A Closer Look At Bulova’s New “666” Oceanographer ‘Devil Diver’
The latest iteration of the Oceanographer is an instant icon.
Every year we look forward to seeing which historic watches Bulova will revive through its Archive Series. The company calls these timepieces, including the 2017 Lunar Pilot Chronograph and 2020 Deep Sea Chronograph A Surfboard, “the ultimate celebration of Bulova’s history of firsts.” The series also offers enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy rare watches reinterpreted for modern tastes.
For 2021, however, Bulova is launching a watch that it already reissued in 2018: the 1972 Oceanographer "Devil Diver" watch, but this time featuring its famous orange dial. And this beast has got our number.
On The Face
The first orange dialed dive watches were produced by DOXA after extensive testing in the depths of Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland. After experimenting with a wide range of bright colors, DOXA decided orange provided the right kind of brightness and contrast for the best legibility.
The brightness and clarity of this citrusy hue were soon adapted by other watchmakers, including Bulova, in 1972.
This year, Bulova turns up the contrast even further. Underneath its anti-reflective box sapphire crystal, the red-orange dial also has large arrow-shaped hour and minute hands and a slim center second hand with a lollipop design. These are heavily lumed, as are the round indices, to provide maximum readability in murky underwater conditions. Further features include a tougher black and orange unidirectional acrylic bezel (the original had a black and white resin inlay) with a 60-minute diving scale.
This orange colorway also pops on terra firma.
The Devil Diver gets its nickname from its 666-foot depth rating, which means that it is ISO certified with water resistance to 200 meters or 666 feet. Bulova first introduced the water-resistance number in the 1960s with its Snorkel. At the time, many dive watches were advertised as only having a water resistance of 600 feet, so the extra 66 just made the watch stand out even more.
The new Oceanographer Devil Diver preserves the 666 on the dial. But unlike the 2018 reissue, this dive watch maintains the original’s 41 mm turtle case with a stainless steel screw caseback and screw-down crown. Plus, the bright orange dial really pops on the comfy black rubber strap with its three-piece pin buckle.
Its rugged good looks made the 1972 Oceanographer Devil Diver a cult hit among vintage collectors, but the 2021 version also features upgraded inner workings to make it appealing to modern enthusiasts.
The re-edition is powered with a standard, Japan-made Miyota 821D-21B caliber, which runs at 21,600 bph with a power reserve of 42 hours. The movement may not win any horological beauty contests, but it is dependable. Besides, who is looking at mechanical finishes when the rugged, retro design elements are so charming?
The workhorse movement also makes the Bulova Oceanographer Archive Series Devil Diver relatively affordable compared to most ISO-rated dive watches. The watch is priced at $750 and available now on Bulova.com.
(Photography by Watchonista)