French watch brand Kelton – like this all original 1970’s-era women’s dive watch here – was yet another fatality of the 1970/80s Quartz crisis. It was – and is (more on that below) – sold mainly in France and saw limited distribution outside the country.
Kelton Watch Company was founded in 1955, birthed by Besancon, France-based watch manufacturer Stéphane Boullier and American watch behemoth Timex. Timex rapidly expanded its France-based operations in the 1960s and 1970s under the Kelton name, the era this dive watch here was produced, improving quality at the same time. It’s slogan, "Vous vous changez, changez de Kelton!" (“You change, change [to] Kelton!”) was made popular by copious television commercial airplay at the time, and Kelton peaked at four million watches sold annually by the early 1970s.
By the early 1980's, the Quartz crisis was in full effect, and Kelton – like so many others of the era – suffered grievous sales loses. It limped on, and in 1987, halted production completely. Fast forward to 2016, which witnessed the Kelton name reborn, mining from its vintage catalog, and only sold via Kelton’s website
But back to the 1960’s, an exciting time for diving, anything to do with diving. and, well, the French.
Why was this, you ask?
During this era, French gentleman and diver Jacques Cousteau gathered fame for his involvement with a set of three projects to build underwater "villages,” with each ensuing project was aimed at increasing the depth at which people continuously lived under water, and were an attempt at creating an environment in which men could live and work on the sea floor.
Cousteau was so much more than just a diver; he was also a French naval officer, explorer, conservationist, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher – he was also a filmaker. A meeting with American television companies created the series “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau,” with the character of the commander intended to give the films a "personalized adventure" style. This documentary television series ran for ten years from 1966 to 1976 – also roughly the same era Kelton was in its prime.
This Kelton comes with two nylon NATO straps, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1970s Kelton Women’s Mechanical Dive Watch
DIAL: Brilliant and detailed original red, white, and blue Kelton-signed dial. Original hour, minute, and seconds hands.
CASE: Original 30mm (33.5 w/crown) x 37mm stainless-steel case; no evident wear anywhere on case, which remains in great condition overall.
CRYSTAL: Dome acrylic crystal, a small crack near the 11 o’clock position.
BAND: This Kelton comes with two 16mm nylon NATO straps – great compliments to the colorful nature of the dial.
MOVEMENT: Original Kelton manual-wind mechanical movement.