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The Sherpa Ultradive is the second of the two firsts from Sherpa Watches. The design of the fraternal twins of the newly founded brand is strongly reminiscent of watches from the former Enicar SA. Nevertheless, founder Martin Klocke has managed to tell his own story with the models.
The sister of the Sherpa OPS
The authentic story of mechanical engineer and Buddhist Martin Klocke has caused quite a stir over the past three years. An elaborate reconstruction of the old Sherpa collection paired with influences from Buddhism went down very well with the experts at the WatchTime in Düsseldorf. That there is more to it than a creative design, I was able to experience in my first Sherpa watch review. The Sherpa OPS revived the compressor technology of legendary EPSA founder Ervin Piquerez. For the Sherpa Watches team and its collaborative partners to awaken the technology from its slumber, it was necessary to investigate the archives of the Swiss brand EPSA. The company closed its doors back in the 1980s, after all.
This second part of the Sherpa review will now focus on the sister model of the Sherpa OPS. Its name is ‘Ultradive’. Nevertheless, one thing should be made clear in advance. The name Ultradive suggests that the model with the reference number 002/01/01 could be the designated diver within the still small collection. However, this is not correct. Except for the coating of the case and the dial design, the watches are similar. In my opinion, the OPS is even the more suitable diver watch. I’ll tell you why later.
An unboxing according to the modular principle
Before that, it’s time to unbox. The presentation of an (expensive) watch is not insignificant and contributes to the distinctiveness of a watch brand. In the case of Sherpa, this is strikingly large. The black packaging is made of laminated cardboard. Opening it reveals the inner workings. We can see a watch roll made of Italian leather, which was sewn in the EU.
Up to this point, the presentation matches the high-quality inner workings, the watch itself. By the way, the box is identical on both models. Under the watch roll is a double bottom. With the help of a hole and your index finger, you can pull out the entire lining of the box and get to the “package insert”. The usual warranty card has now been renamed a birth certificate. Another booklet clearly explains the operation of a compressor diver’s watch. After all, two crowns are anything but the standard, so an explanation is needed.
Let’s move on to my personal highlight, the watch roll itself. This is also unconventional. The individual elements are put together like building blocks with push buttons. Two watch cushions scream to get the sister model as well.
The Sherpa Ultradive on the wrist
In stark contrast to the dark, technical, and sporty-looking OPS, the Sherpa Ultradive comes across as fresher and more elegant. To be fair, it should be mentioned that this is also because my test model is equipped with a white rubber strap. Alternatively (and truer to the original), a black variant is available, on which I also wore the Sherpa OPS.
When you put the Sherpa Ultradive on for the first time, the size immediately catches your eye. With a diameter of 40 millimeters, it bucks the trend of building ever larger watch cases. When the first diving watches appeared in the 1950s, compact cases were the standard. In the case of the Sherpa Ultradive and the OPS, the design team placed great emphasis on true-to-the-original dimensions. The watches are exactly the same size as the 1968 Enicar Sherpa models, including the distinctive crown guard. The case height of 13.5 millimeters fits harmoniously into the overall picture. In my eyes, the Sherpa Ultradive is anything but clunky.
Overall, the watch has a more classic feel than the Sherpa OPS, whose case has a DLC coating. Here, they have polished large areas instead. Shorter minute indices bring serenity to the overall look. Perhaps the Ultradive is more the dignified sister of the OPS and made for those who find the black DLC case already a touch too sporty and rough.
Why good watches are collaborative projects
‘Sporty’ is the appropriate keyword. Because even though the two cases are identical in construction and designed with an EPSA-STOP compressor caseback, you must think twice about whether you really want to take the Sherpa Ultradive on dives or just to the beach. The polished stainless steel case is more susceptible to micro scratches and looks “worn” faster. If you don’t want to put up with these visual impairments, it’s better to go for the Sherpa OPS, which is more forgiving of contact with stones and sand. In terms of water resistance, both watches have identical values and are water resistant to a depth of 200 meters. This is guaranteed by the ISO 6425 standard.
To be able to achieve a high level of quality right from the start, the company has been working with experienced partners and suppliers since the beginning of the project. According to Sherpa Watches, the case was manufactured by the German RM Lifestyle GmbH. Each piece is assembled by watchmaker Tobias Renz, also of Germany. The partnerships are paying off. I can only repeat myself, but the case finish can undoubtedly compete with established watch brands from the luxury segment, where the Sherpa Ultradive is also priced.
The Swiss company Sebal SA manufactures Sherpa’s sapphire crystals. The curvature of the sapphire crystal is very much in the spirit of the 60s, and I like it downright. During manufacturing, it was given an inner anti-reflective coating, which improves longevity and readability. The inner black metallization on the outer rim is striking.
“Faithful and tireless like a Sherpa” – the movement
A Swiss retro design can get along perfectly with Buddhism. Because a Tibetan Buddhist mantra was immortalized by laser engraving on the escape wheel and the fourth wheel, Martin Klocke unceremoniously renamed the Swiss automatic movement Mantramatic MM01. It is based on the Sellita SW200-1, but was refined, for example with gold-plated surfaces and a special rotor. However, you can’t see the latter due to the compressor caseback design with the engraved diver’s helmet. Sherpa claims a power reserve of a sufficient 38 hours.
Why it needs two crowns
What exactly the compressor technology and its advantages are all about, I explain in detail in the first part, which is about the Sherpa OPS. Nevertheless, I would like to go into the operation of the Ultradive again, whose two MONOFLEX crowns may raise questions. While the lower compressor crown performs the functions of a conventional crown, the upper one allows you to rotate the inner bezel 360°. The two crowns are separated by a prominent crown protector. This reduces the risk of getting caught between stones when diving with the watch. As a rule, the crowns of diving watches are screwed down. To make the Ultradive easier to operate, we have dispensed with this. However, the MONOFLEX crown does not need the screw connection to be water resistant over 25 bars.
Dial and bracelet of the Sherpa Ultradive
The dial of the Ultradive is kept classic, knows how to convince with its retro charm and the accent color orange and can be read optimally. This works especially well in the dark. After all, no expense has been spared on the illumination. Hands, indices, and the bezel are marked with Swiss Super-LumiNova Grade X1. A date window is located at 3 o’clock. Overall, I still like it a bit better than that of the Sherpa OPS due to the more structured arrangement of the individual elements. However, as we all know, this is a matter of taste.
Sherpa’s Ultradive wears very comfortably on the white Tropic style strap, which is made of vulcanized rubber. The customer can also choose to have a black strap fitted. The band width is 20 millimeters.
My conclusion about the Sherpa Ultradive
With the Sherpa Ultradive and the OPS, two exciting novelties hit the diving watch market. To speak of a revolution would perhaps be too much of a good thing. But because of their compressor technology and the exciting combination of the Enicar design with Buddhism via the Sherpa theme, Martin Klocke and his team have managed a real coup. I’m just having a hard time deciding between one of the two models. As has become clear in this report, both have their pros and cons. Here the better readability of the Ultradive dial, there the more robust case coating of the OPS case. Otherwise, the watches are very similar. You can’t even make a decision based on the price. At 5,900.00 euros, the Sherpa Ultradive is only 100 euros more expensive than its sister model. And in this price range, as we all know, the customer could care less.
Two pieces of good news to conclude. First, the 5,900.00 euros are definitely worth the money. And second, a certain percentage per watch sold will be donated to two development projects in Nepal to support the eponymous Sherpa people.