Dryden Watch Co. Review: The Chrono Diver

By: Kaz Mirza

There’s no shortage of new microbrand watches out there – in fact many are piling up around me waiting for their review. Piece after piece we’re just so oversaturated with brand after brand trying to bend over backwards to design the “next greatest thing.” That means there are mountains of microband watches that are just over-designed. Then I happened upon the Dryden Watch Co. Chrono Diver.

On first inspection I found the minimally modern approach of the case and bezel incredibly refreshing while the intricate more vintage approach of the dial kept Dryden Watch Co. Chrono Diver visually interesting. Here’s a watch that isn’t trying to re-invent the wheel by creating a watch that’s totally kooky or outrageous. It’s a design that’s totally approachable and seems pretty versatile. But looks aside, how does the watch wear? How’s the quality? Where does it stand overall in all this mess of microbrand pieces? Let’s find out.

The Case:

Measuring in at 42mm in diameter, 49mm lug to lug, and approx. 12mm thick (not including the crystal – 13.5mm with the crystal), the dimensions will be in a sweet spot for a lot of people. For me personally I’ve been gravitating away from 42mm watches; however since the actual thickness of the Dryden Chrono Diver is only 12mm, I’m happy with the wearing experience.

The case here is actually the main driving factor behind one of the more interesting features of the Chrono Diver (which I find myself divided on): the bold forward facing presence. By that I mean that from every other angle the watch’s aesthetics are very balanced and quite unassuming, but when you look at the watch head-on there’s big impact – there’s forward facing presence.

The tips of the lug are relatively small and as either end of the case curve to meet in the middle of the watch the profile bellies and grounds your eye towards the timepiece’s core. But for me what clinches the experience is the organic curves that create both the unique but accessible profile of the case and the strong wearability of the watch. Visually the curve’s presence on the case feels logical. It’s a design choice that doesn’t take you out of the watch experience. You don’t notice the case profile – you notice the watch.

Attention to detail is certainly at play here – the majority of the watch is brushed except for the beveled edges where the top the case meets the side of the case – that area is a very tasteful high polished. The chronograph buttons and crown are also polished.

In complementary conjunction with the brushed surfaces these high polished features aren’t focal points, but rather accents that bring a lot of really balanced notes to the design. It’s a rare thing to find a measured hand in the microbrand world these days with navigating between brushed and polished surfaces.

The other notable feature of the case is the bezel, which for me is what I’m struggling with. For this review I chose to spend time with one of the super cool anodized aluminum bezel options that Dryden Watch Co. offers. The bezel is a very minimally approached dive bezel measuring out 60 minutes in 5 minute increments. The black font has really strong legibility against the stainless steel.

However the bezel has no bevel to it. The profile is just flat and presents a very bold forward facing facade when you look head-on at the watch. I can see how this would totally be something someone was looking for in a watch. But for me I would have preferred a more nuanced approach. The flat bezel and bold forward presence makes the watch look larger than 42mm on the wrist while also wearing quite well since it’s technically only 12mm. That combination of “wears balanced – looks large” is a combination that works for a lot of people, but for me and my current taste it’s not my favorite wearing experience.

What’s really awesome is that the Dryden Watch Co. Chrono Diver isn’t kidding about the “diver” part. The crown screws down as does the case back and the whole thing is rated for 100M. The crystal is a double domed sapphire with AR coating on the inside and the watch just feels very solid.


 
 

The Dial

Where the case of the Dryden Watch Co Chrono Diver is an exercise in concise, modern design – the interior elements are more aligned with a timeless, vintage aesthetic. The outer perimeter of the dial features a tachymeter scale on a white background. Just on the inside of this is where the applied markers start. The markers are slightly wedge shaped with the points direct your eye towards the center of the watch.

Past the markers now we’re at the 3 white subdials, which create a reverse panda-esque presentation against the medium dark blue dial (“Steel Blue” Dryden is calling it). The text on the subdials is just big enough to read on quick glance but not too big to be ridiculous looking. There’s also a date window with a white date-wheel at 4:30.

The subdial hands are a slightly lighter blue than the majority of the watch face, but against the white background of the subdials the effect is very fresh and a lot of fun. Those little hands are some of my favorite parts of the watch. The main hour, minute, and chronograph second hands are also pretty noteworthy and my appreciation is 50/50.

On the plus side I love the shape – they look like they’re inspired by the very cool Omega arrow hands you see every so often. I love the dramatic point that the hour hand creates. It reaches all the way to the minute track and brings a real sense of precision to the timepiece. The chronograph seconds hand is a spear tip in a redish/orange pigment which makes it really stand out nicely, especially when the chronograph is activated.

The other end of the spectrum for me with the hour, minute, and chronograph seconds hand is that they feel slightly too polished for my tastes. There have been several occasions where I’ve quickly glanced at the watch to tell the time and they’re so reflective that the lose contrast legibility against the dark dial by catching the reflection of something too dark around me. On the other side, they’re so reflective that sometimes they simply get too bright and are difficult to see.

What surprised me (in a good way) was the lume. It’s normally white but when charged it gives off a blue luminescence. And it’s surprisingly bright too – the lume seems to be applied generously and it’s featured on all the hands as well as the applied markers. The lume is labeled as Swiss Superluminova on the Dryden Watch Co. site.


 

The Strap

It’s crazy to me how much the quality of quick change straps has changed in a very short time across all microbrands. The Dryden Watch Co. features a 22mm quick change strap in a light tan color. The actual quick change mechanism of the spring bars is incredibly easy to use and makes for super quick strap changes. In the past the whole quick change strap thing never really interested me because the quality of the actual mechanism was always so-so. But like I was saying earlier – the quality of these things across the board is increasing and that’s totally the case with the Dryden Chrono Diver as well. I also want to admit to sometimes fiddling with the watch and using the quick change feature to remove and return the strap from the case, because it was just fun and easy.

The quality of the strap that came with the Dryden watch Co. Chrono Diver is pretty solid. What I enjoyed most is that I didn’t have to go through one of those awkward introductory phases where the leather was super stiff. Out the box the strap was soft and very comfortable to wear. There’s a slight taper towards the end which makes for a balanced wearing experience as well. I will say however that the thread on the strap I received is fraying a tiny bit. It’s honestly probably from normal wear, which is to be expected so it’s not really a deal breaker for me.

Straps seem to be a pretty big focus for Dryden Watch Co. In addition to this strap the Chrono Diver came with, there are 4 other strap options available on the site ranging from two-stitch to full seam stitch in all the classic leather colors you’d expect. Just from inspecting the site and straps available, I get the sense that all of the strap combos across the line would actually look pretty badass while still evoking a different vibe. I feel like this would allow almost any buyer to be able to find the right strap combo for them that also wasn’t something super outrageous and wild – keeping it timeless but fresh seems to be the name of the game here.

The Movement

The Dryden Watch Co. Chrono Diver is powered by the Seiko Mechaquartz VK63. As far as microbrand quartz movements go, this is one of my favorites and has a lot of offer – quartz reliability with that satisfying mechanical chronograph *click* when the chrono seconds hand is activated. The 3 o’clock subdial is your 24-hour readout, the 6 o’clock dial in running seconds, and the 9 o’clock dial is your 30 minute chronograph register. All in all it’s a tight, reliable set up and appropriately used in a watch within this price range.

Final Thoughts

What I enjoy most about the Dryden Watch Co. Chrono Diver is how it blends two design perspectives into something cohesive. The outer part of the watch (case and bezel) is a clean, non-fussy modern design aesthetic. Then as we move closer to the center of the watch (dial) the design transitions into a timeless, vintage design. It’s a look that the watch pulls off very well, however the concessions here are that the wearing experience can be odd when the watch looks visually smaller from one angle but then larger from another (at least that’s my experience).

The Dryden Watch Co Chrono Diver presents an incredible new option for those in the microbrand community looking to add a mechaquartz chrono to the watch box. That said, the reality is that this is just an incredibly accessible watch for watch folk and non-watch folk alike. The next time a non-watch person asks me for a watch recommendation for something “sporty, casual, but still nice enough to wear to work” I’ll be recommending the Dryden Watch Co Chrono Diver.

For more info check out the Dryden Watch Co. site where the Chrono Diver is priced at $319 USD. The brand also has a deal going right now where you can save $20 on your order with the code: THANKS20 – that puts it just below $300 for the time being. Not bad.


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