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.