HANDS-ON: The Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver AutomaticFergus Nash
Nivada Grenchen are one of those brands that make you wish you’d heard of them years before you first saw them due to their knack of delivering some of the most perfect executions of vintage reissues that can be found in the Swiss watch industry today. The Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Automatic takes one of their most legendary watches from the past and upgrades it with modern specifications.
Although it looks fairly straight-forward in images, the case of the Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver is much more characterful in the metal. The lugs have a long, flowing curve to them that’s very typical of 1960s bicompax styles, yet the angle of the polished chamfer always seems to catch the surrounding light in a very appealing way. It’s a refreshing twist on the all-brushed cases that can leave sports watches looking dull, with only the thin strips on the inner sides of the lugs being brushed. Even with a thickness of 14.8mm, the profile of the case side offers a slender drape across the wrist with most of the bulk taken up by the screw-down caseback and domed sapphire crystal.
The diameter is 38.3mm and the lug-to-lug length of 46.5mm makes it a deceptively versatile watch. I say “deceptively” because of the presence that the watch carries, almost feeling like a much larger watch that just fits an average wrist better. The bi-directional non-latching bezel is thin enough to allow a lot of dial real-estate, and also has a nice, stiff rotating action. It is possible that you may accidentally move it slightly, but the benefit of having no clicks means that you will always be able to get perfect alignment anywhere on the bezel. The water resistance is only rated at 100m, but with a screw-down crown you should feel safe taking this watch swimming as long as you’re careful not to hit the chronograph pushers.
The Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver is by far Nivada Grenchen’s most recognisable watch to the average viewer, made especially familiar due to its classic looks. As far as modern recreations of vintage watches go, this Nivada Grenchen effort is absolutely superb. The original Chronomaster from 1963 had the exact same broad arrow and dauphine hand set, with the same spearhead running seconds hand, and even the red paint on the minute markers denominating 10 minutes for use in yacht racing. But, if you’re not a yacht racer, there’s plenty more functionality within this watch. The tachymetre is quite standard for a bicompax layout chronograph, but the bezel adds the feature of 60-minute elapsed time counting or GMT tracking with small 12-hour markings below the other numerals.
The silver and cream on black colour scheme is not only quite easy to read, but also makes the watch feel like a genuine vintage relic that has been found in untouched condition. The creamy luminous paint, although beautiful on the eyes, does sacrifice some of the after-dark performance however. The only major difference between new and old Chronomaster Aviator Sea Divers is the lack of the word “Croton” on the dial, as they were the main distributor for their watches in the United States.
With a 20mm lug width, Nivada Grenchen give you plenty of strap possibilities through third party stores as well as their own collections. There are of course the standard black or brown leather options, as well as the comfortable tropic style rubber strap, but the main surprise is the choice between five different bracelets. The default option is a beads-of-rice style bracelet with fitted end links, then a riveted Oyster-style bracelet with straight ends. If you’re after a super-dated vintage look, the Forstner Rivet bracelet and the Fortner Klip bracelets looks like they’re straight out of the early 1970s. Finally, the Forstner beads-of-rice bracelet brings a sense of delicate jewellery to the watch, while also being the steel strap of choice for NASA astronaut Speedmasters.
The Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver uses the Sellita calibre SW510 BH B, a fairly heavily modified version of a movement architecture that can be traced back to the Valjoux 7750. The fact that it’s an automatic chronograph makes its thickness inherent, but its complexity is significantly lowered by only needing to work as a stopwatch and minutes counter, without any date complication or third subdial. The cam actuation means that the chronograph pushers are not always as satisfying or reliable as those that use a column-wheel, however in day-to-day operation it shouldn’t stand out. It has a beat rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour and a generous 62-hour power reserve.
The Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Automatic pricing and availability:
The Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver can be purchased from their website here. Price: $1,921 USD on rubber and leather / $2,123 USD on steel bracelet. To receive a free strap with purchase use the code Time+Tide#Strap at checkout.
|38.3mm x 46.5mm x 14.8 mm
|Leather, rubber, or steel bracelet
|Sellita SW510 BH B
|Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph
|$1,921 USD on leather or rubber / $2,123 USD on steel bracelet
Made in partnership with Nivada Grenchen. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.