PUBLISHED BY Joshua Clare-Flagg ON 29 Jun, 2014.
Steinhart has been around for quite some time now. No explanation is needed why though, as they consistently provide exceptionally well made affordable watches – all of which are Swiss Made. Their first and most popular model is the Ocean 1 – a homage to the Rolex Submariner. It is well regarded among the affordable watch community as being an exceptional watch for the money, being extremely well made and high specced for a ridiculous price of just €350. Let’s look at the Ocean 1 black in closer detail to see the reasons why this is the case, or if it’s too good to be true.
Although the Ocean 1 is a homage to the Submariner, the case size is more for the modern man, being slightly larger. It measures 42mm in diameter, 13mm high, with a 50.5mm lug to lug length. In addition to this, it weighs in at around 170g (up to 190g if you have a larger wrist than I do, as the extra bracelet links will add onto the weight) so it is a pretty decent, impressive and heavy chunk of steel on your wrist. It demands immediate attention due to it’s size and obvious excellent build quality as soon as you set eyes upon it.
The case has a brushed finish on the top and bottom, with polished sides. This configuration follows on into the bracelet too, so the whole watch looks very refined. Personally, I also think this is very sensible and practical as having a brushed top rather than a polished top means it’s more resilient to any scratches or knocks. Having the polished sides keeps it looking smart and separates the case well.
One of the key things to notice with the case of the Steinhart Ocean 1 is the notoriously flat lugs. Looking at the watch side-on, you’ll notice that instead of sweeping down to hug the wrist, they go more or less straight out, with only a small down turn. This doesn’t really effect those with a flat wrist, but it does mean that if you have a round wrist which isn’t over 7 inches it can be uncomfortable and not fit that well.
The bezel is a classic Submariner style, as you’d expect. At 12 is has a lume pip within a triangle, and it has the usual first 15 minutes fully marked up with 1 and 5 minute markers. After that, it has a bar and a number alternating for every 5 minutes. The steel insert of the bezel is stuck in, which means it can be a bit of a pain to replace (take a look at our guide) but if you’re careful, and don’t bash your watch, hopefully you won’t need to. The printing is all accurate, with no marks or sloppiness apparent. The grip is good, nice and deep and well machined. It’s not sharp or uncomfortable to use. The action and feedback of the bezel when you rotate it is very satisfying, and sounds out a reassuring click at every one of it’s 120 positions. It feels like it has very high quality mechanics behind it. It is smooth and easy to use, rather than stiff and scratchy.
The screw-in crown is just as well machined as the rest of the case. Being brushed stainless steel, it looks very neat and functional. The thread feels good, reassuring you that you won’t be able to thread it easily. The grip is deep, and provides a very good level of purchase to unscrew the crown and manipulate the movement. It has the Steinhart logo raised in the centre of the end. I really like the design of the Ocean 1’s crown, as usually the logo of the watch would be either etched or embossed on the end of it. But this is a little different, having a lower matt level with the logo raised on top of it. A great design feature which is perfectly executed – it shows incredible attention to detail, which I love.
The crown guards protrude quite far, offering a good degree of protection to the crown itself. They extend smoothly from the side of the case and are elegantly designed and carried out.
The screw-in caseback is completely brushed stainless steel, to match the back of the case. It’s most prominent feature is the deep engraving of a Trojan riding a seahorse, an obvious reference to the Steinhart Ocean 1 being a divers watch. It has a high amount of detail and is engraved with excellent precision. Surrounding it is the various watch specifics, such as the name, depth rating, and the fact that it is a Swiss automatic, has a sapphire crystal, and is stainless steel. Not all completely necessary, but they’re done in a way that doesn’t overpower the caseback and also with great precision.
Sitting in top of the case is a thick sapphire crystal. You can tell this by tapping it: if it’s a high pitched “chinck” then it’s either a mineral crystal or a very thin sapphire. On the Ocean 1 however, it’s a nice deep thud, reassuring you that this isn’t going to get damaged very easily. Although there is no mention of it’s thickness in the spaces, I am led to believe that it is about 3.5-4mm thick. The crystal is flat, so it has no distortion at any angle. It is very slightly raised from the outer edge of the bezel, so you will have to be careful not to knock it.
There is a colourless layer of anti reflective coating situated on the underside. So you can’t see it reflect any sort if colour (blue usually), but rather it just does it’s job quietly with no flamboyance and reduces a large amount of reflections.
Another aspect of the sapphire crystal is the date magnifier, also known as the cyclops. This is positioned at 3, directly over the date window. It is glued onto the top of the crystal, as you can actually remove it if you don’t like it by heating up the crystal, which loosens up the glue. It’s application is spot on, not wonky or out of alignment. It magnifies the date pretty well, working at around a 1.5x magnification.
Due to it being a dive watch, it has the impressive rating of 300m / 30ATM water resistance, which means you can definitely dive with it. Overall, an excellently made case, which is very refined.
The Steinhart Ocean 1’s dial imitates the Rolex Submariner to a high degree. It has that class and timelessness about it.
The dial is a deep black, with a matt finish. Black dialled watches always look smart, and the Ocean 1 is no exception.
The main feature of the dial for me is the applied hour markers. Exquisitely made, they consist of a polished stainless steel surround and a lumed centre. At 12, the hour market is a tall upside down triangle. At 6 and 9, it’s a long thin rectangle. Everywhere else, it’s round. They are all extremely subtle, not too deep. But they are absolutely flawless. Even looking at them extremely closely you can’t see any marks or any misalignments – they’re perfect.
Of course, another key feature is the classic Mercedes hands. The Mercedes symbol used on the hour hand has no real significance, apart from the fact that it is a good design to hold the lume material… And looks cool. There was no affiliation between Rolex and Mercedes resulting in this design. The hour hand widens slightly, and then turns into the round Mercedes symbol. Following that, it has a relatively small arrow point tip. The minute hand again widens out first, and becomes a straight baton, with an arrow tip. And finally, the second hand is a very thin line of steel, with a lumed circle at the equivalent length of just past the Mercedes symbol on the hour hand, and has a small round counterweight on the bottom end.
The hands, just like the hour markers, are all polished stainless steel with lumed centres, and are immaculately made. Everything is just so clean and a crisp, it really is hard to find anything wrong with the dial.
The lume used is Super Luminova C1. It has proved to be strong and long lasting, as well as being able to charge quickly. It glows a bright green and is also located in the pip at 12 on the bezel.
Next, we move on to the date window and wheel. This can tend to get a little distorted due to the magnifier on top of the sapphire crystal. But, it’s nice to see that it, like everything else, it is well done, and offers a clear view of the date. Although you can’t really see it, the border to the date window has subtle inner bevelling, so it’s not just a plain square cut out of the dial, it’s a little more refined with a nice touch of finishing.
The printing on the dial is all very accurate and precise, with no marking or smudging at all.
The general appearance of the Steinhart Ocean 1’s dial is tried and tested thanks to Rolex, so it is extremely easy to read and a timeless design. And although it can be classed as relatively simple, it is very well executed – and again, high quality for the price.
The bracelet is 22mm wide for the whole length. Usually on a bracelet the buckle would be slightly thinner, but this isn’t the case on the Ocean 1. This gives the bracelet a very chunky feeling as it has decent width for the whole length.
The links are all brushed on the top and bottom, and polished along the sides, matching the finishing of the case. All the links are impeccably machined and are super smooth. There are no sharp edges so this results in a very comfortable wear.
The end links joining the bracelet to the case are very well shaped, fitting together with great accuracy. No wiggle or gaps.
The buckle is functional but I feel that it could be a little beefier to match the rest of the bracelet. The top is folded steel, which feels a little light when it’s open. When it’s closed you can’t really tell, but even so it would have been nice if it was a little more heavy duty. That’s the only negative comment about the whole bracelet really. The finishing on the top of the buckle is brushed steel and is high quality as is the rest of the watch.
The elbow joint in the buckle is nicely machined and well crafted. It’s completely polished and feels high quality. The movement of the joint is smooth. It’s also handy that the buckle has four micro adjustment points, but no divers extension.
The top flap (the double lock) is all polished creating a pleasant contrast of finishing. It has the Steinhart logo deeply etched into it which is a nice design cue and keeps it interesting. I like how the top flap isn’t just a plain flat tab, but rather it has a slight triangular bottom to it, again keeping things a bit interesting. One thing I do notice with this locking flap is that sometimes it can be hard to open, it feels as if it’s a little too tight. Not that that’s a big problem really, as it means that it’s going to be extra secure on your wrist.
All links have screw-in pins which makes altering the bracelet very easy. All you need is a thin technical screwdriver to take them apart, rather than a link removal tool.
Many people regard the Steinhart Ocean 1’s bracelet as excellent for the price, and I’m happy to agree with them.
The movement used in the Steinhart Ocean 1 is the excellent ETA 2824-2. A true workhorse movement, it is used by a great amount of Swiss Made watch manufacturers to provide them with a robust, simple and dependable automatic movement.
Even with the clamp-down the Swatch group are exercising over the availability of ETA movements, it’s good to know that Steinhart are still managing to get a supply. Who knows how long it will last for though. No doubt soon they’ll have to change movements – but for now that’s nothing to worry about.
The 2824-2 is a well specced movement, having all the usual functions. It’s a high beat movement, running at 28.8k bph (8 ticks per second) offering a very smooth sweep of the second hand, with no stuttering or wobble evident. It also has hand-wind capabilities, a hacking second hand, and the normal approx 40 hours power reserve.
The time keeping has proved to be excellently reliable and accurate, as you’d expect. The movement also feels reassuringly study and well made in the hand whilst adjusting – another demonstration of the quality and construction of the ETA 2824-2.
The fact that you can get a watch like this for €350 is incredible. It’s just so well made and highly specced – you really can’t go wrong. The only two minor points really are the ever-so-slightly thin buckle (which is still very secure) and the lack of ingenuity in the design. But these are very minor. The fact that it is a direct homage to the Rolex Submariner means that it’s a bit of a “marmite” watch – you either love it or hate it. But, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a great watch for the money.
So yes, I’d highly recommend a Steinhart Ocean 1, just like all the others who have got one – and if you find a better Swiss Made diver for less then please tell me!