New micro dive watch brands are popping up all the time. The more the better in my book. Some will put you asleep with boring derivative designs and others will really grab your attention. The UNDIVE DARK SEA 500 M is definitely one in the latter category from the Undive Watches Innovation Group. The company is based in Hong Kong and is the brainchild of Steve Chan. As a new Kickstarter project, it is currently 100% funded and first deliveries are expected to be this November.
The DARK SEA will be offered in three versions; model DS001 316 L Cold Steel, model DS002 DLC Black Storm and model DS003 Bronze. DS001 and DS002 have a black face with stainless case The DS001 has a stainless bezel while the DS002 bezel is black DLC. The stunning bronze cased DS003 looks like it will have a deep blue face that may change shades at the top and bottom, something like a Rolex Sea Dweller. The design of these watches is similar to a Seiko 6105-8110 from the 1970’s, but with modern technology and design upgrades in all areas of the watch.
For my review I have been loaned a model DS001, the all stainless model. The watch measures 45 mm across, 47 mm at the crown, 15.4 mm thick, 22 mm lug width, and 50 mm lug to lug. This is not a small dive watch but it hugs the wrist well due to the interesting and attractive curvature of the case and lugs. The first thing that I noticed about the watch that really appeals to me is the case, bezel and crown. The case is among the best I have seen in terms of quality, finish and design.
I love the brushed finish on the sides of the case, the polished helium value on the 9 o’clock side of the case, and the brushed back and lug areas of the case. The top of the case is polished and so is the lower edge of the case which isn’t really visible until you look at the back of the watch. The brushed 120 click unidirectional bezel with it’s gear edge, one raised domed lume dot, three raised flat polished dots, eight small drilled round holes and engraved minute markers for 1 thru 14 is machined and finished to perfection. The slightly domed sapphire crystal is as I would expect on a watch like this.
The screw down brushed case back has six round holes (for a case back removal tool) that straddle the flat and angled edge portion of the case back. The case back is beautifully engraved with the brand logo, brand and model names, depth rating, crystal material, movement model, country of movement origin and stainless case material. The polished portion of the lower case and the area where the 4 o’clock crown resides is outstanding in my eyes. The very substantial polished gear edged crown is topped with an additional portion of gear edge and the brand logo with a satin and brushed finish on the face of the crown.
The watch’s black face is finished in raised polished edge/white surface indices. Eight are round, two are rectangular at six and nine o’clock and the twelve o’clock is done in what I call classic beaver teeth. There is no indice at 3 o’clock because of the black on white date window, which I like to be located at 4:30. The upper portion of the face is nicely printed with the brand name and slogan. The lower portion has four lines of text starting at the top with the watches model name in baby blue (“DARK SEA”),”PROFESSIONAL”, “AUTOMATIC” and “500m=1640ft”. Personally, I would like to see two lines instead of four lines of text in this area.
Sixty minute markers circle the inner edge of the dial with those at 12, 3, 6 and are in a baby blue finish which matches the color of the second hand and the line around the date window. The second hand has a white and red dot in a section shaped like a tall building with a blade like tail; I have never seen a second hand quite like it. The polished edged lumed hour and minute hands are similar to those used on a Hublot Big Bang and a Rolex Submariner, respectively. All lume is described as Superluminova BGW9 with a Red dot on the second hand. Overall, I find the lume performance of this watch to be excellent.
The movement in this watch is the tried and true Seiko SII NH35, which means the movement can be replaced relatively inexpensively when needed. The build quality of this watch is so high that it should last indefinitely with nothing but the movement and the strap needing attention. The strap on my example is pretty much a standard silicon rubber diver flat vent strap with a brushed stainless signed buckle and two sliding loops. I understand this strap design will change on the watches that are shipped to customers. Personally, I would wear this watch on a stainless steel bracelet that accentuates the design and machine work of the case and bezel.
I personally feel this is one of the best new microbrand dive watches I have run across. I can see why it has become fully funded on Kickstarter. I understand a shark mesh bracelet will be included with the watch. Currently it is being offered for $436 USD as an early bird special from the MSRP of $545. I think this watch is worth the wait. undivewatches.com
Bert Kanne is a freelance contributor to MBWW with a love for well made dive watches and chronographs. All photos by Bert Kanne unless otherwise noted.