Kit: Free-Diving the Mediterranean
With an entire south coast hugging the sparkling warm Mediterranean and ample wine and cheese at their disposal, it’s no wonder half the country of France migrates to the Côte d’Azur when the days turn long and warm. This is where scuba diving was invented, where Cary Grant became a fashion icon and where a movie star moved to become a princess.
The perfect summer day on the Mediterranean might involve a spin in your classic wooden powerboat, followed by some sunbathing until you get too hot and need to roll over the side to cool off in the water. Strap on your mask and fins, grab your speargun and dive for your supper on a single breath. Then, while you’re drying off, pop the cork on some bubbly and watch the sun set on another perfect day.
Even if you don’t happen to live within roadster driving distance of the Med, you can still channel those easy, warm days of summer with the right collection of gear. We’ve pulled together a kit of casual clothes and accoutrements to keep you both cool and looking cool.
Calibre De Cartier Diver Watch
Whether you’re at dinner or diving for it, you’re going to want a proper dive watch on your wrist. Cartier’s first effort in this arena, the Calibre de Cartier Diver, manages to walk the knife’s edge between elegance and rugged utility. The watch’s inky black dial, polished ADLC timing ring, trademark faceted blue spinel on the crown and bold Roman numerals wouldn’t look out of place under a French cuff. But its precision ratcheting bezel, 300-meter water resistance, bright luminescent markers and textured rubber strap make it equally at home over a wetsuit sleeve. So capable is this watch that Cartier built it to meet the stringent ISO 6425 requirements for dive watches.
The beauty of the Calibre Diver is not merely steel deep though; inside beats an in-house manufacture movement, the Cartier calibre 1904-PS MC, an impressive motor with two mainspring barrels that deliver 48 hours of power but also, more importantly, consistent torque for chronometric stability. You may not think about any of this when you backroll off the gunwale, but it’s still nice to know.
Vilebrequin Merise Swim Trunks
Thankfully, floppy board shorts have gone out of fashion and men’s swim trunks have returned to more fashionable lengths. Vilebrequin’s timeless Merise never left; their shorter inseam looked right at home in the 1970s when the brand was founded in St. Tropez and they still do now. All that’s changed is the material. A stretchy blend of quick-drying Lycra and nylon means you can kick hard for the reef below and climb aboard afterwards without ripping a seam.
Collection Première Cartier Composite Sunglasses
Scanning the emerald water for supper is a lot easier with polarized lenses. Polarization cuts the glare from reflected sunlight, allowing you to see right through to the school of snapper swimming below. But skip the wraparound gas station pair; this is the Mediterranean, and style is as important as function. The tortoise-framed Cartier Composites look as good as they perform, with chunky frames and a shape that flatters most face shapes. The green polarized lenses not only let you see below the surface, but also cut a dashing look as you stride up the beach for a cocktail at sunset.
Club Monaco Chambray Combo Polo Shirt
Though you’ll probably be spending most of your time without a shirt (you’ve been working out all winter, haven’t you?), there are times when covering up is called for — like dinner. And it’s hard to beat a polo shirt for the right mix of casual comfort and style. Hell, in a pinch, you can even throw a linen sportcoat over one and get into the dining room at the Ritz. This chambray number from Club Monaco dresses things up a bit more with a contrasting chambray collar and placket with three buttons, the top two of which you’ll want to keep open, in case you didn’t know.
If the sparkling product of one of the world’s last remaining independent Champagne houses was good enough to receive a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria and is the bubbly of choice for 007, then it’s good enough for you. If you can identify the ’75 vintage from a mere sip, all the better.
A.P.C. Leather Boat Shoes
Boat shoes have become such a summer staple that most people have forgotten their utilitarian origins. Sticky rubber soles are made for gripping a wet boat deck and the slip-on design is perfect for quick shedding should you see the need for a dive. The fact that they look good with just about anything all the way from May to September doesn’t hurt. These classic leather numbers from A.P.C. are faithful to the original boat shoe design and wouldn’t look out of place on a 12-meter in Newport. But look closer and you see the metal eyelets, greased Italian leather and sueded interiors that add a certain je ne sais quois.
Ella Vickers Recycled Sailcloth Harbor Duffel
For a day out on the water, you’ll want to be prepared with the essentials — towel, a good book, sunscreen — and you’re going to want a good bag to carry it all in. And nothing says “nautical” like a bag made from sailcloth. Durable and water-resistant, the Harbor Duffel from Ella Vickers swallows up almost everything in this kit and looks all business as you carry it down the quay. Since these bags are made from actual recycled sails, no two are alike.
Aquabotix Hydroview Sport Underwater Drone
Don’t ruin a perfectly good afternoon of bubbly drinking for just any patch of water. Instead, use this handy drone to take a peek and even capture what’s below to make sure a stop is worthwhile. Its integrated LG camera can provide 720p HD video and 1MP stills at depths as low as 150 feet. Thanks to integrated wi-fi connectivity, you can see what’s going on and control the drone from PC, Mac and even your iPad using the tablet’s built-in motion controls or a virtual joystick.
Borsalino Straw Hat
It’s time for men to start wearing hats again — and we’re not talking about your hometown team’s ballcap. A nice broad brim cuts a rakish look as much as it cuts the glare. This number from the haberdashers at Borsalino is made from tightly woven straw, the perfect material for a summer lid that breathes well and dries quickly. A grosgrain band adds the requisite dash of style.
Sharkskin Chillproof Dive Skin
Sure, for the occasional cooling dip, there’s no shirt required. But if you plan to spend any length of time freediving, a light dive skin will ward off the chill as well as any brushes with coral or jellyfish. The long sleeved Chillproof from Sharkskin is perfect on its own or under a wetsuit. A neoprene neck seal keeps water from seeping inside and thumb loops keep the sleeves from riding up when you’re donning a top layer.
Riffe Silent Hunter Fins
Those scuba diving fins are fine for kicking around a reef with a tank on your back but for breath-hold diving you’re going to want some stronger propulsion. The Silent Hunters from spearfishing brand Riffe are designed for freediving with long blades and flexible side rails for channeling water off the tips for maximum thrust. The foot pockets are made from two types of soft rubber for comfort on bare feet during a long day of diving.
Nikonos V Camera
GoPro cameras have their place, but there’s nothing like diving with the original purpose-built underwater camera, the legendary Nikonos. First developed by Nikon in the 1950s, the Nikonos was the underwater shooter’s choice right up to its demise at the dawn of the digital era. By the last generation Nikonos V, most of the bugs had been ironed out and the camera was reliable as long as you were faithful about checking seals before diving. The bright orange rubber grips and oversized manual control levers hearken back to diving’s golden age.
OMER Zero Cubed Diving Mask
Freediving masks have less volume than scuba masks so they can be cleared of water more easily and require less pressure equalization. For freediving brand OMER’s latest, the Zero Cubed, it partnered with Italian firm MOMO for a groundbreaking design. Boasting almost no field of vision impairment, the Zero Cubed requires very little equalization down to 60 feet deep, meaning greater comfort while you’re down scouting for fish to shoot.
Riva ISEO 27’ Yacht
Few things say “Mediterranean” like a Riva boat. The classic sleek lines and polished wood decking just begs to be motored into Monaco harbor by a man in a dinner jacket with a woman on his arm. But while Riva boats have a timeless elegance to them, they needn’t be stuck in time. The 27-foot ISEO still bears the classic Riva look but comes equipped with GPS navigation and an iPad-based infotainment system. The rear transom area is comfortable and perfect for climbing in and out of at anchor; a low-slung bikini top can be deployed when that Mediterranean sun gets too hot…or when you and your friend need a little more privacy.