Vulcain Cricket Nautical dives back in time to the sound of a legendary aquatic alarm watch
Divers will tell you of a strange sound underwater in some places, that of crackling twigs in a fire. It actually comes from the cavitation bubbles produced by the snapping shrimp (also called pistol shrimp), but that’s a different story. This one begins in 1961, when Vulcain introduced the first diver’s watch that not only made it possible calculate how long you could remain at a specific depth without having to make decompression stops on the way back to the surface: the Vulcain Cricket Nautical also cut through all the din underwater with its characteristic chirping to remind you when the time came to head up. With this innovative and essential watch, Vulcain strongly influenced the development of diving watches and greatly contributed to democratizing them as well as the sport.
The Cricket Nautical, a watch that pays tribute to the history of scuba diving.
The human yearning to explore the world under the waves reaches back long ago. As safe as it was to stay underwater only as long and as deep as the air in your lungs permitted, things became more complicated when the technology came along that enabled you to breathe compressed air. While this opened a whole new world of freedom, it also created a risk. Past a certain depth and a certain lapse of time, nitrogen bubbles begin to form in the blood. If you return to the surface after this point is reached, you must do so gradually, putting in decompression stops as you rise to allow these bubbles to dissolve – otherwise, they begin to expand in the bloodstream, causing pain and disorientation (also known as decompression sickness or ‘the bends’), often with a fatal outcome. Hence, the importance of ensuring a safe dive without having to stop on the way up by knowing beforehand how much time you have at which depth. Scientists rose to the challenge by developing the no-decompression dive table, still in use today, for determining the safest depth-time combination.
By this time, we are well into the 1960s. Most high-performance diving watches available at the time had a unidirectional rotating bezel, some even with an integrated dive table, to calculate safe dive durations based. While this was an important advance, it still created a mental workload both before and during the dive – especially since it required you to remember looking at your watch from time to time, which is not always easy when you are completely absorbed in experiencing the wonders around you or doing an underwater repair job. Here, Vulcain showed they had thought the issue through: after calculating the right dive-depth combination, how about an alarm to remind you that it’s time to safely return to the surface? Using a perfectly watertight case, Vulcain created the perfect dive watch, featuring an alarm that can be heard underwater – thanks to the legendary Cricket alarm caliber with the ‘triple caseback’ that acts as a resonance chamber; an easy-to-use no-decompression dive time calculator and a stainless-steel case rated to a depth of 300 meters (close to 1,000 feet).
The land version of the Vulcain Cricket was already known then as the Presidents’ Watch, owing to President Harry S. Truman’s Cricket chirping away suddenly during a press conference, and US Presidents subsequently adopting this singular watch. Which begs the question: do US Presidents dive in the Bahamas? That will remain a state secret.
In any case, when it was launched in 1961, the Vulcain Cricket Nautical was acclaimed in the diving world as an exceptional product. For the first time in history, a wristwatch was capable warning its wearer audibly when it was time to get back to the surface – and being waterproof to a depth of 300 meters, it came with plenty of safety margin. This original instrument was the precursor of the modern diving computers that would appear almost 30 years later and prove an indispensable diving buddy.
This autumn, Manufacture Vulcain presents two new versions of the Cricket Nautical: an all-black version and a limited-edition turquoise version with powder pink accents – the latter a collaboration with French retailer OCARAT. Avant-garde scuba-diving enthusiasts, who appreciate the genius of combining the mental gymnastics of no-stop decompression with the pragmatism of an audible alarm, will be sensitive to its engineering prowess; lovers of vintage timepieces will be sensitive to its aesthetics.
The Vulcain Nautical Lagoon: A French Exclusive (Ocarat). For French retailer Ocarat, Vulcain created a magnificent version of the Cricket Nautical watch with a ‘Lagoon’ blue dial, a smoked finish offering a subtle blue gradation. A hue of turquoise as intense as it is fresh, somewhere between blue and green on the color wheel, with a hint of yellow.
A lagoon in the Maldives. An ode to David Hockney’s swimming pools that beckon you to dive straight into their turquoise waters. “Lagoon” is the color par excellence for all those who dream of escaping to a paradise of limitless seas and sun. The discreet pink detailing completes the appeal. Limited to 25 pieces, the watch is available for pre-order now on the Ocarat website, to be delivered by mid-October 2023.
The Vulcain Nautical Full Black. A black version now completes the permanent Vulcain Cricket Nautical. Limited to 50 pieces, the watch will be available for pre-order from October 11th, 2023, with delivery estimated to the end of October 2023.