While the brand has flown mostly under the radar for the mainstream audience, Favre-Leuba has one of the longest histories in all of Swiss watchmaking and a rich legacy among serious diving enthusiasts and professionals. One of the brand’s most recent diving innovations, 2017’s Raider Harpoon, took the legibility focused concept of the regulator dial in a new and unique direction. After the success of that initial model, Favre-Leuba has now reimagined the Raider Harpoon line in a smaller, more wearable 42mm case.
This new stainless steel (with optional gunmetal PVD coating) case keeps the beefy ‘70s cushion case style of the original Raider Harpoon, maintaining the proportions of the larger watch as much as possible without sacrificing its functionality. Even at the smaller, more consumer-friendly 42mm size, this is still a watch with wrist presence in spades to go with its loud vintage-inspired design. While the dual crown case may look like a classic supercompressor, one of the screw-down crowns actually functions as a helium release valve. This professional-grade addition helps the watch achieve an impressive 300-meter water resistance, a respectable rating on its own if still down from the original Raider Harpoon’s 500 meters of resistance.
The dial of the Raider Harpoon takes some deciphering at first glance. Like a traditional regulator, the only central hand on display here is an oversized minutes, allowing for easy access to a diver’s most crucial information at a glance. Favre-Leuba takes the concept a step further here by eliminating all other hands entirely. Instead of an hours subdial, the contrasting inner bezel rotates alongside the minutes hand so that the current hour is always being pointed to by the minute hand. For example, if it’s currently 10:10, the minutes hand will be pointing to the usual position at ten minutes past the hour, while the bezel will be rotated so that the tip of the hand sits slightly after the 10 o’clock numeral. Once one gets past the initial cognitive dissonance, it’s a surprisingly intuitive system that remains easy to read with a quick look. While all divers need a running seconds of some sort, Favre-Leuba again eschews a second hand in favor of a rotating central seconds wheel that pulses between the base dial color and a contrasting shade. Both a black dial with orange accents and a bright royal blue with white accents are available.
In order to achieve the unique rotating hour ring function, Favre-Leuba powers the Raider Harpoon with the caliber FL301, a heavily modified Sellita SW200 automatic movement featuring a patented synchronized ring system.
Favre-Leuba offers the new line of 42 millimeter Raider Harpoon models on a choice of either an oyster style stainless steel bracelet with both a safety bracket and diver’s extension, or a signed black rubber strap with a pin buckle. While both options are durable and functional enough, the purpose-built feel and high weight of the overall watch make the rubber a standout choice.
While it’s not a watch for every taste, Favre-Leuba has created a truly distinctive and solidly capable diver with the new 42mm Raider Harpoon series. Models are now available from authorized dealers with prices starting at $3,518 (based on current exchange rates). For more information, please visit the brand’s website.