Watches

An Underwater Mechanic’s Lifeline: Ianos Mihanikos Dive Watch

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Ianos continues paying tribute to the history of the Greek sponge divers by splashing deep into the abyss of the microbrand scene with its newly designed Mihanikos dive watch. The brand’s Avyssos dive watch highlighted the kanpanelopetra diving technique and the hardships associated with the natural harvesting of the “fields at the bottom of the ocean.” The Mihanikos delves deeper into the dark and stoic ethos of the legendary sponge divers from Kalymnos. 

Like many cultures, the Greeks also use song and dance to memorialize moments and tell stories. The song, “O Mηχανικός”” (“The Mechanic”) — a term aptly used for scaphandre-donning sponge divers working on engine powered boats with mechanical air compressors — is the muse for this watch. The song and dance emulate a stricken diver who tries to dance but is unable to move fluidly, causing his motions to be stiff and machine-like. As the song progresses, the stricken diver is freed by the emotional power of the music and is miraculously able to dance again.

Ianos’ company vision is to share the stories of its Greek ancestors by incorporating design cues inspired by the natural environment, history, and art from the 1950s through the 1970s into its watches. The Mihanikos watch carries over distinct features that closely tie in with the Kalymnos spirit of that time period. 

When Greek sponge divers would embark on their 6-7 months-long journeys out at sea, minutes were overthrown by hours, and hours by days. The dial of the Mihanikos emphasizes the passage of time by prominently displaying the date window at 12 o’clock. The placement of the date window is a nod to the divers counting down the days until they returned home.

There were multiple new and industrial mechanical machines aboard the ships, including the scaphandre diving suit that would change diving forever, despite its catastrophic effects on divers’ physical and psychological health. In stark contrast to the few minutes divers would spend skin diving at depths of around 40 feet, the suit allowed them to reach depths as low as 175 feet for several hours at a time.

The bezel of the Mihanikos mirrors the functional form of the scaphandre diving helmet by maximizing the width of the bezel and keeping the sapphire crystal’s porthole-like proportions intact. The function-forward and barren design characteristics carried over from the scaphandre helmet are juxtaposed by the soft-grained finish and sponge-like curve of the bezel and case when viewed from the side. 

A uni-directional 120-click bezel adorns the case and is unique in that it is devoid of minute markings. The single dot at 12 o’clock mimics one of the bolts on a scaphandre diving helmet’s porthole. The bezel’s function is intended to measure hours under water, as Greek sponge divers were pushed to dive faster, longer, and deeper than the scaphandre suit was safely intended for. An unfortunate byproduct of this commercialized diving practice put the value of the suits above the value of the divers, which, in turn, forced the sponge divers to invariably risk their lives.

The dial markers are one of only three design elements carried over from the Avyssos dive watch. They emulate the kampanelopetra stones that were used to quickly dive down toward the ocean floor. Unfortunately, this practice proved fatal for many skin divers, as the fast down-fast-up approach was incorrect for diving in the scaphandre suit. The combination of long durations under water and breathing compressed air without proper decompression also caused severe cases of the bends.

To complement the Mihanikos theme, the sub-seconds indicator rotates and mimics the rotational movement of the flywheels that drive the air pumps located on the ship’s deck. The dot on the flywheel allows you to precisely track the seconds when syncing and setting your watch. 

The second design element that’s carried over from the Avyssos is the hands, which have been properly bolded to help with legibility and to enhance the contrast against the deep blue, almost black, matte dial.

The Mihanikos measures 43mm wide and is water-resistant to 300m. It uses a 316L stainless steel case to encapsulate the Sellita 360 automatic movement with a 42-hour power reserve. The case stands at a proud 15.75mm, which includes the height of the NATO strap when worn together. The height measured from the strap channel to the top of the front sapphire crystal is a shallow 12.25mm! This is made possible because of the third design element that is carried over from the Avyssos. 

The 20mm-wide strap channel is the most surprising and thrilling feature of Ianos’ design DNA. It keeps the height profile of the watch constant no matter how you attach it to your wetsuit. This is accomplished by incorporating a channel in the middle of the caseback, allowing for the watch to pass through instead of sitting across the back of the case. The channel also has a sapphire porthole to allow the viewing of the movement when the NATO strap is removed. The watch comes outfitted with 2 straps to suit your exploration needs: High-grade rubber NATO with custom sponge pattern in the dark blue color of the dial and a standard cured Italian leather one-piece strap with custom stainless steel hardware in a dark denim color.

Two verses from the song “The Mechanic” sum up the Kalymnian divers’ stoic mantra: “Η Μηχανικός θα γίνω ή στον άμμο θ’ απομείνω” (“I will either be a mechanic or remain in the sand”) and “Kαι αν πεθάνω μη με κλάψεις μες στον άμμο να με θάψεις” (“If I die, don‘t cry for me, bury me in the sand”). These are engraved on the rehaut as a final homage to the Greek sponge divers.

The Mihanikos is the embodiment of the Greek ethos paying respect to its diving history. Ianos’ intent was to create a watch that imbues the qualities of a tool watch that would’ve been inspiring, critical, and useful to sponge divers of the past. The Ianos Mihankos is limited to 300 pieces and is expected to ship during the Spring of 2022. Priced at 1350 CHF, it will be available on December 10th as a pre-order for one month, after which the watch’s price will go up to 1550 CHF. Learn more here.

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