Posted on September 17 2021
Davosa is a watch brand that boasts over a century of Swiss watchmaking heritage. But it also has a modern German connection that has been central to the brand.
The result is a collection of Swiss-made watches with a Germanic influence.
Davosa watches are mid-priced, high-spec and feature diving, aviation, sports and dress models.
Let's briefly look at the brand's history and then I'll show you their best seven watches.
A Brief History of Davosa Watches
There is often a sense of deja vu when looking at the backstory of Swiss watch brands. And Davosa is no exception.
Like many other contemporary watch companies, Davosa didn't start out marketing watches under that brand name. It's a familiar story that you'll recognise. Davosa is similar to other Swiss brands like Mido, Certina and Mathey-Tissot.
The story starts in a small Swiss village in the Jura mountains. In the late Victorian era, Abel Frédéric Hasler was making watch cases, while training up his six sons.
One of these, Paul, set up his own one-man watch company and built watches for bigger brands. The company grew and in the 1940s a new business was established by Paul and his brother David.
As I noted, it's a familiar story in Swiss watchmaking. A small, family-run business that passes knowledge down through generations.
By this time the company was making its own watches and movements. They had found success selling these in the United States.
In the 1960s the next generation of the family took control. They were able to navigate the business through the difficult period, beginning in the 1970s, when quartz watches threatened the industry.
But the big news for us came in 1993.
The company, still run by the Halser family, teamed up with a German businessman with a background in watch distribution.
The Davosa brand was born.
Davosa branded watches were displayed at the Basel watch fair and were well received.
So the Davosa brand is young. But the business has over a hundred years of history. And importantly, it's still a family-owned enterprise.
Where are Davosa Watches Made?
Davosa watches are Swiss-made. Although the company is now based in Herford, Germany, the watches are still made in Switzerland.
You can see the Swiss-made label at the foot of the dial on Davosa Watches.
Are Davosa Watches Good Value for Money?
Davosa makes value for money a notable part of their brand. As a fan of affordable watches, I like that.
They note on their website that they are 'price-conscious' and also that it is important that the brand remains affordable.
A Swiss-Made Davosa watch with a mechanical movement will cost over £500, but less than £1000. Often that will be for a dive watch with good water resistance and a sapphire crystal.
I'd suggest that Davosa watches are similarly priced to other entry-level Swiss brands and therefore competitive.
The consensus among watch fans seems to be that Davosa makes very good quality watches. That's what I would expect from a Swiss watch brand at this price point.
The Seven Best Davosa Watches
Davosa is strong when it comes to dive watches. It's the brand's largest collection, followed by their dress watches.
I've included my favourite models from these two collections and also some from their aviation and performance lines. This should give you a great overview of the brand.
I'd suggest that this is what Davosa does best. The Argonautic is a very functional dive watch, built to perform in tough situations.
We can come back to the design in a minute. But first, let's look at the impressive specs.
The Argonautic is an automatic dive watch. The movement is a DAV 3021 calibre - built from a reliable Swiss-made Sellita base. The watch has 300M of water resistance, a sapphire crystal and a ceramic bezel.
And the lume? That's where the Lumis T25 part comes in. This watch has GTLS illumination - tiny glass tubes filled with Tritium gas. It glows, without charging, for 25yrs.
There is also a helium release valve at 10 o'clock.
This is a rugged watch.
Design-wise, we've been here before. It's a tried and tested look. In fact, I have a Marc and Sons diver that looks very similar.
But Davosa do add their own DNA to the watch. The dial has an attractive wave pattern and little touches of red that help the legibility and add a nice bit of colour.
Other small points also add to the aesthetics. The date window - white text on black - works well, as do the large, bold numerals on the bezel.
This watch feels like a tool. It's chunky, quite heavy and masculine. This isn't a desk diver to wear to the office. It's an handsome sports watch, ideal if you're heading into the sea.
Davosa Argonautic Lumis T25 16157610
This is a different take on a dive watch.
It's smaller, more affordable and clearly influenced by a Rolex GMT Master II. With this watch, Davosa has focused on the vintage-styling and price, creating a charming quartz model.
Where the Argonautic was all about the specs, the vintage diver is all about appearance. That's not to say that it has low specs, it doesn't. But this budget piece has modest features in comparison.
For example, the case is smaller. It has a very comfortable 39mm case, with a distressed leather strap. The crystal is mineral and there is 100M of water resistance.
Where this watch wins is in the design.
Again, you'll be familiar with this styling. The case is reminiscent of a Rolex Submariner, as are the Mercedes hands. The markers are different to the Rolex and of course, there is a GMT hand like GMT Master II.
Submariner influenced designs are always popular and that is the case here.
The addition of a colourful bezel and aged-looking lume gives this model a strong look. There is less of the tool watch vibe of the Argonautic and more of a nod to history.
If you're a fan of modern watches that recreate iconic designs from the past, the Vintage Diver would be a great place to start.
Davosa Vintage Diver 162.500.65
The Davosa Military watch is just that. A simple and legible piece that takes inspiration from military watches. Depending on the colourway that you choose, this versatile watch looks either like a soldier's or a pilot's watch.
Of the variations, this is my favourite. The straightforward black version reminds me of a German Flieger watch. Both the date window and oversized crown reinforcing the look.
Given the job that this watch is designed for, the specifications need to be very good. So it has a Swiss automatic movement, a sapphire crystal and 200M of water resistance.
It doesn't just look the part, it's built to perform too.
As you'd expect from a military or aviation watch, the core of the design is about easy time reading. The case is spartan and the dial is clear. Both the numerals and date window are prominent.
The hands are large and bold and, like most German pilot's watches, the crown is oversized. You'll appreciate this if you've ever tried setting the time while wearing gloves.
Once more, it's Davosa's interpretation of a classic style. In this case, there's a perfect marriage of Swiss watchmaking and German design.
Where some Flieger watches are overly large, at 42mm this feels right. And it's finished off with a 22mm black leather strap with contrast stitching.
Davosa Military 161.511.54
The Neoteric is more clearly an aviation piece.
But it's not a typical pilot's watch. It has colour and a couple of interesting design points. Like the Military model, it has a mid-sized case and a Swiss automatic movement.
As is often the case, the inspiration for the watch is revealed in the choice of name. The Neoteric is a new interpretation of a pilot's watch. Nowhere is that more obvious than with the dial and hands.
Take the dial. It's like a German Flieger Type B dial. But with the sets of numerals reversed. On the Davosa the outer ring displays the hours and the inner ring the minutes. It's a new take on an established design.
And the hands? They're coloured and have cutaway sections. For the minute hand that highlights the current minutes on the inner ring.
They're nice touches. As is the Davosa compass logo on the large crown.
The grey colour palette gives the watch an understated feel. But the orange accents keep it fun and contemporary.
If you like the Flieger style, but want a modernised version, then take a closer look at the Neoteric Pilot.
Davosa Neoteric Pilot 161.565.96
I'm a big fan of the GMT complication and love watches with the dual crown/Super Compressor look. So the Davosa Vireo was always going to make it onto this list.
It's an attractive piece. It perfectly captures the aspirational appeal of vintage flight watches. Designed for wealthy travellers, watches like this were a pleasing mix of formal and sporty styles.
The Vireo is a Swiss-made quartz model that is definitely worth a closer look.
The overall aesthetic is of a vintage-inspired piece. And as a part of the brand's Executive collection, this feels like a businessman's watch.
But it certainly isn't a case of style over substance. Although this is an elegant piece, it does have a busy, functional dial. This includes an outer ring for following a second timezone.
The extra crown, at 2 o'clock, rotates that inner bezel and displays major cities around the world.
Despite the dual timezones, extra hand, 24hr track and date window, the Vireo still manages to keep a cohesive look. Some of that is down to the simple colours, with the hands, numerals and dial all being similar.
It gives the watch a sophisticated appearance and reinforces the wealthy traveller ethos.
But this isn't an expensive piece. Indeed, as a quartz model, it's one of the most inexpensive watches in their range. So if budget is an issue, this could be the best place to start with Davosa.
Davosa Vireo Dual Time 162.492.15
Moonphase watches have a great look, only fully appreciated by watch nerds. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any reason that I'd need to track the Lunar cycle.
Some weird, esoteric reasons maybe, but nothing important.
But do you know what? I still love the appearance of moonphase watches. And I really appreciate that Patek Philippe made a watch that can keep track of the moon's cycle for 122 years.
Pointless, but impressive nonetheless.
Davosa's moonphase watch is a more affordable piece that is powered by a Swiss quartz movement. It's elegant, eye-catching and very affordable.
So, what do you get for the money?
In one sense, you get a straightforward dress watch with a moonphase complication. A classically styled three-handed watch with an additional moonphase indicator in the middle of the dial.
On closer inspection, there's a little more going on.
The Flatline has a crisp white dial and contrasting blue markers and hands. There's a neat date window tucked away at 6 o'clock. I like that. It maintains the symmetry of the dial.
The dial also has a discreet minute track and small lume dots at the hour markers.
But of course, your eye is drawn to the moonphase window. It provides colour, flair and rotates as the month progresses.
This is more of a talking piece than some of the other watches on my list. It's quirky but stylish and ideal for your introduction to moonphase models.
Davosa Flatline Moonphase 162.496.15
The Newton Speedometer outdoes the Flatline for quirkiness. It's a distinctive watch inspired by car dashboards of the 1960s.
It's also a well-made Swiss watch with a reliable automatic movement.
The design is interesting and not obvious at first glance. The hours are on a rotating ring behind the dial and the large hand displays the minutes. And the silver disc in the middle? That functions as a second hand.
It's a real contrast to the highly legible dials of Davosa's pilot's watches. But it's a great example of why we love wristwatches. They're outdated and aren't as accurate as our phones.
But they're fun. We enjoy the design, the workmanship and the backstory. That is evident with this model. A cool retro motor racing design has been prioritised over easy time reading.
And do you know what? Research has shown that watch wearers look at their watch more to see the watch than the time.
And I see this being the case with this stunning piece.
The dial is quirky and the mechanical movement is visible through an exhibition back. At 44mm wide, it's a little larger than I'd like, but it's not oversized.
The crown is prominent, again as a practicality. And it's matched with a plain leather strap.
This watch won't be for everyone. But watch fans with a love of cars? They'll enjoy this piece.
Davosa Newton Speedometer 161.587.25
Davosa is a brand with a long Swiss heritage. But like many watchmakers, the story isn't straightforward.
Despite that Swiss history and today's watches still being Swiss-made, the brand has a strong German influence.
This is evident in their designs, particularly in their aviation pieces. It's as you'd expect now that the brand is based in Germany.
I've presented you with a list of the seven best Davosa watches.
I hope you'll see both a depth of design and a common DNA that runs through their collections. You should see the Swiss and the German inspiration.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the brand. Let me know what you think in the comments below.