HANDS-ON: The Dan Henry 1975 is a diver that’s playful yet refined and costs under $300 HANDS-ON: The Dan Henry 1975 is a diver that’s playful yet refined and costs under $300

HANDS-ON: The Dan Henry 1975 is a diver that’s playful yet refined and costs under $300

Fergus Nash

While the last few releases from Dan Henry have focused on the post-WWI era of military chronographs, the micro-turned-major brand return to a more lighthearted spirit with their most “modern” watch so far — the Dan Henry 1975. While the concept of a diving watch rose throughout the 1950s and was popularised in the 1960s, the ‘70s saw a huge increase in diversity of the sub-genre as people realised the utility of these watches far exceeded leisure diving, and that they could be highly stylised for unique personalities. The Dan Henry 1975 captures a snapshot of this playful character mixed with practiced refinement.

The case

Although the Dan Henry 1975 is by nature a ‘70s diver, much of its case design is inspired by “skin divers” of the 1960s that were often thinner and aimed for more casual use. Most of the case is hidden behind the bezel from front-on, with gently sloping lugs poking out from behind the coin-edge silhouette. From side on, you can more clearly see how the polished mid-case is almost as slender as some chunkier watches’ bevelled edges, giving an incredibly slim visual profile while the convex caseback and impressive box-shaped sapphire crystal make up for most of the actual thickness. The crown guards are subtle from front-on as well, but the side view reveals that they do reach a fair way up the relatively thin crown.

That said, the total height of the thickest automatic model is only 11.5mm, which is perfect for a vintage style diver and can easily slide under a cuff, if that’s your thing. The smaller quartz-powered models are even thinner at 10.5mm, staying true to the lean goal. There are two sizes to choose from, with the automatic version 39mm across and only 41mm lug-to-lug, and the quartz version available in either the same 39mm size or a 37mm version with a 40mm lug-to-lug. This balance between diameter and lug length ensures that a wide variety of wrist sizes can pull this watch off, without risk of overhanging lugs or the dial looking too small. The water resistance is a healthy and swimmable 150m, although the lack of screw-down crown may worry some people. The size of the crown along with the crown guards will help prevent accidental crown-pullings when underwater, so you should definitely feel safe to take it for a dunk.

The dial

Browsing Dan Henry’s personal collection online, as you can do here, I believe the main inspiration for the Dan Henry 1975 is this Omega Admiralty from 1971. Although the colour variants and completely different, this burgundy version also shows that they were made both with and without date complications. Considering that the design is from the early ‘70s, it makes sense that the Dan Henry 1975 is styled a bit closer to 1960s fashion than some of the wackier options seen throughout the ‘70s.

1971 Omega Admiralty

In any case, the four fresh colour options definitely do this layout justice. The crisp white dial is as refreshing as a snow cone on a summer’s day, with orange details adding an appropriate level of zest. The orange dial gives off a lot of Doxa vibes without disrupting the intention of the original, and two black dials with gold or white details offer a more versatile look for the old-school tastes. One of the many customisable features of the Dan Henry 1975 is your choice of a black bezel covered with scratch-resistant sapphire or a gorgeously brushed steel bezel which greatly enhances the utilitarian feel, except for the black and gold reference which is only available with a matching sapphire bezel.

The movements

The Dan Henry 1975 offers you the choice between an automatic or a quartz movement, with both having their own drawbacks and benefits. The automatic version grants you the option of a date window with a cyclops magnifier, however it is more expensive and you’ll have to get in quick as they’re only being produced in limited numbers. The quartz version gives you the option to go down to the smaller 37mm case, and will remain unlimited to keep costs down.

For those who complain about the “soul” being lost through quartz movements because of their ticking motion, the use of the Seiko VH31 mechaquartz movement provides a simulated sweep which mimics 14,400 vibrations per hour. The automatic movement is a Miyota 9015, a premium yet low-cost calibre with double the beat rate at 28,800 vibrations per hour and a power reserve of around 42 hours.

The straps

Each of the Dan Henry 1975 watches is paired with a FKM rubber strap with a simulated calfskin pattern. The white and orange versions look great with their perforated colour-matched straps, or you can go for a more standard leathery look in brown or black. If you’re not a fan of the faux-grain, you can opt for a tropic style rubber strap at no extra cost or upgrade to the stainless-steel bracelet for an extra $80 USD. The oyster-style bracelet may sound like an expensive addition to an inexpensive watch, but the quality is absolutely above its pay grade, and the polished centre-links add a level of luxury to the overall impression that feels like you should be adding an extra zero to the price.

The Dan Henry 1975 pricing and availability:

The Dan Henry 1975 is available now from Dan Henry’s website here. Price: $260/280 USD (Quartz 37mm with steel/sapphire bezel), $270/290 USD (Quartz 39mm with steel/sapphire bezel), $430/450 USD (Automatic with steel/sapphire). Stainless steel bracelet available for $80 USD, and additional FKM rubber straps for $45 USD.