By Meor Amri Meor Ayob
Ocean7 Watch Company is a small micro-brand American company operating from Coral Springs, Florida. It is creation of owner Mitchell Feig. He has created a transparent operation which means he keep close, even personal, connections with the people who have bought, and will eventually buy, his watches. From the beginning, Ocean7 started building not only watches, but watch collectors. Daily, one can find Mitch conversing with owners, collectors, and soon-to-be both on the Ocean7 forum and the Watchuseek Ocean7 forum. This is how Mitch gets input and advice from his customers.
OCEAN7 design objective is to create beautiful watches that are tough and functional. Use of new case materials, hardening concepts, and construction methods also endears the brand to its growing legion of enthusiasts. Apart from stainless steel, the company has used ceramic and titanium. The best thing of all is the price point which is sometimes unbelievably low.
I am what you would like to call a fan of the brand. I already own the Airnautic Early Bird and the LM3 V2 1250m Dive Watch. I got my eyes on three more before Ocean7 announced the launch of the LM8 late 2013. Now there are four that I have to prioritize. I decided to go for the LM8 first. I shall explain why later.
The LM8 Professional Deep Diver, as the same suggest is a watch designed to go deep. With a 2 km or 2,000 meter rating, it is so deep that no human can withstand the water pressure and where the sun don’t shine. With its ceramic insert bezel with DLC coated markers and tough steel case, the LM8 can handle extreme conditions. Coupled with a Swiss ETA movement, it has the quality and pedigree to go up against the best brands in the world.
A number of watch reviewers have likened the LM8 as a a homage to the Rolex Deep Sea Sea Dweller (DSSD), but with enough of its own added features to not make it a blatant copy. Since I do own a Rolex DSSD, I would just want to see whether the assertions are true, hence the reason why I got the LM8 first before the rest on the list of “must have”.
On Ocean7’s website (http://www.ocean7watchco.com), the retail price is USD799 (excluding handling charges). However, it was selling at USD699. With an additional US77.99 for FedEX courier service, the total investment was USD776.90 or RM2627.06. The transaction was effected on 5 April 2014.
A week later, the package was safely delivered to my office. A big box full of packaging material for the protection of the cargo. The documentation is also extensive with forms printed in quadruplets! A box has dimensions similar to a cube with the brand printed in colour on top of it. This is actually a sleeve to another box.
This next next level has the same brand printed at the top. Taking this off, you will finally see the actual watch box.
Like my other watches from Ocean7, a similar leatherette box was used for the LM8. This is actually a smart move by Ocean7. Designing a watch box that is universal for all its watches helps reduce overall costs down. Case-in-point is Panerai; the wooden boxes of various shapes and sizes for their models pushes production price above and beyond what it should be. At the end of the day, no one bothers about the boxes anyway. So why invest in packaging anyway when focus should always be on the watch itself?
Anyway, Ocean7’s packaging itself is quite nice. The lid is held down by two push buttons. The inside is segregated into three areas; the left section houses the paperwork, warranty card, polishing cloth, Mitchell Feig’s business card and a couple of stickers; the middle section houses the watch on its own pillow; and the right section designed to securely a spare strap. As it is, the standard package does not come with any accessories.
In the picture below, the third section is taken up by a huge section of the bracelet, five links long. When I got the watch, I was surprised to see the length of the bracelet. It was much longer than the standard length. I adjusted the bracelet immediately when I got the watch and instead of the usual three links, I had to take away five! For reference, the circumference of my wrist is 7.5 inches.
The LM8 is a professional tool. From the picture below (pardon the partial blurriness), you may not be able to appreciate its size but in reality it is huge. With a case diameter of 45 mm wide, 17 mm thick and a a lug to lug measurement of 56 mm, it is a large watch only those that have the necessary body structure could carry comfortably.
The dial is covered with an anti-reflective (or AR) coated sapphire crystal, measuring 33 mm, and is also equipped with a ceramic bezel. That bezel is special. Remember the price Ocean7 set on this watch? For that price, you get a polished black ceramic bezel with diamond-like carbon (or DLC) coated markers in it. The markers are slightly recessed from the bezel itself, which does provide a sense of depth. The action of the bezel is solid and moves in 120 click in a unidirectional motion. There is markers for the first 10 minutes and thereafter markers for every 10th minute plus reference in Arabic numeral as well.
The sapphire crystal is at least 4 mm thick to be able to withstand 2,000 m of water pressure. It is flat instead of domed and it is slightly raised above the bezel line. From a design perspective, if the watch uses a flat glass, it is usually best to place the glass below the bezel line. Any side impact will connect with the bezel before hitting the glass. This minimizes the possibility of damage to the glass. Below right is the type of damage that you can expect that happened to me with my Seiko 5 Barcelona watch. If it had been lower, the side of the watch would have taken the brunt of the impact energy.
The large “Plongeur” (French for diver) hands as well as the markers on the dials are painted with C3 Super-lumiNova paint (yellow) which should give a very good lume effect. Similarly, the 12 o’clock pip on the bezel is also painted with the same paint (I have yet to get the chance to test the lume but I do own a few watches with the same paint and they are bright). The tip of the seconds hand is painted orange, the same colour of Ocean7’s “7” as well as the arrow on the dial that is pointing down.
The watch comes with a date window situated at the 3 o’clock position. I am thankful that Ocean7 did not replaced the 3 o’clock marker with the date window. Instead, there is a smaller lumed marker for 3 o’clock. A lot of brands chose the easy way out by replacing a marker with the date window. However, when you view the dial, especially in dark conditions, that particular area would look dark and it destroys the symmetry of the dial. I personally hate this. Ocean7, thank you for being considerate!
The dial itself is very clean. Only the brand name “OCEAN7” is at 12 o’clock, while rest, “LM-8”, “2000 M” and “SWISS MADE” are at 6 o’clock. The major markers are at every 5 minutes while the secondary markers are at every minute.
There is also a large sloping chapter ring engraved with “OCEAN7” at the 12 o’clock position and “PROFESSIONAL DEEP DIVER” at the 6 o’clock position. This is the part of the design that seems to have disappointed a lot of people in varying degree. The issue is the similarity with Rolex DSSD. A lot of people question the need to follow the same way as the Rolex DSSD.
I own a Rolex DSSD and on the right is the picture of the chapter ring on mine. As you can see, it is totally difference in style and information on the DSSD’s chapter ring.
Rolex DSSD uses the chapter ring to provide information of the technology used in the watch i.e. “ORIGINAL GAS ESCAPE VALVE” and “TRIPLE LOCK SYSTEM”. Ocean7 uses the chapter ring to provide information regarding the brand and the LM8 design scope.
Ocean7 is right to put something on the chapter ring. Otherwise, it would be quite bare. As a suggestion to Ocean7, maybe the company could consider getting special requests from buyers to engrave their names or any other messages on the chapter ring. This will really make it unique.
With a depth rating of 2,000 m, this deep diver requires a helium release valve (or helium escape valve, “HEV”) to ensure all the mechanism works properly at depth. On the left side of the watch casing, in the center is the automatic HEV mechanism. Making it automatic saves the need of professional divers to remember to activate the mechanism if required. It will activate by it self if required. Making it with a brushed finish contracts nicely with the polished casing.
On the right side of the watch casing, at the 3 o’clock position is the crown. A huge 7 mm screw-down crown with etched “O7” logo works perfectly. Easy to manipulate and hold. There is also a small built in guard for it to recess partially in the screw-down position.
The case-back is also a screw-down. It has relatively simple, clean etching. Also note that my watch has the serial number A197 which would imply mine comes from the first batch (“A”) and is the 197th specimen.
Overall, the watch case is well constructed and is high polished, which unfortunately makes it susceptible to fingerprints. This is the part of the design which is of issue to me. A tool watch should not be flashy. Instead of polished finish, this watch would still look good in brushed finish. When I was resizing the bracelet earlier, it was a stressful situation as the likelihood of scratching the polished finishing (the bracelet is also polished finish) with the sizing tools was so high. At the end of the ‘procedure’ I was actually sweating!
The links of the bracelet are all solid, including the end-links. The links are connected with one sided screws. Although it is a much easier task compared to the pin-and-collar method, one must be careful when using the micro screwdrivers. One small slip and it will scratch the polished finishing.
Powering the watch is an ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. A 25 jewel movement operating at 28,800 beats per hour or 8 beats per second or 4Hz. Power reserve is approximately 40 hours. The general workhorse of ETA. Ocean7 does provide COSC Chronometer standard version for an additional USD200. Personally, I’ll pass on this offer as the accuracy is more than sufficient for normal use.
I am pleased to note that Ocean7 uses higher higher end bracelets. This can be seen from the quality of the links as well as the bridge linking the sides of the bracelet. Instead of stamped metal like more common bracelets, the bridge is made out of machined sections.
It is a wide bracelet with 24 mm at the lugs tapering down to 22.5 mm at the clasp. The clasp incorporates a telescoping diver extension mechanism within it plus an additional 3 micro adjustments points.
Above is a picture of the diver extension mechanism closed and below is a picture of the diver extension mechanism fully extended. An additional 0.5 inch of length is made available with this mechanism.
The brand is etched on the clasp. From my experience, it appears to be upside down. This is also the same with my other two Ocean7 watches i.e. the Airnautic Early Bird and the LM3 V2 1250m Dive Watch. One blogger, Mesh Guy from http://www.watchfreeks.com also noticed this and reported that he spoke to Mr Feig of Ocean7 about this but was told that it was designed to be this way.
I now realized why Ocean7 designed it that way. If you were to display the watch with the dial facing forward, if you move to the back, the brand will be the right way up. Below is a graphical explanation why it was done that way.
I also noticed the diver extension mechanism is similar to the one used by Citizen under its Promaster Aqualand series.
A close-up of the ratcheting system with the teeth set at the side of the extension slide.
As highlighted earlier, you need to have a certain wrist size to carry this watch properly. Even with my 7.5 inch wrist, the watch sits a bit off my wrist. The lugs are curved down, but there is still quite a gap between my arm and the watch under the two lugs (see the picture below). Since the end links of the bracelet are squared off, the overhand is noticeable. Changing to a leather strap would be a better bet for my wrist size.
The wider bracelets does hide the huge size of the watch and helps distribute the weight more evenly.
Despite the height of the watch casing, the width of the watch as well as the curved lugs help slip the watch under shirt cuffs easily. Originally I was skeptical about this but it does seems to work.
Overall, I like the total package this watch has to offer. The size, weight and capability provide the intrinsic value that well surpassed the purchase price on this watch. The dial is legible and all the necessary information that you want is easily presented. With a Swiss movement and a ceramic bezel, this diver rocks. For more info, please visit ocean7watchco.com
Meor Amri Meor Ayob – Contributing Editor
Meor Amri is a passionate watch collector from Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Having bitten by the horology bug in 2010, he has written extensively about the watch scene and has assembled a large collection of watches (excessively!!) on his own free time.
His blogs on the same subject are: Watch Collection Hobby & My Horological Photos