June 21, 2013
by James Lamdin
Despite the fact that the timepiece industry is generally moving towards smaller, thinner, dressier wristwatches cut from precious metals, the popularity of large steel cased tool/diver watches isn’t going away. Not by a long shot. Enjoying ongoing affection in the sub-$3000 category is a whole array of bulky mechanical timepieces designed for consumers who fancy themselves adventurers. Although I would speculate that very few of these timepieces actually see the bottom of the Pacific, the top of the Himalayas, or jungle combat, that doesn’t stop them from being cool watches with tremendous design appeal.
Joining the ranks of perennial favorites such as MkII, DOXA, Marathon, Ocean7, Kobold and the like is newcomer brand Anstead – designed in the USA by brand namesake and Veteran Naval Officer Tom Anstead. They recently sent along their first model, the Oceanis, for us to wear and review. The Oceanis is the first release in what they are promising will be a line of timepieces inspired by Naval Combat, and it shows promise.
First, the details: The Oceanis features a large 316L stainless case with dimensions of 44mm wide x 14.30mm tall, giving it the substantial wrist presence popular with tool watch buyers. The watch features a solid case back as well as an anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal that fits ever so slightly above the downward sloping bezel. The case has a depth rating of 300 meters.
The black dial is clean and uncluttered, featuring luminescent markers for both 12 and 24 hour timekeeping, with Explorer-esque Arabic numerals at 6,9 and 12. A day and date function sits at 3, which can be quickset using the large locking screw-down crown. The minute and hour hands have a healthy dose of SuperLuminova, as does the orange-tipped sweep seconds hand.
The Oceanis, despite its brutish size, is a handsome piece, and manages to incorporate iconic tool watch design motifs without being a straight up “homage” watch like others in its category. The most defining characteristic of the Oceanis is without a doubt the Sawtooth bezel. The bezel is vaguely reminiscent of designs from Kobold or Fortis, but is much more “raw” and definitely gives the Oceanis its character. The bezel ratchets unidirectionally with 120 clicks, and has engraved markers and a SuperLuminova plot for timing dives in low light conditions.
The piece comes on a 24mm brown genuine leather strap with contrast stitching, and is supplied with an additional black rubber dive strap. Both have branded buckles. I found that the leather strap, despite its thickness, broke in very nicely after just a few days of wear. Although the whole watch wears very large on my wrist, the leather strap in particular was very comfortable and balanced the piece nicely… (more »)