First released in 1956, the Super Compressor isn’t an actual watch; it’s a watch case, designed by now-defunct Swiss watchmaker Ervin Piquerez SA. It’s best known for the dual-crown design, as well as the internal rotating timing ring. However, the case is really defined by its spring-loaded caseback, from which it gets its name. Because of the spring loading, the case seal actually gets tighter the deeper you dive, which improves water-resistance when compared to other, similar models.
While the Super Compressor went out of production in the 1970s, the design remains popular. So I’ve put together a list of five high-quality watches that feature a similar design. Here’s a quick overview of each of them.
Longines Legend Diver l3-374-4-50-6
The beating heart of the Longines Legend Diver I3-374-4-50-06 is its Caliber L592 movement, which moves along at a crisp 28,800bph, so it’s very smooth. The 22-jewel movement has a 40-hour power reserve, which allows you to set it aside for a couple of days without it running out of juice.
The Legend Diver’s stainless steel case measures 36mm in diameter. It features a sapphire crystal, which has a flat top with an angled bevel at the outside. It’s scratch-resistant, and has multiple layers of anti-reflective coating, which reduces glare to the bare minimum. It’s water-resistant as deep as 300 meters, thanks to the Super Compressor-style design.
The dial is understated, but still displays all the information you need to know. The inner index displays the time, with slim gold hashes at each minute mark. Wider hashes indicate the 5-minute marks, with prominent numerals at the 12, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. All of these markings are highly-visible against the flat black face, and the 3 o’clock position features a small date window. The night vision is a bit unusual. While most of the hashes don’t have a lume finish, the 5-minute positions all have a dot or a line with a pale blue lume finish. The hour hand has a short, squat arrow tip, which also has a lume marking, as does the relatively slender minute hand.
Outside of the primary index, there’s a rotating dive ring with individual minute marks, as well as 15, 30, and 45-minute numerals, with a large triangle indicating the 60-minute position. To rotate the outer ring, simply use the 2 o’clock screw-down crown. The 4 o’clock crown is used to set the time, and also screws down for added resistance to water ingress. The stainless steel band features numerous tiny links, with a snakeskin pattern that really catches the eye.
Jaeger‑LeCoultre Polaris Automatic
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic utilizes a Caliber 898E/1, which operates at a smooth 28,800bph and offers a 38-hour power reserve. The display case shows this movement off to maximum effect, with all the internal parts clearly visible. The inner spring is very discreet. You won’t even notice it unless you’re looking for it.
The case is constructed from stainless steel, and measures 41mm in diameter. This makes it a medium-sized watch, so it has sufficient wrist presence without being overbearing. The crystal is slightly domed, with enough curve to be noticeable, but not enough to distort your view when you’re trying to read the time. The case is water-resistant to 100 meters, relatively scant for a Super Compressor watch, but still good enough for most people in everyday life. It features a brown leather strap, with unobtrusive stitching and a compact silver clasp.
Like most Super Compressor-inspired watches, the LeCoultre Polaris’ dial has a two-ring design. The dial itself is electric blue, with a glossy finish that catches beautiful highlights in a well-lit environment, without being overly distracting. The center of the dial is relatively Spartan, with only a Jaeger logo and the word “automatique” interrupting the otherwise-smooth finish.
The inner dial has small hash marks indicating the single-minute intervals, with larger hash marks indicating the 5-minute positions. The 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions are marked by large, prominent numerals. All markings have a lume finish, as do the straight, minimalist hour and minute hands.
The outer, rotating ring is controlled by the 2 o’clock crown, and is relatively narrow. It has small dots marking single-minute intervals, with larger dots indicating the 5-minute positions. The 15, 30, and 45-minute positions are marked by elegant numerals, with a fat triangle at the 60-minute position.
Oris Chronoris Date
The Oris Chronoris Date has a 39mm case, which lends it a minimalist wrist presence. The stainless steel bezel is unusually wide, but has a smooth, rounded profile that’s easy on the eyes. The 2 and 4 o’clock crowns are the only adornment, protruding prominently, with fine hashing for easy, slip-free operation. The sapphire crystal is highly resistant to scratching, with a smooth, domed profile that’s attractive to look at from the side, but doesn’t obscure your view from head-on.
The Oris 733 movement is quite smooth, gliding along at a rate of 28,800 beats per hour. The 26-jewel design features a 38-hour power reserve, which is more than sufficient for most people’s purposes. The strap is constructed from brown leather, with decorative perforations near the lugs. That said, the watch is “only” water-resistant to 100 meters. This is enough for most people. However, it’s not exactly impressive in the world of dive watches.
The dial itself has a high-contrast appearance, with a black background and thick, white hash marks at the 5-minute marks that feature bold, red highlights at the outside. The silver hour and minute hands are rectangular, with no tapering or arrows, and a white lume stripe down the center for easy night visibility. The second hand is a bold red, matching the highlights on the 5-minute hashes. There’s also a small date window in the 3 o’clock position. The outer dial is very narrow, but highly functional. It has small, white hashes at single-minute intervals, with five-minute intervals marked by thicker hashes and small, but legible, numerals.
Farer Aqua Compressor
The Farer Aqua Compressor has an ETA 2824-2 movement, with smooth, 28,800bph operation, 25 jewels, and a respectable, but not impressive, 38-hour power reserve. The movement is housed in a stainless steel case that has a medium-sized watch presence. The outer edges curve smoothly and seamlessly into a rounded bezel, but the overall profile is oblong, lending the Aqua Compressor an old-school appearance. It’s water-resistant to 300 meters, which is good enough for virtually any purpose. It’s good enough for swimming or even deep-sea diving. Depending on the variant you buy, the watch band is either rubberized or tri-link stainless steel.
There are three different dial variants. What all three share in common is a screw-down exhibition case back, as well as a double-curved sapphire crystal. Not only is the crystal scratch-resistant, but the double-curved design allows for a steep dome without obscuring your view of the dial.
The hour, minute, and second hands are very similar in all three variants, albeit with different color patterns to match the different dials. The hour and minute hands are slim, with tapered tips and a bright lume stripe down the center. The second hand is extremely slender, with a wide arrow tip that’s also coated with lume paint for easy night visibility.
The dial has a glossy finish, available in black, silver, and electric blue. There are no markings for individual minutes, providing a relatively clean look. Large hashes indicate the five-minute marks, with numerals on some variants and larger hashes on others. There is no date window, which adds further to the Aqua Compressor’s clean look.
The outer dial is narrow, but once again, the overall look depends on which variant you buy. It’s available in black, silver, or in a black-and-orange two-tone design if you want that authentic dive watch look. On all variants, the outer dial is operated by the 2 o’clock screw-down crown.
Dan Henry Super Compressor
If you’re looking for a Super Compressor watch that has an authentic dive watch look, the Dan Henry is a solid choice. It offers 200 meters of water resistance, and utilizes a Caliber NH35 movement. With 24 jewels and a 41-hour power reserve, it’s as accurate as you’d expect from any well-engineered automatic movement. However, unlike the other watches I’ve listed, it doesn’t rotate smoothly; it ticks, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you’re looking for.
The stainless steel case measures 40mm in diameter, with a narrow bezel that provides maximum space for the dial. The bezel is curved at the top, so there are no sharp edges or other obtrusions that could cause problems. The mineral glass crystal is domed, and slightly obscures the outer ring on the dial. But it’s flat enough in the center that it doesn’t obscure the time. It’s also coated with an anti-reflective sapphire finish that’s also scratch-resistant. Like most Super Compressor-style watches, it has both a 2 o’clock and a 4 o’clock crown, with the 2 o’clock crown controlling the inner rotating ring and the 4 o’clock crown adjusting the time.
All in all, there are 4 different dial options. Two of them have a two-tone outer dial, for that extra dive watch touch. The others are bright blue and high-contrast black-and-white respectively, which are easy to read, albeit somewhat lacking in authenticity. That’s not necessarily a criticism, though. The beauty of the Dan Henry Super Compressor is that you can own whatever version you like. The center of the dial, though, is the same across all versions. The 5-minute marks are indicated by thick, fat hashes, with no markings for individual minutes. The hour and minute hands match the color of the hash marks, with a slender second dial that’s easy to read.