By TLex The JOHN ISAAC, Rough Sea is a wristwatch with a bit of an identity crisis; it thinks it’s a dive watch! Why am I blogging about it then? Firstly I couldn’t help myself, but also because despite its fantasy about being a diver it’s a pretty decent looking sports watch. This might come as surprise, when you consider all the influences it has drawn from and then thrown together . . .
INFLUENCES Starting with the case; there’s some Patek Philippe going on here, notes of the Nautilus and the Aquanaut. Then what John Isaac call ‘two diametrically opposed crowns' à la JeanRichard DIVERSCOPE. The hour hand is also quite reminiscent of the Bell & Ross BR02’s minute hand. But, shouldn’t it have been the minute hand in orange not the hour hand? That’s the one that’s supposed to be the prominent one, so that a diver can check his dive time at a glance. Finally as if to say ‘Why the heck not?’; the quirky Franck Muller-esque font used for 12 hour index on the dial.
I WANT TO BE A DIVER WHEN I GROW UP John Isaac say: ‘To guarantee the water-tightness of your watch we place it in a specially designed hypobaric chamber to stimulate the pressure 50 meters below sea level. At this level the pressure exerted on the sapphire glass and the case back is equal to 5 tons.’ All that talk of hyperbaric chambers and tons per square foot almost had me fooled for a minute. Only 50 meters though! Even the Patek Philippe Aquanaut has a water-resistance of 120 meters.
Then, when talking about the lume, which has been thoughtfully applied to the hands (including the prominent hour hand!) and markers John Isaac say: ‘This invention was critical for divers to be able to see how much breathing mix they had left in their tanks. It gets pretty light deprived 100 meters under the sea!’ I thought they said the Rough Sea was only good for 50 meters; what are they going on about!?
Nevertheless they go on to say about the Rough Sea, that it’s ‘ideal for those with a habit of riding waves, or diving below them.’ I think the Rough Sea would be more ideally suited for those with a habit of riding the waves of their paddling pools, or those that would dive below their desks!
SIZE MATTERS Although I actually quite enjoy wearing larger watches of 47mm and upwards, I think it would be fair to say that these days 45mm is an optimal size for any sport or divers watch. John Isaac wouldn’t agree, though. The Rough Sea measures a mere 35.5mm in diameter, when a Patek Philippe Aquanaut measures 40mm!
CHOCOLATE Feeling hungry? John Isaac say: ‘The dial is decorated with a fine engraving called ‘Tablette Chocolat’. This involves the cutting of an intricate pattern in the dial’s surface with a lathe-like machine called a ‘Rose Engine’. The resulting decoration gives a sense of a slab of chocolate ready to be broken in to tasty square chunks’. Yummy! Is this an industry term that I haven’t come across? Who else is using ‘Tablette Chocolat’? Do you see what I mean about an identity crisis? The Rough Sea isn't quite sure what it is!
ILLUMINATION OK, comedy hour is over, something interesting. The Rough Sea’s hands and markers have been treated with LumiNova®. That’s not Swiss Super-LumiNova®, but Japanese developed phosphorescent pigments, which are based on Strontium Oxide Aluminate chemistry. This is drastically different from more conventional phosphorescent pigments, which are either based on Zinc Sulfide or on radioisotopes for their self-luminous properties. I have no idea how it compares to the Super-LumiNova.
SPECIFICATIONS Further specification include: An ETA 2824 Self-winding mechanical movement with deluxe finishing, which can be viewed through a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback. The Rough Sea comes on a black water buffalo bracelet with three part fold-over clasp (with threaded length adjustment feature). It is supplied with a second black rubber strap and is available from the John Isaac store priced at 1990CHF.
DEDICATION I dedicate this post to all those old farts, who whine and moan about over-sized dive watches with unnecessarily high depth ratings, you know who you are. I think the 35.5mm Rough Sea with its 50 meter depth rating might be just what you were looking for . . .