Combining a dive watch and a chronograph is always tricky, both visually and technically. It means adding holes in a case that is required to be waterproof. Technically, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Visually, it also means combining land and sea, racing and diving, depth and height. Two worlds that are, at first, in complete opposition. Diving chronographs are hard to master, but Favre-Leuba has taken up the hybrid challenge and proposes its vision in the Raider Sea-Sky. The best of both worlds? Let’s find out.
As I mentioned, mixing a dive watch and a chronograph in a single timepiece is technical nonsense – or at least, it is a technical challenge. On the one hand, you have a watch that needs to guarantee water resistance to great pressures, meaning that the case must be as tightly sealed as possible. On the other hand, you have a chronograph complication that requires interactions to be activated, by pressing pushers. It’s like combining the high-octane performance of a sports car with eco-friendliness. Challenging, but not impossible. This is what Favre-Leuba has tried to achieve with the Raider Sea-Sky. But first, a bit of background on the brand.
The rebirth of Favre-Leuba
The roots of Favre-Leuba go as far back as the early 18thcentury, and the brand can boast a legitimate and illustrious past. Over the past few years, however, the brand has been rather quiet. After changing hands several times, it was acquired by Titan Company Limited in 2011, and is now managed by Thomas Morf – see interview here.
In 2017, Favre-Leuba was entirely revived and a brand new collection was launched, mainly focussed on instrument watches – in line with the brand’s motto “conquering frontiers”. The main collection is the Raider, which is a modern take on a vintage watch of the brand. For instance, look at the Raider Harpoon and its unique display of the time, or at the Bivouac 9000, the first watch with a mechanical altimeter capable of measuring altitude everywhere on Earth.
An example of a vintage Favre-Leuba Sea Sky Chronograph (credits: matthewbaininc.com)
The Favre-Leuba Raider Sea-Sky
The Favre-Leuba Raider Sea-Sky is quite a unique watch. Its style, its size, its spirit are clearly not on the elegant side of watchmaking. Everything here exudes exploration and robustness. It is a hefty piece of metal, which is made to last and to accompany its wearer in practically any kind of environment. It offers the functionality of a chronograph for measuring elapsed times with the practical benefits of a rotating bezel and impressive water resistance. Land, sky, sea, depths, heights… As an exploration instrument, the combination of a chronograph with a dive watch really makes sense.
The first things that catch the eye are the shape and size of the watch. The combination of a barrel-shaped case and a 44mm diameter makes it quite a statement piece, but it is a deliberate choice designed to protect the movement. The overall shape is reminiscent of the vintage watches of the brand, with a certain 1970s flair, yet it has been modernised with more curves (the old one was an almost perfect square, a rather weird shape). This barrel case enhances the size of the watch but, coincidentally, provides greater protection. Large and heavy on the wrist, it is surprisingly pleasant to wear.
As mentioned, this watch combines the best of a dive watch with a chronograph. It means that we find a uni-directional rotating bezel, fitted with an aluminium insert printed with a 60-minute scale, as well as pushers on the right side of the case. Despite having these push-pieces (which are not screwed), the Raider Sea-Sky offers a great water-resistance of 200m, more than enough for most users. This surprising combination of elements can also be seen on the dial, which features the usual chronograph sub-counters as well as a typical diver’s minute hand – with a large luminous tip, made to be read along the rotating bezel. Not always achieved, the mix of diving and chronograph elements is well balanced on this model making it a winning all-rounder.
To keep the 1970s style alive, Favre-Leuba chose original and bright combinations for the dials. One of them has a light blue dial with white sub-counters and a blue bezel, the second has a black dial with white sub-counters and bright orange accents on the bezel and hands. In addition to the funky style, these colours enhance the legibility of the Raider Sea-Sky. Large applied indexes, all filled with luminous paint, complete the look. Favre-Leuba also made the right choice of a 3-6-9 layout, despite being powered by a Valjoux-based movement – much more balanced and pleasant than the traditional 6-9-12 layout of most Valjoux-powered watches.
The sides of the case are also interestingly designed, with several surfaces and recesses. The Raider Sea-Sky is more compact that one could expect and features various dimensions and pleasant features. For instance, the plain steel back (necessary to ensure water-resistance) is screwed but aligned so the text is perfectly flat – It might just be a detail, but attention to details is what makes the difference in luxury.
Inside the case is a well-known and reliable Valjoux 7753, an automatic movement with date feature, a 48h power reserve and a 4Hz frequency. Nothing fancy here, but a movement that befits the instrument idea behind this Favre-Leuba Raider Sea-Sky.
The Favre-Leuba Raider Sea-Sky manages to mix diving and chronograph elements in a balanced way, without having to make concessions in favour of one complication over another. It is most definitely a robust sports watch that has to be worn knowingly. However, for those looking for a true exploration watch that can follow them pretty much everywhere around the globe, this is an option to consider. More details on favre-leuba.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.