Hi All, someone asked in the Oris forums the other day for a brand recommendation that would fall in-between Oris and Omega. Higher quality than Oris at a lower price than Omega, so, it got me thinking and I though I would do a quick write up comparison of the 5 different brand divers I have in my collection, all at very different price ranges and I think give a very wide array of quality level at widely different price points. Also, I've been stuck at home for a few days and am finding ways to waste some time
So, here are the contenders:
-Oris Divers 65
-Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon
-Tudor Black Bay 58
-Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean CoAxial - 8500 - 45.5mm
I wanted to compare the things that everyone seems to care about when looking at a new diver: Brand Heritage, design, finish of the watch, bracelet quality, movement, interface, and bezel action. Maybe some other musings about them as well.... haven't decided yet. I'll go through each category and give a subjective rating for each
I'm sure there are many others who have much stronger opinions here... but this is not the most important to me. I love the stories behind each company, but overall, the quality of the piece is more important to me personally, but it is a very important topic for some, so here we go!
1. Omega - the brand with the longest and objectively most impressive heritage of this group. Founded in 1848 and has a long history of constantly striving for perfection in watchmaking. They have some of the most iconic watch models in history and some of the best mass produced innovation in modern watchmaking. This is clearly the top of the bunch for this category.
2. Ball Watch - the brand with quite and impressive and relatively unknown history in watchmaking. Founded in 1891 by Webb C. Ball, created the first official timekeeping standard in the US. From the wreckage of the Kipton Disaster, the Ball Watch brand was founded. This brand has deep significance in American watchmaking
3. Oris - Founded in 1904 as a private Swiss watch brand, and impressively remains a private brand to this day. Oris survived the quartz crisis in the 80's and has come into the 21st century swinging
4. Tudor - Founded in 1926 by Hans Wilsdorf with the intent of making a watch that was as rugged and reliable as the Rolex brand, but at a price that the masses could afford.
5. Meraud - Microbrand founded in Belgium in 2018, this is clearly the brand with the least heritage. The pieces, however, are greatly influenced by the pieces of the 1960's.
1. Planet Ocean - This is top of the list for me for a few reasons: it is Omega through and through. It is so classically Omega inspired, but so modern in the approach. I think it strikes such an excellent balance between the vintage aesthetic and modern size/design. This is a very large watch... 45.5mm is no joke, but it does not wear, in my opinion, nearly as large as the specs would suggest. It just works. It is elegant but insanely rugged. Refined but also so overdesigned. This was the first "luxury" watch I purchased and it was top of my wish list and it still is the favorite of the collection.
And holy crap, that movement is absolutely beautiful......
2. Black Bay 58 - This is an absolutely beautifully designed watch. The size of the case, the vintage inspired dial, the very well done faux-patina and rose gold indices/hands, the small splash of red coloring on the bezel, it all just adds up to a very well designed and executed piece.
3. Meraud Bonaire - This watch, while the cheapest on the list, I think is designed so freaking well... The domed sapphire bezel, the applied indices and arabic numerals are so clean and well done, and the minimal text on the dial is elegant and so tasteful. The case is finished incredibly and the drilled lugs are a very nice vintage touch. I think this watch punches way above its class and is such a well designed and well done piece.
4. Engineer Hydrocarbon - This is a beautiful piece as well and is also very original Ball. The use of tritium tubes is a highly original concept and is a very valuable feature of the piece. For this price point, a white date wheel on the black dial is a bit out of place and sticks out a bit... Also, for a 40mm watch, it wears massive. It is incredibly tall due to the anti-magnetic ferrite material underneath the movement. However, it wears very well for how large it is and it is still very elegant and well finished.
5. Divers 65 - This is by no means a bad watch, but it is, in my opinion 5th in this category. It's an excellent design and is very original to Oris, but compared to the others here, I just find it flat and not overly exciting. It is very unique and interesting in its own right however, and I wear it a ton because it fits in so well with nearly any attire, and it is an absolute strap monster, which makes it quite versatile. But, most things that are most versatile are also not that exciting. The domed sapphire crystal however, is quite amazing.
1. Omega- Beautiful Finish on this watch, and being the highest price, I would also expect that to be the case. Beautiful and elegant transitions between a beautiful polish to a nice brushed finish. The ceramic bezel is clean and neat, the serations on the bezel are beautifully done and crisp. The crown is gorgeous with the beautiful Omega logo. This is just stunning. Absolutely stunning finish. And the display caseback to see the incredibly finished 8500 movement is outstanding. This is a premium piece by far.
2. Ball- This is such a well finished piece, and especially considering the price point. The polished/brushed center links on the bracelet are such a nice touch, and the beautifully finished case is excellent. The crown guards are polished beautifully and the crown is signed with the RR logo in a high polish. Everything comes together perfectly on this piece and it punches way above it's price for the finish.
3. Tudor- Beautifully finished watch. Case has very nice transitions between polish and brush with a very fine brush quality that is stunning. The aluminum bezel is very vintage inspired and very well done. I'm very impressed with the finish of the indices and the hands. It's very clean and very well finished, and paying nearly $4k for a watch, you would definitely expect that to be the case. So while it is well done, I think it's appropriate for the price
4. Meraud- Outstanding finish on this watch, especially considering the sub-$1,000 price point. It has excellent finishing on the case, good polished and brushed features to differentiate the lines. It's very well done and I think punches well above its class for finish quality. There is definitely a lot of time and consideration put into the design, and it is worth every penny in my opinion.
5. Oris- This is a very nicely finished watch, but is again, just a little bland. Sharp lines on the case with no beveled edges, hard transitions between the polish and brushed finishes. The bezel finish is a little bland as well, but it's most definitely legible and clean. Overall, compared to the rest in this group, it is last on the list.
1. Tudor - The bracelet on this piece is incredibly comfortable and it is a beautiful bracelet. The polished ends are a very nice touch, and the rivets, while I know are polarizing, are in my opinion an excellent touch. The clasp is very simple, but elegant and well done. My complaint with this is of course that there is no on-the-fly micro adjustment. At this price point and era, that's a huge disappointment, especially considering that a quick adjust is already something that Tudor/Rolex has in their portfolio and could have easily added to this watch. It's a giant shame that it is not included. It is however easy to adjust and get a good fit, but do not expect on the fly adjustment.
2. Omega- This is a heavy bracelet, there is no way around it. It's big, it's chunky, and it fits very very well for what it is. It is a very well made, very industrial bracelet and you can rest assured that nothing on earth is going to be able to remove it from your wrist. It is also very well finished and well done for how robust it is. I know Omega has since added a quick adjust for the PO models, but the older one I purchased does not have it. I very much wish it did, as it would be a great feature to have. Another gripe would be the lack of micro adjustment on the clasp. There are full links and half links for the bracelet, so if you can't get a perfect fit with those, you are SOL.
3. Oris- This is an excellent bracelet that is ridiculously comfortable. It wears so well and is so light weight that it's easy to forget that it's even on the wrist. The finish is again, pretty bland, but it's very clean and well done. The clasp mechanism is very robust and very easy and satisfying to use. For the price, I wouldn't expect a quick-adjust clasp, and I don't get one. So, easier to justify at that point. But, it's easy to get a good fit with the micro-adjustments.
4. Ball- This bracelet is gorgeous. The different polishes on the center links is such a nice and elegant touch. I love how this bracelet looks and it's very comfortable to wear. It is, however, no slouch. It is incredibly heavy and bulky. it is the same width throughout the whole bracelet and it makes for one very chunky bracelet that can get kind of cumbersome with very long wears. The Clasp is rather unimpressive on the Ball watches and could most definitely use some refinement.
5. Meraud- For the cheapest watch on the list, you'd expect some corners to get cut somewhere, and I think the bracelet is where that was done . It is not a bad looking bracelet, but in the hand, especially comparing with one very similar like on the Oris, you can feel the difference in quality. It is a much lighter, cheaper made bracelet with much less precision and more slop in the links. It is finished very cleanly with brushed throughout. The clasp is also nothing impressive, but it holds well.
1. Omega - In house caliber 8500. First mass produced movement designed around a Co-Axial escapement. It has a 60hr power reserve and the most innovative technological advancement in modern watchmaking. They were also the first to integrate the silicon hairsping and balance wheel to make the piece far more resistant to magnetic fields, so it is really an excellent tool watch. It is an absolute work of art and is clearly the top of the list here.
2. Tudor - In house caliber MT5402. It is thin, it is elegant, and it's a workhouse from Tudor. With a 70hr power reserve and still beating away at 28,800 bph, it's really, in my opinion, an impressive feat. Also now with the integration of the silicon balance, it really improves the magnetic field resistance of the watch.
3. Ball - Using the Ball RR1201-C, which is a highly finished and modified ETA 2893-2, they are able to get the RR certification that Ball is famous for. It is not an exciting movement, but it is very well finished and decorated by Ball and it runs phenomenally. The finish level is outstanding. Handwinding this watch is the smoothest I have ever experience. There is zero grit, zero resistance, it almost feels as if nothing is happening.
4. Meraud - Meraud is using the STP 1-11, which is essentially a clone of the ETA 2824. It has a slightly extended power reserve of 44 hours and in my experience, does have slightly less rotor noise and smoother operation.
5. Oris - Oris is using the Sellita SW200-1, which is also a clone of the ETA 2824. It's a fine movement. Oris does not do any extra finishing of the movement, other than their red rotor. It works and it gets the job done.
1. Oris - This is the best part, in my opinion, about the Oris. The crown is awesome. It is the perfect size, the serrations are perfect, it is so easy to grab and use and interface with the watch using. It is excellent and an absolute joy to use.
2. Ball - Thanks to the crown protector on the Ball series of watches, the crown on this watch is massive. The serrations could be a little deeper, but thanks to the size, it makes it very easy to use.
3. Omega - The interface on the Omega is very good. The crown is large enough to be very easy to grab, unthread, wind the watch, and set the time with. The serrations are deep enough to get very good grip on the watch and utilize the functions with ease.
4. Tudor - This is a bit of shortfall, in my opinion, on the Tudor. It is an absolutely beautiful crown, but in my opinion, it's a little small and the serrations are not great to get good purchase on it. It is very useable, but not near as easy to grip as the above options.
5. Meraud - Not great at all. This watch is beautiful and great to use, but the crown interface is terrible. It has very small serrations and not very deep, and the crown sits very close to the body of the watch, making it quite difficult to unthread and start using. This may be my least favorite part of the watch.
1. Meraud - Honestly, this is no joke, the Meraud has an outstanding bezel action. It is tight, but not too tight. There is absolutely no play in the bezel when you don't want it, but it moves commandingly to the next position when you want it to. The grip on the bezel edge is very good and it is maybe the best bezel action I've used in a watch, and considering the price of it, I'm highly impressed with it.
2. Tudor - Excellent bezel. It is tight and commanding. The coin edge makes for a little less optimal grip when trying to use it, but it is still very useable and a joy to play with.
3. Omega - This is also an excellent bezel. The only reason it is number 3 is because it has more play in each position that the others. It has a very satisfying click, the best of any I've used. And it is a very easy bezel to use, the grip around the edges is superb and easy to operate.
4. Ball - This is maybe the tightest bezel of the group, I believe too tight. If the 4 small brackets around the bezel were not there, it would be very difficult to use. The coin edge is not cut very deep and does not have much grip, so it makes for the turning to be very difficult. But, it is very precise and commanding.
5. Oris - This may have been the most disappointing part of this watch purchase. I purchased two of these models in different color schemes and the bezel is equally disappointing between both of them. It is loose and sloppy and just pretty pathetic if I'm being perfectly honest. It works... that's about it. It doesn't align as well as I'd like and it's just a pretty disappointing experience, especially considering the price paid.