Hands-On With The Seriously Extreme Bohen StarDiver
Sometimes you run across very extreme watches that look almost menacing but intriguing simultaneously. The new Bohen StarDiver is one of those watches. My first reaction to getting it out of the packaging was an honest “What is this?!” The watch is the second model created by the French brand Bohen. The brand has wasted no time and energy on another run-of-the-mill dive watch. No, my friends, this StarDiver is an extreme piece in all its details. As such, this is a watch for true dive fans who love extreme timepieces developed to serve their purpose. Better still, it even boasts some pretty nifty solutions, including a unique bracelet. There is simply a lot to say regarding this Bohen StarDiver.
Extreme dive watches are nothing all too rare. Just last year, we saw the release of the Rolex Deepsea Challenge and the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep. These two watches fight for the “luxury master of the deep” title but they are certainly not the only watches exploring the limits of the great depths. It is interesting to see, however, that these two examples fit into the stylistic mold of a traditional dive watch. On the other hand, a brand that shakes up the status quo of what an extreme dive watch should look like is Bohen. The brand’s new StarDiver fits better into the world of the Omega Seamaster PloProf and the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms. This is the world of the ultimate dive tools for professionals that put purpose above aesthetics to result in something spectacular.
Understanding the Bohen brand
Back in 2021, we reviewed the Bohen Mille Mer dive watch here on Fratello. The 43mm case was a whopping 17.5mm thick and 1,000m water resistant with a bullhead crown and a helium escape valve for deep-sea diving adventures. And the design? As Rob said, it was a hyper-aggressive watch with sharp edges and death-defying angles. While I agree with that analysis of its intense looks, it still fit the classic mold of a diver. Sure, it was an extreme diver, but it still had the traditional dive-watch looks. Well, forget that when it comes to the StarDiver that Bohen introduced not too long ago. The brand has taken it to new levels of “extreme” this time.
Bohen’s watches are the brainchildren of French native Blaise-Dominique Giuliani. The company is a family-run business that Giuliani started as a reaction to the limitations of marketing, production costs, and trends that the big brands he used to work for had to keep in mind. By breaking away, he could work on creating the watches that he truly wanted to see come to life. And the extreme nature of these watches now results in parts manufacturers that are being challenged to bring out their A-game. After all, nothing Giuliani wants is conventional or easy; it’s about challenging the status quo to bring his vision to fruition. And the next step in that vision is the Bohen StarDiver.
The new Bohen StarDiver’s specs are impressive
So, what are we looking at? The new StarDiver has a 41mm stainless steel case with a 48mm lug-to-lug and a 14.8mm thickness including the sapphire crystal. So compared to its predecessor, the case is less chunky and, ultimately, a lot more wearable. It’s surprisingly wearable, actually, but I’ll get to that later. As you can see, the watch features a crown positioned on the left side of the case at 42 minutes on the dive bezel. I appreciate this detail. Instead of using the hours to indicate positions — like “the crown is at 8 o’clock” — you do so by using the minutes on the bezel. Not only is this more specific but it also puts more emphasis on the nature of this dive watch.
The helium escape valve is placed at 50 minutes and executed in orange to match the details on the dial and the orange strap option. By having the crown and the HEV on the left side of the case, you can be sure both elements will not dig into your wrist (unless you wear your watch on your right wrist, I suppose). Additionally, the case back is made from lightweight and hypoallergenic Grade 5 titanium for better comfort on the wrist. The bezel features a black ceramic insert with white engraved numerals and the Bohen logo at 60 minutes.
The case and finishing are extraordinary
If we zoom in on the case, you can see that the shape is pretty extreme (there’s that word again). Let me be more specific. The overall shape might not even be all that wild if you draw it on a piece of paper. Rather, it’s the angular details that make it that way. The carved-out design details give the watch a lot of small, angular intricacies, and combined with the claw-like shape of the lugs, it results in something wild. But all the angles allow for great details in finishing. And I have to say that the finishing of the case is really well done. The mix of an overall brushed look and polished details is quite impressive. There are a lot of nice, intricate parts that show an incredible eye for detail.
Having said that, the case shape and overall presence are most certainly divisive. If you’re not into the outspoken looks, the little details won’t make much difference. But if you are not turned off by the case’s initial impact, the many details will reveal themselves nicely. Besides the case, the dial layout also plays a big part in the unique presence of the StarDiver. This dial is far from ordinary, but it finds its purpose in serving divers on the job. This is why Bohen has closely worked with professional divers to develop the watch and, in particular, the dial.
A unique dial developed with the help of professional divers
The deeply recessed dial is protected by a 4mm-thick sapphire crystal with a magnifying effect underwater. The dial features a slanted and brushed chapter ring that holds the hour markers. Because of the wide chapter ring, the central dial space is drastically reduced. Nevertheless, it is home to a huge numeral at 9 o’clock and a smaller numeral at 6 o’clock. At 3 o’clock, you will find a date window that shows three dates, with the central one indicating the actual date.
Bohen opted for a date window like this because it creates an immediate context in the form of an image. When presented with a single date, some people have to put it into context, and therefore, processing it takes longer. When the date is presented as the middle number of a sequence, however, the brain can perceive the date display as an image. In this case, supposedly, some people can process it more quickly, making it easier to read the date at a glance. It’s a clever solution (and problem) that I was not aware of. Frankly, from a visual standpoint, I am not a fan of a date display that shows multiple dates. But it definitely does the trick as the date is super easy to read, and I had no trouble putting it into context. However, I must admit that I do not usually have that issue.
The purpose is the leading design element
The dial is graced by three hands in total, two of which are quite big, indicating the hours and the minutes. Between the two of them, the minute hand stands out more due to its huge size and orange “tip.” The thin seconds hand has an orange hexagon tip that echoes the shape of the other hands. All the hands and indices light up like a Christmas tree in the dark thanks to the use of Super-LumiNova X1. On top of that, the logo on the bezel also lights up so that you can define its position on the bezel.
Overall, the design is weird and completely out of the ordinary. But the separate elements as such are not. I like the style of the numerals, the design of the hands, and the date indication also uses a great font type. The size of the different elements and overall composition are what make this dial so divisive. But these things also intrigued me to take the watch for a spin. There is always something special about purpose-driven designs that makes me want to try them and see to what extent I like them.
The movement and a unique stainless steel bracelet that doesn’t require any tools
Powering the watch is a Soprod automatic caliber. It operates at 28,800vph and delivers a power reserve of 42 hours. The movement boasts an accuracy of ±4 seconds per day after adjustment in five positions. Despite not being visible due to the solid case back, the movement features a rhodium coating, pearled bridges, and Côtes de Genève on the rotor. It is also equipped with Incabloc shock protection and a Glucydur balance as well as an inner antimagnetic case.
The watch comes with a unique stainless steel bracelet, which is another sign of great innovation and engineering. The bracelet features an extreme taper, going from 24mm at the case to 16mm at the buckle. Due to the V-shape of the first links, Bohen managed to create this extreme taper. The bracelet is easily adjustable thanks to the straight links, which, believe it or not, all feature their own quick-release mechanism.
This allows you to size the bracelet to fit wrists from 15.1cm to 22.3cm in circumference without any tools. Additionally, the micro-adjustment mechanism on the clasp allows you to size it precisely to your wrist. It’s quite an impressive bracelet in terms of engineering and practicality, and though it’s not the most elegant or beautiful one I’ve ever seen, that wasn’t the goal in the first place.
Wearing the Bohen StarDiver
The watch also comes with two silicone straps in black and orange, and these are easy to swap thanks to their quick-release pins. Both in terms of overall comfort and looks, I preferred wearing the watch with those straps. Specifically, the orange strap gives the watch that extreme professional dive character that suits it very well. That’s not to say that the bracelet is not comfortable because, despite its size and weight, it is. However, it does make the watch noticeably heavier and creates a very technical, almost menacing look. It’s a look that I am not the biggest fan of despite understanding the tremendous tour de force that the bracelet is in terms of design and engineering.
The orange strap option was my go-to choice. This thick but very supple silicone strap perfectly balances out the watch on the wrist. Furthermore, the design suits the overall look of the piece. And to be perfectly honest, I was apprehensive when I put the watch on my wrist. Aesthetically, the StarDiver is an acquired taste, and its substantial size and thickness made me concerned about the overall wearing experience.
The StarDiver is surprisingly easy to wear and use
But I must say that I was pleasantly surprised when I put the watch on my wrist. In truth, the StarDiver appears more menacing than it actually is. As it turns out, the watch is very comfortable. Maybe that’s not the biggest surprise because a 41mm diameter and 48mm lug-to-lug are not extreme at all. And you can feel that once you put the watch on your wrist. Additionally, it slides under the cuff of a jacket rather smoothly too. With its 14.8mm thickness, it could certainly be worse.
As a result, I wore the Bohen StarDiver quite a bit and had fun doing so. The fun was partly found in the surprising comfort. But in addition to that, on the wrist, the watch makes a lot more sense than you would think at first. I wouldn’t say it feels particularly natural with all its design quirks, but the more you wear it, the more you get used to it. On top of that, you really get a good feeling for the incredible amount of time and thought that went into developing this professional dive tool. And if you keep that purpose in mind when judging its looks, a story that deserves great respect is revealed.
Final thoughts about the Bohen StarDiver
Does that make it a watch for a large audience? Obviously not. This watch is for people who love an extreme diver on the wrist in the ocean or have a collection of professional dive watches. It is a watch for the happy few. But as Bohen will only produce 300 pieces of the StarDiver, there is a real chance that they will all sell out. Currently, 100 of the 300 pieces have already been sold, and I would not be surprised to see all of them sold in the near future.
The watch is available with the bracelet and two straps for €2,990. If you just want to buy the watch on just the bracelet, it will be €2,740. Lastly, if you prefer your StarDiver on just the two silicone straps, they will be €2,160 (all prices are excluding taxes). For that money, you will get an impressive timepiece in terms of innovation, engineering, and production quality. But you will also get an extreme timepiece when it comes to specs and design. This design is not for everyone, and initially, it wasn’t for me either. But during my time spent with the watch, the design grew on me tremendously. Combined with the incredible comfort for such a hefty piece, it made the overall experience fun and rather unforgettable.