As we covered in a different blogpost, the 50’s gave birth to the first dive watches, like Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms and the Rolex Submariners. While rudimentary in today’s eyes, they carried out their duty as diver’s tools. Aside from the aforementioned brands, other companies also jumped in and produced their own version, with many producing interesting innovations and alternatives in order to achieve a better depth rating.
One of these was Triton, who in 1963 produced their Spirotechnique model. It has a unique twist, which we will cover in this brief article.
Growing Interest in Water Resistant Watches
The mid XXth Century was a time of great technological innovations. While mainly pushed by the military, many of these breakthroughs would go on to have great effect on civilian life.
In 1943, Jacques Cousteau, a French Naval Officer, along with Engineer Emile Gagnan, created a new device called the Aqua Lung, the first “self-contained, underwater breathing apparatus”, or “scuba” for short.
It was a revolutionary invention, created out of the need to have more efficient tools to assist diving adventures. Cousteau and Gagnan were also filming one of the firsts underwater movies of all times, and effectively used to Aqua Lung during the production. They went on to patent and mass produce Aqua Lungs under the company name “La Spirotechnique”, which expanded to include all sorts of gears and supplies for divers. During the 50’s and 60’s, innovations in technology also made it possible for more amateur divers to join in on the underwater exploration, whereas decades ago only highly trained specialists would have been able to do so.
Naturally, they also sold Dive Watches, and actually commissioned the watch company Triton to produce watches according to their specifications. The model became known as the “Triton Spirotechnique”. Unlike other timepieces of the time, which were beginning to gain appeal as fashion accessories, sought after by civilians the Spirotechnique never ever tried to go beyond it’s diving audience, and positioned itself as a tool first and foremost.
The Triton Spirotechnique was designed by Jean René Parmentier. Parmentier had tested many different ways to protect the movement and make the case more resistant to underwater pressure. He ultimately patented a new mechanism to secure the crown. To achieve this, his design included a unique feature: it had the crown at the 12 o’clock. This decision, made purely out of technical concerns rather than an aesthetic one, became an iconic feature, that set the Triton apart from many dive watches of the time.
To accommodate for this, the case has a very distinct angular case, that allows for easy manipulation of the crown. The watch also featured a very recognizable bezel, slightly larger than those in your usual dive watch. Along with a very bold font, this allowed for a better legibility. With these innovations, the Spirotechnique could resist up to 200 meters of water resistance; a very high rating for the time.
Quartz Crisis and Recent Resurgence
The watch and Triton were heavily affected by the Quartz Crisis in the 70’s, and ultimately went out of production. The company also faded away, until it’s recent revival by Philippe Friedmann & Jean Sebastien Coste. The two entrepeneurs launched a new, modern Triton, offering an updated model, named the Subphotique.
Our take on the Spirotechnique
As part of the Diving Armour project, we’ve set out to create an homage to the Spirotechnique. Here we present you the Narval.
The Narval remains loyal to the Spirotechnique’s aesthetic, but featuring improved elements, such as a modern Miyota 9015 Automatic & Hand Winding Movement, contemporary sizing at 40mm (43mm lug to lug) and a 316L Steel case. It has an effective 200m water resistance rating, so you can definitely take it out for a dive!
You can find more about our upcoming Kickstarter campaign for the Narval through this link.