Hands-On with the Ventus Mori

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One of the biggest reasons watch brands use bronze cases is that they gain unique patinas. Those odd, green/brown splotches that slowly cover a case, creating distinct shapes and textures, making each bronze watch completely different. It’s a very sexy attribute, building a sense of history into every watch, even if relatively new. The only issue is that bronze tends to come at a bit of a premium. Not crazy expensive (brand depending), but more than an equivalent steel model.

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Ventus, who previously brought us the Black Kite, an affordable carbon fiber flieger, set out to similarly create a very high value dive watch that patinas. To keep prices down, rather than bronze, they went with the similar yellow metal, brass. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a brass watch, but they are far less common. Brass isn’t quite as desirable as bronze, but at a much lower price it certainly gets the job done. The result is the Mori, a vintage inspired dive watch with a sapphire crystal, 300m WR, Seiko NH35 automatic movement and a paltry starting price of $199 through Kickstarter. Don’t let that price go to your head, that doesn’t mean all NH35 based watches should be $200, but Ventus managed to pull it off, likely through tight margins and a keen sense of how to run to a kickstarter campaign. The latter evidenced by their breaking $100k in the first day it was up.

Of course, a big part of that is that the Mori is a great looking watch. Vintage inspired, but thoroughly modern and sleek, the Mori is a very well balanced and styled watch. Starting with the brass case, which measures 41 x 48 x 14mm, its a nice medium size with slender lugs and classic lines. It’s a touch thick, but doesn’t feel it thanks to good proportions and some of the height coming from the domed sapphire crystal. The star of the show is the bezel, which comes in black or solid brass. The latter is very cool, giving the watch a solid, all metal look. The brass insert will also patina along with the case, further emphasizing that unique property. The bezel is then features a minimal series of marks in vintage style, with numerals at 15, 30 and 45, a triangle at 12 and rectangles for the rest. They are lume filled as well.

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$199

Hands-On with the Ventus Mori

Case
Brass
Movement
Seiko NH35
Dial
matte gray
Lume
C3
Lens
Domed Sapphire
Strap
Rubberized
Water Resistance
300
Dimensions
41 x 48mm
Thickness
14mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
screw down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$199

Another feature worth quickly noting is the solid case back with a deep stamped vintage diver’s helmet. A motif we’ve seen before (in fact, just the other week), it’s really cool looking and a amazing detail for such a low cost watch. I also like that it completely lacks text, giving the watch a sterile, almost mysterious feel.

The dial is sandwich-style, with a clean, minimal aesthetic. It draws a bit from the original Breitling SuperOceans of the early 60’s, but has a look of its own too. The surface is a very dark matte gray, not quite black though close, which plays well off of the brass case. The primary index consists of cut-through wedge shapes for the hours, with a large cut-through triangle at 12. Between the hours is an inner ring of small marks for the seconds and an outer ring of longer marks for the minutes.

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The watch is available with BGW9 or C3 lume for either a more modern or vintage appearance. The model shown has the latter, though the C3 is unlike others I’ve seen before, having an almost peachy tone to it. It looks great, playing off of the brass, giving the whole watch a warm cast. They smartly copy this color for the printed indexes as well, giving a uniformity to the execution.

Are you ready to be amazed? They also use it on the date wheel. Yes, this $199 watch has a custom date wheel with black backing and warm, creamy type, making it fit in with the styling overall. As the only numerals on the dial this also makes it less obtrusive, keeping the dial graphic and almost abstract. Throw in that the logo is just a V and there are no words elsewhere (not even 300m) and the overall appearance is cool and sparse. This gives it a more modern feeling, though you can still pick up some of the vintage notes.

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The hands also play off of the SuperOcean, and are a fun departure from typical dive-style. The minute is a Roman sword, while the hour is more of an arrow shape, flaring out to create a pointer tip. The seconds is then a stick with a lume filled square towards its tip. The hands are a brushed rose gold with the same peachy lume filling. The warm tone works once again, playing off of the overall palette. I like the hands a lot. They are easily readable, stylish and oddly low key. Dive hands are sometimes very aggressive by design, so this is a nice change of pace. I do wonder though if a brass or bronze PVD would have looked more congruent overall.

The Mori comes on a black rubber/fiber strap with a leather backing. It looks sort of like matte kevlar, and feels like a two-piece leather strap. It’s aggressive, but works well, adding another modern edge to the design. The matte black plays well off of the brass case, emphasizing the warm color. It’s also fit with a brass/bronze PVD buckle, which is a nice touch.

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On the wrist, the Mori wears nicely. 41mm is a great size for a diver, and 48mm keeps it placed well on top of the wrist. The height is mitigated by smart case geometry, adding lines to the case side, breaking it up. Aesthetically, it’s really a great looking watch. Though I’ve tried on hundreds of divers in the last few years, this one stands out. The reduced style, fun dial geometry, warm lume and rugged brass case come together to create a very attractive and well considered timepiece. This is a great everyday watch for someone who wants that patinated look, but doesn’t want a huge diver on their wrist.

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Overall, Ventus made a pretty killer watch with the Mori. The $199 option has unfortunately sold out, but the next tier is only $233. It’s sort of a no brainer if you like the look and have the cash or have been wanting to dip your toes into the bronze/brass pool without too much commitment. In addition to aesthetics with a domed sapphire, 300m WR and a Seiko NH35, it’s also a very competent tool watch for daily wear. Ventus is clearly on to something with the Mori, and with their previous watches as well. In fact, Ventus is the same guy behind Zelos, who recently made a diver with meteorite dial and damascus steel bezel options for under $1k. Clearly, he’s figured something out that rest of the industry hasn’t, so very worth keeping an eye on.

To pick one up, head to the Mori Kickstarter

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Zach is the co-founder and Executive Editor of worn&wound. Before diving head first into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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  • Terrance Steiner

    Brass is primarily an alloy of copper and zinc. Bronze on the other hand is an alloy of copper and tin.

  • Terrance Steiner

    The Kickstarter link does not work. It looks like it got cut off. Here is the full link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/398973070/ventus-mori-brass-diver-300m?ref=nav_search

  • Никита

    Hands are not only tiny, but also poorly done (look at the first photo on the top). Otherwise, it could be a handsome watch.

    • Elshan

      Hello! Its the brushed lines catching the reflection hence the ‘poorly done’ appearance in certain pics. Most hands are sandblasted/polished which is less effort to produce actually. We suggested changing the hands length to our KS backers but many preferred the original length. Cheers!

  • Peter D

    Hour hand is too small but a good effort all round. Certainly one of the top kickstarter brands

  • egznyc

    Very nice package for the price. It’s a great size overall (not the hands, but the case) and an attractive design. Just wish there were some other dial color options available.

    • Sam Soul

      Black, Brown ans blue dials will be available.

      • egznyc

        Thanks. (I didn’t see that anywhere.). That’s good to hear but is there a sense of when they’ll be offered, and at what price level? (Another great option would be a different handset, but maybe that’s not in the cards?)

        • Sam Soul

          Hands won’t change and there won’t be any additional cost about the brown and blue dials because they are KS stretch goals.

  • Tomas Tran

    I just wonder if all the brass/bronze turn to my taste not nice green or its just harsh conditions http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SMlOziSkTow/T2cI_DVqFJI/AAAAAAAAFgk/HDIqMFPHbDQ/s1600/Panerai%20Submersible%20PAM382%20Bronzo%20Chronopassion%20Picciotto%20(3).jpg

  • Mark Fletcher

    Does the bezel rotate?