Dievas watches are admired for its high-quality crafts and tactical-looking timepieces. With a unique indigenous design, these timeless and dynamic watches have gained massive following because of their enduring Teutonic manufacturing. The company has also forged an astute reputation amongst collectors and enthusiasts who appreciate full form-follows-function tool watches.
This popular German brand, features 3 main collections – the “Professional Diver,” “Tactical” and “Vintage” and as a representative of Dievas, we deem its Tactical line as the epitome of an all-purpose Teutonic tool watch.
Delving into Dievas’ Tactical collection, the Vortex dynasty, we discovered that these timepieces live out the entire philosophy of this famed German brand and were the first consequential hybrid divers fabricated. This monumental collection has inspired us to look into the Vortex bequest in great detail, beginning from its birth since 2007 to its latest 2020 iterations and concluding the causes of its timeless nature, which is what defines German functional tool watchmaking. Dievas embodies the essence of German horology, focussing one’s attention on the classic industrial beauties of their automotive. So, if Saxon’s round dress models are like the beauty contours of a Volkswagen’s Beetle or Porsche 356, then the virile ethos of Dievas is comparable to the clean hard-lines of a BMW E34 or Mercedes W123.
We present this comprehensive guide to the Vortex genealogy not to offer a complete discussion of the brand’s heritage, but to showcase a set of specific objectives that Dievas seeks to achieve, ever since its inception. With that, we would like to share with you our celebration and appreciation of the Vortex dynasty, the unrivalled hybrid tool watches crafted by Dievas. Learn more about the lineage of Vortex, from its launch just shy of a decade ago to its present offerings, as we outline everything you need to know about Vortex iterations and their nuances in this article.
Table of Contents
The Birth Story
In 2007, young Dievas designers working in Gnomon explored a bona fide German-engineered piece for tool watch aficionados. This concept was born out of the wealth of experience acquired by these designers through years of handling Germanic, military-oriented watches (our Gnomon’s roots – insert https://bit.ly/36NoYLc). Where form follows function, Vortex is indeed a proper tool watch that can be worn under extreme conditions. With its long history that can be traced back to the post-war period, German watchmaking has proven to be extremely reliable. Therefore, it is by no coincidence that the establishment of Dievas Vortex signifies functional Teutonic horology through coalesce, in both nautical and aviation aspects.
We presented our duality proposal, partially inspired by pieces from Damasko, Sinn, and other German tool watch specialists, to our confrère in Germany, Fricker GmbH & Co, a renowned engineering designer and specialist in watchmaking, known for their fantastic casework. Fricker’s excellent build quality crafted for many German brands such as Muhle Glashutte and Sinn is testament to their expert workmanship. This prominent company’s specialty of fabricating the Vortex into its tangible form guarantees reliability and finesse. With every aspect of crafting taken into careful consideration, this German case-maker exhibits the ethos of German horology.
The Legendary Fricker Hybrid Case
For two arduous years, Gnomon (the brainchild of Dievas) and Fricker (case manufacturer) have perfected the Vortex design project as they sought to attain the highest engineering specifications. The result of their close collaboration is a remarkable hybrid diver, the Vortex OG.
Aesthetic Overview: 1. 44mm wide, 53.5mm lug to lug, 14mm thick (not including domed sapphire crystal) 2. Entirely done in titanium material for its 3-parts case 3. Micro-blasted entirely in matte-tone 4. Crown is placed on the left side 5. 500m water resistant with gas escape valve on the left. 6. Runs on the Swiss ETA 2824-2 calibre – 25 jewels, 28,800BPH, power reserve of 40 hour
This Pforzheim producer fabricated the shape of the Vortex which is the very basis on which all subsequent timepieces are derived from. Made out of titanium, a modern and atypical aerospace-grade material, Vortex has a much lighter weight than if other metallic materials were used, while maintaining a “solid” feel when strapped on. Furthermore, the choice of titanium is ideal because of its largest strength-to-weight ratio as compared to other metals.
Fricker’s 3-part titanium case comprises a bezel and mid-case section, that undergo a micro-blasting treatment, as well as a case-back which is satin-brushed. This results in a beautifully finished matte case that exudes a distinctive tool watch vibe. The seamless finishing on the impeded case featuring geometrical lines on its bold lugs and 8mm lefty crown appeals to customers.
Moreover, I would like to place emphasis on the initial stage of design in which Fricker had landed the crown on a regular 9 o’clock position (characteristic of a lefty design). Upon close scrutiny and discussion, our team collectively decided to relocate it to the 8 o’clock position instead. This is to enhance its visual appeal as the shift in crown placement will align it with the gas escapement valve at 10 o’clock.
The engineering design of the Vortex is an excellent technical feat as its geometrical appearance reminisces the Sinn EZM 1 Mission Timer, specially designed for the German military in 1997. Emulating the hard-lines displayed by the casing and sturdy lugs of the Mission Timer, the Vortex is expertly finished as a bona fide tool watch with Teutonic form. In addition to that, its lugs come in at a smooth 30-degree angle from the case, resulting in an elegant and well-constructed look.
Aviation Dial In A Dive Watch?
In addition, Vortex has fluid dynamics that is synonymous with its aero-militia dial. This collection incorporates a legible Flieger-type display into a robust dive-watch case. The choice of an aviation dial and handset allows for greater legibility. Opting for a clean dateless design, Vortex features reliable block markers and a Flieger-12 o’clock triangle painted onto its cardinal points, with the rest of the dial markings covered in Arabic numerals. All in all, we present a symmetrical dial with Super-LumiNova applied to its hour markers and handset which gives off an inviting blue glow in the dark.
Fricker’s execution of the dial and handset allows a tighter tolerance during its fitment into the case. The first-generation dial flaunts a full matte background, with semi-ghost broadsword hands that stretch out nicely, pointing clearly to their markers and the minimalist texts on the dial preserve Vortex’s functional form.
As it would be inappropriate to take the Bauhaus approach due to Vortex’s nature, we managed to capture the essence of Vortex. Take the semi-ghosted text at the bottom as an example. The text, “Automatic, 300m”, is done in a matte-grey tone, thereby allowing it to blend into the background in the dark. Therefore, when glancing down at the Vortex under low lighting conditions, it simply displays all the essential readings at a glance.
Admittedly, an aviation dial working alongside a rotating diver bezel is uncommon. In stark contrast to its pilot dial, its classic dive case showcases the hybrid look of this timepiece. What’s more? An easy-to-grasp pilot dial built into a robust dive watch case allows for excellent legibility and effective utility of the Vortex OG!
Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritt
Moving on, it is important to note that with the advent of Vortex’s construction, other less prominent elements were not left out. Additional point to note includes Vortex’s adoption of a set of heavy-duty strap bars, employed into its engineering package. Our inspiration to utilize what might seem to be an over-built, screw-in strap bar, came from the 1000m Fondale dive watches made by Ennebi, the esteemed designer and engineer of the Luminor and Mare Nostrum for Panerai. Hence, by altering the Fondale’s strap bar implementation, to cater to our style, the bars hold the strap in place and ensure durability even in the face of extreme land, sea and air conditions. The application of screw bars on the Vortex features drill-holes at the sides of its lugs that make the process of changing straps easier.
The Workhorse Engine
Moving on from the built aspect of Vortex, we delve into the movement used in Vortex and all the subsequent iterations. The workhorse Swiss movement, an ETA 2824-2 automatic movement with a custom black-plasma treated rotor. As most users might be adverse to the idea of another pedestrian movement in a mechanical watch, we assert its merits. The choice for this movement application is straightforward because the ETA automatic calibre has proven to be the best workhorse in its field. In addition, the 2824-2 has proven its reliability and accuracy as it has served customers well for decades.
The German mantra: “Why change something just for the sake of dynamism, when it is already so highly efficient?” is well expressed and exemplified by the Vortex OG.
Dievas launched its first-ever Vortex in the 3rd quarter of 2009. With a total of 100 pieces manufactured and assembled by Fricker, Vortex entered the market, and was immediately well received. Vortex was so popular that it was sold out within a month! The launch had garnered massive media attention online and was even featured on a well-known digital publication known as aBlogtoWatch (previously referred to as aBlogtoRead).
The first Vortex came with a sand-blasted matte steel buckle that matched its matte case and was complimented with either a German brown or black-tone calf leather with contrast stitching. Although having a leather strap on a functional hybrid dive watch seems like a bit of a mismatch, Gnomon paired the Vortex with an original admiralty Gray-tone G10 NATO strap, creating a refreshingly sleek look for this exquisite dive watch.
Moreover, throughout its production, Vortex came in batches with unique sequential serial numbers on its case back with a grand total of 650 first generation Vortex pieces. These watches were sold from 2009 to the end of 2018.
2nd Gen, The Lume Show
Prior to the release of the second batch of Vortex watches in 2010, our team had started working on the next two Vortex iterations namely the Vortex Professional and the Focal that aimed to be just as trendy as the Vortex OG.
One thing I can say for sure, Dievas did pull off an even more serious-looking version than the original – and by serious I mean better suited to serious duty for military folk. (and people who like to pretend they are military folk.)
Ariel Adams 2011
In 2011, the second Vortex generation, The Vortex Professional undergoes a distinctive blacked-out makeover. The prominent full-black look brushed on top of the micro-blasted titanium is both hardy and stylish. It is then coated with a blacked-out plasma treatment which elevates its tool watch appeal and enhances durability. This process of plasma-treatment is executed perfectly on this piece as well as its subsequent variants in Germany by Fricker’s experienced team. With an additional surface treatment, the Vortex Professional is more scratch-resistant than the un-treated titanium Vortex OG while still preserving its lightweight and supreme built. Overall, the full-black aesthetic of the Professional gives it a sleek personalized look.
Another distinction that deviates from the Vortex OG is the Vortex Professional’s reverse aviation dial. Although its markers and handsets retain the same format, the luminous application on its dial is the complete reversal of the OG’s completely super-lumed background. This reverse process leads to an increase in legibility, akin to the immediate readings displayed on the LCD screen of a digital watch.
Furthermore, the strap combination of the Professional comes with the proprietary G10 NATO strap and is fitted with a black strap with either red, which matches its red triangle at 12 o’clock or black stitching leather.
To date, Dievas has produced only 300 pieces of the Vortex Professional and released the first 100 in 2011.
3rd Gen, The 6STEEL In Disguise
Not only was the 6STEEL technology implemented for the Vortex line, it is also used for other Dievas timepieces like the first traveller’s Voyageur GMT and the sassy black-and-yellow Reaper. Its first instalment of a 6STEEL hybrid diver is known as the Dievas Focal.
The Focal has a 1mm wider case silhouette compared to the Vortex Pro and Vortex OG and is made from a distinctive “enhanced” stainless steel case, instead of titanium. The change of material is in fact an upgrade as this steel used undergoes Dievas’s 6STEEL process which is similar to Damasko’s ice-hardened case treatment, but allows these cases to become a tad more durable. This is because the hardening effect of 6STEEL is not a mere layer-coating, but an extensive one including the infusion of certain scratch-resistance elements into the base steel.
Dievas’s 6Steel process is a proprietary case hardening procedure developed by our specialized high-tech metallurgy partner.
6STEEL Overview: 1. 316L CNC case in steel is heated in a mixture of carbon gases 2. Done at fixed low temperatures to allow diffusion of atoms 3. This intricate process is repeated over a long period of time 4. Sudden immense energy surge from the accumulation of carbon atoms results in a 30µm layered hardening 5. At this stage, the case is 1300HV (6 times hardier than that of the ordinary 316L steel) 6. The hardened case is then put through a vacuum chamber for plasma coating to elevate corrosion resistance
Each Focal case goes through Fricker’s expert refinement and stringent checks before undergoing the 6STEEL treatment to attain its brilliant angular profile. After infusion, the case sits in the hardening chambers for another 2 weeks before being transferred back to the atelier for micro-blasting to give it a matte finishing and assembly.
These labyrinthine processes make the Focal scratch-proof and 6 times hardier than other bare stainless-steel materials and bestow it with a classic appearance, similar to previous titanium models. However, it is its lighter shade and faint yellow tint only visible under specific lighting conditions that sets the 6STEEL apart from titanium.
The Focal is the first of the Vortex line to bear a 60-minute bezel with a dive watch dial and date display. Its strip markers with minute rehaut are perfectly paired with a Teutonic block-shaped hour hand and pencil-shaped minute hands. The second hand is done in yellow and mirrors the text font of “FOCAL” positioned at 6 o’clock. Hence, Dievas Focal is Vortex’s first complete authentic dive watch form.
This Teutonic scratch-proof timepiece has a total production of 500 pieces, with its first launch of 100 pieces in 2011. Each piece bears a unique serial number and comes with a newly moulded anti-static Italian rubber strap with a heavy-duty deployment clasp and black leather with yellow stitchings as well as an additional Dievas G10 NATO strap. One thing to note is that the rubber strap was produced exclusively, therefore subsequent batches offered only leather and NATO straps.
4th Gen, The Need For Speed
Launched in the same year as the 6STEEL Focal, Dievas has to veer its orchestration to differentiate and set its 4th iteration, the Timeattack, which aims to reflect an automotive, motor-racing spirit, apart. How did this model come about? Just 9 years ago, one of our members had a Eureka moment and proposed an ambitious idea of implementing a motorsports chronograph into the Vortex case. Hence, after in-depth discussions and planning, we worked meticulously on this concept and came up with what is now known as the Timeattack Chronograph, just in time for Christmas too!
As envisioned, the case of the Timeattack Chronograph, retaining its sleek hybrid look, was downsized to 43mm. Acquiring a top-grade Valjoux 7750 for a Chrono complication, the case of the Timeattack is fitted with two additional screw-in pushers for Chrono-functions while still maintaining an impressive 300m water resistance. It replicates the reverse luminous of the Vortex Professional. The livery of the Chrono sub-dials features the reverse lumen tracks with inner yellow and orange trims that are similar to the two defining colours of a 993 Gemballa.
Then, the case is put through the 6STEEL treatment. Through this intricate process, the Germanic chronograph becomes hardier and 6 times more scratch-proof than ordinary stainless steel. Its exterior appears in two tones but both with a black finish, a uniform fine matte micro-blasting on all surfaces or a plasma-coating applied on the minute bezel and case-back. However, one thing to note is that the eradication of the gas release valve on the side of this chronograph is not ideal for saturation divers.
The eccentric chronograph is the 4th generation of Vortex that carries the same etymon but serves different functions, going beyond a stopwatch to enable dive watch functions. Although the Timeattack is the first hybrid chronograph dive watch, it preserved the hybrid pneuma of a Vortex.
The Timeattack comes with an additional Dievas G10 NATO strap, but what sets it apart from previous models is its black water-resistant leather strap. Interestingly, this chronograph is the most exclusive model due to its limited production of only 50 pieces and its annual production of only 5 pieces starting from 2011. The release of its last installment will be in 2020.
5th Gen, The Black and Yellow Concept
Their newest watch, the Shadow, not only offers high-end components and machining that earns the “Made in Germany” label. It has an altogether unique look, balancing the sinister dark of a phantom with the legibility of fluorescent markings and hands.
Zach Weiss, 2013
Inspired by the Dievas Reaper in 2013, Dievas adopted its black and yellow combination and launched a new Vortex-style timepiece called the Shadow. This timepiece is redesigned to highlight its deep matte-black dial accentuated by its blacked-out 6STEEL case with yellow markers, date display, and hands that are applied with Super-LumiNova giving them a green glow in the dark. Its logo and wordings are similar to the first three generations of Vortex, blending them into its dial.
With a similar case size to the Focal, the Shadow features a striking colour contrast of bright yellow primary makers and hands against a pitch-black face silhouette. Although the watch has a dark appearance, it exudes an assertive look with a great functionality. Its luminous yellow shade also enables the watch to have the readability level of a professional dive watch. In addition, it has a yellow date display at 6 o’clock and yellow bezel markings from its 12 o’clock to its 3 o’clock position, hence allowing for clear bezel markings that are essential to divers.
The Shadow is a classic dive watch, with the implementation of broadsword hands that were found in the 1st and 2nd generation of Vortex. This B-and-R 5th Gen is a popular Teutonic dive watch with a refreshing and daring look that is similar to the gadgets used by the Special Task Force for operations. Like the Focal, it comes with limited moulded rubber with a blacked-out deployant clasp and an additional G10 NATO strap.
In 2013, the first release of 100 pieces were sold out within the first month. The remaining 400 pieces produced were then spread across a 5-year period.
6th Gen, The Full-Black OG
The 6th generation went back to its roots in 2013 and is featured in a full blacked-out titanium case. Bringing back the original “hybrid” look with an enhanced sleek design that appeals to tool watch lovers, Dievas released the Vortex Tactical after 4 years (and 5 generations) since its first model, the Vortex OG. It still retains the accent of the original titanium diver case with an aviation dial, but with the process of a black plasma-treatment like the 2nd Gen Professional. In addition to its resemblance to the Vortex OG that places emphasis on functionality, the shape of its case is sleek and modern due to its black hue.
This time, the Vortex tactical comes with two tactical G10 NATO Strap for a professional look with its first launch of 100 pieces late 2013. The total production of 300 pieces was released until the end of 2018.
7th Gen (Current), The New Millennials
When most of the Vortex models were sold out in 2018, we went back to our drawing board to brainstorm on our next mixed-breed tool watch. Thus, after months of diligent work, the 7th Eon comprising 4 revamped models was launched in early 2020. Even though these new timepieces have the same case profile as previous generations, the distinction lies in their comfortable width of 39mm. Of these 4 revamped models, the Phantom and the Vortex 500 emulate the previous models while the Marine 500 and Marine Mojave were fitted with a redesigned dial with a sleeker finishing.
These new iterations were updated with high grade German 316L stainless steel coated with scratch-protection, ceramic bezel insert while simultaneously maintaining a water-resistance of 500m and a gas escapement valve. Like the Vortex Tactical, the Vortex 500 features a sand-blasted, matte finishing and the Phantom emulates the Shadow, released in 2013, with its full black DLC outlook.
Fresh out of the workhouse, both Marines feature a multi-finished steel case with the sides of their cases satin-brushed and the bevels polished which results in a bright shimmering hue as compared to the matte finishing of previous releases. Furthermore, the dials of both Marines sport the Dievas Arabic numerals at their cardinal points, where the Mojave comes in a vintage theme and the Marine 500, in a contemporary form. A closer look at the Marine Mojave – The penultimate iteration we see here, entices and holds a special place in the heart of vintage aficionados.
Despite having a smaller case, the 7th generation timepieces are extremely robust with clear legible readings. Each piece flaunts an impressive hybrid structure with their unique design that distinguishes them from other hybrid dive watches and is more affordable compared to previous models.
This 39mm collection marks Dievas’ comeback as this respected German brand achieves the utmost difficulty of rebooting while retaining the Vortex form. Each model comes along with a German-made leather strap and an angular buckle that was inspired by the shape of a Teutonic case.
Presently, each selection has a production batch of 150 per iteration. Dievas promises greater production of each model that will be released in the future.
No “Soft Spots”
With 7 generations featuring the same Vortex form, emphasis is placed on the bold lines of their cases which characterises German engineering design. Moving on from movements and dial aesthetics, we examine this Vortex case design that features thick 4.5mm quadratic lugs, a sharp-looking mid-case and an angular bezel. This unique case is also built with all the functions of a proper Teutonic tool watch. Comparing the Vortex with German car designs, it is apparent that changing the bold lines on the Vortex would be akin to altering the dynamic shapes of the “Series” and “Classes” of the BMW and Mercedes respectively to make them slimmer. Thus, much like how softening the facets on a Sinn 103 angled lug profile to make it more like a dress watch taints its authentic design, any refashioning of the angular, hard-line designs that have characterised all seven generations of Vortex would tarnish the German’s strict dive watch design.
Upon scrutiny of the design spirit of Germanic timepieces, we draw similarities between these models and their automotive counterparts. Firstly, both the German automotive design appeal and Vortex’s industrial allure comes from their sharp case lines. To illustrate the charm of Vortex, we compare it to the ageless design of the BMW’s manufacturing series, in particular its “3 Series” line, that appeal to car enthusiasts from all around the globe. From its E30 generation to its current G80 line-up, BMW has kept the oblong masculinity of its body shape till date. Hence this same “non-soft lines” approach of this coveted German line forms the basis on which the Teutonic appeal is built. Secondly, the lugs of the Vortex enhance the geometry of this timepiece, bestowing it with the same sleek “boxy” form of the M3s. Therefore, Dievas celebrates the Bavarian modus operandi that presents bold geometry which showcases the flair of the Teutonic case.
As a work of art in itself, the Vortex case is designed according to the “no soft, slender lines” ethos which is the hallmark of Dievas and remains unchanged till date.
Sexiness In The Classic
Developed and produced by Dievas and Fricker for more than a decade, the Vortex pedigree has proven its embodiment of the definition of enduring design. Consequently, Dievas’ ethos is deemed to be stunningly attractive, delivering overbuilt, purposeful, and highly functional German-made quality pieces. Hence, Dievas has made a reputation for itself with its outstanding production and engineering as well as its skilful incorporation of various innovative technologies and robust materials.
The Dievas Vortex lineage fulfils the German horology offering “precise timekeeping instruments for currently active military, security, and rescue personnel, overbuilt to withstand harsh land, sea and air conditions”. Thus, Dievas presents an irrefutably seductive timepiece, the Vortex collection, a fine exemplar of classic German watchmaking.
We hope you have gleaned from this detailed examination of the Vortex legacy as well as the philosophy and ethos of Dievas. Sharing the same hybrid form, all Vortex watches set forth as enduring sports pieces, carefully crafted by Fricker. As one of the best in its field, Fricker prides itself on its ageless designs, high quality robust cases and excellent functionality. Specific functionality attributed to every model throughout the decade allows collectors to romanticise the specificity of each technical piece.
One may ask, what is so great about an overbuilt watch? Although these watches may presently seem largely irrelevant, but they do have their appeal as they combine the quintessential of coherent, functional design with the charm of a device built for a specific purpose. Thus, these impressive overbuilt watches serve as our platform to showcase our passion in crafting functional, no-frills time machines. We appreciate what these pieces represent individually on a spiritual level – the proceeding pursuit of cognizance – as it connects our world with traditions of horology, all muffle up in an elusive uncomplicated parcel. Watchmaking, above all, is an emotional affair, and collecting them are about the feelings the watches evoke.
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.