Hands-On – The Comeback of Favre-Leuba & the Retro-Inspired Raider Harpoon Dive Watch

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Xavier Markl | ic_query_builder_black_24px 4 minute read
Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon

The Raider Harpoon is a contemporary revival of Favre-Leuba’s rich dive watch tradition. Dormant for a number of years, we were pleasantly surprised a few months ago to discover that this illustrious brand was active once again, kicking things off with a superb, retro-themed dive watch collection. Its bold, quirky design is enhanced by striking colors, a unique time display and a dual crown: meet the Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon.

Historic Favre-Leuba dive watches from the 1960s: the Bathy160 with depth gauge and the dual crown Deep Blue water resistant to 200m. Among the design cues that were used for the modern Favre-Leuba collections, the case, the hands or the hour markers.

Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon

The return of the phoenix?

The roots of Favre-Leuba go as far back as the early 18th century, with a legitimate and illustrious past. Over the past few years however, the brand has been rather quiet. After changing hands several times, it was acquired by Titan Company Limited in 2011, and is now managed by Thomas Morf (previously with Bucherer and Hanhart). A visit to its headquarters in Solothurn, and the opportunity to go through the brand’s latest creations, left us with the impression that something interesting is happening at Favre-Leuba. Its newest dive watch collection is indeed super-cool – and in particular the ‘Harpoon’ model that we are reviewing here.

Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon

The new Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon

The first thing to catch your eye with the Harpoon is, of course, its quirky 1960s-inspired design with bold colors and round dial, housed in a retro-futuristic barrel shape case. It won’t be to everyone’s taste. Personally, I must confess a weakness for this type of design. Each to their own! Its unconventional display is nonetheless intriguing, if at first a bit puzzling. There is only a single hand, which simultaneously indicates the minutes and hours, the latter of which are displayed on a rotating disc framing the dial. A small, central indicator allows you to see that your watch is running (which is key for a dive watch, to meet with ISO 6425). It’s difficult to explain, so just watch the following video, which makes things clear.

Powering this time indication is an automatic movement (based on the reliable Sellita SW200) with an exclusive module. Several design cues for the dial and hands are inspired from traditional Favre-Leuba styles (check the Bathy and Deep Blue above). It comes in black or blue and features pretty impressive ‘Lume’.

Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon

46 mm in diameter and 16.5 mm thick, the Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon’s steel case is massive but wears pretty well. It features a bi-color, unidirectional bezel to keep track of diving time. It is made of anodized aluminum and frames a double AR-coated sapphire crystal. The dual crown looks great, one of these being actually the helium escape valve. The crown is located at 4 o’clock for easier operations whilst the helium relief valve was positioned by symmetry and engraved with the gas symbol He.

Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon

The case back is screwed to ensure a 500-meter water resistance rating. A nice touch, it is also aligned: the logo and different markings are always upright in the same position rather than positioned randomly which is often the case for screwed case backs.

Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon

Helium escape valve

Below a depth of 70 meters, air becomes toxic because of increased pressure. Divers who go this deep, by using diving bells or submersibles, breathe air that has been saturated with helium, to prevent any risk of inert gas narcosis. Helium is one of the smallest elements, thus it penetrates the watch where water cannot. During prolonged stays in pressurized environment, the pressure inside the watch (initially surface pressure) gradually becomes the pressure of the diving depth. Depressurization poses a problem when the diver ascends or more precisely returns to surface pressure. Without a helium escape valve, which enables the pressure to escape as soon as it reaches a certain level, the pressure may cause the crystal to pop out.

Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon

The Raider Harpoon is worn on an integrated rubber strap with pin buckle, or with a metal bracelet with safety folding clasp with diving extension system. Leather straps are also available. Prices are: CHF 4,450 for steel on rubber strap, CHF 4,750 for Gun metal PVD-steel on rubber strap, CHF 4,950 for steel on bracelet. For more information, visit www.favre-leuba.com.

Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon


Technical specifications – Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon

  • Case: 46 mm diameter x 16.5 mm thick – steel case – unidirectional rotating bezel – screw-in crown – sapphire crystal with antireflective coating – Helium relief valve – screwed and aligned case back – Water resistant to 50 ATM / 500m.
  • Movement: mechanical movement with automatic winding (Sellita SW200 base with Favre-Leuba module) – 38h power reserve – 28’800 vibrations/h – 26 jewels – Functions: hours, minutes and seconds.
  • Strap:  rubber with pin buckle or steel bracelet with safety folding clasp and diving extension system.
  • Price: CHF 4,450 for steel on rubber strap, CHF 4,750 for Gun metal PVD-steel on rubber strap, CHF 4,950 for steel on bracelet

6 responses

  1. Wish I knew where to buy this watch in the US. Typical of the fragmented watch industry distribution model. 🙁

  2. What a stupid design where you have to think (if only for a split second) about what time it is.

  3. start doing this before you get Alzheimer’s. Your grey cells needs to be stimulated as often as possible. Dr Arif

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