Monochrome Watches
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Discovering The Retro-Cool Sherpa Ultradive & OPS Compressor Dive Watches

Rekindling a famous design from the late 1960s, these genuine compressor divers leave a lasting impression.

| By Robin Nooy | 7 min read |

The 1950s and 1960s have been a groundbreaking era for watches when it comes to water resistance. Although the concept of a watertight case wasn’t new at that point, technological and material advancements allowed for great strides to be made in creating waterproof watches. Names such as Submariner, Fifty Fathoms, SUB 300, Seamaster and many others can all be traced back to this period in watchmaking. One such watch is the Sherpa, a name made famous by Enicar following a successful expedition to the summit of Mt Everest and Lhotse. Although the Enicar name is a thing of the past, the brand’s watches are still very collectable, especially the Sherpa series. Martin Klocke, an engineer from Germany, felt it was about time someone took action and brought back the pioneering and mountaineering spirit of the Sherpa in the most fitting way possible by recreating the Ultradive and OPS.

A vintage example of Enicar Sherpa Ultra-Dive (1960s) – Image by Romain Réa (

The Enicar Sherpa is a beloved historic name and model in the watchmaking community, as it stood for decades as a robust and very capable diving tool. It was given the name Sherpa following a 1956 expedition to the summit of Mt Everest and Lhotse by Swiss mountaineers, guided by Sherpas. Enicar equipped the team with watches yet realised the crucial role the Sherpas had in achieving the expedition’s goals. From then onwards, Enicar used the name to give life to a broad collection of compressor-style diving and GMT watches that ran well into the 1980s. Now though, the name is owned by a Hong Kong-based holding company, but no watchmaking activities are being undertaken.

Martin Klocke, an engineer as well as an Enicar Sherpa collector and enthusiast, started to dig into the whole history of Enicar and the Sherpa a few years ago. Realising there was potential in bringing the name back from the past, he figured out the Sherpa trademark was unregistered, and the intellectual property rights and patents of the design and construction had expired. The Sherpa company was founded in 2019, and development was started into what would become a faithful recreation of the original Enicar Sherpa Ultradive and OPS watches, benefiting from better materials and modern mechanics. However, it was crucial to Martin that the ethos of the original Sherpa would be upheld, resulting in the original compressor case construction, the original crown systems and so on.

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A genuine Compressor

I love the fact Sherpa chose to build the Ultradive and OPS watches as proper compressor divers. The case construction incorporates the fabled EPSA-STOP bayonet compressor system, which was also used by the Enicar Sherpa back in the day. Basically, the watches become more water resistant the further you go down. As water pressure builds up, the cases and seals are compressed (hence the name), resulting in a tighter fit and a higher water resistance. The Ultradive and OPS are some of only a handful of dive watches with actual compressor cases currently available, although the double-crown design is quite popular. Many brands that use this style, though, do not incorporate the actual compressor-type construction to ensure watertightness.

The cases themselves measure 40mm across and 13.5mm at the top of the domed sapphire crystal. The lug-to-lug size is 49.3mm, which makes for a rather large watch on the wrist. In the field, however, or possibly in the water, they are perfectly fitted to most people’s wrists. The angled lugs, with a faceted edge to them, give it a nice wrist-hugging profile. The Ultradive is fully polished, while the OPS is black DLC coated for a more tactical look and feel. The asymmetrical right side of the case embraces two proprietary MONOFLEX crowns, another bit of technology carried over from the original Sherpa. The top crown manipulates the inner rotating bezel, while the lower one can be pulled out to set the time and date.

Although the base design for the dial is similar and very much based on the design of the original Enicar Sherpa, the two differ upon closer inspection. Both have a domed black main dial with a rotating inner dive bezel surrounding it, but the style of the two is different. The Ultradive has a white rotating bezel with black and orange markings, whereas the OPS has a grey rotating bezel with white and orange markings. The indices and hands also differ, as the Ultradive gets applied indices with luminous dots versus painted luminous indices for the OPS. The hour and minute hands are faceted in both, but the seconds hand has a double-lollipop shape in white in the Ultradive and a needle-like shape in orange in the OPS. The date window is simple yet effective, showing the white disc underneath with black and red digits.


The Sherpa Ultradive and OPS are equipped with a Mantramatic movement called MM01. And no, this is not something fancy or radically complex, but rather a different type of movement in spirit. The movement itself is a top-grade Sellita SW200-1 automatic, but Martin and his team add an important personal touch to it before encasing it. Each movement has two wheels that are microscopically laser-engraved with a traditional Tibetan Buddhist mantra of Om Mani Peme Hung, often found on Tibetan prayer wheels. With it, the Sherpa watches send out vibes of love, wisdom and compassion at a rate of 30 million times per year (given the rotational speed of the two wheels in question).

This doesn’t affect the movement’s performance, though, as it still runs at a frequency of 28,800vph and has a power reserve of 38 hours. As it starts life as a top-grade Sellita engine, the finishing is quite nice, although hidden from view by the closed caseback. The movement has a gilt finish and the rotor is custom-made for Sherpa and signed with the brand’s name. It indicates not only the time but the date through a window at 3 o’clock as well.

Pure passion project

One thing about the Sherpa Ultradive and OPS watches has to be understood before judging its price. It’s a passion project, if there ever was one, rekindling the iconic design of the Enicar Sherpa and presenting it in a robust, reliable and modern package. Each watch is assembled by hand, using parts from European manufacturers and suppliers only. That immediately sets it apart from the vast majority of vintage or retro-styled divers that flood the market. Martin is also completely transparent on the watch’s parts and origins, which can’t be said for most other manufacturers. So in a sense, this goes beyond the concept of Swiss Made, but for the better. It’s reassuring to know as much as possible has been sourced from within Europe and not just 60% of the ‘value’ in a watch.

All this, including the modifications to the movement that can’t be seen but add to the spirit of the Sherpa Ultradive and OPS, can be yours for EUR 6,400 (Ultradive) or EUR 6,200 (OPS), including 19% VAT. In true Sherpa ‘give, and you shall receive’ spirit, a percentage of every watch sold is donated to a good cause supporting the Sherpa people wherever needed. It’s a way to acknowledge the importance of the Sherpa people, whose toughness and reliability remain vital for climbing some of the highest mountains in the world.

Now, looking at it from purely a movement perspective, the price admittedly makes little sense, but it’s about much more than that. These watches have a soul, a heart, and a heartbeat. Sherpa still commands a large chunk of money for the Ultradive and OPS, of which there is no doubt, but Martin has cut no corners when it comes to quality and originality. The decision to source everything from within Europe means parts and labour are quite costly. Regardless, the Ultradive and OPS are both very, very good watches from top to bottom. So if this style of watchmaking is your thing, and you find yourself intrigued by the whole passion project, I encourage you to dive a little deeper and support Martin in his efforts to bring back a very significant name from the past.

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5 responses

  1. The movement for this price is way out of line – Bohen watches can boast the same Swiss only supply chain with a far better moment at a third of this price – watch is gorgeous but though

  2. I’ve studied various design and technologies of dive watches. I’ve got to admit yours is very detailed and thorough. I fell in love with the dive watches that were created by your team. In the future I will definitely will purchase one. Thank you for your commitment to an ellexent built time piece.that will bring back this iconic jewel.

  3. 6400 EUR … someone was in a hurry and put an extra 0 on the price

  4. I think this is a very cool watch. But the movement spec even at top grade (Sellita 200/38hour PR) feels underwhelming for the price. $6K has A LOT of dive watch competition.

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