Introducing the Marnaut Dark Surge 300, an Affordable Dive Watch Fit for the Adriatic

Today’s watch industry is growing increasingly diffuse, spread out across the globe and giving rise to compelling small companies and interesting regional ideas. Croatia is home to a brand new company called Marnaut. Mario Jutronic is the man behind the brand, and his first watch is the Dark Surge 300, a 42-millimeter diver with robust specs and a wonderful design inspiration.Mr. Jutronic grew up snorkeling in the Adriatic Sea looking for urchins. As a designer, he’s borrowed from the radiating symmetry of their skeletons, which is perfectly suited to a dive watch dial. A grand total of 46 individual metal indices filled with C3 Super-LumiNova make up the unmistakable sea-urchin pattern. I love when a dive watch is given a spirit animal (the Turtle, the Mako, etc.), and the sea-urchin turns out to be a seriously badass bottom dweller, some living as long as 200 years in what we humans would consider brutal conditions.The Dark Surge’s dial appears in photos to be a rich, deep background befitting of this watch’s name. By changing up the case and bezel, three variants are achieved: brushed stainless case with silver bezel (MDS300S); brushed stainless with black bezel (MDS300T); black plated case with black bezel (MDS300B). I’d have a very hard time choosing one of these models, as they’re all quite slick and equally urchin-like.

From left to right: MDS300S, MDS300T, and MDS300B

The bezel is anodized aluminum, with a lume-filled pip and five-minute markers. The lack of individual numerals and minute markers mean this isn’t technically a “dive watch” according to the ISO 6425 standard, but the Dark Surge is certainly more concerned with great design than being a dive computer.

The steel hands are filled with the same C3 Super-LumiNova, and their silver metal leaps off the dial for great legibility. The pip on the seconds hand is especially large and should read boldly day and night.

The 316L steel case is 42 millimeters wide, 13 millimeters thick, and has a full 52-millimeter lug-span—not a tiny watch by any means. One might appreciate, however, the proportionally narrow bezel which leaves loads of real estate on the dial for those 46 markers. The Dark Surge’s domed sapphire crystal, its signed screwed-in crown with dual o-rings, and its threaded, gasket-sealed case back achieve 300 meters of water resistance. Case brushing is a combination of circular and straight patterns.

Inside is a Miyota 9015 automatic mechanical movement, a highly trusted motor that will be serviceable for many decades to come. Power reserve is 42 hours, there are 24 jewels, and it oscillates at 28,800bph. Hacking and hand-winding are standard features of the 9015, as well.The Dark Surge ships with a black silicone strap, a distressed leather strap (a different shade for each of the three variants), and a leather travel pouch. One can also add on other straps for reasonable prices.

An interesting feature here is the serial number system, which uses a stamped number on the case back, a QR code on the “authenticity card,” and an app that’ll run on iOS or Android systems. To verify your watch’s authenticity, one merely scans the QR code to see if the serial number that comes up matches the watch’s number. I wonder what future watch-heads will think of this system in 50 years—who knows!—but I adore that Mr. Jutronic has made sure no counterfeit copies will sneak past connoisseurs should Marnaut timepieces gain currency in the used and vintage marketplaces one day.Marnaut will issue only 300 of each variant each year, for a total of just 900 Dark Surges annually. The Kickstarter campaign is already underway, and each watch is going to run just $449.00 for those who jump in early. Marnaut via Kickstarter

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At age 7 Allen fell in love with a Timex boy's dive watch his parents gave him, and he's taken comfort in wearing a watch ever since. Allen is especially curious about digital technology having inspired a revival of analog technology, long-lasting handmade goods, and classic fashion. He lives in a one-room schoolhouse in The Hudson Valley with his partner and two orange cats.