Budget Watches


I just posted up a video review of this cool little boutique diver from Raven. Limited edition of 50 pieces in the no-date configuration, quite rare… you’ll never see anyone else rocking one of these! Hope you enjoy the video review:

Posted this on Youtube last week, and forgot to share it on here. Hope you guys enjoy the video review guys! Haven’t posted one in a while since all my time is taken up with work and family! But still trying to keep things afloat here. Very cool watch from Crepas, and I felt they got a lot of things right for a watch of this price point.

Raven, a sister brand to Benarus, launched a cool vintage style diver early last year called the Vintage 40mm. The watch was released in a limited edition of 200 pieces with a date, and 50 pieces without a date. I was fortunate enough to procure one of the rare no-date versions which I am reviewing here today. A very nice nod to the vintage Submariner.

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The watch has 40mm Submariner inspired stainless steel case, with a domed acrylic crystal. Some cool vintage features are the gold tone mercedes hands and red/orange dial and bezel highlights. The watch wears very nicely for a 40mm watch, similarly to the new 40mm Submariners. The bezel insert is old-school aluminum. Lume is C3 SuperLuminova.

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This shot catches the cool curve of the acrylic crystal and shows off the coin-edge of the bezel. Its a very well machined piece of kit, with very precise and deliberate machining, giving the watch a sense of quality. Since these were priced in around $450, I wouldn’t have necessarily expected it to feel like a Rolex, but this watch is no slouch.

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A beautiful job on the deep precision machined crown. Love the Raven logo on it, and it feels good when in use. You can also get a better idea of what the Bezel edge looks like here, with all the contours.

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The watch comes with two NATO straps (One leather, one nylon), as well as a stainless steel bracelet which is shown here. Its a nice oyster-style bracelet, with screw-in links and a standard stamped clasp. The clasp does have a nice deep etching of the Raven logo, which is nice.

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The caseback is very clean, with nothing but a large, deeply etched Raven logo and the serial number, which I have blurred out. Very clean and nice. Compliments the rest of the watch nicely in its simplicity. Underneath the caseback beats a Miyota 9015 movement with winding and hacking features.

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And the best for last – the wrist shot. For a 40mm watch, this wears remarkably well. The cool domed acrylic crystal, clean, precision machined case, and overall styling really come together well in this nod to the Vintage Submariner. I really think then did a fantastic job and Raven will continue to be on the radar for me when it comes to Sub-style divers.

When these Retrowerk steampunk watches came out a few years back, I blogged about them and how funky the Steampunk designs were a bit off the wall for me. Well, I ended up finding one for a good deal so I bought it! I never thought I would have ended up buying one of these, but I did.

And there she is, in all her antiqued, worn brass finish. The watch is actually considerably better made than I thought it would be, especially for the kind of money these go for these days. I am seeing them being liquidated for around $500 for the automatic models, which is a significant step down from their original $1200 MSRP. At $1200, its a bit of a stretch, however.

There’s a big, juicy piston driven crown protector, which reminds me a little of the Espresso machine style levers that Graham is so fond of with their Chronofighters. The Graham Chronofighter levers are much more refined, however. This is a bit cruder, like the U-Boat canteen covers.

I have a gripe about the way this was designed, however, and that’s because it is so difficult to hand-wind the crown due to the location of the protector when it is unscrewed. I can only manage about 1/4 turns when handwinding, and its a bit frustrating!

The piston is hollow on one side, and has a spring inside that pushes it to an open position when the crown protector is removed. As you can see, there is a lot of attention to detail in the finishing and imprinting on the case to create the steampunk style.

The caseback is not brass-finished like the rest of the case, but rather a bead blasted stainless steel, but is very well finished nonetheless. They didn’t cheap out on the case back, and in fact has each one individually serial numbered – a nice touch. This one is numbered 36. I wonder how many they made? Since there are three digits, probably not more than 999 of each model. That’s a pretty scarce production run – maybe they’ll be worth something in the future!

There’s the headshot. The arabic numbers are lumed, and the domed crystal is sapphire. When these were first announced, they were going to have mineral crystal, but it seems they got upgraded. I think they did a fantastic job with the brass finishing on the steel case, but while I like brass, I’m not sure if I like the steampunk. I’ll probably keep this watch for a little while, but I don’t know if it will be a long term keeper. I’ve got it mounted on a vintage ammo NuboStrap right now, and it looks great on there.

The one place on this German made watch where I felt they skimped a bit on the quality is the dial. The Lume isn’t the brightest, and the Retrowerk Logo is kind of shiny and rounded on the edges.. not as clean and crisp as I would prefer and gives it a bit of a cheaper look to it.. but the case details are fantastic and it has a great worn look to it.

Here’s a wristshot of the 46mm watch, which wears quite decently for such a large watch. The smaller face/crystal attributes to the slightly more digestable wrist presence. Most larger crystal 46mm watches like the Navitimer World have much larger wrist presence, and they don’t even have a gigantic brass piston on the case!

At any rate, really a novelty watch for the steampunk enthusiast that appreciates quality Swiss and German engineering. The watch is constructed well and keeps good time. It wears on the wrist well and really accomplishes what it sets out to do in my opinion. Is this watch for everyone? Certainly not, but I think it will definately be right for some people.

Next in the string of video reviews that I did not have the chance to upload. Here is the now discontinued Dievas Zeta diver. Fantastic value from this Singapore-based company who is now making higher end watches using German-made cases and Swiss movements now. No more of this value stuff!

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