Global Casio fans wanting all the goodies from Japan have a new reason to celebrate, as the Casio Oceanus collection is now available in more markets — including the USA. People who have traveled to Japan and checked out local watch stores have probably all seen these curious high-end high-tech dress watches from the brand best associated with G-Shock. The Oceanus formula is just that: to take the best of G-Shock watch technology and place it in a slimmer, more elegant, yet still high-performance, “formal watch” profile.
To help position the build quality and value proposition of these more high-end Casio watches, I might want to mention that the Oceanus watches are built by Casio in Japan. It happens at their more elite Yamagata factory which I visited a few years ago. This is where the more high-end and specialized Casio watches get made, and it is a really impressive lab-like facility. You can check out my report on the aBlogtoWatch visit to where Casio G-Shock [and Oceanus] watches are made here.
Casio Oceanus now debuts in the U.S. with a rather fancy model collection that is called the “Manta.” Today, I look at three models available in the U.S., including the reference OCWS5000ME1A (maki-e dial), OCWS5000APA2 (mother-of-pearl dial), and OCWS5000B-1A (DLC-coated black case). One interesting thing about the Oceanus Manta is just how small it is. It even wears small given the published 42.3mm-wide size. Casio isn’t even measuring how the Swiss do, which is usually just the bezel distance. The Japanese are, if anything, “too honest” with their published measurements. The bezel diameter of the Oceanus Manta is 39mm-wide. I would say that watch wears like a 40mm timepiece.
The case is also thin at just 9.5mm-thick in a slick titanium case that has a domed, AR-coated sapphire crystal over the dial. The watches feel very light on the wrist at just 82 grams in weight. That’s crazy-light for a full-metal timepiece with this type of hardware inside. The module inside the watch is a “Tough Solar,” meaning it is effectively the same technology (just thinner) that you find in the popular Casio G-Shock collection of watches. The Oceanus Manta case is water-resistant to 100 meters.
Tough Solar movements are powered by light and have hands that will realign if they are displaced due to sudden case shock. The movements also have an antenna that is meant to pick up the radio signals from atomic clocks in places like Japan where the signals are strong. Most people however will appreciate that the movement connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone and can be controlled and updated vial an app. This is very helpful technology that truly allows more people to make the most out of the features in these complicated movements.
Casio’s Bluetooth-connected phone apps adjust the watches when you enter new time zones and also help you do things like set the alarm or a second time zone more easily than with the pushers on the case, though, at the end of the day, the Bluetooth connection is optional for the wearing experience. The multi-function dial has a lot going on, including a subsidiary dial to indicate a second time zone in 12-hour format, and dual AM/PM indicators. While the dial can perform chronograph features, the Manta is a travel watch at heart.
In many ways, the Casio Oceanus Manta is the perfect way to wear a high-end G-Shock watch under your sleeve. Given the slimmer profile and more elegant features, Casio isn’t pretending that Oceanus watches are as durable as G-Shock watches. Instead, this is G-Shock-style technology integrated into a traditional dress watch package that is really quite lovely and suited to many tastes. I would call the design “future office attire chic.” And Casio is clearly having fun with some of the dial styles.
The fanciest of the three is the OCWS5000ME1A with the traditional Japanese “maki-e” dial art. This has the dial and bezel elegantly blend together in one series of gold waves over a deep black texture. It’s not for everyone, but it is really nice and paired with a natural titanium case and matching bracelet. The next version is equally decorative and is the OCWS5000APA2 which has a royal blue-toned bezel and mother-of-pearl dial. Casio is, of course, very proud of these dials because light still needs to enter them in order to charge the photovoltaic cells that power the battery. I happen to be among the guys who like mother-of-pearl dials on a men’s watch, but it is still an acquired taste in the Western world.
Let me add here that Casio included a neat comfort feature in the deployant clasp bracelet closing system. It works much like the “comfort adjust” on a Rolex GMT-Master II for instance. You get one 3mm or so adjustment that can be opened or closed. It works by pressing the deployant opening pushers and then tugging in, or pulling out the sliding adjustment. It is also an easy feature to miss if you aren’t looking for it.
The final of these three interesting Casio Oceanus Manta watches is the reference OCWS5000B-1A with its stealthy-looking black DLC-coated case and bracelet. Not only does the DLC coating achieve an attractive black tone, but it is also highly scratch resistant and will make this model the most durable of the three models in my estimation. The deep blue on black dial isn’t as legible as the other models, but the overall handsome and mysterious guise of this watch is hard to ignore. It is also the least expensive of the models with a price of $1,900 USD. The Oceanus Manta with the mother-of-pearl dial is $2,000 USD, and the model with the Japanese maki-e dial is $2,400 USD. Learn more at the Casio watches website here.