Field Test: @TheVanMan Takes the Steinhart Ocean Titanium 500 For a Spin

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I had seen the Steinhart Ocean Titanium 500 around the inter webs, forums, and Instagram well before getting one on my wrist. It had caught my eye from afar just on looks alone—gun-metal gray titanium case and bracelet with alluring blue details on the dial. Steinhart is known to produce high quality pieces at a wallet friendly price point. The biggest knock against them is their insistence on producing homage watches drawing rather heavily from well known classics. The Ocean 1 Titanium 500, however, is a prime example of how good they can be when they branch out a bit. I was thrilled to finally take one for a spin.

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My first impression of the Ocean Titanium 500 once I’d torn open the shipping box was, “Wow, this is insanely light!” I’ve handled a few titanium watches over the years, and the contrast to a steel watch on a matching bracelet catches me off guard every time. I wore the Ocean Titanium on a few long hikes in the mountains. Normally I’d pair a steel watch with a rubber or nylon mil-strap to keep things light, but I kept this one on its bracelet and barely noticed it on the wrist. The downside to all that lightness is well documented—titanium is more prone to scratches, swirls, and scuffs than steel, and the damage tends to be more visible when it’s there. Personally this isn’t a problem for me, particularly with a tool watch that I wouldn’t wear with a suit, but it is something to keep in mind if scratches make you cringe.

The case design of Ocean Titanium does a great job using classic lines while still feeling and looking thoroughly modern. While it’s listed at 42mm—and generally 42mm is the upper limit of what I prefer—I found that it wears quite a bit smaller on my 7.5-inch wrist. Two factors appeared to contribute to this. First, the dial has a beveled inner chapter ring that’s subtle and unobtrusive, but it does eat up some real estate on the dial causing it to feel a bit smaller. Second, at a thickness of just 13mm, the Ocean Titanium boats a relatively thin case, particularly for a 500m watch.

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The bezel deserves some attention. It’s absolutely beautiful; there’s really no other way to describe it. It features a ceramic insert with BGW9 Super-LumiNova and it really pops, looking almost wet in the right light as if you’ve just emerged from a dive. The scalloping on the bezel is deep and offers an easy grip, though I found it to be a tad stiff in application.

Turning the watch over I was surprised to see a display back. It’s not all too common on dive watches and certainly not on those rated to 500 meters. That said, one look at the movement and it’s clear why Steinhart did it. The Ocean Titanium boasts a nicely finished Soprod A-10 movement adorned with blued screws, perlage, and a custom golden Steinhart rotor. It looks excellent and it’s a fun feature to share with those curious as to what watch I was wearing.

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The dial feels influenced by the Benrus Type 1 military dive watch, and it does so in a good way. It’s bold and easily legible with generously lumed indices and sword hands. The use of blue on the dial really stood out. It’s a great color that parallels the blue luminescence of BGW9 and brings aquatic visions to mind. Combined with the beautiful bezel, I found myself fielding a number of questions from both WIS and lay people alike. The date function—a complication I generally prefer not to have on my watches since it tends to disrupt the dial—is integrated well in the 6 o’clock position and was admittedly useful.

SteinhartOceanTitanium_500-14In the end, the Steinhart Ocean Titanium 500 proved itself not only to be a looker, but excellent in action. I took it hiking, summited some mountains, participated in a two-day fly fishing course, rebuilt a deck, and engaged in some impromptu river side adventures. I came to really appreciate how low profile it was with the thinner case and the lightness of the titanium. It’s the first watch I’ve worn with a ceramic bezel and it really impressed me. I would have loved to see drilled lugs for quick strap swaps, but those seem to be rare from most brands. Everything I’d heard and read about the Ocean Titanium 500 was solidly proved and at this price point it’s seriously tough to beat. It’d serve well for any adventure you might have.

Photo credit: Gale Straub

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Jon is a native New Englander who enjoys traveling as much as returning home. He has a passion for watches that his significant other kindly tolerates whilst shaking her head in consternation. A tendency to plow through life with little finesse has led him to appreciate and pursue the utility of a good tool watch.
thevanman
  • TrevorXM

    Nice, informal write-up on this watch which was covered more analytically earlier by Worn and Wound. Unexpectedly, out on the trail seems to be the natural habitat of a dive watch called the Ocean One.

    • Jon

      @TrevorXM:disqus Thanks for reading it and the kind words Trevor! That is ironic that a watch named the Ocean One transferred so naturally to the trail. It was a great watch to wear test, really impressed with it particularly at such an accessible price point relatively speaking. Cheers!

  • Caleb Kay

    Couldn’t help but notice…that’s a GoRuck, is it not?

    • That’s indeed a GORUCK bag and TAC hat. Jon is an original GRT.

      • Jon

        Old school haha!

    • Jon

      Hey @calebkay:disqus as Mike confirmed that is a GORUCK. It’s a GR0 now known as the small GR1. And there is a Tac Hat in there that I got doing my challenge years ago now. Good eye! Thanks for reading.

  • Dane Robison

    At least one decent photo of the watch would be a really nice touch.

    • Hey Dane. Thanks for reading. The first paragraph links to our in-depth review of the watch, which has an assortment of hi-res images. -IR

      • Dane Robison

        Awesome! I was just looking for pictures instead of reading because I was on my phone. Thanks!