Bausele’s Sydney Diver is a three-way collaboration between Australia, Switzerland and the United StatesJamie Weiss
At Watches & Wonders earlier this year, I had the chance to meet Aaron and Christophe, the two lovely dudes behind Bausele, as they were getting ready to be the first Australian watch brand to exhibit during the major Swiss watch fair. And I mean literally getting ready: Bausele was my first appointment of the week and clearly, I was theirs as well, as when I arrived nice and early at the Hotel Beau-Rivage Geneva, they were still setting up. I actually helped them a little bit, setting up banners and doing a bit of visual merchandising, something I hadn’t done since my retail days as a teenager.
Why am I telling you all this? Because there was something nice about helping fellow Aussies get ready to show our watches to a discerning Swiss and international public. “This is what Aussies are like,” Aaron said to me at the time, “we help each other and there’s that instant connection when we find each other overseas”.
It’s that communitarian approach that particularly defines Bausele’s most interesting watch, the new Sydney Diver, which despite its very Australian name, has a very interesting connection to the United States and features a fundamentally Swiss heart. I had the chance to briefly try it on in Geneva, but I recently had the chance to wear it for a week back home Down Under. From Australia to Switzerland and then back again – it’s a bit like the Sydney Diver itself…
An Australian watch with an international backstory
Some of you who are familiar with Bausele might know that their watches are designed in Australia, but manufactured in Switzerland and feature Swiss movements. All Bausele watches also boast a unique design signature: a hollow crown, which is filled with something sentimental, such as sand from Sydney’s iconic Manly Beach, pulverized tiles from the Sydney Opera House, soil from Gallipoli, or gold granules from the making of the winner’s medals for the Invictus Games… You get the picture.
The Sydney Diver’s crown, however, is filled with soil from military forts throughout the United States. That’s because the Bausele Sydney Diver has been designed in collaboration with a team of US Army veterans and is assembled by veterans at Stoll & Co. in Dayton, Ohio. Additionally, 10% of the sales price of the Sydney Diver goes to veterans’ charities.
This is also why the Sydney Diver’s dial reads “USA 1775”, a reference to its place of assembly as well as the year the US Army was founded. It’s also designed and built to MIL-W-46374F, a US Department of Defence specification for military watches. So it’s a US-assembled, Swiss-made, Australian watch. That’s a little bit confusing, especially since it’s called the Sydney Diver. And I wore it around Melbourne. But I digress…
Built to spec but still unique
The Bausele Sydney Diver might be built to a stringent military specification, but Bausele has still managed to squeeze in a few novel design choices that really elevate this watch. I’ve already mentioned the crown, but another cool feature is its sandwich dial, which gives a nice three-dimensional feel to its dial and looks rather premium.
The elegantly domed sapphire crystal, which is subtly convex and meets the bezel, also adds to that premium impression. It also features 5 layers of anti-reflective coating, which makes it hard to photograph! The bezel, dial and handset all feature ‘old radium’ LumiNova, which works particularly well with this Sand colourway, which itself pairs rather nicely with the Sydney Diver’s black IP (i.e. PVD) case.
The Bausele Sydney Diver comes with two straps: either a Tropic-style rubber strap or a French paratrooper-style elastic NATO strap, the latter of which I wore for my review. While the NATO is aesthetically a bit more unique (and looks pretty good in Sand) and is manufactured to a high standard, it took me a bit of time to get used to putting it on – I would struggle to get the ‘hook’ into the metal loop. Perhaps if the hook was a little thinner and longer, it would be easier to put on.
But is this watch assembled by veterans tough enough for actual military duty? The Sydney Diver’s blacked-out case certainly exudes a tough aesthetic, but time will tell if the PVD will stand up to regular abuse. I wasn’t a huge fan of its overly matte texture, but I suppose a shinier finish might not suit its mil-spec vibe.
The Sellita SW200 that powers the Bausele Sydney Diver, while nothing to write home about, is a known factor and easy to service – important for quality-of-life – and its 200m water-resistance rating means that you’d actually be able to do a bit of skin diving with this Sydney Diver. Drilled lugs and supplied quick-release spring bars (on the rubber strap) add to its practicality.
If I’m being completely honest, I have a rather dim view of most so-called ‘Australian’ watch brands. Other than a few maestros like Nicholas Hacko and Reuben Schoots (who are proper watchmakers), most of them feature derivative, ugly designs; are powered by cheap Miyota movements yet advertise them as being premium just because they’re Japanese, and feature prices that take the piss. In short, they’re embarrassing, particularly as an Australian.
Bausele, on the other hand, have a bit more substance to their watches – but even then, I’m not a big fan of most of their designs. I like the Sydney Diver, though, especially in Sand. I find its half-field watch, half-dive watch aesthetic quite appealing, as well as its philanthropic US military connection (even if it’s a bit convoluted). This is one Aussie watch I’d be proud to have as a daily wearer.
Bausele Sydney Diver pricing & availability
The Bausele Sydney Diver is a limited edition of 250 pieces, with each piece being individually numbered, and is available from the Time+Tide Shop. Price: A$1,800.
|Sydney Diver – Sand
|39.5mm (D) x 11.6mm (T) x 47.5mm (LTL)
|Stainless steel with black IP coating
|200 metres, screw-down crown
|Sand-coloured sandwich dial, black minute track
|Sand-coloured French paratrooper-style elastic NATO strap
Tropic-style rubber strap
|Sellita SW200, automatic
|Hours, minutes, seconds, unidirectional diving bezel
|Available now, limited to 250 pieces