Equipment Review

Ocean Crawler - Ocean Navigator.

 Equipment reviews are something that I've been thinking about for some time now and this one is an absolute cracker to kick-off with; it's Ocean Crawler's 'Ocean Navigator' and it's a numbered limited edition of just 100 pieces in each of the two colours (blue and black). So, what's so special about this watch? Well, let's start at the beginning. Ocean Crawler is a new company based in Rochester, New York that specialises in producing sports watches with mechanical movements. As many of you will know from my courses and articles I have always put my trust in Rolex, wearing a Sea-Dweller 4000 for over 18 years now. For me, a watch has to perform; it goes where I go, no exceptions, no special treatment. 

 Firstly, it needs to be incredibly tough and just as importantly it needs to record time accurately. I end-up getting wet or muddy most days so it needs to be watertight, in addition to this it also needs to be legible in the dark. Many of you may think that that's pretty basic but I can tell you that 95% of the watches that claim to be able to deliver that, will fall by the wayside before too long. It takes a very special watch to be able to perform under harsh conditions and I believe that the Ocean Navigator is one of them. I cover solar navigation in the basic navigation course and how to use your wristwatch to find your way around using the sun. The Ocean Navigator takes this one step further by incorporating an inner rotating bezel. It's actually the chapter ring that rotates via a screw-down crown at 10 o'clock. This has the North, South, East and West points along with indicators at 2,5 degrees for the full 360 degrees, it also has the time in two colours, white and orange. You simply point the hour hand at the sun and then align the time on the chapter ring with the hour hand; the compass is now set. You use the orange numbers for the northern hemisphere and the white numbers for the southern hemisphere; could it be easier? I should add at this point that the watch needs to be set to local time and not daylight saving time, although it's quite easy to make an additional allowance for this.

 The quality and clarity of the face detail is nothing short of outstanding and up there with the very best. The alignment is, again, outstanding with all points around the face, chapter ring and bezel being as near perfect as anything I've seen by any manufacturer. Accuracy of my particular watch has been very consistent at +3 seconds / day; I would expect this to be almost bang-on in a month or two when the movement has settled. Having a depth rating of 600m / 2000 feet the Ocean Navigator has been equipped with a helium release valve; this is by way of a screw-down crown at 8 o'clock engraved with 'He' so that there's no mistake. Unless you're saturation diving this feature will never be used but the depth rating of the watch indicates that this addition be present. The lume is, again, outstanding; in total darkness the face is instantly readable as is the bezel. I checked the lume after 6 hours and although it had faded marginally everything was still crystal clear. The bezel insert is made from sapphire crystal and although I've caught it a time or two it has remained mark free. I've made no allowances for the watch in any way and it's taken it's share of knocks already. I clean the watch with a toothbrush in warm, soapy water every few days. I have just washed it and placed it back in the box for the photo, you can see for yourself that it's stood the test and looks just as good as when it arrived. I may add here that the watch will take a shock loading of 6000 G's so the odd knock or two shouldn't cause it any problems!

 The founder and CEO of the company, Christian Champion has a Degree in Mechanical Engineering and it's this that caught my attention from the outset. As many of you know, I have a background in precision engineering and immediately realised that many of the features are quite technically difficult to achieve, indeed, many well known watchmakers shy away from such challenges. The beating heart of this watch is a Swiss STP1-11 automatic movement by Fossil and it's an extremely reliable workhorse, so reliable in fact that Ocean Crawler place a five year warranty on it! Below I've listed a few of the normal details for those of you that like that sort of thing.

The Case: Titanium. 3 screw-down decorated crowns. Case engraved with the watch number and limited edition quantity.
Case back: Titanium. Screw-down with Ocean Crawler logo and trilobite in relief along with the watch number and limited edition quantity.
The Bezel: Titanium. 120 click with fully lumed sapphire crystal inlay.
Strap Attachment: Slotted lug screws.
Straps: Two. 1 off leather with Ocean Crawler engraved buckle and 1 off Kevlar nylon, again with Ocean Crawler engraved buckle.
Glass: Sapphire Crystal. Domed with anti-reflective coating on the underside face.
Depth rating: 600m / 2000 feet. Tested before leaving Ocean Crawler.
Overall: Case diameter is 42mm with the diameter over the bezel being 43mm. Lug width is 20mm. Thickness is 14,75mm and the diameter at the edge of the chapter ring is 32mm.
Movement: Swiss STP1-11 self-winding hacking with quick change date.

 So! What's the verdict? Well, certainly from my point of view it's a piece of kit that every adventurer should have and the handful of people that I've shown it to have, quite rightly, been impressed. I think it's important to say that the company is new and has no reputation as yet, but that doesn't mean that the products are of dubious quality. On the contrary, this company is undoubtedly on the right track, not only with the engineering but also with the customer service. I'm sure that the excellent reputation that some feel is so necessary will follow very, very quickly. Making a watch of this type is difficult, indeed, it has to balance many aspects, both aesthetic and technical; Ocean Crawler have juggled these excellently with the Ocean Navigator and I'm sure that it will go on to become a real classic.