The Dievas Ghost 1000m

Playing the hits, but not like you’ve heard them

Date Published
Feb 03, 2024
Author
Fahmi Ebrahim
Category
Gnomon Viewpoint
SponsoredAcme Inc.

Part 1: The Metaphor (this could take a minute…)

When I first started watching the show, it was not immediately apparent to me that the Star Wars aligned The Mandalorian was a western. It didn’t have horses, after all, nor cowboys strumming over a fire. 

The protagonist, a man of undefined origins who spends (almost) the entire show speaking through a neo-medieval, voice-transmitting thick gauge helmet has no conventional love interest. 

Perhaps the one giveaway is that he is a bounty hunter, but he isn’t in it for a higher purpose. If he is, it is not immediately apparent. There are no “yee-haws”, no chewing and spitting, and large set pieces are few and far between. 

I got into it purely because the show’s DNA contained strands of The Clone Wars and Rebels, two canon pieces of animated storytelling and world building.  

Then one day, a colleague of mine, someone I consider a culture vulture of equal stature, pointed out that the references to the time honoured genre of the western were not incidental, nor seldom. In her eyes, The Mandalorian is a quintessential western – one that plays out on an interplanetary frontier. 

“Go on”, I said. 

She pointed to the show’s sparse landscapes, its dialogue (that can be sparser still) and the promise of omnipresent dread that fills the spaces between. “Mando”, when we meet him, is a loner in the western cowboy tradition, a man who is most comfortable in his own company. He never runs, but is quick to the draw. 

Whereas in westerns we had horses, she continued, The Mandalorian’s universe had speeder-bikes, loyally floating outside the bars with their swinging doors. They half-hover, half-skip into battle, and are often the first things to get blown up, hurtling towards the camera to indicate the hero’s duress as he flips across the dune. 

And like all good westerns, there were the obligatory carriage-top fight scenes, except here the object of the game was not to loot the contents or blow it up, but to use it as a Trojan Horse. 

And there is a love interest, except with her, it almost, but never really, happens.

“Because he needs to protect the youngling.” I said, as the puzzles fell into place.

“Exactly”, she said, and added, “…did you consider that perhaps “Din Grogu” (that’s Baby Yoda to the un-initiated) is a kind of stand-in Native American – the hovering conscience from another, more ancient culture who is simultaneously the creature in distress and the rescuer, depending on the situation?”

I had not.  

On the drive home that day I realised the magic of The Mandalorian is not, as I originally thought, Pedro Pascal’s power to make us imagine what his expressions might be under a helmet, or the quasi father-son relationship between him and Din Grogu. Or even something as banal as “teamwork”. 

No. The magic is that it makes us think that those elements are the magic. But really what it’s doing is two things. 

It uses the fundamental, non-negotiable elements of an open-world western. 

It does so while coming back to the Star Wars sensory ethos: the vastness, the force, the planets and their traumas. 

And all with the backdrop of a suitably grandiose Star Wars soundtrack.

This is the way. 

Part 2: The Genre

(I returned my review copy of the Dievas Ghost a month ago, and my affection for the watch has not diminished. In many ways with material objects like watches, what one really feels emerges after it’s gone. As collectors, we have all sold pieces and never thought of them again.

But for the Ghost, there is more than a pang of nostalgia. More on that in a bit.)

Broadly, designing a watch is about weaving coherence through all the dos-and-don’ts that came with making something cool out of what is essentially a chunk of metal. In the business of watches that we can use everyday, tool watches, if you will, this applies doubly so. 

It is, in many ways, a game of hide-and-seek played with the past: with watches that have come before it. 

Show too much, and you are deemed a copier and a bore – a brand that is repackaging the ideas of those who have come before it. A bit like auto tune for singers who can’t fully commit to traditional modes of singing. 

Show too little, and what you have is a piece that a potential customer cannot connect with. It becomes too esoteric and takes away from the idea that you could, on a given day, take it out of the watchbox and wear it without it feeling too outlandish. After all, I love the idea of an MB&F Legacy Machine. I know what it’s going for, I understand its context for existing. 

But I would have to walk around the house with my hand behind my back in case I banged it against a doorjamb. 

Dievas has walked this aforementioned cognitive tightrope perfectly. In the Ghost, they have put out a watch that, on the surface appears to be a stealthy helping of 1000m water resistant metal and gears. 

Scratch beneath that though, and you notice the qualities that make it the most traditional of divers. Go further, and you see how this watch is placed squarely in the teutonic diver category. 

Part 3: The Case

Allow me to start off with a note from my own personal collection. Recently, I acquired a Damasko DC57 Black (from Gnomon of course). I could have plumped for the standard DC57 (white dial with the blasted ice-hardened case), but what put the Black version (ice-hardened case with Damasko’s proprietary Damest black coating) was this: black cased watches feel smaller to the eyes. 

And with a mere 6.7 inch wrist, my eyes need all the help they can get. 

Now, let’s be clear. At 40.5mm in diameter, the Ghost is not going to demand too much wrist real estate anyway. In fact, it is nigh-on perfect for a modern market that is trending downwards in terms of size, even for divers. But, by making the case black, it looks even smaller, and on the wrist, I had to remind myself that the watch was not a 39mm. 

Consider as well that when we look down at a watch, we are not only looking top down. If you look “down the barrel” – or along a straightened arm with the watch almost horizontal, a black-case watch will always appear smaller in total volume than a standard stainless steel or sandblasted finish. 

This makes the 40.5mm x 49mm lug to lug x 13.8mm thick Dievas Ghost appear a lot smaller than those numbers suggest. 

That is the modernity of the design language coming through. But if you know where to look, tradition is just around the corner. 

Take for example the Helium Escape Valve, tucked flush against the case at the two o’clock position. It does not stick out like an asymmetric ear like in a certain Swiss icon,  Dievas does not need this feature, something one is unlikely to need, if ever, to linger like a constant reminder of the adventure you’re not having. This is a quintessentially German approach, and a fairly Bauhaus one at that. 

Part 4: The Dial

The blacked-out case effectively acts as a wonderful negative-space canvas upon which The Ghost’s halo design decisions can shine: its Tron-like tennis yellow trims and the geometric shapes they form. 

In the grand tradition of historic tool divers, the Ghost sticks to the matte, black dial formula but it simultaneously seeks to deconstruct this by playing with layers and steps. 

The dial of the Ghost is vast. It is a nothingness that draws you in, and this is entirely intentional. The central plate where your eyes will focus is as matte as it can realistically get for any watch – this side of vantablack. In fact, you will have to squint, as I did, to see the modern “DIEVAS”  wordmark and the “AUTOMATIC” text below it. 

As your eyes glance at the corners you will notice that beyond that central circle, the dial has stepped upwards. and if you tilt the piece, you’ll see this layer in all its glory. Zoom out further, and you will see the chunky, grippy matte black bezel. It is quite literally, black on black on black.

Dievas could have rested there. They could have churned out this multi-stepped dial in black, stuck on some standard high-vis white markers and called it a day. Fortunately for us, they kept going. Having established the deep and dark infinity, they went about breaking it up. 

It’s at this stage that the visual sucker punches start to arrive. 

Sitting below the main black central layer of the dial is a larger tennis-ball yellow plate. And rather than print arabics, or apply rectangles or dots, Dievas has given the dial indices by cutting angles into the top plate. The net effect is a grand piece of functional sandwich-dial architecture, where more is achieved by chipping away – as opposed to adding. 

Part 5: The Indices (and the lume!)

In design school, it is taught that for something to be truly functional, the use of a feature must be obvious. While that is true, it is also true that for a design to be romantic, its use must have a bit of intrigue, sometimes eschewing what can be inferred instantly. In other words, one has to work to get it. Not quite getting it the first time is the idea. 

As a small case study of this, consider each of the cardinal points (12, 3, 6 and 9) on the Ghost. These are indicated by triangles cut into the top layer. All the even indices (2, 4, 8 and 10) have two hash marks cut into the top layer, with a single hash cut for those that are odd numbers (1, 5, 7 and 11).

I positively giggled when I first recognised the symmetry. Did I get it the first time? No, but once I did, the knowledge didn’t just make at-a-glance time telling easier, but an experience that released the tiniest bit of endorphin throughout the day, every time. 

As day transitions to night, this sandwich effect creates this otherworldly looking ring, the open mouth of an alien predator floating across a neon hyperspace looking for prey.

The bezel lights up too, with graduations from the printed-pipped triangle at the 12 all the way to 15 minutes getting a helpful serving of lume. Speaking of which, the mixture of the Swiss SuperLuminova used is ridiculously potent. Having kept it on my bedside table every night, I would never fail to clearly register the time every time I woke up in the middle, all the way up to 7 am. 

And a big reason for that is the way the hands are coloured and sized. 

The lower part of both the hours and minutes hands have been blackened, with the tennis ball yellow thickly coating the majority. The seconds is almost completely blackened but for the syringed square at the very tip.   

What impresses is the consistency with which that tennis-yellow is visible across the dial and handset. No one part is more luminous than the other. One would think it would be fairly simple, but I am sure we have all had watches where the hands are lumed stronger than the dial, and god forbid, the other way round. 

Secondly, the breadth of the hands suits the dial beautifully. The hands do not overpower the indices. The proportions all work. Again, this is something many manufacturers can get wrong. 

The date is small relative to the size of the watch, but is quite easily legible for two fairly intuitive reasons. One, the date wheel is colour-matched to the dial (black), and the date is printed in that tennis ball yellow, which is to say a highly contrasting colour to the date wheel. It pops enough, but does not intrude.

Part 6: Wearability (and the bracelet)

Earlier on in this piece I alluded to how I missed the Ghost after having returned it. Its wearability is the reason why. On the wrist, the watch doesn’t flop around. It stays grounded. A large part of that comes from the counterweight balance provided by the H-link style metal bracelet, which is comfortable enough to use all day. Its simple and sturdy clasp also features a diving extension and with the links being connected by screws, and not pins, it was both easy and reassuring.  

I also feel some of the ergonomic decisions that have gone into the watch need to be discussed here. 

It is quite clear that dive watch sizes are trending down, or at least that the 39mm case diameter is the new 42mm. Dievas deserve a lot of credit for getting on board and splitting the difference (kind of) by going with a very compact diameter of 40.5mm. What this means on the wrist is a watch that isn’t looking to “overflow”. The thickness of 13.8mm is not an issue because the crystal is (thankfully) flat. Stubby lug to stubby leg the length is 49mm, and while that is a smidge more than what I usually wear, the positive tradeoff is a very purposeful look on the wrist. 

Part 7: Final Thoughts

As a package, the Ghost is stunning. It really is. When one has collected for a while, and experienced a few dive watches, one realises that most divers fall under two categories. The first Could nominally be titled “nostalgists”, watches like the Black Bays, or the Longines Legend Divers – and at least a dozen microbrand divers who are all trying to look at the past to evoke a mood. 

The second would be the brands looking forward to their design. Often this can stray too far. Every element of a watch is toyed with to the point where the final product is more a manifestation of the psyche of a panicked designer trying to be too clever and less a functional, legible timepiece. 

The Ghost, by comparison, focuses very much on the basics. Sure, with its bright colourway and chunky case design, it might seem standoffish and distant, but get closer and have a play with that beautifully executed bezel, and you’ll see that it hits all the familiar dive watch genre notes. That is your train robbery. The legibility of the dial is extreme. That is the hero strumming his guitar. That 1000m water resistance. That’s overkill. No one needs it. But no one needs the 1220m of the Rolex Deep Sea either. That, now that, is your horse galloping into battle. 

The Dievas Ghost is like every dive watch you’ve held, except it isn’t quite like any of them.

Gnomon Watches first opened her doors for business online in early 2002, founded by bona fide horology suitors who share a profound passion for watchmaking and fine craftsmanship.

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