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William L. 1985 Vintage Diver | Hands on Watch Review

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William L.1985 Vintage Diver

William L. 1985 Vintage Diver

Vintage. It is a word that is said a lot these days. I cannot even begin to count how many watches I see or review that are vintage or retro inspired. It is the trend these days, for how long; who knows, but many brands will ride the train until we are on to the next trend. Many brands are coming out with vintage designs these days but not many are doing vintage sizing. That is where this William L. 1985 Vintage Diver comes in. Not only does it have the retro look, but it measures in at 38.5mm, a size that would have been very normal back in the 60’s and 70’s. If you have been craving for a dive watch under 40mm, keep reading to see if the William L. is something you would wear with your vintage jeans and vintage shirt.

William L. 1985 Vintage Diver

William L. 1985 Vintage Diver Specifications:

Price: Around $400 USD


William L. 1985 Vintage Diver

With so many brands these days, naming a new one must be difficult. A friend and fellow brand owner was bouncing names off me recently for a new venture he is working on and I flat out told him, I don’t have the time to help as coming up with a brand name takes a lot of time and research. Or so one would think. I have no idea where William L. 1985 came up with their name. Guillaume is the name of the man behind the brand and taking a look at their story on the website did not give me an answer either. No matter how great a product is, the brand name can make or break the company. I do not know if that is the case here, but it is an interesting brand name. Dan Henry Watches seems to do very well though, so I guess it is all in the marketing. Fortunately, the William L. 1985 Vintage Diver is a pretty decent watch, so I will look past the name for now.

William L. 1985 Vintage Diver

The 38.5mm case is definitely small by today’s standards and I admit when I first took it out of the box and put it on, It was an adjustment. I have stated many times my sweet spot is 40-44mm these days, down from the days where I wore 48mm watches or larger on the regular. I don’t know if I can rock 38mm to be honest, but I was willing to give it a ride on the wrist for  a few days, which I am not sure was enough. I think after a few weeks on the wrist I would have adjusted to it, but with so many watches to review, I am not able to do that. I think the biggest issue I had was the 18mm strap, which just seems so thin to me.

William L. 1985 Vintage Diver

William L. 1985 Vintage Diver

Okay, we have established I am not the target demographic for this size watch, at least not yet anyways. Who knows where I will be in a few years. I am wearing a 40mm watch as I type this, which is something I never thought would happen. Anything is possible. What about the quality and design on the William L. 1985 Vintage Diver? The design I love; I am a sucker for this case style with the hooded lugs and I am glad they kept the polished areas to an absolute minimum. The dial is clean with no unneeded text and I am always glad to see a standard 3 o’clock date placement as opposed to that wonky 4:30 atrocity.

William L. 1985 Vintage Diver

William L. 1985 Vintage Diver

Black and orange seem to be the only colors offered with the William L. 1985 Vintage Diver, and I for one am okay with that. I love black and orange, and while it might sound cliche, they are manly colors. It reminds me of Harley Davidson and gruff bikers. If those colors are not your first choice, well, you are out of luck for now. I have no idea if William L. plans to release any other colorways, but like anything else, if the sales are good and there is demand, they probably will. I like how they went as far as an orange outline around the date window and orange stitching on the rally style leather strap.

William L. 1985 Vintage Diver

The bezel action is pretty good but the crown action leaves a little something to be desired, at least on my example. It has a slight grittiness to it-check out the video to see what I mean. The case back shows off the Seiko NH35 automatic movement, and I know some people love to see the movement, regardless of what caliber, but I would have preferred if this gentleman kept his clothes on and the William L. 1985 Vintage Diver had a nice etched or stamped case back.

William L. 1985 Vintage Diver

William L. 1985 Vintage Dive Lume-Good, not great.

William L. 1985 Vintage Diver

If I take a look at the whole package, considering the price of around $400 USD, the William L. 1985 Vintage Diver does have a lot of appeal. I will always opt for a better movement, but putting that aside, the case finishing is on par with other watches in this price range, the leather strap is attractive and comfortable and fits my 7 1/2 inch wrist with ease. The domed sapphire crystal does not cause crazy amounts of distortion or glare because they didn’t go overboard with a massive crystal. The dome is subtle, the way it shouldn’t be in my opinion. The big deal here is the small size. While the guys who love bigger watches might wish for a 44mm version, I know their are many guys out there with smaller wrists or guys that just like to wear a smaller watch that will be very excited to see a nicely designed diver that comes in under 40mm. William L., please take note that a 42 or 44mm version would probably be well received as well. Something to consider for next year possibly. In the meantime, if you want a vintage style watch in a vintage size, this is one of the few on the market, especially in the microbrand segment.

I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.

1 Comment

  1. Guillaume is French for William


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