mainly it’s about emotions and memories. Because choosing a watch is rarely a rational act. For me, a watch is above all an emotional object, something that reminds me of an important event, or helps me to experience one by proxy, as it were. A watch means nothing to me unless it speaks to me, moves me or affects me in some way. And that’s the most difficult thing.
Watch brands are all trying, with varying degrees of success, to sell emotion. Unfortunately, they often fail. Not because they’re doing it badly, but because emotion has to come from the buyer. The emotion is theirs, and you can’t – mustn’t – force it.
I’ll give you an example: the Omega Speedmaster. I’m a complete fanboy when it comes to this watch. Why? Because... 1969, you’re probably thinking. Well, yes, but not in the way you imagine. What I remember about 1969 is my father waking me up, leading me to our black and white television, and saying: “Watch – this is a special moment.” I was five years old. I saw a man in a spacesuit climbing down a ladder. I wasn’t really sure what was happening. But I’ve never forgotten it.
The emotions of that evening are still with me. Not because of the astronaut, but because of the old sofa where I sat with my parents, watching the TV and its blurry, historic images.
Emotion is a vital element in the research and purchase of a watch – any watch. When someone buys a Rolex Paul Newman for 17 million dollars, it’s because of emotion – nothing more and nothing less. Because no watch is worth that amount of money. But emotion, on the other hand... maybe.
And in fact that’s another question: does emotion have a price? It has value, of course, but does it have a price? The answer is yes. Without emotion, it would be impossible to sell any watch for more than it’s worth. There’d be no auctions, no collectors – no genuine collectors at any rate.
Because emotion is a very good motivator. Speculation is not.
I’m a great defender of horological emotion. Sometimes I feel it’s an endangered species, like manta rays, blacktip reef sharks or orcas.
So yes – my Hawaiian and Polynesian anecdotes do have a connection with watches after all. They speak of emotions, memories of happy times, and wonderful images of family and friendship.
So, when I saw the Carl F. Bucherer ScubaTec Manta Ray for the first time, I wasn’t thinking like a collector or a watch lover. I let my emotions speak to me, and I don’t regret it for a minute.
ScubaTec Manta Trust © Carl F. Bucherer
Why Carl F. Bucherer ?
I’ve already talked about the Lucerne watchmaker in a Why Not devoted to the very fine Patravi TravelTec.
The Carl F. Bucherer brand was born in Lucerne in 1888, under the aegis of one Carl Friedrich Bucherer. 130 years later, it’s still an independent brand – something rare enough to be worth pointing out – and also family-run. Although not terribly well known, the brand has for some time been pursuing a more aggressive commercial and marketing strategy in an effort to increase its visibility, notably through some clever product placement in major Hollywood films, such as the recent Last Blood.
In the latest instalment of the adventures of John Rambo, Sylvester Stallone – a dedicated watch aficionado himself – chose to wear a unique ScubaTec. Carl F. Bucherer’s dive watch is a very fine timepiece, and the Rambo version confirms it. It’s a completely black model made of black titanium, with an equally dark bezel. ScubaTec fans – among which I count myself – hope to see a commercial model made available next year.
In addition to its presence on the silver screen, on the wrist of John Wick, or Zuyin Zhang (Li Bingbing) in The Meg, Carl F. Bucherer is building its image around other less... violent partnerships. Its association with the Manta Trust – a British organisation set up to protect manta rays – is a good example. Its recent participation in the famous Only Watch auction is another. But while these two activities are very different, they are nevertheless linked by emotion: the emotion elicited by swimming with manta rays, for example, or by helping to relieve the suffering of sick children.
The cinema, environmental protection, and support for medical research all provoke different feelings, which the watchmaker does its best to tap into. All that is left is to find collectors who will see a Carl F. Bucherer watch as the perfect way to strengthen or relive them. And that’s why I’m a diehard supporter of the brand.
The Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Manta Trust: Back to Hawaii
Yet another dive watch, you might say. And you’d be right. And yet, in a world of lookalikes, tributes and “re-editions”, it’s not that easy to find a timepiece that stands out from the crowd, while remaining affordable. But the Carl F. Bucherer ScubaTec is just that.
The ScubaTec Manta Trust is a 188-piece limited edition of the classic ScubaTec. It’s certainly an imposing piece, with its steel case measuring just shy of 45 mm; it’s also water resistant to 500m and equipped with a helium release valve at 8 o’clock (the first original touch). The thickness nevertheless remains contained (13.45 mm) and the integral black rubber strap helps to minimise its visual presence.
In addition to the valve at 8 o’clock, there are other elements that make the CFB ScubaTec an intriguing piece. First, there’s the massive bezel with its oversized numbers. The typeface might be a bit of a shock at first sight, but you can’t deny that it does its job!
Then there are the hands. Their shape is a unique mixture of rounded arrow combined with some sort of animal or vegetable reference. They are fluid, appealing and fun.
ScubaTec Manta Trust Black Manta Special Edition © Carl F. Bucherer
But it wouldn’t be a Manta Trust watch without the two black manta rays that float across its grey dial. Here too, this decision could have resulted in a cluttered appearance, but it hasn’t. With the alternating grey, steel and black surfaces, the ScubaTec Manta Trust draws the eye but never shocks. In the heart of the watch beats an ETA movement modified by in-house watchmakers, and now chronometer-certified.
But the ScubaTec Manta Trust gets even more interesting when you turn it over. On the back is a ray. No surprise there, given that this watch is dedicated to these marvellous creatures.
What is more original is that every ray engraved on each one of these 188 pieces is unique! If you didn’t know already, all rays can be identified by the unique markings on their belly. Carl F. Bucherer and the Manta Trust have chosen 188 rays, and reproduced their individual markings on the 188 casebacks.
© Carl F. Bucherer
And to make each watch even more special, each one has its own specific number. Yes yes, you say, that’ll be the serial number or the limited edition number. How is that special? I’m glad you asked. In fact, it’s the number that will enable you to find “your” ray on the Manta Trust website, give it a name and follow it throughout its life.
How cool is that, dude? (as my Californian friends might say). It’s very, very cool.
So, to conclude this overview of the Carl F. Bucherer Manta Trust, here’s a brief coda on the one-of-a-kind piece sold at the Only Watch auction. Obviously, everyone wanted to talk about the 31 million raised by the Patek Philippe Grand Master Chime in steel, which has become the world’s most expensive watch.
Emotion or speculation? Time will tell.
But among the dozens of unique pieces that went under the hammer in Geneva, the one I remember is the white gold ScubaTec. The watch went to Australia, for the sum of CHF 60,000, a far cry from the millions fetched by the star of the evening.
But I’d like to think that the collector from down under who bought it made the choice out of emotion – that of seeing those eight manta rays swooping across the royal blue dial of this unique diving watch, or that of supporting a worthy cause (the figure 8 represents the number of Only Watch auctions held to date). This was Carl F. Bucherer’s third consecutive event.
In any case, the picture I have in my head is of a watch collector, swimming in the clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef, surrounded by manta rays.
In fact it takes me right back to that wonderful night in Hawaii...
ScubaTec Manta Trust Only Watch 2019 © Carl F. Bucherer
What does the Devil’s Advocate think?
Wearing a watch to support a worthy cause? Pathetic. Don’t expect the Devil to spend a single penny to help anyone, or anything. He prefers honest speculation and filthy lucre.
But seriously, the Carl F. Bucherer is a good-looking watch with great charm, which deserves to be successful. Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions to make it even more appealing.
First, get rid of some of the other inscriptions on the Manta Trust dial, to leave more room for the rays. Then, you could reduce the size of the folding buckle, which is too big and a bit awkward to use. And finally, there’s no need for all that “ScubaTec” lettering on the rubber strap.
But these few points aside, the CFB Patravi ScubaTec, to its great credit, is a dive watch that stands out from the crowd!
How to wear the Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Manta Trust?
This watch cries out for that Riviera look.
White trousers, of course – either a high-waisted pant from Rubinacci, or a pair of Ralph Lauren chinos.
Let’s pair them with a blue linen shirt by Vilebrequin. And to complete the outfit, a hooded sweater from Brunello Cucinelli or Uniqlo. On the feet, it has to be a pair of espadrilles, either plain navy, or blue and white striped.
And with this summery outfit, you’re dressed to make the most of your Carl F. Bucherer.
But to really explore the full potential of your dive watch, you’ll have to jump in the sea. Off you go to the beach, with a black t-shirt from Sea Shepherd, the famous NGO that is fighting to halt the destruction of marine wildlife.
As far as your swimming trunks are concerned, there’s a vast choice. But you can’t go wrong with a pair of camo board shorts by Californian brand Birdwell Beach Britches, which will add that eco-warrior touch.
So brave the chill (not here on the Californian coast, obviously...) and dive in!
Watches of technical perfection and beauty, through tradition and the force of innovation. Carl F. Bucherer is an independent Swiss watchmaker with expertise in the production of precious contemporary watches in the premium market.Find out more >
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