Once you go down the rabbit hole of vintage watch collecting, it can be a difficult task to find your way back out again. With countless brands, designs, and price points to work with, not to mention the thrill of tracking down that elusive ‘rare bird’; there are many ways a collector can structure his collection.
Some choose to solely focus on one brand or reference, whereas others are happy to simply go after designs they like and develop some variety. Over the years I’ve been actively collecting vintage watches, I’ve ended up building ‘collections within collections’, with Swiss, German and French skin divers being regular additions! Skin divers are lesser diving watches, in that they generally lack a depth rating and screw-in crown. What they forgot in actual diving ability however, they often make up for with interesting and colourful designs, costing much less than the vintage Submariners and Ploprofs of the world.
Two firm favourites from my skin diver collection hail from the same era (1970s) and same country (Germany), but that’s about where the similarities end.
First up is the manual wind Dugena Junior. Coming in at a generous 37mm in diameter, the sculpted all-steel case with crown guard sits nicely on the wrist. The matte black dial contrasts very well with the boldly printed hour and minute markers and matching lumed hour and minute hands – in a colour best described as ‘light butternut pumpkin’ – and the square date window framed in white at 3 o’clock is a practical addition that does little to disrupt the dial. Finishing it off is the black and red rotating bezel, essential on dive watch. The Dugena runs the basic but reliable 17 jewel cal. FE140-1 manual wind movement that still nearly achieves its original 47 hour power reserve. Impressive for a watch over 40 years old.
Let’s now compare it against the very rare Eza. Eza was the brand name of Hermann Becker KG, who started as a watch case manufacturer in Pforzheim, in 1921. This Eza benefits from an in-house manufactured case and dial, and Hermann Becker ‘Ultramatic’ HB313 movement. The Eza is slightly smaller in diameter at 35mm, but makes up for it with an exceptionally well made dial featuring a winning combination of applied steel and bright red printed hour markers, a steel-framed date window and of course that awesome square lollipop central seconds hand. An oversized crown and simple black and white rotating bezel finish off the classic skin diver look. I used to own another one of these Eza skin divers, with a blue dial. That actual watch now proudly resides with one of the Dutchmen who relaunched the Eza Watches brand in 2016.
Most vintage skin divers nowadays would faint at the sight of water, and are better suited to desk diving duties only.
By Adam – Mechanical_Time