Invicta Pro Diver 1953 Review - Invicta’s Best Watch Is Overhyped!
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Invicta isn’t a brand to shy away from marketing. If you haven’t had them rammed down your throat on television, you’ve probably had them stalk you around the internet instead. They’ve even done collaborations with everyone from Shaq to Star Wars and Spongebob. I’d go as far as to call them the loudest brand in the watch world.
Yet, rather quietly, an auspicious dive watch has sneaked its way onto the scene; with very little marketing. This one first cropped up in early 2020, so why am I only just talking about it now? Well, naturally, or perhaps artificially, by the time I discovered the watch, it had already sold out.
All I had to go off was other reviews and honestly, this looked like not only the best Pro Diver but potentially the best watch they’d ever released.
It received a strong positive reception from various outlets; many hyping it up as one of the most attractive affordable dive watches on the market. The videos and product shots appeared to support these claims, with a restrained and refined gilt dial that does look straight out of the 1950s.
Not only did the looks excite me but the omission of the engraving down the side, which brought down the previous Pro Divers in my books.
Therefore, I pulled the trigger the moment they were restocked on the Invicta website. The watch arrived very quickly to me in the UK, from what I remember it was 2 or 3 days at most, which was impressive.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite so impressed by the watch itself. In fact, I think it’s a bit overhyped. Here’s why.
First up, the packaging. Well, the packaging is really good. It’s not often that I say a brand should cut corners, but that’s my genuine thought here. This 1953 came in a larger version of their regular yellow packaging with an additional external box. While this slightly elevates the unboxing experience I genuinely think the regular Pro Diver packaging would have been enough already; especially considering that Invicta themselves weren’t pushing this as some major new release.
That normal box is already good enough, I’d rather they save the extra and use that cash to make the watch even better. After all, this is a £100 watch, not a £1000 one, despite what their ridiculous pricing strategies may have you believe.
Let’s cut straight to the crux of the issue and then we’ll talk about some parts of the watch that I think they nailed.
Here’s a secret. Rather like people, some watches look better on-camera than in person, whilst others are the opposite. Generally though, if you’re well-versed in photography and have an expensive lighting setup, you can make any watch look fairly good.
When I first laid my eyes upon this watch, that’s exactly the thought that was lingering in the back of my mind. Visually, it just didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The watch looked incredible in some of the stock images, yet the one I had in front of me was underwhelming. Was I foolish to have high expectations for a £100 watch? Perhaps.
Nevertheless, I’d like to highlight some things others haven’t mentioned, in case you’re considering buying one. My aim here isn’t to bash the watch, rather to provide you with the full story, so you can make an informed purchasing decision.
So, the design for this watch is ripped straight from the very first Rolex Submariner 6204 from (surprise, surprise) 1953. As such, each aspect is extremely similar, though not identical. I think the original Rolex looks better for a few reasons.
Likely due to the ageing process, the vintage Rolex models have lume that is significantly darker in tone. As is the case with many other Invicta models, the luminescence utilised on the markers of the ‘1953’ has a slight green hue and it appears much fainter than I anticipated; probably lighter than the 6204 originally released with back in the day. Many YouTubers record on mobile phones which artificially boost saturation and contrast, so perhaps that’s why I expected the dial to pop a bit more. In its current state, the lume looks a touch half-baked.
The observant of you may have also noticed that the white luminescent slice on the hands doesn’t match the rest either; which I think is quite sloppy. While they did a great job of other aspects, such as the minute track, the matte dial and the unusual lollipop second hand; it still feels like Invicta has pulled some punches, rather than fully committing to the vintage aesthetic. This is equally apparent with the crystal choice and sizing.
As with many period watches, the original retail Submariner and the Turn-O-Graph it was based on both featured domed crystals. Rather counter-intuitively, this Invicta just houses a flat piece of mineral crystal. While mineral is reasonable and the standard at this price point, it lacks the character that this watch was aiming for in the first place. A domed crystal would have better matched the faux-vintage vibe. If they changed nothing but the crystal, I strongly feel that that factor alone would have greatly improved my enjoyment of the watch.
Additionally, they have gone with a more modern 40mm case size, versus the 37mm on the Rolex; leading to the dial being wider and feeling more spread out. I’ll let you decide whether this change suits your wrist or preferences, though it again breaks the retro immersion. The bezel also appears narrower, which I don’t think looks proportionally quite as good as the Rolex.
On-wrist it feels a little like a mishmash of a modern diver and a vintage one. They’ve attempted to imitate the original Submariner, to the extent where they even have its release year on the dial, yet have failed to fully encapsulate the essence of a vintage watch. I think we’ve seen other brands such as Timex do a better job of capturing that soul and spirit with their Q Lineup, which may be a factor in their popularity, despite the lower-end specifications.
Despite my reservations about the execution of the design, it’s worth highlighting that some of the physical aspects of this watch are very impressive indeed.
The case finishing is the best I’ve seen from Invicta and is top-tier at the £100 price point. The brushing is delicately and precisely done, with the beautifully curving polished chamfered edge. Of course, we have the clean left flank this time, which is a welcome sight compared to the PTSD-inducing engravings on other models.
The unguarded crown is faithful to the Rolex and functionally is excellent. Not only does it have plenty of grippy serrations but is perfectly responsive and a pleasure to use during time adjustments and winding.
The bracelet is also very solid for a watch costing this little. True, the clasp is rudimentary and the end links are hollow, though the rest of the links are solid; featuring a visually impressive vertically brushed finish. Those end links are nice and flexible too, as the central segment is recessed, allowing for a greater range of motion. If you have a smaller wrist, you may still be okay with this one.
While I’m not too keen on the slimness of the bezel, it is still a significant upgrade over the other Pro Divers I’ve covered. This one has no back-play and has a lower-pitched click that feels much more assuring. Unfortunately, there is an issue with the alignment. When the upper chevron is aligned with the 12 o’clock marker, the silver markings at 9 and 3 don’t align with their respective indices.
The ever-popular Seiko NH35A movement does help to steady the ship though. This is a very solid automatic movement that is a welcome addition to this affordable package. You probably know the deal here, 21,600 beats per hour, along with hacking and hand-winding. This unit has a distinctive yellow Invicta rotor.
It’s not the smoothest hand but you can’t expect much more. With the screw-back, you also get a strong 200m of water resistance, making this a true diver (as opposed to a dive-style) watch.
In the hands, it feels decent for the money, which puts me in a rather strange predicament. This 1953 is a good quality watch that’s also well-priced when available at retail cost.
In isolation, it’s also good looking too; yet on balance, I find myself with little desire to pick it up and wear it. I can’t help looking at that Rolex and thinking that this Invicta could have been so much more if they had just followed through with this homage, rather than stepping off the gas two-thirds of the way into the design phase.
For the low price tag, it’s a solid watch, hence its inclusion on my recent dive watch roundup post. However, from reading and watching lots of content about it, I had myself hyped up thinking this could be the best Invicta ever. Having spent more time with it, I’m not sure it is. As a standalone watch in no context, it’s fine, but it doesn’t quite work as a vintage-looking homage to that iconic Submariner.
It’s true, the vast majority of us would never be able to afford to purchase an original 6204 for tens of thousands of pounds. For many of you, this Invicta may suffice as that affordable alternative. However, I think you could probably find some comparable options that serve that purpose better from the likes of AliExpress.
Additionally, don’t be tempted to pay scalper prices for this Invicta. Whether the shortages of this model are truly down to extreme demand or artificial practices from Invicta themselves, I’m not sure we’ll ever know. Either way, this £100 watch is not worth the extreme prices that some greedy individuals are reselling them for on eBay. If you’re lusting for this watch, I’d be patient or you’ll risk being disappointed.