All too often, watch enthusiast vehemently demand that companies produce watches that depart from the beaten path. It’s a demand that seems to have become somewhat of a standard within our niche hobby. Spanish born CREPAS, also known as “Compañía Relojera Especializada para Actividades Subacuáticas,” or “Specialized Watchmaking Company for Underwater Activities” for the Español impaired, seems to have answered our prayers with their TACTICO Watches Division. While CREPAS Watches and their immensely successful diver line needs no introduction, little is known about their TACTICO line, which set out to create classic-inspired timepieces that fit neatly into three separate genres: diver (TC1-line), military (TC2-line) and pilot (TC3-line). As a shameless supporter of CREPAS Watches and their entire dive watch collection, I was quite thrilled when TACTICO Watches sent me one of their newest aeronautical models, the TC3.3, to review.
- Case Diameter: 43mm
- Case Height: 13.7mm
- Lug Width: 22mm
- Lug to Lug: 48mm
- Straps: High quality NATO with sewn-in hardware and composite with nylon thread
- Movement: Swiss made ETA 2824-2 movement
- Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating
- Water Resistance: 200m
Retail Price: $670 (approximate USD)
The TACTICO TC3.3 arrived in a hand-crafted folding leather kit that is nothing less than phenomenal; reminiscent of a luxurious set of travel luggage. This level of quality is something that I’ve come to expect from CREPAS and anything the brand touches. When closed, the TACTICO branded folder doubles as a fancy-schmancy travel case that is held securely shut by two high-quality gold colored snaps. Once the folder has been opened, you’ll find an assortment of useful goodies that include a second strap, a warranty card, a 3 x 5 inch brochure, a cleaning cloth, a strap changing tool, and extra spring bars held inside of a miniature glass bottle with cork top. Since the inside is padded suede, this would be an excellent accessory to use not only for transport to your favorite local watch get-together, but also as a posh presentation pad once you’ve arrived. A zippered area also provides added protection for your most treasured timepieces or any documents that may accompany them.
The TC3.3’s dial is its most noticeable link to its aerospace lineage, as it closely resembles an airplane’s instrument panel. The skeletonized hour hand is bright white against the dial’s deep black tarmac-like background. Its elongated minute hand prominently stands out, ensuring that the person who wears this piece can easily decipher the exact time at a glance, as a pilot would want when looking at his instrumentation.
Crisp, white, and bold numerals adorn the dial’s perimeter as the uniquely fashioned ‘airplane’ seconds hand tip flies above. Pay special attention to the 10 o’clock marker, as I’m quite certain you’ve never seen it before. That is unless your studies have traversed the Greek alphabet, where the symbol represents the Cyrillic letter – Ef. While it’s mysteriously exciting to ponder why TACTICO Watches chose this specific symbol versus a run-of-the-mill ten, a spokesperson for the company stated they simply liked the way it looked. I’ll admit, I was hoping for an explanation more adventurous than that! White minute increment markers intermingle with larger, yet very subtle, blue ten minute markers, both of which are hand painted onto the TC3.3’s rotating inner bezel that is operated by an offset crown in the 8 o’clock position. The brand’s name, written in what is commonly known as “ghost striping” in my police profession, is found to the right of the 9 o’clock marker and TC3.3, written in a muted red, sits right above the six. The square date window, framed by a larger round, blue circle, is perfectly centered and placed in the 3 o’clock position. This is perhaps my only gripe regarding the TC3.3, as I feel that TACTICO Watches should have used the same round date aperture window used in the flagship TC3. BGW9 lume lights up the TC3.3’s dial, hands and bezel pip: all reminders that this watch is just as comfortable below the waves as it is above the clouds.
The entire TC3 family of watches can be ordered in either a matte grey sandblasted case or in a PVD finish, as all three models share the same anti-magnetic case. The 316L stainless steel case, which measures 43mm in diameter and 48mm in length, makes it an extremely wearable watch, even for those with smaller wrists. Its 13.7mm height also makes it a versatile watch, as it slips comfortably underneath a business man’s sleeve. The TC3.3’s saucer-shaped case, with its down-turned lugs, is so well-balanced that even when I wore it loosely on the supplied NATO strap, it remained evenly positioned towards the top of my wrist.
Ten layers of anti-reflective coating have been applied to the underside of the domed sapphire crystal, which seems to be in line with TACTICO’S over-the-top approach and its belief that more of something great is, well, better! Dial distortion was found to be non-existent from any angle.
There’s a lot of diving technology built into the TC3 line of watches, but most of it is hidden from the flash of a photographer’s camera. Closely resembling super compressor watches of yester years, with their push in, pressure sealed crowns, the crown set on board the TC3.3 is protected against water intrusion by O-ring and I-ring gaskets made of Tefzel and Viton. Tefzel and Viton are two of the industry’s best materials that offer excellent resistance to chemicals, natural weathering and extreme temperature changes. While the bezel rotates in both directions, the manipulation force needed to operate the 8 o’clock crown makes it nearly impossible for it to be inadvertently knocked out of place once set. Both crowns are signed, with the 8 o’clock crown bearing the TC3 designation and the 3 o’clock crown bearing TACTICO’S logo.
A high-quality NATO strap, with stitched in hardware, is attached to the watch upon arrival, but a quick strap change using the conveniently supplied tool changes the look of the TC3.3 instantly and with little effort. The second strap, found within the leather presentation folder, is best described as a tapering leather-backed composite with nylon thread. Some forum goers may also call this a “Kevlar Strap.”
The heavily textured case back is screw down and flat, which aids in keeping the watch in place, no matter which strap you choose for the watch.
Rounding out the TC3.3’s impressive package is its high-beat, 25 jewel, Swiss-made ETA 2824-2, which micro-flutters around the dial at 28,800 bph. When fully wound, this movement delivers over 40 hours of power reserve.
As with many of CREPAS’ pieces, the TC3.3 is limited to a run of only 100 pieces, and like the TC3.2, it may soon join its not-so-distant cousins on the SOLD OUT walk of fame.
For availability, please visit TACTICO’S website at www.tacticowatches.com.
Thank you for reading, please leave your comments in the field below.
Great review of a fantastic looking watch. I need to get my hands on one of these soon!
Possibly the most attractive and best feeling watch I’ve ever owned. Simple, bold yet classy.
Unfortunately I had to send mine back several times as there was something wrong with the winding mechanism and watch arms. Kept stopping after a few hours despite a full wind. Eventually had to refund. Such a shame. I’m sure I was just unlucky and that these are generally speaking high quality and without fault.
To their credit Crepas refunded without quibble-although I would much rather they’d have sent me another unit instead of keep trying to ‘fix’ the original. I really did want to keep it but the one I received just didn’t work.
Curious to know if anyone else had problems…?
Do you have contact info for Tactico? I have tried unsuccessfully to contact them at Crepas and Tactico service with no success. I need a replacement bezel insert installed in my TC2. Any information would be greatly appreciated.