The market for dive watches is unfathomable. Not only are there countless models swimming in the seas, but it’s also fair to say that many of them are clones or wannabes of the ‘famous’ dive watch made by Rolex. There are exceptions, of course, and one of these has surfaced from a most unexpected place and from a brand we have never covered on MONOCHROME. Chronotechna, a former state-run Czech watch brand that was revived and relocated to Switzerland, introduced the SeaQuest in 2018. Marking a very different direction to the generic format of most diver watches, the SeaQuest made a name for itself with its specially treated black dial that absorbs 99.4% of visible light and its sleek, minimalist styling.
Chronotechna was a Czech brand from the 1940s specialising in alarm clocks and stopwatches. Founded just after the end of World War II, it was the first and eventually the largest manufacturer of timekeeping instruments in Czechoslovakia and was state-owned for more than 30 years. Relying on Swiss experts, Chronotechna embraced mass production and popular models like Spartak and Prim were common household names during its heyday. Following the Velvet Revolution of 1989 that ended communist rule, the company was privatised but couldn’t keep up with the flood of watches from other parts of the world and faded into oblivion.
However, in 2018, Harry Guhl, a Swiss entrepreneur, bought the brand name, and in 2022, Pavel Kalouš was appointed CEO with headquarters in Prague. The brand got off to an inspired start with the SeaQuest, a dive watch with the “blackest black” dial painted with Musou paint, producing an effect similar to Vantablack that absorbs 99.4% of incident light. Since its resurrection, watches produced by Chronotechna are now made in La Chaux-de-Fonds and are equipped with Sellita SW200-1 movement with COSC chronometer certification to boot.
The Chronotechna SeaQuest
The minimalist and highly contemporary design language of the SeaQuest could elicit comparisons with some Ming watch designs, which should be read as a compliment.
The idea behind the SeaQuest is to offer divers the maximum contrast possible by producing a dial with the blackest water-based acrylic paint on the market combined with bold luminescent markings. Doing a quick spot of research online reveals that Musou Black is produced by Koyo Orient Japan Co. Ltd.
The sandwich dial features 12 cut-out areas marking 5-minute intervals, cut-out dots on the periphery to indicate the hours, a cut-out triangle with two dots at noon, vertical markers at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, and the brand’s logo. The cut-out areas of the matte black dial reveal the luminescent material of the lower plate. In this case, the material used is white Super-LumiNova grade X1 which emits a blue glow in the dark. In addition, the hour, minute and central seconds hand are also treated with lume, and a sapphire crystal protects the dial with double anti-reflective coating.
As you would expect from a 300m water-resistant dive watch, the notched dive bezel rotates in one direction only. The black circular-brushed ceramic insert has white markings and a red triangle with a dot at noon, all treated with the same Super-LumiNova used on the dial for greater visibility in poor light conditions.
With a diameter of 42mm and a height of 12.36mm, the 316L stainless steel case displays brushed surfaces with polished bevels and rounded crown guards to protect the screw-down crown.
The caseback has a slightly tinted sapphire glass offering a view of the Sellita SW 200-1 automatic movement with the brand name engraved on the rotor. Beating at 28,800vph, the movement delivers a power reserve of 38 hours and is a certified COSC chronometer (rate of -4/+6 seconds per day).
Available to order with a black rubber strap or brown and black leather straps, the quick-release system allows you to change the strap in a jiffy.
Availability & Price
The model we had for the photoshoot is the SeaQuest Dive Steel White with white cut-outs and a black rubber strap; there are other models with blue and dark grey lume. A limited edition of 333 pieces, the Seaquest Dive Steel White retails for EUR 1,270 (excl. tax) and can be ordered online at chronotechna.com.