The Dual Crown Case: Its Ties to the Super-Compressor, Modern Reinterpretations, and Its Place Within the Modding Community
It’s an important distinction to make early on that the super-compressor (S-C) case and the dual-crown case are two separate entities, yet through their respective histories they are linked together heavily.
Given that many people associate the two so heavily and even, in some instances, mistake them for being one and the same, this will explore the ties which the dual-crown case holds with the S-C case and the creators of the S-C, various modern interpretations and what they do or don't do differently, as well as a look into how the fresh and exciting Namoki dual-crown case opens up a wide range of opportunity within the watch modding scene.
The 50s: Tool-watches and the creation of the Super-Compressor
The turn of the decade in the 1950s saw an upsurge in the development of the “tool watch;” whether it be a dive watch, chronograph or a piece resistant to electrical fields. More professions were seeing the usage of timepieces as part of kit and equipment to aid numerous professionals in their duties, and with this came a wide range of designs and innovations, such as the S-C case.
Designed and brought to life by Ervin Piquerez S.A. (EPSA), a family watch case manufacturer that saw varied degrees of success prior to the Second World War. For a brief period, they stopped the manufacture of watch parts in 1935 before a return to their roots in 1951.
Five years later came a breakthrough with the creation of the now famous S-C case coming in 1956. The S-C style case was designed with the intention of using the pressure created by water when diving to further increase a water-tight seal by literally pressing the caseback tighter against the case.
It's important to note also the compressor and compressor - 2 cases, whilst differing from the super-compressor style, use the same foundation of literal compression to create a water resistance, though usually not to the same levels and are usually found in dressier style pieces coming with snap-on casebacks.
Where the dual-crown case differs is there is no form of compression used for its water resistance, instead using standard screw-down caseback and screwdown hand operation function with a rotating crown pressed into the case with a two-gasket system.
With the creation of the S-C case, many brands sought to use this innovation for their own dive watch ranges to further enhance not only their water-resistance capability but the likelihood their pieces would be purchased by professionals (and those just seeking adventure) to compete in a growing market. With the EPSA cases being used extensively as well as other case manufacturers who used the same principles, the S-C case was used in various forms, most importantly here, the dual-crown case.
Whilst the list is incredibly long, I picked a small few that I believe are quite interesting following varied degrees of success throughout history despite hardships and can still be seen today.
Namely, Longines who in recent decades have brought back the design with their legend diver:
Source: The Watch Collector
Benrus, a company whose history is rich with military ties with their asymmetrical cases (inspiring the Mil-Spec case from Namoki) and also their Ultra-Deep dual-crown case which continues to this day.
Source: Worn and Wound
Lastly is Alpina, a Swiss watch manufacturer that adopted the S-C case which continues in their range as the dual-crown Seastrong Diver 300 Heritage.
Source: Times Ticking
Modern Interpretations of the dual-crown design
As time has passed (no pun intended) the dual-crown case design has endured trend shifts, design changes and much more to still stay as a successful innovation to date. Differing from your standard dive design case like your Seamasters and Submariners with their external uni-directional rotating bezels, the dual-crown internal bezel has always had the added benefit of being bi-directional, making functionality quicker. Is is also being protected under the crystal, and with a firm enough rotating crown, will avoid the possibility of knocks which would cause an external bezel to move and lose accuracy; something that many vintage divers had the risk of especially as the uni-directional ratchet system wasn’t around until the 80’s.
Following from previously mentioned brands that have continued the design since their days as both S-C and dual-crown cases, many modern and fairly young brands have adopted the dual-crown case design in their own ways, with one in particular even making it a S-C.
For those who follow me, they will know the deep love I maintain for this first brand, Lorier:
Source: Worn and Wound
Their series II Hydra featured a dual-crown case design following the series I, taking inspiration from the 60’s design element they hold dearly and paying tribute to the original creators as well as their iconic users such as Jacques Yves Cousteau. The watch brings back with it a modern execution whilst showing that the dual-crown case was starting to make its way into the micro-brand world only a few years ago.
Source: Baltic Watches
Continuing on from Lorier, another micro-brand creating big waves in the watch world is Baltic. Their Aquascaphe dual-crown is akin to that of Namoki’s dual-crown case in its design like an identical twin. It being a recent release further solidified the undeniable fact that the dual-crown case is still funky, fresh and functional in a world of external bezel dive cases.
Source: Watch Clicker
Now, one brand that not only utilises the dual-crown case design, but even went as far as to make it a genuine S-C with a small couple of modern adjustments: the Christopher Ward C65 S-C. This timepiece is not only incredibly cool and punchy with its 60’s design and colour combinations, but with a world-first exhibition caseback for a S-C, you’re able to see the ultra-thin compression spring. At 300 microns thick, the spring which enables the compressor to work, is just four times the width of a human hair. Look again, and you’ll also spot the ‘diving-bell’ mark logo that Ervin Piquerez used to signify authenticity.
Source: Christopher Ward
After nearly seven decades since the creation of the S-C, brand such as Christopher Ward are looking to maintain that special and iconic feature that some may call outdated compared to modern technology whilst giving it modern upgrades so it is still able to compete with the very best.
What does this mean for the modding community?
This case design is a first within the modding community. Its creation has ticked a large box that's been left waiting for a long time (at least for me) and opened up a wide range of opportunities for modders to flex their creative muscles, giving them an opportunity to stamp their own mark on this iconic look.
The case itself fits both the NH35/36 but can also comfortably house the NH34 GMT movement, allowing for not only skin-diver inspired pieces but the creation of a “dual crown GMT dive watch”, packing as many functions into a watch as possible.
The case utilises the dual-crown design discussed so far featuring a screw-down crown at 3.45 for your time (and date/GMT) setting, with the crown at 2.15 operating the smooth internal rotating bezel. Unlike the bottom crown, the top isn't a screw-down crown. Due to this, many people question this decision on my own posts featuring my builds, expressing their concerns about only having one of the crowns as a screw-down.
Much like the usual dual-crown design, not having the crown used to rotate the bezel as a screw down firstly aids in the functional operation should you choose to venture into the water with this case allowing you to rotate it with ease, but will not affect its water resistance given its tight fit to the case as well as gasket system ensuring it can handle deep depths.
The wide variety of brands featured so far also employ this same system for their dual-crown watches and accommodate the lack of screw-down design with a dual-gasket system seen in the CW C65. Hopefully this puts many people's minds at ease now knowing that many companies use this method and it is standard within the case design, so this case will be just as capable.