Diving into the depths is one of the most awesome experiences you can undertake, but like all extreme sports if you’re not careful it can be incredibly dangerous. The most common danger people think of is running out of air, but there is actually a bigger danger if you don’t prepare properly: pressure. And that’s where diving watches can help, especially if they’re kitted out with a decompression timer like the Mido Ocean Star limited editions and Delma’s latest Shell Star.
The Shell Star design has been around since 1975 and Delma has continually been adding to the range, so there’s nothing too surprising about the 44m stainless steel case. It has large, gently curving surfaces that emphasise the fact that it’s a large watch, you could make the argument that it bears some similarity to the Seiko Prospex Tortoise except that the Shell Star’s crown is central and has shoulder guards.
Its bezel also follows the original Shell Star’s retro design with thick proportions, a traditional unidirectional rotation and chunky grip. There are three different colour bezels on offer, black, orange and blue, split across two dial variations. Those dials are an orange and black combination and a blue and orange combo.
Speaking of the dial, that’s where the Shell Star Decompression Timer’s titular table can be found. It consists of a coloured grid with a vertical scale at 12 o’clock in both metres and feet showing the depth, white boxes then show if no decompression is required while the coloured ones (orange or blue depending on the colourway) indicate how long and how many stops are required. Making these decompression stops will protect you from the adverse effects of the pressurised environment while you’re ascending.
Adding the detailed table to the dial has meant some of the traditional elements have had to change. Most notably the typically rectangular hour markers are now far squatter, although not quite square and the date window doesn’t have the coloured border found on the basic Shell Star. In fact, it would’ve made sense to remove the date window altogether because it sits right in the middle of the decompression timer and could be confusing. Not everything has changed though, with the hands maintaining their shape, including the unique spade seconds.
Inside you’ll find a Sellita SW200 movement with a custom Delma rotor that is visible through the mineral crystal display caseback, which is itself a rare feature on a watch with a 500m water resistance rating. With a 38-hour power reserve, it doesn’t quite hit the 42-hour mark we’re used to these days but other than that it’s a solid automatic calibre.
At £1,100 on steel bracelet and £1,050 on rubber strap, it’s in the same price bracket of the Mido Ocean Star Decompression Timer. Although the Mido is a shade cheaper and outclasses the Delma in terms of mechanical ability and exclusivity, being a limited edition. With that said, I might actually prefer the Delma because that orange and black colourway looks amazing, plus it has better water resistance, a very cool watch.
Price & Specs:
Model: Delma Shell Star Decompression Timer
Reference: 41501.670.6.034 (black dial, black bezel, black rubber strap)
41501.670.6.044 (blue dial, blue bezel, blue rubber strap)
41501.670.6.154 (black dial, orange bezel, black rubber strap)
41701.670.6.034 (black dial, black bezel, stainless steel bracelet)
41701.670.6.044 (blue dial, blue bezel, stainless steel bracelet)
41701.670.6.154 (black dial, orange bezel, stainless steel bracelet)
Case/Dial: 44mm diameter x 13.80mm height, stainless steel case, matte black or blue dial
Water resistance: 500m (50 bar)
Movement: Sellita SW200 calibre (based on ETA 2824) automatic, 26 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38h
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds
Strap: Black rubber or stainless steel bracelet
Price/availability: £1,050 (for the black rubber dial versions) and £1,100 (for the stainless steel bracelet versions)
More details at Delma.