BACKGROUND CREPAS (Compañía Relojera Especializada Para Actividades Subacuáticas) are a specialist boutique dive watch brand from Malaga in the south of Spain. Over the past 5 years, the brand has emerged as one the leading producers of dive watches in their segment. CREPAS only produce one model per year. The DecoMaster is their fifth model under the CREPAS label; however several other models have been released under their military inspired label, TACTICO.
CREPAS typically reinvent dive watch classics from the past. Taking an iconic design and updating it with the most current dive watch-making technologies available so that they outperform the models they were inspired by in every single technical aspect possible.
PACKAGING The CREPAS DecoMaster came in a hardened plastic dry-case, similar to those made by Pelican but perhaps not quite of the same high quality. Inside the case was the DecoMaster on its rubber divers strap along with a steel mesh bracelet and an additional divers strap in blue.
DIAL The DecoMaster’s dial is made up of two parts: an inner portion in a matte deep blue with the company logo in contrasting red, and a large rehaut in matte black with the hour markers and minute-track. This is by no means a classic clean dial with a sparse layout - rather a striking yet busy style that dates back to the 1970s. There's a fair amount going but it is taken care of by the use of a remarkable set of -
HANDS When you chose your DecoMaster, you are given the choice of two handsets: the one shown here with a massive arrow-head minute hand and dwarf hour hand or a traditional Plongeur-style handset. Both sets come with same elongated seconds indicator with a larger rectangular pointer.
From a purely functional point of view, the configuration shown here allows for quick and unambiguous reading of dive-time. While the handset is somewhat quirky in its design - I personally felt that it best suited the DecoMaster given its instrument-like character. You really feel the DecoMaster is more ‘diving instrument’ than ‘dive watch’ and that was something that really appealed to me.
CASE The DecoMaster’s case, bezel and crown are all made of 316L Marine Grade Stainless steel with a brushed finish in straight, circular and radial effects. The actual case design itself is taken from CREPAS’s debut model the, Le GRAND which is a derivative style borrowed from the vintage Omega SM1000m.
Like the Le Grand, the DecoMaster’s case boasts a number of modernizations and technical updates not least of which is a Helium Escape Valve which is located at 4 o’clock and a new destro (left-handed) crown setup as well as a considerable increase in water-resistance. The case measures 44mm in diameter by 15mm thick and with a lug-lug measurement of 55mm.
CRYSTAL The DecoMaster is fitted with a 5mm thick flat Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on its inside. I love a highly domed crystal as much as the next man but appreciate the clean look that a flat crystal gives just as much - besides this, it's a lot easier to photograph ;)
BEZEL Three 120-click Sapphire crystal bezel types are available when ordering the DecoMaster. I chose the Chronomatic Depth-gauge style with its psychedelic spectrum of colors. It ain't gonna be to everyone's taste but in the same regard as the handset, it gives the DecoMaster a more instrument-like character. I know that 90% of us probably won't use the bezel’s depth-meter function but it is there and that's just so cool.
Colors aside, the DecoMaster’s bezel has a lovely height to it which along with its pronounced coin-edged side allows for excellent grip. The bezel is nice and tight but its movement is a little bit unrefined - kind of raspy and scratchy. For me things like the fluidity of a bezel’s movement is what separates say a top boutique brand like CREPAS from a top Swiss brand like Omega.
CASEBACK The DecoMaster has solid 3.2mm thick 316L Marine Grade Stainless steel caseback. The caseback has been slightly recessed into the back of the watch case. It has a grooved design so that water can easily drain out and so that it sits comfortably against the wrist. The caseback is engraved with the CREPAS propeller logo in its center.
CROWN The DecoMaster is fitted with a 7.5mm thick signed screw-down crown with multiple gaskets. The crown is actually very nice to handle and operate, and feels sturdy.
WATER-RESISTANCE The DecoMaster has a water-resistance of 4000 meters. Both the crystal and the caseback thickness had to be increased to allow for 4000M, so for this reason, CREPAS used an ETA 2892-A2 allowing the DecoMaster to have a modest 15 millimeters of thickness.
The DecoMaster comes with a copy of its pressure testing certificate from KUM in Germany. Actually KUM weren't testing dive watches until H20 Watches tracked them down to test their Kalmar several years ago.
CREPAS and H20 are among the only two boutique brands that test their watches in these types of facilities and provide actual documentation, which in my opinion sets them apart from most other brands. If you have to ask the question, why 4000m - then you should probably be looking at another watch ;)
LUME The DecoMaster’s dial, hands and bezel have been lumed with Swiss C3 SuperLumiNova which glows green. The lume is very good BUT given that this watch is a chronomatic depth-gauge and that blue is the last color in the spectrum to remain visible when descending into the depths - why wasn't BGW9 (which has a bright blue glow) used instead?
MOVEMENT The DecoMaster is powered by a Swiss made ETASA 2892-A2 TOP grade automatic mechanical movement.
STRAP The DecoMaster comes on a black rubber ISOfrane style strap. It's a real pity that CREPAS don't use an original ISOfrane strap as they are second to none. While the strap on the DecoMaster does achieve the look it is not nearly in the same league. I'm not sure what kind of rubber has been used but it has a slightly chalky residue all over it and is quite stiff and uncomfortable by comparison. On the plus side it is scent free.
BRACELET An optional Stainless bracelet is available for the DecoMaster. It comes with solid links for size adjustment and a lovely divers safety clasp with push-buttons.
QUALITY Quality is something that has become synonymous with this small Spanish watch brand. I think I have owned every single one of the 5 models that they have released and each one has been painstakingly designed and engineered using high-quality materials. The DecoMaster is no different. Each of its components have been very nicely finished -
not to the same luxurious standard as a top Swiss brand but considering it is roughly the tenth of the price of one of its high-end Swiss counterparts, the DecoMaster is a lot of nice watch for not a lot of money. However, it is ever so slightly let down by its rubber strap.
I hope that CREPAS could either supply their next model on a bracelet only or instead use a high-quality rubber strap or leather band. Having said that, don't let the rubber strap put you off buying what will end up being a very collectible piece that will appreciate in value. Just buy one with a bracelet or get an original ISOfrane to finish it off.
PRICE When I ordered my DecoMaster it had a pre-order price of around 700euro. This has now increased to 900euro. If you're on the fence grab one anyway because all the CREPAS models retain their value and will even appreciate when stock runs out. Talking of which there are still a few pieces left that will remain available until December 31st.
OVERALL CREPAS have made quite a name for themselves in the collectors market with an almost cult-like following; they have done this by, firstly producing only one well made, well priced divers model per year that references an historical model,
but by reinventing that model so that it can perform as technically competently as any other modern dive watch in its class. The inspiration for their collection of divers were icons, legendary dive watches but now they can not only live on but are also relevant for today's market, serving as both high-quality Swiss made diving instruments but as little lessons in dive watch history.
These are not homage watches, these are modern reinterpretations; CREPAS have found their niche in the dive watch industry and are among the best at what they do but I wouldn't half like to see what they could achieve with a blank canvas - it's an exciting thought!