The U.S. based watch manufacturer with the Swiss name and heritage, Invicta, has launched yet another edition of its Russian Diver watches, products that still spark a lot of controversy in the watchmaking circles. The main reasons for this dispute are two different interpretations of the creation of this series. The new Anniversary Russian Diver has all the recognizable traits of the collection, with the large size and its distinctive crown with a protection cap and a chain. Besides, it is a quartz watch, available in five variations. All the versions are predominately black, but are executed with different colors of accents on the cases, dials and straps.
As it has been said, the Russian Diver series from Invicta still causes a lot of disputes even though it has been launched a decade ago. The company from the States has its own version of how these watches originated. Invicta claims that the entire series originates from the timepieces that the Soviet Union Navy had commissioned from Invicta in 1959 and that the watchmaker responded with the creation of the series that consisted of 100 pieces. Furthermore, it is claimed that one of the original Russian Divers was passed to the current CEO of Invicta Eyal Lalo by his grandmother and that this watch is the inspiration for the whole series.
Zlatoust 191-ЧС, the Original Russian Diver
However, there are many connoisseurs that are disputing this version of the events and consider it to be just a marketing story designed by the company. Those who believe this, tend to point out that the watch according to which the series is modeled upon is actually 191-ЧС (191-ChS) timepiece made by Златоустовский часовой завод (Zlatoust Watch Factory) from the town of Zlatoust in Russian Chelyabinsk Oblast (the region in the Ural Mountains, right on the border of Europe and Asia). The model 191-ЧС, also known as Водолаз (Vodolaz, Russian word for Diver) or Triton was made by the Zlatoust watchmaker on the order of the government agency named Special Design Bureau of Timing Mechanisms during the 1950s. It was the first ever diving watch produced in the Soviet Union and it was even opulently used, even by hard hat divers. The original purpose of the timepiece was to be a diving instrument and to be worn over the diving suit, which reflected on the overall design of the watch that was, to say the least, something else.
It was the biggest wristwatch at the time with a staggering diameter of 58 mm. That is without its canteen-type of crown with the rubber gasket and a chain that we see today in the models from the Invicta’s Russian Diver collection. With the crown included, the diameter measures up to 74 mm. The watch was also incredibly thick, with the thickness of 24 mm (almost the whole inch). It had a very plain design with a black dial without any decorations or a second hand, and featured luminous cathedral styled hands and hour markers. However, this does not mean it was just another timepiece. This claim could be confirmed with the peculiar fact that the original version of Triton utilized radioactive radium (which was eventually replaced with tritium) as the luminous material that was featured on its hands and markers. Furthermore, it had a one-part case and a screw-down bezel. Because of the case construction, its robust and precise hand-wound caliber was placed in the housing from the front. The Soviet watchmaker used mechanical manually wound 191- ЧС movement that was based on the existing Type 1 caliber produced by the First Moscow Watch Factory (Первый Московский Часовой Завод) which was, additionally, heavily based on the caliber by Ulysse Nardin. The new mechanism, used for Triton, was improved with the use of a brass wheel train, Breguet overcoil and a mono-metallic balance wheel.
The Unconfirmed Collaboration between Invicta and the Russian Navy
After the story about the model that the original Russian diving timepiece, let us go back to the dispute and the conflicted views about the Invicta’s connection with the Soviet Navy. Those who oppose the story that Invicta tells, even question the claim that there was an edition of 100 pieces which (at the time) the Swiss company made for the Soviets, even if they are the same kind of watch as 191- ЧС , only made in the workshops of Invicta. They support their claim with the fact that there is not any documentation that would substantiate that this cooperation occurred, including the export or import documents, purchase orders, list of serial numbers, or orders from Invicta to Unitas which was the company’s movement supplier at the time. More importantly, there are no existing products of the supposed joint effort, or even any photographs of these models. With all the supporting evidence, it can be said that Invicta’s claimed connection with the Soviet Navy is, to say the least, far-fetched and unproven by the facts and existing documents. Despite the questionable authenticity of the Invicta’s ties to the original Russian Diver, its modern-day incarnations from the U.S. watchmaker can be considered as a sort of homage to the Zlatoust timekeeper, the first diving watch made in Russia.
The Latest Russian Diver
After the whole story behind the creation of the disputed series, let us concentrate on the Invicta’s new models from the series, the reason for the re-ignition of the old controversy. Invicta Russian Diver Anniversary watch is equipped with Ronda 5040.D quartz chronograph caliber. The module has the accuracy within -10/+20 seconds within a month and is supplied with 1/10th of a second punctual chronograph function. This type of movement is powered with a battery that has the very long expected life, somewhere in the region of four and a half years. It is made with the use of Swiss-made components. However, the mechanism, as well as the entire watch, are constructed in China.
As it is expected from the timekeeper that belongs to the Russian Diver series, the Swiss-made quartz caliber is fitted into a very large circular housing. The solid stainless steel case with black ionic plating has the diameter of 52 mm and the thickness of 18.5 mm. Another unsurprising trait is the inclusion of a canteen-style screw-down crown. Invicta Russian Diver Anniversary timepiece has a fixed bezel that is secured to the case with four polyurethane pegs with screws. The face of the watch is shielded with a mineral crystal, while the overall construction guarantees water resistance to 10 0 m (330 feet).
Black Face, Luminous Components and Accents in Different Colors
The new watch from the Russian Diver collection has a black dial. The outer part of the face is reserved for minute markers with Arabic numerals which surround the inner hour ring that also features Arabic numerals. Its black dial includes three chrono subsidiary dials (30 minutes, 10 hours and small seconds), as well as a date aperture at the four o’clock position. Hour markers, as well as three hands of the watch with an analog display are luminous. Speaking of the attachment, Invicta opted for a black polyurethane strap that fastens with a pin buckle. The synthetic strap features raised Russian Diver helmet logo in the color that matches the color of the pegs and the second hand of the timekeeper.
There are five different variations of the watch and the main and only difference between them is the color of accents that are combined with the predominant black color. The model 10184 features purple details, the 10183 green, the 10179 red, the 10181 yellow, whereas the one with the reference number 10182 includes white details. Invicta Russian Diver Anniversary Watch retails for $385.