Cold War DPV fugitive inspired dive watches

Bernd Boettger with his homemade DPV
Bernd Boettger with his homemade DPV

Fifty-five years ago a young East German engineer called Bernd Boettger, desperate to escape from behind the Iron Curtain to the West, decided that his best shot was to travel submerged at sea, says watch manufacturer Spinnaker. 

So Boettger built himself an underwater scooter, using a 1.5hp petrol bike engine with air supplied through a snorkel and the exhaust directed into the container that would act as a float. 

With another snorkel for himself, and with his homemade device untested, Boettger succeeded in completing the 15-mile journey under and across the Baltic Sea to the safety of Denmark. He later refined, patented and marketed his 10kg AquaScooter – and his exploit was the inspiration for three new variants of a diving watch from the Hong Kong watchmaker.

The Spinnaker Boettger Automatic Limited Edition (SP-5083) is described as an intriguing rethinking of the traditional dive watch “from bezel to bracelet”. It comes in three new colourways: Midnight Navy, limited to 630 units, and Forest Shadow and Dark Olive (510 units each).

The Forest Shadow and Dark Navy Boettger LH dive watches
The Forest Shadow and Dark Navy Boettger Automatic LE watches
Spinnaker Boettger watch with alternative strap in Dark Olive
Spinnaker Boettger watch with bracelet and rubber strap in Dark Olive

The lugless 300m water-resistant case is designed to flow seamlessly into the bracelet. Measuring 42mm across and 13mm thick, it has a scratch-resistant sapphire lens

The inescapably distinctive visual feature of the watch is that the large hour indices are suspended above the wide hour and minute hands – which, like the indices, are treated with Super-LumiNova.

Power comes from a 24-jewel, 28,800bph Miyota 9015 self-winding automatic movement with a 42hr power reserve. An FKM rubber strap is provided as an alternative to the stainless-steel bracelet, which has a foldover buckle with safety lock and push-button. 

The watches retail at £710 – find out more at the Spinnaker site. Incidentally, Boettger’s AquaScooter was still being sold from the USA up to the 2010s.

Bernd Boettger with the device that carried him to freedom
DPV builder Bernd Boettger

Also on Divernet: Dive Time: Your Guide To The Latest Diving Watches



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