They’ve gone and done it again. Steinhart upped its ante with a simple evolution on a watch that has achieved, in the year or so it has been available, an iconic status amongst affordable mechanical watches. Since we reviewed this watch, back in March of 2012, it has become our most read article, our most watched video review, and our most commented on (non-giveaway) post. Yep, it’s the Steinhart Ocean Vintage Military, their pitch perfect homage to the Rolex 5517 Mil-Sub. Rather than espouse more accolades for this watch, I’ll direct you to the lengthy original review, which should address everything you need to know about it. No, this article is about their newest offering, the Ocean Vintage Military Black DLC.
The OVM Black DLC is exactly what it sounds like, a black hardware version of the OVM. The bracelet, case, bezel and crown are all coated in a jet black DLC, or “diamond like coating”, which is highly scratch-resistant and usually reserved for watches of a higher price. Otherwise, they’ve kept the same 5517-style bezel insert, sword hands, “maxi-dial” with super luminova “old radium” lume, domed sapphire crystal and elaboré grade ETA 2824-2 movement. Price? 311 Euros with out 19% VAT. Well…I just ran that through a currency converter and it came to $396. Yeah, like it’s older brother, the OVM DLC is an incredible value.
So, why should you care about this? While this is perhaps the most obvious thing they could do to make a new watch (not that I’m complaining), they’ve taken a homage and turned it into its own cool beast. There is no such thing as a PVD or DLC Rolex 5517 and no collector in their right mind would mod an original. Sure, there are brands, like Black-Out, that mod new submariners to be black, but those aren’t Mil-Subs, and they cost a heck of a lot more. Steinhart managed to carve out a niche with the original OVM by recreating the appeal of a classic watch without literally copying it, and now they are taking it once step further, giving the OVM a genuine identity of its own.
Then, there is simply the way it looks. The black bezel and case accentuate the large markers of the “maxi-dial”, and makes the “old radium” lume, for lack of a better word, truly radiate. The overall aesthetic is strong and very aggressive. It reminds me of that scene that happened in tons of cheesy action films from the 70’s and 80’s where the lead would apply mud or camo face paint, right before the final fight. Simple put, it’s the OVM made battle ready. The watch comes on a DLC oyster style steel bracelet, which is great to have, but the right look for the watch is on a NATO. The 5517s were military issue after all, and to make for a more rugged watch, the lug bars were welded in. So, only pass through straps would work. That, and they just look amazing. For the OVM DLC, I’d suggest a khaki, olive or grey nylon NATO with black hardware. And for a leather option, one of our own Gold NYC NATOs, as the leather nearly matches the color of the lume, emphasizing the dial, while contrasting the DLC case.
So, if you like this watch, and I bet you do, I’d grab one quick. The original OVM is notoriously hard to get your hands on due to back-orders, and I’m sure this will be the same.
By Zach Weiss