John Isaac Geneve is quickly becoming a go-to watch for guys who want a reasonably priced Swiss watch that is on the smaller side. John Isaac probably doesn’t like me calling their watches small, but they are. That is OK. There is a big market for small to medium-sized men’s watches. The design is certainly masculine, and the proportions are certainly on the more “restrained side.” I first reviewed their Icon XL watch here, and now tackle the Rough Sea. Will there be calm waters ahead?
The Rough Sea is John Isaac’s dive watch – for now. They don’t call it a dive watch because it doesn’t quite have the durability features that a true diver needs. For instance the case is only water resistant to 50 meters. The standard water resistance rating for real dive watches is 300 meters or more. Having said that, I can safely say that most people with “real” dive watches never go anywhere near water deeper than a kitchen sink with their watch on.
As a dive style watch, the Rough Sea has an inner rotating diver’s bezel, and fat orange hour hand that is meant to look sporty and stick out in contrast to the minute hand. The design of the dial is a true mash-up between highly functional dive watches, Franck Muller, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe. The latter brand offering the most influence for the case of the Rough Sea.
John Isaac calls the dial texture “Tablette de Chocolat.” The raised squares cannot however be broken off or eaten. In blue, the dial looks quite lovely and deep, especially when mixed with the orange accents. The Rough Sea watch is also available with a ruthenium or black dial. I further like that the hour markers are applied on top of the already textured dial.
Legibility is pretty good and you aren’t likely to complain that the dial is dull. I have worn an awful lot of too-utilitarian dive watches out there with legible yet ultimately dull dial designs. With a fashionable-twist, John Isaac keeps enough spruce in their step. Did you notice how rather than state “Swiss Made”, the bottom of the dial has cursive text that reads “Manufacture en Suisse?” Swanky right?
The internal rotating bezel is operated via the left crown. It does not screw down and the bezel rotates smoothly without clicks. Functional types should prefer a rotating bezel with distinct notches, but it is fine this way for most purposes. Engineering a unique clicking system (like Bremont did with Roto-Click) would just increase the price of the watch a lot.
The rear of the case is in some ways more interesting than the front. I like the polished sections and how it has a screw-down caseback. There is an exhibition window to see the movement. Both crystals are sapphire and the top one is AR coated I believe. The steel case is 35.5mm wide. If it was a round case this would be way too small for a men’s watch. However, the elliptical shape of the case and the broad crown structures with guards help it feel larger.
Size is also visually enhanced by the strap. The lug-less design has the strap thrusting out into space which makes the case feel even taller than it is. What is the nice strap? Water buffalo if you would believe. Actually a nice material. The tapering of the strap even further visually adds volume to the case. There is a nice folding deployant buckle for the strap. John Isaac also throws in a rubber strap as well.
Inside the Rough Sea is a Swiss ETA 2824 automatic movement. Just a durable work-horse mechanical that does its job without fuss. I like that custom black-colored John Isaac rotor on the movement, and the application of Cotes de Geneve stripes that add decorative value. The overall Rough Sea package is good looking and comfortable. It is sized up there with most dive watches? No. It is a smaller alternative look for people who want smaller alternative looks. For that niche it is a great option. Price is 1.990 Swiss Francs and you can buy it online via John Isaacs Geneve’s website here.