Hands-On: The Ianos Mihanikos Dive Watch Dedicated To Scaphandre Divers
It can be a tough job to stand out from the crowd in the dive watch scene, especially when that’s the microbrand dive watch scene. It seems that around 95% of microbrands these days create dive watches using cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf designs which lack any natural creativity or thought. The same definitely cannot be said about the Greek microbrand Ianos, which returns for its second outing as a follow-up to the 2019 Avyssos model. Today we take a look at the new Ianos Mihanikos.
As established, the Ianos Mihanikos is a dive watch. Ianos is staunchly proud of its Greek heritage, particularly the sponge-diving industry in Kalymnos. It was entirely on display with the Avyssos and continues with the Mihanikos. The Avyssos was inspired by the minimalist approach to sponge diving, and the Mihanikos marks an evolution inspired by the commercialization of it.
The Mihanikos is inspired by commercial sponge divers
The commercial sponge diving industry changed forever with the introduction of diving suits, called scaphandre, in the late 1800s. These scaphandre allowed divers to walk the bottom of the sea for hours collecting sponges. However, the long, deep dives had devastating effects on their health. These men knew the inherent dangers of their work. Every day, every journey, every dive could be their last. They risked their lives to earn a living and feed their families.
The scaphandre diving suit changed the industry
The scaphandre diving suits inspired the design of the new Mihanikos. The word used in Kalymnos for the diving suit and pump was the engine (Mihani) and the person working on it, the mechanic (Mihanikos). The most apparent design reference is the large bezel, reminiscent of the porthole window the divers looked out from. I’m not usually a fan of sterile bezels, but here, I feel it befits the inspiration. The matte, almost rough texture harkens to a well-used and abused piece of kit. The lume pip at 12 o’clock marks one of the large bolts used to secure the window in place to the helmet.
The 316L steel case is well machined and finished, measuring 43mm across. Ianos chose to go with a matte sandblasted finish throughout, which I think is perfect given the inspiration. Polished and brushed surfaces wouldn’t feel authentic on a watch inspired by diving tools that have seen decades of wear and tear. The mid-case is rather slim and has a lovely curve that should hug the wrist nicely. The sizeable bubble-shaped case back, however, accounts for much of the 15.75mm overall thickness. I assume Ianos chose a thinner mid-case design to visually offset some of the thickness, but the case back is so thick that it almost has the opposite effect to me.
Fixed, but not fixed
It’s also worth noting that the case back is slightly thicker than it needs to be due to the strap channel that helps keep the single-pass strap in place. This strap channel has become a bit of a signature feature for Ianos, as it features on the Avyssos too. I like the concept of the strap channel, but I kind of wish that it wasn’t there. Ianos has chosen fixed spring bars for the Mihanikos watch, meaning you can only remove them if you cut them off. You can then attach your own regular spring bars and use your own regular 20mm straps. To be honest, removing the fixed spring bars would be my first order of business. The leather strap that Ianos sent with the prototype was of excellent quality, but the thickness of the leather meant it wasn’t the most flexible, and it extended the lug to lug measurement somewhat. I would put this onto a regular two-piece strap to negate that a little, while also rendering the channel moot. I’d like to see no channel and a thinner case design overall. Just my personal preference, but it’s still worth mentioning.
The beautiful Mihanikos dial
The dial is straightforward and clean. The simple shade of dark blue is a nod to the dark blue Mediterranean Sea, the divers’ hunting grounds. It is representative of the somberness of their work. The hour markers are big and clean and contrast nicely against the blue dial. Ianos removed the minute markers as the scaphandre divers’ dive times spanned hours, not minutes, on the ocean floor. I get the reason for this, but in doing so, the watch no longer qualifies as a true divers’ watch. That’s despite its other dive-worthy specs, such as 300m worth of water resistance.
The going seconds sub-dial at six o’clock is one of my favorite elements. Its design mimics the original manual air pumps, which supplied air to the scaphandre divers. Sometimes, this type of design element can feel forced or “gimmicky,” but the integration is done well here. The turbine-shaped seconds wheel is the same blue as the dial. The only contrasting color is the lume pip which marks the current second.
Standing out for the wrong reason
The one element of the dial that doesn’t work for me is the date at 12 o’clock. While I usually prefer my date windows to be somewhere between three o’clock and six o’clock, it’s not the position that’s the issue here. Instead, it’s the choice of a white date wheel. I’d have preferred it much more if Ianos had used a color-matched date wheel instead. In its current iteration, the white date wheel is jarring to my eyes. It’s a shame, as the rest of the dial execution was really rather lovely.
The Mihanikos is a well-made watch
Overall, the Ianos Mihanikos is actually a very well-made watch. The build quality is excellent, and I cannot complain in any way. Just ask any current Avyssos owner. There’s just a couple of design choices that don’t quite work for me with the Mihanikos. I appreciate that it’s essentially a matter of personal preference and partly due to my wrist size, but I’d be remiss not to describe my experience accurately. So, while I personally won’t be getting out my wallet to add one to my collection, I have no qualms in reassuring any interested parties that the watch is of sound quality. If you like the design, you cannot go too far wrong. You’ll receive a well-made watch with a truly fascinating and genuine backstory and heritage. Ianos has built a well-earned reputation with its first model, and it’s certainly done no harm to that with the Mihanikos.
You can find out more about the Ianos Mihanikos on the brand’s official website. Preorders are open now for a deposit of 675CHF, and a balance of 675CHF due 1 month before shipping (circa Juna 2022).