BACKGROUND Dating back to 1924 and with more than 90 years of history, Delma are one of the last independent Swiss watchmaking manufacturers. However it wasn't until 1969 that Delma produced their first automatic diver’s watch, the Periscope which was the foundation of Delma’s dive watch making tradition.
Between 1975 and 1990, Delma enjoyed great success with its professional diver’s watches. The Stainless steel automatic models, Shell Star and Quattro with its rotatable bezel were used by professional and hobby divers. Although they have never really been a household name, they have been known to collectors of vintage divers.
It wasn't until 2011, some 42 years after the Periscope that they set out to once again establish themselves as a serious dive watch manufacturer with the release of the Delma Santiago Blue Shark, a Limited Edition automatic diver’s watch with a water resistance of 3000 meters that first caught my eye at Baselworld fair in 2011.
DIAL The Blue Shark is fitted with a black diamond-textured dial with a striking orange retro-styled handset with a serpent (phallic) minute hand that Delma took from a vintage model of theirs that was in existence in the 1980s and a large arrow head sweep-seconds indicator. The hour markers are a combination of polished Arabic numerals (with orange lume) and applied trapezoids markers (with green lume).
The dial texture is great, the handset, too but the dial markers imho not so great. I don’t really like the font that has been used and there’s a white date window at 3 o’clock which combined with the orange numerals makes the dial look a little busy. Thankfully the text has been kept to a minimum, though.
LUME All the lume that has been used is Swiss SuperLuminova. The green lume that was used for the hands and dial markers is nice and bight. The lume on the dial numerals – is not so bright. The orange lume on the bezel markers is pretty good but has more of a yellowish hue to it. I would rate the overall lume – ‘good’ going by the hands and trapezoid markers alone.
MOVEMENT The Santiago Blue shark is powered by a Swiss made ETA 2824 automatic mechanical movement; a tough and reliable movement that has been used to power countless Swiss sports and divers watches. It was for many years the movement of choice for anyone wanting to build their own Swiss boutique diver but these days it is becoming a rarer sight.
CASE The Santiago Blue Shark has a large brushed Stainless steel case – not so different from the infamous ‘2000m’ factory case that was being used by everyone around 5 years ago. Its dimensions include: 47mm Ø x 18.5mm (thick). It is fitted with Helium Escape Valve that is positioned at 9 o’clock on the left lateral side of the case.
BEZEL This is rugged black PVD with polished steel coin-edging, ergonomically-designed with enlarged notches to allow for better grip when wearing a divers gloves. There’s a dive-time scale in orange lume that really gives the Blue Shark a sporty appearance. The bezel has a very tight fit with a bit of stiff but confidence inspiring 120-click cycle. As well as PVD, the bezel is also available in brushed steel with green lume.
CROWN The Blue Shark is fitted with a large screwdown crown in polished steel. It has been signed with Delma’s ‘crown’ logo. The crown stem is nice and sturdy. Not sure on the number of gaskets.
CRYSTAL The Blue Shark is fitted with a domed Sapphire crystal. The thickness of the crystal is 6.8mm. You can clearly see the side of the crystal which has a polished slope at its edge where it meets the bezel. There is anti-reflective coating on its inside.
BACK The Blue Shark has a solid Stainless steel caseback. There is some really nice engraving with a ‘blue shark’ motif, the Delma name and logo and some specification including WR etc. and the watch’s Limited Edition # / 500.
WR The Santiago Blue Shark has depth-rating of 300 bar, the equivalent of 3000 meters (9842 ft) of water-resistance. It was independently tested in excess of 300 bar, which is obviously way more than you would ever need. However the engineering of a watch with such an increased level of pressure-resistance pretty much guarantees a higher degree of toughness all round.
While 3000m is still an impressive rate of water-resistance, there are more than ten other models equally rated and just as many with an even higher level of WR – the highest recorded WR to date is 12000 meters. For reference, the blue shark from which this model takes its name has depth range of not much higher than 350 meters. ;)
BRACELET This is a standard brushed steel, three-link affair. It is pretty generic-looking but is darn solid, However, the real show-stopper is the massive divers clasp, which is almost the exact same type used by CX Swiss Military Watches (a very good thing). It is super solid and super easy to open and close. Hex-screws have been used for the lugs as well as the links on the bracelet.
FIT & FINISH The Santigo Blue Shark has been finished to a very high standard. It is on par with any other Swiss made diver at its price point. I know that Delma were particularly fastidious about the engineering of the watch; changing / improving some minor details that they were dissatisfied with and upgrading the lug and bracelet fittings.
ON the WRIST This a hefty 150g piece of kit. It’s made from solid steel so is pretty heavy to wear. The case is 47mm, but the lugs are at least downwardly sloping, so it does sit pretty nicely on the wrist despite its dimensions and weight. Comfort often takes a backseat when deep divers are designed – that’s just the way it goes.
BOX The Blue Shark comes presented in a solid polished wooden box and is supplied with an additional rubber divers strap and a specialized tool for strap changes. The wooden box is really huge and makes for a pretty grand presentation, but a Pelican / Storm, type hard plastic dry-case would have been far more appropriate and a lot more practical. The rubber strap is lovely!
VALUE The Santiago Blue Shark’s MSRP is 2195 USD. When you consider that Delma are a relatively small and wholly independently Swiss watch-maker with nearly half century of dive watch making heritage, the fact that the watch is limited to just 500 pieces and exudes an overall feeling of quality – 2K is about right.
CONSIDER If deep dive watches are your thing and you’re on a slightly higher budget, I would highly recommend checking out: the Ball DeepQUEST, the UTS 4000M or the PITA Oceana 5000M. In a similar price range the Aquadive BS300 is really stunning. While the HELBERG CH1 6000M and H2O Kalmar II offer excellent value with some really cool options. If your budget is slightly lower, then look no further than Deep Blue’s new Depthmaster II.
OVERALL If you like big manly looking watches that are evocative of deep sea exploration. If you like watches that conjure up feelings of nostalgia for the scuba diving heydays of the late 70s and 80s. If you collect Swiss dive watches from true Swiss based watch companies that have real diving heritage. -
If wish to support a well-established, but smaller independent Swiss watch maker; or if the look of the watch simply speaks to you – the Santiago Blue Shark will make an excellent addition to any serious collector’s stable. It ain’t the deepest or even the cheapest, but it is an interesting piece with plenty of substance above and beyond it’s 3000m depth rating.