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Old 8 January 2022, 01:46 AM   #1
m j b
2022 MN21 MilSub Pledge Member
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Real Name: Michael
Location: RTP, NC, USA
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Posts: 4,315
The Steinhart Ocean 39

For those who don't know, Steinhart makes what most people would refer to as "homage" watches, and of that, most are homages to Rolex. And of course, they make a diver's watch (Submariner to TRF folks) a GMT and some others.

Aside from the generally good reviews that they get and the price, I was recently intrigued because they changed their diver watch from 42mm to 39, giving us the Ocean 39 model. I have tiny svelte wrists (albeit incredibly hairy) and so most watches over 40mm look too big on me. And of course, I couldn't buy a new Rolex if I wanted to, which I do, but I can't, so now I don't.

Steinhart is a German company and the Ocean 39 comes with a Swiss ETA movement. ETA is widely regarded as a solid but basic movement manufacturer, used by many brands and often "modified" by them so that the watch seller can call it their own. But it's still an ETA down in there. Steinhart doesn't even try to pretend, they just call it an ETA.

You can buy their watches directly from Steinhart, but I also found a retailer in Singapore that sells them for about the same price. The advantage for me buying from Gnomon in Singapore is that they will swap the crystal for me. I have a love/hate relationship with the Rolex date magnifier, or the cyclops as many call it. I call it the wart. It works great, allowing me to easily see the date. But I hate the way it looks, and especially on a homage watch like this, the less people think I have a fake Rolex, the happier I am. Because it's not fake. It's simply borrowing the styling cues. Right? So for an extra $40 Gnomon swapped the crystal for me, one without the wart, and they didn't scratch the case, blow dirt onto the face or destroy the water integrity of the watch. That's what we call a win, although really, we should expect nothing less, from anyone.

So, what we have here is a stainless steel case and bracelet, beautifully finished and with fabulous fit, a workhorse movement, a sapphire crystal with or without a cyclops on it, a ceramic bezel that has very tight tolerances (maybe a bit too tight...) and a beautifully printed face with applied markers and decent lume. Gnomon was also nice enough to send me a very decent screwdriver to remove the extra links and a little watch roll. Steinhart sends the watch in a very nice faux leather case inside of a good cardboard box, with lots of protective plastics that are much easier to remove than the 23 pieces of plastic that Rolex puts on their watches, and that you find 3 months later that there were actually 26 pieces.

The finishing, as noted, is very good, and I could complain that perhaps the edges of the bracelet are a little sharper than maybe they should be, but I've had the same complaint with some real genuine Swiss watches in the past, so I won't mention it. Ooops.

How much? With the extra $40 and a 5% discount for Xmas/Boxing Day and with free shipping, it was a smidgen over $500.

That's less than the cost of a service for a Submariner. Can't beat that with a stick. If I could buy - if I could actually obtain a new Submariner today, for $9000 more, would I still go with the Steinhart? We'll see how it does over the next month or so, how well it keeps time and if I find anything else to annoy me. But partly because of the reduced size and partly because I really like having $9K in my pocket, I'm leaning this way.
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Enjoy life - it has an expiration date.

Disclaimer: Please note that the avatar is not an accurate representation of how I look. The camera adds 10 pounds...
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