In May of this year, Revolution introduced a complicated watch from new-kid-on-the-block Farer. We were confident that the GMT would go down well among lovers of quality watchmaking, original design and value (the watches being priced at a super-reasonable £1,175) but what we did not expect – and nor did Farer – was for the initial production run of all three models to sell out in a matter of hours.
With the phrase “You are only as good as your last success” swirling around today’s burgeoning watch industry, it is somewhat surprising that less than four months after their last headline-grabbing launch, Farer partners Jono Holt, Ben Lewin, Stuart Finlayson and Paul Sweetenham are introducing a brand-new watch design to their growing collection and, according to Sweetenham, the pressure is on. “Due to past success, this watch has garnered a whole different sort of attention to the GMT and the original three-hand automatic,” he says.
The timepiece in question is the cushion-shaped Aqua Compressor Automatic, a timepiece that takes influence from the Super Compressor dive watches of yesteryear. “Feedback so far suggests that it will receive a positive reaction from buyers and we have made more of them than with any other model at launch stage,” Sweetenham says. “I am always cautious about market research as it can be way off, but I think this new watch will appeal to both existing Farer customers and people who like the idea of Farer but haven’t bought one yet because they want a sports active watch. This piece is more functional but it is still measures just 45mm lug to lug so it is easy to wear.”
With the GMT, a huge chunk of the price of the watch was due to the extensive adaptations to the movement. In the case of the Aqua Compressor, the majority of research and development costs went into the case and internal bezel ratchet. Sweetenham explains: “People generally steer away from internal bezels these days because it is hard to get a uni-directional ratcheting bezel. We tested ours to excess and as a result we are slightly later to market than we originally intended. We also have a 2.3mm double-curve sapphire, which was extremely difficult to achieve – but it just wouldn’t be Farer if we had a flat sapphire.”
The 300m/1000ft water resistance rating of the watch case has been designed using the compression principle: as the water pressure on the outside of the case increases, the gaskets are naturally compressed so that the case becomes more water resistant the deeper you dive. “We always wanted the case to be cushion-shaped but they are notoriously hard to keep thin,” continues Sweetenham. “We have a dramatic drop in the lugs, which makes the piece easier to wear and we’ve kept it under 42mm. As the watch is a compressor, the size problem was compounded as we needed space for the gaskets. We always wanted to have dual compression on the crowns so, although there is 100m water-resistance with them out, they have their own internal gaskets as well as being screw in.
“We have retained all the charm of the original compressor case design: twin crowns, screwed-on case back, compressed O-ring gasket and internal rotating bezel. However, the Farer Aqua Compressor has evolved since the original Super Compressor specification, created when the water resistance of watches was a big challenge. With the progress of modern materials, we have undertaken a whole series of developments to craft a very compact but highly technically capable dive watch case, tried and tested to exacting modern standards to depths of 300m/1,000 ft.”
Three of a kind
As with every other Farer model, the Aqua Compressor comes in three variations: Endeavour, Hecla and Leven. And, as is now the norm, all three are named for adventures, this time after ships –HMS Endeavour that took Captain James Cook to Australia in the 18th century; HMS Hecla, which was launched in 1815 and went on to take part in three expeditions to the Arctic; and the sloop HMS Leven, which mapped the coast of Africa in the 1820s.
The Endeavour is the most conservative of the designs and features a matte black dial that absorbs rather than reflects light, steel hour markers filled with lashings of creamy Super-LumiNova, large legible hour and minutes hands and the Farer “A” tipped sweep second hand with mint green Super-LumiNova. The black unidirectional bezel has a 20-minute engraved scale infilled in white. Sweetenham says of the piece: “Although we love colourful divers we also wanted a monochrome version to remind people of the original Super Compressors. The batons on the dial are enormous at 0.6mm in height and the luminescence is incredible in intensity and staying power.”
The Hecla has a three-layer floating blue dial engraved with a submersible wave design and featuring large raised 3.6.9 and 12 numerals and cut-in baton markers infilled with snow-white Super-LumiNova. The silver internal bezel is engraved with a full hour of minute markings in jet black. The oversized dive hands have split minute markings and are edged in red with a white Super-LumiNova infill. The steel sweep second hand is tipped with yellow Super-LumiNova.
The Leven has a silver sunray dial with raised batons around the dial and a clear double baton marker at 12, all infilled with off-white Super-LumiNova. The hour hand is black polished steel while the minute hand is in burnt orange. The sweep second is in black polished steel, with teal Super-LumiNova “Farer A” tip. The bezel is matte black with overprinted white numerals in five-minute markings and a zero arrow, with a 20-minute detailed scale for decompression times highlighted in orange.
The watches are all powered by the reliable ETA 2824-2 non-date version and each one comes with a rubber diver’s strap, as well as an on-trend extendable steel bracelet that is adjustable by both its links and through the clasp.
“We say the watch is aimed at a water life rather than being a pure diving watch and it is something we have wanted to do since day one. Farer is a British-based company and Britain is obviously a water-bound country. I’m a lover of classic 1960s speedboats, particularly the Fairey Huntsmans, and I love the compressor watches from that era. Today’s dive watches are frequently too big and bulky. And, although brands tend to shy away from internal bezels, I like everything under the glass. We are certainly not the first to revisit this style but we have tried to take the halcyon designs of the 1960s and add our own colourful twist. We have also added an exhibition back, which is unusual in compressors but 21st-century technology allows it so why not?”
As the images here demonstrate, the Aqua Compressor was tested not only in a lab, but also in the field – or rather water. Professional divers took all three models on a freediving expedition off the coast of Cornwall where they were submerged in both clear and murky water. After two days of diving, feedback was collated and practical improvements made and today after 18 months of research, design and development, the Aqua Compressor Automatic is at last brought to market. Designed in the UK and made in Switzerland by leading suppliers, the watch is retailed exclusively through Farer.com. And for the bargain price of just £1,095, the company offers free worldwide delivery, free 30-day returns and an impressive five-year guarantee.
Technical Specifications: Farer Aqua Compressor Automatic
Automatic ETA 2824-2 non-date Elaboré movement with bespoke Farer rotor featuring engraved submersible wave design; 4Hz; 38-hour power reserve.
41.6mm stainless steel; 12.6mm depth; satin sunray brushed top, polished sides and back; solid bronze tapered crown for movement featuring embossed Farer “A” and stainless-steel tapered crown for bezel, both with cross-hatching for easy operation under water; 300m water-resistance.
Natural black rubber strap with oversized stainless-steel buckle and additional stainless-steel tapered bracelet with two-way clasp and safety locking mechanism plus in-built wetsuit extension and fine adjustment capability.