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Triton Subphotique: A deep­sea myth surfaces

Le 2 December 2015

Deep­sea divers and seabed explorers, tool­watch specialists and amateurs, pay close attention: you’ve heard stories, rumors and legends carried by the gulf stream and its heavy winds. You’ve seen archived images of this watch on the wrists of the divers of Jacques ­Yves Cousteau’s ​Spirotechnique,​ alongside the Rolex’s and the Blancpain’s of its time, but few and far between are those of us who have actually s​een ​one, much less even ​owned o​ne.

By now you’ll have probably guessed that I’m talking about the French Diver’s watch T​riton​, with it’s unique “Bull head” design, its case having two “bridges” at twelve o’clock acting as protection to the crown. A fantasy for amateurs of its kind, and a reference to become familiar with for those who may not have come across it yet. Good news, the phoenix has risen from its ashes thanks to the willpower and courage of two French entrepreneurs, Jean ­Sébastien Coste and Philippe Friedmann.

Triton subphotique

Where it all began : the Triton Spirotechnique

The model was originally conceived in 1962 by Jean­René Parmentier, a retired French army Colonel, and subsequently produced by ​Dodane ​in their Besançon workshops. Commercialized from 1963 until the early 1970s, it was sold exclusively in diver shops and through the very select Spirotechnique catalogue. Another particularity of this diver’s tool was that it was more expensive than a Rolex Submariner ​(682,50F vs. 670F).​A very bold price point at the time and something that we’ll come back to later on.

Triton subphotique

Despite the expensive price tag, the watch is immediately successful, with its unique and innovative design, and ends up being used by the most serious and hardened divers of them all: Commander Cousteau’s ​Spirotechnique d​ivers (one heck of a quality guarantee if you ask me).

The Renaissance : the Triton Subphotique

The mythical name ​Spirotechnique ​already claimed and used exclusively by A​uricoste​, the two daring French entrepreneurs of the 2015 Triton decided to christen it the S​ubphotique​. Well thought out, logical and effective. The “photic” zone is the deep­sea area where light can still penetrate, comprised between 0 and ­200 meters. The new T​riton ​model is sub­photic thanks to its impressive watertightness of up to ­500 meters.

Triton subphotique

Now that you’re all caught up, let’s dive into the specs of this new Triton.

The Casing :

On the surface, this 2015 ​Triton Subphotique ​looks an awful lot like the S​pirotechnique​ of 1963, and that’s not a bad thing. The DNA and personality of its mythical predecessor was respected to the letter. The proportions are harmonious to each other and everything we love about the Spirotechnique can be found in its offspring. Nevertheless, a few subtle modifications have been made to bring it up to speed with modern times.

Globally, the casing design has been kept the same, its edges however slightly more sharpened and angular. We see the same character font of the numbers of the watch bezel ​(60 solid notches), ​with the same size difference between the tens and the units, as well as the same red date display​for odd numbers. Quality updates are definitely present though. The bakelite b​ezel of 1963 is replaced by a beautiful convex, polished sapphire bezel, which brings to mind a certain Blancpain Diver’s Watch. A helium valve makes its debut and gives the casing a watertightness of up to 500m ​(subphotic)​. The brushed steel ​916L ​casing ​(polished on the edges) ​is slightly bigger, going from 3​7­-39 mm​ to ​40­-41 mm​. It’s very reasonable and modern size, which in no way adulterates the watch, whose design was conceived more than 50 years ago. The case depth on the other hand has stayed the same, keeping its original 10mm thickness allowing for optimal comfort.

The Watch Face :

Triton subphotique

The minute counter, the position of the date display and the luminous watch hands, this time coated in super­luminova C3, all stay the same. The watch face stays faithful to the original. The convex plexiglass has been replaced by flat sapphire glass. This indeed makes it more resistant to scratches, but the charm of a convex piece of glass, whether sapphire or plexi, is lost in my opinion. This is the only element of the 1960s design that I miss.

Triton subphotique

The Watch Band :

A 21mm band width isn’t exactly standard, but the balance between the size of the casing and the size of the bracelet is perfect. An alligator pattern on rubber or a rough rubber pattern, several options are possible while we wait for the stainless steel band which is still in the R&D phase, testing our patience… Having said that, with this luxury watch’s retro and tool design, I’m sure that any nato or classy mesh bracelet will look perfectly fine.

The Movement : Soprod A10­2

With its 25 rubies, 28`000 vibrations per hour and 42 hour power reserve, the Soprod A10 is a Swiss movement that has proven itself time and again to be trustworthy. Granted, we usually find this movement on lower­end models, but let’s not forget that this Diver’s Watch is striving to be ​(a luxury) ​tool­watch above all else. For a first­time model, and taking into account the all­around quality of this watch, it’s hard to ask for a manufacture movement on top of it all. Something tells me however this could change further down the line. We’ll have to stay tuned…

Thoughts :

Surely you’re beginning to sense my strong taste for true Tool and Diver’s Watches. It goes without saying that I’m not left indifferent to all their qualities, their robustness and uncompromised finishing touches.

The only element that gives me pause is that the pricing of this beautiful Diver is bold, just like its 1963 counterpart. Granted, it’s not as expensive today as a Submariner, but it comes dangerously close and places itself clearly among the heavyweights. Believe me, this watch is extremely well finished and a real heartthrob, which doesn’t happen every day. However the high­end price point isn’t devoid of “emotional” models. This new Triton then is for lovers of beautiful Divers who certainly already have their “Sea”, their “Sub”, their “Fifty” or other “Sea­dweller” and who wish to distinguish themselves, out on a Portofino terrasse or in the VIP lounge at JFK’s fifth terminal.

In any case, thank you Gentlemen for bringing this mythical sea dweller back to the surface. Thank you for doing it with so much passion and good taste. Long live Triton.