A while back, when Invicta first announced that they were coming out with a new “Popeye version” of their venerable Grand Diver series, the responses were pretty much positive, though there were a few less-than-enthusiastic expressions here and there. A few were quite simple and to-the-point, and because I’m a fan of brevity (believe it or not), I’d like to share some of these here with you; each has been "slightly paraphrased," and all remain anonymous.
“No. Just, NO.”
“I like it, especially the [three-slot, special edition] case.”
“Um, please, no.”
“Cool. I hope they come out with a Bluto version.”
“Wow. That’s something that needs to go away.”
"Wow! Cool! Me LIKEY!"
“What’s next? A Dick Cheney watch that morphs into Darth Vader?”
“I love it!”
“Obviously someone is in dire need of money.”
“Wow! It’s about time someone started making these with auto movements and all-steel construction!”
Seriously, those are the real thing, taken from among the four watch sites I belong to, scoured for bad language and ‘prettied-up’ a bit where needed. It should come as no surprise that there were yea’s and nay’s at each site, with the usual I-hate-Invicta’s-because-they’re-evil statements, the latter of which I threw out because I always try to look at the watch itself instead of the ‘horological politics’ surrounding the company that builds it.
I also try to keep my personal feelings about the company out of things and judge the watch by its merits alone. For instance, I am a big fan of Fortis watches; I love their style and quality, and have come to own several. Unfortunately, they have a new line of “Art Watches” this year that are, well, to use a professional watch reviewer’s term, a bunch of real stinkers. I wanted to love them because I love Fortis, but let’s face it: a stinker is a stinker, regardless who built it. Ugh.
But THIS watch ain't no stinker...
Enter the Invicta “Popeye™ Grand Diver.” I like Invicta Grand Diver’s. A lot, as a matter of fact. They’re well-built, made from high quality stainless steel, and they have a history of using some very nice movements over the years, starting with the Miyota 21-jewel automatic, and culminating with today's “TMI” NH35A 24-jewel automatic movement. (Originally developed by Seiko, this TMI movement is built in Japan, and has an excellent performance record with more brands than I could ever hope to remember here.) Along the way, Invicta marketed a number of special edition Grand Divers with Swiss movements, and the quality of these was uniformly excellent, thus keeping the superb reputation enjoyed by the “Grand’s” intact.
Here are the technical particulars, courtesy of the folks at evine live and IWG:*
• Movement: TMI NH35A 24-Jewel Automatic
• Movement Country of Origin: Malaysia
• Case Measurements: 47mm
• Thickness: 16mm
• Lug Width: 22mm
• Bezel: Unidirectional Rotating, 120-click
• Crystal: Mineral
• Crown: Screw Down
• Bracelet: Stainless Steel
• Bracelet Measurements: 8-1/2" L x 22mm W • Clasp: Deployant
• Water Resistance: 30 ATM - 300 meters - 990 feet
• Weight: 8 oz
• Watch Country of Origin: Malaysia
• PLUS you get one of THESE with it:
©2017, by Evine Live, used by permission.
From the Construction and Engineering standpoints, this Popeye Grand Diver pretty much meets or exceeds its predecessors. It operates smoothly and maintains its advertised 40-hour power reserve without a hitch. Its accuracy is also firmly in the excellent category, as, in the case of my Popeye Grand Diver, it loses only about a second per week, which ain’t too shabby, all things considered. The 120-click ratcheting bezel operates smoothly and firmly with very little ‘play’ when seated in place.
I don’t mind mineral crystals at all, which is very good, because old Popeye’s dial and movement are both protected by them. In truth, I don’t mind sapphire crystals, either. It’s when we get to talking about “sapphire-coated mineral crystals” or “Flame-Fusion™” crystals that I get uncomfortable, as no one seems to be able to provide much information as to how they’re made, what metrics they use to measure hardness or shatter resistance, how each performs against the other, etc., etc. Frankly, I’d prefer they just go with either sapphire or mineral, and forget the rest. (Sorry, all; didn’t mean to get preachy, there, but sometimes this issue gets a bit stuck in the old craw.)
In terms of Appearance, I think Invicta has kicked some serious backside and taken quite a few monikers with this watch. While I have the all-stainless steel (AKA “silvertone”) version, the black IP is certainly no less sharp in appearance. Of course, one of the big challenges of
making a “cartoon watch” is how to work the character into the design. Without going into a lot of boring detail as to how they do this, I just want to express the opinion that Invicta did it right by making Popeye’s arms a part of a moving tableau, much as some of the earliest makers of character watches did in the early-to-mid 20th century. Other appearance issues center on what colors the character is “wearing” and how they play with the other aspects of the design. There’s certainly no trouble with this in the stainless version of the watch, though there has been some dissent concerning Popeye’s black ‘jumper’ “disappearing” into the black of the IP dial. A good look at that dial tells you that they definitely have a point.
©2017, by Evine Live, used by permission.
Invicta chose to go with the standard, original-sized Grand Diver design, as opposed to their heavier, higher-rising Generation II version. I think this is a good call, if only because the standard design, with it's lower profile and center of gravity, allows more people to wear the watch in relative comfort. (And, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m just not a fan of the Generation II; the good news, though, is that I won’t bore you here by telling you why.) In order to make room for Popeye and his moving hands on the dial, Invicta opted to go with one less “Diver Dan” on the dial, so the Invicta signature is alone at the 12 o’clock position. And I like it; it gives the upper part of the dial a rather clean, uncluttered look, and allows the eye to be drawn more naturally to good ‘ol Popeye.
The only front-side down-check: while the black seconds hand is very attractive and a good color match for what Popeye is wearing, that very match makes it difficult to see between about five and six-thirty on the dial. And while it’s true that this isn’t that big of a distraction, I think I would’ve opted for a red seconds hand.
And the back-side down-check? What, exactly, do we get from ALL of the Popeye Comic Strip character (Olive Oyl, Wimpy, Bluto, etc.) line-drawings being stacked on top of one another on the exhibition crystal on back of the case? I'm sorry, but to THIS cub reporter, it looks like old Popeye had a bit too much grog, got ahold of a Boatwain's black paint pen, and tried to draw a representation of everyone in a blender... "Art" isn't always, well, ART. And this isn't.
But what about Size and Comfort? you ask. Even more-so than appearance, comfort is such a doggoned subjective thing that I almost hesitate to mention it. Still, it IS tied so closely to a watch’s size, that you can’t run away from it. Obviously, at 47mm, we’re not talking about a small watch, here, though I know of at least a couple people who think that 47mm is a bit on the small side for them. Yet, I think that they might be the first to agree with me that, for the majority of would-be collectors and WIS’s, a watch of that size tends to be a bit big for most people.
Even for someone such as myself, who owns a few mechanical and automatic Subaqua I’s and III’s, not to mention one big monster at 54mm, with a big 'ol Valgranges movement that thrums along like a big 'ol WWII Messerschmitt prop engine on my wrist, 47mm is still a fairly large size. In the recent past, I thought Invicta handled this brilliantly, offering the Grand Diver in its standard 47mm size, with an option to go for a 38mm version if that better met your needs. Unfortunately, Invicta didn’t do that – at least not yet, anyhow – with this Popeye Grand Diver. (I say “yet” because Invicta did offer both a 40mm and a 47mm Mickey Mouse™ watch, though their styling was significantly different than this Popeye timepiece.) We’ll just have to wait and see, but until they opt for a smaller size, Invicta won’t be selling too many of these to all those smaller kids out there, not to mention all those children, too.
IS Popeye's namesake watch too big? Well, for THIS Popeye, it appears to be...and his expression says he'll need more spinach to wear THIS watch...
Taken as a whole, this new watch just isn’t quite a home run for Invicta, but it IS a very strong triple; however, with the right base runner, who knows? Maybe a quick, follow-on release of a smaller Popeye watch for those more diminutive wrists -- and physiques -- out there might just do the trick. Still, if you’re looking at it as strictly a one-off, take-it-or-leave-it at 47mm, then I’d have to say that it’s really one damned fine watch, just like the vast majority of all the Invicta Grand Divers produced up to the present day. It’s well-built, very attractive and works very well, producing an accurate enough time reading that you can safely plan your day, your week and even your month with it. And it’s got POPEYE on the dial, and his hands move to tell you the time!! And even the most easily-amused among us can get into THAT, don't you think?
©1977, Polygram Pictures, used by permission.
As always, thanks for dropping by for a look, and staying for a bit of a read.
DED/Haifa, Israel – 1-4 May 2017
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