Delma is a family-owned company whose origins date back to 1924 when the Gilomen brothers founded their own company in Lengnau, near Biel. In the 1950s and 1960s, the growing popularity of scuba diving called for robust and trustworthy underwater instrument leading to the development of the first dive watches. In 1969, Delma introduced the Periscope, its first timepiece with increased water-resistance. A few years later, in 1975, the brand issued its premier professional diver, the Shell Star. For Baselworld 2018, this watch makes a comeback.
A modern revival of the model (although quite different in terms of design), the Shell Star is one of Delma’s most important collections. On the occasion of Baselworld 2018, the brand is releasing a DLC steel limited edition of the model, in a run of 500 pieces. Dubbed ‘Black Tag’, its name comes from free-diving and the tag divers grab off the bottom plate to prove the planned depth was reached.
The Shell Star is a DLC-coated steel dive watch combining a vintage look with modern tweaks. Its barrel-shaped case features a rounded glass opening highlighted by angular sides. Crown protectors hug the fluted crown underscoring the rugged character of the watch. The 120-click unidirectional bezel operates smoothly and features an anodized aluminum insert with a triangular index.
The watch exudes quality whilst maintaining a robust feel. The technical features comply with very rigorous demands. Water-resistance is a healthy 500 meters and the Shell Star is equipped with a helium release valve at 9 o’clock.
HELIUM ESCAPE VALVE – HEV
Although it is a feature that most divers will never use, the HEV has become a ubiquitous trait of ‘professional’ dive watches. Below 70 meters (230 feet), pressure renders the air toxic. Divers who go this far down, using a diving bell or a submersible, breathe air saturated with helium to prevent the risk of inert gas narcosis—a condition some have likened to the feeling of being drunk underwater. Helium is one of the lightest elements and will penetrate a watch where water cannot. During a dive, the pressure inside the watch (initially surface pressure) gradually equals the pressure of the diving depth. Without a helium release valve, which enables the pressure to escape once it reaches a certain level, sub-aquatic pressure would cause the crystal to pop off during the ascent and return to surface pressure.
The dial is clean and legible as you would expect from any serious dive watch. It is presented in an abyssal black highlighted with broad, baton-style luminescent hour markers. These are framed in orange adding a dynamic sporty touch. The flange around the dial is printed with orange tabs. The hour and minute sword-shaped hands are also luminescent with the seconds hand in orange to set it apart.
The Shell Star is powered by the ubiquitous ETA 2824. This trustworthy automatic movement indicates hours, minutes, seconds and date. Operating at 28,800vph, it has a power reserve of 38 hours. It is visible through the case back, an uncommon feature for a 500m water-resistant dive watch. The finishing is simple but clean and the rotor is personalized with the brand’s logo.
The Delma Shell Star Black Tag Limited edition is secured to the wrist with a rubber strap embossed with the brand’s logo and closed with a folding buckle. It is available in two versions with a stealth-black or orange rotating bezel. Value is always relative but with its price of CHF 1,290, the Shell Star, with its robust dive capacity and cool retro look, has a lot to offer.
For more information, you can visit www.delma.ch.