Delma’s first dedicated divers watch the Periscope from 1969 lead the way for watches like the vintage Shell Star from 1975, the brand's first professional divers watch - and even the über 3000 meter dive watch, the Santiago Blue Shark that helped the brand garner so much attention back in 2010.
Today the revival of models from the last century (yes, it feels strange even today saying that) is a growing trend in the watch industry. The Shell Star doesn't actually bare that much resemblance to its historic namesake but instead embodies the spirit of watches from its epoch.
DIAL For obvious reasons, the dial is the single most important feature of any watch - on a divers watch the same is true however it is not only time as in - hours, minutes and seconds that are read but also elapsed dive-time.
This has become less important today for several reasons not least of which is the fact that Scuba divers today are equipped with dive computers coupled with the fact most Swiss dive watches are in fact first and foremost sold as luxury items.
But let's say that you were going to use your Shell Star as a backup up for your dive computer - how would it fair? A matte black background with brightly colored orange markers would be a great starting point, right?!
The Shell Star offers this as well as set of white sword hands and a sweeping orange seconds hand. Unfortunately (for me) the hour and minute hands are a little too similar - yes, the hour hand is a little shorter and wider but I would have preferred a far more glaring difference. If the same lovely bright orange had also been used for the minute hand this would have been all the better.
So what's the rest of the dial saying? There's a rehaut with orange hour tabs which gives the Shell Star a nice vintage feel, then there's a white seconds track, a minimal amount of text in white and the watch's water-resistance in orange. There's also a white dial which has been in framed in orange - on balance, it's good looking dial - clean and legible but as mentioned before the hands could be a little more distinguishable from one and other.
CASE This isn't quite the classic 70s cushion case - it's got an integrated crown guard - something you don't see too often on a cushion case, but it works. The crown guard gives the Shell Star perhaps a more robust appearance than it might otherwise have had.
CROWN I mentioned already the crown, above - this is a real triumph. Not only is the crown beautifully designed to offer excellent ergonomics but it is super solid. Time setting is an absolute breeze.
The case has been beautifully executed - the whole thing has a finely brushed finish with polished beveled edges. At 9 o’clock there's a ubiquitous Helium Escape Valve - on the opposite side of the case is a sturdy crown with a widely pronounced grip nestled in-between the crown guards.
BEZEL A 120-click type unidirectional rotational divers bezel sits on top of the Shell Star's brushed case. This has an anodized black aluminum inlay with a dive-time scale in silver. There's a triangular marker at 12 o’clock but unfortunately it lacks the required luminous pip of a professional diver - what a pity. The bezel has lovely smooth action - it feels light (in a good way) but more bezel height wouldn't go amiss.
CASEBACK The Shell Star is unusual in that it is divers watch with an exhibition caseback. Usually when a Sapphire crystal is fitted to the back of a watch it is given a lower level of water-resistance - not in the case of the Shell Star - it's water-resistance has not been compromised. This caseback is secured via 4x hex-screws. There's the typical engraving around the perimeter.
MOVEMENT That caseback affords a view of the Shell Star's engine room - where a Swiss made ETA 2824-2 with 25 jewels, a beat-rate of 28,000 alt/h and a power reserve of 46 hours can be seen powering the watch with a custom gold-gilt Delma rotor.
LUME The Shell Star's hands and dial markers have been applied with Swiss C3 SuperLumiNova. The lume on the hands is pretty decent - however, I think the hour markers could have definitely benefited from another application or two. The hands hold their lume pretty well but the dial markers are quite faint.
Another dive watch with no lume on the bezel’s 12 hour marker - what's the world coming to? I told you that Swiss divers are first and foremost luxury items - thankfully Delma does luxury very well - I just would have appreciated a tad more utility.
BRACELET This has always been an area where Delma excels - I remember how impressed I was by the Blue Shark’s bracelet and clasp - Delma have once again supplied a top quality bracelet and clasp.
The bracelet is a three-link type bracelet with polished center links. The links are designed so that the tops are rounded giving a 3D effect while the undersides are flat so as to sit nice and comfortably on your wrist.
CLASP The Shell Star's clasp is just gorgeous - a beautiful satin brushed finish with an engraved Delma logo running across its middle and two push-buttons on either side unfortunately it doesn't have a proper divers extension.
On the WRIST So how does the Shell Star feel on the wrist? It's dimension include a 44mm x 12.8mm case with a total weight of 225g on its bracelet. The watch sits nicely on the wrist - it's a solid diver, but it can be worn with a shirt cuff without any issue - it's still a bit of tank - wimps be warned ;)
PRICE The Shell Star is priced 1295CHF - actually this is pretty excellent value for money. We're talking boutique money here (not pre-order money) ! The finishing of the watch is immaculate, Delma are an historical Swiss brand with heritage. They aren't necessarily a household name but offer an authentic Swiss divers watch with a timeless style that will look great for years and years.
OVERALL The Shell Star is dive watch with an unmistakable vintage style that is hard not to fall in love with. It's of a such a solid build (much more so than you’d expect from a humble cushion case) and is brimming with features.
Sure, there were one or two points that didn't quite make the grade as a professional diver but these were soon outshone by standout features such as its stunning exhibition caseback with gold-gilt movement, below - the retro styling and the stunning bracelet and clasp. Follow the link embedded, below for more info.