If you ask any dive watch collector what the classic dive watches are, invariably they will trot out the Rolex Seadweller and Submariner, the Omega Seamaster, the Doxa SUB 300T and the Breitling Superocean among others. The savvy collector will add the PRS-2 Dreadnought. It is a watch that was produced in 2003 and achieved cult status. Because only 200 were made and they don’t come up for sale often, it may have slipped under the radar of younger dive watch aficionados. I was lucky enough to own one back in 2004 but had to sell it. I recently was able to acquire another one which, both it and the presentation box, had acquired some Wabi over the years. I reviewed my original one almost 13 years ago and thought it might be worth revisiting the watch and see if my impressions had changed over the intervening time.
First a little bit of backstory on the Dreadnought. The watch was designed and produced by Eddie Platts of Timefactors in Sheffield, England. Somewhat fitting that what was once considered the home of the British Steel industry would ‘produce’ another hunk of sought after steel. Eddie first posted about making the Dreadnought on his forum and made changes and tweaks based on feedback from the members.
This was his original posting which included an image of a dive watch he used as an initial design basis:
“I tried to get my own divers’ watch made last year and failed. I’m now going to try again and ask you all to submit the specifications you would like to see on an affordable dive watch. Forget the watches at a couple of grand, I think it’s possible to make something with a similar specification for one sixth of the price”.
“Here’s my own modification of something I picked up elsewhere on the Net. Pull it to bits, change it and even submit your own scans of what you think the ideal dive watch should look like. Please remember, I can’t copy exactly something which is already in manufacture. Don’t forget to include specifications”.
Once the design was finalized, the watch was manufactured by Fricker in Germany and was powered by the upgraded ETA 2824-2 which was adjusted and regulated to DIN 8319 / ISO 3159 Chronometer standard by Master Watchmaker Dirk Dornblueth. All 200 were sold before they were manufactured. There was a waiting list for those who hoped someone would cancel their order. Once the Dreadnought was released there was a clamor for Eddie to produce more. He refused. He promised only 200 would be made and he stuck to that even though he could have sold them by the bucket load. Even in 2003 the sale price of 450 UK Pounds which was equivalent to around US$720 was amazing and given the quality of the watch Eddie produced, it was downright spectacular.
The final specifications were positively jaw dropping and Eddie even included a copy of the final drawings with the watch
500 Metres water resistant, 30,000 A/m anti-magnetic, approximately 44 mm diameter, 53 mm lug tip to lug tip, 15.6 mm thick and 22 mm lugs. The case and crystal (without movement) weighed 110 grams), domed sapphire crystal, 3mm thick with anti-reflective coating on the underside, screwed bar lugs, Super Luminova dial and hands, ETA2824-2 Top quality, DIN Chronometer rated, constructed from 316L stainless steel; case machined from a solid block (not stamped) of steel, solid link stainless steel bracelet, 4mm thick with solid end-pieces and 22mm over the whole length, screwed links, safety deployant and diver’s extension, a solid, one piece bezel, unidirectional, 60 click ratchet with a luminous Super Luminova triangular insert at 12 o’clock. The complete watch with full bracelet topped out at 265 grams.
The case and bracelet for the Dreadnought was originally beadblasted, however, over the years several owners have had them brushed as a brushed finish is easier to maintain and remove minor scratches and scrapes. The watch I initially owned had been polished. In terms of bling it outdid Breitling and was somewhat polarizing among the Dreadnought community. When I sold it the new owner had it brushed. Now that I have a beadblasted version I am amazed at how well the finish has stood the test of time. This watch was definitely not a safe queen. It has a fair bit of minor Wabi, but it actually looks great and it means I don’t have to sweat about babying the watch. Another thing that amazed me was that the crystal was still in perfect condition. The Dreadnought has a Sapphire crystal which is slightly domed. It means that it protrudes above the bezel and obviously leaves it exposed. I was expecting that after 13 years the crystal would shows signs of ‘fair wear and tear’ but no, it is like new.
I set up a website for the watch (www.prs2dreadnought.com) with several reviews and numerous photos and information on the Dreadnought. I also maintained a map, there, for several years showing the number and geographical location of many watches. It hasn’t been updated in years so owners and locations will have changed in some cases. Interestingly enough the ‘new’ Dreadnought I bought came from Korea and when I checked the number against the original owner map, there it was in South Korea.
To say that the Dreadnought is a big watch is an understatement. This is a watch that if Arnold Schwarzenegger picked up would utter “Ow my back”. OK, OK, I know, bit of a groaner, but I couldn’t resist. Actually the Dreadnought is just the watch you could easily imagine Big Arnie or Sylvester Stallone wearing. I also made the comment once that it was the perfect watch for putting in a sock and mugging someone with. My opinion hasn’t changed even in the light of the trend towards bigger watches over the last few years.
One of the most identifiable things about the Dreadnought is the hand set. For a dive watch, it makes sense to have an enlarged minute hand because that’s the one that is most important when you are underwater. Normally aspirated dive time is measured in minutes, not hours, so having an easily readable minute hand makes sense. Eddie used an overly large sword shaped hand with an orange outline and large expanse of luminous material. In many ways it helped define the Dreadnought and sparked many copy cats.
And of course with big hands, comes big lume, and the Dreadnought didn’t disappoint. 13 years later thanks to the fact that Superluminova doesn’t degrade over time the way Tritium does, the luminosity of the hands and dial are still spectacular.
Eddie decided to name the watch Dreadnought after the British nuclear powered submarine HMS Dreadnought (S101). There have been nine British Navy vessels to bear the name, the first being a forty gun warship built in 1553.
The caseback bears the Dreadnought insignia.
The presentation material that accompanied the watch referenced HMS Dreadnought extensively and also included a pamphlet on the history of the vessel.
When I first owned a Dreadnought I genuinely felt that I owned a piece of dive watch history. It hadn’t the years under its belt that the Rolex, Omega, Doxa watches had but I felt that it was such fantastic design that it would make its mark. 13 years later I haven’t changed my opinion one bit, in fact I think that because only 200 were made it has achieved unicorn status. A mythical beast that people search for and aren’t sure if it exists.
Eddie Platts has made numerous other watches in the intervening years. Each one of them a tremendous timepiece in its own right, however, the one watch he will be remembered for is an iconic dive watch……. The PRS-2 Dreadnought and I’m very happy to say: “I’ve got one”.