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  • Writer's picturePhilip Dashiell

McDowell Time Tidewater Review

Updated: May 9, 2020

The Tidewater is the latest offering by Rockville, Maryland based, microbrand watch company, McDowell Time, representing their first effort into the Dive Watch genre. The previous offerings by McDowell Time, include the DelRay, a nautically-themed Deck Watch, and the Maxton, a beautifully designed racing chronograph, that harkens back to vintage racers, with its design influence. As a brand, McDowell Time has only been on the scene since 2016, when they launched their Kickstarter campaign for the DelRay, but is quickly gaining a solid reputation and following among watch collectors.

From initial design renderings of the Tidewater, I could immediately see some Maxton influence; after all, the watches do share McDowell Time DNA. And to be honest, owning the Maxton, I was a bit concerned that the Tidewater would be too similar in design to its stablemate, to allow me to pull the trigger on a purchase. But after seeing the final product, I decided to take the leap, and purchase the Tidewater, and the timepiece did not disappoint.

The main takeaway I had from the previous Maxton offering by McDowell Time, was the amazing level of detail, and quality of the materials used within the construction of the timepiece. The same bears true with the Tidewater. Immediately out of the box, the Tidewater has a feel and heft that tells you, this is no cheapie, cookie-cutter, dive watch.

In a crowded sea of dive watch models, a genre muddled, and watered-down by an endless litany of Submariner homages, and nautically-themed names, that are as much of a reach, as are some of the designs, the Tidewater is a stand-out; combining a vintage vibe with tool sensibility. The result, a timepiece, having both sporting good looks and rugged construction; the consummate daily wearer. Everything just seems to make sense and fit with the Tidewater, down to the name, which pays tribute to the waterways and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay region; thoughtful branding for a Maryland-based microbrand.

At first sight, there were two immediate details about the Tidewater that were pleasing to my eye. First, is the incredible hue of Blue used within the ceramic bezel and dial of my example; it’s a striking color Blue that pops vibrantly in the right lighting. The Orange dial accents, a McDowell Time calling card, has plenty of POP against the brilliant Blue backdrop. The Tidewater is also offered in Black or White dial options, and varying bezel configurations, but the Blue dial, Blue bezel definitely spoke to me. The second aspect of the Tidewater that I took notice of, is the incredible, brushed 316L stainless steel, Engineer bracelet, with solid end-links, used on the piece; probably one of the best designed Engineer bracelets I’ve seen on any timepiece, at any price-point; the individual link bricks approaching 5mm+ in thickness. The quality and workmanship of the bracelet is undeniable. And, surprisingly, as beefy as the Engineer bracelet is, it wraps around the wrist with supreme comfort. A push-button, flip-lock safety clasp keeps the Tidewater secured to the wrist.

The 42mm cushion case on the Tidewater (about 44mm with the crown) is a departure from the standard round case, typically used in the majority of dive watch designs, but I feel this case design gives the Tidewater a bit of a vintage nod, and plenty of character. And at 42mm, the Tidewater offers the perfect case size for the majority of watch collectors. The case isn’t just an off-the-shelf component, as McDowell Time custom-manufactured this case, beveling the bottom of the case sides where it meets the caseback, to facilitate a more comfortable wear, and seating on the wrist, not at all bulky or clunky in feel. And with a case thickness of 13mm, this piece has a slim enough profile to fit under a shirt cuff. The glossy ceramic insert, on the 120-click, coin-edge bezel adds to the Tidewater’s presentation. The Tidewater offers plenty of wrist presence, in a moderately sized, almost universally wearable package. A perfect fit on my wrist, which ranges between 7 1/4" and 7 1/2" depending on the season, and my caloric intake.

In the Dive Watch sect, there are plenty of watches that present a “dive look”, but from a spec and tech perspective, you wouldn’t want to wash your dishes with them. This is not the case for the Tidewater, as the piece is engineered to the accepted dive watch standard of 200 meters water resistance. McDowell Time also opted to use the trusty workhorse, Swiss Made, Sellita SW-200 movement to power this timepiece; which further speaks to McDowell Time’s dedication and commitment to designing and manufacturing a timepiece to the highest quality standards.

Any dive watch worth its salt will have the all-important, and much hallowed lume. There are watch collectors that desire to own certain timepieces, based strictly on the lume properties alone. The Tidewater lume, much like many of the other design and construction components of the timepiece, is well above average, utilizing C-3 Luminova; lume charging quickness and brightness is decent, though longevity of the brightness leaves a little to be desired. Long-lasting, torch-like lume isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for me, when making a decision on purchasing a timepiece, and the Tidewater lume is adequate enough to suit my tastes.

For McDowell Time, the Tidewater represents a solid effort. In a category of watches where homage designs are the rule, the Tidewater is a refreshing exception, and has the specifications to match its aesthetic beauty on the wrist. Crabs, football......and watches; add that to the list of things Maryland does!


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