02 Jul


June 29, 2024

The third major watch collection from Switzerland’s Elka Watch Co. is the Arinis dive-style timepiece family. “Family” is a particularly appropriate word here, because there are four different Arinis dial styles and several strap/bracelet options to choose from. Elka Watch Co. positions the Arinis similarly to the previous Elka X-Series, in that consumers are able to choose among a number of similar options for what is essentially the same watch. I admire the brand’s prolific approach to customer options, but it might also be difficult for some buyers to choose, given that the options include the same dial with and without a date display.le Text

The Arinis is the first diver-style watch from the brand, and Elka aims to ensure the design feels both classic and original. This is exceedingly hard to do, but founder Hakim El Kadiri has the design skills to accomplish such a feat. On a basic level, the Arinis models itself after classic 1960s-era diver sport watches. That means a relatively clean dial, a minimalist look, and lots of metal. That said, the construction is totally modern, including the movement and materials such as the ceramic bezel insert. Elka was inspired by Switzerland’s Lake Neuchatel and some of its more historic residents, ranging from early settlers dating back to 12,000 BCE up through the Roman occupation of the area. Beneath the lake’s surface, divers can view archeologically significant structures (as well as on land), and ancient artifacts such as arrowheads have also been recovered from the region.

Speaking of arrowheads, that is what the Arinis’ minute hand is inspired by. The end of the hand has a uniquely curved, pointed shape inspired by human hunting relics. “Arinis” as a product name is inspired by the Roman name of an ancient village that was settled along the banks of Lake Neuchâtel long ago. Elka also positions the Arinis as a “lake diving” watch, as opposed to presumably an ocean diver. Functionally there is no difference, really, but it is true that from a marketing perspective, few watches are positioned specifically for lake dives. Performance-wise, the Arinis case is water resistant to 200 meters, with a box-style sapphire crystal over the dial and a steel case that is just under 12mm thick.

The Arinis case is not too dissimilar from the X-Series, being augmented with a unidirectional rotating bezel and additional durability. That means we have the same excellent case design, shaped to look thinner than it is thanks to design elements such as the thin flanks along the side and the rounded caseback. The beautifully elegant bezel marker design has a thin line going through the first 15-minute section. According to Elka, this is inspired by styles found on ancient Roman pottery found along the “Devil’s Path” route in Switzerland. Then of course you have the triple lake fish motif embossed on the steel caseback, which looks like Roman artwork while adding fun and character to the overall design.

The Elka Arinis is a comfortable watch at 41mm wide, with a polished and brushed steel case. It has a modest 46.5mm lug-to-lug distance, and inside the watch is a Swiss Made La Joux-Perret caliber G100 automatic movement. This movement operates at 4Hz with 68 hours of power reserve, which is a good option for a watch at this price level. The movement has the date, but as I mentioned above, the black or blue dial for the Arinis can be ordered with or without a date window. The pictured Arinis reference AF02W-1001 watch has the no-date black dial and is paired with an excellent mesh “Milanese” metal strap-style bracelet.

The mesh metal bracelet is one of two metal bracelet options. The other is a more classic “beads of rice” multi-link style bracelet with a folding deployant mechanism. This mesh metal bracelet has a different enclosure system without a safety clasp, but it does offer the fashion appeal of a mesh metal bracelet without the need to size it. It does require a bit of finger acrobatic training to get right, but I like the mesh metal bracelet for its style and overall comfort very much. The upside to the Elka Arinis Lake Diver watch is that it is very handsome, very convenient to wear and use, and not too expensive. The downside is that it exists in a lake (pun intended) of many other dive-style watches. Even though the Arinis has some unique visual touches, it is still meant to compete in a crowded space of vintage-style modern dive watches. Provided Elka can get enough attention and rally enthusiast interest around the brand, I think watch lovers sympathetic to Arinis’ design language will be charmed and delighted by this diver’s timepiece package. All they need to do is choose between the 20 (yes that many) versions of the Elka Watch Co. Arinis Lake Diver currently available. Price for this reference AF02W-1001 Elka Watch Co. Arinis is 1,845 Swiss Francs.

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