During the Baselworld 2009 trade show, TechnoMarine has presented its all-black BlackWatch collection of diving chronographs. Primarily operating within the “entry-luxury” niche (e.g. the watches that cost up to $1000 for automatic three-handers and rarely more than $2000 for self-winding chronographs,) the brand can’t be labeled as ‘obscure’, but I can’t call it well-advertised, too: so far the most PR that it received was referred to its bombastic “Hummer” series that were inspired by the famous off-roader and, with its exaggerated, not especially elegant design, probably targeted the same sort of people who buy this sort of cars. Thankfully, this new collection is a lot more subdued and even shows rudimentary signs of good taste here and there.
Available with either an automatic ETA Valjoux 7750 (a rare bird in this price range) or a quartz ETA 251.272 chronograph movements, the 2009 BlackWatch offers the usual functionality in an unusual -although still somewhat bombastic- design. Because this is still a relatively young brand, I must admit that the progress they are making when it comes to industrial design does impress me.
If my memory serves me well, it’s been only about ten or twelve years since TechnoMarine launched its own watchmaking business.
Since you can’t advertise your product as “Swiss made” unless its Swiss-made components are assembled on the Swiss ground and, let’s be honest here, due to the well-known fact that customers often don’t care about the technical specs of their watches, but are often cautious of buying a timekeeper manufactured outside of Japan or Switzerland (and are willing to pay a premium price over the respective inscriptions on their dials,) back in the year 2000 the initially California-based company transferred its main office from Los Angeles to Geneva and became TechnoMarine S.A.
Being more of a fashion than a pure watchmaking brand, TechnoMarine is perfectly aware that their potential customers usually care more about their timekeepers’ exterior looks rather than worry about their interior workings (which is, by the way, absolutely fine with me: if you are not a nerd, you probably only need to worry about how good manufacturer’s or retailer’s warranty is and how much time it will take to repair the timekeeper or replace the mechanism if something goes wrong.)
Therefore, buying one of their timepieces, you get a standard movement with nothing more than maybe some cosmetic changes, which is packed in a “bold design”. Well, doesn’t Omega do the same thing with, perhaps, more grace?
This particular diving watch comes packed in a deliberately large stainless steel case treated with black PVD coating. While I must admit that the gadget’s exterior is certainly not my cup of tea, I also must give the timekeeper’s designers their due since the BlackWatch has character and, while still sporting too exaggerated exterior, also stands out from the growing crowd of other ‘entry-luxury’ timekeepers in this price range.
The BlackWatch, which is HUGE, sports a set of even larger hour and minute hands generously covered with the SuperLuminova luminescent material. So, I guess, there won’t be any problems with the device’s legibility, even 200 meters below the water surface.
The only usability issue with the mechanically-powered model is that its winding crown is located at 9 o’clock.
You will have a hard time operating the device unless you wear it on your right hand. The quartz-powered version is free of this problem.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
TechnoMarine BlackWatch specification
Price range: $1450 (quartz model) / $2600 (automatic model)
Movement: ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic or quartz ETA 251.272 chronograph caliber, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph, date
Power reserve: A couple of years (quartz movement) / 46 hours (automatic caliber)
Case: PVD-coated stainless steel
Dimensions: 53.00 mm
Height: 16.00 mm
Dial: Black (automatic), Blue (quartz)
Water resistance: 200 meters
Strap: Black rubber with black PVD-coated steel folding clasp
Back: Sapphire (7750-powered version) / Solid, engraved (quartz version)