The Great Lakes is a new model from Ocean Crawler, a brand known for producing dive style watches since they hit the scene a few years ago. If you follow Watchreport, you have probably seen quite a few reviews of the brand, as I am quite fond of the watches they produce. This Great Lakes is the first dual crown watch with an internal bezel, but not the only one in the lineup, as there is another dual crown diver recently released as well. That watch is for another day and another review possibly, but this Great Lakes is a sub 40mm dive style watch with a unique slab-sided case, done in a vintage aesthetic, with a blue sunray sandwich dial. It retails on their website for $999.
At 39.7mm, the smallest watch in the Ocean Crawler lineup, the Great Lakes was partially designed or influenced by Ty Alexander, who if you are on Instagram and follow watch accounts, you probably know who he is, and you can see his amazing watch photos on the Ocean Crawler website, among many others. I am waiting on some info from Ty about his participation in this model and will update this section as soon as I can. Not only is this watch small in width, but the lug to lug is only 44mm, but on the wrist, I do not find this watch to wear terribly small, as the specifications would suggest.
As with any dive watch that has dual crowns like this, your timing bezel will be internal. Both crowns on the Great Lakes do screw-down, and both are smooth to operate, though I do wish they were just a hair longer as it is a little difficult to grab and unscrew them with my medium-sized hands. The case back is the standard Ocean Crawler case back used on I believe almost every model to date. I would like to see something different for each model, but it is a nicel stamped and engraved case back, and of course it just sits on your wrist not too be seen, so maybe I am just being a little picky.
The sunburst dial is a nice shade of blue, and as with all dials like this, creates a nice shimmer under bright lights. The more interesting aspect of the dial is how the sandwich dial has been used. Most of the time a sandwich dial will have stencil numbers or markers on the upper dial, But Ocean Crawler wanted to do something a little different, and as you can see in the photo below, the upper dial or main dial if you will is a a disc with the markers cut out, and the lower lume dial creating a ring around the disc, and becoming the markers as well. I am trying to remember if I have seen this exact configuration before, and am not sure that I have. Either way, I do like it very much.
I have discussed in length about Ocean Crawler not producing bracelets for their watches in the past, so I do not want do drone on about it here, and even though this watch comes with two straps, I do wish this was the model to get a bracelet, over any other already in the OC lineup. I just feel with this high case design and lug walls, a proper solid end link v vintage style bracelet would have looked fantastic. What you do get, is a blue canvas strap and a distressed leather strap. Both straps are of decent quality, but they are very short in my opinion, and I have never considered a 7 1/2 inch wrist to be large, and I am in the first hole on the leather strap, and the second on the canvas.
The lume of the Great Lakes is good, but not great. I do not want to hammer the lume but while the hands have a nice brightness to them; as cool looking as the sandwich dial aspect of this watch is, the lume is just not as bright or impactful as I was hoping for. I mention in the video that I thought it was the size of cutouts and that there wasn’t a big area to apply the lume, but since it is a sandwich dial, I wonder why more lume compound was not applied to the lower dial, as it would have been an improvement. Again, as is, it is suitable and you should have no issues telling time in the dark, but I was hoping for better.
As with most Ocean Crawler watches, the Great Lakes has a signature style and feel about it, yet this one does deviate from what I have come to know OC for. Maybe some of that was Ty’s influence or just the evolution of a brand, but I like the direction they are heading. Smaller watches are continuing to be more and more popular these days, and as I said, even though this is a small watch, smaller than I would typically wear, it does not feel as such, or at least not what I originally envisioned it would. I would probably like this watch a lilttle more in a 43mm, and I know that sounds contradictory, but even though it doesn’t feel as small as I thought it was going to be, I would still like something a little larger for my tastes. Some of you reading may disagree, and think it is perfect as it is. I hope that one day maybe Ocean Crawler will just create a bigger version, maybe with a little thicker lume application, but until then, I think the Great Lakes is a good example of a brand evolving and staying fresh and I bet this will probably be a very popular watch for the now North Carolina based company. I am sure they have even more up their sleeve and cant wait to see what other models will be released this year.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.