Today, on the table is a dive watch from a smaller brand named Aquatico. They are native to Hong Kong and produce quite a watch for the price, having seen these newer pieces added to the lineup.
The Sea Star is housed in a satined 316L stainless steel case with a diameter coming in at 42MM across. In terms of width we are looking at 12.5MM and a lug to lug distance of just under 50MM. These dimensions are certainly doable in todays times where mostly smaller dive watches are being produced. I tend to enjoy dive watches within the range of 40-42MM, so this fits right in that category. The actual case is a smooth satin finish and it came out excellent with the chamfered sides where a slight hint of polishing was done. The case itself is pressure tested to 300 Meters, making this a very tooly and useable diving watch if recreational diving is a hobby of yours, or you just like swimming in the ocean. The addition of a automatic helium escape valve is implemented on the 9:00 side of the case for added security. Getting to the crown, it is rather small if you did not notice, but this does not seem to effect function in any way. I can still easily grip, screw in and out the crown without any problem. A standard 22MM lug width is used on this model which matches the 42 diameter nicely as well as the addition of drilled lug holes for easy access to swap straps. Overall, it IS a very well built and finished case in my humble opinion, especially for the $299 pricepoint.
The first thing that came to my mind when opening the package and getting my first glance at the Sea Star was “Tudor Black Bay GMT”. It does resemble some aspects of tudor with the snowflake hand and applied luminous markers. I would not call this a 1:1 Homage watch because it dows have its’ own identity outside the dial. Anyway, a dark navy like blue sunburst dial with applied BGW9 filled markers surround the dial, while a framed date aperture sits at 3:00. The Snowflake hand really looks nice, and might have satisfied my need for a TUDOR GMT for a few months. “Aquatico” is neatly printed below 12:00 while “Automatic” ( in red ) and 300M are printed above 6:00. The 120 click unidirectional bezel lines up to the 12:00 position and features minimal play on my example. A cool thing is the actual bezel insert...It is Blue/Orange and features a hardened Aluminum insert. It is always nice to see foreign metals on a affordable dive watch. In addition to the insert, a beatiful flat genuine sapphire crystal with a double anti reflective undercoat lays on the sunburst dial.
Seiko......NH35 , Yes. This movement is a common movement used in literally every single affordable microbrand watch, and for good reason. First of all, it is hackable, features hand winding, and is surprisingly super accurate with my example gaining 4 seconds a day consistently. The movement also features 24 jewels and a 40 hour power reserve.
This is where I see some of the added value from Aquatico. On top of the solid steel bracelet the watch also comes with an Isofrane style rubber strap which is of very good quality and I will definitely be getting some good use out of that strap this summer. The bracelet attached is also of good quality, and better than most smaller brands I have seen. I can compare it to something like a Steinhart Ocean one bracelet. It features screw in links, solid end links, and meshes perfectly with the edges of the lugs. Also, the clasp is milled featuring 4 micro adjustments which I did need when sizing. To get a size perspective, I removed 4 links for my 6.5” wrist.
Furthermore, the Sea Star by Aquatico is certainly a value packed watch. We get a reliable and trusty NH35, Sapphire Crystal, an excellent bracelet along with a beautiful Isofrane strap, and a QUALITY built case. Some watches you really have to hold in hand to feel the quality, and this is certainly one of them. The watch is visually appealing and comfortable on the wrist. What more can I ask for at this price range of $299?