Many watch enthusiasts associate the Swiss powerhouse Eberhard & Co. with precise timekeeping tools, which is not surprising given the company’s experience in that field, spanning more than one hundred years. In fact, the brand (whose roots date back to 1887) founded its very first wristwatch chronograph as early as in 1919. In the same year, Eberhard & Co. was also appointed official supplier to the Royal Navy of Italy.
This does not mean, however, that the brand stopped there. In the 50s, the brand from La Chaux-de-Fonds launched mission “Dive Watch” and thereby set the path for what would become a new success story.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, in the frenzy of the economic upswing, Swiss watchmaking made enormous technical progress. Eberhard & Co. was amongst the main players in this golden age, asserting its supremacy not only in the production of modern chronographs, but more recently also of cutting-edge dive watches.
In 1958, the brand officially registered the name “Scafograf”, thus securing the rights to a collection that would remain a main factor in the brand’s success for many decades to come. The following year saw the start of production of two model series, each in a small batch of 200 pieces only: the Scafograf 100 and the Scafograf 200. The additional number was given in reference to their respective water resistance of, you guessed it, 100 and 200 meters.
The launch proved to be a resounding success and also proved the company right in this new venture, giving the stimulus to further expand the collection. Consequently, the Scafograf 100 and 200 were followed in 1964 by the Scafograf 300, which was already waterproof to a whopping 300 meters, a great technical achievement for that time. This model had all the essential features you would expect from a modern dive watch: robust stainless-steel case, automatic movement, a black bezel with highly legible graduations to check the elapsed dive time and a high-contrast dial with luminous hands and markers.
However, the watchmakers must have asked themselves: Why stop at 300m when the sea is so much deeper? As a result, the Scafograf Super from 1969 (water-resistant to 750m) and the impressive Scafograf 1000 from 1983 saw the light of day soon after, before Eberhard & Co. temporarily turned its attention to other projects.
In 2016, a major update of the watch followed, which will probably not be forgotten so quickly at Eberhard & Co.: With a re-issue of the Scafograf 300, the company paid its tribute to the original from 1964, but in a state-of-the-art package.
The new 43mm case of the watch now had a unidirectional rotating ceramic bezel – as is right and proper for a diver’s watch. With a height of only 12.6 mm, the watch builds surprisingly flat and fits like a glove on every wrist thanks to its elastic rubber strap or steel bracelet with patented Déclic® folding clasp.
It was this watch that ultimately won the coveted Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Award (the “Oscar of watchmaking”) in the sports watch category, impressively standing its ground against other industry heavyweights and underscoring the importance that dive watches claim for the company.
If you are familiar with Roman numerals, you will have no trouble figuring out which historical result Eberhard & Co. is alluding to with “MCMLIX” on the dial: 60 years of Scafograf. With the divers’ watch first launched in 1959, Eberhard opened a new chapter over half a century ago, whose anniversary celebrations are now being expressed in this latest Scafograf iteration.
Particularly interesting is the departure from the 2016 Scafograf design, and instead the return to an old familiar: With the exception of minor details, this new watch is an almost faithful reproduction of the first Scafograf 200 from 1959. Most notably the bold triangular indices at 12, 6 and 9 o’clock, but also the fact that the baton hour hand has now been replaced by a striking arrow-shaped hour hand. Another brought-back, quirky feature is the so-called “lollipop” second hand, now adorning the new watch and paying homage to the original.
Instead of a bright white, Eberhard & Co. makes use of artificially aged luminous material, which has a more cream-colored base to it, again beautifully underlining the vintage character of the watch. To finish the new model up, the left flank was given a helium escape valve, which protects the watch during so-called “saturation dives” and makes it a sturdy diver out-and-out.
The Scafograf, first launched in 1959 by Eberhard & Co., was one of the most successful diving watches of the 1960s and has lost nothing of its iconic status to this day. Especially with the current Scafograf 300 models (including the MCMLIX new edition), you get an iconic design in a modern guise.
With prices ranging from €2,000 to €3,000, the watches find themselves in a fairly competitive environment, but Eberhard & Co. not only scores with a great history and a perfectly executed diving watch, but also a cult status – something that money cannot buy.
For more information, we recommend paying a visit to our Eberhard & Co. Boutique. (Montredo customers even benefit from a third year of full manufacturer’s warranty.)
By the way, did you know that we visited Eberhard & Co. in La Chaux-de-Fonds? You can find our manufacture visit video here.