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It seems these days most brands (micro and otherwise) are inspired by vintage pieces, especially watches from the 60s and 70s. It makes sense, seeing as how many amazing watches came from that time period, especially when it comes to diving watches. Many mainstream brands are hopping on this trend as well, releasing modern interpretations of their past iconic watches. One brand though, Bulova, is a little behind with that, and so that is where the Esoteric Bathyal comes in. The Bathyal is very much inspired by the Bulova Snorkel, and the dial is somewhat inspired by a now-defunct brand from the 70s. Looking at the Esoteric Bathyal, I can see why this was chosen to be their first model. Yes, this is a watch from a new microbrand, and one that I feel will be very popular.
Esoteric Bathyal Specifications:
- 44mm Stainless Steel Case
- 48mm Lug to Lug
- 14mm Thick Including Crystal
- 22mm Lug Width
- 215 Grams
- Boxed Sapphire Crystal
- Miyota 9015 Movement
- Old Radium Lume
- 600 Meters Water Resistant
- Bracelet and Leather Strap
Preorder Price $599 (Retail $799)
The website for Esoteric is not currently live, though there is a signup page for when the preorder will go live, linked below. The preorder will start on March 5, 2020.
Esoteric Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/esotericwatches/
The Esoteric Bathyal comes from the minds of Shane Snider (Watcha Group) and Christian Champion (Ocean Crawler). Together they are launching this new model that will be available in the blue (Azul) you see here, a green dial, a greyish black dial and an all DLC version which will have a full lume bezel. The story goes that the two were discussing some of their favorite vintage pieces and fast forward and the Bathyal is the result of all those conversations. While Christian already has an established watch brand, they wanted to create a new brand as the design ethos of both is very different. When I first saw the initial renderings of the Bathyal, I liked it but was not in love with it. That changed once the prototype showed up for review.
There is a lot to like with the Esoteric Bathyal and some details that make this watch stand out. The first would be the bezel. It is obviously not your standard dive watch bezel and at first, can be a little polarizing. You can still use it to time a dive or anything else you want to time, but it will probably take a little getting used to. That said, many of us wear watches for the aesthetic, and it is nice to put on something different or a little niche.
If you like being able to just glance at your watch and tell the time, I think you will enjoy the Bathyal. The dial is a sandwich construction with massive markers, with the vintage colored lume paint coming through. A few of those hour markers are pretty distinct and definitely make this watch stand out even more. While vintage lume paint or patina color is being overdone in my opinion, it works really well with this watch. I have not seen the other colors in person, but I really love the look here with the blue. Another nice detail on the dial is the date wheel color matching the model name text on the dial. This is something you just don’t see often, and while it may make the date a little bit harder to see, I like the cohesiveness that is in play here.
At 44mm, the Bathyal is somewhat large in diameter, but the lug to lug is very short at 48mm. This is not a tall watch either, and it fits very snug against the wrist. The 14mm in thickness includes the box sapphire crystal, but the case is pretty thin for a 600-meter dive watch, coming in at 13mm. This means you have a dive watch that is extremely water and pressure-resistant but you’re not wearing a massive chunky watch on your wrist. The Bathyal wears so well, that even though it is a solid piece, most of the time I forgot I even had it on. It was just that damn comfortable.
The U shaped bracelet is one we have seen before, but again, it just works here with this style of case and is very comfortable. The clasp is pretty standard and doesn’t have a dive extension though, something I do feel should be on a watch that is rated to 2000 feet. I do not dive myself, so not a problem for me, but for those that would like to put this one over a wetsuit, they are going to have to put this on a rubber strap to do so. I’m sure this watch will look good on a blue Isofrane though. The end links of the Bathyal or more specifically the lug area are very small and it is just a very tight fit to the case. Because of that, production models will come with a quick-release bracelet, to make putting the bracelet back on a lot easier. That is a very good thing because it is very difficult to get the bracelet back on without those. The bracelet uses one-piece screws to hold the links together, so sizing is a breeze. Out of the box, the bracelet should fit up to an 8 1/2 inch wrist.
The Bathyal is powered by the Miyota 9015 movement, a movement that has been used in countless microbrands over the past 10 years or so now. It is a solid and reliable movement, even if it tends to have a very loud rotor. On this prototype, I did not notice the noise that much, which tells me the walls of the case are rather thick, which seems to hide that loud rotor, so if you are not a fan of the 9015 because of that, I think you will be okay with this watch. When it comes to lume, Old Radium SuperLumiNova is used here, and it is slathered on in multiple layers, allowing for some absolute amazing lume.
As I said at the beginning, there is a lot to like with the Esoteric Bathyal, at least for me. The preorder price is very good for what the watch offers and I can not get over how comfortable this watch actually is on the wrist. The massive crown is easy to grasp, yet does not dig into the back of the hand, the mostly brushed finish is something I really like in a dive watch like this, and the lume is outstanding. Beyond the build quality, the Bathyal has a unique aesthetic that will probably stand out in most collections. The blue dial is my favorite and though I have not seen it in person, the all DLC model would probably be a close second. While it is not easy to start a watch brand these days, especially one that you plan to have around long term, I think Esoteric has jumped in with both feet and created a really good looking and relatively affordable piece.
If you are interested in preordering, make sure to sign up at the link above to get notified when the preorder goes live.