Review: Ocean Crawler gets blue to the core

Ocean Crawler Watch Company has been producing sleeper hits since July 2017- flying under the mainstream radar while selling out each release. Owner Christian Champion is well known in the watch communities and has been very active on social media, building a loyal fan base and selling nearly 2,000 watches since the brand’s inception.

Champion has a keen eye for details and each release seems to build on previous models. And despite the price point being slightly higher than your average microbrand, popularity seems to be growing. Each new release seems to sell out quicker than the last. The upcoming second release of the company’s Core Diver is adding some new looks to the line. Using a popular chunky 70s-style diver case and loading up on modern luxury details like sapphire crystal and sapphire bezel, the watch was a hit when first released in late 2018.

Ocean Crawler has built a reputation doing some unconventional things. The company delivers quickly after preorder, where many microbrands use a production schedule of several months after the preorder has ended. And Champion has yet to use a crowd-funding platform, which has become a staple for many microbrand releases. Ocean Crawler handles repairs in the U.S. and the five-year warranty is well beyond the industry standard.

Blue Steel

The new lineup of Core Divers include four iterations, two stainless steel models, a black DLC model and a very interesting blue steel model. I’ll be focusing on the latter for this review. Champion says the blue steel is achieved through Plasma Assisted Deposition – a process commonly used in medical components and implants for its hardness and scratch resistance. The end result is reminiscent of anodized steel — a midnight blue comes to life in the right light and fades to black in the shadows. It’s an eye-catching treatment.

The Case

With its polished beveled edges and swooping batwing side curves, the 44mm watch really pops with that nostalgic 70s diver feel. The bezel, finished off with a gorgeous sapphire lens and lumed minute markers, is scalloped and notched for easy gripping. The bezel action is smooth and sturdy, offering just the right resistance to set accurately. The 120 clicks are pronounced and everything functions as it should.

A Helium-release valve sits in the middle of the right side of the case. The valve is one of those divisive features – most of us are desk divers and would never really need the function of a helium release valve. Divers venturing deep enough to warrant the feature are likely going to use more modern dive timers. But it’s fun to see the feature and signals that this is meant to be a serious and tough tool watch.

The Dial:

A beautiful blue sunburst dial contrasts with bright orange details. Pops of orange on the bezel, the inner ring and the large minute hand are bold. This is not a subtle watch, but not so brash to be gaudy. It resides somewhere between elegant and quirky. It is a serious tool watch that doesn’t take itself too seriously. More conservative watch buyers will enjoy the three other options.

Specs:

• Case Diameter (excluding crown): 44mm
• Case Thickness: 15.6mm, Lug-To-Lug: 50mm, Lug Width: 22mm
• Case Material: 316L Stainless steel (DLC Coated)
• Bezel: Unidirectional Rotating Sapphire Bezel with 120 Clicks and Swiss C3 Superluminova Markers
• Movement: Swiss Made Selitta Sw-200
• Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour
• Water Resistance: 600 meters, 2000-feet or 60 ATM
• Power Reserve: 40 hours

Final thoughts: This is likely to be another quick sell-out release. The bold styling will appeal to collectors and the case style is a winner for those who love the chunky diver, modern details and hearty specs. Preorder begins August 23 at a discounted price of $799. Sign up for exact details at www.oceancrawler.com.

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