Back in September, we introduced you to the Anstead Oceanis, a Kickstarter watch project that managed to stick out from the crowd for being, well, traditional. Unlike nearly every other Kickstarter watch that has gained considerable attention, the Oceanis was developed with traditional watch enthusiasts in mind. It shares a strong military aesthetic, is designed with practicality and versatility in mind and manages to squeeze in some quality components like sapphire crystal, Super-LumiNova and a Seiko automatic movement, all for $399. We were really excited to receive an Oceanis for review a few weeks ago, and to discover just how successfully Anstead has turned its Kickstarter project into a reality.
Movement: Seiko NH36a automatic with 24 jewels at 21,600 bph
Lens: Sapphire with antireflective coating
Strap: Leather, Silicone
Water Res.: 300m
Dimensions: 44 x 51mm
Thickness: 14.3 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: 7 x 5 mm screw down
Warranty: 1 yr
When Tom Anstead originally posted his Oceanis Kickstarter project, his goal was to raise $6,000. A modest target, but one that he quickly eclipsed, and by the time the Oceanis project ended, Anstead had raised over $50,000. After the close of his project, Tom did what we hope most managers of successful projects do, he stayed in touch and remained transparent about his progress. Tom communicated directly with his supporters about everything they’d want or need to know, including production setbacks and successes, like the development of a silicone band.
We see this as a critical consideration of the success of the Anstead Oceanis. As exciting and interesting as Kickstarter and the projects that it supports may be, its also easy to worry that, once the money’s been handed over, you never know when you’ll see a project actually come into production. After all, the crowdfunding platform is a difficult one to monitor and regulate, so you really never know what you’re going to get. In the case of the Anstead Oceanis, we’ve gotten a watch that not only meets our expectations for design and build quality, but we’ve also seen the development of a young brand that by all accounts has poised itself for much future success.
The Oceanis is rugged, bold and features some unique styling, but nevertheless uses a design language that is going to seem familiar for a mid-priced dive watch. Constructed of brushed stainless steel, the Oceanis case measures 44mm in diameter and 51mm lug to lug, with a height of 14.3mm. The cases most distinguishing feature is of course its all steel, 120-click unidirectional bezel featuring a very aggressive saw tooth design along its outer edge. Etched and painted minute and hour markers line the bezel, with numerals at 15, 30 and 45, and lines for each indices in between. The saw toothed edging is sharp, and easy to grip, giving the bezel a strong sense of masculinity and purpose. It’s further sized to consume the entire top of the Oceanis case, leaving just the lugs at either end appearing from beneath. The action on the bezel is a bit stickier than we would like, however Tom Anstead addresses this issue on his Kickstarter page and suggests that a bit of lubricant helps to loosen things up. Nevertheless, the bezel lines up nicely with the dial, which is really what is most important.
When viewed from the side, the Oceanis lacks a bit of the excitement you get from the front. Slab sides and simple geometry make for a bland, albeit purposeful and well proportioned bottom case. Also visible is the signed screw down crown which features a the same saw tooth design as the bezel. The consistency of this shape throughout the case is effective and lends some distinctive character to the Oceanis’. The back of the Oceanis is screw down, and features a large Anstead arrowhead logo, Oceanis insignia and general information about the watch.
Amongst the details listed is the Seiko NH36A automatic movement that powers the watch, with 24 jewels, beating at 21,600 beats per hour. An update to the Seiko 7S26, the NH36A features a day/date function, hacking second and manual wind capability. The Oceanis is also water resistant to 300 meters and features a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating.
The dial of the Oceanis diverts from what you may traditionally find on a diver, but stays well within the military aesthetic. Small tick minute/second markers line the outer rim of the dial, with dots at each hour interval. Moving inward, large hash markings appear at each hour, with the exception of numeral 12, 6 and 9 markers in a bold and stylized sans serif font that is reminiscent of classic military timepieces. At 3 o’clock, the day/date window appears, lined in polished steel and displaying black text on a white background.
Inward from the large hour markers is a 24 hour scale, which, when paired with the thin hour and minute hands, give the Oceanis dial the feel of a field watch. The fencepost hands are are slightly more delicate than you typically find on a traditional diver, but not to the extent that it takes anything away from the watch. In fact, we find this provides a for a more nimble character that may make for an easier everyday wear. The second hand is a black needle with a lumed dot and red tip. In fact, Super-LumiNova can be found throughout the Oceanis, making it very legible in the dark or low light. All hour markers, hands and the triangular bezel marker at 12 o’clock are lumed.
Straps and Wearability
The Oceanis comes with both a brown leather and black silicone strap, giving you two dress options that provide for completely different looks. The black silicone strap is soft and comfortable, featuring the Anstead logo and insignia imprinted on the front as well as signed buckle, and it highlights well the Oceanis’ dive aesthetic. When paired with the brown leather strap however, the Oceanis is has a bit more of a vintage military style. The tan brown color and white contrast stitching give a classic, slightly less sporty look to the watch. These are precisely the two straps we’d like to see paired with a watch like the Oceanis, so we’re happy to see them included with your purchase.
We found wearing the Oceanis to be a pleasure, pairing well primarily with more casual attire, out and about over the weekend, but we can see this fitting in just fine in a more casual work environment. The size may prohibit some of you from wanting to pick this one up, as the 44mm x 51mm x 14.3mm dimensions may make the Oceanis a bit too hefty for someone with a smaller wrist.
From exceeding its funding target on Kickstarter to getting through production to a successful release, the Anstead Oceanis has been a success. After a few weeks of having one hands on, we can say with confidence that it succeeds at what matters most, being a watch you’ll actually want to buy, wear and appreciate for a long time. At $399, the Anstead Oceanis features quality components that you come to expect from a watch with a considerably higher price tag, and its thoughtful design and well-executed construction adds tremendous value. If the design of the Oceanis speaks to you, the price tag should make it a no brainer. But regardless of whether the Oceanis is your cup of tea, you, like us, should look forward to Anstead being around for a while, and excited to see what they have in store next.
by Blake Malin
Thanks to Anstead for providing the Oceanis for review