PUBLISHED BY Joshua Clare-Flagg ON 5 Mar, 2016.
Steinhart have developed a reputation for serious value for money, even overtaking Christopher Ward in the what you get for your money department. The Ocean 1 Black, for £300 / €380 is quite possibly the best value automatic Swiss Made diver available.
The Ocean family has expanded once more, with the introduction of the Titanium 500 Premium. Opting for a original design rather than a homage, the only link to the Ocean range is the case and bracelet. It’ll cost you €590 / £455, so a fair bit pricier, but you do get a lot more for your money. Namely; full titanium case and bracelet, ceramic bezel insert, better lume, and a custom decorated rotor on an attractive movement.
Let’s take a closer look to see if it’ll harm, or add to, Steinharts’ reputation.
- Diameter: 42mm
- Height: 13mm
- Lug to log length: 50mm
- Weight: 140g
- Crystal: double domed sapphire
- Bezel insert: ceramic
- Lume: Superluminova BGW9
- Case and bracelet material: titanium
- Movement: Soprod A10-2 with custom rotor
The main characteristic of the case is the fact that it’s made of satin titanium. The satin finish is unusual, but visually pleasing. It’s a sort of cross between brushed, blasted and matt. It’s also fairly dark, and seems to be a little susceptible to marks.
Sized at 42mm in diameter, with a 50mm lug to lug length and height of 13mm, it’s a perfect match to the Ocean 1 and in my eyes a fitting size for a diver. Given the size, the lightweight properties of the titanium come to the fore when you consider the total weight of the whole watch including the bracelet: a mere 140g. That’s a pretty impressive 50g lighter than the steel Ocean 1.
The screw-in stainless steel exhibition caseback features the movement and custom rotor beautifully, but more on the Soprod A10-2 later.
The sapphire crystal is double-domed, which means that its domed on the top and underneath. The reason behind this is to negate any distortion the top dome usually has, so the dial remain legible at very tight angles. It has a double anti-reflective coating on the underside that provides a splash of blue if you get the angle right.
The unidirectional bezel boasts a ceramic bezel insert. The markings are accurately drilled out, and are filled with Superluminova BGW9. This lume is an upgrade to the usual Ocean 1 lume and you can certainly tell. It’s strong, bright, and charges quickly. It’s also used on the dial.
The screw-in crown’s definitive attribute is the Steinhart logo deeply engraved in the end. The grip is decent too, providing great purchase to smoothly unscrew it thanks to the solid thread.
The water resistance rating is alluded to in the name, that being 500m. To fit that rating in an average size case is good, as sometimes they can be far too thick and unsightly. As far as I can tell, the only alteration from the standard Ocean 1 to increase the rating is the domed crystal.
The dial is a modern take on the classic Ocean 1 – Steinhart call it a “modern sports watch”. I definitely see what they mean.
Ditching the mercedes hands a for more rugged, chunky alternative, the Titanium 500 certainly has shed the homage status of the Ocean 1. There’s no applied elements at all, with everything printed directly onto the matt black dial. The printing across the dial is flawless and precise. The date window at 6 doesn’t have any sort of border to it either, just bevelled edging to make the hole neat.
The hour markers are simply painted lume: Superluminova BGW9, to match the bezel insert. Again, the lume is impressive thanks to the higher grade used.
I like the turquoise / blue splash of colour provided by the seconds hand and the “Titanium 500” label in the lower half of the dial. The deep rehaut also features this colour for the numbers at each 5 second interval.
As a watch that’s intended for serious diving, its primary goal is to be legible. This it is, thanks to the bold and bright hands and hour markers against the deep, dark dial.
The bracelet is the same satin titanium as the case, although I’ve noticed that it’s an ever so slightly different shade, and this has been reported on by a few people. I assume it’s because the cases and bracelets are made separately and then paired together so you’ll never get exactly the same. It doesn’t bother me, but it seems to be something that you’ll have to be aware of upon ordering.
It’s 22mm wide at the lugs, reducing down to 20mm at the buckle – a nice, decent size to suit the case. It’s a doddle to resize thanks to the screw pins, which glide in and out. The buckle has micro adjustment holes so you can get it fitting perfectly. When it’s sized right, it wears so well: light and comfortable.
I have noticed that after a month or so of wear, the bracelet is picking up a few little marks here and there. It seems to be that the satin finish isn’t quite a hard wearing as I would have hoped. Everything else about the build quality of the bracelet is great though; the machining is good, with no sharp edges, and it all fits together well.
The buckle is a match the bracelet in terms of colour, and feels durable and reliable when being used. It features the Steinhart logo deeply etched on the top locking flap.
The movement picked by Steinhart to power the Ocean Titanium 500 is the Soprod A10-2. It’s another equivalent to the ETA 2824, such as the Sellita SW200. It’s more expensive than the ETA equivalent because they make lower quantities and it has a higher level of finishing.
What you’re getting is still just as good though: Swiss Made, automatic, hacking second, hand winding, 25 jewels.
It’s also a more decorated movement, with blued screws, and pleasant peerage to the bridges. I also really like the custom golden Steinhart rotor – it makes it look very luxurious.
Considering what you get for under £500, I’m happy to say that the Steinhart Ocean Titanium 500 is excellent value for money. There’s only one or two negative point I’ve been able to find about it, which is that the titanium finish seems to be easy to mark, plus the sight variation in shading between the case and bracelet.
I’m struggling to think of another watch that offers this much for the same price though. Swiss Made, a Swiss automatic movement with a custom rotor, 500m water rating, titanium case and bracelet, ceramic bezel, and great lume: all compelling reasons why this watch is worth every penny. You also get the usual decent Steinhart build quality.
What I’d love to see now, is a steel equivalent at an even cheaper price point. I feel that would be an even better watch as it’ll eradicate most people’s concerns with the titanium. Let’s hope.
But in the meantime, the Steinhart Ocean Titanium 500 is still a great watch.