Dietrich is not exactly a new brand. They’ve been around for at least 10 years, but their previous models tried to be a bit too much different in a way that didn’t appeal to me. Therefore, I knew about Dietrich in about the same way that I knew about Caterpillar in the meaning that I had an idea about what Caterpillar were manufacturing just as also knew that I was not motivated whatsoever to buy one of their models to drive to the supermarket for my weekly shopping.
So, I was a bit surprised to watch a review of a prototype that looked nothing like I was expecting from them. It had a subdued and elegant style; it also had a classic skindiver case with perfect proportions that was fitted to a stunning bracelet and featured a blue dial that took my breath away. Before the review ended, I just knew that this was a watch that I was going to buy, even if it meant pre-ordering and getting ready for a wait and pray.
And wait I did. And a lot of it. COVID hit the production and chain of supply very hard, and the delivery was delayed for a long time. I must commend Dietrich for being fully transparent about the issue and offering an additional year of warranty as a compensation. When I finally received my watch, it was sometime around January 2022, and I have been in awe every time I put it on my wrist.
The SD-1 is quite compact with a measured diameter of 38.7mm, a height of 12.5mm and a L2L distance of 46.1mm. The relative thinness of the case combined with the modest 150WR and the bezel that is more decorative than fit for serious diving all hint that what makes the SD-1 special is not its ability to break depth diving records. First there is the dial which is the main party trick here. The dial is constructed from two superimposed disks. The lower one is basically a standard colored dial, but the upper disk is made of sapphire with the indices and text printed on top with Super-LumiNova. The thickness of the sapphire creates the illusion that the indices and text are floating just above the dial. This is somewhat like what Christopher Ward did with their C60 Sapphire, however I think that Dietrich does it better because the effect is more subdued with just a hint of shadow under the indices and text and more elegant because it’s apparent only when purposedly looking for it and otherwise it just adds a subtle depth to the dial. Protecting the dial is a flat sapphire with AR, which means that the handset is in a sapphire sandwich. Neat.
The special effects don’t end with the dial because signing the crown is a tiny lumed fish protected by another sapphire that glows faintly in the dark. Cute.
The date window at 6 is deeply recessed and color matched to the dial. Despite the recess the floating Super-LumiNova frame around and above it is perfectly centered, which just prove that this watch has never been close to a Seiko manufacturing plant.
The bezel is either round or hexagonal. Since Dietrich seems to have a thing for hexagons, I’ll opt for the second option but as hexagons go, this one is rather subtle. The bezel’s is mostly coin edged and divided into sections with several short flat areas that are angled downward toward the external edge. These flat sections are responsible for creating the slightly rounded hexagonal shape of the bezel which is really something that is easy to miss. The bezel action is nice and smooth but also maybe a tad light. It aligns perfectly, which is something I wish my SPB147 was able to do as well. The lumed sapphire insert is another design element that took me by surprise but this time during daylight. The light pass through the insert and is refracted by the edges creating a faint ring of blue light around its rim. Awesome.
The hands are perhaps the only element about which I’m not really sold on. Like the previously mentioned hexagonal motif, they are of the same style used in previous models by Dietrich and have a vaguely leaf shape that is halfway between cathedral hands and a butt plug. It’s something that unfortunately can’t be unseen once you notice it. On the plus side they are all lumed and highly visible.
Speaking of Lume, the one used on the SD-1 is described only as Super-LumiNova, but with its blue glow and white daylight color it’s probably BGW-9 and is generously applied on the hands, dial, and bezel.
The bracelet is nothing short of amazing. At first glance it looks like it has solid end links but looks can be deceiving. The end links are a clever illusion created by the case and the short lugs, which means that any standard 20mm strap or bracelet will integrate seamlessly into the case. The hexagonal motif takes the main stage here with thin links that are nicely articulated and flow smoothly into each other and tapers to a nicely finished milled 16mm butterfly clasp. On one hand, its superbly executed and very flexible. On the other hand (beside having there 5 fingers), the butterfly clasp means that, aside from swapping links of different sizes, there is no micro adjustment, and the hexagonal central links face each other with a lip that has sharp edges.
The finish follows the subtle elegance by using a very small and thin case with short lugs that pulls the eyes toward the light refracting bezel and dial. The case is mostly polished to a very fine brushed satin finish that extend seamlessly to the bracelet. This is only broken by two thin high polished chamfers at the top and bottom edges of the case sides that adds a bit of light play but do not detract from the overall impression of the satin like lustrous finish.
Powering the SD-1 is a 28,800 Sellita SW-200 which so far has done a perfectly acceptable job of keeping time.
My final impressions of the Dietrich SD-1 are: Impeccable style, flawless execution and an appreciation that hasn’t dimmed since I received it seven months ago in January. The bracelet can be a pain to wear when my wrist swells but strangely enough I never wore the SD-1 on its complimentary blue rubber strap. The SD-1 is not really a dive watch but for me it’s pretty much unbeatable as a dressy elegant skindiver.