The Raven Watch brand popped up a little while ago with a pretty singular mission: create affordable, well-made watches with looks inspired by classic Submariners. Their first watch, which was a limited edition with a 42mm case, sold out immediately do to successful marketing on forums. Their second production, which consists of 2 watches, also sold out immediately by pre-order. Luckily, however, they have produced more than the initial run this time, making them available to the general public. The models currently available are the 40mm Vintage (with and without date) and the 44mm Deep. While both have styling roots in the Submariner family, they are actually very different watches with different goals in mind. One is an homage watch that pays tribute to one of the most iconic Submariners ever made, and the other is a beefy tool diver with design cues taken from a few different classic Subs.
Specifically, the Vintage model refers to the Submariner Ref. 6538, which was a model from the late 50’s that was made famous in 1962 by Sean Connery when he starred as Bond, James Bond in Dr. No. This is identifiable through a couple of different design cues that Raven used on the Vintage. Namely, the bezel insert, gold hands, gilt line dial and lack of crown guards. They also use a domed acrylic crystal to give the watch more of a vintage feeling. That all said, nothing is quite the same, making it not a 1:1 homage.
The Deep model is sort of a collage of Subs. The dial, hands and bezel speak to Mil-Subs, which we discussed in our review of the Steinhart OVM, though the bezel also departs a bit by having a red triangle at 0/60 and by being made of sapphire. The case, which also lacks crown guards, speaks to a handful of models from the late 50’s early 60’s, but the sheer size of it makes it very different. Taken the watch in yet another direction is the 1220m water resistance, which is what a typical Rolex Sea-Dweller has. In the end, it comes together nicely, but isn’t as specific of a homage.
One thing these watches definitely do have in common is great value. Both feature Miyota 9015 automatic movements, strong C3 Super Luminova and come with steel Oyster style bracelets as well as other strap. The 40mm Vintage model comes in at $580 plus shipping, while the 44mm Deep is $700 plus shipping. In both cases, they are great deals, though the Deep, given its sapphire bezel, domed sapphire crystal and water resistance, feels like a genuine steal.
Movement: Miyota 9015
Strap: Steel bracelet, Nylon Zulu, Leather Nato
Water Res.: 200m
Dimensions: 40×50 mm
Thickness: 14 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Crown: 7 x 4.5 mm screw down
Weight: 155g (on bracelet, our measure)
Warranty: 1 year
Movement: Miyota 9015
Strap: Steel bracelet, Leather strap
Water Res.: 1220m
Dimensions: 44×54 mm
Thickness: 18 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: 8 x 4.5 mm screw down
Weight: 248g (on bracelet, our measure)
Warranty: 1 year
The Vintage and the Deep have similar case designs that differ mostly in scale. The Vintage model measures 40 x 50 x 14mm with 20mm lugs, and the Deep measures 44 x 54 x 18mm with 22mm lugs, making them significantly different. The case has a classic design that while reminiscent of the Oyster Perpetual, has an overall different shape. Both cases feature slab sides with clean brushing on the sides and the tops of the lugs. The finishing on the cases is very well executed, which can be seen in the polished line that runs along the top outer edge of the lugs. Though a subtle detail, it is one that elevates both cases beyond a typical steel case while referring to a detail of the Submariner case. Another subtle functional detail is that the lugs are drilled, which also refers to the Sub case and makes changing straps even easier. Lastly, the Deep model also features a helium escape valve on the left side of the case at 9.
Neither case has crown guards, which is one of the visually defining aspects of the two watches, giving them a distinctly early 60’s Sub style. The Vintage model features a 7 x 4.5mm screw down crown, that while large is not proportionally the same as the “big crown” of the ref. 6538. Nevertheless, it is a nicely machined signed crown that works with the watch. The crown on the Deep has the same design, but is a drop larger at 8 x 4.5mm, to suit the larger case.
Both watches feature nicely manufactured bezels with crisp and precise mechanisms and toothed sides for easy gripping. The Vintage model has an aluminum insert with markings that refer to the 6538 and other early submariners, with numerals for 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50, alternating with single lines and a red triangle at 0/60 with a lumed pip. The Deep has a sapphire bezel insert that refers to Mil-Subs, with markings for every minute, though it also has a red triangle. All of the markings on the bezel for the Deep are lumed, which is a nice functional touch.
Another point of differentiation is in the crystals on the two watches. The Vintage has a hi-domed acrylic crystal, which is both gorgeous and befitting of the watches name. Acrylic adds a bit of distortion around the edges and has a different sheen than sapphire or mineral, which gives it a bit more character. The Deep has a high domed sapphire crystal. It’s actually one of the most “domed” sapphires I’ve come across, with a smooth rounded shape and a large radius. Needless to say, it’s a component that adds a lot of value to the watch.
Dial and Hands
- 40mm Vintage
The dial of the vintage has several interesting details that are both attractive and refer to the source watch. First, it has the classic Submariner markings, with large lumed dots for 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11, rectangles for 3, 6, 9 and a triangle at 12. The date model, which we had on hand, substitutes the rectangle at 3 for a date window. While the practical minded gentleman in me is drawn to having a date window on the watch, the purist in me finds the no date version more aesthetically pleasing. The outer index, which consists of a perimeter line and has marks for the individual minutes is colored to refer to the gilt, gold-leaf, lined dial of the 6538. Each of the lumed markings also has a thin gilt line around it. The gilt line is not, however, real gold, which is to be expected given the price, but rather a metallic gold print. Regardless, it gets the aesthetic across of a more refined and formal dive watch. Below 12, also in faux-gilt is the logo and name of the brand, and above 6 it says automatic in gold and then “200m = 660ft” in red. The use of red text here also refers to vintage Subs. The printing on the dial is very well executed with sharp lines, text and great lume potency.
The sexiest feature of the watch, both new and old, to my eyes is the gold plated handset. The Vintage features the classic Sub handset with a sword minute hand, Mercedes hour hand and a thin stick second hand with a lumed circle. All feature C3 Super Luminova. The gold plated hands are pure style, adding a touch of bling to the dial (not a phrase I use often, but it’s apt here and appreciated). The gold hands are also set off against the black dial, making them a centerpiece of the design.
- 44mm Deep
The Deep has a similar dial, with the same basic design, save the gilt line. Instead of gold, the outer perimeter, which consists just of hatch marks, is bright white. Since the watch itself is much larger, the various markings have been scaled up to be bolder and more visible as well as more appropriately proportioned to the massive case. The Deep also features a date window at 3, with white on black date, but rather than no lumed marker, is accompanied by a small lumed rectangle on its right side. The date window matches the height of the marker at 9, so by adding the small rectangle to the right of the date, they have made the dial symmetrical, which was a smart move. This way the date window does not disrupt the aesthetic much.
The hands on the Deep refer to the Mil-Subs of the early 70’s. The typical Mercedes hour hand has been swapped out for a stout Roman sword style hand and the minute hand is still a thin sword. While the style is correct, I do think the hour hand is a bit small proportionally, but that’s splitting hairs. The seconds hand is actually not the same as is on the Mil-Sub, which would have had an arrow tip, but rather a simple stick with a lumed dot near the end. The hands are all polished steel with C3 filling.
Straps and Wearability
Both watches come with multiple straps, though different types. The 40mm Vintage comes with 3, a brushed steel oyster style bracelet, a black and light grey 5-stripe “Bond” Zulu strap and a chocolate brown leather NATO. The 44mm Deep comes with a similar, but larger, steel bracelet that also has a dive extension, and a soft black leather 2-piece strap. All around, the straps are very nice. The bracelets are well made and have nice finishing, while the 2-piece leather strap that comes with the Deep is especially comfortable. The additional strap options are great to have, as the bracelets are great, a bit formal, but add a lot of weight, so the lighter options are very welcome.
On the wrist, the Vintage is very comfortable and great to wear. The 40mm size is tolerable for wearing all day, and the look just works with everything. The mix of vintage elements, classic sub looks and a drop of unexpected gold makes it a very dynamic watch that is fun to wear in any situation. It’s also one of those watches you can’t keep your eyes off of during the day, having lots of little elements to ogle. On the bracelet, the watch takes on a slightly sterner look that might work better in a work place, but I found myself drawn to wearing it on nylon mostly. Though the nylon Zulu and the leather Nato the watch comes with are great additions, I was surprised that the Vintage did not come with a black, red and green Nato/Zulu, as that is what Bond wore the watch on… Luckily I had one sitting around, so I wore it on that to complete the look.
The Deep is a huge watch that feels massive on the wrist. The 44 x 54 x 18mm case is not for the small wristed, but if you can handle it, it’s a great looking watch. It also weighs quite a bit, coming in at 229g on the bracelet after removing 2 normal links and 2 half links, so it’s not a watch you’ll forget you have on. The additional leather strap, however, does make the watch generally lighter and more comfortable. As far as a beefy tool diver goes, the Sub-inspired looks make this very handsome and deceptively formal. Definitely a watch one can wear out and to the office, as well under water.
There are a lot of great things going on with both the 40mm Raven Vintage and the 44mm Deep. They are very well made with nice finishing, sturdy crowns and bezels and reliable Miyota 9015’s inside. Both are also very well priced for what they are and what they come with. As a nice perk, they also both come with 5 pocket watch rolls. Between the two, I found the Vintage model more wearable simply because it is stylized and smaller, but ultimately, they are very different watches with different motives. The Vintage is an homage to an iconic Submariner, while the Deep is a functional diver with a collage of elements referring to various vintage Subs. In either case, if you’re not a Sub fan, these watches will be meaningless to you, but if you are a fan, especially of the unobtainable models like the ref. 6538 and ref. 5517, these will hit a chord.
Review units supplied by Raven Watch
By Zach Weiss