Crafter BLue Mechanic Ocean
Crafter Blue started out making custom rubber straps for a few popular Seiko and Tudor watches and have not crossed over into producing watches as well. Their fitted rubber straps are great no doubt and can really change the look and comfort of your watch. Let’s face it, most Seiko rubber straps leave a lot to be desired. Entering the extremely crowded (some would say overcrowded) microbrand watch world is a whole different game though. Competition is fierce and there are some fantastic microbrands out on the scene, a lot that compete at the same price point CB is selling for. That brings me to the Crafter Blue Mechanic Ocean, which is what this review is all about. A big old chunk of Steel at 45mm, it takes design cues from a few different watches, uses a Seiko NH35 movement and either a fitted rubber strap or solid steel bracelet.
Crafter Blue Mechanic Ocean Specifications:
Case: 316L Stainless Steel
Case Diameter: 45mm
Case Length: 52mm
Lug Width: 22mm
Case Back: Stainless Steel
Dial color: Grey
Water Resistance: 300m / 999 ft
Price: $499 on Rubber Strap; $599 on Steel Bracelet
Save 10% at checkout using code Watchreport
Crafter Blue operates out of Hong Kong, so of course, their watches are made there as well, and they are upfront about it. I wish other brands would be more transparent these days, but a watch having a Swiss Made label is enough to sell it on that merit alone, so I guess it might be some time before all brands admit to Far East Manufacturing. Countless brands have their watches partially or fully manufacturing their watches and have been doing so for many years. The days of “cheap crap” when it comes to watches is long gone. That area of the country knows what they are doing and Crafter Blue chose to have their first watch manufactured here because of that.
I really enjoy the color of the dial and the texture and overall it is easy to read. The Mechanic Ocean has a little too much dial text for my personal tastes and I wish the date wheel was black on white to match the dial more a little more. The other issue I have is the second hand is too short, so it does not reach the second markers, something that has always been a pet peeve of mine. With such a large watch, the dial is smaller than I would like to have, and that is because of the steel ring that is between the crystal and bezel. I am not sure why they went with this design choice, and that is all it is design. It has no functionality at all whatsoever. The text on it is garish as well and makes an otherwise nice watch look somewhat cheap.
These days and I feel like a broken record having to say it all the time, but a 45mm by 16mm watch such as this Crafter Blue Mechanic Ocean is a large and chunky beast of a watch for me. Going back a decade ago, this would have actually been small for what I liked to wear, so it is funny how things change over time. As I type this, I am wearing a 42.5mm watch that is under 12mm thick, and I love it, so you can see why something like this CB is daunting for me. That all said, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this watch wears. The left side screw down crown made it comfortable to not have that big protrusion digging into the back of the hand and despite the dimensions, I could easily wear this a few days without hesitation, especially on the rubber strap.
Speaking of the rubber strap, it is the same vulcanized rubber that Crafter Blue has been selling for a few years now on their strap website. Dual color rubber with fitted end pieces that line up perfectly to the 22mm lugs. These straps are fantastic and if I ever find myself with a Seiko or a Tudor and want a rubber strap, I know where I will purchase one. This one is obviously custom for this Mechanic Ocean and while the orange color is a good shade lighter than the orange on the aluminum bezel insert, I still think it is a great look to have a two-tone strap that matches the colors of the case. If you have a large wrist, you will be very happy as these straps are long and have many holes to accommodate up to a 9-inch wrist with ease.
The bracelet is a brute as well, solid stainless steel oyster style links, screw bars that hold them together for easy link removal and a clasp reminiscent of some Rolex models, though this does not have a sliding adjustment, but I have to say the bracelet is very well made and suits the case very well. The bracelet is not as big though as the rubber strap, so if you have a wrist larger than 8 inches, I would request extra links at the time of ordering.
The case has nice separation to it, meaning it is not a giant monoblock of steel, even though the bezel is aligned with the case, it doesn’t look like a Boschett Cavedweller for example, which is just about the same exact thickness as this Crafter Blue Mechanic Ocean. The Boschett has a flat crystal and this crystal sits up high off the dial of course, though I feel this watch wears better. If you have both the rubber strap and bracelet, or any other strap, changing them out will be easy due to the inclusion of the drilled lug holes, which is always a plus. One thing I have never really seen before with a watch that has crown guards is a crown tube, similar to what you see on a Tudor Black Bay, and it does prevent the crown from sinking into the crown guards fully. Again, this is another thing that made me scratch my head, but my best guess is that it is another form of protection for the crown stem. With a crown this big it is of course very easy to manipulate and turn, though being right-handed, I have to flip the watch around to change the time and date, just the way my left hand is. My left hand is for driving only apparently, not much other use.
If you are going to make a dive watch over 200 meters, it seems to be the norm these days to include a helium release valve. I think it is pretty well known at this point my feelings on this, so I will just leave the picture below and stop there.
The case back of the Crafter Blue is what I expected with a dive watch such as this, and does remind me of Seiko watches in a way, it just has a similar look and feels, though it is not all high polished as most Seiko case backs are. Beating below it would be the Seiko NH35, a capable but low-beat movement that has become one of the three choices for watches in this price range, along with the Miyota 9015 and Eta 2824. These are the 3 most popular movements for the most part used in microbrands under $1000 and while I normally say that I prefer something a little more capable in watches at this price, I understand why they went with it; to keep the cost down. Had they put in one of the other aforementioned movements, this watch would probably cost $100 more.
The Crafter Blue Mechanic Ocean has a familiar look, but still has its own identity and is definitely not an off the shelf factory case that we see with a lot of up and coming brands. To keep the weight down, I do prefer it on the rubber strap and I have enjoyed wearing it, but it is not a watch that I would personally choose to buy these days, it is just a little too large and too chunky for me. That said, I know many will probably like this watch, there definitely is a segment of watch nuts that will like this look and style and beyond a few things that I think could have been done better aesthetically the watch is solid and well built. I look forward to seeing their second release.
Like this watch? While I am never here to “sell” you on a watch, if you do want to pick one up, Crafter Blue has graciously offered a discount code-Watchreport. Enter that code at check out to save 10%. Thought I forgot about the lume didn’t you? I didn’t. Check it out below.