When asked if I was interested in reviewing the Emile Chouriet Challenger Deep, I had the fairly rare experience of having never heard so much as a whisper of the brand or watch. And so, off to Google I went. Starting with a little background, Emile Chouriet is a Swiss manufacturer founded in 1998 by Jean Depéry, a watch industry pro formerly involved in the manufacture of movement components. Named after a 17th century watchmaker for whom Depéry’s ancestor produced components, Emile Chouriet has typically been concerned with more elegant upscale aesthetics than rugged utility. Therefore, the Challenger Deep represents Emile Chouriet’s first outing in a sports watch. So, let’s back roll off this introductory boat and into the Challenger Deep itself.
The dial on the Emile Chouriet Challenger Deep is inky gloss black, giving stark contrast to the thin, surprisingly long, lumed hour markers, which are applied directly onto the dial without any rim or outlining. At twelve, three, six, and nine o’clock, the stick hour markers are doubled up to orient the watch in low light situations. Syringe hands, also in white and coated in Super-LumiNova (I think), compliment the long and narrow theme, and give the watch a well integrated design sense. For me, it almost looks like they designed this watch with tritium tubes in mind, so prevalent is the use of tube shaped elements on the Challenger Deep dial.
At six o’clock, a freaking anchor, stylized to complement the hour markers, holds court on the dial and provides a focal point you just don’t see every day. An anchor on a watch dial, or really anything else graphical, is pretty rare these days unless you’re into Vostok or maybe my much beloved Doxa. Much to the chagrin of the OCD set, dial text is mismatched, with the maker’s name at twelve in a faux old-timey font, contrasting the words Geneve, Challenger Deep, and the depth rating, which are printed in fairly straightforward block text. A red tipped seconds hand, also sporting a tiny helping of lume, and a fairly traditional black-on-white date wheel at three round out a reasonably interesting dial design.
Thinking of Emile Chouriet as mostly a dress watch maker, helps to make sense of the Challenger Deep’s tastefully sized 42mm wide, 49mm high, and 13mm thick stainless steel case. What we have here is exactly what happens when a brand focused on refinement toes the line of watch utility and ends up somewhere between the two. With that in mind, elegantly sculpted, Art Deco-inspired, stepped lugs and a highly polished case make sense in a watch genre where you don’t typically encounter this kind of design language. Crown guards which remind me of an old Monnin-made Heuer 844 provide protection for the somewhat small 6mm signed crown, which also features a red stripe to match the second hand.
I am a sucker for caseback engravings and here the Challenger Deep presents a huge, highly polished, fouled anchor set against a matte finish background, cementing the nautical theme into the front and back of the watch. For those with interest in nautical lore, the fouled anchor is a symbol used by the US Navy as a rank insignia for Chief Petty Officers, and which generally stands for the trials and tribulations Chiefs face in enlisted leadership. On the Challenger Deep, the fouled anchor is presumably used because it looks badass, and they will be receiving no argument from me on the matter.
I enjoyed the well executed, sixty click, coin edged bezel with a ceramic insert and lumed twin-stick twelve o’clock markers. The bezel has an excellent feel to it, lines up perfectly (this is important), and has absolutely no play, which seems to be surprisingly hard for watch manufacturers to nail. My only issue with the otherwise excellent bezel is some unevenly applied lume on the twelve o’clock position, which can make it look a little bit cheap when you’re checking the glow. However, with that being said, this watch and bezel would be absolutely adequate for diving.
Finally, a very slightly domed sapphire crystal keeps things feeling fancy and contributes to the dive watch durability argument. This whole dress diver concept makes for an interesting piece in that it might make a watch which suits a more professional environment while also maintaining sufficient sportiness (and a 300m depth rating) for all but the most intrepid water-man. The reasonable case size makes for easy wear on the majority of wrists, though I found the watch to “look” slightly larger than the dimensions suggest. Part of that is no doubt due to my 6.25” wrists. All this seafaring design stuff, of course, depends on a capable motor to keep things running.
The Emile Chouriet Challenger Deep relies, as you could probably guess, on the near-ubiquitous ETA 2824-2, this time renamed (without any modification) the EC9316. While I won’t go into extreme detail, the ETA 2824-2 is one of the most common Swiss movement choices for dive watches because of its reputation for durability and capable timekeeping. Frankly, the inclusion of this caliber makes perfect sense for the Challenger Deep. Also, the 25 jewel ETA movement is easily serviced if need be and can be regulated to keep extremely good time. The Challenger Deep provided has been keeping perfectly reasonable time on the wrist at only a few seconds slow per day.
When I looked at the Emile Chouriet website for information about the Challenger Deep, I was pleased to find it was available both on a rubber strap with a signed deployant clasp in addition to a stainless steel bracelet option. I foolishly assumed, given the price point of the Challenger Deep at about fifteen hundred dollars, the rubber strap would be of the natural rubber variety, like other watches in this price range. However, to my dismay, it looks, feels, and acts like silicone, despite the brand’s assurance of its natural rubber construction. Without shouting too loudly from my soapbox, I consider silicone to be a cheaper choice in both feel and cost, making it an inappropriate choice for a watch like the Challenger Deep, especially given its price.