BACKGROUND RALF TECH is first and foremost a dive watch specialist – their first ever model, the humble WR1 accompanied a scuba diver as he set a world record for depth; however since then RALF TECH has evolved into the luxury brand that we know, today.
Sponsors of motor racing, trans-globe and trans-ocean yacht racing, the supply of wrist watches to the French special forces and other elite units, and their own in-house manufacture collection have made RALF TECH one of if not the most exciting watch brands to come out of France.
In this review, we take an in-depth look at the WRV << S >> Hybrid Black Pirate Shadow which boasts two key RALF TECH features – the use of a hybrid movement and a brand favorite motif – the iconic crossed sabers and skull of a pirate’s flag.
PACKAGING I’ll keep this as brief as I can – the WRV << S >> Hybrid Black Pirate Shadow comes as all RALF TECH models do - in an OTAN approved high-quality plastic hard-case. It’s the only way to deliver a divers watch in my opinion and that’s probably why the first ever dive watch brand, Blancpain also use the exact same cases for delivering their Fifty Fathoms in.
DIAL This is minimalism done well – everything is as it should be on a watch face, the hands and hour markers, even a minute track but it’s all so subtle, so stealthy and ultimately so chic. Sure some readability is sacrificed in the name of style but this is the French way of doing things, non?
The contrast of the black hands and markers against the almost slate grey of the dial is quite fetching – then there’s that iconic Pirates logo and large rectangular lumed seconds indicator – this is a watch that is very much evocative of diving and the sea. What’s not to love!
CASE This is a WRV model and ''V'' stands for vintage - like the vintage-style cushion case that models bearing the WRV name are equipped with. The cushion case is a classic style that is well-known in the dive watch industry. It’s extremely popular with collectors because of its simple timeless shape.
The case of the RALF TECH WRV << S >> Hybrid Black Pirate Shadow is in 316L Stainless steel with a tough black PVD finish. It measures 43.8mm in diameter and is endowed with all the features one might expect on a professional divers model.
BEZEL A Stainless steel PVD unidirectional rotational divers bezel with a glossy black ceramic inlay, a contrasting silver dive-time scale and luminous pip at 12 o’clock. The bezel is a 120-click type. It is pretty damn tight, so there’s absolutely no play. On the other hand it lacks any luxurious thudding or smooth gliding action.
CROWN The crown of the WRV Black Pirate Shadow has been positioned at 4 o’clock on the case side – not only is it arguably more aesthetically pleasing placed there but it also greatly reduces any unwanted rubbing against the back of your wrist. The crown has been recessed into the side of the case too – any deeper and manipulation of the winding crown might have been compromised but it wasn’t so no complaints.
CRYSTAL The WRV Black Pirate Shadow is fitted with a 3.5mm thick cambered Sapphire crystal with anti-glare treatment on its outside. You can’t beat a nicely domed crystal with a cushion shaped case – the two go hand in hand.
CASE-BACK The WRV Black Pirate Shadow has a solid 316L Stainless steel case-back engraved with its limited edition number – it’s a pretty unremarkable to be honest and I was kinda wondering why there was no Pirate logo – an opportunity missed in my opinion. :(
WATER-RESISTANCE The WRV Black Pirate Shadow has a tested water-resistance of 300 meters. In addition to this the watch is fully ISO 6425 compliant.
LUME The WRV Black Pirate Shadow is not a watch for lume freaks. Yes, there is adequate lume on the hands – including the seconds indicator and bezel pip, and it’s Swiss C3 SuperLumiNova, but it really is just that – adequate. There is no lume on the indexes which is a pity because black SLN is better than nothing at all.
MOVEMENT The WRV Black Pirate Shadow is powered by a RALF TECH caliber H002 Hybrid quartz movement with an ultra-fast automatic oscillator and accumulative recharge giving a power-reserve of 150 days from fully charged.
We all know about the benefits of quartz watches - such as not having to reset the time after pulling one out of your watch box and their high level of accuracy but you can never escape the tick tick tick of the seconds hand which can actually be even worse on a hybrid movement as the tick is a little unstable particularly before the watch has a full charge.
Thankfully RALF TECH also offer the exact same watch with a Swiss automatic movement with a smooth gliding sweep seconds hand. On a side note – you remember those elite special forces that RALF TECH equip their members with – which version do you think they go for when they’re kicking down doors catching bad guys – it’s hybrid all day long, folks!
STRAP / BUCKLE The WRV <S> Hybrid Black Pirate Shadow comes with a buttery soft black silicone divers strap with a solid steel buckle in black PVD. I ordered mine with an additional grey strap to match its dial and did a little mix and match with the grey strap and black keepers which I think suits the watch very well. The watch is also supplied with a leather band.
The leather band is non tapering so the WRV actually has quite a rugged appearance despite being a vintage-style. Perhaps a tapered strap would have helped accentuate the cushion case a little better and have ultimately looked more elegant.
On the WRIST The first thing that struck me about the WRV Black Pirate Shadow was what a hefty piece of kit it was – actually I was expecting something a little less rugged from RALF TECH’s vintage collection. But it kind of puts into perspective how solid the watches of the WRX family are.
The way in which I have configured my WRV Black Pirate Shadow gives it a really striking presence on the wrist – it is every bit as comfortable sat there too which is owed in part to that super soft, supportive wide silicon divers strap that helps to balance out what is otherwise quite a heavy watch. WRISTSHOT courtesy of @Timemonki
FINAL THOUGHT The WRV Black Pirate Shadow is all about “the look” – it isn’t exactly fashion watch but it is certainly one of the most stylish looking dive watches I’ve encountered and as the French say, c’est tres chic. It looks really good and as such gets plenty of compliments.
However beneath that charming Pirate motif beats the heart of a hybrid work horse that will hold its charge for the best part of 6 months and housing it is a rugged ISO 6425 certified 300 meter divers watch case designed to cope with whatever you might throw at it. Whether it be swashbuckling, scuba diving or socializing – it’s a dive watch for pretty much all occasions. ;)