Exploring the world of watches on a budget

McDowell Time Tidewater

Every regular Time Bum reader probably knows that Bill McDowell and I partner up every year to host the District Time Watch Show. As such, you may think I have a bit of a bias when reviewing his watches. I don’t believe I do, but now you have full disclosure, make of it what you will. With that, I will turn my attention to his latest release, the Tidewater, which I happen to believe is a damn fine watch.

McDowell Time Tidewater
Named for the Atlantic coastal plain on Maryland and Virginia, the American-assembled Tidewater is McDowell Time’s first diving watch. As such, it is rated for 200m water resistance, has a screw-down crown, AR-coated sapphire crystal, and a unidirectional 120-click timing bezel. Bezel action is smooth but has a bit of play. Its brushed stainless steel cushion case bears a passing resemblance to that of the 39mm  McDowell Time Maxton Chronograph, but it is an all-new design. For starters, at 42mm wide and 50mm long, it is significantly larger, although it’s 13mm thickness does not seem quite so apparent when spread out over the Tidewater’s larger surface area. A beveled outer edge slims the lugs.  

McDowell Time Tidewater

A 42mm square is not what you would call small on the wrist. This watch has a seriously aggressive presence, feeling closer to 43-44mm. Even though it fit between my wrist bones, it was still an imposing chunk on my 6.75” wrist, making it a strictly weekend warrior for me. On the other hand (or wrist), folks like Bill, who have bigger forearms, can pull it off far better, and could probably even carry off the black version with a suit.

McDowell Time Tidewater wrist

Low profile crown guards flank a pleasantly restrained crown. Seriously, folks, I’ve got nothing against big crowns, but does every diver need a beer can at 3 o’clock? I much prefer a broad, but comparatively short, head like this one that provides more than ample grip without disrupting the lines of the case. It is signed, of course, with a deeply embossed MT logo.

McDowell Time Tidewater crown

On the Tidewater’s flip side is an exhibition window to show off the Swiss Sellita SW200 Automatic. You know the one, it’s the well regarded ETA 2824 clone with 26 jewels, a 28.8k per hour beat rate, and 38-hour power reserve. I’ve got no issue with the Swiss workhorse. I just question the decision to show it off. I mean, it’s neatly finished, but not particularly decorated. If it had a custom rotor, I would think differently, but as it is, I’d have been happier with a solid case back and some interesting art.

McDowell Time Tidewater case back

McDowell went with a glossy ceramic bezel insert in a bright royal blue on this model (blue and black dial/black bezel versions are also available), in which every engraved mark is filled with C3 SuperLuminova. The applied and polished bar markers and sword hands follow suit, lighting the face like a Christmas tree when the lights go down. 

McDowell Time Tidewater lume

It is a clean dial, uncluttered and highly legible, accented with delightful pops of orange on the logo, hour pips, water resistance rating, and lollipop second hand. While all three versions are attractive, I like the summery sporty look created by the contrast of the bright white against the vivid blue and orange.

McDowell Time Tidewater

The Tidewater also has McDowell Time’s first bracelet, an aggressive 22mm with solid ends, chiseled links, and single-ended screws. It looks great, has a wide range of adjustment, and a signed, push-button, flip-lock clasp. I’m relieved that Bill resisted the trend towards the expanding, box-type clasps that so many microbrand dive watches have chosen lately as I have yet to find one that does not have unduly sharp, furniture scratching corners. The Tidewater’s more conventional unit has no such drawback. There is absolutely nothing to fault on this bracelet. 

McDowell Time Tidewater clasp

That said, the Tidewater looks pretty amazing on the British Tan Horween leather pictured on the site. It is not an option right now, but it would definitely be worth it to pick one up from your favorite strap supplier. It’s a knockout combination.

McDowell Time Tidewater - Shane Snider

I really like the Tidewater. The bright colors, clean dial, and square case geometry to provide a large look without going overboard or cluttering things up. It is a big, well-appointed watch with a crisp design that also happens to come at a great price. Full retail will be $549, but you can grab one now for $475, in stock, no waiting - a sweet deal for a proper dive watch packing a Swiss automatic.

Intro pricing won’t last forever, so I’d suggest you head on over to McDowellTime.com and check it out. ⬩

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