Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

The Powerful Nivada Depthmaster Pac-Man now in Bronze

The emblematic Depthmaster resurfaces with a seaworthy bronze hull, a black ceramic bezel and Pac-Man numerals.

| By Rebecca Doulton | 3 min read |

Nivada Grenchen was something of a secret among seasoned collectors of instrument dive watches from the 1950s and 1960s, but with ever-increasing exposure on specialised websites, you could say that the cat is out of the bag. Founded in 1926, Nivada Grenchen produced its first waterproof automatic watch in 1950 – the Antarctic – that was put to the test by members of the U.S. Navy during the Deep Freeze 1 expedition to the South Pole in 1955-1956. Taking waterproofness to the next level, Nivada introduced the record-breaking 1,000m water-resistant Depthmaster model in 1965, an impressively robust tool watch that blew contemporary rivals out of the water. Unable to fathom the quartz deluge, Nivada sunk into oblivion in the late 1970s but was refloated and launched re-editions of its famous divers, the Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver and Depthmaster, in 2020. The latest addition is a very handsome bronze version of the Depthmaster with a black ceramic bezel insert and Pac-Man markers, elements that firmly anchor the retro soul of this model.

Following its launch in 1965, the Depthmaster’s powerful 1,000m pressure-resistant cushion-shaped case caught the eye of divers and landlubbers alike, earning it nicknames like “baby Panerai.” Although smaller than Panerai’s behemoths with its 38mm diameter, the Depthmaster’s cushion-shaped case was indeed slightly similar.

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Today, the case – with a diameter of 39mm and a thickness of 13mm – is crafted in bronze but respects its ancestor’s cushion-shaped profile and straight, drilled lugs. Thanks to its resistance to corrosion, bronze evokes all things maritime and is a fitting metal for a retro-inspired dive watch. Using a copper-aluminium bronze alloy (92% copper, 8% aluminium), the brushed bronze will form a unique yet subtle patina over time, while the aluminium oxides that form on the surface make the metal more resistant to corrosion.

A novelty of this edition is the incorporation of a matte black ceramic bezel insert with bronze-coloured markings and a luminous pip inside the inverted triangle. Previous models featured the original brushed steel diving bezel with a 15-minute count-up scale. The count-up dive scale is also extended to time immersions of 30 minutes. Naturally, the 1,000m water-resistance is maintained with a screw-down crown, a 12-sided stainless steel caseback and a helium escape valve on the left case band.

The Depthmaster was originally released in two versions: one with classic luminous Arabic numerals and a second with stylised Art Deco numerals that earned this model the nickname Pac-Man. The matte black dial provides a strong contrast to the unusual indices at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock that have made this watch so famous. Applied to the dial, the raised Pac-Man indices have a bronze-coloured border and are filled with white Super-LumiNova. The Mercedes-style hands are also rendered in a bronze brushed tone and feature Super-LumiNova inserts. A flat sapphire crystal protects the dial.

Seven interchangeable straps, including a black Tropic rubber strap, sporty rally-style aerated straps and leather straps in black and brown with or without white stitching, are available. The movement hidden beneath the solid steel caseback is a Soprod P024 automatic (clone of an ETA 2824-2) with a frequency of 28,800vph, a modest power reserve of 38 hours and hacking seconds.

The new Nivada Depthmaster Bronze retails for CHF 1,600, EUR 1,650 or USD 1,750. Pre-orders open on May 29th on the brand’s website.

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