Earlier today I received my Ocean7 LM-1 dive watch. I will share my initial impressions first, show some real world pictures of it and try to provide some follow up as I wear it more throughout the upcoming days.
The LM-1 is the first in a series of watches produced by the Ocean7 Watch Company. The company started as a joint contribution between two watch guys, LaHugh and Mitch. According to their website, their design objective was simple "create beautiful watches that are tough and functional." They were both owners of PloProf's and decided the line would feature elements of the classic PloProf design. In November 2006, Mitch became sole owner of Ocean7. The LM-1 in it's early stages was proposed as an Asian built model in the sub $500 range. After much discussion on the Ocean7 Watch Forum, Mitch and LaHugh decided to move to a Swiss build with a sub $700 price. It has since been announced that the molds for this current LM-1 will be destroyed to insure it's limited status. A new production version of the LM-1 will be available in 2007 with some styling changes made.
The watch features a brushed 316 stainless steel case and bezel. It measures 44mm in diameter. The height of the case is 14mm. The watch is rated water resistant to 300m. Portions of the case including the ring around the crystal are beadblasted. This provides a very cool contrast in the steel. The signed crown is located at 4 o'clock location. In the discussion on the LM-1 there was talk on if the LM-1 needed protection for the crown. In the end the popular consensus was that a crown only design worked better with the simplicity of the design. Holding the watch now I think the right decision was made. The watch has a real weight to it. I don't have a scale but to me it feels slightly heavier than my Sinn UX and Damasko DC66. The watch also features a sapphire domed crystal. The amount of curve is very, very, slight. It looks like the inside of the crystal is also domed but I could be wrong. The watch also does not feature any AR coating on the outside of the glass. For some this may be a negative but not me. I have found that almost all AR coatings are able to be scratched and damaged. Even the ultra hard AR coating on the Sinn U series watches have been scratched. In bright light I was able to catch a slight blue tint that confirms the inside was coated and not overlooked. The bezel on the Ocean7 is a 120 click unidirectional design. The bezel feels much more decisive than other watches in it's price range. It clicks nicely with almost no play in it. It also features a nice lumed pip at 12. Each watch is individually numbered between #1 and #150. The case back was designed originally to carry both a serial number and a edition number. The manufacture reportedly thought the number was to represent the series number and made all the watches come with a #1 next to the SN and an individual limited edition number. In my opinion, having both a serial number and an edition number was redundant. A surprise for me was the watch has drilled lugs. All previous pictures of the sample case did not have the lugs drilled. So this only goes to further support it's tool watch status in my mind.
Dial and hands-
The dial and hands on the LM-1 are huge! Great for a tool watch. The hands are modeled after the classic Plongeurs. They look AMAZING! They are perfect in color and match the 7 on the dial perfectly. In my opinion, the color of the Plongeur is very important. I feel the Dreadnought orange color is too yellow and the MKii's are too red of an orange. I find the design and shape more true to the original with what looks to be slightly larger "handles" than have appeared on other recent watches. Anyone who has followed this project can tell of the mini revolt that came up when a preliminary drawing was shown with different hands than the classic Plongeurs. I really love the way the hour hand lines up perfectly with the top of date window at 6 o'clock and does not block the window. It's just another fine detail that shows how custom hands were used and not some found off the shelf.
For me, a watches lume is an area that is very important to me. I find the lume on the Ocean7 well above average. The dial and hands have been applied with C3 Swiss Superluminova. The hands glow like a Seiko Monster, which is awesome! The dial's lume is definitely above average easily besting my Sinn UX after a full charge. The lume on the dial is good but not as strong as the hands but that's because it's printed on a black dial. The watch features a white on black date wheel at the 6 o'clock location. In order to simplify the dial you will not find any distracting text on the dial but all the specs can be found on the case back. I don't know why more dive watches don't do this. Do I really need to know that it's an automatic and was made in Switzerland all the time. :-S
The watch features the bulletproof Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. It is said it has a metal spacer ring inside but I have no way to open the case and confirm this. The orange tipped second hand (thanks xtrooper) moves very smoothly.
An Initial Accuracy Report-
When I received the LM-1, I immediately set the time to sync with www.time.gov. I have worn the watch non stop since receiving it and I can report as of this morning it was spot on. It had not gained or lost any time while wearing it.
Strap and packaging-
The watch comes delivered with a black strap with steel buckle. The strap is unique because it not made out of rubber but instead silicone. This makes the strap incredibly soft and has no stiffness to it. The strap has a great deal of elasticity to it so it is incredibly comfortable. The buckle is very unique and nicely signed. The straps overall design is a throwback to the vintage ploprof design. the watch on the supplied strap wears very nicely with no balance issues.
I had planned on replacing the strap with either a custom Delaurian strap or the black leather Ocean7 strap available next month. One of the huge selling points for me on the LM-1 was it's 24mm lugs. I have always been jealous of all the straps available to Panerai owners but could never justify a Panerai's price tag.
The watch comes nicely in black Pelican waterproof case. Inside is a warranty card, warranty paper, pillow and hangtag. The case has an Ocean7 logo on it.
I have to say I am blown away with the quality of the LM-1. It is a very nicely made watch! I know it's a cliche, but the quality beats some much more expensive Swiss brands. The obvious thing is that it is a BIG watch with large lugs. For some this may be a turn off, not for me. Any watch that can accommodate 24mm straps is going to have big lugs. I was concerned looking at early pictures that the lugs edges were going to be sharp but they are not at all. The inside lugs on my new Spirit of America are much sharper than the LM-1. Strangely though at 44mm it still wears smaller than expected. I think the large dial size is partially responsible for this. It is very comparable in size to my Kobold Spirit of America, Damasko DC66 and Sinn UX.
In conclusion, I want to thank Mitch for providing such an in depth view of what has gone in to making the LM-1 and the upcoming 5 models through the Ocean7 forum. I can't think of another watch project that allowed as much feedback, provided as much info, and given watch enthusiasts instant access to the owner of the company. Sure there are other small watch companies that have offered great insight to the watch industry but I think Mitch has raised the bar. When I look at the LM-1 I see more than just the sum of the parts but I also see the sum of the thoughts, suggestions and ideas that went into making it. It has been exciting to see the birth of a watch company and the LM-1 celebrates it's arrival.