I've been a huge fan of dive watches ever since I saw Roger Moore's James Bond and all he could do with his Rolex 5513. I mean, it even had a buzz saw he used to free himself?! This was in the era of digital and quartz, so seeing this ultra classy analog watch was really interesting to me. It took years before I could afford my own mechanical watch, but several of my early watch purchases were diver-designed.
When I started DuFrane Watches, the initial piece I planned to launch was a diver I was calling the Barton Springs (I opted to launch the brand with the Bergstrom as I felt there was more to be done on the diver). I wanted a piece that was unique and had its' own character, but also respected the long lineage of dive watches. The upcoming production model looks very different from my original designs. However, based on those drawings, I built two prototypes in early 2016.
Here is an early sketch (with dimensions) of the Barton Springs. Gone are the straight lugs, the inner chapter ring, and the whacky mix of three round markers for 9, 10, and 11 respectively. There was a purpose behind those, but it was far too personal and made no sense to the broader audience. I have three children, and I was looking for a discreet design cue to represent them. I ultimately decided to modify the dial design to a more practical one, but it's not a pure coincidence that now the 3, 6, and 9 markers are the same style compared to the rest of the hour markers.
There were two prototypes produced, one in brushed steel and the other was finished in our Matte Bronze PVD coating. My oldest son wears it daily and he's developing some nice wabi on it!
Fast forward to early 2017 and I'm still tweaking and changing the Barton Springs. I hadn't quite settled on everything, but the case came into shape with tapered and twisted lugs, slightly larger in size at 42mm and a larger crown with a more complimentary shape to its bezel. As well, the bezel thickness was thinning down. This was a surprising design challenge as I was struggling to find the exact overall look I was after.
Mid 2017 and still the dial was not solidified. So what does one do in a pinch? One flies to NY to sip some bourbon with an old friend in his basement apartment with paper and pencil in hand. My buddy is an avid vintage collector and I knew some fresh eyes would benefit the process. Several drinks and copious notes later and I had the inspiration needed to finish the new dial design. And since it was new, I decided to tweak the name a little to the Barton Springs 656 Diver. Why 656? Depth ratings on watches are almost always listed in Meters with a corresponding Feet conversion. A 200 meter watch is usually listed as 660 feet. However, that is not actually correct. The exact conversion is in fact 656 feet. It is my nod not only to the exactness I pursue for each watch we produce, but especially to this particular piece. This is a watch whose roots can be traced back to that special connection 30-some years earlier by an young boy mesmerized by a dive watch in a movie. But specifically, the over two years and considerable cost that was spent to bring this piece from idea to reality. A reality with a limited run of only 300 Barton Springs 656 watches.