The thing that is great about a brand like Benarus is that they are a known quantity. When we look at their watches we know they will be well made, over built by design, with either classic tool watch looks or something all together bizarre and unique. They also put a huge emphasis on water resistance, so though the watches are generally under $1,000, they will be able to take pressures well above the norm.
The watches I am looking at today are part of their Moray line, which has been around for sometime, yet keeps getting new iterations. What makes these two interesting is that they measure 42 and 40mm in diameter. This puts them on the medium to small size for contemporary divers, and as a fan of smaller watches I couldn’t help but take them for a test drive. Both watches feature domed sapphire crystals, HEV, 1000M water resistance and Miyota 9015 automatic movements. As test, the 42mm comes to $770 shipped in the US, and the 40mm comes to $700.
Benarus Moray 40 and 42mm Review
Movement: Miyota 9015
Strap: Steel Bracelet + Rubber
Water Res.: 1,000M
Dimensions 40: 40 x 48.5 mm
Dimensions 42: 42 x 51 mm
Thickness: 16 mm
Lug Width: 20/22 mm
Crown: 8 x 4 mm
Price: $700/$770 shipped
For the Moray 42 and 40mm, it’s not the design that is really of interest, so much as the sizes. The cases are classic diver cushions with bezels. You’ve seen them before and you’ll see them again. That said, they are ofc ourse very well executed, which we’ve come to expect from Benarus. Lines are sharp and clean, tolerances are tight, etc… The most impressive aspect of them is that they are both 1000m water resistant, despite their somewhat smaller dimensions.
The 42mm model measures 42 x 51 x 16mm, while the 40mm model measures 40 x 48.5 x 16mm, both to the top of their domed sapphire crystals. The 42mm model off the bat feels like a really well proportioned dive watch. It’s big enough to be tough and beefy, but small enough to fit well and not seem like a “big watch”. The 16mm thickness is also balanced by the other dimensions as well as the overall flowing nature of the cushion design, so it doesn’t seem too tall. The model I had was also DLC coated, which can at times make things look smaller.
The 40mm model surprised me. As someone who regularly wears 36mm watches, I still expected the 40mm to seem sizable, but due to proportions, it really looks quite small. Because of the nature of the design of five watches, they tend to have thick case walls , wide bezels and smaller diameter dials. In this instance, the dial actually comes to about 30.5mm in diameter, which simply looks small. The case itself then look very compact, not delicate o diminutive, but compressed a bit. The 16mm is also more noticeable with the smaller diameter.
This isn’t to say it doesn’t work. It still looks good and feels like a well built tool watch, but when looking at the two models together, i can’t help but feel the 42 just makes more visual sense. Of course, at 40, that model is more wearable for those with smaller wrists without sacrificing water resistance.
Both models feature 120-click unidirectional bezels. They are both very solid, with nice sharp clicks and little to no back play. That said, the 42 model is a touch better feeling than the 40, but that could change model to model. Both of the bezels are solid steel with milled markings that are lume/paint filled, but the 42mm I received has a gloss DLC coating, which gives it an almost ceramic like appearance.
With the dials, the two models we received varied greatly showing how much a dial changes the feel of two watches with more or less the same case. Starting with the 40mm, the dial was matte black (though there are other options) with a primary index of large numerals for 12, 3, 6 and 9, and dots for the other hours. The numerals are thick C3 lume, while the dots are C3 lume with steel surrounds. Around the edge of the dial is a second/minutes track with lumed squares every 5 and small white lines for the marks in between.
Overall, it’s a classic look with some obvious hints to well known watches. It’s super legible and glows brilliantly, making it very suitable for a dive watch. They paired it with a bezel with black paint a lumed pip, for a classic look. The only thing I take some issue with is the use of steel surrounds on the lume dots. It just looks a bit off, like it’s trying to add some bling where it doesn’t belong. It also looks a little cheap and plasticky. Larger straight-up lume markers would have been simple and sporty, working more with the tool watch aesthetic of the brand as a whole.
The 42mm models have a few options, but I could hardly resist the aptly named “dart dial”. This is a funky dial with a lot of personality that, as far as I can tell, is completely unique to Benarus. The surface is matte “graphite” which is a touch lighter than black, and features a primary index of long thin markers in BGW9 lume. At 12, 3, 6 and 9, the markers are rectangular creating a distinct cross-hair look. The other markers are triangular, which pull the eye towards the center of the dial. Around the edge are small dashes for the minutes/seconds.
I feel like this is the kind of dial that gets designed and then a brand debates it for a while. Is it too extreme? Is it too aggressive? Is it too different?.. and then many would probably talk themselves out of it, or modify it to be more tame. But Benarus does things their own way and has succeeded with intense designs before (see the Megalodon), so the dart dial, while certainly different, fits somehow. And it’s very cool. It’s not a classic dive dial or military dial, but it somehow feels a bit like both. The markers are so long, that they are really taken in as a group rather than individually. As such, it feels like an aiming reticule of some sort. Yet, it’s still very legible which is once again aided by good lume.
The bezel on the 42mm is the same basic style as that of the 40, but executed differently. Rather than black paint, the first 15 minutes are blood red while the rest are white. The red works very well, adding to the aggressive dial design and making the watch feel more modern. The white is legible with high contrast, though I was hoping it would be lumed too.
Both watches feature sword hands for the minute and hour with lume to match their respective markers. The seconds hands are then thin sticks in polished steel with lumed circle towards their ends. It’s a simple and classic look that works with both dial designs, despite them being fairly different.
Straps and Wearability
Both watches come with bracelets and iso-frane-style rubber straps. The 42 has 22mm lugs while the 40 has 20mm, which I was glad to see. The bracelets are a modified oyster style and non-tapering. The links are a few millimeters thick and the end-links are solid, so they add weight to the overall package. There is a bit of wiggle between the links, but not so much to cause an issue, and the overall feel is one of quality. The 22mm bracelet features one of those awesome clasps with two sets of buttons; one to open, the other to extend the dive extension. I love these clasps as the dive extension is very adjustable, allowing you to loosen bracelet if needed during the day. Unfortunately, the 20mm bracelet had only a basic clasp. I imagine the other clasp is only available 22mm+.
Despite being only 2mm apart, the watches wear very differently. The 42mm fits me pretty ideally for a beefier dive watch. It’s big and rugged, but looks right on my 7″ wrist. The dart design and DLC case make it both aggressive and stealth in a way that I find very appealing. And despite having a fairly common style of case, the watch has a distinct personality… in fact, it wears almost more like a Sinn diver than a Pan, which I definitely prefer.
I’m still on the fence about the 40mm. While I’d pick too small over too big, I can’t tell if I like the way the case looks on my wrist. It fits in the traditional sense, but just looks a bit odd. Like I’m trying on a large watch for women rather than a small watch for men… if that makes any sense. Now, this could be because with the 42 right here, I can’t help but compare, and that one fits me really well… so any variation up or down wont be right in comparison. Looking at it broader though, for smaller wrists this might fit perfectly. So, if you have a 6″ wrist and never could get a cushion cased diver before, this is probably ideal.
The Benarus Moray 40 and 42mm watches are purpose built cushion case divers for those with medium to small wrists, or those who simply prefer the smaller size. They are super tough, well built and finished with great lume and good bezel action. Powered by Miyota 9015s, these are simply trust worthy watches that are meant to be used. They are less style or fashion pieces as watches that want to go in the water. The 1000m on the dial will remind you of this whenever you check the time.
Between the two, I clearly preferred the 42mm model as I felt it just fit me right. In fact, it fit me perfectly. Seeing the smaller 40mm model, which before receiving I expected to be my favorite, I now know that not all watches should be 40mm and under… at least not for my wrist. Having these options allows people to really find the right size for them. Both too small? Then pick up their 49mm Megalodon. Regardless, you’re getting a good watch that at $700+ is decently priced. They are on the higher side for a Miyota 9015 powered diver, but they have the features and qualities to warrant the price.