Minus-8 Diver review: What I like about you.

What happens when you take titanium, anti-reflective coating, and a sense of playfulness about the design of a dial and case? If it’s the good alternate timeline we’re in, you get Minus 8’s MINUS-8 DIVER: An Automatic Titanium Dive Watch.

You can see the 3-6-9 numerals in the light
You can see the 3-6-9 numerals in the light

First of all, I love titanium. I love watches that are titanium. I once spent a hunnert bucks on a Junkers titanium GMT watch with a quartz movement because the bracelet, caseback, and case are all titanium, and I don’t even like the dial on that one.

Normally, I like to wear a watch for a week or so to really get a feel for it before writing about it. Here, I’m on day two of wearing it, and I’m just going to cut to the chase. I really like this watch.

Minus 8 shipped the new diver in PVD matte black. The packaging arrived like so – a black cardboard outer box, containing the watch box – wrapped up in a metal rectangular sleeve. Who are these mad geniuses spending so much effort on the packaging? When you open the box itself, the watch is suspended above a spherical recess in the box. It’s lovely, and a break from the more common “box with a pillow” format we see a lot of.

The watch itself is black. Very, very black. The bracelet is black. The clasp is black. The bezel, crown, and most of the case are black. The dial 3-6-9 numerals are gloss black on a matte black dial. The hands themselves are black, outside of their lume. The tip of the seconds hand vanishes into the background of the dial, it’s all so black.

I am in love with the dial on the MINUS-8 DIVER. Take the classic diver dial with bar at the cardinal directions and circles inbetween, and scale them up to Rolex Maxi Dial size. Now make it bigger. BIGGER. Now make the hands brutishly rectangular, squaring off the tip of the hour hand and making the minute hand peak in an equilateral triangle. Make everything matte black, lume, and give the numerals on the dial and brand signing a gloss finish. That’s the recipe for the dial and hands. With everything so black, you don’t so much see the second hand progressing, but see a square of lume floating around the dial. The tip of the second hand is only visible as it passes over the large lume plots of the hour markers.

The second hand is almost invisible.
The second hand is almost invisible.

The case is a matte black PVD, with a slightly raised portion to the north of the crown. There, letters are engraved and are filled with white to say, DIVER, 300m, 984 ft. The bezel rotates and has a very good feel as it clicks its way around the dial. The bezel is not perfectly vertical, but leans in a few degrees. It is chequered to give it grip, but only halfway down the height of the bezel. Everything about it is so good.
The only word I have against it is, because the chequering is so fine, the fins left standing may not take a bounce off a hard surface very well. The one we received had a minor ding at the 2 minute mark. The bezel insert itself is also PVD black, engraved, and filled with lume for the crucial 0-15minutes. The lume in the bezel is tested against salt water and sweat. It is also recessed into the case .15mm to protect it from being rubbed against. All of the case parts are made of titanium, TA1 Grade sourced from Japan.

The bracelet and clasp are titanium, and as a result, are light and comfortable. The clasp is the common foldover affair with a flip lock to prevent it from coming open. The flip lock is signed MINUS 8. The links are 3 across like an oyster bracelet, but with a much shorter center section, and each link is beveled. It’s a good look. The lugs extend away from the circular case, leaving a gap between the straight end of the end link and the case. For some that’s an annoyance, but for me, it’s another part of the classic utilitarian look. The coating of the PVD must be hard for these links – there are shiny spots at the corners of the center link on some of them.

Signed flip lock clasp... in titanium!
Signed flip lock clasp… in titanium!

The crown is given grip by rounded rectangles machined into its sides instead of knurling or coin edge surfaces. It’s signed with -8 machined in the end, and it’s got an easter egg; when you unscrew it, it reveals the red crown tube. This is great for underwater usage: If you see red when you check the crown, it’s not screwed down enough.

Jenni Wilson under the sea
I’d like to be… under the sea, wearing the Minus-8 Diver in the shade. Jenni Wilson shows it off in its natural habitat.

Each watch is reported to be tested in a water proof testing machine and pressure tested up to 30ATM (1016.99 feet) with 3 Bar (43.5 psi) of pressure to verify that the seals are sound and that the helium release valve is working. The watch has also been tested on dives by Jenni Wilson, dive photographer at Long Beach Aquarium in California. This isn’t just a fashion diver, although you could be forgiven for wearing it like one.

The lume is something I have to comment on. The sample we received is not bright at all. After charging through normal wearing all day, going outside in the dark or stepping into pitch black room to attempt to photograph the lume was disappointing. The lume is superluminova C1, and should be plenty bright, but it isn’t. I’m not sure how they took the lume shot on the indiegogo campaign page, but I can’t replicate it here, and that’s a real shame. I have seen the bezel glow, but the whole thing is pretty dim. The DIVER does have an anti-reflective coating on the sapphire crystal that transmits 98% of the available light to the watch face for maximum visibility which charges the luminescent numbering. Only once have I been able to get a half-decent lume shot with it, after a few days of daily wear.

The best lume shot I could capture
The best lume shot I could capture
Lume comparisons - the Junkers G-38, the Minus-8 Diver, and the Invicta 8926OB
Lume comparisons – the Junkers G-38, the Minus-8 Diver, and the Invicta 8926OB

The Seiko NE15 that’s inside is a 50 hour power reserve automatic movement. The nice thing about Seiko movements is, they’re affordable, reliable, and are pretty robust. It’s a good choice for a diver. It’s a 21600bph, so it’s slightly slower than the 28800 you might see in other movements, you can see the second hand stutter as it goes around the dial slightly, but the payoff is that longer power reserve. It also has the hacking seconds function, which stops the second hand when setting the time, so that you can set the time accurately to the second. The date wheel on the watch is color matched to the dial, black with white numerals.

Everything about this. Yes.
Everything about this. Yes.

The campaign has reached its funding, and the early pricing slots have been taken. Even so, if you want an amazing looking diver that isn’t the same style as a Submariner, this is the one to look at. Goddamn, it’s good. I didn’t mention, but it also is available in a titanium gray-silver finish instead of the black PVD matte finish. The label north of the crown on the silver model is still finished in black. The watch is available now at $588 plus shipping, and ships mid-December. The earliest ones ship December 1. Get yours at the indiegogo campaign page, or go to minus8watch.com.

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: MINUS-8 DIVER
  • Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $588 ($548 model sold out)
  • Who we think it might be for: You like a tough dive watch, but don’t need to look like everyone else’s.
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I am sorely tempted. Oh yes, I am.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Please improve the lume brightness.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: The lightweight and comfort.

Tech Specs from NAME

  • Case size: 44mm
  • Height: 14.3mm
  • Case material: PVD coated titanium
  • Crystal: flat, sapphire
  • Strap: titanium bracelet and fold over clasp
  • Movement: Seiko NE15, 50hr power reserve