Thu. Aug 22nd, 2019

Favre-Leuba Raider Sea Bird, a Robust, All-Rounder for Women (Hands-On)

Since the early 1960s, Favre-Leuba has forged a solid portfolio of watches for Action Men, reliable, robust timepieces that appeal to mountaineers, divers, pilots, daredevils – or men who enjoy the look and feel of a professional rugged sports watch.  The Raider collection, for example, features beefy (48mm) made-for-extreme-adventure watches like the Bivouac 9000 with altimeter and barometer on board, or the Bathy 120 with an in-built depth gauge. But what about a watch for everyday wear and tear that still looks sporty but won’t rip your shirt cuffs and weigh down your wrist? The answer is Favre-Leuba’s Raider Sea King line for men and the Raider Sea Bird line for women.

RAIDER SEA BIRD FOR WOMEN

The Sea Bird is identical in shape, functions and movement to the men’s 41mm Sea King but obviously features a smaller case size of 37mm. The only concession to femininity is the availability of more colour options for the dial. And that says a lot about the intentions of this watch. This is not a girly version of a men’s watch, it is an unabashedly robust, downsized version of the men’s model. And I know a lot of women who will appreciate this. As the only women’s watch in Favre-Leuba’s collection, the Sea Bird has not fallen into the trap of trying to look like a women’s watch. It is deliberately masculine and maintains the utilitarian, hard-working philosophy of the brand’s watches. Having said that, the Sea Bird falls into the more ‘urban’ proposal of the Swiss brand, a comfortably sized daily beater designed for real wear and tear.

A CASE FOR ACTION

The 37mm stainless steel case picks up design cues from the brand’s legendary 1963 Deep Blue dive watch with its prominent barrel-shaped case and its distinctive double-decker bezel. The top part of the bezel is tetradecagonal (14 sides) and features a satin-brushed top and polished sides. Below the subtle geometry of the upper deck is another level decorated with polished square-shaped notches. The case is also satin-brushed to contrast with the polished part of the bezel creating a visually dynamic composition.  Unlike the 1960s model that inspired this watch, the lugs taper at an angle from the case to incorporate the integrated steel bracelet (the watch is also available with integrated leather straps). A screw-down crown protected by two crown guards and the screw-down caseback ensure water-resistance of 100 metres.

DIAL

Referring again to the 1960s models, the dial is framed by a sloping flange for the minute track and features a reproduction of the original rectangular hour markers. The hour markers are facetted and applied, adding depth to the composition and, like the hands, feature a solid block of Super-LumiNova. Although the two models we had for our hands-on session were the blue and white dial versions, the dial also comes in a shimmery copper or chocolate brown colour. A date window at 3 o’clock completes the functions.

AUTOMATIC MOVEMENT

The automatic movement inside the Favre-Leuba Raider Sea Bird is a customised ETA 2824 – a robust tried-and-tested all-rounder that will keep accurate time. Displaying the hours, minutes, seconds and the date, it runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour and boasts a 38-hour power reserve. A coherent movement for a sports watch of these characteristics.

THOUGHTS

An unpretentious, rugged and reliable companion for women who enjoy the virile aesthetics of a men’s sports watch but need a diameter more in tune with their wrist size. Made for everyday wear, the only question I have about the Raider Sea Bird is: Why isn’t the water-resistance on a par with the Sea King? The Sea King enjoys a 300m water-resistance rating. I know that 100 metres is more than enough for most activities, but seeing that the watch does not make any concessions to femininity, the rating could have remained the same.

PRICE

As mentioned, the Raider Sea Bird comes with either a steel three-link bracelet and double-folding clasp or a calfskin leather strap with a pin buckle in white, blue, beige or brown to match the colour scheme of the dial. The price for the steel bracelet models is CHF 1,950 while the leather strap models retail for CHF 1,750. For more details, please visit www.favre-leuba.com.

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