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GPHG - Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
GPHG - Two new divers watches from over half a century ago

GPHG Two new divers watches from over half a century ago

Two diving watches entered in this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève trace their origins back over 50 years to the very beginnings of the genre.

Over the years a number of different categories have come and gone in the GPHG, from niche categories such as Poinçon de Genève and Pendulette in the very first edition in 2001 to extra-thin and electronic watches. Yet, throughout the 15-year history of this “Oscars of watchmaking” there has never been a category devoted to divers’ watches. It seems strange since, along with the chronometer, this is one of the few types of watches that is governed by an ISO standard that strictly defines its specifications.

The absence of such a category for what is arguably one of the most popular types of wristwatches on the market today (think Rolex Submariner, Omega Seamaster and co.) invariably leaves the brands to choose between the Sports watch and Petite Aiguille (sub-8,000 Swiss franc) categories. This is the case this year with two revival watches whose original models date back to the 1960s.

Seiko SLA017 first divers watch re-edition

SLA017 first divers watch re-edition Seiko

On the one hand, competing in the “Petite Aiguille” category, is the new Seiko Prospex reference SLA017, a faithful reproduction of Seiko’s first-ever divers’ watch from 1965. Its baton hands and large, applied luminous hour markers recall the design of the original, although the case size has been increased by nearly 2mm to 39.9mm and the water resistance improved from 150 to 200 metres. It also incorporates Seiko’s Calibre 8L35 movement, which was designed specifically for use in divers’ watches and offers a power reserve of 50 hours. As a limited edition of 2,000 pieces, its 3,450 Swiss franc price tag makes it an attractive buy and a strong contender in this category that specifically targets value for money.

Eterna Kontiki Diver

Kontiki Diver Eterna


In the sports watch category we find another divers’ watch with a strong pedigree: the Eterna Kontiki Diver. The fashionable bronze version, which proved very popular at Baselworld earlier this year, is the specific model that has been entered in the GPHG, but the collection comprises stainless-steel models with black, white and blue dials with a choice of rubber strap or stainless-steel bracelet. The rubber strap model is available for nearly half the price of the Seiko at 1,790 Swiss francs but with a similar specification, including 200 metre water resistance. The main differences are the movement, which in Eterna’s case is a Sellita SW200 with a power reserve of 38 hours and a rotating bezel with a ceramic ring that has unusual markings: instead of the usual 0-60 graduations, it is graduated for the no-decompression times found on diving tables. This scale, and Seiko’s role as the watch of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition form 1966 to 1969, remind us that these two watches hark back to a time before dive computers, when a reliable divers’ watch and a depth gauge were the only way to avoid a scuba diver’s worst nightmare: the bends.

 Watch the ceremony

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