When it comes to dive watches, the past few years have seen an explosion of brands offering very competent and well-designed pieces, often times powered by Japanese automatic movements. Tempest is one of those brands, and they first caught my eye with the high-domed Viking (reviewed here). Today, we are taking a look at their latest offering, the Tempest Commodore.
Now, at first blush, the Tempest Commodore does not have any of the wild designs like we saw with the Viking. While there may not be any crazy crystal options, there is quite a bit to like about this new watch. Let’s talk materials first. The main material used in the watch is titanium. Of course, the 44.5mm case is made of it (including the engraved caseback), as is the bezel (more on that in a minute) and the 22/20mm bracelet. This gives a soft, darker finish to the watch, as well as scratch resistance.
It also has the nicety of bringing the weight down. If this watch was executed in steel, we would probably expect the weight to be at least 200g, if not more. By going with titanium, the Tempest Commodore keeps things down to a manageable 148g. Now, I did mention that the 120-click bezel is made from titanium, but that’s not the material you see the most of. The insert (which is lumed, by the way) is made of ceramic. While this is a touch glossier than what we saw on the Borealis, it still gives a very smooth feel, as well as offering some great scratch resistance.
Wherever the titanium shows up, there are some unique angles showing up. Starting with the bezel, you have grippy “teeth” that makes it easy to grip the bezel, without being obtrusive. The case itself is a fairly standard shape, but you do have beveled edges showing up, as well as the crown protector that breaks through the case to jut out. Last, but not least, there is the bracelet. ]
If Tempest had gone with a simple (IE, Oyster-style) bracelet, it would have been nice enough. Here, they mixed up the design a bit and made the center link raised, giving the bracelet a sort of spine. This is a detail that picks up from the bezel – and, when you view the watch from the side, you can see that the lines from the bracelet follow through right on to the bezel. In other words, great attention to detail!
The only material left at this point is the crystal, which is made from sapphire, with AR on the underside. This is covering the next thing that you may notice – the sandwich dial. While this is not a style of dial that would work for every watch, here on the Tempest Commodore it works well. Along with the dimensional element that it adds to the dial, you also have a great platform (on the lower level of the dial) to have excellent lume application.
That is precisely what we saw in our review samples. Whether it was the numeral or indice dial, the lume was even and bright, and was a spot-on color match to both the handset and the bezel. The exception to this was, of course, the fully lumed dial. On those watches, the cutouts were non-luminant, giving you an inverted display in the dark, which is quite easy to read. It is also worth noting a surprise here – the Tempest logo and seconds hand are actually lumed as well, glowing in an orange hue that is a nice mix.
What is it like wearing the Tempest Commodore? Frankly, it is one of the most comfortable micro-brand divers I have had on. A lot of that is due to the lighter weight the titanium affords, of course. The bracelet is easy enough to adjust, and you do get some micro-adjustment positions in the clasp. Past all of that, you have the built in extension in the bracelet. I have seen these in a number of brands now (of course, not in titanium before), and I do like this much better than the “flip out” style of extension.
This is because it provides a simple way to expand the bracelet for a more comfortable fit as the day goes on, giving your wrist a bit more breathing room. Of course, used in any sort of dive capacity, I imagine it would allow it to fit over (and then be snugged down) a wetsuit sleeve easily enough. And, with a 500m WR rating, this is a watch you could take diving.
Then again, if you are like me, this is a watch that will spend more time on land than it ever will under the sea. And in that regard, it works well. It is very obviously a tool/dive watch, but that style is of course pretty common, and no one gives it a second thought. For someone giving the Tempest Commodore a quick glance, it may not give them pause seeing it on your wrist, as it (on the surface) follows pretty standard conventions.
Giving the Tempest Commodore a closer look will of course reveal some of the design touches that are present in the piece that make it stand out from its micro-brand brethren. While the watch itself is not overly angular, there is a judicious use of angles in the beveled edges and the crown guard, that help the watch pick up a bit more of a modern feel. And, as a whole, the elements come together to create a rather nice watch.
If any of the elements tried to stand on their own, without the others, the watch certainly would not be as intriguing. For example, if all they had done was produce a Viking in titanium rather than steel, it would not have the interest. This same bracelet in steel? Well, it would probably be a massive weight, and a drawback to the watch. The chunky bezel without the design-matched bracelet? It would look out of place.
What I am saying is that the Tempest Commodore is a watch that works well together, and I think it is great to see the brand spread their wings a bit, coming up with a design that is truly their own (in their own words, nothing is off-the-shelf other than the Miyota 9015 that ticks away inside). The brand has gotten a lot of attention with their forged carbon case, and rightly so. With the Tempest Commodore, though, we have a dive watch that is at once familiar and refreshing.
For my part, I rather enjoyed the time spent with the watch. In fact, the most difficult part was deciding which of the samples sent over was my favorite (and got to head out for the wear testing). While I was initially drawn to the fully-lumed white dial, it was the blue dial with indices that won out. Of course, as we have pictured here, you also have the choice of a black or green dial as well. Regardless of the color you chose, the price will be the same ($638), and you will have your choice of the indices or numerals (except for the green dial, which only comes in the numeral variant).
With the Tempest Commodore, we see a 9015-driven diver that mixes things up a bit. With a combination of good material selection and some design tweaks, Tempest has come up with a watch that both holds to the design cues we are used to (and likely look for) as well as offering some ideas that make the design something refreshed. Not only that, even with the use of titanium, they have managed to keep things definitely affordable. This is a great take on a diver, and I am pleased to see brands such as Tempest branching out while maintaining affordability. tempestwatches.com
- Brand & Model: Tempest Commodore
- Price: $638
- Who’s it for?: You like the look of a bigger dive watch, but the steel ones are too heavy for your tastes
- Would I wear it?: Yes, I likely would see this working into the rotation
- What I’d change: I think the ceramic bezel could do with a bit more of a matte finish to it, so fingerprints would not show as much
- The best thing about it: If I had to pick just one thing, I’ll go with how the lines of the bracelet are picked up by the bezel
Tech Specs from Tempest
- Dimensions: 44.5mm diameter; 49mm lug-to-lug; 14.65mm thick; 22mm lugs
- Case: solid titanium; titanium screw-down case back
- Bracelet: solid titanium; micro-adjustable ratcheting clasp
- Bezel: titanium with ceramic insert; 120-click, unidirectional
- Movement: Miyota 9015 Automatic
- Dial: sandwich construction; LumiBrite luminant
- Crystal: flat sapphire crystal; AR on the underside
- Ratings: shock resistant, WR to 500m