Want to learn more about the Invicta 1953 Pro Diver? In this hands-on review, I’ll share all of the details you need to know.
First, let’s take a look at the brand itself. Then I’ll get into the nitty-gritty details of the watch.
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There’s no getting around it, Invicta gets a lot of flak on the internet. It’s the one brand everyone loves to hate. While there are several reasons behind this, most of them are subjective and strongly opinionated (I’ll spare you a lengthy discussion of aesthetics).
Invicta was established in 1837. Translating to “Invincible” in Latin, they were once a prolific watchmaking company. Devastated by the quartz crisis, Invicta was driven to bankruptcy in the 1980s.
In 1991, the company was revived under American ownership and has been producing watches since. They’re not shy about flaunting their Swiss heritage, even incorporating the Swiss cross into their logo. Though they do produce watches in Switzerland, many of their watches are also produced in Asia.
I would like to call attention to the brand’s marketing strategy, wherein the MSRP of their watches is highly inflated and instantly slashed to give the impression of value and savings.
The Pro Diver we’re looking at today came boxed with a swing tag labeled $695 although the watch actually sells for around $100-150.
While this may be deceptive, the ridiculous markup prices are easy to see though. Any sensible shopper can determine the true value of an item by comparing prices online.
Some folks out there couldn’t care less about the brand reputation of their watch, but I believe it’s worth learning about. In the world of watches, you’re buying the brand just as much as you’re buying the product itself.
Though, if you can look past the connotation Invicta carries, some of their watches are solid value propositions.
The few watches that get a sliver of a fair chance among enthusiasts are among the Pro Diver line, many of which are homages to the Rolex Submariner.
Today’s watch is no exception, but as far as homages go, this one is tastefully executed. It’s based on the very first Submariner introduced in 1953, hence the name. Released in 2020, Invicta has since rolled out multiple bezel color variations, and even an all black IP coated version.
In traditional Submariner fashion, the stainless steel case takes on an exclusively brushed finish, except for the polished chamfered edges running the length of the lugs.
The lugs are brushed diagonally, while the sides of the case are brushed horizontally across. Like many others, I was relieved to see no “INVICTA” script engraved into the side of the case, which was the most common grievance with previous Pro Diver references.
Unfortunately, the finishing of the case leaves something to be desired. While the chamfered edges are a nice touch, the brushed grain is quite large and looks unrefined. This is accentuated in photos, but it’s definitely noticeable with the naked eye.
We’re treated to a signed crown on this one. The crown takes on a matte, seemingly bead-blasted finish with radial brushing around the Swiss cross symbol.
The matte crown is a bit incongruous with the rest of the watch, but it’s hardly noticeable and easily disregarded. Besides that, the crown is sturdy and easy to use.
- Case size: 40mm
- Case size w/crown: 44mm
- Lug width: 20mm
- Lug to lug: 49mm
- Thickness: 14.2mm
- Weight: 68g (watch case), 134g on bracelet
While the watch maintains a vintage aesthetic, it wears very much like a modern diver. On the wrist, it feels larger than its 40mm size would suggest.
This is in part due to the bulging display caseback. The case itself is about 11mm, but the caseback bumps it up to 14mm. A shame, as it would have curved nicely with the wrist if the caseback were flatter.
Keep in mind that a NATO or any other pass-through strap will also tack onto the height. I’m comfortable wearing the watch on my 6.5” wrist, but I would hesitate to recommend the watch for anyone with smaller wrists.
The 1953 utilizes a 120-click unidirectional bezel with an aluminum insert. The insert is sloped to meet with the edge of the crystal. For a watch at this price point, the bezel action is superb.
It was stiff out of the box, but after a few rotations it has worn in properly. The clicks are nicely defined and there’s little noticeable backplay.
While the coin edge bezel is machined well, it does sit flush with the case. Since there’s no overhang, it can be tricky to get a grip on it depending on what angle you grab it from.
Though, this is a concern specifically if you wear the watch on the bracelet. If you decide to swap it out for a NATO or other type of strap there’s ample space between the lugs for your fingers to grip.
The bezel insert features a lume pip at the 0 position and numerals in a font faithful to the original Rolex. The triangle marker aligns properly with the minute track, but the bezel insert itself is printed incorrectly.
The spacing of the markers is off, meaning that while the 0 position is properly aligned, some of the other markers are off. This is most apparent when looking at the 15 and 45 minute markers. With the bezel in its default position, they’re a little off kilter.
The dial is a deep black with a subtle matte satinized finish that matches the bezel nicely. The dial is bordered by a brushed flange which is slightly reflective.
The gilt printing and gold-tone pencil handset are another nod to the old Submariner. Before white on black became their hallmark style, early Rolexes of the 50s and 60s used a warm golden print.
This aesthetic has since become synonymous with vintage watches. Here, the text and minute track appears a golden brown, and the indices are framed in the same color.
The hands are perhaps the most attractive part of the dial. It’s always fun to see them glisten as you turn the watch in the light. The second hand is also quite unique to the 1953, as it features a lollipop that extends out to the edge of the dial.
As you can imagine, this design pairs well with many straps in various materials and colors. Anything from a rubber tropic strap to the original Sean Connery 007 strap look right at home on this watch.
I personally like the look of a coyote brown NATO, as the color is spot on with the gilt accents.
Lume has been applied to the indices, bezel pip, and hour and minute hands. Alas, there’s none on the second hand lollipop. The application is even, though it’s not particularly bright or long lasting.
The hands and bezel pip fade out quicker than the dial, where it seems less lume has been applied. On a full charge, I can just barely make them out after 15 minutes.
Measuring at 20mm, the bracelet tapers down to 18mm at the clasp. The clasp, signed with the Invicta name and wing insignia, is secured with a flip-lock and has 6 positions of microadjustment.
While the clasp is stamped and the bracelet endlinks are hollow, the bracelet is not terribly rattly and feels comfortable on the wrist.
The solid links of the bracelet are vertically brushed with polished sides. The finish of the bracelet is actually a little nicer than the brushing on the case, with a finer grain. This one employs a pin and collar adjustment system.
Flipping the watch over, you can take a peek under the hood at the venerable Seiko caliber NH35A. This 24 jewel movement features hacking, hand-winding, and a 41 hour power reserve.
One thing to appreciate about Invicta is their addition of a customized rotor. In their signature yellow, the rotor adds a degree of decoration to an otherwise plain movement. Admittedly, it’s a bit nicer than the bare steel rotors on some of Seiko’s own watches.
Unscrewing the crown gives you three positions of adjustment. Position 1 allows for clockwise winding and Position 3 is for adjusting the time.
Position 2 is referred to as a “ghost date” position and serves no purpose. Usually a cost-cutting measure, it is the result of using a date complication movement on a watch with no date window.
Some collectors are driven mad by ghost date watches, but I find it easy to ignore.
I’m honestly a little puzzled about the intended target audience of this watch. The 1953 Submariner is a peculiar choice for an affordable homage watch at this price point.
It’s a design that would appeal to hardcore enthusiasts, but this watch is lacking the specs that enthusiasts typically look for.
Corners must be cut at this price point, but it’s no stretch to presume folks would pay a little more for upgraded specs. At the very least, a sapphire crystal upgrade would have been nice.
It’s a stretch, but imagine if they used a bubbled sapphire crystal to emulate the acrylic on the original Rolex. That would take this watch to the next level. In addition, I would have liked to see stronger lume, better finishing, and solid endlinks on the bracelet.
Still, this is a great piece that punches above its $100 price tag. If you’re looking for an alternative to the Tudor Black Bay 58, this one fits that role pretty well.
This is also a great choice if you’re just getting into watches. Borrowing its aesthetics from one of the most iconic and timeless designs in watch history, it’s a capable 200m diver.
It’s a watch that shows Invicta is capable of pulling off restrained designs, and I hope to see more like it in the future.