BACKGROUND AZIMUTH was founded in 2004 by Singaporeans, Alvin Lye & Christopher Long. The name 'Azimuth' is a mathematical term which defines the arc of a horizon from a single reference point. Azimuth is a mode of measurement used by military men, astrologers, navigators and explorers to survey their bearings. So a chance encounter with one such explorer whilst in Mexico couldn't have been a better starting point for the birth of the Deep Diver. Developed under close consultation with world-renowned explorer, archeologist and high-altitude scuba diver, Fernando Alberto Lozano Andrade, the Deep Diver was designed to specifically meet the rigors of his adventures and escapades into the deep.
Unconventional looking yet deeply cool; a utilitarian professional divers instrument with Rock Star appeal! The AZIMUTH Deep Diver will no doubt take the average person and even the most daring dive watch aficionados right out of their comfort zone. The design is big and bold. Its form is brutish and bulky and in many ways over-engineered, yet there is a sleekness to the Deep Diver that comes from the stunning curvature of the outer case and the superb high dome of the crystal. The watch can look very different from each angle. Almost instrument like from face-on and then morphing into a deep sea diving bell as you gaze upon its side profiles. You might love it, you might hate it, but you can't deny or fail to admire its amazing presence.
The Deep Diver’s matt black dial has been applied with very large obvious looking luminous markers and numerals. The set up, which includes baton shaped markers (one triangular at ‘12’) and numerals (‘6’ and ‘9’) offers exceptional legibility of the dial. A white date window has been placed at ‘3’. If I had designed the dial myself I probably would have gone for a black date window and then moved it to ‘6’, allowing the Arabic numerals to fall at ‘3’ and ‘9’ or better still got rid of the numerals all together as they aren’t really necessary on a professional divers watch.
Text on the dial includes: The ‘Azimuth’ name, ‘XTREME-1 AUTOMATIQUE’, ‘2000m / 6582ft’ ‘ANTI MAGNETIC’ all in white and then ‘DEEP DIVER’ in red. I feel that because the Deep Diver already has such a big personality, that a less is more approach would have been a better fit for the dial layout; there’s way too much unnecessary text, of which the majority could have been best moved to the caseback.
HANDS I really like the handset. There’s a hint of Panerai’s semi-skeletonized Submersible handset here, but with a twist and Azimuth have cleverly managed to get some lume onto the skeletonized portions. A long luminous applied arrow-head second hand completes the set.
The Deep Diver’s case is made up of two parts, an inner capsule, which houses the watch’s movement, and an outer case, which is securely attached to it by means of 6 specialized screws. The outer case measures 56.5mm x 46mm x 20mm. It is constructed from a single massive piece of high-grade titanium that takes on the form of a sort of shield that wraps around your wrist.
The top and bottom lateral sides of the case have been beveled and polished as has the crown guard, itself made up of two separately attached parts. I feel the beveling helps to define the imposing outline of the case; otherwise it might just look like a block of metal on your writ. It doesn’t, though. There’s a large bored out hole at the 9 o’clock position of the case, which meets the HEV of the inner capsule; this and the heads of the specialized screws are in many ways quite crude looking, but give the Deep Diver its unique look; artisan meets heavy industry meets luxury.
INNER CAPSULE Square shaped cases aren’t particularly good at resisting pressure, so you’ll find that most dive watch case designs, at least those with a water-resistance of any significance typically adopt rounded or circular shapes in order to more evenly distribute the forces exerted by such extreme depths. So AZIMUTH have employed an ingenious technique to overcome this problem. By placing a separate movement housing inside their unorthodox square case, they were able to achieve a water-resistance of up to 2000 meters. The inner capsule is equipped with lateral helium escape valve at the 9 o’clock position. It is also constructed from high-grade Titanium.
BEZEL The Deep Diver’s bezel is attached to the inner capsule, however because of the curve of the outer case, it sinks below it in places and then floats above it in others; looking much like the turret of a tank or the top hatch of a submarine. The bezel fascia lends a little from a Panerai Submersible, but with additional lumed minute markers between ‘12’ and ‘3’. Overall the bezel has a nice utilitarian feel to it. It is lovely and firm and moves effortlessly through its 120-click cycle.
CROWN A large knurled crown fits flush against the crown guards so as not to protrude or cause any interference. The face of the crown has been signed with the ‘AZIMUTH’ hairspring logo. A fantastic heavy duty crown stem gives plenty of confidence when adjusting the time and date.
CASEBACK The Deep Diver has a solid titanium caseback, which is in fact part of the outer case. Access to the inner workings must be gained by detaching the inner capsule form the outer case. The caseback features a large etched ‘AZIMUTH’ hairspring logo with text running round its perimeter. This was a huge blank canvas for AZIUMTH to have done pretty much anything they liked with. They could have put a big cheesy engraving on it, but kept it simple and tasteful. I’m glad they did, because the watch already has a lot going on. There are five specialized screws which are holding the inner capsule in place. The caseback is super comfortable against the wrist.
CRYSTAL A 4.0mm thick double domed and double AR coated sapphire crystal is just one of the Deep Diver’s many incredible features. The dome of the crystal is unusually high and steep. However it remains completely distortion free even from the most oblique angles.
Even with such an unorthodox design the Deep Diver maintains a water-resistance of 2000m or 6562ft. This has been achieved by creating a separate housing for its movement.
Swiss automatic 25 jewels, ETA 2826-2 beating at 28,800 vph with 42 hour power reserve encapsulated in a movement housing and further protected by an anti-magnetic shield. Functions include: Hours, minutes, sweep seconds and big date.
The Deep Diver has FANTASTIC lume. An optimal application of Swiss C3 SuperLuminova has been applied to the hands, markers and bezel markings of the watch. Because the dial markers are oversized, the lume on the dial is almost torch-like. And as mentioned earlier, even the sides of the semi-skeletonized hands have been applied with lume. But the coolest lume on the watch, and the one that I most appreciate is the thoughtfully lumed engraved bezel markings. This style of bezel isn’t usually lumed; this is the first time I’ve experienced it. I would rate the lume at excellent.
STRAP / BUCKLE
A custom Swiss made natural rubber divers strap in black with embossed ‘AZIMUTH’ hairspring logo at the top of each side where it meets the lugs. The lug ends measures a good 46mm across; then the strap tapers in sharply at its middle to 26mm continuing to the clasp. The rubber is of a really high quality and feels comfortable to wear. A rubber strap is the only strap option available for the Deep Diver; there are no bracelet or leather band options.
BUCKLE The Deep Diver has a massive titanium signed deployment clasp with detachable divers extension. Whilst the clasp is nice and solid and its closure lovely and secure; I felt it wasn’t quite on par with the rest of the watch. My main gripes are that one end of the clasp has an exposed connecting rod and an unsightly end-link. It looks a little untidy and unfinished, and should have really been neatly tucked away somewhere. Also the divers extension was really quite tricky to put on. Admittedly, AZIMUTH say it was a bit of an afterthought, but it supports my previous complaints about the clasp not living up to the rest of the watch. I wish AZIMUTH could have gone the extra mile and had a nice custom push-button butterfly clasp made, this would have made a huge difference to the overall presentation of the watch.
The Deep Diver is a beautifully built watch. AZIMUTH have used the highest quality materials such as high-grade titanium and an exceptional ultra-high domed sapphire crystal. Everything on the watch has been finished beautifully. It feels solid and well made, as a 5’000 dollar watch should do. As mentioned before, aesthetically the clasp kind of lets the side down. However it is still a good quality component.
The Deep Diver’s massive case reflects AZIMUTH's avant-garde DNA, whereas its specifications, which include: a 2000m depth rating, anti-magnetic shield for the movement, a huge domed sapphire crystal, unidirectional divers bezel, screwdown crown, C3 SuperLuminova and lateral HEV point toward a functional divers instrument.
ON THE WRIST I have to admit I was surprised how comfortable the Deep Diver is; looking at it you wouldn’t think so. It’s a big heavy watch, but its weight has been evenly distributed by its large surface area. The watch is quite high, but not particularly top heavy. I knocked the crystal against a glass door once, luckily without incident, so watch out for door frames etc. The Deep Diver reminds me of a piece of a Roman legionnaire’s armor the way it wraps around your wrist, this and the fact that Titanium is a lightweight and comfortable material further the comfort of the watch, which is surprisingly wearable and doesn’t take a hulk to pull off.
The Deep Diver is an unusual and collectible watch crafted in Switzerland. The AZIMUTH brand name is starting to gain strength and recognition in the industry; they already have a large and loyal following. There isn’t much out there like it for this sort of price. If you were to explore other high-end, high-spec. titanium divers from Panerai or Corum, you’d pay almost double the Deep Diver’s price, which is listed at 4250USD.
CONSIDER If you’re after something that looks equally extrovert on the wrist, you might also consider the BURAN Stingray, which is as close as you’ll get to the Deep Diver’s build quality and cost. The Stingray which is also made from high-grade titanium, has a 52mm diameter, a stripped down Valjoux 7750 and a water-resistance of 300m. List price on the Stingray is 4800USD, but they can be had for quite a bit less.
The Deep Diver is a watch that makes a bold statement on your wrist. It’s undoubtedly an attention grabber, but is in no way an attention seeker. Its avant-garde design isn’t so, just for the sake of art, but is also highly innovative. And in no way has the functionality of the watch been compromised; far from it. It was by overcoming the watch’s square shape that worked against the physics of deep sea diving that AZIMUTH were able to increase its depth-rating to what it now is. Thus illustrating that avant-garde dive watches don’t necessarily have to be impractical, they can also be purposeful and functional. So not just a finely sculpted piece of functional men’s jewelry either, but a capable piece of diving equipment that will put you in good stead whether like Fernando you’re planning on exploring the depths of the ‘Ojos del Salado’ or just want something fun to slap on your wrists at the weekend.
Many thanks to Alvin, Chris and Jessie.