For the last couple of years, I have been exploring new independent boutique brands that offer designs that are refreshing with a fairer price point. Generally, watch prices are getting ridiculously high. Some of my favorite brands have been getting expensive. Unfortunately, the increase in price is not a reflection of new designs or materials but due simply to supply and demand.
One boutique brand that I have my eyes on is Evant. This is an extremely young watch brand. It was created in December 2015 by a group of watch enthusiasts as highlighted on the website: https://www.evantwatches.com/. Apart from this tidbit, nothing about their country of origin or the people behind the brand was mentioned. More about this later.
The Evant Tropic Diver Fume Blue Limited Edition 300 is the third offering by this Company. The first two, Tropic Diver 300 Limited Edition 150 and Tropic Diver 300 Vintage Limited Edition 150, were well received by the market and was quickly sold out. It turns out that the Tropic Diver series closely resembles a dive watch from Breguet that was produced in limited numbers on 1965 called the No. 1646. Although I should have just said that it is homage to the Breguet No. 1646, this linkage was in fact made by watch bloggers and not officially from Evant itself.
There are a number of things about this watch that I fancy. The Swiss made mechanical movement, the domed sapphire crystal, the blue dial, the domed Bakelite ceramic bezel and the multiple strap options that come standard with the package. Nevertheless, I do have some feedback which I shall list out later.
The watch case measures 41 mm in diameter and with a thickness of 13 mm. It has a lug-to-lug height of 48 mm while its lug width is 20 mm. Made out of 316L stainless steel, the metal surface of the watch casing is highly polished. The dial is protected by a 3 mm thick and highly domed sapphire crystal. The bezel is a 120 click unidirectional unit made out of a Bakelite ceramic compound and highly domed as well. Despite it being a diver watch with a water resistant of up to 300 meters, only leather and nylon straps are given with the watch.
As highlighted earlier, the design has some many visual similarities to the Breguet No. 1646, right down to the shape of the hour markers and hands (see photo above). Some readers may find this fact troubling but honestly, Evant made a good choice in copying the Breguet No. 1646 design. New brands tend to copy more famous designs but by studying old and rare timepieces that have evergreen features, Evant can still tap the consumer market without the risk of weak demand. The Tropic Diver series has shown that the Company’s choice was financially viable. Of course, coming out with a unique design is definitely the best option but after taking into consideration the resources required for such an endeavor, it may not necessarily be financially smart to do so.
The watch has short lugs that help it sit nicely on a wrist. The crown is located at 3 o’clock and it is a screw-down. It is 6.5 mm wide and it has a thin ridge for grip. The top of the crown is the brand logo. The screw-down process is not so easy. For this particular unit I got, I need to try a few times before the threads lined-up to engage properly.
The watch comes with a date complication and the date aperture is provided beside the 3 o’clock marker. To ensure consistency with the dial colour, the numbers on the date wheel is white on a black background. My only comment on this is the date aperture placement. I suggest it is places in between markers instead of partially reducing the size of the 3 o’clock marker to make way for the date aperture. I am rather particular when it comes to symmetry and taking away (even partially) a marker creates an unbalance in my view.
The type and style of the gilt vintage hands with luminous paint is a bit confusing to me. Although it is the same style of hands used in the Breguet No. 1646 design, it still looks weird to me. There is a Roman sword style minutes hand, a round mace style hours hand and broad-head arrow style seconds hand. This is a mixture of styles that makes the dial look unbalanced. I would have preferred it if Evant chose similar styled hands instead.
The dial is what this watch is all about. The gradient sunburst blue dial is beautifully made and comes out nicely. Having a straight walled chapter ring minimizes distraction away from the dial. A minute scale is located at the peripheral of the dial and within it are the gilt hour markers with luminous paint. The 9-, 6- and 3-o’clock markers are rectangle markers with the 3-o’clock marker slightly shorter to compensate for the date aperture. A diamond shape marker is at 12 o’clock and the rest are round markers.
Only four lines of texts and logo, printed in white, are included on the dial. The brand and logo are located on the top quadrant while the words “Automatic” and “300m” are located at the bottom quadrant.
Protecting the dial is the domed sapphire crystal. It is 3 mm thick with anti-reflecting treatment done on the inside. Since edge of the sapphire glass is set on the base of the bezel ring, the domed crystal is not that obvious.
The thin 120 click unidirectional rotating bezel is an excellent choice. I must say that Breguet designers had the right idea of keeping the bezel width in the correct perspective to the overall dial diameter when they created the No. 1646. Typical modern divers generally have a visible dial to total dial (including bezel) ratio of 70%. It was smart for Evant to adopt the same design philosophy as for the Tropic Diver, the same ratio is at 80%. This have the effect of making the watch looks much bigger and equivalent with modern dive watches that are more than 45+ mm in width.
Evant advertised that the bezel is made out of a special material called Bakelite Ceramic. Made out of high tech ceramic, Evant was able to replicate the same finishing and feel of Bakelite. Some of you may be wondering why the fascination with Bakelite. This was the material used years ago as a substitute for aluminum bezel inserts on watches. Honestly, I don’t care much about plastic derivatives. The ease to which they scratch is not something that I want to have on my watches. Anything plastic on my watch including acrylic glass is hard to accept, unless there are compelling reasons to do so. Exceptions to the rule: a Casio G-Shock or a jogging watch is fine.
The bezel features a tin-hat profile with the coin-edge grip located at the end of the protruding tip. The raised convex bezel insert creates another nice visual spectacle. Since the base of the sapphire crystal is located at the base of the bezel, the arrangement offers very good impact protection. Despite the rather thin gripping portion of the bezel, it is still possible to turn the bezel comfortably.
On the bezel there are dot and dash hour markers with a special triangle marker for 12 o’clock. Like on the hands as well as the hour markers on the dial and bezel, the luminous paint used is the blue BGW9 SuperLumiNova by the Japanese company Nemoto & Co. Charges up quickly and very bright. Below is the photo of the watch in a semi-darken room.
The case-back of the Evant Tropic Diver is solid screw-down piece of metal. There is a nice etching of a scuba diver and a spear gun as well as the serial number of the timepiece. In my case it is number 49.
Below the case-back is the Swiss Made ETA2824-2 automatic movement. Evant only used the “Elabore” grade movements. This caliber uses 25 jewels and has a stop second mechanism. Operating at 28,800 BPH or 4 Hertz, it has a stated accuracy variation of +/- 10 seconds with a minimum power reserve of 38 hours.
The watch casing has been structured to sustain water pressure of up to 30 ATM or 300 meters. This is a figure that the design is guaranteed to perform. Nevertheless, Evant has stated in the promotional brochure that the Tropic Diver can take more pressure and has been tested to even withstand up to 32 ATM.
The Company gives a 2 year warranty on the watch.
This is the first time that I got a watch that comes with not one, not two, not three but four straps to play with as part of the package (strictly speaking, if you are the first 100 customer, you get the fourth strap. Otherwise it will just be three straps). Evant is giving one NATO strap and 3 leather straps. The description of the straps are:
- Black Military Grade Nylon NATO Strap (Made with Nylon and 316L stainless steel buckle) – Width: 20 mm; Length: 250 mm.
- Handmade Naturally Aged Brown Leather Strap (Saddle stitched leather without buckle) – Width: 20 mm; Length: 75mm/120mm; Thickness: 4mm.
- Handmade Deep Ocean Turquoise Leather Strap (Saddle stitched leather without buckle) – Width: 20 mm; Length: 75mm/120mm; Thickness: 4mm.
- Handmade Beige Leather Strap (Saddle stitched leather without buckle) – Width: 20 mm; Length: 75mm/120mm; Thickness: 4mm.
Straight from the box, the watch is with the Nato strap while the three other leather straps are packed in an airtight plastic envelop of Gnomon Watches (more about this later). The Nato strap has additional layering for the buckle holes to minimize fraying of the nylon. Meanwhile the leather straps are of high quality.
I do have some comments.
The first is the choice of strap materials. I can accept having a set of leather straps as the watch is presentable enough to also be made into a dress watch. However, the choice of nylon to be used for diving may not be suitable for a number of reasons. The most obvious is water retention due to soaking. Rubber or silicone are better substitutes as dive straps since they do not retain water and can easily be dried by just wiping the water away. This is not possible for nylon; it will remain relatively wet until every molecule of water gets eliminated from the layers of fibers. The skin friction of nylon and silicone in the wet is also different. Whereas the coefficient of skin friction does not change much for silicone, for nylon is does change when water in introduced. Therefore, for consistency, especially if the watch is used for diving, is to provide a silicone strap or even a stainless steel bracelet instead (or in addition) to the Nato strap.
The second is the number of buckles provided. Evant only provide one set of buckle. In my case, it was attached to the Nato strap. The signed tang buckle uses a small spring-bar to attach the buckle pin, strap and buckle frame together. This meant I have to transfer the signed tang buckle from the current strap to the replacement strap before it (the replacement) can be used on the watch. I think, Evant should just provide a signed tang buckle to every strap provided as standard. This makes the watch owners very happy and appreciative of the gesture; every strap will be ‘complete’; the act of changing straps will just involve the un-attaching and re-attaching of the lug spring-bars; and reduce the temptation of using after-market straps.
The third and final comment is on a strap replacement tool. Since owners can replace straps (need also to transfer the buckle) that come standard with the package, Evant should also provide them with the correct tool to do so. Currently, no tool is given and owners are expected to find their own means to make the changes. There is not even a short manual on how to make the change.
The Genesis of Evant
An important factor that collectors look out for when investigating a watch is its genesis and the history of the brand. A watch without a story is half as exciting. Like art, the signature of a piece of painting brings a lot of intrinsic value to a watch.
Unfortunately, Evant (https://www.evantwatches.com/) have yet to solidly build its brand story despite the momentum of the demand surge on its three offerings (including this latest Tropic Diver Fume Blue).
The brand pitch a great David versus Goliath kind of story with the inspiring paragraph; “In December 2015, a group of passionate watch collectors, miraculously came together by chance. And over whisky, decided that we wanted to give the big watch companies a shake up. Coming from different backgrounds, watchmakers, engineers and architects, decided that we will design, manufacture and fund this project independently.” However, from that point onward, the website is opaque when it comes to the people behind Evant as well as the ownership structure as well as the country of origin. There is not even a contact page or email on the website to ask (based on the website as at 31 July 2017).
Is it from Europe, Asia or the Americas? The fact that Evant is working with Gnomon Watches of Singapore as the exclusive launch partner for its first three offerings “simply because there is perfect synergy between the two companies” creates more questions. Questions to Gnomon Watches remained unanswered (sent requests for information about origin twice but no reply).
Developing brand franchise is all about building trust. Keeping away key information that typically helps build franchise is not smart. Take Bremont Watches as a classic example. A British company which has built a substantial franchise value is a very short span of time. The stories about the owners, two brothers, their father, their passion with aircrafts and mechanical timepieces as well as the chronicle about the origins of the brand name have the makings of a great human interest narrative. This builds interest as people (watch collectors are people too 😊) can empathize which inevitably creates the necessary traction to the brand.
I therefore urge Evant to share more about the brand, the company and the people to satisfy the enthusiasts.
Exclusive Distributor & Limited Production Run
Evant have chosen Gnomon Watches (www.GnomonWatches.com) to be the Company’s exclusive launch partner for all of its current models (three including the Tropic Diver Fume Blue).
Like the previous two offerings, the Tropic Diver Fume Blue is a limited edition model but with a much higher production run. From 150 pieces for each of the first two models, Evant has increased the number to 300 pieces for this current offering.
When I ordered the watch, I did not ask for any number. Evant randomly allocated number 49 to me.
The package was delivered in record time. On Gnomon website, the watch scheduled for official release on 25 July 2017. DHL, the official courier for Gnomon sent me a message that the watch would be delivered on that afternoon itself. However, before noon, it was already on my table.
There were two items in the DHL package. The first is a larger flat wooden box and the second is a plastic pouch.
The watch comes in a large flat wooden watch-box painted black. The brand and logo is printed prominently in silver at the top of the box. I am actually surprised to see the size of it. Evant has allocated a watch-box that is 34 cm wide, 18 cm deep and 4 cm tall for just a 41 mm wristwatch.
The cover is secured to the box by magnets and hinged at the back. Flipping the cover open, you will find a couple of credit card sized document (a warranty and a simple manual) and the watch, bubble wrapped. There is nothing else.
There are rubber bands at the bottom part of the watch-box for you to slip in the watch. There are also two sets of rubber bands on the top part of the watch box to keep spare straps. Like the outside of the watch-box, the inner part is also coloured black.
The second item in the DHL package is a Gnomon branded waterproof plastic pouch. Inside this pouch are three of the leather straps given by Evant for the Tropic Diver Fume Blue purchaser as well as a Gnomon polishing cloth.
The all inclusive MSRP for the Tropic Diver Fume Blue is USD599. However, an “introductory” price of USD499 has been set for the watch via Gnomon. This price is inclusive of the DHL courier service.
The Wearing Experience
As highlighted earlier, the watch came standard with the Nato strap attached. I don’t feel comfortable with Nato strap. The strap’s lightness makes the watch feel top-heavy. A double layered leather strap would be ideal. I was keen to immediately swap it to any one of the leather straps provided as it would fulfill my requirements. Unfortunately, the replacement leather straps provided did not come with their own buckle and I didn’t want to take the extra step of transferring the buckle as well.
Instead, I found another 20 mm black crocodile print leather strap with a ready buckle and I quickly make the change (this was the replacement leather strap provided by SeiyaJapan when I got their watch recently. See: http://easternwatch.blogspot.my/2017/05/seiyajapan-original-watch-automatic.html).
I only now realized how tall this watch is after the strap replacement. A double layered leather strap would make it less obvious. Wearing a single layered leather strap makes the height very noticeable; it makes it look top-heavy.
Nevertheless, this watch can be worn with formal attire. Although I faced with some issue of the casing snagging on my shirt cuffs, the beauty of the dial makes up for any problem of such nature.
The short lugs set it nicely on the wrist. Would be great if the lugs have pass-through pinholes to facilitate quick strap changes. Overall, a very handsome looking wristwatch.
Below is a video of the watch on my wrist.
I am grouping Evant to the http://easternwatch.blogspot.my/ blog as I assuming (due to lack of information) that the brand is Eastern in origin.