Review: Dietrich Skin Diver SD-1, a new microbrand diver watch

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Dietrich is an interesting manufacturer, and perhaps one of the pioneers in the microbrand scene. The Skin Diver is one of their latest timepieces, and it is a creation that marks a new change to the brand and its direction.

For those who have an inkling of Dietrich, one will certainly remember the brand for its unusual and funky creations that focus on organic design cues. The watches can be polarising, but they have certainly gained their fair share of fans for their unusual take on watches.

Then, in 2021, Dietrich had decided to change its trajectory. Instead of the more intriguing watches that the brand is known for, Dietrich had instead chosen to take a more conventional path – with the reinterpretation of iconic timepieces of the yesteryear.

Dietrich Skin Diver SD-1

The Dietrich Skin Diver SD-1 is priced at US$1,050 (approximately S$1,430).

The Skin Diver SD-1 is the brand’s first timepiece following its new approach. Accordingly, the skin diver watches were produced for people who partake in skin diving – which is notably a casual form of diving without the use of a proper diver’s costume. This naturally means that watches meant for such purposes need not be as over-engineered as their military-grade counterparts, and hence resulting in a much more accessible timepiece in terms of pricing.

These ideas are seen in the Skin Diver SD-1, with its relatively smaller case and casual design. However, as we have put forth in past reviews, there are simply too many competitors in this space. How does this watch stack up in this space? Let us find out.

The Case, Dial, and Hands

The Skin Diver SD-1 is a 38.5mm stainless steel diver’s watch, with a combination of classic and contemporary touches with the latter retaining some of the brand’s original DNA.

First off, we are very glad that the watch is cased at a rather reasonable 38.5mm. We think it fits very well on the wrist, and it provides for a rather comfortable wearing experience. It is not too large, and frankly, we think that it is a great watch for skin diving. Anything much larger might perhaps have been a hindrance.

On the subject of cases, we have to make a special mention on the bracelet as well. The watch is fitted with a multilink bracelet, where each link is based on the shape of a hexagon. It is a very original design, in which it had first debuted in the brand’s Time Companion line of watches. The bracelet is surprisingly comfortable to wear, and it is rather well-crafted too. This is certainly a huge plus-point from us.

Next, we move on to the dial and bezel. Our review piece comes with a green dial and bezel, which looks rather pleasant in our eyes. The bezel insert of the Skin Diver features a darker shade of green, and it is produced from sapphire. Notably, it has SuperLuminova indices printed underneath it, which is quite a sight to behold in the dark.

For the dial, Dietrich had opted for the fumé-styled design. It features a gradient, whereby the shade of green turns gradually lighter as it moves towards the center of the watch. It is also interesting to note that there is a cross-hair placed on the dial, which is a nod to the classic design of watches in the past.

Notably, the dial also features contemporary-looking indices. This juxtaposes the old-school cross-hair pattern, but it results in a rather interesting touch to the watch. We like how the design language here is slightly different, and yet they have managed to incorporate the different elements that are not too jarring.

Finally, we have the hands of the watch. These spade hands have been a signature of Dietrich, and again they have managed to integrate it seamlessly into this timepiece. These hands are also filled with SuperLuminova, which helps to tell time easily in the dark.

The Movement: Sellita SW200

Powering the watch is the time-tested Sellita SW200, a movement that should not be unfamiliar to many. The self-winding movement beats at 28,800 bph, and has a power reserve of around 38 hours.

As with most other watches that utilises the Sellita SW200 movement, this is a clear-cut choice considering its track record. It is a decent movement that is highly reliable, and it is a workhorse that works well with a tool watch. We cannot speak for its finishing, however, as it is covered by a solid caseback. However, at this price point, we do not expect anything beyond the usual industrial finishing.

Competitive Landscape

We were not expecting a lot at this price point, but the Skin Diver SD-1 had certainly delivered beyond our expectations. It has a relatively original design, with a build quality that pretty much rivals watches that are priced much more than this. One important note is that the case and bracelet are well-finished, with literally almost zero rough edges (sans the center links on the bracelet, which is still acceptable at this level in our opinion). This is all thanks to the meticulous beveling done on the case and bracelet links, and we hate to say that this has certainly put some higher-end brands to shame. Kudos to Dietrich on this aspect.

At this price point, the Skin Diver certainly has its fair share of competitors.

Yema is one of the brands that we have praised previously, and they are certainly a strong contender in this space. The Superman Steel Bronze – which is a vintage-inspired piece – features a bronze bezel and an in-house movement. Available in both 39mm and 41mm, the Superman is priced at €990 (approximately S$1,525).

The Citizen Fugu 4.0 is another robust diver’s watch, and one that is relatively popular amongst collectors. The 44mm watch is definitely a tad chunkier and larger, but it makes up for it with its robustness and build quality. Prices of the Fugu begin at S$738, and we reckon this is perhaps a timepiece that is suited for someone who is looking for something with a larger wrist presence.

Lastly, we have the Captain Cook from Rado. Our pick is the 37mm variant, which we reckon is the best size amongst the other case options available. This is perhaps a timepiece for someone who wants a more classic timepiece, especially since it follows closely to the original 1960s iteration. The watch is priced at S$2,860.

Concluding Thoughts

We love the new Dietrich Skin Diver SD-1. It offers a lot for its price tag, and frankly, it stands above most of the microbrands that we have in the market currently. The quality is excellent, and you have to feel the watch in order to understand what we meant. We want to reiterate on the finishing of the case and bracelet, which is really incredible considering its price point.

Overall, the Skin Diver SD-1 is a great watch that is worth some serious consideration. We think it works very well in casual occasions, with its original and tasteful design. At this price level, you simply cannot ask for more.


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