Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Steinhart Ocean One Titanium 500 Premium - Best Watch on a Budget, A Review

I not had the opportunity to get my hands on a Steinhart watch before. The diving watch styling of Steinhart is too close to the Rolex Submariner design. I don’t particularly like getting something that is too close to an original especially when it is still in production. However, when Steinhart launched the Ocean One Titanium 500 Premium, back in 2015, I was hooked. In fact, a lot of other people also had the same view like mine and the watch is always out of stock due to strong demand. Finally, after a year of trying, I got my hands on one.

The spirit behind the brand is Mr. Guenter Steinhart. He studied architecture and engineering in Munich, Germany. He was interested in making watches that looks good, shows the quality and above all inexpensive to the masses. He set up shop in the Jura region of Switzerland. Ever since the first Steinhart came off the production line, the brand continues to grow a strong following of fans due to its affordability.

I sourced the watch from out of Singapore. Within three days, the DHL package was on my desk. What a beauty.

As titanium is the base material for this watch, the weight (or lack of) is the most obvious attraction. At just 140 grams, this watch is light and belies its ruggedness.

The dimensions are just nice for my wrist. It has a diameter of 42 mm across and a height of 14.85 mm inclusive of the domed sapphire crystal (the dome added 1.85 mm additional height to the watch). The lug width is 22 mm and its lug-to-lug distance is 50 mm. Shaped like a classic Rolex Submariner with the gear-toothed bezel and a screw-down crown partially protected by shoulders protruding from the casing at 3 o’clock. On the top of the crown in a etching of the brand logo.

The visual cue would have to be the double-domed sapphire crystal which means that it is domed on the top and underneath. The reason behind this is to negate any distortion the top dome usually has, so the dial remains legible at very tight angles. It’s the focal point of interest especially when viewed from the side. Both the beveled edge and the placement of the crystal slightly above the bezel both make the watch look valuable. To top it all, Steinhart also added an AR coating to the crystal.

Another aspect of the watch that challenges the notion that only expensive dive watches can have is the use of a black ceramic bezel. It is more scratch resistant and has a very clean look than a highly polished steel bezel. The ceramic insert also features fully luminous markers, which glow in the dark. The markers are minute markers for the first 15 minutes (at 12 o’clock is a triangle marker) and then 5 minute markers alternating between line and Arabic numbers. Steinhart then incorporated a good 120-click unidirectional bezel mechanism.

The screw-down case back has a display window made out of mineral glass. From the display window you are able to see the Soprod A10 movement (more about this later). The watch has a water rating of 500 meters.

It is what’s on the dial that made me fall in love with this watch. Unlike other homage that tends to follow as closely as possible iconic watches, this watch has taken a totally different design inspiration for the dial.

The first good move was the placement of the date window. As you know I love symmetry. By placing the date window right at the bottom of the dial makes it look cleaner and more balanced. The second good move is the angled chapter ring with a minute index scale. Apart from marking the minutes in white (the BGW9 white luminous paint), every fifth minute is an Arabic number but in blue. Although the blue does not jump out clearly against the matte black colour of the dial, it provides a subtle relief unique to this watch. The third good move is the hands. Instead of the classic Mercedes hands, Steinhart went with straight Roman swords style hands in white with luminous filling for the hour and minutes. The seconds hand has an arrow tip in blue with white luminous filling in the arrow tip.

On the dial, the Steinhart brand and logo are just below the 12 o’clock triangle marker. Above the 6 o’clock position are printed the words ‘OCEAN ONE’ and ‘TITANIUM 500’ where the latter is in black within a blue rectangle.

The luminosity on the watch is as expected of the BGW9 paint.

This watch comes with an option of a titanium oyster-style bracelet or a rubber strap with a titanium deployant clasp. I chose the full bracelet with my watch as it would be more cost effective in the long run (cheaper to buy straps than to buy the bracelet later on). Like other reviewers of the watch, the bracelet is a letdown. The finishing on it does not jive with the finishing on the watch casing. Even from a fair distance, the mismatch toning gives an impression that one is wearing a replacement bracelet instead of the original. The two-point safety clasp also looks like it was made with very poor manufacturing tolerances. The gap in the safety catch where the Steinhart logo is stamped is so obvious.

Resizing the bracelet is easy as the links are connected via screw-in pins. The bracelet also consists of two half-links as well as four micro adjustment points on the clasps which allows you to size the watch perfectly. However, for a diving watch, it does not come with a divers’ extension. As such, this watch, although capable to dive right down to 500 meters deep, may not be the first choice of professional divers due to the lack of such extension to wear over dive suits.

I also note that there are a number of complaints about how easily the titanium surface scratches over. However, users must understand that this is perfectly normal. Titanium scuffs really easily but its saving grace is its lightness and the ability to withstand corrosion much better than stainless steel in the presence of salt water. For better scratch-proofing, only special titanium alloys can get the job done (for example, Seiko ‘Diashield Titanium’). To be fair to Steinhart and for the price you pay, this should not be an issue.

As mentioned earlier, the engine driving this watch is the Soprod A10-2. It is an equivalent to the ETA 2824 and the Sellita SW200. However, it is of a higher level of finishing. Made in Switzerland, the automatic and hand winding movement has hacking (stop second) capability with 25 jewels. Operating at 28,800 VPH or 4 Hertz, it has a power reserve of 42 hours for its main springs. Through the display case-back you can see the custom golden Steinhart rotor.

The watch box that came with the watch is a black box with foam cushion interior. Apart from the watch, there is a small manual which also doubles as a guarantee card. Steinhart provides a two year warranty on this watch.

I also received two free gifts from the dealer, A 22 mm Nato strap as well as a lint-free polishing cloth in appreciation for the purchase.

The watch fits on my hands perfectly. By using the many micro-adjustment points made available on the bracelet, I was able to resize the bracelet to be a close fitting to the circumference of my wrist. Since the design of the watch is easily adaptable in any circumstances, wearing it in a formal setting is not a problem. I wore it with a suit to office and it slips in and out of shirt cuffs effortlessly.

It is then that I realized the advantages of a matte grey coloured watch. It is very flexible with any colour of clothes. It just sits there on one’s wrist unassumingly without being a magnet to itself.

Apart from it being a dive watch but without a diver’s extension, I can’t find any other reason not to like the Steinhart Ocean One Titanium 500 Premium for the asking price.

Photo Gallery

Steinhart Ocean One Titanium 500 Premium


  1. Nice review, interested in the watch for quite sometime. Mind to share how much was the damage for this nice piece?



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