The watch world is full of, for want of a better word, fluff. Complications imitating the celestial orbs of the solar system, cases capable of surviving the crushing depths of the Mariana Trench, dials inspired by the night sky over the Alps under a full moon after too much cheese. It’s all a bit much and it’s all a bit unnecessary.
It’s enough to make you long for a breath of clean, simple air – air that Retras watches both lives and breathes. There are no bells and whistles for their timepieces, no PR stories attributing their creation to some ancient ancestor and no fluff. Their raison d’etre? Like any good watchmaker: to make good watches.
Sure there was a specific starting point for the brand, that of a dive watch founder Axel Schijns found and gave to his father, one that a few decades later was in need of some work. He had it restored and that was it, the genesis of Retras. It’s not a story about overcoming the odds in the face of adversity, but about the resilient style of a watch that he loves, something we can all identify with.
That old, 60s diver became the starting point for what would become Retras watches, a non-nonsense vintage-inspired watch brand. In fact, so straight-to-the-point is Retras that their first watch is simply called the Retras Dive Watch – and it speaks for itself.
The clean, tool look of the Dive Watch is instantly-recognisable; it’s been imitated aplenty over the last few years a archival designs surged to the forefront of horological design. It has a solid, 38.5mm case with 100m water resistance; a bidirectional bezel with aluminium inlay and a Swiss automatic movement. That movement is the simple, effective and well-priced STP 1-11, a value pro position alternative to Sellita and ETA.
Despite the apparent simplicity however, the Dive Watch is deceptively complicated to build. The faded olive colour is an exact reproduction of the hue on Axel’s father’s watch, the kind of colour that you can normally only find in a well-loved, well-worn watch. It’s an unusual colour but one that any vintage lover can get on board with. The case too is unusual, a construction once again taken from that original inherited diver that stands out from the school of likewise vintage-inspired divers out there.
To complete the look, the Dive Watch comes with two different straps: a practical, military NATO and a suitably handsome leather number, depending on whether you want to lean on its tool or vintage credentials. No matter which way you look at Retras’ inaugural timepiece, for EURO 1,199, it’s a lot of watch for the money.
Price & Specs:
Model Name: Retras Dive Watch
Case/Dial: 38.5mm diameter, 316L steel
Water resistance: 100m (10 ATM)
Movement: Calibre STP 1-11, self-winding mechanical
Functions: Hours, minutes, sweep second
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 44h
Strap: Green/black Nato with additional leather strap
Price: €1,199, limited edition of 50 pieces
More details about Retras’ website.