The watch: The Bulova Oceanographer, also known as the Devil Diver.
The single best thing about this watch: Getting to tell everyone you come in contact with that your watch is called the DEVIL DIVER.
The backstory: There’s actually a good reason for this watch’s name, and it has nothing to do with its tip-of-the-flame orange dial. Bulova got into the dive watch game in 1961, years behind the likes of Rolex and Omega. Bulova’s plan to outmaneuver the other dive watches on the market was go deeper than its competitors. Most standard dive watches at the time used similar “compressor” cases, which sealed the dial and kept it functional at depths of up 600 feet. The wisecracking watchmakers at Bulova pushed just a bit further, crafting a case that could dive to 666 feet. 666 being the number of the beast, Bulova’s new technology basically demanded the nickname.
Bulova is funny like that. Before H. Moser & Cie. arrived on the scene with its fake smartwatch, Bulova was the class clown of watchmakers. One famous ad shows a man wrestling a shark, with copy that reads: “It was also designed for the man who absentmindedly dunks his watch in his soup.” For all my fellow soup eaters out there, this is the watch for you.
This watch matters in the world of watches because: Rescuing iconic vintage pieces from the archives is the stock and trade of essentially every successful modern watchmaker. However, these reissues are usually made unattainable—either through their price point or limited-edition nature. And in 2018, Bulova ran that play to perfection, releasing this Oceanographer for $1,500 in a limited run of 666 pieces. This latest release, though, comes with no cap on production and a rubber strap to keep prices down. Best of all, the watch costs only $750. As Hodinkee notes, “All of these adjustments display a keenness on Bulova’s part to work with and respond to critiques from collectors,” who signaled a need for a more attainable version of this piece. The result is a very cool and historic diver watch at a reasonable price.
King of the orange: Photos from folks who have tried the watch or left reviews on the Bulova site show that the brand went absolutely atomic with the orange here. One review calls the watch the “World’s MOST Retina Searing Orange Diver.” There are traffic cones that think Bulova went a little overboard here. Personally, I think it looks fantastic—people don’t buy orange watches for the subtlety, so why not crank the color to 11?
Where and when to buy it: The Bulova Oceanographer is available on the brand’s website now.