Scurfa Diver One D1-500 Yellow Review
Dive watches. They are one of the most popular watch styles currently and are everywhere. I love them, and chances are that if you are reading this then you may love them too. They are robust, practical and straight forward. Great for everyday life, but most of us seldom wear dive watches for their intend purpose or don’t push them to the limits of their design. Enter Paul Scurfield of Scurfa Watches. Paul is a long-time watch enthusiast and a commercial diver. Paul got started in the watchmaking business in 2013 by quietly designing simple, robust, affordable watches for himself and his fellow work mates, as the previous generation of dive watches they used offshore saw their value sky-rocket. Since then the Diver One line has been made available to the public and refined into the new Diver One D1-500. Will the D1-500 stand up as practical affordable tool watch that can provide strong service above and below the surface? Grab your drysuit and Kirby Morgan KM 37, lets dive in!
My measurements of the Scurfa Diver One 500, taken using digital calipers.
Case Diameter – 40mm
Bezel Diameter –40.5 mm
Crystal Diameter – 30.3mm
Lug to Lug Length – 48.3mm
Lug Width – 20mm
Total Height (bottom of caseback to top of crystal) – 14.4mm
Apparent Height (bottom of midcase to top of bezel edge) –9.0 mm
Height of Midcase – 6mm
Bezel Thickness (height) – 4.2mm (approximate)
Crystal height (above bezel) – 1.3mm (approximate)
Caseback thickness – 2.4mm
Crown Diameter – 6.8mm
Weight – 98g on Scurfa rubber strap
Price for the D1-500 is 183.33 GBP (roughly $240USD). There are 8 dial colour variants of the D1-500 available and an annual special edition as well.
Shipping and communication with Scurfa is pleasantly efficient. The watch’s packaging is sturdy and simple, being a plastic twist box of the type used to ship diving components offshore.
The D1-500 case is made of 316L stainless-steel, allowing it to stand up to the corrosion and abuse of seawater exposure and daily life. Following in line with a refreshing trend of shrinking divers, the 40mm diameter case of the D1-500 is a great modern size and should suit a wide range of wrist sizes. It is my personal sweet spot as it allows for a strong bold and legible watch without being too bulky or attention drawing for my humble 6.75” wrist. The lug to lug length of 48.3mm is classically proportional to the diameter, however the rather flat lower profile does make it wear its full length, if not apparently longer. Measuring in at a height of 14.4mm I was a little leery of how bulky the D1-500 may appear on the wrist. But due to a slim midcase of 6mm and an apparent height (combined midcase and bezel edge) of 9mm the D1-500 wears slimmer than its specs suggest. 14.4mm is thick for a 40mm quartz powered watch but no doubt a lot of that height goes into making up the solid 500m water resistance. On the wrist it does feel much more like its apparent 9mm height, with the remaining height is diminished by the caseback, sloped bezel and crystal. Very nice job by Scurfa to minimize the perception of height while maxing out the water-resistance rating.
Drawing clear inspiration from the classic submariner case, the Scurfa D1-500 is simple and tool-like in its presentation. It is unremarkable and unassuming in its simplicity, displaying a balanced weight of proportions that feels right at home as a strong diver. There are no bevels or polished elements on the case, which, while plain, lends credence to its original intent as a simple strong tool watch. The case is fully brushed, using vertical brushing on the case sides and straight 12 to 6 brushing on the top of the lugs. I find vertical case sides brushing to give a coarse and slightly unfinished look to a watch and I would have preferred to see a horizontal brushed finish, which I don’t think would have detracted from the D1-500's workman-like appeal. The brushing itself is clean and even but could be more heavily applied. The edge transitions are crisp with no sharp points. Triangular crownguards provide strong protection for the crown at 3 without limiting usability. The choice of including drilled lugs is an excellent one for a tool diver that may need to be switched between different straps.
A solid screw-down caseback is used for the D1-500, which is appropriate for a quartz diver with no frills. To bump the previous version’s 300m water-resistance up, the caseback was thickened slightly and the new high-quality feeling case back has a heavy engraving of the Scurfa logo in a sunken sand-blasted sea. Despite its necessary thickness the caseback is very comfortable on the wrist as it nestles in to the wrist and disappears. The case back is done very nicely and it would be fun to see Scurfa incorporate some artwork on the back for future models instead of their logo.
Over at 9 o’clock is housed an automatic Heliox Escape Valve, which adds both aesthetic and technical interest to the case side. The valve, in essence, is a mechanism to allow Helium molecules which enter the watch while used within a saturation chamber to be released without damaging the watch. Normally I consider HEV’s an added and unnecessary frill tacked on to a watch to try and make it seem more legitimate or advanced. The reality is that such a miniscule segment of the general population and watch wearers have use for such a feature. However... Paul Scurfield, who created the D1-500, just so happens to inhabit that miniscule percentage that is a saturation diver, and as such has real practical use for a HEV. In light of that, I really enjoy having the HEV on the D1-500. I know I will almost certainly never use it, but part of the appeal of watches is the stories they can tell, and the HEV is a strong link to Scurfa and their roots creating diving watches designed by and for saturation divers.
The “500” in the watch’s name, as you may guessed, refers to its 500m water-resistance. I love 500m watches. They land in a sweet spot of being confidently overly robust and engineered without being ridiculous and can often come in at the same case height as some 2 or 300m divers. In this case, knowing that Paul and his colleagues have tested these watches out in harsher under water environments and conditions than I will subject my D1-500 to, gives me great confidence that the D1-500 will handle all the adventures I can throw at it. This is a watch that should never need to come off for fear of water; whether servicing a submarine cable in the Noth Sea or dodging spilled drinks at the pub.
The D1-500 case is a classic no nonsense, straight forward tool watch design that wears comfortably. While fitting of its purpose, adding more bottom curvature and refining the case brushing would be an improvement.
A stainless-steel 120-click unidirectional bezel with an aluminum insert is used for elapsed timing duties on the D1-500. The bezel action is excellent. There is no play whatsoever and features nice solid clicks that are moderately weighted. Brushed and sandblasted finishing is employed on the slightly overhanging bezel’s steel, displaying a nice attention to detail upon close scrutiny. While the bezel grip is in the familiar submariner style once you lay your fingers on it you can immediately tell the D1-500 bezel is meant for business. It has nice sharp crisp edges that provide excellent grip in all conditions. Finally! So many bezels seem to soften their edgework, trying to not be too sharp and thus losing functionality. The D1-500's grip is far from aggressive visually yet refreshingly provides superb tactile response. Good on Scurfa for not being afraid to let the grip be functional. Love it.
While an aluminum bezel insert isn't surprising at the Diver One’s price point, it is a change from the frequently seen steel, ceramic and sapphire inserts on many microbrand divers. Aluminum will scratch easily but won't be prone to breaking as a more costly ceramic or sapphire insert will. Another benefit of aluminum is the ability to make it in a variety of colours to match a dial and Scurfa has done so on the D1-500 and its many variations. The yellow dial version reviewed here comes with a clean silver toned insert that has a nice semi-matte metallic sheen that compliments the overall design. It allows the lighter yellow dial to not feel constrained and the black printed bezel numerals tie into the black elements on the watch's face. The silver insert will hide scratches better than a darker aluminum insert and will embrace a worked in patina too over time. The insert is perfectly fitted to the thick-rimmed bezel assembly and transitions seamlessly from the bezel edge to the crystal. The bezel insert follows a traditional 15’ graduation pattern. I find the font numerals a little too bold and aggressive for my taste, but they do compliment the overall tool design. The insert has a lumed pearl at 0/60 that appears to be of high quality, being well centered and finished.
The action and grip of the D1-500s bezel are excellent and make the watch a joy to use. As the tactile point of interaction with the watch, the bezel aides in giving the D1-500 a high-quality feel.
I like black (and by extension dark blue) dialed divers. They are classic, serious, versatile, straight forward, unassuming and subtle. I had planned on purchasing the 2019 limited edition MS19 Diver One with its sensible dark blue dial. I don’t know what fit of lunacy came over me to be lured in by the yellow dialed D1-500 but I found myself inexplicably drawn to it, like a moth to a flame. Hopefully I wouldn’t get burned by a watch that looked good in pictures but failed to deliver on the wrist.
Yellow can be a tricky colour to capture in pics and I think it also is easy to miss the mark in terms of tone. I was very happy to find upon receiving the D1-500 yellow that its colour was very well balanced. Not too saturated and mustardy nor too weak and sickly. Just right. It presents as a cheery warm sunny colour but will vary slightly in different lights as they effect the saturation slightly. I never find myself displeased with the tone in different lights. On the contrary I really like the yellow colour and it surprises me sometimes as I check the time and expect to see my usual black dialed companion.
The dial uses a simple printed format with bold white lumed indices outlined in black. The 12 o’clock index is a strong shield shape and the remaining indices are simple stout rectangles. It is a very balanced and legible design that feels comfortable in its originality and not too heavy. The black outlines around the indices are a great design choice that is critical to create the necessary contrast between the white indices and yellow dial. The weight of the black lines is well chosen; however, it is not even on all indices, some borders varying in thickness.
The functional 3 o’clock date feels well balanced to the overall dial layout. The traditional black on white date wheel stands in nicely as the 3 o’clock index, but perhaps could have been improved by the additions of a matching black outline and/or a small lume plot outboard of the aperture.
The remaining elements of the dial are printed in gloss black. The choice of dark gloss is great to add some pop and weight to the lighter dial. A tidy minute track of delicate black hashes rims the outside of the dial. The “Scurfa Watches” logo is anchored below 12. It is a quirky atypical logo, but it was chosen due to the aesthetic tie in to the font and style of various components in dive systems. It would look out of place on a more refined, dressy diver but lends a utilitarian functional appeal to the watch that also works well with the “DIVER ONE” text above 6.
The D1-500 dial is what a good dive watch dial should be; bold, legible, clean and functional. I found the dial easy to read in almost all lighting conditions. The one exception being in very low light without the lume activated due to the low contrast between the yellow dial and white indices. Even then it was more so a reduction from what is usually a very strong legibility and it was still possible to read the time especially aided by the bold hands.
Legible broad sword hands are the focal point of the watch’s face, as they should be. Painted in a smooth glossy black finish they leap off of the dial with crisp contrast of texture and colour. The paint appears evenly and well-applied. Scurfa’s signature handset is a take on classic sword hands, which frankly I love (a quick survey of the collection proves that!), and are well suited to dive watches. Scurfa has employed a bit of a different design by having a large solid inner section on the hour and minute hands as sometimes seen on pilot watches. On some of the other dial variants where the light coloured lume provides strong contrast with the dial I wish the lume plots of the hands were longer, but here on the lighter yellow dial D1-500, the increased amount of black helps to enhance the hands legibility. The remaining space used for the lume plots is very generous to help with nighttime visibility. The lengths of the hour and minute hands are spot on, especially the minute hand which lands just shy of the termination of the minute hashes for clear readability.
The Second hand is a bit unique. The first thing that leapt out at me is that the circular lume plot is rather far inboard. I am not sure if it is a technical design choice that allows for a large and useful lume plot that doesn’t need to be balanced by a large counterweight or if it is purely an aesthetic choice. The ideal is usually to have the second hand lume plot reside just inside of the hour indices. Scurfa’s placement does give the second hand its own separate orbit that is easily distinguishable in the dark. The hand is thicker inboard of the lume plot and then transitions to a nice slim needle point outside of it to where it visits the minute marks. A tiny detail that took me awhile to notice and is near impossible to photograph is that the very end of the seconds hand counterweight is painted yellow, or perhaps is just polished steel that picks up the dial colour, either way, pretty cool!
Scurfa has done a great job creating a strong handset that is extremely practical and legible day or night, befitting the robust design brief of this tool diver.
The D1-500 is topped off by a moderately arced single-domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It is a beautiful shape that curves perfectly up from the bezel insert and adds strength and water-resistance without negatively impacting the wearability. While tales are out there of shattered sapphire crystals, I don’t have any first-hand experience with that, and I am glad Scurfa opted for the practical scratch-resistance of sapphire. While I won't mind if the bezel and case develop signs of adventure and use, I just can't stand a scratched crystal that impedes the view of the dial. The D1-500's crystal is rather thick, and its single domed shape should make it very robust. The dome has a lot of distortion and blur to it when not viewed dial on, especially if you are used to flat, double-domed or box crystals. The distortion often makes the dial itself appear curved or domed and low viewing angles are limited. I am of 2 minds on the crystal. On one hand the distortion adds some fun and necessary character and interest to what is a rather straight-forward piece. On the other hand, it does make the watch less legible on land and hard to appreciate (or photograph) elements of the dial. Overall, I think it balances out though as the dial and hand layout is so legible that it can withstand a higher level of distortion while providing resistance against impacts. My preference would have been to use a double domed crystal which would have maintained the feel of the watch but improve the low angle legibility. An inner anti-reflective coating has been applied and creates dramatic arcs and flashes of purplish blue colour when combined with the domed crystal, adding a nice depth.
A 6.8mm toothed crown seals in the 500m WR. Combined with the crown tube it is packed with 4 gaskets and it should be able to stand up to its end of the WR bargain. The crown has excellent grip and no wobble in any of its positions. The threading action is velvety smooth as it makes its way through a reassuring 3.5 full 360-degree turns. The end of the crown is beveled to provide comfort against the wrist and engraved with the “D1” logo.
Another reason I love divers? Lume.
I have always been fascinated by a watch that lights up, going way back to the days when I would tilt my Casios sideways so I could watch the feeble electric yellow glimmer illuminate the washed-out digital display. A practical diver such as the D1-500 with its large lume plots would be a crying shame if it couldn’t pull off some impressive lume with all that real estate.
Well, with its clean and evenly applied Superluminova Grade A BGW9 the D1-500 delivers with powerful lume. Grade A is the middle grade between standard grade and the new X1. X1 in my experience charges more quickly but isn't necessarily brighter or longer lasting than Grade A. BGW9 has a clean white daylight colour and a bright blue glow, both of which suite the yellow D1-500 excellently. The white looks great against the yellow dial and when glowing blue it also adds a neat colour contrast. While C3 will create a brighter initial blaze, its minty-yellow colour would not have looked as good on this dial.
The lume intensity is even across the hands, dial and bezel pearl. The clean bold layout of hands and dial create a watch that is very easily readable through many hours of darkness with dark adjusted eyes. I had no issue reading the time up to 8 hours later.
Below is a lume test where you can see the D1-500 crush some other quality BGW9 watches, the Gavox Avidiver, Monta Oceanking 2 and Tourby Lawless 40. I think this is a result of both available surface area but also excellent application techniques.
It is hard to argue with the rugged reliability of a quartz movement for the D1-500. The Swiss-made Ronda 715SM is gold plated, runs on 5 jewels, features a handy end-of-life indicator for the battery and is secured by a metal movement holder. While mechanical watches are beloved as miniature marvels of engineering, the ability for a quality quartz movement to provide accuracy, affordability and take abuse makes it a great grab and go choice both inside and outside of the diving bell. Often the bane of quartz watches at various price levels, the second hand does a great job hitting the minute marks on the D1-500, never being more than half the width of the second hand tip off. I hold an appreciation for both mechanical and quartz movements and their pros and cons. For the D1-500 the quartz movement is a great choice. You can wear it without fear through any activity as a tool watch should be.
(picture courtesy of Scurfa)
The D1-500 comes equipped with Scurfa’s signature rubber strap, available in various colours to compliment the dial colour. The yellow dial is paired with a black strap which perfectly picks up on the black elements of the rest of the watch to deliver a nice aesthetic balance.
The rubber used has a smooth satin touch, doesn’t attract lint and is very supple. It is 127.5mm x 75mm (excluding buckle) long and is a non-tapering 20mm width. The straight non-tapered strap looks great with the strong watch head, feeling perfectly balanced aesthetically and physically. At the lugs the strap is a sturdy 5mm thick to support the spring bars and fill the lug gap perfectly. The way the strap fits the lugs is excellent. The strap and case integrate seamlessly, showing great thought and design, while providing a premium feel to the D1-500. After the lugs the strap tapers quickly in thickness to a svelte 2.5mm. Combined with the topside bevels and hollowed channel beneath the strap is extremely flexible and conforms perfectly to the wrist with good ventilation.
14 closely-spaced rectangular tang holes allow for a perfect fit, which I greatly appreciate as it can be very frustrating to have an otherwise excellent strap where your wrist size falls between widely spaced holes. The 2 rubber keepers are perfectly sized to provide just the right amount of friction to do their job without any gaps or slack. A simple smooth-edged buckle with a wide tang is used. While comfortable and practical it feels a little sub-par for the excellent strap. It would be great to see Scurfa develop a buckle with some branding or unique style to it to further enhance the watch.
The spring bars are another small but critical detail that Scurfa has attended to, and rightly so, as they are the only thing keeping you and your watch together. It is apparent when peeking in the lugs holes that the thick 2.0mm spring bars with their 1.2mm ends penetrate much deeper into the case than your average bar. Shoulderless design also means there is less for straps to grab on to that may encourage a bar to wriggle free. The strap to case connection is rock solid with zero play. These bars will work wonderfully with pass under straps like NATOs for even further security. Strap changes are made easy with the drilled lugs.
(Picture courtesy of Scurfa)
The Scurfa rubber strap is an excellent companion to the D1-500 and really is of a quality found several price tiers above. It is an excellent aesthetic pair to the watch head, eminently practical and superbly comfortable. It is such a great strap in fact that prior to owning the D1-500 I had purchased one to replace a strap on a more expensive watch.
ON THE WRIST
On the wrist the D1-500 wears true to its 40mm size overall, and should be well suited to wrists from 6.5-8”. Due to the case shape the watch does feel both flatter and longer than specs would indicate. The thin midcase and sloped bezel and crystal help to ease the height, so if you were hesitant about the 14.4mm height I would say you need not be concerned, especially as the case back allows the midcase to sit right down on the wrist. The D1-500 slipped surprisingly easily under my tightest shirt cuffs due to its domed top and sleek non-sticky strap. The flat case bottom does make the 48mm length very evident though and I would say if your wrist falls under my 6.75” wrist the gaps and overhang it creates may feel a bit much.
I find the D1-500 to be extremely comfortable due to the superb strap and conservative case size. I can wear it very easily all day long, whether snug above my wrist bone or riding a little looser below, which is always the sign of a great wearing watch for me.
While I have no intention of taking it off its supplied rubber strap, I have no doubt that the D1-500 would be an excellent candidate for experimenting with different strap styles, textures and colours. A benefit to the flat case bottom profile is that the lugs are quite short in height and so straps look excellent on it. When looking at the watch from the common 6 o’clock angle on the wrist you aren't confronted with a massive wall of lug gap. Scurfa has a fitted bracelet in the works and unfortunately I don’t know when it is due, as Scurfa are taking their time to make sure they get it right, but it appears that it will be a custom 5-link design rather than the ubiquitous and perhaps expected 3-link oyster-style. I think that the yellow dial will look best though on straps, as combined with the silver bezel, the bracelet may make the watch look like there is a bit too much metal.
To address this particular dial variant, the yellow is just darn fun! It's like wearing a ray of sunshine. I wondered if the yellow dial would feel too showy or splashy for me and my conservative tastes, but I found my confidence growing daily with it and stretched into more situations than I expected, finding a surprising versatility that pushed it beyond its anticipated beach-casual pigeon-hole. The yellow dial worked with more clothes colour combinations than I thought, and I have found myself wearing it an awful lot. The yellow D1-500 may just have changed how I view coloured dials and challenged my tendency to favor black dials for their versatility over what I thought was the limiting factor of a coloured dial.
The D1-500 is unapologetically a true tool dive watch. Its design is straight forward, practical and brusque. While some of its darker dialed siblings, especially on the foretold bracelet may aspire to classier settings on occasion, the D1-500 Yellow begs to be worn on a sun-baked arm as you throw your tank and fins into the skiff to head out over the coral heads and explore a wreck in the distant lagoon. Of course, it is also right at home strapped to the arm of a commercial saturation diver in a diving bell in the middle of the North Sea!
With the D1-500, Scurfa has created a purpose-built dive watch with a legitimate diving pedigree. Diving into the details of the watch it is clear that beneath its unassuming and straight forward surface, great attention has been paid to the critical functional components of the watch below.
If you are looking for a no-nonsense, no-frills, robust tool diver that delivers good quality and value with a great back story check out the Scurfa D1-500.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments