You may have not have heard of Kentex watches. If you haven’t, don’t blame any lack of your paying attention to watch brands. The Japanese company is rare in the Western world, and probably not exactly common in the East either. What you should know is that for the most part their watches offer excellent value for the money, with an impressive level of not only quality but features. Let’s look at the new for 2013 version of the Kentex Marineman.

I ran into Kentex originally at the 2012 Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair when I first attended the show. I only spent a few minutes with them but was really impressed by what I saw. What I learned is that while Kentex does have a range of self-branded timepieces, they are also an OEM supplier. That means that they build watches for other brands. Kentex watches feature everything from Japanese quartz and automatic movements to Swiss mechanical ones.

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What you see here is the newest version of the Kentex Marineman. This is an existing collection, but the new model looks nothing like the existing pieces. If you check the Kentex website, they don’t even mention this new version, even though it is for sale via a few Japanese retailers. This situation is really indicative of a larger issue in the watch industry. Brands with the coolest stuff are often the worst at marketing them. While brands with less interesting or lower value timepieces are often the most keen when it comes to marketing the hell out of themselves.

In September 2013 I returned to Hong Kong and once again spent time with Kentex at the Watch & Clock Fair. Finally I was able to sit down with the CEO and discuss more about the brand and see their newest pieces. I don’t think Kentex quite knows how nice their watches are for the price. Brands I am more typically familiar with charge a lot more for this level of quality. I would easily put Kentex quality up there with Seiko and Citizen’s best, if not even better. Kentex designs are much more restrained given that most of them are derivatives of Western-designed watches. While I can love me some Seiko, Citizen, and Orient all day long, I can often feel that their designs are fuddled in an attempt to add too much into each package. It is well established that the “less is more” design ethos is less refined in most Asian-designed watches – though that is merely an average, not the rule.

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The new Kentex Marineman is 45mm wide in a stainless steel or IP (ion plated) black steel case. Both look pretty good actually. It is really rare to find PVD coating processes in Japanese watches, but their IP treatments are typically pretty good. While I prefer the brushed/polished steel cases for daily wear, the black Marineman pieces are quite cool looking. I am not sure if all dial/bezel color versions are available in black. It is also important to note that not all the color versions are pictured in this post. As far as I can tell, the new Marineman watch is available with black, black and red, green, blue, and white mother-of-pearl dial versions.

It is difficult to find a good looking, conservatively legible diving-style watch with a range of colorful dials. Most of the time the colors are the same sporty oranges and yellows. The deep green-dialed Marineman is an instant winner, but I have to admit loving the white version as well. You see, I happen to be one of those guys who likes mother-of-pearl. It is rare to find the material available on a good looking sporty watch, but when I see it I am drawn to it. Here you have an otherwise really masculine sports diver with a white bezel and mother-of-pearl dial. I just happen to personally like it a lot, and apparently Kentex decided to produce it, so I am not the only one.

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