After I picked the Dievas 3646, I couldn't stop thinking of the Kampfschwimmer. So, as soon as the next shipment of the Kampfschwimmer came in I snagged 1 for myself.
A couple of months later, Anders of Gnomon informed me that a new of a variant of the Kampfschwimmer would be launched soon. this was released on Friday (11-01-2013). Once again temptation got the better of me and I bought this as well.
The two watches are almost identical. The only telling difference is the arrangement of the Arabic and Roman numerals on the dial.
The other obvious difference can be seen from the back. Yes. the movements used, according to Anders, are differnet. The Kampfschwimmer has a Unitas 6497 under the hood while the new Vintage California is equipped with a Unitas 6498. Both feature the usual Cote-de-Geneve stripes.
I never thought I'll enjoy myself so much, winding watches. Winding my three Dievas will never be a chore but a form of relaxation for me. The clear and crisp ticking of the workhorse Unitas movements, and the pulsating of the hairspring through the exhibition case back can be rather calming and therapeutic.
The usual inscription borders the screw-down exhibition case back. However, it's indicated as 6497 on the case back of the new California Vintage as well.
Both watches come in a highly polished stainless steel cushion case. The crown is signed with the Dievas logo. The shape and relative thinness of the case allows it to be tucked neatly under shirt sleeves.
My usual concern with high gloss or highly polished surfaces is that they are likely to be ding magnets.
The two models look great both from the front and the rear. However, changing the straps is a bit of a nightmare thanks to the polished case. You'll scratch the case if you're not careful so caution is advised. Use scotch tape to cover the surrounding areas before attempting if you have issues with your dexterity. To add to the problem, the screws used to secure the lugs are not very big thus can be hard to focus on. I actually used a loupe when unscrewing them.
The domed sapphire crystal adds to its vintage appeal. I understand from Anders the very first series of Kampfschwimmer were fitted with acrylic rather than the sapphire crystal of the current and later batches. The acrylic would raise the overall thickness of the watch significantly.
The stock pre-vendome buckle is polished as well and is signed with the brand and slogan.
The Kampfschwimmer comes with a pair of black smooth leather straps with light tan/ gold stitch and an additional pair of brown straps. The new California Vintage comes with a pair orangey/ tan straps with list coloured stitch and the extremely soft brown strap seen in the pics here. It's so soft I initially thought its lamb skin. This makes it exceptionally comfortable on the wrist.
Both watches wear very comfortably on the wrist despite their relatively huge 47mm girth. the new ultra-soft brown calf leather straps that came with the new California Vintage is further adds to the comfort. Even though I've opted a stiff glossy grained croc strap for the new California Vintage, it sits very comfortably and neatly on my relatively small wrist.
The lume on both watches are a sight in each of their own right. Naturally, the sandwich dial of the new California Vintage stands out. The lume on the Kampfschwimmer, imho, looks like it's electrically charged, while that of the new California Vintage is more akin to green florescent tubes.
In a nutshell, these two are beautiful watches. Beautifully crafted and an exceptionally great value for money. The versatility of the overall design make these watches suitable companions in the office as well as capable weekend warriors. I don't think I'll part with my dough for a PAM 249. For me, these two beauties will suffice.
Case diameter : 47mm.
Lug size : 26mm.
Dial : Black California dial with applied lume (Kampfschwimmer), Black California dial - sandwiched (California Vintage).
Movement : UNITAS 6497 (Kampfschwimmer), UNITAS 6498 (California Vintage).
Power reserve : +/- 40-42 hours.
- Reliable movement.
- Great construction and finishing.
- Very comfortable on the wrist.
- Beautiful, soft and comfortable brown straps (California Vintage).
- Great lume.
- Polished case = ding magnet.
- Tiny lug screws make lug removal difficult.
- Polished case requires extreme caution when changing straps.
- Incorrectly labeled movement on the California Vintage.
Trivial for the uninitiated.
The dial is nicknamed the 'California Dial" because one of the companies that used to supply the dial to Rolex was based in California. Another reason I read was this dial was designed in California.