ThePatravi ScubaTec Manta Trust is the latest version of Carl F. Bucherer’s popular ScubaTec, which irrespective of variation all have in common a 500m water resistance rating and a helium release valve, as well as all the other features required in a professional diving watch (including of course a one-way rotating bezel with ceramic insert, something that’s become more or less derigueur in modern, professional-level diver’s watches). The Manta Trust is being produced as a limited edition of 188 pieces, and it’s being made in partnership with, and to benefit, the Manta Trust, which is a non-profit conservation organization based in the Maldives and the UK, and whose mission is to study and protect these giant fish.
Manta rays are one of the most instantly identifiable animals in the ocean; they’ve been around for over 20 million years, and there’s still much about their life cycle and behavior that’s not well understood. The largest specimens can reach sizes of up to 23 feet across, and they can live for over 50 years. A female manta ray gives birth to live young (called pups, rather endearingly) and pregnancy lasts more than a year.
Mantas are also sometimes called “devilfish” in reference to the two conspicuous cartilaginous horns on either side of the mouth, and yet despite the menacing nickname, they’re harmless to humans and also just about everything else like many true giants of the ocean, they’re filter feeders, consuming nothing bigger than plankton. Areas where they congregate are very popular with tourists and recreational divers. Not only are they spectacular animals, they also exhibit fascinating behavior, including “breaching” in which the entire manta leaps out of the water and crashes back down (often mantas will do this in groups, one after the other; no one knows why).
However, in recent years they’ve become vulnerable to extinction, with pressure from human activities ranging from overfishing (the horns are used in some forms of traditional medicine; the meat is consumed in some parts of the world; and the skin is used for leather) to pollution and habitat loss, all contributing to the manta’s dwindling numbers.
The fact that mantas reproduce so slowly means that various local manta populations can take a very long time to recover, and so the Manta Trust expends a great deal of effort identifying individual mantas (each has a unique pattern on its abdomen, which acts as a sort of fingerprint) and studying them both as specific animals, and as members of a larger group.
Carl F. Bucherer’s CEO, Sascha Moeri, explained the genesis of his company’s relationship with the Manta Trust:
“The Manta Ray Trust CEO, Guy Stevens, is based in the UK and Maldives…he’s a great guy, great personality, but they don’t have a lot of money to do what they want to do. We decided on a long-term collaboration four years ago, and our first project was helping them equip two mantas with sensors, that let us follow how they eat, how they move in the ocean…we named them Carl and Friedrich,” he added.
“This animal is…well, it’s such an experience to see them; they’re such special creatures and I thought, we can combine them with the product as well. We had a very special idea. All these mantas have a skin with a unique pattern of spots on the underside. The Manta Trust photographed all these mantas for many years around 240 different animals. Each watch will be unique as the pattern for an individual manta a different one for every watch is engraved on the back of the watch; every one has one specific animal. It’s super cool; you can actually go on the Manta Trust website and find and name ‘your’ manta.”
“The rest of the watch,” Moeri said,”is similar to the standard ScubaTec automatic movement, 500 meter water resistant, COSC certified; it has luminescent indexes, distinctive hands, it’s easily readable underwater and has a fantastic diver’s folding clasp that can fit over a wet suit.”
“I think the key for us is that we’re helping to preserve manta populations for generations to come, as we find out more about what they eat, what habitat they need to flourish … there is still so much unknown about this animal. We’re looking forward to continuing to support the Manta Trust, and finding out more about these really special animals…moving forward, we are going to find a way to support a specific project.”
Part of the proceeds of the sale of the Patravi ScubaTec Manta Trust will go to fund a study coming up this august, in which a team of Manta Trust researchers will spend two weeks at sea studying the manta population in the Maldives specifically, analyzing habitat use and the varieties of plankton the animals consume. The Patravi ScubaTec Manta Trust will retail for$6,400.
The Patravi ScubaTec Manta Trust: movement, ETA base caliber/CFB 1950.1, chronometer certified, 26.2mm x 4.6mm, automatic, 38-hour power reserve. Stainless steel case, 44.6mm x 13.45mm, water resistance 500m, helium escape valve; unique manta ray engraving on the caseback. Sapphire crystal, stainless steel bezel with ceramic insert. Rubber strap with adjustable diving folding clasp in stainless steel. More info on the watch, and on the Manta Trust, at carl-f-bucherer.com.