Mixing its Cuban roots, which are very much reflected in the design of the watches, with traditional Swiss manufacturing, Cuervo y Sobrinos is a brand like no other. Warm, original, slightly flamboyant with a typical Latino vibe, the brand can’t be blamed for not being consensual. There is a true personality to these watches, and the brand’s latest models are not here to change that. Indeed, right in time for summer, Cuervo y Sobrinos has recently presented a new collection of aquatic models with a generous splash of colour and a design that is nothing like your usual Submariner-wannabe. Today, we’ll take a closer look at this new Buceador Caribe Collection.
Cuervo Y Sobrinos
CyS is unique in many ways, starting with its origins. Indeed, it is the only Swiss brand with Cuban roots. Established in Havana in 1882, the brand was revived in the late 1990s and has carved a niche with models that lean heavily on vintage design cues. The watches created by the brand play on the Golden Age of La Habana, during the 1950s, when the island was an exotic playground for the VIPs of the world.
The story starts in Cuba in 1862 when a Spanish immigrant, Don Ramón Cuervo, opened a jewellery and watch repair shop in Havana. Twenty years later, the business expanded with the incorporation of the owner’s nephews to become Cuervo y Sobrinos. As the most luxurious establishment on the island and the premier Cuban luxury brand, Cuervo y Sobrinos specialised in the sale of prestigious imported timepieces and even established its own manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1928 to keep up with demand. By the 1950s, Havana had established itself as a luxurious playground for the rich and famous, and Cuervo y Sobrinos enjoyed the trust of Rolex, Longines, Patek Philippe and other prestigious Swiss brands to become their retailer. The Cuban Revolution and the rise of Fidel Castro put an end to the partying. The Cuervo family fled Cuba; the brand was nationalised in 1965 and even produced a watch for the Cuban army.
In 1997, Luca Musumeci and Marzio Villa revived the brand and exhibited at Baselworld in 2002 with a line of retro-style watches named after Cuban cigars. In 2018, it was acquired by a team of investors. Massimo Rossi is the CEO, and the company has its headquarters in Capolago, in the Swiss canton of Ticino. The original spirit of the brand – a strong Cuban identity, vintage styling and Swiss craftsmanship – is intact.
The Cuervo y Sobrinos Buceador Caribe
Considering the history of the brand and the spirit behind it, you could easily imagine that when it decided to create a diver-oriented model or at least a watch made for aquatic activities and fun in the sun, CyS wasn’t going to become another Submariner or Seamaster copycat. Its sports watch had to be different; it had to have a certain flamboyance and loads of personality. And, unsurprisingly, it has all these positive characteristics. It might well be one of the most original and refreshing sports watches we’ve seen recently, but also one that won’t be consensual and liked by all. But that’s fine; Cuervo y Sobrinos doesn’t want to be consensual.
Looking at this new Buceador Caribe (meaning Caribbean diver) collection, you immediately feel the brand’s DNA but with a sportier and more robust character than most of the watches we’ve covered on MONOCHROME, which were part of the elegant Historiador collection, immediately recognisable thanks to their lugs. The Buceador Caribe is undeniably bold, vibrant and rather unique.
Starting with the case and the overall architecture of the watch, Cuervo y Sobrinos chose a container-type construction rather than a classically styled watch with an external bezel. Made of stainless steel, with or without DLC coating, the case features a smooth bezel. It measures a respectable 43mm in diameter with a height of15.8mm. Allow me two comments, however. First, there’s a highly domed crystal on top that adds to the height making the central case thinner than expected. Second, the 43mm is not small, but the lugs are extremely short and the watch doesn’t wear that large on the wrist.
The design of the Buceador Caribe collection is original, with a combination of a round bevelled and polished bezel with a central case with an octagonal profile and lugs that are nicely integrated into this shape. There’s a pleasing robustness to this case, both visually and also regarding its construction. Thanks to the screwed caseback and crown, it has a respectable 200m water-resistance.
As you’ve probably noticed, the Cuervo y Sobrinos Buceador Caribe is equipped with two crowns and a surprising pusher on the side of the case. The crown at 9 o’clock is used to wind to movement and to set the time; the crown at 2 o’clock is used to actuate the inner rotating bezel but works in tandem with the pushers. On compressor-style watches, either the additional crown doesn’t screw, and there’s a risk of accidentally moving the internal bezel, or it screws down, and that makes its use relatively risky underwater. CyS’ solution is a pusher that, once pressed, allows the adjustment of the internal rotating bezel so that the wearer can monitor the dive time.
The most original part of the Buceador Caribe is the dial. First, all three options are colourful and fresh – especially the light blue version. Each is named after the waters surrounding Cuba’s coastline and reflect the local environment. There’s the cyan-coloured seas of Varadero, the pastel sands of Cayo Coco and the Coral Negro referring to the black corals of the region. All models share the same base, meaning bold and oversized hours and minutes hands combined with bold markers and Arabic numerals for the hours. Moreover, all the dials have a dégradé effect, with the colour gradually darkening on the edges of the dial to match the colour of the internal bezel. A date window is placed at 6 o’clock and framed by a metallic element recalling the shape of the case.
As mentioned, three versions inaugurate this collection:
- Buceador Caribe Varadero: the most sea-oriented model, with a stainless steel case, a gradient blue dial with splashes of turquoise, a 15-minute timer in turquoise with yellow numerals, yellow accents for the name of the watch and the seconds hand, white markers surrounded in turquoise, a turquoise rubber strap with a yellow lining and an additional dark blue high gloss leather strap
- Buceador Caribe Cayo Coco: a more “land” styled watch, with a stainless steel case, a gradient light brown, sand-coloured dial, a dive bezel highlighted with red numerals to match the tip of the central seconds hand, markers outlined in black and printed with white Super-LumiNova, a matte brown rubber strap with a red lining and an additional light brown high gloss leather strap
- Buceador Caribe Coral Negro: the more modern version of the three, with a black DLC-coated stainless steel case, a black/grey gradient dial with a smoked effect, touches of red on the dive bezel, the seconds hand and the Buceador inscription, a matte black rubber strap with a red lining and a second black high gloss leather strap
Under the screwed caseback is a classic Swiss movement, the calibre CYS 5104, based on the Peseux 224. An alternative to the ETA 2824, it shares almost identical specifications, with identical size (25.60mm x 4.6mm), a 4Hz frequency and a 38-hour power reserve. Nothing special about this movement, which will do the job and will be easy to service.
There’s something oddly attractive to this new Cuervo y Sobrinos Buceador Caribe collection. It looks unique, different from the crowd and has loads of personality, which is not common in the dive watch category. Surely, it won’t be unanimously liked, but that’s always the side effect of making something bold. Personally, I really like the summery look of the Varadero edition with its turquoise colour scheme. And I’m sure the sand-coloured Cayo Coco will find its audience.
In a more objective approach, the watch is nicely executed and feels solid as a rock. And the pusher/crown combination to actuate the inner rotating bezel is a really nice touch.
Availability & Price
The three models in the Cuervo y Sobrinos Buceador Caribe collection are launched as part of the permanent collection and are not limited in production. They are now available from the brand’s website and retailers. The steel models are priced at EUR 2,800 and the DLC-coated version at EUR 3,000.
For more details and to place an order, please visit www.cuervoysobrinos.com.