Delma is one of those brands that never fails to impress. Although not the most familiar of names, it has been producing watches in Lengnau, Switzerland since 1924 and remains independent and family-owned. Its first dive watch debuted in 1969, the Periscope, and Delma has specialised in sports watches ever since. The Oceanmaster Antarctica is the latest in the Oceanmaster collection and brings a surprising amount of features to a stylish nautical watch that’s built like a tank. It also celebrates the 200th anniversary of Antarctica’s discovery and even set sail with Australian adventurer Nick Moloney to the frozen continent. Let’s take a closer look at this rugged instrument.
Antarctica is quite literally at the bottom of the world, situated at the southernmost point on Earth. It’s the coldest, driest and windiest continent in the world, and among the most inhospitable to humans. Consequently, it’s one of the most pristine and untouched environments with nearly 10,000 diverse species. Renowned yachtsman and adventurer Nick Moloney led a team of explorers to Antarctica in February 2020 via long-distance sailing, discovering both the beauty and fragility of the continent. During his time there, a temperature recorded at the northern tip was over 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), proving that the Antarctic Peninsula is among the fastest-warming places on earth. In an effort to preserve such a global treasure, Delma is donating a portion of sales to the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), similar to what brands like Oris have done with its Hangang Limited Edition.
The Delma Oceanmaster Antarctica
The Oceanmaster Antarctica has a rather large stainless steel, cushion-shaped case with a 44mm diameter and a 13.8mm height. It is modelled after pieces like the Shell Star and Oceanmaster Tide Automatic, with a certain 1970s instrument vibe. This is a nautical watch and has a unidirectional bezel without the traditional 60-minute diver’s scale. Instead, the bezel insert has a compass with a 360-degree scale that works with features on the dial (more on that below). A two-piece crown guard fully protects the screw-down crown while also remaining sleek.
This contributes to a water-resistance of 500 metres, making it suitable for saturation diving and it includes the requisite helium escape valve. Flip the watch over and the solid steel caseback features a detailed engraving of Antarctica with meridian lines. The 24mm stainless steel bracelet is brushed and polished with a deployment clasp and pushers. There’s no denying that this is a sizable and weighty watch (that can probably hammer nails), but it’s also comfortable and contemporary.
The dial is a real standout featuring a crosshatched pattern with a gradient blue that resembles the Southern Ocean and glacial ice. Look closer and you’ll see red and blue perimeter marks consisting of lines and triangles. These are points of sail indicators, which work in tandem with the nautical bezel to guide a sailing ship. While this will probably go unused by most, it continues the Antarctic theme and provides a unique aesthetic. Bold, applied indices with Super-LumiNova C3 are highly legible, while the hour and minute hands also have Super-LumiNova inserts. The red seconds hand contrasts well against the dial and has a lume tip. A framed and bevelled date window sits at 6 o’clock, and the dial and bezel combination give this piece a lot of character. A sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating protects the dial.
Powering this Delma is the proven ETA 2824-2 automatic with 25 jewels, 28,800vph (4Hz) and a 38-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes, hacking seconds and date at 6 o’clock. Although hidden behind the solid caseback, Delma includes a custom rotor. Developed in 1982, this is among the best-known Swiss calibres, here with an average accuracy of +/-12 seconds per day (with optional adjustments going to the chronometer level).
The Delma Oceanmaster Antarctica is a large, tank-like tool watch that works great as an outdoors companion or in most casual settings. It’s not really suitable for more formal occasions (although I tend to shun hard-and-fast rules), but if you’re comfortable with the size and weight, I’d say it’s excellent for daily wear. Although the bezel is unconventional for a diver, it’ll handle saturation diving with ease. If you’re also a sailor, you’ve got a nautical bezel, points of sail and tactical planner at your disposal.
Best of all, this stylish and very capable tool watch is only EUR 1,390, putting more expensive counterparts to shame. It’s limited to 200 watches, honouring the 200th anniversary of Antarctica’s discovery, and is available now at Delma’s website.