Finding that ideal watch is a very subjective process. Speaking personally, I cannot count the number of times that I really loved a watch but found that it was too large for my wrist, or perhaps more accurately, simply larger than I prefer to wear. These days, I would have trouble making a daily-wearer out of anything much larger than 43 or 44 millimeters wide. While I have no objective issue with a larger watch, I find that watches in the 38-42 mm range often better suit my wrist and my personal style. One watch that didn’t make the cut based purely on size was my first generation Benarus Moray. At 44mm wide and fairly thick, the Moray 1 was a great watch but always felt slightly too large for my wrist. Fast forward nearly three and a half years and we find that the Moray has been a very popular series for Benarus, with four generations in steel, a version in bronze and a 47mm series in titanium. While I have watched the Moray line develop, my ears perked up back in January when Benarus announced plans for a 42mm steel Moray. With a smaller footprint, updated design and an improved movement, the latest Moray looks to be a great option for any size-conscious dive watch fan.
Benarus is a brand likely known to those of you who participate (or lurk) or follow forums like WatchUseek.com. Based in part out of Kansas, this small independent brand has built a loyal following of dive watch fanatics by producing an impressive range of affordable low-volume sport watches. Benarus recently launched a sister brand, Raven Watches, which you might remember from our review of the Raven 44mm Deep. In my time writing about watches, I have reviewed a handful of different models from Benarus and objectively they have all been very nicely made, thoughtfully designed and well priced.
The Moray 42 measures a hair over 14mm thick, with a 50mm lug to lug length and 22mm drilled lugs. Available in a total of six versions, along with the steel Arabic black dial featured in this review, interested parties can choose from Arabic blue in steel, a dart dial model in blue or black or the Chinese character dial in black (with a black DLC case and bracelet) or blue in a brushed steel finish. The Arabic dial gives the Moray 42 more of a tool presence that falls into the same realm as a Panerai Submersible. While the case and dial design is definitely inspired by Italian-style divers like those from Panerai and perhaps Anonimo, Benarus has made the Moray platform their own. With a lovely contoured case, dive bezel and a large and easily-gripped crown, the Moray exhibits a lot of practical refinement and sport-ready design.
The dial is ultra legible with a polished black surface and C3 Superluminova luminous markers that glow a bright and long-lasting green. With a date display at 4:30, the Moray 42 offers a very clean dial design, with the only text dedicated to the branding and the 500m water resistance. While not a minimalist design, the Moray family has always subscribed to the “less-is-more” ethos. The sapphire crystal is slightly domed and has an internal anti-reflective treatment, and the Moray is fitted with a screw-down stainless steel case back.
In all versions, the steel case is brushed and offers clean smooth lines that really make the Moray look like a piece of gear designed for use underwater. The reassuringly stiff brushed steel bezel offers a fine coin style grip, positive action and 120 clicks. With a lume pip at zero, the bezel offers minute-by-minute resolution for the first 15 minutes, with five minute increments after that. The finishing is very good, with fine circular brushing and an engraved scale. While many dive watches are now coming with sapphire or ceramic bezels, I think that the choice to go with a stainless bezel better supports the overall aesthetic of the Moray, though this will make the bezel more susceptible to scratches. It’s one of those decisions that has a give and take, but I really like the “all steel” combination of the case and bezel.
The Moray 42, like much of Benarus’ current offerings, is powered by the Miyota 9015 automatic movement. Miyota is a Japanese company under the Citizen umbrella and the 9015 is essentially their response to the ETA 2824. With 24 jewels, a power reserve of over 42 hours, and a running rate of 28,800 vph, the 9015 is capable of accurate timekeeping and, to the end user, offers the same features as the 2824 (three hands and date). My Moray 1 was powered by the Miyota 8215 which was a much more basic movement and did not offer the hacking feature that is found in the 9015. I found this Moray 42 to be quite accurate, running 2-3 seconds slow over 24 hours (anecdotal, no timing equipment was used, your results will vary). Time and date are controlled by the screw down crown which is very grippy and quite easy to use. The Moray 42 does exhibit an audible rotor sound while the rotor spins, though I did not find the motion to be perceptible while on-wrist.