Dietrich introduced the SD-1 Skin Diver last year with a very cool, organic design that emphasized water with glass. The bezel insert was sapphire, along with a central disc above the base dial where indices and dial text “floated” below the hands. It was the start of a new creative direction for the brand otherwise known for radical designs like the Organic Time with coloured forged carbon. The latest SD-2 Skin Diver brings a rugged and tool-like vibe to this new design language, but without muting the overall aesthetics. The concept-like SD-1 evolved into a more focused, utilitarian watch with style.
Founder Emmanuel Dietrich always remembers his first watch at the age of 7, a skin diver from Cupillard Rième that was waterproof, rugged and reliable. The SD-2 is the brand’s first bonified tool watch and Dietrich wanted to recreate the emotion he felt from that first watch on his 7th birthday. As he puts it, “A satisfying object to wearing as well as to look at. A watch that does little, but does so perfectly.” The new pair is more akin to the brand’s TC-Pure Limited Edition with stylish yet minimal sports watch aesthetic than avant-garde legacy models like the Dietrich 1969. They trade glass for aluminium and sandwich dials, and the date has been removed for a no-nonsense wrist companion.
The rather compact 38.5mm case design hasn’t changed, although it’s a bit thicker at 12.6mm compared to the SD-1’s 12mm. Lug-to-lug is 46.2mm. It’s again brushed with polished bevels and the screw-down crown features the brand’s fish symbol. The case back remains solid and water resistance is unchanged at 150 metres. A sapphire crystal with five anti-reflective coatings protects the dial. Things do change when we look at the front, starting with the unidirectional rotating bezel that replaces the glass with aluminium for the insert. The markings are the same with a detailed 15-minute scale and triangular mark with Super-LumiNova C1, but it’s flat and much more anti-reflective.
The anodized colours are either Azure Blue or Abyss Black, which match the respective dials. Dietrich is known for having a hexagonal motif and that’s seen with six flat surfaces between the knurled pattern on the bezel. Subtle, but a cool attention to detail. Strap options have changed with the hexagonal steel bracelet no longer included. The 20mm straps are a black textile NATO or either black or blue NBR rubber with a signed steel buckle. The rubber straps match the dial/bezel colours and really complete the more pragmatic package, although I did like the SD-1’s unique steel bracelet.
Last year’s watery, floating dials have been replaced with sandwich dials that are more legible, practical and rugged. The overall style is the same, although the date window at 6 o’clock has been removed for a cleaner, no-nonsense look. It’s still unique and very much a Dietrich design, but things are less three dimensional. The dial comes in a matte Azure blue or glossy Abyss Black, which are more or less the same as the SD-1. These are sandwich dials with a bottom layer of Super-LumiNova C1 showing through framed index cutouts. The steel hour and minute hands are borrowed from the SD-1, which were taken from the earlier Organic Time models, so a familiar DNA is seen throughout many collections. They have Super-LumiNova inserts that match the bottom layer (all have a green glow) and contrast well against the dials. The second hand has a lume tip and counterweight that resembles the tips of the other hands. An angled minute/seconds track sits on the outermost perimeter. Overall, the dials are less exotic than the SD-1, but anything but boring.
The same Sellita SW200 automatic from last year runs the show, but it’s a proven Swiss alternative to ETA’s 2824 and I see no reason for Dietrich to have replaced it (save for the lacking power reserve). It has 26 jewels and beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 38-hour power reserve. Although a bit long in the tooth, that latter spec should be adequate for most users. Functions include central hours, minutes, hacking seconds and date, although the date was removed this time. Accuracy averages +/- 12 seconds per day (Standard grade).
I was a big fan of the SD-1 and its watery, three-dimensional style that showed Dietrich’s exotic touch while also being toned down. The new models have the same vibe but bring a more rugged and tool-like feel that seems prepared for adventures above or below the water. Although the overall specs haven’t changed, the aluminium bezel insert is definitely more resilient than sapphire glass, which also applies to the sandwich dial replacing a floating sapphire disc. I think Dietrich successfully made things more utilitarian without losing out on style, which is no easy task. Utilitarianism isn’t always a flattering description for watches, but it works very well in this case. I do miss the stylish steel bracelet from last year, but it wouldn’t have fit the new aesthetic. The colour-matching rubber straps look great, as does the NATO option. If I have one complaint, it’s the absence of the date window. I’m usually not even a fan of date windows, but it was well executed last time and would’ve integrated well with the updated dials.
The new Dietrich SD-2 Skin Diver Mission Maritimes (named for being amphibious field watches) retail for USD 1,150, which is a slight increase from last year. It’s not a limited edition per se, but quantities will be limited with deliveries expected in Q4 2022. For more information, please visit Dietrich’s website.