That 70’s Watch:

The Enicar Sherpa Super Dive and the Chronoswiss Regulateur

Part 1 of 3

by Edward Hahn

January 14, 2002


The 70s was a decade of extravagence and excess. Long hair
turned curly, eventually fluffing up to Oscar Gamble heights. Blue jeans became
bell-bottomed hip-huggers. Shoes got several inch high platform soles. R&B begat
Disco, which in turn begat Studio 54 and Hamilton Jordon. Of course, watches
followed fashion’s lead, turning from a staid round dial and small diameter
into a cacaphony of large colorful, clunky, and even asymmetric styles.

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak led the charge at the high-end
in 1972 as the first luxury “sport watch”, while mid-level manufactures
like Enicar, founded in 1914, did their part too.

This groovy example from the early 70s was one of Enicar’s entries into the
diver’s style watch market. While it is not the ultimate diver’s watch as it
lacks such necessities as screw-down crowns and (perhaps most glaringly) usable
ergonomic design (more on this later), it certainly carries off the 70s groove,
being a large (43mm) cushion shaped case with a rotating bezel under glass.

This watch left the Enicar factory with the home grown 165-series movement
from 1967, this one containing the day-date version caliber 167. Soon after,
Enicar would cease to be a going concern; Gerd-Rüdiger Lang of Chronoswiss would
later buy up leftover ebauches to use in his line of classic watches.

Nevertheless, this watch has a number of interesting, if perhaps not uniformly
practical design quirks, which somehow seems appropriate given the decade in
which it was born. Perhaps not surprisingly, this watch was available NOS from
a noted vintage dealer.

The Case

All dive watches are defined in part by their cases. They
must have designs that can live up to the harsh environment which the average
dress watch would never face – corrosive sea water, high pressures, and even
rapid temperature changes when transitioning from the warm deck of a dive boat
into the cool water.

Rolex’s Oyster design was clearly a milestone in case design
– a case of solid stainless steel instead of hollow soldered gold-filled brass,
a screw back, and perhaps most importantly the screwdown crown were concurrently
developed by Hans Wildorf; these along with the external rotating bezel have
long become used almost universally by those who would produce divers watches.

Like the Rolex, the case of the Enicar is made of solid stainless steel, but
that is where they part company. Aside from making its own engraved reference
to oysters, the polygonal back seems to be yet another iteration of the screw
back, but a twist of the caseback wrench reveals the difference:

Instead of containing the standard threads, the caseback instead has a “bayonet”
style of attachment, reminescient of interchangeable lenses on SLR cameras.
Notice the three flanges which engage beefy matching notches on the case band;
these keep the back securely fastened against the square-section soft plastic
gasket which rings the case, with no chance of stripping out or cross threading.
It is somewhat surprising that this basic concept hasn’t been reinvented in
the years since Enicar’s demise, as it has some potential advantages which are
quite attractive.

Rather than having a definite “closed” position like a camera lens, the flanges
allow the back to rotate in and out of engagement with the three notches. To
ensure that the caseback is in the correct position, a careful examination of
the case band and caseback reveal a pair of matching marks:

These notches allow the watchmaker to turn the caseback into the design closed

As mentioned previously, the watch does not have screw-down crowns, or any
other obvious means of water protection around this critical area. What it does
have is an interesting bezel under glass, which is actuated by the crown at
2 o’clock.

The stem on the bezel crown is attached to a pinion with six leaves. When the
crown is pulled out, the leaves engage with a rack machined into a brass ring,
upon which the bezel ring is affixed. This ring is sandwiched in place between
the thick acrylic crystal, and the steel of the case band, and thus rotates
in synchony with the crown.

Unfortunately, the crown does not appear to have a separate detent which would
make it much easier to set the bezel – as it stands right now, the crown must
be simultaneously pulled away from the case while turning it; releasing it disengages
the bezel again. This is difficult to do with one’s bare hands and fingernails;
doing it with, say, diving gloves would be impossible. (Note that it is possible
that the crown is not functioning as designed – if so, it would clear up a very
puzzling fundamental usability issue with the watch.)

Securing of the Movement

One other attribute that a diving watch ought to possess is ruggedness – this
watch has the goods to pass this test. Like other watches today with this reputation,
such as the aforementioned Royal Oak and the recently discontinued IWC Ingenieur,
the movement is secured in the case via a rubber shock mounting.

As is usual with oversized-case watches, the movement is secured by screws
to a metal movement holder. Unlike a typical watch, this holder is held floating
in the case by three small rubber pieces (red arrow above, and shown removed
below), which ride in channels cut into both the movement holder and the inside
of the case band. This simple but effective design provides insulation from
shocks and vibration, while providing a firm grip on the movement within the

The next part of this article will look at some of the quirkiness incorporated
into the movement of this watch.

Click HERE to go to the second part of the article.

Copyright © Edward Hahn 2002

All Rights Reserved