A Closer Look At The Delma Shell Star Collection

A Closer Look At The Delma Shell Star Collection

Inspired by the original 1975 model, Shell Star Collection is a contemporary interpretation of Delma's first diving watch. Born as a tool watch, discover how the Shell Star came to be so much more.

By Marco Gabella
Chairman & Executive Publisher

Founded in 1924, Delma is one of those rare Swiss watch brands that are still family-owned. Strong in heritage, Delma’s collections are naturally rooted in the brand's deep history.

The first decades of Delma were during a time when the wristwatch started to rise in popularity. After World War I, watches finally began to move from pockets onto wrists and were no longer considered ladies' jewelry which told the time.

The Modern Arrival Of Delma

In the 1960s, with conquests to discover the ocean's seabed and the development of professional diving equipment, new specifications were demanded for contemporary wristwatches. In 1969, Delma introduced The Periscope, its first water-resistant watch consisting of a screwed down monobloc case with a "TV Screen" styled dial typically representative of the period and reminiscent of seashells which inspired the model's name.

With the experience gained by improving its watch’s water-resistance, in 1975, Delma released its first advanced professional diver’s watch, and the beloved Shell Star.

With its orange indexes for clear viewing at any depth and its compact case designed to minimize chances of impact and entanglement on the watch, the Delma Shell Star was immediately different from other professional watches of the period. Delma’s version with the orange bezel is undoubtedly the most iconic, and as a vintage watch collector, I can confirm it is the hardest to find!

Delma Shell Star : A Contemporary Diving Watch   

Delma's territory has always been strongly related to professional diving, including the recently released Blue Shark III, which we will review soon, and of course, the evolution of the Shell Star collection.

Reintroduced in 2016, the Shell Star collection is the contemporary reinterpretation of the original 1970's model. However, Delma's approach wasn't just to follow the trend and reissue a piece referring to the past. The team set the goal to develop and launch a contemporary version of the Shell Star as a new standard in professional dive watches.

At first look, the clean design with added orange indexes and compact monobloc case with short lugs are immediately reminiscent of Delma's design codes when they first developed the Shell Star over 40 years ago. As a modern diving watch, the new Shell Star collection includes further development and specifications demanded by modern professional users.

The case includes a protection device to ensure the crown's integrity from any external forces. This has been integrated into the organic shape of the watch to match the original design. Secondly, to offer better performance for professional divers, the watch has been equipped with a helium valve permitting the Shell Star Collection to be water-resistant to 500 meters (50 ATM).

Equipped with the automatic caliber ETA 2824-2, the Shell Star relies on the improved calibre’s performance and reliability.

From Diving to Daily Use

If the Delma Shell Star is primarily a professional diving watch, the previous variants composing the collection have been updated to offer multiple case materials, bezel and dial colors, plus leather, rubber, or metal bracelet options.

The stainless steel on a rubber strap with black dial and bezel version, The Shell Star (Ref. 41501.670.031) has a strong tool-watch identity. Nothing more, nothing less, just as an instrument should be, including the iconic orange indexes and very readable second hand. Once on the wrist, we can understand the perfect ergonomics even with its 44 mm case and short lugs. My small wrist can accommodate watches as large as 42 mm. But this piece doesn't feel large at all.

The brushed and grained surfacing is extremely clean, offering a luxurious presence on the wrist. As we now understand all the qualities of the Shell Star, it's pretty impressive to discover its price! Just 1'050 CHF (VAT incl.) for a Swiss-made automatic diving watch including a helium valve.

Also available in a black DLC coated stainless steel case, the Shell Star Black Tag (Ref. 44501.670.031) seems more aggressive but also quite urban. For 1'290 CHF (VAT incl.) once again, the price is quite impressive, considering the quality of the DLC coating.

Finally, the Shell Star is also available in a bronze case, including a bronze bezel with numbers and indexes coated in Super-LumiNova C3. Lastly, Delma has one last surprise with the Shell Star Bronze (Ref. 31601.670.6.148) with a green sand texture dial and matching green leather strap on the bronze buckle. More fashionable but still a fully operational diving watch, priced at just 1'490 CHF (VAT incl.) Delma had an exceptionally aggressive position opposed to its competitors.

For those who want a diving watch with a proper identity, The Delma Shell Star Collection has a lot to offer, including prices that are hard to beat according to quality of execution.

(Photography by Pierre Vogel)

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