Inside & Out: The Stowa Seatime Prodiver
How I got this watch: I contacted Stowa to request a review piece. I was given a selection of various watches and I chose the Stowa Seatime Prodiver which I wore for two weeks.
First released in 2006, the Prodiver was an advancement of the popular Stowa Seatime family with a greater depth rating and helium escape valve. It's a thoroughly modern watch but when you look closely, the Prodiver has deep roots in the divers watch of Stowa's past. If you look back through their previous designs you can see the hallmarks of what came before it; the short lugs and the barrel like case, the high contrast design and exciting use of color. For a watch that could only be made in the 21st century it brings a lot from the 1970's. Combine this design with a modern reliable movement and you are in for a winner.
The Stowa Seatime Prodiver is powered by the ETA 2836-2, a dependable workhorse movement with a 40 hour power reserve. It oscillates at 28,800 bph and during my time with the watch I didn't experience any significant variations in time. The 2836-2 is almost the same as an ETA 2824 just with an additional date (and day option) complication. There is not much to talk about here when it comes to the movement as it remains hidden under a titanium caseback so I don't know how much finishing has been done to it. Ultimately that doesn't matter as the watch reliably kept time whilst I wore it.
Looking like it should wear very heavy on the wrist, the Prodiver's industrial case shape and sudden angles demand your attention yet the titanium case is so light that you'll never notice the watch whilst wearing it. Compared to the Christopher Ward C60 chronograph, which despite its heft had a lot of smooth lines, the Prodiver is unabashedly masculine. The lugs don't taper, more suddenly cease to exist whilst the rubber strap cascades like a dark waterfall down the wrist. It's exciting and allows the watch to wear surprisingly small on the wrist despite its 42mm width and 15.6mm height. (One minor note for romantics, my wife said that the underside of the lugs would jab into her arm whenever we walked side by side.) The bottom tips of the lugs are very pointed, not sharp enough to cut, but enough to notice a prod.
The drilled lug holes on either side of the case show the large screws that holds the spring bar in place. Some might like the vintage/military style of these drilled lugs but I couldn't decide either way as I was more concerned with how they could limit aftermarket straps. The holes are too large for a regular spring bar to fit and I don't know whether a standard strap would fit through the larger spring bar. A thin canvas NATO strap would fit through the gap between the bar and the case but thicker materials might struggle to squeeze through.
An official Stowa rubber strap is available on their website for only 33 Euros and I was very impressed with the quality of it for such a good price. It was thick and robust whilst being flexible and comfortable, all whilst smelling softly of vanilla. The rubber straps on the Prodiver are fitted to a deployment buckle that requires you to cut the strap down measure by measure to fit your wrist. Stowa says you'll need a knife and a paper clip; I'd throw in some patience, a steady hand and to throw out the paper clip. You're meant to use it to remove the spring bars from the buckle but it's so small and fiddly that it caused more grief than it was worth. Go and buy a pin removal set (including plastic grip, hammer and quality pins) online and give it a go yourself. It might cost you $50 in the short term but over years of collecting watches you'll save that and more instead of going to your local jeweler.
It took me approximately half an hour to cut the strap down to size and that was me being extra cautious and mindful that this is not my watch. I would reiterate to anyone looking to do this to. Take. Your. Time. The watch isn't going anywhere and you'll regret hastily slicing away four segments of the strap when you only needed to remove three. The clasp has three micro-adjustments totalling about a centimeter for those wanting a finer adjustment or who want a little bit more room on Summer days. The distance between the tightest adjustment and the interior of the clasp was a little snug so my strap didn't quite fit flush but the clasp still closer securely. Perhaps I could have cut away more but I didn't want to take the risk (and I had lost the one paperclip in my house). Whilst the basic micro-adjustment doesn't compete with more sophisticated ones like on the Tudor Pelagos, it did its job and that is all one can ask.
The dial is the most recognizable part of this watch and this color has been option since 2013. It's orange. Really really orange. I was given the choice of three dial colors (Black, silver and orange) and I knew that I just had to see what the most outrageous color looked like on the wrist. It's certainly a love-it-or-hate-it dial and I happen to love it. Like the Doxa Sub300T, the orange dial is there not for looks but for practicality as the thick black hands contrast wonderfully and I could read the time from across the room without fail. The hands are well proportioned to the dial and the inner circle design frames the dial nicely. The lollipop seconds hand emphasizes the legibility and the big blob of lume at the end makes nighttime viewing rather hypnotizing. The giant C3 superluminova triangles dominate the watch in the dark with the smaller rectangles and circle adding their own glowing voice to the chorus of lume.
One thing that wasn't all that much use to me was the date window. Last week I spoke with One Hour Watch about the placement of date windows and whilst this isn't a disaster, it certainly doesn't do anything for me. The circular aperture positioned at six o'clock is far too small to be read conveniently at a glance and the thin white text doesn't alleviate the problem. A dive watch doesn't really need a date so the Prodiver could easily have been improved by removing the window or placing it at three o'clock but ultimately it's unobtrusive
Whilst a more conservative dive watch, a Submariner or Seamaster, can be worn with a suit, the Stowa would look horrendously out of place. Think flip flops with a three piece. That doesn't make it a bad watch by any stretch of the imagination as it works far better with shorts and T-shirt that any dress watch ever will.
The Prodiver might be designed for use underwater but is perhaps the best summer watch I've across. For around $1140 you'll be getting an excellently built watch that would cost three times as much from a larger company. It's a bright orange piece of fun. Pool or beach, sand or surf, it will be there without a worry.