Funky tool dive watches will always have a home on worn&wound. There is something inexplicably charming about them. Sometimes they are too big, sometimes too clunky, but they are kind of always fun to test and try out. The biggest problem with them is variation. Many brands have nearly the same designs, sometimes suspiciously so, making them become tiresome and tedious. So, when a brand comes along with something unique, it tends to grab our attention.
We’ve talked about Makara before, when we got the chance to handle a prototype of their first watch, the Octopus. It was a fun watch with a unique design that sold out quickly. As a follow up Makara recently released a new watch called the Sea Turtle. Available only in bronze, but with a bunch of dial options, it takes the distinct look of the Octopus in a new direction. Featuring a 300m CuSn8 case, sapphire crystal and a Seiko NH35A movement for $395, it’s also well priced. Let’s take a closer look.
Makara Sea Turtle Review
Movement: Seiko NH35A
Water Res.: 300M
Dimensions: 44 x 52 mm
Thickness: 17 mm
Lug Width: 24 mm
Crown: 8 x 3.5 mm
Warranty: 1 Year
For me, the Sea Turtles are all about their cases. Big, chunky and faceted, they have a unique design that almost seems like it was forged my by a sword maker. Coming in at 44 x 52 x 17mm, these aren’t subtle watches. A note on the height: it’s largely due to one massive domed sapphire crystal. This is a crystal for crystal lovers. It’s not practical per say, it makes photography a bit difficult, but man is it cool looking. It is double domed though, so it’s distortion free. It gives these watches a look of being some strange piece of antique marine equipment, more than being a time piece. The use of bronze is perfect on these watches as well, for the same reason. The rawness of the metal plus the splotchy patina that occurs creates something that feels nautical.
The case design is unique, though it is clearly a riff on their previous model, the Octopus. In fact, it’s basically the same watch with a bronze fixed bezel and a domed crystal. But, there’s nothing wrong with that, as it’s a great design that no one else (to my knowledge) has used. The shape is that of a modified octagon. The sides are completely flat, then angle in and down to create lugs. The top surface is totally flat as are the faceted lugs, creating It’s a curious design as it’s almost deceptive. At a glance, it looks like it would be a round case, but the reality is that it wears and feels more like a square. Why one complaint about the design is that it’s very flat. The lugs don’t curve down much, so it sits like a slab on the wrist.
On the right side is an 8 x 3.5mm screw down crown, also in bronze. Though quite wide and flat, along the vast expanse of the side it doesn’t look big at all. The crowns design is simple, with wide grooves for grip, and a flat end. On the end is Makara’s very attractive tribal/wave logo, which is a nice touch. It’s branding that feels like art. Corresponding with this style, the case back features a cool etching of a sea turtle in water. The turtle is composed of various abstract tribal shapes that come together to create the animal’s form. It’s a nice design that adds to the concept.
The Sea Turtle comes in two flavors and either black, teal or maroon. There is the classic, just called the Sea Turtle, and a dressed up version call the Hawksbill. They share some elements and in the end give the watch a similar feel, but they do have some clear visual differences. The Sea Turtle has a primary index of large, printed markers with a classic dive style. There is a triangle at 12, rectangles at 3 and 9, dots for the other hours and a date window at 6. All of the markers are bold and oversized, but hold up against the mass of the case.
On the outer edge of the dial is a faux-gilt line with small hash marks coming in per minute/second, getting long at the hour and actually connecting with the markers. I like this design a lot as a fan of vintage divers. The gold tone also resonates with the bronze around it. The 6 o’clock date was also a nice touch, preserving symmetry. Below twelve is a simple Makara logo and above the date is the depth rating of 300M, both in gold print.
The Hawsbill has the same gilt line, text and date window, but a different set of markers. Here they went with applied markers with gold edges and lume fillings. The markers are all tapering rectangles doubling at 12 and getting slightly larger at 3 and 9. The look is definitely different from the classic model, a bit more refined and vintage looking. That said, I like them both equally. The flat printed version feels sporty and perhaps suits the size of the watch a bit more while the applied markers have a more unique feel and the gold tone surrounds tie the dial and case together even more. Both dials feature C3 lume on the markers and in the hands. The hands glow pretty brightly, but the markers were disappointing on both styles, especially since they have a lot of area for lume application.
The other difference is with the handset. Both feature long, wide straight sword minute hands with gold edges and lume filling as well as a gold stick seconds with a lumed rectangle towards its end. However, they have very different hour hands. The Hawksbill has a shorter straight sword, creating a very clean look. The classic has a large arrow head that is bold, to say the least. It’s a funky design that I happen to like as it’s quirky and gives the watch more personality. Offering both options is smart though, as you have one that is more subtle, one that is more adventurous.
The color options are interesting too. The black looks and feels as expected, but the teal has a cool effect. The color works very well with the warmth of the bronze, accentuating it while not overtaking it. It also tempered the somewhat more vintage or aged feel of the watch as the color is clean and modern.
Straps and Wearability
The Sea Turtles have 24mm lugs and come on black leather straps. The strap is thick and straight cut with raw edges for a rough look and white stitching. The leather is soft, but sort of cheap or synthetic feeling, which is especially noticeable on the keepers, which stretch like they’re rubber. The leather is also wrapped around a thick foam core, which is visible from the side. They strap also features a signed, bronze pre-v buckle, which is a nice touch. It’s not the greatest strap on earth, but it will get the job done until you have a suitable replacement. Having the buckle to swap onto a another strap is really the best part.
On the wrist, the Sea Turtles wear large, but are tolerable. They are wide, but squat, so from overhead they don’t seem too long. The flatness does make the 52mm length feel longer as it doesn’t curve down to contour with the wrist. This makes it sort of cantilever out. The flatness does have one benefit, which is underplaying the height of the watch. Because it is mostly from the crystal, the watch doesn’t look tall, even if it technically is.
Aesthetically, it’s a very cool and different watch. It’s sporty, and has a hint of a dive watch look thanks to the dial, but it feels like its own thing. It’s a rugged, nautical watch that doesn’t want to be treated delicately. It’s aching for patina, not just from the oxidization of the bronze, but in scratches and marks. It’s a watch that will age best from heavy use. Since it’s big and bold, it’s definitely a more casual watch and I think would look odd with khakis, but wear this with denim and it’ll look right at home. Swap the accompanying strap for something matte and tobacco colored with off-white thread and you’ll be good to go.
With the Sea Turtle, Makara has made a fun and unique watch that I think big watch and bronze watch people will really enjoy. The case design is very appealing, if lacking in ergonomics, and will attract people that are tired of off-the-shelf cases. The various dial options give you a nice range of choices to tailor the look to your tastes, with both designs having their own appeal. And the domed sapphire crystal is utterly gorgeous. Having a Seiko NH35A inside then guarantees good performance.
With a price tag of $395, the Sea Turtle is clearly value driven, though priced comparably to other watches with similar specs. That said there are components, namely the 300m bronze case and domed sapphire, that simply couldn’t be cheap, though there are other elements that underperformed. The strap left something to be desired, but that’s easily replaceable. The lume was the biggest disappointment, as this seems like a watch that should glow like a torch. But it doesn’t, and what’s there just seems weak. In the end of the day, this is more a watch that is worn for it’s looks than for it’s specs, so the lume probably wont interfere with enjoying it.