Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon
Angus Davies gets hands-on with the Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon, an impressive diver’s watch.
The Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon rewrites the notion of a diver’s watch. Angus Davies explores the various features of this interesting timepiece from the historical brand which has been designing watches for over 280 years.
Most watches feature conventional hour and minute hands. Occasionally, there may be a seconds function or an additional complication, but the prevailing time is usually imparted with two hands. However, in recent years an increasing number of companies have dabbled with other means of expressing the time. The likes of HYT, MB&F and MCT are just a few of the high profile players who have redefined how we look at the time. Now, there is a new entrant to this prestigious club, Favre-Leuba.
The Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon features two hands, a minute hand and a central sweep seconds hand but the hours are communicated using a rotating disc which works closely with the minute hand to indicate the time.
The current hour is positioned at or behind the minute hand, while the minute hand works in a conventional way. In the picture below the time shown is 4:50. At first, the system seems counterintuitive owing to our familiarity with the conventional watch dial, however, with increasing exposure to the dial, everything becomes clear and simple to interpret.
Recently, I had the opportunity to wear the Raider Harpoon for a few days and evaluate its specification and sample life with this highly individual timepiece.
The central area of the dial is a petrol blue or dark cyan. Each 5-minute integer is denoted with a rectangular, applied index. I have deliberately not referred to these markings as hour markers as this role is adopted with the revolving ring which encircles the periphery of the dial.
The central sweep seconds has a short truncated tip with a hub that resembles a radioactive symbol. The seconds display indicates the movement is operational but does not facilitate minuscule measurement of elapsed seconds.
A white revolving hour track provides a novel means to proclaim the hours. It evinces a blue emission in dim light.
Where the Raider Harpoon differs from many divers’ watches is that it ‘focusses on the essential’, making the minute hand the dominant feature on the dial. There is nothing extraneous to distract the wearer.
The 46mm stainless steel case would befit a leviathan. While its large scale makes absolute sense for use underwater, its scale may make it impractical for some prospective wearers on dry land.
Two crowns grace the right hand flank of the case. The upper crown at 2 o’clock is the helium valve, while the lower crown at 4 o’clock is used for winding the mainspring and adjusting the time display.
A unidirectional bezel reaffirms this is a diver’s tool. The 20-minute scale is presented in a dark cyan tone, with the remainder of the bezel delivered in black (20 minutes – 60 minutes).
Favre-Leuba has expended much effort on the case construction. The upper surfaces of the case and the lugs are satin brushed, while the case-band and case-back surround are highly polished. The mixture of the two surface treatments is very easy on the eye. Another intriguing aspect of the case architecture is the recessed case-band which bestows an attractive aesthetic.
The case-back is solid, conforming to type for divers’ watches and the timepiece has an impressive maximum water resistance of 500 metres.
Favre-Leuba is quite tight-lipped about the movement beating behind the solid case-back of the Raider Harpoon, simply stating the automatic movement has a ‘patented mechanism for hour display’.
At first I was unsure about the unusual hour and minute display, but within a short period of time I soon became familiar with its layout. The luminosity is notable, making this watch ideal for use in dim light conditions.
There is ‘no beating around the bush’ this is a behemoth timepiece. While I found its scale did not present me any problems, I accept that those individuals with diminutive wrists may struggle with the sheer bulk of the Raider Harpoon when wearing the watch on dry land.
The case is beautifully executed with a tasteful mix of satin brushed and highly polished surfaces. Furthermore, the case construction has a welcome sense of solidity.
Favre-Leuba has created something new which is substantially different from many other watches on the market and, in so doing, it has enriched the horological landscape. Indeed, this is a brand, I intend to revisit again in the near future.
• Model: Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon
• Case: Stainless steel; diameter 46mm; water resistant to 50 bar (500 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
• Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; helium valve.
• Movement: self-winding movement
• Strap: Leather strap supplied with steel pin buckle. Also available on rubber strap and steel bracelet
• Price: £4,200 (strap) – RRP as at 20.6.2017