LOOK ===> WANT YOUR WATCH REVIEWED / PROMOTED - EMAIL ME! <===LOOK

Friday, July 22, 2022

FORMEX REEF - REVIEW

It is no secret that I have a soft spot to Formex watches. Especially after having reviewed their Essence model and interviewed their CEO, Raphael Granito. In a world of Rolex clones and wannabes, Formex has created something truly special. A homologous design language of their own. Even at a glance, you can easily recognize a Formex from a distance. Last year Formex launched the REEF, their newest dive watch and they continue to do their thing, their way… the Formex way!

The REEF does not look like any other dive watch. While some feel it borrows a few slight design cues from others, I say some of their choices came through organically. You know what they say about great minds. They think alike. Despite being over a year late with this review, how about we plunge right in.

CASE

 

 

The REEF’s case measures 42mm in diameter and only 11.4mm thick, but this does not accurately describe how this watch fits. Its short 47mm lug to lug measurement, along with its downward pointing male end-links make it a joy to wear. Even on smaller wrists. Some may not like its case protrusion on the 9 o’clock side, but you cannot deny it adds perfect visual symmetry. 

I have heard people say it borrows this characteristic from the Patek Philippe Nautilus, yet so many brands mimic this design and some quite successfully. Laventure watches come to mind, so does the Scrufa Treasure Seeker. The way I see it, if you are trying to accomplish visual symmetry and balance, that is how the design would organically develop. Besides, I can think of worse things than being compared to an iconic Gerald Genta design. 

The case is nearly fully brushed stainless steel, except for the beveled top edges, which are polished to a high shine. The cased back is slick and completely brushed, with a very tasteful wave engraving and their new logo, though not so new by the time you read this (my bad). If you look very carefully, you will find lines demarking the back of the lugs against the rest of the case. The latter need not be there, but it is as tiny little detail that adds refinement and care. It is exceptionally well crafted; you can tell a lot of thought went into this watch. 

The crown is enormous, with plenty of grip and sits perfectly between its form fitting guards. You would think a crown this size; with this much purchase would leave marks on the back of ones wrist or hand. It does not. The whole case just sits so perfectly on the wrist and as Formex mentions on their site, the wearing thickness is just under 10mm. That is astonishing considering this watch is fully water-resistant to 300m. 

DIAL

 

 

If you recall, a little earlier I mentioned the word symmetry. There is more evidence of this when it comes to the dial. With the date centered at 6 o’clock and the hour markers all equal in length, except for the double up at twelve, which is larger. Each precisely executed hour marker is sloped towards the center of the dial and is a luxurious mix of brush and polish, a la Grand Seiko. This is a master class in dial balance and would you look at that, half way through the review and already been compared to Patek Philippe and Grand Seiko.

Just as on the Essence, the date aperture is beautifully scalloped, which has now become a continuous Formex design element. Speaking of the date window. Please have a close look at the pictures and see if you can spot what I have discovered. The date wheel is white print on a green disk; however, the color does not match the dial. What a shame, but au contraire, it is not a shame! Look very carefully. The disc color actually matches the base of the ceramic bezel embossing! When I first noticed this, I was smiling from ear to ear. I am not 100% sure this was intentional and/or perhaps this is limited to the all green model, but I absolutely love it. 

The hands is where I have a small issue and it has to do with just that, they are small or rather short. Nothing really wrong with the hour hand and the second hand is fine as well, but I would have much preferred the minute hand reach the outer minute track. There is so much dial real estate; I see no reason why it is so short. Now, having said this, when the minute hand does reach the hour markers, it is a thing of beauty. Maybe the slanted hour markers did not permit the minute hand to be any longer. I had not thought of that until I just typed that out. Criticism aside, just like the hour markers, they are a mix of brush and polish, and look like they would be at home on a Grand Seiko. There’s that brand again. 

The new logo on the dial looks amazing and the minimal dial text is equally perfect. Once again, have a look at the symmetry and balance. The brand name and the model name are exactly the same length.  The word CHRONOMETER and SWISS MADE also look like they are the same width. These little, insignificant details may not seem like much, but they aid at being pleasing to the eye. Studies have shown that humans perceive symmetrical faces as more attractive. I believe someone at Formex understands this very well.

BEZEL

  

What can I say about this bezel that has not already been said. It is a work of art and it must have been a pain the rear end to develop. High-tech ceramic is not the easiest to work with, never mind making an embossed gradient scale. The impression in person is remarkable and the contrast between the raise polished numerals vs. the lower mat bottom is equally impressive. I was worried that the similar colors would wash out the numerals, but I was worried for nothing. It is difficult enough to get good impressions from pictures online and videos on YouTube. In person, it is absolutely fantastic.

Unfortunately, the bezel action on mine left much to be desired. It was perfectly centered, barely had any play, but it felt very spongy and for some reason, it left a “cheap” feeling behind when using it. I have had more than one-person comment on this when turning it. Now, mine is one of the original REEF models, so I do not have the newest version with interchangeable bezels. I have a feeling that instead of just improving the action, Formex went out and made them interchangeable. That is what I have come to expect from this company. Why just fix something when you can completely improve it and add some new customization. 

MOVEMENT

This is a picture of their new GMT model, with SW330
Same movement in REEF diver, without the GMT module
Shown here as example of Formex finishing

The movement in the REEF is the chronometer certified Selitta SW300, which is a clone of the ETA2892. I know all about the debate of in-house movements vs. plug-in play movements like this one. Sure, it would be super cool to have a new in-house Formex movement, but how cool will it be when you need to get it serviced and the only people qualified to handle it are in Switzerland. I have no issues with using a Selitta or ETA movement. Especially this one, as many high-end brands have been using it for years. Ulysse Nardin, Omega, IWC, Breitling (actually Breitling uses the ETA 2824/Selitta SW200) and so many others costing thousands more. 

This movement is nothing to sneeze at. It is robust. It is slim. It is easy and inexpensive to have serviced. In addition, best of all, it is accurate and consistent. I hate the expression “proven workhorse”, but that is exactly what this movement is. My REEF has been +2sec/day and it has never faulted. 

The big “in thing” these days is power-reserve. ETA slowing down their beat rate to gain 80hrs of reserve for their proprietary brands. Oris has their new 120hrs Cal 400. Tudor has their 70hrs movements. Even Seiko has upped theirs, but here is the question; do we really need such power-reserves? Alternatively, are larger numbers just selling points? Look at me, look at me, mine is bigger! In well over 30+ years of collecting, I have never said I wish I had more power-reserve. Besides, if my watch has stopped after a couple of days, BONUS, I get to interact with it more than just strapping it on. Perhaps it is just me… 

BRACELET

 

 

I thought the bracelet on the Essence model was absolutely outstanding and I did not think Formex could outdo themselves. Yet they did! Not only did they outdo themselves, but they also outdid most of the industry. The fully brushed bracelet is 22mm at the lugs and tapers down to 20mm at the clasp. All the individual links are fully articulated and standard screw bars are utilized for sizing. It is a rather thin bracelet, which adds to the wearing comfort. If you have never held or worn Formex watch, you are in for a treat, there is nothing like it. 

The clasp is pure magic. I could just stop there, as that is an accurate description, but after 1500+ words, why should I start being concise now. It is solid and closes tight. It has dual push-button activation and it is relatively short. It is hard to believe, looking from the rear that underneath the shell, there is a push-button micro-adjust system. Would you also believe it has 10mm worth of play, to make dialing in the perfect fit a breeze? 

Between the micro-adjustments and the short links, if you cannot obtain the right fit, I just may have to fly over there and smack you upside the head. In other words, you are not doing it right. On a side note, I have now seen similar clasps on other watches, most recently on the new Montblanc Iced Sea dive watch. As stunning as the latter watch is in person, it is also 1340$ USD more expensive, has the same depth rating and its movement is not chronometer grade/rated.  

CONCLUSION


 

Formex remains at the top of their game, having introduced a new field watch and most recently a GMT version of the REEF. I personally love the back/blue bezel on white dial. In fact, it is taking everything I have to keep me from clicking the PRE-ORDER NOW button. Formex really knows how to execute a while dial. Here is a picture of the one I would want.

By blackening the hands and markers, you illuminate the wash out effect you would normally get on a while dialed watch, but I digress. I am here to talk about the standard dive version of the REEF. If you are looking for a fun, well built, well thought out design, with supreme comfort and usability, look no further. The REEF just may be the dive watch you are looking for (Jedi hand wave). 

In all seriousness, I am so happy for my friend Raphael and Formex, for what they have accomplished in such a short amount of time. The future is so bright and while, for now, you may not have the same brand “cachet” while wearing a Formex, you will however be wearing a watch that you can be exceedingly proud of. 

BONUS PICTURES

 

 


 

 

FORMEX

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

WOOHOO FOUND ANOTHER! Minerva Pythagore Review

Way back in the day, this incredible little watch was a Timezone.com darling. I was curious enough to borrow my friend's watch and out came this review!

MINERVA PYTHAGORE

Once again, used my skills at the old flatbed scanner to take all of those pictures. Ah... I miss those days!

ANOTHER BLAST! Omega Seamaster Pro Review

This one I wrote 20+ years ago and has been hosted on my old friend's website all this time! Unfortunately, Chuck Maddox past away some years back and I still miss his presence on-line. I have yet to encounter anyone else as knowledgeable as him, with regards to Omega watches. 

If you have never visited his website, you are in for a treat! I will put a link below.

In the meantime, should you wish to read my old review, please click on the link below this picture:

OMEGA SEAMASTER PROFESSIONAL REVIEW

Funny enough, when I started writing for InSync Magazine, I wrote a follow-up, long-term review of this very watch. This was a watch that was gifted to me for the work I did on watchzone.net, when they sold to Timebeat.com. Both of which are long gone by now... or shadows of their former selves.

Oh boy, I just found my old Gallery, hosted on Tripod:

SEAMASTER PRO GALLERY

Believe it or now, those shots were either lying directly in the flatbed scanner with a magazine draped over the watches or actual photographs I had developed and then scanned.  

Nostalgia feelings running high today! :)

CHRONOMADDOX

BLAST FROM PAST! Citizen Cyber Aqualand Review

Every once in a while, I will Google my name or moniker, just to see what is out there in the zeitgeist. Low and behold, I found a review I did nearly 20 years ago on Tripod! Any of you remember that web hosting site?



I am in awe that this still exists... 

This was such an avant-garde watch! Way ahead of its time. I wonder now that Citizen has entered the smart-watch world, if they plan on making a diver's version anytime soon. Something like the Garmin Ascent. I would be keen to have a go at one of those. 

What do you think?

CITIZEN

Sunday, December 20, 2020

INTERVIEW: Raphael Granito of Formex

I was originally introduced to Formex in the early aughts, back when they were advertising in the magazine I was writing for (InSync). The watches were very large, incredibly technical and looked like they were moving, even when they were not. It has been nearly twenty years since and the brand is thriving under new leadership. 

I was fortunate enough to get to review the Essence, which was the release that launched their resurgence. In that review, I waxed poetically about its virtues and there are many. It is clear now that the Essence was not a fluke, that there is a direction and a strategy. In the following interview, I got to ask some questions to the man with the plan, Raphael Garnito. 

Hope you enjoy!

T2W: Have you always been into watches and if so, how did you get started?

RG: I was literally born into the watch world, as my dad from his earliest working age, worked his way up in different watch companies and brands and then went on to create his own company, Dexel. It evolved into a successful independent company whose strong suit is the development, design and manufacturing of parts for many different watch brands. From a very young age I was interested in what he did and he’d let me help out at the company.


T2W: If you are a collector, what types of watches do you collect? What draws your attention?

RG: I like anything that catches my eye as a whole product. I think that’s how most people chose their watches: by falling in love with them. I don’t have a specific type of watches I collect, I go by what really strikes me at first sight and then holds up to very close inspection.


T2W: How did you get involved with Formex? 

RG: One of the founders, whom we had worked with for  long time with Dexel, was getting ready to retire and the brand was not doing very well after some rather good years in the mid 10s.

We decided to jump on board with my family and that. After studying everything carefully, I decided to change the business model to d2c (direct to consumer) at the end of 2016 and leverage the rising popularity of luxury goods shopping via ecommerce to drive the brand forward. I knew then that it was going to be a massive challenge to build a brand that was still virtually unknown in the watch community and I gave myself 5 years to prove the concept and get the company into the black. 

The beginning was very tough but this year we’ve really seen all the work we put in during the past couple of years pay off and we beat my target by one year. I have my small but efficient team at Formex, experts like you who helped spread the word and of course our customers and fans to thank for that success.


T2W: How different is Formex now compared to its inception?

RG: At its inception in 2000, the brand was built around the world of motorsports, with the newly patented case suspension system. Formex focused on this high-octane image and built very robust and rather large timepieces.

Part of the transformation I brought, was to move away from a solely racing-inspired narrative and design and bring in my design influence which stems from my product development experience I gathered during the 10 years working at Dexel. I wanted to bring in a bit more of the refined design codes while still carrying through some of the design DNA of the brand. Our goal is to create unique designs that have their own character and stand out in combination with all the other attributes of our watches.  


T2W: What do you feel sets Formex watches apart from other brands? it is clearly not just the case suspension system anymore.

RG: Gaining my professional experience at a company whose main pillar is innovation driven product development, I clearly want our watches to not only be beautiful in a photograph on Instagram. We put a lot of effort in making our timepieces incredibly comfortable and we like to develop add features that make them very nice to wear. 

Many of our customers send us messages reporting that they have not pout another watch on from their collections for months on end after receiving their Formex. That’s one of the nicest compliments we can get and confirms that we’re focusing on the right things. Another factor that might set us apart from more established brands is that due to the d2c business model, our multiplier from cost to MSRP is about half of that of a traditional brand, which allows us to be more generous in terms of what our watches can cost in production while still pricing them very competitively on the market.

In this sense we’re operating more like a microbrand. In terms of design and development, we’re more comparable to a larger brand, as every single component is designed by us and we own the tooling for them. We put countless hours in designing even the most minute detail and to integrate the technical features like our bracelet and strap quick release systems or the micro adjustment on the buckles.


T2W: Speaking of case suspension and seeing as the new Reef diver does not have one, is this the direction for the company moving forward?

RG: I wouldn’t generalize it like that. The case suspension is there for us to use when we feel it makes sense and when we want it to be there. The Reef is among many other things a statement that we don’t only define ourselves through the case suspension system. It’s sort of an emancipation from the past years, without excluding the system for future releases, as you will see in the next release, by the way.


T2W: We have been noticing many avant-garde materials being used lately by Formex, such as high-tech ceramics and carbon fiber. Are there plans for more innovative materials in the future? Or different uses of these materials?

RG: We’re always tinkering and brainstorming and our ear is on the tracks of new material development. I don’t want to use new materials for the sake of using them. If you look at the Essence Leggera collection carefully, you’ll see that the most exposed parts of the watch are made of ceramic, in order to protect them from scratches. 

The bezel also has a very shock resistant construction and we’ve never had to replace one due to shattering, which usually can happen when using this material. We always try to integrate these materials in a very logical way and I guess that’s the Swiss-German side of me while you’ll find the more emotional, Italian side in our designs (I’m half Swiss, half Italian 😉).


T2W: I really love the little details, like chamfered edges, sleek and supple links for the bracelet and meticulous dial work. How is it Formex can achieve such a high level of manufacturing and remain so affordable? The value proposition is simply outstanding.

RG: As mentioned in my previous answer, the main factor in that equation is the d2c concept. Had we chosen a traditional distribution business model, the exact same timepieces would cost roughly double of what we’re able to offer them at. I’m also proud to being able to produce our dials at Cadranor, our own dial manufacture in the Jura mountains. 

They are used to produce very high-end dials and I enjoy working with a dial manufacture so close to us. I think it’s fair to say that there are not many brands with prices under 2k that can produce their dials in Switzerland. Before we went d2c, 100% of our dials were produced in Asia.


T2W: Now that I have mentioned the bracelets, I have to say, it is clear that the newest Formex watches were made for collectors who love bracelets! From the clasps, to the finishing, to the comfort, they really are terrific. Were bracelets a real focus or was it just a coincidence?

RG: I think we’re giving the bracelet the attention it deserves. Putting all the effort into the watch head only to design a bracelet and a clasp that aren’t up to par is not something we want to do. I don’t like to treat anything on our watches as an afterthought and I guess it helps that we have 35 years of experience in buckle and bracelet development. 

The buckle is probably the most used feature of the watch and the bracelet is what connects it to your wrist. I think they deserve as much attention to detail as the watch head during the design and development stage. Let’s look at it like this: At night my watch is on the night stand. I put it on even before I put on my socks and taking it off its the last thing I do before I lay down at night. 

That being said, would you spend a lot of your hard-earned money to buy uncomfortable socks and wear them all day, even if they look nice?


T2W: With many other companies coming out with in-house movements, like Oris and Christopher Ward, are there any plans for Formex to do the same?

RG: I’ve treated Formex as a Start-up from day one, as we really did have to almost start from scratch in terms of commercial viability. Talking about an In-house movement now wouldn’t be very realistic and the risks involved in jumping into that adventure would be much too high for us at this time. 

We’ve grown organically from the day I took control of the company, without any substantial investment from the outside. Taking on such an enormous challenge right now wouldn’t be in line with the way we’re managing the company. Obviously our own movement is somewhere we want to go at some point but probably not alone. 

I can see ourselves working with movement manufacturers to create a caliber. But as with the material innovation, it would have to make sense and we would have to be able to offer some advantages with that movement, which is not easy. The short answer is: Kudos to CW and Oris and yes, it’s something we dream of, but we’re not there yet on our growth path.


T2W: One of the aspects of purchasing a Formex watch that is particularly enticing to me is the "all in" price. What I mean is that the price displayed on your website includes shipping AND all duties/taxes. This is truly remarkable and unprecedented. Speaking on behalf of all of your Canadian customers (and likely other countries as well), THANK YOU! What led Formex to this decision? 

RG: It seems like a detail, but there’s quite some work involved for us to make it possible, since Switzerland doesn’t have any 3PLs who offer a real-time key in hand solution for this feature. It was clear to  me from the beginning that this is a feature that we need to implement. Long story short: it’s all about the ease of buying a watch from us and customer experience. 

We want to offer the customer service we would like to experience from any online purchase: Uncomplicated accommodating, passionate and friendly. (I got goosebumps when I read that)

T2W: I also noticed you have changed your logo / branding. What was the catalyst to this change?

RG: We’ve been thinking about it for a while. The logo did carry the high-octane spirit of the past days well but wasn’t perfect on the dials of more elegant looking pieces like the Essence.

Comments from people saying that they love the watch but don’t want to get one because of the logo we’re also a recurring theme on our social media channels, so we thought it was time to come up with a more modern logo and add a logo symbol that we can now use as an applique on the dial. I think this adds so much to the dials and we’re extremely happy with how the new logo has been received so far.


T2W: This may be an unfair question, but What is your favorite Formex model? It is perfectly OK to say the latest... lol

RG: I’m not one for favorites. I enjoy my watches like I enjoy my women: Plentiful and varied. Just kidding, I wanted to see if you’re still awake after all my blabbering. Don’t print that... (Sorry Raphael, it was perfect, I cannot delete it)

But I really don’t like to pick favorites, I enjoy being able to switch it up and wear the Formex I feel like for that day. If I have a new prototype ready, I’ll be the one to wear it day and night to really test every aspect that is important to us.


T2W: Where do you see the Formex brand in the next 10 years? 20 years?

RG: I feel that we’ve taken the right steps in terms of our product lines and I’d like to continue to grow the company at a healthy and sustainable pace, innovating our designs and features along the way. Our goal is to become a strong independent brand for those who are willing to take a step on the wild side with their watch collection.

If you were not a fan of Formex prior to this interview, I bet you are seriously considering them now! Not only is Raphael as nice as he comes across in this article, his passion and leadership transcend his brand. I wish nothing but success for Formex and I am proud to call him my friend.

Here's to a prosperous and HEALTHY 2021, and beyond!

FORMEX

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

INTRODUCING: The Formex REEF Diver

It is no secret that Formex is one of my favorite independent brands. Its prior release, the Essence, was a tremendous success and to this day, the review I wrote about it still generates email inquiries! As I said previously, it is exceptionally difficult to design a new watch from the ground up without being derivative. Not only did Formex accomplish this with the Essence, I believe they have done so again!

I could have posted the new release at the same time as all of the BLOGS out there, but wanted to take some time to sit with the design and see more pictures. I have to say, I am quite smitten! The colors. The care design. The dial layout. The integration of the signature Formex bracelet. Did you see the new clasp? Honestly, I feel like Formex has hit another homerun here. 



I am so proud of my friend Raphael (and his team) and wish him incredible success with this new launch! Stay tuned, as we are planning an interview with Raphael and later on this year / early next year, I will be reviewing the Reef diver!

FORMEX

Sunday, May 31, 2020

REVIEW: Monta OceanKing


I have been fascinated with Monta, as a brand, from the very beginning. In fact, I remember when I first saw the OceanKing on ablogtowatch.com, I was quite smitten! That is until I reached the end of the article and I saw the price. 3500$ for a start-up dive watch? Really? Sure, it had a ton of great details and even housed an Eterna movement, instead of your standard ETA or Sellita, but it was swimming in some pretty deep waters at that price range.

Still, I kept track of Monta over the years and the prices did drop a bit to further encourage sales and those that bought them seemed to very pleased.Then came the updated version. The OceanKing now had a sub-2000$ price tag and it appeared that Monta listened to their critics, as well as their fans, and made many improvements / refinements.

Despite all of this, I was still quite critical / skeptical of the brand and its offerings. The clasp seemed too long, the hands too short and the "too good to be true" feeling I was having overcame my desire to own one. Fast-forward to a few months ago and something clicked. Could have been a picture I saw on Instagram or a story Monta posted, I just had to find out first hand what the OceanKing was all about. 

Now, I know, a ton of reviews have been written and videos made about this watch, but I needed to see, wear and fondle one for myself. After going back and forth with the folks at  Monta on IG DM and by email, though I have never met or seen Justin, I firmly believe this is what he must look like. I mean, with all of the goodies they managed to pack into this watch. He can only be a John Hammond clone!

I have now had the pleasure of wearing the Monta OceanKing for about a month. Not only am I impressed with it, I think I may even purchase the OceanKing GMT once I am though writing / publishing this article. In the meantime, sit back, pull up a chair, and I hope you enjoy  my full review.

CASE

The OceanKing's 40.7mm stainless steel case is very sleek at just a hair under 12mm thick. It is also just under that magic 50mm lug to lug length, coming in at 49mm. What does this mean? It means it can slide under any shirt cuff with ease. In my humble opinion, Monta has hit the nail right on the head with in the size department. It is pure perfection on the wrist. Not too big and not too small, it is the Goldilocks of watch sizes.  

The shape is unlike any other I have seen. Oh sure, it draws inspiration from many dive watches from yesteryear and it is round, but it has been re-imagined in a modern, contemporary Monta way. The lugs seem to turn upwards from the back. Every edge has been finished to the nth degree. There are no sharp or hot spots whatsoever. This is the level of finish usually reserved for watches costing much, much more.

The screw-down crown is a little on the small side, but its conical shape provides plenty of purchase for manipulation. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to grip, despite being so deeply nestled between its shapely crown guards. I thoroughly love it when the guards are shaped to curve around the crown and not just a pair of steel bars on either side, or simply flat up against the crown. This is a quintessential example of the little touches Monta gets so right.

The screwed-down case back is nice an flat, and is smooth feeling on the wrist. The engravings are deep, with the Monta logo and all the standard text, which includes the serial number. It does not open with the "normal" case wrench, but similar to Breitling, it seems to require some kind of 12 sided (dodecagon) key tool. I just double checked and Breitling use a 15 side (pentadecogon) shape. At any rate, it is not your standard case back. All of which keeps the OceanKing seaworthy to a depth of 304m. Funny enough, it says the latter figure on the dial, but 300m on the case back.

DIAL & BEZEL

The dial is where the Monta really shines, figuratively and literally. Every little detail that make WIS smile appear on this dial. From faceted applied markers, to cutouts for said markers in the chapter right (rehaut), to the matching applied surround on the date display. You can stare at this dial for 20 minutes and then someone will ask you the time and you will have absolutely no idea. It is that captivating. The flat sapphire crystal, which has 7 layers of anti-reflective coating to help make it disappear at certain angles. Unfortunately, at other angles it reflects like a mirror. I am completely OK with this, as I prefer not to have any coating on the surface, as it always gets marred and thus completely negates any advantage. 

Not to mention the blue colour itself, which seems to change with every angle and every lighting condition. From not quite Smurf to nearly purple. It is that dynamic! My earlier critique of the hands, which do appear a little short, seem to work in the real world. It is one thing to look at watches at 10x the size on 24" monitors and another when it is sitting on your furry wrist (in my case). The hour hand is perfect, but the minute could be a smidgen longer. That said, again, in the real world, it is just long enough to reach the minute track and does not completely cover up the gorgeous markers. So in the end, it works very well indeed. 

The bezel is a thing of real beauty and just like the hands, must be appreciated in person. The font type, which seemed a little odd to me, works in real life, as the bezel is nice and thin. The latter comment helps create an effect that the watch is larger than its stated measurements. In fact, if you would visit my IG page, you will see the Monta OceanKing directly compared to my Seiko MarimeMaster. The Seiko is a BEAST of a watch at a whopping 44mm in diameter and nearly 16mm thick, but next to the Monta, it is does not look so big, or rather, the OceanKing Does not look so small. 

I also have to say, the Monta's bezel action is superb! The only watch I have found to be better is the Tudor Pelagos, which feels like it is in a world of its own. That said, the 60 click action is extremely crisp and satisfying to turn. The teeth on the edge are so refined and perfectly executed, you would think Rolex made them. As is the ceramic insert. Oh, and HOW ABOUT THE LUME?

I have been a LUME fanatic ever since I started this hobby (disease) and I have owned all of the heavy hitters. From Seiko divers to Ball Watch. Now this is no Seiko diver, but it is still remarkably impressive and I so adore a fully lumed bezel. Don't you?

MOVEMENT

Now this is where there is a little controversy when it comes to Monta. First launched with an Eterna movement, attempt to use it to justify the high price, then rethink the model and come back with a lower price tag and some would say, a lesser caliber. Do I agree with all of this? That is a good question! 

First we must ask ourselves is the Eterna caliber a superior movement? Is it more exclusive? Likely. Does it have any benefits over an ETA 2892? Other than the power reserve (65 hrs), not really. Now here is the biggie. Is it easier to get serviced? Absolutely not! And BINGO! This will be a HUGE factor for most buyers. 

Let's face the facts here. The buyer that is purchasing a Monta OceanKing is a person that is going to be wearing his(or her) watch through thick and thin. He(or she) is not buying it to store it like some 5 figure Audemars Piguet or Patek Philippe. It is not going to sit in a safe and wait for its value to increase. It will be worn, enjoyed and perhaps even abused. As a result, it will eventually need servicing. The ETA 2892 movement is the perfect caliber for this watch. Extremely easy to service, robust enough for everyday use and thin enough to give the OceanKing its slim profile. I wholly endorse the decision to use this movement over the Eterna.

Clearly my test model needs some of that servicing love, as it likely had gone from one reviewer to another. Travelling in packages all over the world. As you can see by my testing data, it is losing on average 6.6 sec / day. This is certainly NOT typical of others I have read about. I even checked in with @a_girl_and_her_watches on IG from the famed @tennandtwomedia podcast (a must listen) and hers performed a heck of a lot better than mine.

BRACELET

I know I said that the dial is where the Monta shines, but the bracelet is where the OceanKing REALLY, REALLY shines! I am a die-hard bracelet  guy. I do not like straps, I never wear my watches on strap (except Panerai) and I rarely if ever buy accessory straps. Even if they are fantastic, like most Everest straps are. I just prefer bracelets and THIS is why I was hesitant with the OceanKing. It was not the movement. It was not the hands. It was the clasp, that made me most nervous.

It looked too long. It looked too flat. It looked too strange, but it did remind me of another clasp like it. One that used a hole to click closed. I just could not put my finger on it. Until, I found it! It was similar in function to a 2000's Rolex Daytona clasp! (picture shamelessly lifted from Google images) Hey, if it was good enough for Rolex's flagship chronograph, I had to give it a shot! Boy, am I ever happy I got to fondle, I mean play with it. It is my humble opinion, that there is no clasp on the market more satisfying to snap shut, than this Monta clasp. (PERIOD) 

I was also able to examine in up close and personal, which really impressed me further. The glide-lock system, which not quite as smooth as the Rolex, is far superior to the one Chirstopher Ward uses, which is very good and better than any of the ones I had on my Omegas (Seamaster 300m Ceramic dial and Seamaster 300). It is really that good and just look at that machining. All milled, no stamping here whatsoever. Everything snaps shut reassuringly and the fit and finish is outstanding. I would like to invite you to visit my IG page again, as I have a couple of videos where I operate the clasp.

The links are all brushed, except for the edges, which are bevelled and polished. You will also note that where the end-links meet the case, the bevel transfers from the edge of the link to the inside edge of the lugs. This one little detail, which could have been left out, is what makes Monta so special. Nothing that could be done was left undone. They spared no expense! They know their audience and packed in as much as they possibly could into this watch, without going overboard. A very delicate balance indeed.

Another factor about this bracelet that makes it stand out, is not only the screws that allow for easy sizing, nor is it the added pair of half links, it is the fully articulated construction. I dare anyone to try on any Monta and claim they cannot get the perfect fit or that it is uncomfortable. Just like my aunt used to say "it's like butter". Oh, I have had fully articulated bracelets before, but none with the combination I just mentioned... Perhaps the Formex Essence comes as close to this. None other. 

My gripe about the clasp being too long earlier is quite founded. It is a little longer than it should be, I cannot hide that fact. That said, when worn, it does not protrude from the back side of my wrist as I feared it would. It is just about as long as the watch itself and I am afraid because of this length, there is a whole lot of real-estate for scratches and scuffs to take residence. I noticed that the SkyQuest, their GMT model, uses a smaller clasp "shell", but this would likely give it somewhat less adjustable positions on the glide-lock. Not sure if the trade off is worth it. I guess if you are a diver, perhaps you may need all of that extra length to fit over a wet suit.

CONCLUSION

I went into this review with a skeptical mindset, but I was really hoping I would like the OceanKing. I was not disappointed. All of the terrific praises I read about and watched on YouTube were well founded. Kudos to Monta for such a young company to produce such a complete product. Like a young Shaolin monk that is wise beyond his years, Monta is making watches that it logically should not be able to, but they are!

You can tell that the person and people behind Monta are real watch nerds. Just like us. They care about the little details. They care about the feedback from their customers. They care about supporting, contributing and communicating with the watch community. They go the extra mile and it shows in their products. I am very happy and honoured to have had the opportunity to review this OceanKing and I look very much forward to seeing where Monta will be in the next 10, 20 and 50 years! 

If you are looking for an everyday diver, or GMT or field style watch, I wholeheartedly recommend you give Monta a careful look. I bet you will be as impressed as I am when you strap your Monta on for the first time.

Thank you for reading!

Monta Watch