Skin Diver magazine launched in 1951. Two years later, Zodiac and Blancpain released the first ever rotating bezel, dedicated dive watches at Basel Fair. Spurred by popular filmmakers and adventurers like Jacques Cousteau, the dive watch craze was on. Pretty soon all watchmakers—both big and small—had a skin diver up their sleeves (literally). Bulova, Caravelle, Ricoh, Technos, Tessa, Waltham, Wittenauer, Wolbrook…the list is long and storied.
Loosely, the term skin diver is used to describe those timepieces with water resistance ratings between 100 and 200m. They tend to be svelte with arched cases and slender, tapered lugs. Domes are de rigeur. So are slim coin-edge bezels. The style, which faded away in the late 70s, has witnessed a renaissance of late, incited by popular reissues like the Oris Divers Sixty-Five. Or, more recently, the Dan Henry 1975.
Some designs are seminal, like the Rolex Submariner, for instance. The Panerai Radiomir. But at one point in the 1970s, the skin diver aesthetic had become so ubiquitous, that you could buy them at the Sears Roebuck Co., or off the shelf at any department store. I cannot help but recollect these anonymous legends when I look at the 1975 Skin Diver from Dan Henry.
It ticks all the boxes and contains all the appropriate hallmarks—so much so, that one might be excused for thinking they had stumbled upon a NOS “barn find,” collecting dust in a shuttered warehouse.
In this sense, the Dan Henry 1975 Skin Diver is the quintessential everyman watch—which is, most likely, exactly how Dan Henry would have wanted it from inception. Well-known for breathing new life into vintage designs, Dan Henry also operates in a price point that is accessible to most enthusiasts. His impressive line of retro-inspired chronographs, like the 1963 Pilot, have elicited widespread praise. But he is no stranger to the dive watch world either, having previously released the compressor-style 1970 Automatic Diver.
The 316L stainless steel Skin Diver comes in two vintage-correct sizes: 39mm and 37mm. It is also available in a VH31 mecaquartz iteration, or as a Miyota-powered automatic. It comes in four colourways with a choice of sapphire or stainless steel bezel insert, and you can have it with a date, or as a no date reference.
The watch featured here is the 39mm automatic. It measures a startlingly short 42mm lug to lug, and is only 11.5mm thick. With a lug width of 20mm, it is a true strap monster. This iteration is also equipped with a sunray burst, brushed stainless steel bezel and a sapphire box crystal with an applied cyclops eye over the date window at three.
As with many vintage skin divers, the case is predominantly polished. On the underside, we find a brushed and embossed case back with an impressive rendering of a Scaphtopus. Each watch is also individually numbered from 0001-1975. The crown, for its part, is signed and nestled safely between two protective wings. However, it is notably push-pull. Nevertheless, the watch is rated to 150m of water resistance.
The dial is a lovely matte black with brushed and applied silver indices. The pencil handset is faceted and the seconds hand adds a splash of orange colour which picks up the Arabic numerals in the outer minute track. Both the hands and markers have also been treated in Super-LumiNova.
While versions of this watch employ the smooth sweeping VH31 mecaquartz from Seiko, the automatic here employs the 4HZ Miyota 9015. This comes with a slight bump in price.
The 1975 Skin Diver is delivered on an entirely appropriate FKM rubber strap; however, I would highly recommend picking up the optional bracelet at check out. The three-link, oyster-style has brushed outer links and a line of polish running through the centre. It tapers nicely from 20mm at the lugs to 18mm at the signed, push-button clasp and really suits the design.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
39mm Diameter (also available in 37mm)
42mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
Unidirectional, 120-Click Bezel
Screw Down Case Back
150m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Domed Sapphire Crystal|
/w AR & Cyclops
Date @ 3 (also available in “No Date”)
|Movement||Miyota 9015 |
(also available /w Seiko VH31 Mecaquartz)
42-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||FKM Rubber Strap|
Optional: Stainless Steel Bracelet
/w Push Button Clasp
Dan Henry 1975 Skin Diver
Dan Henry, a renowned collector himself, draws inspiration from his own understanding of horological history and the vast storehouse he has created in Timeline Watch—a user-driven, online museum of sorts. It is for this reason that his watches appear at once familiar and new. While many of the pieces in Dan’s collection—or indeed those featured on Timeline Watch—have become priceless and irreplaceable, his goal has been simple: “make some beautiful watches such as the ones I was lucky to own, but accessible.”
I own a Timex skin diver from the 70s, myself. And true enough, it does not have a screw down crown. That being said, there is a sense of security—real or imagined—that comes from such a beastie. It would be nice to see it here, alongside other contemporary updates, such as the sapphire crystal.
Much like the skin divers of old, the Dan Henry 1975 is a sporty, but stylish design—the perfect blend of roguish good looks in a capable package. It is comfortable enough to be your daily driver and exotic enough to be your beach holiday go to. On the strap, it has a definite laid back, weekender vibe. On bracelet, it takes on a whole new look. It’s quaint and funky and very reasonably priced.
The Dan Henry 1975 Skin Diver starts at $260USD with the mecaquartz movement, and $430USD with the Miyota. For more information, please visit the brand website.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
Off The Cuff articles are full-length, hands-on reviews of the watch in question and represent the opinion of the author only. All photos are original, unless specified otherwise. If you would like to have your watch reviewed on this site, contact us here.
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8 thoughts on “Off the Cuff: Dan Henry 1975 Skin Diver”
Loved seeing this when it came out, sadly I had the zelos Blacktip forged carbon timekeepers edition and it just looks too similar with the orange accents and all. Love the skins divers and how they are making their way back with modern and updated components and materials and movements.
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That’s also a great watch. Sadly, we can’t own them all. Cheers!
Not too shabby. I think I’d definitely prefer it without the date and cyclops. I’ve had a negative view of Dan Henry watches for no reason really, I guess because I’m am idiot. My view has begun to change…great article, great shots 👊
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Quality offerings every time
Steel bezels always get me, they really push the tool-watch vibes!
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Agreed. It’s a handsome piece.
Lovely review on this DH 1975 Skin Diver. Nice tidbit of information too. I wasn’t aware Zodiac and Blancpain were both first(s) to release rotating bezels!
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A lot of hype surrounds the Submariner (and rightfully so), but there were a number of really cool innovators at that time