The Swiss watch manufacturer Oris honors the first African-American Master Diver in the US Navy with its Carl Brashear Limited Edition. This diving watch is strictly limited, made of bronze, and has a particularly vintage feel.
The Carl Brashear Limited Edition is one of the many Oris limited editions. With it, the Swiss watch manufacturer honors the first African-American Master Diver in the US Navy, Carl Brashear, who passed away in 2006.
This watch is based on the highly successful Oris diving watch the Diver's Sixty-Five. Its case is water resistant up to 100 m (10 bar) and, at 42 mm, is slightly larger than the standard version. However, it maintains the proportions, unidirectional bezel with a minute scale, and screw-down crown of the vintage diving watch. Oris went with the proven Oris caliber 733 based on the SW 200-1 for this timepiece. This provides it with a stop-seconds mechanism, an instantaneous date, and a power reserve of 38 hours.
Aside from its dimensions, the biggest difference comes in the form of its materials. While the Diver's Sixty-Five has a stainless steel case, Oris decided on a bronze case for the Carl Brashear Limited Edition. Even the bezel and crown are made of bronze. The use of bronze is meant to evoke the image of diving helmets from the 1950s and '60s. Oris only uses stainless steel on the screw down case back, as bronze can become discolored and lead to allergic reactions when worn against the skin.
What makes a bronze case special is that the alloy's copper content reacts with the air and develops a unique patina, protecting it from corrosion. This gives the watch a both aged and entirely inimitable look.
In keeping with the reddish-gold shimmer on the dial, Oris plated the hands and indices in red gold. Together with their coating of luminous material, they offer a beautiful contrast to the dark blue dial. The date display at 6 o'clock has white numerals on the same dark blue background as the dial, giving the whole thing a harmonious finish. All of this is protected by double domed sapphire glass.
The choice of dark brown leather with bright contrasting seams and a bronze pin buckle for the band was also deliberate. Not only is it the perfect color, it also looks like the belts found on vintage diving suits.
Oris limited the Carl Brashear Limited Edition to 2,000 pieces. If this diving watch has piqued your interest, be sure to set aside around 3,500 euros.
Carl Brashear was born on January 19, 1931 in Kentucky, as the sixth of eight children. After leaving school in the 7th grade and working on his father's farm for a time, he decided to join the US Navy in 1948, shortly after President Harry S. Truman desegregated the US Armed Forces.
Due to his low level of education, he was only entrusted with office duties. It wasn't until he saw a Navy diver at work in 1950 that he found his dream job. After a long struggle, he was accepted to the US Navy Diving & Salvage School. He graduated in 1954 despite much racist hostility, thus becoming the first African-American diver in the US Navy .
He was subsequently involved in countless rescue and recovery missions and was even a part of President Eisenhower's escort in 1957.
Brashear was dealt a heavy blow in 1966 while recovering a hydrogen bomb that a US bomber had lost off the coast of Spain. A pipe struck Brashear on his lower left leg with such force that his leg had to be amputated below the knee.
However, he did not accept this as the end of his naval diving career and fought for two years to be returned to active service. All his work paid off, and in 1968 he became the first amputee to serve as a Navy diver. Two years later he went on to become the first African-American Master Diver in the history of the US Navy.
A movie about his life was released in 2000 called " Men of Honor" with Brashear played by Cuba Gooding Jr. The film also starred Robert De Niro.