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DAVOSA presents the Argonautic in a compact 39.50 millimeter format. The Swiss manufacturer has shrunk its popular diver’s watch with its great price-performance ratio to this size in order to appeal to even more potential customers. Seven different model variants, one of which I have already had the pleasure of testing, are intended to appeal to their tastes. This is how the little sister of the Argonautic…
Why bigger does not always mean better
DAVOSA has shrunk the Argonautic! Until now, we only knew the Swiss brand’s versatile diver with the “standard” diameter of 43 millimeters, which is slightly larger than average for diving watches. The smaller sister model is intended to make everything a little more compact, user-friendly and suitable for the masses. DAVOSA has reduced the diameter of the case by a whole 3.5 millimeters, which means that the small Argonautic now measures 39.50 millimeters. This takes the watch, which is named after the Argonauts, the retinue of the ancient hero Jason, into new realms.
In fact, the 39.50 millimeters are more than just a number. Larger than historical models of the 1950s and 1960s and retro divers of the modern era, but also somewhat smaller than timepieces with an average diameter of 40 millimeters, the DAVOSA Argonautic 39 Automatic, as the watch is fully named, is unusually large. DAVOSA itself calls it the watch for “every wrist size”, I would call it the democratization of the Argonautic or simply the Argonautic for everyone.
The previous standard model was only partially able to do this. Last August, I tested the DAVOSA Argonautic BGBS and, as you can read, I came to a positive conclusion about its wearing comfort. In retrospect, however, and with the knowledge of the new, smaller diver’s watch, I have changed my mind somewhat. More about this at a later date.
Which model variants DAVOSA offers
To begin this watch review, we first need to get to know the product range. Unusual and commendable for a basically new watch collection is the diversity that DAVOSA displays. The manufacturer is offering a total of 7 references at the market launch, which differ in terms of dial color, material procurement and price. I am wearing the reference number 161.533.50, which features a black dial and an equally black bezel. This (like the bezel of four other references) is made from a special high-tech ceramic.
The two top models, which once again use BEYOND STEEL®, stand out from this. The special material developed by DAVOSA is much harder and more durable than a ceramic inlay, which also explains the higher entry-level price. In the test of the DAVOSA Argonautic BGBS Automatic, I explained the advantages of BEYOND STEEL® in detail.
The DAVOSA Argonautic 39 Automatic on my wrist for the first time
However, this is by no means to say that my test watch is not a recommended diver’s watch without this feature. As always, it’s all about what the extra cost is worth to you. The links at the end of this test report will take you to an overview of all variants including reference numbers.
With a black, polished dial and black ceramic bezel, the Argonautic makes a classic impression without relying too much on typical design elements of famous diver’s watches. I personally find the lack of circular indices quite pleasant for a change. The reference 161.533.50 is certainly not exactly the bird of paradise in the collection. Whether with a green or blue dial, in a bicolor version or, above all, with a bezel in a stainless steel look, the Argonautic looks even more unique. What you ultimately decide on is, of course, primarily a matter of taste.
I was most excited about the new format. 3.50 millimeters sounds insignificant. However, if we apply watch standards, we are talking about worlds. And you can feel it impressively on your wrist. Let me make a long story short: I don’t want to go back! On my wrist, the little sister of the well-known Argonautic looks more harmonious and fits better. In addition to the diameter of the case, the length between the lugs has also shrunk and is now only 47 millimeters. If you have the opportunity, I strongly advise you to try on the two different sizes. If in doubt, the DAVOSA Argonautic 39 Automatic should fit the majority better.
One size smaller and revised: the case
If you want to make an existing model more compact, it is not enough to simply reduce the size of each element to the same scale. Its size and position must be rethought – a complex process.
However, diameter, housing length and height are not the only areas where the designers at DAVOSA have put their hand to work. They used the opportunity intelligently and immediately questioned the need for further elements. Among other things, this resulted in the absence of the helium valve – a very sensitive point. The helium valve actually guarantees that tiny helium molecules can escape during the decompression phase and that there is no risk of the housing bursting.
However, only extreme athletes and professional divers usually find themselves in such a situation. Hobby divers – and I count myself among them – will not need to use this function. The helium valve has fallen victim to the redesign. This improves wearing comfort.
With a water resistance of 20 bar, the DAVOSA Argonautic 39 Automatic reaches the minimum required to be classified as a “real” diver’s watch. In my opinion, anything below that is more deserving of the title ‘splash-proof’.
I like the choice of materials. Scratch-resistant and anti-reflective sapphire crystal and a matt finish on the stainless steel case clearly catapult the DAVOSA Argonautic 39 into the premium segment, even if the prices start just below the four-digit mark. In addition, the unidirectional rotating bezel on my test version has a ceramic inlay. Alternatively, you can also order your Argonautic with a BEYOND STEEL bezel.
Movement, dial and bracelet of the DAVOSA Argonautic 39 Automatic
Behind the screw-down case back is a DAV 3021, and connoisseurs will of course have immediately identified the movement behind the name. DAVOSA uses a Sellita SW200-1 as its base, a clone of the famous ETA 2824-2 that has also become a classic. With a power reserve of 38 hours, the movement still performs solidly decades after its launch. In addition to hours, minutes and seconds, it also features a date complication.
You probably haven’t recognized one of the biggest visual differences just from the watch photography, have you? It’s hidden in the dial, which is now shiny. No, that wasn’t always the case. The polish is a clear characteristic of a DAVOSA Argonautic 39 Automatic. To improve the legibility of the uncluttered dial, the hand-applied indices and hands are coated with luminous material. This is Swiss SuperLuminova® type BGW9 with high luminosity.
The Argonautic also owes its almost graceful appearance to the stainless steel TriaLink bracelet, which only measures 20 millimeters at the lugs. Towards the folding clasp, it tapers down to 16 millimeters. The classic diver’s extension, which conjures up a little more length in the strap when worn over a wetsuit, is a must.
My conclusion on the DAVOSA Argonautic 39 Automatic
Before this test, the DAVOSA Argonautic 39 Automatic was definitely not one of my watch highlights. Argonautic. I know it. Just in small, right? Wrong! By and large, the Argonautic 39 remains true to the values of its sister model, but adds a few new features here and there.
It starts with the smaller diameter, which for most of us should be a significant improvement on the 43 millimeters of the larger Argonautic. And then there are details such as the missing helium valve or the polished dial, which were previously underestimated, but which really come into their own on the wrist.
The new, smaller Argonautic should therefore be on your radar and seriously considered if you are interested in a solid, premium-level diver’s watch with all-round qualities. The DAVOSA Argonautic 39 Automatic does not reinvent the wheel, but its special features make everyday life a little more pleasant here and there.
At an entry-level price of 948 .00euros, the reference 161.532.50 tested here is still one of the cheapest. The bicolor versions (998.00 euros) and the two BEYOND STEEL models are somewhat more expensive at 978.00. euros each.
As always, you can find all other links to the store and the world of DAVOSA below!