The wind woke me up. As I lay in the lumpy bed of the cheap motel cottage, I could hear the palm fronds slapping the window and the persistent whistle of asteady18-knot wind. Through the slats of the jalousie blinds, I could see whitecaps marching shoreward on the Atlantic. Itpromised to be a rough day of diving. Welcome to the FloridaKeys, a place I’d dived often over the years, and wherewindy conditions were familiar but never welcome.
The Keys dangle like a necklace of small islands off the southern tip of the continental US, with the Gulf of Mexico onits protected northern side and the Atlantic to the south and east. The name, “Keys,” is an anglicisation of cayo, aSpanishword for “small island.” This series of coral bumps has long been a bastion for misfits and adventurers escaping from the American mainland to write novels, ply the waters for game fish or search for sunken treasure. They have also been ahub of scuba diving since the earliest days of the sport. Between the low-slung motels (Breitling Replica Watches )and souvenir shops that line Highway 1 are dozens of marinas and shops with the telltale red and whitediveflag flapping in the ubiquitous offshore breeze.
Conch Republic is one such dive shop and its 46-foot boat, Republic Diver, is moored in a marina on the leeward sideof Islamorada. I handed my gear to the captain and stepped aboard for what promised to be a choppy ride out to Molasses Reef. Despite the long journey straight into that stiff wind, Iopted to kit up before we passed the breakwater. A pitching boat is agreat way to smash a finger, damage gear, or lose a wristwatch overboard and that’s the last thing I wanted to do, especially since I was wearing the new Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver. Aftertesting my air supply and stowing my mask and fins,Icontorted into my wetsuit and strapped the watch overmysleeve just as the big diesels revved up to plow into thefive-foot seas.
The Franck Muller Replica was introduced in March at Baselworld,an entirely new watch but so familiar is its formthatit seems like it has always existed. Bell & Ross may beayoung company by watch industry standards, onlyfoundedin 1992, but it already has an impressive lineageofunique diving watches in its history. Whether bydesign or coincidence, the releases of its new divers happen in ten-year intervals. In 1997 came the first versions,theTypeMarine and the Hydromax. While the formerwas asleek but fairly conventional 300m diving watch,the Hydromax boasted a ludicrous 11,000m depth rating, thanks toits innovative oil-filled case. A decade latersawthe introduction of the BR02-92 (and -94, a chronograph), atonneau-shaped diverwith internal rotatingtiming ring and bold legible dial. And now, in2017,Bell& Ross’s subaquatic watch finally embraces the square case aesthetic by which its aviation-themed watcheshave become modern classics.
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