Review: MK II Gen. 3 Paradive

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The MK II Paradive pays homage to a beloved military dive watch, the Benrus Type 1 (there’s also a Type 2 with a different dial setup, but that’s not one of the options here). These watches, produced in the ‘70s for the American military under spec MIL-W-50717, are pure mil-watch goodness, though today they’re relatively uncommon on the market, and even fewer are available in the condition you’d want them to be in. I won’t go too deep into the history of these watches today, but for those who are interested I would recommend checking out our primer here.

The Paradive, now in its third generation, is part of MK II’s ready-to-wear series (the Hawkinge was the first watch in this line, and you can read our review of it here). All ready-to-wear watches are manufactured in Japan to spec, with final QC (and even some assembly, but more on that later) performed by Mr. Bill Yao (MK II’s proprietor) in his Pennsylvania workshop.

Now, I’ve professed my adoration for MK II in the past, and I’m generally unbothered by homage watches (I’m personally of the belief that you should buy and wear whatever makes you happy, and if that’s an homage watch, then more power to you). It becomes even less of an issue when a watch is based on a long-out-of-production military timepiece. If that’s problematic for you, then the Paradive likely isn’t the watch for you. But, if you’re anything like me, then you’ll appreciate the Paradive for what it is, and that is a robustly spec’d dive watch with a clean design and solid manufacturing for a price that won’t break the bank.


Excuse the pun, but let’s dive right in.
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$895

Review: MK II Gen. 3 Paradive

Case
Stainless steel (multiple bezel options)
Movement
Seiko NE15
Dial
Black matte
Lume
BGW9 Super-LumiNova
Lens
Double-domed sapphire (internal AR)
Strap
Nylon; rubber
Water Resistance
200m
Dimensions
44.5 x 49.5mm
Thickness
15.54mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screw-down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$895

Case

The case of the Paradive measures 44.5 millimeters wide, with a bezel diameter of 41.25 millimeters, a thickness of 15.54 millimeters, and a lug-to-lug length of 49.5 millimeters. This is a watch with some presence, but it’s not oversized, much in the way the Seiko Turtle isn’t despite its larger dimensions. Because the case is asymmetrical, the numbers are a bit misleading. I’d say that the watch wears more like its bezel diameter than its actual case width. The balance here feels just right.

Solid, sharp machining on the case here.
Great balance between the mid-case, case-back, and bezel.

The Paradive features some practical upgrades from the watch that inspired it. The 120-click bezel is unidirectional, replacing the bi-directional action of the original. There are also a couple of really cool insert options available, but I’ll get to that a little later. The domed acrylic is upgraded to a double-domed, AR-coated sapphire crystal, a concession (okay, it’s not really a concession, but it’s hard to deny the charms of domed acrylic) I can live with as the crystal here has a great dome. And, unlike the original, which featured a monocoque case, the Paradive has a beautifully-designed screw-in case back (seriously, it’s a masterclass in utilizing negative space). It’s another change that, as far as practicality is concerned, makes much more sense for a contemporary watch.The case is bead-blasted for a clean, subdued look in line with the original, and that’s something that is carried throughout the entirety of the watch. It’s a dive watch stripped down to its essentials, which is exactly what a military-designed watch should be.

The case is rated to 20 ATMs, or 200 meters, and is verified according to ISO 6425.

The bezel insert options are as follows: anodized aluminum 12-hour GMT, anodized aluminum, and acrylic 12-hour GMT. I’ve had the pleasure of checking out both the aluminum and acrylic variations, and both are nice, though the impact is obviously quite different. Because it’s matte, the aluminum option is a touch more subdued, but the acrylic is far truer to the original watch, which had molded depressions in the rear of the insert that gave the numerals a wild, almost three-dimensional look.

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A similar idea is achieved here through molded lume underneath the acrylic, which not only looks cool, but it also results in some killer low-light lume action. And despite it being a throwback detail, the acrylic crystal gives the watch a really unique and contemporary vibe, and it’s my preference of the three options available (plus, who doesn’t love the added utility of tracking an additional time zone?).

The action on the bezel is very nice. There is a very satisfying click at each position, and given Mr. Yao’s commitment to super-tight tolerances, it comes as no surprise that everything lines up just right. Actually, it’s worth noting that Mr. Yao applies the inserts himself in his studio to ensure just that.

The lugs on the Paradive are drilled, eschewing the fixed bars of the original (though there were some earlier ones that had standard spring bars, too). The holes are relatively narrow and the lugs are quite deep, so you need a thin and long poker tip to utilize the drilled lugs. I’ve had success with a safety pin, though if you’re going to do it you should be careful not to prick yourself.

There is currently a production of 200 units designed to take one Seiko’s legendary, 2.5-millimeter “fat” spring bars.

Dial and Hands

The dial is as straightforward as a dial can be—one of the hallmarks of classic military design. There are hash marks for every minute; lumed plots for every hour (upside-down triangle at 12; rectangles at three, six, and nine; and circles for all other positions); and a date at 4:30 should you want it (my preference is no date, but its implementation here is relatively unobtrusive). There’s some stealth branding right below the six o’clock marker, but that’s pretty much it—just as it should be. The hands are ladder-style, and generously filled with lume.

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Classic military dial design.
Note the subtle date window, an option should you need it.
The Super-LumiNova BGW9 is evenly applied and it glows like a torch.
Here, you can see the lumed acrylic bezel.

The simple utility of the dial is perhaps what I love most about this watch. It has everything you need, all the details are expertly executed, and the fit and finish is impeccable. As I wrote above, the design credit goes to the military spec that produced the original, but the adaptation could have, in the hands of another maker, been less honest. It could have taken on some extraneous text or flagrant branding. Not here. Here, you get reverence.

Movement

The movement inside the watch is Seiko’s automatic NE15 caliber. It’s a common workhorse movement utilized by many micro-brands, and it features a quick-set date, hack setting, and manual winding. It is timed and adjusted to three positions, and the samples reviewed here ran within several seconds a day.

Straps and Wearability

As far as straps go, the kit includes either a branded rubber strap or a black nylon mil-strap. For my money, I’d pick up the rubber (for an extra $25) and then get some aftermarket nylon bands, which are a perfect pairing for this style of watch. I’ve basically been wearing them on our ADPT straps since we’ve gotten these in for review (the watches look awesome on Sage, as you can see from the above photo). That said, the rubber is nice, too. It’s thin and has an elegant taper, so it sits close to the wrist in much the same a well-worn leather two-piece would.

On the stock black nylon band.
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Branded rubber.
A thin, tapered profile.

I’ve been wearing this watch a lot since getting it in for review. It’s just such a joy to wear, and even though it’s a big(ger) watch than most of the ones I personally own and generally prefer to wear, it somehow manages to be inconspicuous. It’s probably because it’s a no-frills tool watch that doesn’t really draw attention to itself. It’s why I’ve always loved tool watches, and this is no exception.

Conclusion

All in all, the Gen. 3  Paradive from MK II’s ready-to-wear series is a winner, and it’s an excellent follow-up to the already successful Hawkinge range. At retail, the Paradive is extremely fair at $895. I’ve long argued that a watch is far more than the movement inside it, and that’s certainly the case here (though I won’t scoff at the NE15, a wholly reliable and robust caliber from one of the most trusted watch brands in the world). So, if you love the watch and the watch it pays homage to, and if you want something that you can comfortably wear around and even bang up, then the Paradive is certainly worth your attention. MK II


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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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