Review: Sea Sponges & Dive Watches – The Ianos Mihanikos

With modern conveniences galore, supercomputers in everyone’s pocket, and a culture that’s always looking to the future, it might be tough to put yourself in the shoes (flippers?) of a sponge diver off the Greek isle of Kalymnos. Things used to be so simple — a diver would hold their breath, dive under the surface, and collect as many sponges as they could to bring to market to support their family. In 1860 things changed. The first diving suit was brought to the island, a place full of people who relied heavily on sustenance from the sea. The people of the island were now able to dive deeper, stay down longer, and harvest more of the sponges that their livelihoods depended on. 

Pop “1860s scaphandre” into your image search engine of choice, and you’ll be presented with the inspiration behind Ianos Watches’ newest creation – the Mihanikos. It’s a robust dive watch that’s highly stylized with a focus on organic design and heavily inspired by the bulky and rugged dive suits of the past. With thoroughly modern construction, these Swiss-made watches are packed with the specs you’d expect in a dive watch released in 2021, but with design cues that link the watch back into the past. Throw your dive helmet on, grab your favorite sea sponge, and let’s take a closer look at the Mihanikos.


Review: Sea Sponges & Dive Watches – The Ianos Mihanikos

316L Stainless Steel
Sellita SW360-1 Automatic
Dark blue
Yes, on hour markers and bezel pip
Domed sapphire with AR
20mm leather/rubber
Water Resistance
43 x 50.84mm
Lug Width
Screw Down

The Case

Take one look at the Ianos and you’ll notice that it’s not exactly small, measuring in at 43mm wide by 50.84mm lug-to-lug and 15.75mm thick. It’s pretty large on paper, but it does wear well on the wrist. Comb over the case, and you’ll see lines inspired by nature — curves and organic shapes are present throughout the design, resulting in a watch that’s quite comfortable to wear, despite its relatively large size and hefty weight. The entire case features a soft matte finish that still gives off a bit of shine. I suspect that the finish will do an excellent job of keeping light scratches at bay throughout the lifetime of the watch.


Let’s break it down from the side. Up top, there’s a domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating. Moving down, you’ll find the textured edge of the tall bezel, which rotates with a crisp and satisfying snap. One of my favorite parts about the design is the slim mid-case. It’s the thinnest component of the case and curves gently down towards the wrist at the lugs. On the crown side, the mid-case curves into two crown guards, providing the large textured crown with some protection. Finally, a smooth and rounded case back makes up the bottom of the watch. Take a look at the photos, and you can see the interesting proportions — a larger top and bottom with a slim mid-case. The resulting look and feel are quite interesting and feel good on the wrist.

There are two standout design features on the Mihanikos — the substantial bezel and the strap channel on the back. The bezel itself is more of a design feature than a functional piece of kit. The bezel is wide and features a rougher texture that stands out from the matte finish. It has a pleasant snappy action and features a lume pip at the top. Since the bezel doesn’t have any markings on it, it’s hard to make sense of it as a modern dive timer. Ianos claims that since divers tend to track hours rather than minutes when in their scaphandre suits, that’s why it lacks markings. For me, it seems like a bit of a stretch, and the porthole-like bezel serves as a nice piece of design without a ton of useful functionality (and that’s okay). 

Flip the case over, and you’ll notice an interesting piece of design. In the middle of the case, there’s a channel in the screw-down case back for the strap to run through. The channel is somewhere between 1 and 2mm deep, which lets the included straps sit flush with the case back. While it’s cool to look at and comfortable, it doesn’t allow for a lot of compatibility with other straps. Since the channel is pretty deep, using a standard pass-through nylon strap leaves the edges of the channel to dig into your wrist a bit if your strap isn’t as thick as the stock options.

Another thing I thought about is that the whole watch could be thinner by the amount that the strap channel takes up, which might result in a lighter and more comfortable experience. The case back has to be thickened up to accommodate the channel, so leaving it off altogether would bring the watch down to ~13.75mm thick vs the 15.75mm it currently stands at. The channel looks cool and works great if you want to exclusively use the included straps, but variety is the spice of life and I personally like to switch my straps up regularly.

Dial & Hands

Deep blue like the depths of the Grecian seas, the dial on the Mihanikos is an excellent pairing with the matte steel case. In darker light, the dial reads black with just a hint of blue, while in full sunlight, it’s clearly a rich navy. Running around the outside of the dial, you’ll find sponge-shaped indices that are treated with luminous paint. Larger indices reside at 3 and 9, while 6 is occupied by the unique running indicator. Driving home the sponge diving theme even further, this running indicator is shaped like the manual air pumps which sent air down into the depths so that the divers inside their suits could continue to breathe. There’s a small lume pip on the seconds wheel that highlights the always-rotating dial.

At 12, you’ll find a date display that’s surrounded by a large oval window. You don’t see a ton of 12 o’clock dates and it’s a nice touch on the Mihanikos. To tell the time, you’ll have the pleasure of reading the bold hour and minute hands that start at the stem with a rounded back and terminate at a point. Below the hands at 12 is the brand’s name “IANOS ” in a stylized typeface. At 6, there’s the text “ΜΗΧΑΝΙΚΟΣ”, which translates to “Mechanic”. On the rehaut, there’s more Greek text, rendered in shiny clear type on a matte background. It’s subtle, but the lyrics to the song “Ο ΜΗΧΑΝΙΚΟΣ” are imprinted on the narrow flange. It translates to:

“Η ΜΗΧΑΝΙΚΟΣ ΘΑ ΓΙΝΩ Η ΣΤΟΝ ΑΜΜΟ Θ’ ΑΠΟΜΕΙΝΩ” – “I will either be a mechanic or remain in the sand”
ΚΙ ΑΝ ΠΕΘΑΝΩ ΜΗ ΜΕ ΚΛΑΨΕΙΣ ΜΕΣ ΣΤΟΝ ΑΜΜΟ ΝΑ ΜΕ ΘΑΨΕΙΣ” – “and if I die, don’t cry for me, bury me in the sand”

The lyrics are an interesting touch that further drives the Greek sponge diving theme home.


Beating away inside the Mihanikos is Sellita’s SW-360-1 automatic mechanical movement. The movement features 31 jewels throughout, a 12 o’clock date display, and a 6 o’clock small seconds complication. Sellita is a reliable manufacturer of Swiss watch movements, and it makes sense in the ~$1500 Ianos. When fully wound, the movement will run for right around 42 hours, giving you just about 2 days of idle time before needing wear or a wind. The movement features hand winding capabilities to get the watch back up and running, and a hacking seconds wheel for precision time setting. There are really only so many movements that smaller brands can choose from, and it’s hard to go wrong with a reliable Sellita.

Strap & Wearability

With the Mihanikos, you’ll find two straps. One made of rubber, and one from leather. Both are single-layer passthrough straps that go between the fixed style spring bars and rest perfectly flush with the top of the strap channel in the case back. I do have some issues with the included straps. The keepers do not leave much room to be used easily. In other words, the strap is a bit too thick for the keeper, resulting in a really tight fit when putting the watch on your wrist. Both straps feature these same keepers and a signed buckle that both looks and feels nice.

As I mentioned earlier, the strap channel plays best with the included straps, which is a bit of a bummer considering the ease of use issue with the height of the keepers. One noteworthy feature of the rubber strap is the sponge pattern on the underside. This not only looks cool, but also minimizes contact between the rubber and your wrist, making for a comfortable strap-wearing experience throughout the day.

On the wrist, the Mihanikos is hefty and solid. It’s a large watch but wears well on my 6.75” wrist, especially considering the larger dimensions. I’ve really enjoyed how the watch sits on top of my wrist and that’s thanks to the thin, curved mid-case. I’ve also come to appreciate the organic curved lines of the case and how they contribute to a pleasant user experience. As far as style goes, this watch definitely leans into tool watch territory. You won’t be sneaking this one under any cuffs, making it more ideal for casual wear. If you find yourself enthralled with the rich history of sponge diving in the Greek islands, then this may be just the watch for you.


The story behind Ianos’ new Mihanikos is an interesting one. I’m not so sure that many people will resonate with the story specifically, but never in my several years of writing about watches did I think that I’d be researching how the local sponge diving economy of a small Greek island was affected by the introduction of diving suits. In terms of bringing attention to an interesting and niche piece of history about the world of underwater adventure, the designers at Ianos have done an excellent job.

The theme of the watch carries through the small details like the breathing apparatus-inspired seconds display to the Greek song about being a diver faintly printed on the rehaut. Smooth, rounded organic shapes throughout the watch’s silhouette are reminiscent of the rounded shape of the sponges found in the waters off of Greece as well as the porthole-like bezel that calls back to those mid-1800’s dive suits. There’s no denying that the design and story are solid.

At just under $1500, the Mihanikos isn’t exactly cheap. There’s a ton of competition in this range, and it’s hard to say if your hard-earned cash would be best spent here, especially given the options with similar specs from a variety of other brands competing in this price bracket. There are a few quirks like the just-for-show bezel, cool, but not totally necessary strap channel, and just-okay included straps. Strong points include the look and feel on the wrist, crisp finishing on the edges of the bezel, and a unique design. At the end of the day, there are few watches that tell a story like the Mihanikos, and if this story speaks to you, then this solid diver from Ianos is definitely worth a second look. Ianos.

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.