When it comes to the world of microbrand watches, to say that the field is crowded is an understatement. It’s tough to wade through all the offerings and find the really good ones, to get through the hype and the finely crafted marketing. Really, you just want to come across a great watch! In the end, isn’t that what we all want? We want a solid, interesting watch with a backbone of specs to be proud of. Well, I think that’s exactly what we have here in the SWC Diver.
Late last year, I was contacted by Josh Roemer, with the Swiss Watch Company, to see if I was interested in checking out the new diver they had launched on Kickstarter. After checking out his campaign page, I was definitely on board. The watch looked pretty cool and had a great set of specs. On top of that, it also looked good (which is not always the case with microbrands!)
You will find this review as well as others here opinionated and I don’t always stick to the same formula for each item that comes my way, I strive to just focus on the important stuff. If you are a die-hard watch nerd, you may find I skipped over putting the watch on a timegrapher and some over minute things.
This review is more about what I think is important and find valuable. Regardless of how the item comes into my possession, they all get the same treatment. If it’s garbage, I will be the first one to tell you. Really, the whole point here on the blog, is to cut right through the hype and answer the big question…is this worth my money? In the case of the SWC Diver, if you’re interested in saving a few minutes, I can tell you what it says at the bottom of the page; this is a watch you should buy.
Now, it’s always interesting when a company decides to build a more traditional dive watch. In a way, I’m amazed when any company wants to build a new watch…period! There is so much clutter and noise out there, I imagine it’s extremely tough for the good ones to get to the top. It’s easy for me to come across new watches because, well, I like watches! I watch videos on YouTube, follow a bunch of accounts on Instagram, Facebook, etc. The question is, how do brands reach those who are not die-hard watch nerds? That’s a conversation for another day.
The other issue when creating a new dive watch is how to be both original and also true to the overall expectations consumers have for a dive watch. Then, you have the pitfall of the whole “homage category.” I think this is where SWC really carved out a niche in the crowded field. They came up with a good looking dive watch, that is original enough to be unique, but still keeps the classic “tool watch vibe.” To me, that vibe is important if someone is going to pull the trigger and spend good money on a steel bracelet dive watch.
The founder of Swiss Watch Company, Stephean Roemer, has a long history in the watch industry. What he brought to market is exactly what their name says, a Swiss watch. SWC has been making watches for other brands for many years, but this one is their first original. You can read more about the company on their website here.
This watch will appeal to a wide audience for a multitude of reasons, but I think those that know watches and are looking for value will be extremely pleased with the SWC Black Diver. Interestingly, it’s been named The Dark Knight by popular Instagrammer @mrbagz. It’s the specs of the watch that edge it out over its competitors. This is where you really need to question the prices of watches in general. For the current price of $450, you get a watch with specs that match watches costing 3-4 times more. I am sure once the first batch are sold, there will be a price increase, so if this guy is on your radar, I would pull the trigger. You will be getting a real beast for your money!
Talking about specs, the watch is powered by the workhorse Sellita SW200 movement. Now, I am far from a watch snob, and truth be told, I like quartz watches as much as anything else. But, you have to be impressed with the choice of internals. It would have been easy to throw in an unbranded Seiko movement or a so-so Miyota, but here again, this watch is about offering terrific bang for your buck. Before someone chimes in and says the SW200 is an ETA clone, yes, maybe, but it’s been documented several times that the Sellita is superior than the ETA 2824 (you can read about it here.)
There are many microbrand watches out there which cost the same as or more than the SWC Diver, but they don’t have nearly as nice a movement. While we are talking about the movement, it also feels solid and crisp when you wind the watch or set the date and time. If you have a basic Miyota or similar, you know how gritty it can feel.
The watch and bracelet is crafted out of the expected 316L stainless steel, has solid end links, an oil pressed case back and a signed crown…all nice touches. Here again, the Dark Knight offers more with its water resistance rating of 300 Meters, a sapphire crystal with five layers of AR coating and, the icing on the cake, over 20 layers of Super Luminova on the indices. So, whether you are a “desk diver” or an actual diver, the watch will serve you well! I do have to mention here one little complaint, even though the watch has tons of features, I think it should have had drilled lugs. Now, I know that’s a little nit picky, and lots of folks could care less, but I change watch straps like socks and drilled lugs just make life easier.
Let’s move on to the bracelet. It’s really nice and looks super. I like the rounded and squared center sections. The clasp has the SWC logo engraved and it closes with a reassuring click. It has dual, quick release buttons when it’s time to remove it. The bracelet has solid end links with capsa pins holding the links together. These were a pain to deal with, even with a clamping pin remover. Oddly, the bracelet doesn’t have any micro adjust holes or a divers’ extension. Really though, how many of us need a divers’ extension?
All of these features add up to make a solid watch that not only looks the part, but is a real performer as well. I have been wearing it non-stop since receiving it and not letting it wind down. As of this writing, the watch looks to be running 2 seconds fast per day…not too shabby! It also passed what we call the “Tech Writer Test” for lume. That’s where I leave it on my nightstand in the evening while we watch TV and then see how long the lume lasts. The lume is above average here, being perfectly readable after 6 hours.
I should mention, that most folks misunderstand lume and complain too much about “bad lume”. In the original sense of a diving watch, you are out on the open water in the sun or bright light and about to dive into the murky depths. Lume was only needed for an hour or two before you resurfaced, so if lume was super bright for two hours, it did its job.
Today, most dive watches live under a shirt cuff, which never gives it a “full charge.” Then some goof complains they can’t read their watch in the closet! If you need night vision on your watch, get a Timex!
When you start to talk about the aesthetics of a watch, obviously a subjective area, we all have different opinions and tastes. But I think most watch guys will admit, the Dark Knight is a good looking watch! It’s one of those that will bring a smile to your face when you look down to tell the time…or kill some time!
We all stare at our watches longer than normal, right? It’s mostly a brushed finish, with a touch of polish on the bracelet and case, which highlights that the watch is ready to work.
The dial layout is clean and crisp and has great legibility from a distance. Some of the early pictures I saw showed that the dial has a design on the face (a square with some carved lines) and it looked a little weird, making the dial busy. However, in person, it’s not as noticeable unless you are up close and hold the watch at a certain angle…and then it looks really cool! It’s actually quite subdued and I thought it was a nice touch. You can’t deny that the indices really make the watch pop here, too. Combined with the sword hands and contrasting date wheel, it’s a real looker!
So, how does it wear? I get that question a lot. Well, how is a watch supposed to wear? It goes on your wrist and you either like it or you don’t. I happen to like it very much. I thought its 44mm case size would be a little much for my wrist, but the bezel is on the thinned side and the case is not overly tall at 13mm. Along with the brushing and 22mm lugs, the watch definitely wears smaller than what the dimensions would lead you to believe.
The watch comes in a nice zippered box with a warranty card. It’s key to note that the warranty here is 3 years, further proof that SWC believes in their products and should indicate that the watch should be trouble-free for years to come. Overall, the watch is beautiful. You can tell there’s been a lot of attention to detail in the finishing. The brushing is consistent, the polished sections are done well, and the general construction and feel are high caliber. The second hand goes to the edge of the chapter ring, the lume drops are uniform, the 120 click bezel rotates firmly with a precise click, and the crown turns smoothly.
As we wrap up, certainly the field of dive watches is crowded and competitive, but I firmly believe that the SWC has definitely made room for their watches in the field! They’re offering an extremely well performing watch that has above average specs in a great looking package. This is a solid watch! If you’ve made it all the way to the end, I am going to restate what I said in the beginning, this is a watch worth buying!
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.