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Herbelin Cap Camarat Diver Watch Review

Herbelin Cap Camarat Diver

The Cap Camarat’s inspirations aren’t exactly subtle. Between the visible screws in the bezel, the tonneau-adjacent case with its sharp edges and the integrated bracelet tying it all together, it fits into the 1970s style template that’s been doing the rounds for the past few years. So much so in fact that, despite a funky square version, some chronographs and a handsome GMT, it’s had a hard time standing out as a collection.

It’s one of those instances of fitting in too well with its classmates, it’s only real stand-out being the sheer value for money that Herbelin are known for. That’s a good thing to stand out for of course, but sometimes you just need that extra aesthetic oomph – and the new Cap Camarat Diver has that aplenty.

Herbelin Cap Camarat Diver

Rather than continuing to mine the ‘70s for inspiration, the new watch rewinds things a couple of decades earlier, to when one Ervin Piquerez S.A was building the legendary ESPA Super Compressor case. With its spring loaded caseback, the idea was that the additional pressure at lower depths would actually more solidly seal up the watch. It meant that this particular type of watch could reach depths of 600m, impressive now, let alone at the time. Needless to say, along with the many watchmakers Ervin Piguerez supplied, there were many imitators, to the point where the compressor became an era-defining watch silhouette.

These days, they’re best known for their internal bezel, rotated using a second crown. It’s a bit of a misnomer to call these compressors, as most these days they don’t have the spring loaded caseback. At the same time, not all super compressors actually had the internal bezel. Either way, we have to work with what we’ve got, and what we’ve got in the Cap Camarat is the coolest Herbelin I’ve ever had on my wrist.

Herbelin Cap Camarat Diver

First off, it’s not a true compressor. Very few watches these days are, so it’s in good company. Instead, the Cap Camarat Diver takes its aesthetic cues from those early deep-sea explorers, most notably through its rotating inner bezel and dual crowns, complete with a crown protector to make the silhouette chunkier and readier for action. In case you were wondering, it’s the upper crown that rotates the bezel.

Herbelin have absolutely nailed the look, with a pleasingly chunky diving scale, equally chunky lumed indexes for lowlight reading, and the horizontal grooves that have become a collection signature. Herbelin aren’t the only brand to use similar grooves, but that’s the Cap Camarat’s ‘70s flavour coming out and I do think it works here better than on other pieces. In fact, every ingredient of the collection as a whole – the integrated strap, the visible screws, everything – works better here. It’s like the Cap Camarat has finally come into its own and I’m here for it.

Herbelin Cap Camarat Diver
Herbelin Cap Camarat Diver

Here we have the steel version with an orange rubber strap and it’s what I’d consider the baseline. There are two other versions of the Cap Camarat Diver, both with blacked out cases and one with a matching black strap for a full stealth look. Honestly, much as I love this steel version, the black and orange is my favourite of the lot.

Herbelin Cap Camarat Diver

There are a couple of issues of course – very few watches are perfect. In fact, I’d go further. No watch is perfect. Change my mind. From a practical standpoint however, while it’s on your wrist, it’s awkward to actually use the Cap Camarat’s dual crowns. You could argue as I’ve heard before that you should take your watch off to set the time or bezel. I’d riposte that you shouldn’t need to, especially in the case of a diver, where getting it on and off in a wetsuit might be awkward. It’s a problem that could be solved by moving them further apart, making them bigger or removing the crown guard. I’d be happy with any of them.

Second is the size. 42mm isn’t too big for a diving watch and I have a few myself. Despite my skinny wrists, it’s a size I can usually wear. Thanks to the bold, integrated strap though, the Cap Camarat Diver wears slightly broader than that. It’s not a deal breaker as it’s still incredibly comfortable (the strap is very, very comfortable), but it does leave big gaps around my wrist.

Herbelin Cap Camarat Diver

Powering the new diver is the Sellita SW220-1 which by now should need no introduction, so let’s just say it’s a reliable workhorse with entry-level specs and a 41-hour power reserve. Nothing too much to shout about there, which is perfectly acceptable for the price point.

Said price point is €1,300, roundabout £1,100. Sure, there are microbrands that will offer greater specs for less money, but for a mainstream brand offering a more-than-handsome, retro-styled diver, it’s money well spent. I just can’t wait to see this in a few extra (and perhaps more flamboyant) colours.

Price and Specs:

Model: Herbelin Cap Camarat Diver
Ref: 1745A14CMD
Case: 42mm diameter x 12.3mm thickness, stainless steel
Dial: Black with orange band
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW220-1, automatic, 26 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 41h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Strap: Orange rubber
Price: €1,300 (approx. £1,098)

More details at Herbelin.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.