There’s a genre of watches that I like to call the ‘do-anything-go-anywhere’ category. The defining characteristics of this type of watch are, as you would expect, to look good – and function – in a diverse range of everyday situations – emphasis on the ‘everyday’. These watches aren’t made for the extremes, they’re made for real life. And Bulgari’s underrated Diagono Scuba is a prime example.
The Scuba, first introduced in 1994 has returned to Bulgari’s catalogues in 2015, and on paper it is, as the name suggests, a dive watch – with the heavily scalloped bezel and 300m depth rating to prove it. But the Diagono Scuba is a refreshingly real-world take on the genre, with no military pretence or over-the-top marketing hyperbole. Instead it’s a comfortable, stylishly modern sports watch that’s tough enough to be worn in any occasion, without requiring you to look like a special-forces wannabe to pull it off.
With a well-sized 41mm case, this has quite a slender profile for a dive watch. But for me it’s the design and construction of the watch that sets it apart – and makes it unmistakeably ‘Bulgari’ in its aesthetic. The deep scallops of the bezel could be inspired by a cross-section of a classical column, and the finely brushed middle case with its trapezoidal crown guards and integrated lugs show a level of care that’s well above the standard plug and play construction. The unique style extends to the integrated steel bracelet, made of distinctively shaped links, with a brushed finish that alternate in direction, giving the watch plenty of presence without being flashy. Comfortable on the wrist, it reminded me of an old-school riveted bracelet, thanks to the rounded ends of the links. Bulgari should be commended for again avoiding the easy option and delivering something unique to them.
The dial, however, is where the watch is truest to its dive watch roots. It’s a simple, clean design, with minimal text and plenty of luminous material to ensure legibility at all hours and conditions. If anything it’s too plain – a few tweaks, perhaps a starburst finish, more distinctive hands or even some framing around the date window might have been more in keeping with the rest of the Scuba’s design. (Having said that, there’s also a pink gold model that features a dial with pink gold details, which deliver that extra pop, so that’s always worth considering.) The Scuba is powered by the Bulgari’s own BVL 191 Solotempo movement, an automatic calibre with 42 hours of power reserve, though sadly this is hidden behind a solid steel caseback.
The greatest thing about the Diagono Scuba is how it applies Bulgari’s trademark design identity – a distinctly romantic Italian approach – to the often calcified genre of the dive watch, demonstrating that a watch can be both functional and fun.
Bulgari Diagono Scuba Australian pricing
The Diagono Scuba in steel on a bracelet has an RRP of $8850.
Images by Jason Reekie.