You may not have heard too much about the Edox SkyDiver, but it’s been around for quite some time. For almost 50 years, in fact. Established in 1973, the SkyDiver line was created for an elite military unit. It’s tough. It’s durable. And now, almost half a century after it first emerged from the Edox facility in Switzerland, it has been treated to the best modern manufacturing techniques have to offer, and an origin-era-appropriate colorway for 2021.

The Edox SkyDiver Neptunian is one of those pleasingly over-engineered dive watches that is probably unlikely to ever be pushed to its physical limits. And despite the fact that’s par for the course for most dive watches (the vast majority of which call the desk home as Jorg’s article earlier today deftly pokes fun at), an additional reason why I assume it will be the case for the Edox SkyDiver is because its physical limits are immense.

Edox-80120-3NM-ODN-Watch

With a water-resistance rating of 1,000-meters, it goes beyond the necessities of even professional saturation divers. Case in point: the deepest a human has ever gone in a hyperbaric research chamber is 701 meters; the deepest a human has ever SCUBA dived is 332.35 meters. That record is held by Ahmed Gabr, who must have lungs of steel because even at that “paltry” depth, the majority of human lungs would be crushed. Therefore, being able to go 1,000 meters beneath the surface is only useful if you’re the kind of person that leaves your soda cup on the roof of the car when you’re leaving McDonald’s, or, alternatively, your deep-sea dive timer on the top of the Submarine before you head down to check out the Mariana trench. Specific tools for specific situations, but achingly cool nonetheless.

Materials matter

So this watch comprises a hefty 44mm stainless steel case, a ceramic bezel insert set into a unidirectional bezel with a satisfying click to it, and a 3mm domed sapphire protecting the handsome dial design from water ingress. The hands and indices of this model are coated with Super-LumiNova X1 and set against an orange dial (which is, as we well know by now, one of the most visible colors below water).

Edox-80120-3NM-ODN-Watch-4

One of the immediately noticeable and somewhat familiar elements of the Edox SkyDiver is the slanted rehaut printed with, “HIGH PRESSURE RESISTANT – 100 ATM – 1000 METERS.” It is almost impossible to look at the design of this ring encircling the dial and to not be reminded of the Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea. Is that a bad thing? Not in my book. In fact, I really enjoy brands getting creative with the location of “essential” spec text, which could otherwise have cluttered a citrusy fresh dial.

Breaking the rules

Better still, this encircling border of the fruity orange dial is a darker shade, blending in perfectly with the degradé edges of the dial. Aside from the brand name and logo between center and 12, the dial has the word “automatic” printed beneath Edox, and then the “SkyDiver” and “Neptunian” texts between the center and 6 o’clock. Perhaps worth noting is the use of a different font on every line. That may sound like a design no-no, but you will notice if you look back in time at some of the earliest dive watches (especially some of Seiko’s earliest efforts) that this quirk was not only commonplace but often to thank for some inspiring aesthetics that following the rule book could never have led us to.

The case back and the beating heart behind it

A closed, decorated case back shows a relatively abstract image of Neptune. I’m a fan of closed case backs on divers’ watches and ask for very little in terms of design as long as it is congruous, clear, and well-executed. Here, all three boxes are ticked. Is the a work of art? Not so much as it is a sufficient mark of intent. Perhaps of all angles, the case back view shows this watch to be a tough cookie. It is a serious contender that doesn’t want to be seen to be anything but.

Even the orange — which seems frivolous at first glance — is there for a reason. Everything about this watch’s design, bar one or two inconsequential flourishes like the case back design and the text printed around the dial’s edge, is functional. The same can be said of the movement. Inside is the Calibre 80 movement, which boasts a 42-hour power reserve, and a 28,800vph operating frequency.

Edox-80120-3NM-ODN-Watch-1-2

The back-story

So where did the Edox SkyDiver Neptunian come from? And where did it get its rather odd name? The stone cold facts may have been lost to time, but the rumor is that in 1973, a Swiss colonel made a secret request that a watch should be made to honor the military’s paratroopers in light of the “extreme conditions they might face — on land, air or sea.” So that is why this “diver” has the word “Sky” before it. Because these brave men for whom the watch was made as a tribute had to ply their trade in the heavens, the briny deep, and everywhere in between. If you like the idea of that and think €1,250 sounds like a reasonable asking price, check out more of the brand’s history on Edox’s official website.