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The Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver is back – and now it comes as a Manual 86012M version! Nivadas basic idea: Chronograph, diver and aviator in one watch. With a Swiss movement including a manual winding, classic design and a bit of tradition, the Chronomaster should win back the hearts of watch lovers. Will it succeed?

Nivada Grenchen – a traditional brand returns

The name Nivada Grenchen had long disappeared from the scene. Founded in Grenchen (Granges) in 1926, the Swiss brand was long considered tob e one of the first manufacturers of automatic watches. One or the other reader from the United States might still be familiar with the name Croton. Under this name, the watches were sold in the USA. In the 1970s the decline followed. Nivada Grenchen shared a fate with the many other manufacturers of mechanical watches. The quartz crisis came and drove countless traditional brands to ruin. In 2018, however, the manufacturer returned and has since reissued the iconic models from its heyday.

Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M
Nivada returns. Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®

Meanwhile, the Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver has also returned; a series that makes the hearts of watch lovers beat faster. Originally lifted out of the eaves in the ’60s, the Chronomaster was meant to integrate chronograph, diver’s watch and pilot’s watch into one timepiece to appeal to the masses. In other words, a mechanical watch for all uses and occasions.

New edition of a classic

Now the watch is back and available to customers in ten variants. Four have an automatic movement, six the traditional manual winding. Among the latter is our test watch for today. The Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver with the identifier 86012M stands out with its color combination of black dial, black bezel, stainless steel and orange sporty accents. In addition, the watch wears a classic stainless steel bracelet. Nivada Grenchen packs all this into a rather compact format of just over 38 millimeters in diameter.

Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M
A comeback. Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®

The new Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M is the spitting image of its predecessor. At least, you can see that quite vividly when you operate the slider on the Swiss manufacturer’s homepage and compare old and new. Admittedly, the new edition is ahead of its ancestor in some design aspects. Is that enough?It is a fine line. With a remake, the challenge is to bring the watch into the 21st century without removing its signature features. We’ll see how the Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver fares in this regard in the review.

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The first impression of the Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver

The name Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver hits the nail on the head. At first glance, the timepiece doesn’t really lend itself to being pigeonholed. With its pushers and totalizers, the watch has something of a chronograph. The easy-to-read line indices as well as the bezel are reminiscent of the features of a diver’s watch. And the tachymeter scale is typical for a pilot’s watch.

Small but nice – the Nivada Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver looks very classy when I take it in my hand for the first time. The case surfaces are partly brushed, partly polished and thus contribute to a coherent overall appearance. The bezel and dial are black, with orange subdials and white indices printed on them, which make the watch look classic, but also sporty and timeless at the same time. I personally like this very much.

The Nivada Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver on the wrist

38.3 millimeters, to be exact, is the diameter of the case. Thus, the dimensions roughly correspond to those of the original and set a counter-trend to the mostly significantly larger competitor watches. The compact size also fits any slim wrist, as I can see for myself. At the same time, the watch is quite flat with a case thickness of just 13.75 millimeters. This is indeed the advantage of the Manual 86012M over the automatic variant, which is a bit more top-heavy because its movement requires more space. I find the proportions, which seem almost sporty, very harmonious.

Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M
Makes a great first impression. Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®

Jacket, shirt or sweater – you can combine the Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver with various outfits without any hesitation. The noble and classic design with the sporty accents is versatile. How exactly, we now look at in detail.

The dial – 3 in 1

Not much has really changed in the dial compared to the original. All design elements of the old watch were adapted one-to-one. Only proportions and arrangement have changed somewhat. But how practical is a design that combines three different ideas in a single watch? In the case of the Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver, Nivada Grenchen has managed to combine the advantages of the diver’s watch, chronograph and aviator in the design of the dial.

Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M
Can you see the different design elements? Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®

From the diver’s watch, the Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver has adopted the large, dash-shaped indices. They guarantee optimal readability of the time – and that under all lighting conditions. For darkness, they are coated with luminous material. The cream tone is evenly and strongly applied. The simple, silver-framed minute and hour hands shine in the same tone. At 3 and 9 o’clock, Nivada Grenchen has printed two totalizers on the dial, a small seconds and a 30 minute time, exactly what a good chronograph needs. I particularly like the 5 minute section of the right totalizer, which has a sporty orange hue and matches the seconds hand of the same color. The hands of the totalizers glow white in the dark. In addition, a tachymeter, which is very cleanly printed on the rehaut and indicates how fast you are moving on a known route, should not be missing.

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Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M
Close up. Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®

These information are integrated into the design in such a way that it does not overwhelm, but is clearly understandable and easy to read. Exactly when you need it. The workmanship is more than successful. I could not find any qualitative flaws.

The bezel

Probably the biggest change has happened to the bezel. Compared to the original, the Arabic numerals have moved from the edge to the center. This improves the readability noticeably. For the bezel of the Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver, Nivada Grenchen uses an aluminum inlay that is highly polished. I like the look of it. The click engagement is clean. In fact, the bezel is bidirectional, meaning it rotates in both directions. Therefore, it is not a diver’s bezel, which traditionally can only be turned counterclockwise.

The crown and the pushers. Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®

Case and movement – Swiss made

The case is visually of one piece and made of stainless steel. This guarantees robustness and durability. On the back, the Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver is deliberately kept simple. A steel back plate protects the movement, which in the case of the Manual 86012M has a manual winding mechanism. As I alluded to above, I still like the slimmer design of the case with manual winding a bit better than that of the automatic version.

The water resistance of the Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver as Manual 86012M is 10 bar. If you want to dive twice as deep, you should take a look at the sister model with automatic movement. Water resistance is guaranteed by the screw-down winding crown at 3 o’clock. This is extremely flat, which is why it does not interfere with the back of the hand in everyday use. Especially nice: the engraved “Crest” of Nivada Grenchen on the surface. The fluted sides guarantee optimal operability.

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Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M
I liked the good choice of materials. Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®

The crown is flanked by two highly polished pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock, whose haptic feedback when pressed is a dream. The double domed sapphire crystal matches the good choice of materials and workmanship.

Inside the Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver works a solid Swiss-made Sellita SW510 M BH B with a manual winding. This mechanical movement impresses with its performance power, which it needs in the versatile fields of application of the Chronomaster.

The bracelet of the Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver

My Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver wears a classic multi-link steel bracelet whose silver polished surfaces are made for classy appearance. As befits a watch that is modern despite its vintage feel, the Nivada Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver can also be configured with other straps. I recommend you to visit the store again, where you can see how your Chronomaster looks like with the different looks. The wearing comfort on the wrist was very good during the test days.

Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M
Made for the noble appearance. Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®

My conclusion about the Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver – a successful comeback

I think you have to judge the remake of the Chronomaster from two points of view. Number one: how successful is the remake compared to the original? And number two: how much sense does a watch make that combines three concepts in one? On the first point, the new Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver is the faithful adaptation of the 1960s classic. Everything that made up the design of the first watch has been retained by the manufacturer Nivada. This gives a real vintage feeling. Only the bezel is a little different. But that is a part of the category “improvement”. You just don’t have to obsessively hold on to something that can be done differently and better.

Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M
A great watch. Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®

In addition, I must say that I have found pleasure in the principle “Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver”. Nivada’s watch manages to sensibly pick up on the merits of the watch types, so that the timepiece looks refreshingly different and is practical to boot. Workmanship and material selection are as you would expect from a good Swiss watch – top notch.

At 1755,- SFr is the recommended retail price. This is a very healthy price-performance ratio. If you want it even cheaper, you can choose the watch with one of the chic leather straps.

Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M
Vintage and functional: the dial. Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®
Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M
The 30 Minute Totalizer. Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®
Details of the crown. Photo © 2021 by WATCHDAVID®

More about Nivada Grenchen and the Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver

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Technical Details

NameNivada Grenchen Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver Manual 86012M

Reference number86012M

BrandNivada Grenchen

Categorychronographs / diving watches / pilot watches / retro watches

Price fromSFr. 1755

WarrantyN/A

Case Material316L stainless steel

Diameter38.30 mm

High13.75 mm

Watch GlassSapphire Crystal

Watch TypeAutomatic

Waterproof10 bar (100 m / 330 ft)

Movement NameSellita SW510 M BH B

Power ReserveN/A

Functions30 minute counter / hour / Minute / second / small second

Dialblack

Indicesdashes

Special Featuresindices filled with luminous material

Bezelaluminium inlay / bidirectional / black / diving bezel

Bracelet Colorgrey

Bracelet Material316L stainless steel

Clasp316L stainless steel / folding clasp