Thursday, July 05, 2007

Steinhart/Debaufre Ocean One Review










The subject of this review, the Ocean One, is the first Swiss made automatic diver I have owned. (The previously reviewed Sandoz was only water resistant to 100 meters and thus was not fully a diver’s watch.) The watch came to me by virtue of a big sale that the folks at Steinhart are holding. The reason for the sale is related to that second name in the review title-Debaufre. It seems that another watchmaker(Steinhausen-whose watches are, to my knowledge, powered by Chinese made movements and look nothing like Steinhart’s) apparently felt that the names of the two companies were too close for trademark comfort, so to speak. Rather than spend lots of time and money defending themselves against a threatened lawsuit (and suits of this nature can drag on for years) Steinhart chose to change the name of their company. The name they went with (after making sure there would be no similar trade name issues) is Debaufre. Peter Debaufre was a watchmaker in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries who developed a new type of escapement mechanism and was the first watchmaker to set moving parts into jeweled pivots to cut friction and improve durability. The Steinhart folks feel that this is a fitting name that honors a largely ignored detail of watch making past. It’s a gutsy move on their part and isn’t without risk, the good will and P.R. that they have built up so far is now on the line. I personally wish them the best of luck as I have been a big fan of their watches. Anyway, with the change, the newly named company had an inventory of watches on hand that still had the old name and now needed to be to be sold off. Thus the aforementioned sale, which I think is still going on at the time of this writing. I won’t say what I paid for this one but the price was substantially lower than what it was a few months ago, and that original price was pretty good then.

On to the watch itself. The Ocean One is a big stainless steel watch, stylistically modeled on the Rolex Submariner but larger all around. The watch measures 42mm in width (46mm including the crown), 51mm lug to lug, 22mm band lug width and 14mm thick. The crystal is sapphire (best to ward off scratches) and includes a cyclops magnifier over the date window (the first I have owned that actually provides useful magnification). Internally, the Ocean One is powered by ETA’s 2824-2 25 jewel automatic movement, a proven workhorse known for its durability and accuracy. The lume on the hands and face is white superluminova, the best type short of tritium tubes. In my observation it remained visible for a few hours in darkness, more than adequate for most users. As for water resistance, the Ocean One is rated at 300 meters, which is more than high enough for just about anyone. 300 meters is seriously deep. The bezel rotates in a counter-clockwise direction only, with a nice firm action and has an embedded luminous marker. (The bezel on a diver’s watch should never move in a clockwise direction. If knocked out of position underwater it could accidentally extend a dive time past the safe limit of available air in the tank). The watch uses a heavy, solid link bracelet which thankfully included solid end links. (I am not a big fan of hollow end links, they tend to rattle and bend). The clasp is a flip lock design, that while not the best one of its type that I have seen (the adjustment range could be better), does get the job done well enough. (I have heard from the folks at Steinhart/Debaufre that the new models have an improved bracelet). Lastly, the watch can be hacked and hand wound and includes a nice sized, signed crown.

The Ocean One wears very comfortably despite its large size. In my opinion, anyone who appreciates nice watches would find a lot to like here . If, like me, you admire the looks of a Rolex diver but don’t have the coin for one (my kids and my $ go to private school I’m afraid) but don’t want to buy an obvious Rolex copy, the Ocean One is an excellent choice. It looks great, is quite accurate and should have no trouble surviving extended exposure to water. Best of all, it won’t break the bank. Grab one while you can.

27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed:

As usual great review. Just so happens, I received my GMT Ocean 1 yesterday. It is so much more impressive in person than in photos!

Andrew
Brooklyn, NY

10:06 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

They really are a terrific deal. Glad you liked the review.

Ed

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ed,
Thanks for this review (and the others). I've just ordered a Militare and am looking forward to getting my hands on it. I'd like to know if you (or any readers) have ever had troubles with shipments or orders with Steinhart. I ask this because ordering the watch via their website felt a bit messy. I received two confirmation emails (each with their own order number), which makes me wonder if I'll be charged twice. Also, their credit card processing partner (Paily) took more than an hour to confirm my card and not before sending me an email asking to validate the order by re-entering some information. This may all prove to be no big deal, but its a bit unsettling and feels somewhat messy in this era of 'One Click' purchasing offered by the big guys like Amazon or iTunes.

That said, I'm looking forward to wearing the watch and don't yet regret biting the bullet and finally buying a watch that I have wanted for some time. And as I said, I'm sure this is no big deal.

Cheers,

Eric
London, UK

7:15 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

FEDEX once dropped the ball on a shipment but that wasn't Steinhart's fault. Aside from that blip (and the watch did eventually arrive, just a few days late) their shipping and ordering precess went fine. If you are concerned, call them at their toll free number. Their customer service has always been terrific in my experience.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,
I've received my Militare and I'm very happy. My earlier worries were for not. The watch arrived within short order and my earlier concerns regarding billing didn't much matter. Lovely watch. As I said, I'm very happy.
Eric,
London, UK

3:44 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Good to hear. Enjoy it.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ed, Great reviews.
Did you have any problems getting the Rhino strap on the Citizen Auto NY2300? I presume it was the 20mm Rhino that you put on?

Jeremy
Australia

8:22 AM  
Blogger FlightDoc said...

I've been seriously considering an Ocean-1. It's a gorgeous watch. I've also been looking at the dive watch from ARA in Canada (masterwatchmaker.net). Same movement, similar price, and looks nicely detailed. Has anyone done a side-by-side comparison of the two?

1:23 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Don't know of a comparison between those two. They are similar, that's for sure. What I don't know is how ARA is on customer service. Debaufre (the new name for Steinhart) is really very good in that catagory.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the review. I'm think about get one. Have you had any problems since owning yours?

12:06 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

This particular model is now my brother in law's. He wears it daily with no issues. I missed it enough that I got another. Also running perfectly.

6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, all your descriptions convinced me to buy a Ocean One. Hope it will arrive this week. Some people in the US. wrote it came with a brilliant black box that make the watch even more precious. What I like is the quality and the similar looking of a well known watch. I don't like the chineese fakes to prevent something you don't have. This game is much better because you have really good ingredients that are worth the money.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

The Steinhart came with a black box. The Debaufre box looks different. Not as nice I'm afraid although the watch is beautiful. Good luck with it.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous ET said...

Fascinating background re: name change. I am related to Peter DeBaufre.
Edward T. DeBaufre

10:00 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Interesting. I don't suppose you are still in the watch/clock industry?

12:19 PM  
Anonymous ET said...

Hardly, I'm a golf professional. Can't wait to own a "DeBaufre".

5:53 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Cool. My favorite game. One day I might even get good at it :) Where do you work/play?

7:51 PM  
Anonymous ET said...

Greate Bay CC in Somers Point, NJ. Main career was at Phila. Country Club, gladwyne, PA. Wanna play?

5:45 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Sounds great. We just need some decent weather now :)

12:11 AM  
Anonymous vivaldi said...

I recently acquire a St. Moritz Momentum and I thought I'd commend it to your attention in case you haven't come across it yet.

This watch is hewn out of a solid block of stainless steel. It is powered by a special long life battery and its WR to 500 meters.

It's a chunky watch lover's delight.

1:57 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

I've heard good things about St. Moritz before. A new watch isn't in the budget right now but I'll certainly put it on the "list" :)

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have recently purchased a dive watch from ARA Masterwatchmaker in Canada. Their service seems to be outstanding. I had no trouble with the order, and all my questions (submitted via e-mail) were answered promptly. If you include your wrist measurement with your order, they will size the watch's bracelet for you, and they'll do it accurately!

The watch itself is a little smaller than the Ocean One (going by the description in your review - I have never seen an Ocean One) and it is depth-rated for 200 meters. The ARA diver watch uses the ETA 2824-2 movement and has a similar "Rolex" style of face, bezel and sapphire crystal with a useful date magnifier. The ARA diver does NOT use the somewhat cliche'd "Mercedes" stick-and-ball hands, substituting slender lumibrite-coated "sword" hands instead. Mine was ordered with an antireflective coating on the inside of the crystal. This is the most accurate mechanical movement watch I have ever owned. ARA regulates every watch in three positions before it is shipped. This attention to detail is what sets ARA apart from, and in my opinion, above, every other seller of mechanical-movement watches in or near this price range.

Gerard
Yeosu ROK

10:18 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

I've heard good things about ARA divers. Sounds like a nice watch.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed,

I just ordered a Classic Ocean One and saw that Defaubre now offers replacement bezels in different colors. Have you or anyone elase out there tried replacing their bezel and was it difficult? Great review by the way

9:13 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I would head over to the Steinhart and Debaufre forums at watchuseek.com and ask there. Someone is bound to know about changing the bezel.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did one better and wrote to Debaufre and received an answer the next day. Thanks

8:06 PM  
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