Kicking off 2014 is a new name on the blog – Scubapro.
(Click pictures to enlarge)
Scubapro are a company famous for providing professional diving equipment. Founded in the USA in 1963 by diving legend Gustav Dalla Valle and Dick Bonin, an ex UDT/Navy SEAL team member, the SCUBAPRO name was bought from the bankrupt company Healthways for the princely sum of $1.
Building on previous endeavours, Gustav and Dick released their first product, the Scubair 300 regulator almost immediately, and followed it in 1965 with the Jet Fin, one of their biggest successes which is still in production today. All of their products were branded with the Scubapro name and the now legendary ‘S’ logo.
As the company grew, they also made significant developments in the diving mask arena, using their own rubber plant to refine the production of silicone masks which minimised the chance of allergic reaction. The popularity of the silicone mask was given a major boost when Jacqueline Bisset wore a Scubapro mask in the 1977 movie “The Deep” – the clear silicone provided better light on the actresses face.
Built on a reputation for quality, their range of products steadily increased and Scubapro became the world’s leading supplier of professional diving equipment. The company is still trading today, and they celebrated their 50th anniversary last year. (www.scubapro.com)
One important piece of equipment for any diver is of course a watch, and Scubapro collaborated with several companies over the years to provide accurate, reliable wristwatches able to withstand the rigours of the sport. There have been quite a few examples over the years, some of which were co-branded, or re-branded versions of existing production watches.
The watch in this post dates to somewhere around 1980 and as this page from the 1978 Scubapro catalogue shows, the watch was also available with a black bezel insert, and also with an upgraded chronometer graded movement and a solid gold case and bracelet – is this the ultimate ‘bling’ diver? (There is some debate as to whether the gold model was ever made, so anyone if has one, please let me know.)
By 1983 a quartz version and an analogue/digital model had also been added to the line up, the watch being very similar to the Breitling Pluton 2100 and the Chronosport UDT. There are other less commonly seen examples too, like this Pierce – it’s quite likely that the same company made all these watches.
Getting back to the subject of this post, the watch arrived in poor running condition, with a hazy crystal, and with the screw down crown jammed solid. Removing the caseback revealed an ETA cal. 2784 in decent condition and our old friend, emulsified gasket.
A jammed crown is never a good thing, and I was worried that the crown had been cross threaded or worse, had rusted into the case tube. Given the poor state of the caseback gasket, rather than risk damaging the crown by trying to force it free, I opted to heat it first to see if it was just the crown gasket that had also emulsified.
Sure enough, my assumption proved correct, so once the watch was out of the case and the gasket mess had been cleaned up, things were already looking better. The movement was in decent condition and only needed a routine service, so once the case was cleaned and a layer of dust cleaned from the inside of the crystal, the job was complete.
It’s not clear exactly who made the Scubapro 500. The watch is often compared to the Aquastar Benthos 500, citing that many of the casing parts are shared between the two models. However, putting the two watches side by side, it’s obvious that the cases are completely different.
Whoever made it, it’s undoubtedly a great watch.
** Many thanks to Dominic Goodbarn for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **