Wittnauer Super Compressor
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Wittnauer Super Compressor

What does Wittnauer have in common with Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines, Blancpain, Universal Geneve, and Zenith? They all sold the same damned watch.

Super Compressor diving watches are a category unto themselves, and the best Swiss brands sold versions of the distinctive dual crown watches that have been one of the most popular types of dive watches for years.

The Super Compressor name refers to the innovative case design, which utilizes a "compressor" system that’s designed to become more watertight the deeper that the watch went under water. As the atmospheric pressure increases along with depth, the case back in compressed, pushing on the gaskets and creating a tighter seal.

The compressor case wasn’t any better at preventing water intrusion than a screw-down crown (in fact, it was probably worse), but due to their good looks, compressor cases proved to be popular during the 1960s. Eager to get into the burgeoning dive watch market, many of the best Swiss brands turned to EPSA (Ervin Piquerez, S.A.), the leading manufacturer of compressor cases at the time, for cases to build their divers around.

It is perhaps the internal bezel that has become the most endearing feature of Super Compressors to collectors today, and the idea behind them is that they’re less prone to accidental rotation that an external bezel. They worked out great for warm water divers, but anyone with gloved hands would have been out of luck (but at least stylish!).

Each brand's variant riffs on the familiar formula of a 36mm EPSA case, dual crowns, and the characteristic internal rotating diving bezel in their own way. In the case of this Wittnauer, the dial features bold hour markers at 6:00, 9:00 and 12:00 (with the date at 3), large sword hands, and the case has thick, faceted lugs.

For more photos of this particular piece, visit our friends over at Worn&Wound. For more information on the history of compressor-cased diving watches, click over to Scubawatch.org, HERE.

Details

Stainless steel Super Compressor case is approximately 36mm (excluding crowns). Wittnauer Caliber C11KAS Self-Winding Movement. Circa mid-1960s.

Overall Condition: Stainless Steel Super Compressor case is in very good condition with thick, bevels lugs and no signs of over-polishing, and only minor signs of use and wear in keeping with its age, including light nicks and scratches on the lugs and the sides of the case. Dial is in very good condition with a fine even patina to the luminescent elements. Wittnauer signed crowns; case back has some light scratches and tool marks but is in otherwise very good condition.

Includes one 18mm brown suede strap with tan stitching and two 18mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle

Also includes box, papers, and warranty card.

SKU: TT01035

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