You may have heard of CrafterBlue before but probably not for making watches. Based in Hong Kong, Crafter Blue have made a name for themselves making curved end Block-integrated straps for Seiko dive watches including the SKX, Marinemaster, Sumo, Turtle, Samurai and Shogun. Their range has since expanded to include straps for the Tudor BlackBay and Pelagos.
So what happens when a strap company starts to make watches? We reached out to Crafter Blue’s founder – Steve Chan who kindly sent us their Mechanic Ocean to spend some time with and put it through its paces.
To start with, the Mechanic Ocean is clear in purpose. It is a dive watch through and through. At 45mm across and over 16mm in height there is no getting away from the fact that this is a large watch. It is not going to ‘slip under a cuff’ or be worn subtly with a suit. Nor should it. It was designed to be highly robust and reliable when faced with the rigours of the ocean, and the design language clearly speaks to this. For example the crown has been placed on the left hand side of the watch. Not to allow this to be worn on the right wrist, but to ensure the crown doesn’t dig into the back of your hand when swimming. In addition it is far less likely you will strike the crown on an object when its pointing up your arm.
On the right hand side of the watch is an automatic helium release valve that sits flush with the case. If you want to know more on our thoughts of helium release valves take a read of our article here.
The textured dial features applied markers and offers an unexpected level of detail. The hands are easy to read and are filled with a generous quantity of lume!
Powering the Mechanic Ocean the Calibre 3531 which is a modified Seiko NH35 adorned with a decorated red gold rotor with Geneva waves. Unfortunately this detail is completely lost on owners as the Mechanic Ocean is fitted with a solid caseback which is what you might expect from a ruggedized dive watch. But the bigger question is why adorn the movement with a level of Swiss finishing for a watch with no Swiss connection – nor the ability to appreciate it? However, the NH35 is a solid movement which is easy to service, highly durable and overall a great choice for a watch in this price bracket.
As you might expect, the mechanic Ocean is fitted with a CrafterBlue rubber strap that the company is renown for. In this particular instance it is a block-integrated bi-colour vulcanised rubber strap which is made in line with CrafterBlues’ signature design aesthetic – namely a flat tang buckle with twice as many holes as you might expect. This allows for a much finer adjustment on your wrist ensuring a good fit and comfort all year round. in addition the strap is a good length allowing it to be worn over a wet suit. It also allows the watch to be worn without having to have links removed from a bracelet.
However it’s not all plain sailing. Look a little closer and you’ll see that the crown guard doesn’t actually guard the crown – it protects the stem leaving the crown exposed. For a watch of substantial proportions, the dial itself is smaller than you might expect. For comparison the dial on the 40mm Oris divers 65 is actually 5mm larger than the mechanic ocean, even though the Oris case size is 5mm smaller.
Throughout my time with the Mechanic Ocean, I had a troubling thought in my mind. While the Mechanic Ocean is a very capable and robust watch, its a newcomer to an already saturated market which therefore poses the question: “Why would I choose this watch over a comparable watch from Seiko who are probably the undeniable champions in this sector with a proven history of dive watches for over 50 years”
This becomes an even more prominent question when you consider the Mechanic Ocean is in fact more expensive than an ISO 6425 certified divers from Seiko such as the Turtle or Samurai which use the very same movement – but in the Seiko it’s an in-house movement.
If you re looking for a dive watch for under £1000 then quite frankly your options and choices are far and wide with countless microbrands offering a seemingly unlimited choice, and often very little to differentiate one watch from another as design queues often point to the same inspirations.
This watch however does not follow the herd and is clearly not another watch trying be be something it’s not which is a refreshing change. It is has been designed for a singular purpose and in that regard it does exactly what it says on the tin – its a capable, solid, reliable divers watch with no pretence.
So if what you’re looking for is not something that follows the trend of historical divers and boldly embodies its own more contemporary design language, then the Mechanic Ocean might just be for you.
The CrafterBlue Mechanic Ocean is available from:
Fascinating about the (not quite) crown guards. Wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.