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Retras Diver, a New Retro-Inspired Watch from NL

A new microbrand enters the already crowded field with quite a complete package.

| By Gandor Bronkhorst | 4 min read |
Retras Diver - Vintage Inspired Dive Watch

At five years old, Axel Schijns found a dive watch during a stroll through the forest. He gave it to his father, who used it as a tool watch for decades. After he got the watch back a couple of years ago, Schijns decided to see if he could make his own watch, inspired by that old diver. That became Retras Watches. Meet a microbrand that started out as a homage and that makes choices even harder for those looking for a vintage-inspired diver.

Retras Diver - Vintage Inspired Dive Watch

Retras Watches introduced its first model in late 2019. The entire development was privately funded by owner Axel Schijns (53), who works as Director of Sales & Marketing at a food ingredients company in the Netherlands. He has been a watch lover for some time now. That started at a young age when he found a dive watch that he gave to his father who had been wearing it to work. Schijns had already forgotten about the watch, but decades later his father returned the watch to his son, telling him it was his. The watch was in very bad shape, but it worked. After having thought about it for about half a year, Schijns decided he would get the watch restored. He even started wearing it sparking positive reactions from his business colleagues. And that got him thinking. “The reactions to this watch and the craze for retro and vintage divers inspired me to start my own brand,” he says. “A watch with 1960s and 1970s style translated with new materials.”

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Retras Diver - Vintage Inspired Dive Watch

Clean and vintage-inspired

The first (and so far only) model for Retras is simply called the “Dive Watch”. It is powered by the Swiss STP 1-11 with date, an ETA 2824-2 clone. It’s just as simple yet as reliable and accurate as both the ETA and the Sellita SW 200. STP is owned by Fossil Group and has, since its foundation in 2008, quietly established itself as a grown-up competitor to the aforementioned more famous producers of ébauches.

Retras Diver - Vintage Inspired Dive Watch

Design-wise, the Retras Diver takes typical cues from 1970s dive watches. The overall look is clean and tool-ish. It has a black bezel, domed Plexiglas, short lugs and a relatively big crown. The dial has applied indices and baton hands with lume. The colour of the dial is something best described as grey-faded olive green. This colour was quite an exercise to obtain, says Schijns. “I really wanted it to match the colour of my father’s watch. But because his glass had been broken for a while and moisture and sunlight had affected the colour of the dial, it was very hard to get the right colour. It took us quite some samples to finally make the colour by ourselves.”

Retras Diver - Vintage Inspired Dive Watch

The straps highlight the vintage inspiration. The watch is delivered with two different straps: one fabric NATO strap in green and black, the second one is made of dark brown ostrich leather with a distressed look.

The movements are made in Switzerland, the cases and dials are coming from Germany and the assembly of the watch is done in a small workshop in The Netherlands. All of the watches are also tested before they are shipped.

Retras Diver - Vintage Inspired Dive Watch

The case construction

With the addition of this Retras Diver, the field of vintage-inspired divers is getting even more crowded, which raises the question of how Schijns plans to differentiate his product from others. One of the big differences, he says, is the case construction. “When we started to disassemble my father’s watch, we found that the case construction was quite interesting,” Schijns says. “So we started to reproduce this case model that wasn’t available anymore. We had to make all the technical drawings and made our own version of it. I think this unique case construction really makes this watch quite special.”

Retras Diver - Vintage Inspired Dive Watch

Mr Schijns also expects this case construction of the Retras Diver to play a central role if he decides to make more models after this one. “If this works well, I’m going to see if new models will follow suit. I wanted to make this watch as good as I could, and we’ll see where we will go from here. At the moment, I am fully focused on this current model. But if a next watch arrives, it might well be a GMT, with this same case.”

Price and availability

The watch is not the cheapest one for a microbrand working with STP movements, but still quite reasonable. The price is EUR 1,199, and the watch comes with a 2-year warranty. The production is limited to 50 pieces, and as of this moment, about half of that is sold. For more information, please visit

18 responses

  1. Nice watch, but the vintage look is not perfect. The lume color of the hands is quite different from the more beige looking markers. . . .. A better job could have been done

  2. Franco, niets in het leven is perfect, soms kwestie van smaak. Ik ga er zeker voor.

  3. At this price point, I think DOXA SUB 200 models would be better value since DOXA is an established Swiss brand who are well known for its dive watches.

  4. I like it, although is a mixture of Rado Captain Cook and seiko 62MAS, except of the hands which they are awful. The price is high and there are other options at this price point.

  5. There are countless divers out there and I already have a couple. This one is very simple and uncluttered , not obviously attractive but it has ” je ne sais quoi”, I could see it joining my others. For me it would be better with a bracelet

  6. Love the design (steel indices, dial color, compact case) but not sure about the price. Agree that safer bet would be to go for the DOXA SUBs or even a MIDO Oceanstar Tribute (but those have the indices printed). Still, any ideas what model it’s based on?

  7. Nothing at all new here in terms of design or concept. The watch is nothing special and at a price where the comfort and support of a bigger brand is available. As for the article, the inspiration of the found diver is mentioned often but there is not a single picture of it.

  8. Why would anyone get this over established Rado Captain Cook for a little bit more money

  9. Would much rather have a Doxa sub 200 or a Seiko Diver for this price point. Far too expensive unless he planned on only using the case design for this set of 50 and it was truly limited otherwise what’s the point. It doesn’t offer sapphire but instead plexi glass which is cool in terms of looks but in practice will not last long. It also has an aluminum bezel which the same can be said. It’s supposed to be a modern recreation of a vintage diver but instead is basically a vintage diver with no brand pedigree.

  10. As others have said, this is almost a carbon copy of a Rado currently in production. I cannot understand why this was released.

  11. Es una propuesta interesante pero se parece a otros modelos ya establecidos en cuanto a calidad y precio por ser un primer intento esta bien están aprendiendo por menos cantidad de dinero me gustaría un reloj nodus mas completo y me parece mejor terminado

  12. Well, to each his own. I really don’t like much the Rado Captain Cook: the 37mm is too small and the 42 too big. And it seems a bit bulkier than the Retra. I find the overall style of this more pleasant and the colour tones more interesting. The fact that is a micro-brand, each product is assembled for a specific client and there are only 50 of them makes it a much more interesting piece than the Rado, in my opinion.

  13. the bezel on the rado it’s to big and give ti the watch a pan look, the retras looks more elegant

  14. Nice looking watch. Better looking than the Captain Cook and isn’t really a copy; it actually looks much more like a Zodiac Seawolf ’53. And the actual acrylic crystal will be far stronger than any mineral. Great first watch.

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