Nivada Grenchen Depthomatic
Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
A complication is anything that your watch does other than tell you the time.
Sounds simple enough, right? A date window is a complication; a chronograph is a complication; a moon phase is a complication. These are all relatively commonplace, of course — even the highly, ahem, complicated perpetual calendar mechanism is well known to collectors.
But what about an analog depth gauge — one that indicates the depth in meters or feet without the use of electronics? Does such a thing even exist?
It sure does! Though highly uncommon today, in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, several companies made them for the burgeoning SCUBA market. One such company was Nivada Grenchen, a company whose fortunes waned during the Quartz Crisis, but was revived in 2018 and continues to make beautiful watches.
The particular Nivada Grenchen, a Depthomatic Reference 104, is an extremely rare analog depth gauge watch from circa the 1960s. Housed in a near perfectly sized 39mm stainless steel case with an acrylic crystal and a bidirectional acrylic dive timing bezel, it features a satin silver dial with ‘telephone’ Tritium plots around black Arabic indices, a matching ‘lollipop’ handset, and an outer depth gauge rehaut. The plastic crystal features a small notch that allows for water ingress, which, in turn, gives the depth rating on the dial.
An innovative, wildly cool instrument made in a contemporary size and powered by an automatic ETA 2451 movement, the Depthomatic is truly a gem of a tool watch.
We dare you to tell us it ain’t cool as hell!
Early automatic watches in 1930 were followed in 1950 by the firm’s first waterproof model, called the Antarctic, which accompanied the U.S. Navy’s Deep Freeze 1 personnel on an expedition to Antarctica from 1955 to 1956. During this operation, led by Admiral Richard Byrd of the U.S. Navy, Americans first set foot on the South Pole. Further, Deep Freeze 1 cemented Nivada Grenchen’s/Croton’s reputation as a producer of watches for men of action and adventure.
1963 saw the launch of the Chronomaster, a chronograph christened on its dial with three words: “Chronomaster (or, sometimes “Chronograph”),” “Aviator,” and “Sea Diver.” This unique design was aimed squarely at the mid-20th century adventurer, and featured 200m of water resistance, plus a chronograph, a unique count-up dive bezel with additional 12-hour GMT scale, and a regatta countdown timer. (Certain versions also included a date window.)
Other innovative models followed, such as 1964’s Depthomatic, a dive watch with a manual depth gauge. Another timepiece, the Depthmaster, featured a water resistance rating of 1,000m and a quirky case shape that has been christened “the Baby Panerai” by modern collectors. (A certain rare version of this watch, dubbed the “Pac-Man,” is particularly sought-after.)
In what has become a familiar story, Nivada Grenchen folded in the 1980s, but has since relaunched to much fanfare, reissuing new versions of the Antarctic, the Depthmaster, and, most notably, the Chronomaster. (Certain versions have even been fitted with refurbished Valjoux hand-wound movements.) In a sea of modern brands cashing in on the cachet of long-defunct names, this is one example of a company doing vintage reissues right.
Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.
We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Shipping & Returns
Shipping & Returns+
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.
Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.
We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.
We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Nivada Grenchen Depthomatic