The reason why Swiss-born mechanical engineer Martin Klocke came up with Sherpa Watches makes for a fascinating story. In 2011, while scouring eBay for a vintage dive watch to get for his wife as a birthday present, he came across an Enicar Sherpa watch for women. It had two crowns and a rotating bezel. It fuelled his interest in vintage dive watches and soon, he turned into an ardent fan of Enicar, a Swiss watchmaking brand that produced the much-loved Sherpa series in the 1950s.
Martin found himself wondering why efforts were not being made to recreate the historic models. Some more research led him to find out that after filing for bankruptcy in the 80s, Enicar was bought by a Hong Kong-based company. He wrote to them asking for permission to bring back the models. He never heard back, so he decided to take more proactive steps. He found out that the name ‘Sherpa’ was available, so in 2019, he applied for an official registration for the name. The prototypes took shape in 2021, following which production began in 2022. Now, a small independent brand with two models to its name, the Ultradive and the OPS, Sherpa Watches pays homage to the retro appeal of the Enicar heritage while incorporating modern specifications.
GMT India takes a closer look at the models.
Vintage Yet Modern
Both the Sherpa Ultradive (Ref. 002/01/01) and the Sherpa OPS (Ref. 001/02/01) are stunning re-issues of the Enicar dive watches from the 1960s and at 40 mm, the size remains the same. Fans of the vintage Enicar Ultradive models include the legendary French actor Alain Delon, who has worn the timepiece in numerous films. Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran owns a vintage Enicar Ultradive as well.
While the old models’ highly waterproof case — complete with a bayonet compressor lock closure (EPSA-STOP) and twin compressor crowns (MONOFLEX), invented by legendary watch case maker Ervin Piquerez SA (EPSA) — made them gain their cult status, the Sherpa Ultradive and the Sherpa OPS implement the same mechanisms but with modern updates. The new models incorporate the newly developed compressor technology for the MONOFLEX crowns and the EPSA-STOP caseback. The unique compressor crowns, made from German and Swiss components, are manufactured in-house. The water resistance of the watches is certified to 200 metres, which means the wearer can have them strapped on while engaging in high-intensity water activities.
The large crown guard system — located on the 3 o’clock case flank — on both the 40 mm-sized watches instantly stands out while adding a distinct edge to the silhouette. While the top compressor crown operates the inner bezels (it must be pulled for operation), the bottom compressor crown aids the functioning of the hands and sets the date. Both the Ultradive and the OPS come with a 360° rotating inner bezel, marked with Swiss Super-LumiNova Grade X1 that helps visibility in low-light situations.
While both watches are mechanically identical, there are visual differences. The Ultradive, the dressier of the two, comes in steel with a polished finish, a light-toned inner diving bezel and slimmer hour markers. The OPS has a more rugged look made more pronounced by the black DLC coating. The crowns on both models aren’t screwed-on and make use of the same technology as the compressor caseback: an increase in water pressure results in a tighter fit, thus ensuring a smooth, comfortable fit. The straps of both models are crafted from robust vulcanised rubber.
The Buddhist connection
Underneath the dials of the Sherpa Ultradive and the Sherpa OPS lies the heart of the watches: a mechanical movement that isn’t just a regular automatic. Called the Mantramatic, the MM01 movement — based on Swiss-made Sellita Calibre SW200-1 automatic offering a 38-hour power reserve — includes the Tibetan Buddhist mantra, OM MANI PEME HUN, microscopically engraved on two of the wheels. A practising Buddhist himself, Martin approached a highly regarded meditation master who helped him come up with the Mantramatic wheels. To execute it perfectly, a new Tibetan font had to be devised. The wheels follow the widespread Himalaya Buddhist tradition used in prayer wheels; the idea is that as the gears in the movement rotate constantly, they send out vibes of love, wisdom and compassion.
In a conversation with GMT India, Martin explained how, through the watches, he wanted to give back to the Sherpa community. Other than making the Buddhist prayer wheels a part of the watches, the brand will also donate a percentage of every watch sold and dedicate it to projects that support the Sherpa region in Nepal. For the Sherpa Ultradive and the Sherpa OPS, the brand chose “Sagarmatha next” in the Khumbu region and the “Nepal Himalaya Sherpa Foundation” in Kathmandu.
On being asked about India plans, Martin said that he’s always willing to explore, if there’s interest. He added that some new developments are coming up this year for the brand. For a small, independent brand that aims to grow organically, the future certainly looks promising.