OCEAN7 LM-1 Black PVD Diver (Hands-On)
OCEAN7, a US based watch company, sells professional dive and pilot watches, with Swiss movements and Swiss assembly, at very affordable prices. The OCEAN7 PVD LM-1 Dive watch (shown above), is powered by a self-winding mechanical Swiss movement (Sellita SW200, which is similar to an ETA 2824-2). The case is stainless steel (treated with PVD coating or a cold-hardening process), and it's fairly large at (45 mm by 16.8 mm) diameters, but this is to be expected from a pro diver watch.
The crystal is a very thick domed sapphire, and it is so thick that when viewed from certain angles it actually looks distorted (which is the case on many deep diving watches). This is of course only a small trade-off for making a sapphire crystal that can withstand water pressure at 300 meters (or 1,000 feet).
A nicely sized crown is used, but it's location between 4 and 5 o'clock, as opposed to the traditional 3 o'clock location, makes it so you hardly realize it's there. You'll appreciate its size, though, when you go to set the time or wind the movement, as the larger crown makes it much easier to adjust, even with gloves on. The 60-minute dive time bezel is easily adjustable in one direction and has 120 clicks.
The strap that is included with this particular version is a super soft PU rubber, not natural rubber, but pretty close nonetheless. The strap is wide at 24mm, which is best when you are dealing with a 45 mm or bigger case. The buckle is stainless steel with a black PVD coating to match the case ("OCEAN7" is laser engraved on the buckle). A PVD coated stainless steel bracelet is also available, and a hex wrench is even included so you can easily switch straps without having to go to a watch guy, or risk scratching your case (if you do not know how to change a standard strap properly, you will more than likely scratch the inside of your watch lugs).
Another tool that is included with each OCEAN7 LM-1 dive watch, is a small flat head screw driver. It's used to remove the four screws from the bezel of the watch, so you can swap bezels. Each timepiece comes with two bezels, and you can order more for an additional charge. This is a great idea, especially if you like to work on watches and don't mind swapping the bezels occasionally.
Even with all these choices, I found myself wanting to use the upgraded black sapphire insert bezel, all the time. The sapphire bezel, which adds $120 to the price of the PVD watch, looks a lot like the bezel on a newer Blancpain Fifty Fathoms dive watch (except the OCEAN7 bezel is flat, as opposed to the convex bezel on the Blancpain). The bezel is not just about good looks, though, it is also very rugged and very scratch resistant. The sapphire bezel, also has a 60-minute countdown timer for diving, and unlike the other bezels, the markings are painted with white luminous material - which looks really cool under the sapphire.
The dial has a nice application of SuperLuminova, protected by a super thick domed sapphire crystal, with an internal anti-reflective coating to ensure easy viewing, regardless of the lighting condition - a requirement for any professional diver. The dial is very clean, and the colors seem to be as functional and they are good looking. The date is at 6 o'clock. You can choose between a black sandwich dial (shown) or a full lume sandwich dial (the entire dial is coated with luminous paint, including the hands, but the indices are not coated with lume).
This watch is very well made, as well as being very easy to use. Considering this timepiece has a Swiss movement and is assembled in Switzerland, the price is actually quite good. A watch of this quality could easily cost double or triple this price. OCEAN7 timepieces are available exclusively from the manufacturer website, and shipping is available worldwide.
Retail $699-$749 Black PVD Steel (shown above), $799-$849 Cold Carbon Hardened
Both a standard and a countdown bezel are included (in the same material as the case), plus you can add extra bezels for an additional charge. Ceramic insert bezels are $20-$30 each and Sapphire insert bezels are $120 to $130.