Maranez Samui Diver
If you have seen the video above, you may be wondering why it is attached to this Maranez Samui Diver review, and with this intro, I will give you a little backstory. See, I never planned on reviewing this watch. That may sound odd for a guy who reviews watches professionally, but this was a personal purchase. Now I have reviewed many watches I have bought over the years, but the timing was not the best with this piece as it is just that time of year where every brand wants a review, and for those that are eagerly awaiting more reviews, well, let’s just say you will not be disappointed.
So, I bought this piece and just took a few pics to post to social media and I really didn’t think anyone would care that there wouldn’t be a full review. I was VERY wrong. I had been thinking about doing a video on why I would never own an Apple Watch, and thought, okay, let’s kill two birds with one stone here and talk about that and also show this Maranez, as an example of why it could not be replaced, for me, with an Apple or any smartwatch for that matter, and that all brings us to here today, where I will go more in-depth on this Samui diver, a watch that, along with the other models they are selling, has caused a little controversy but has also been a huge seller for Maranez.
42mm Excluding The Crown
Stainless Steel Case
45mm Lug to Lug
Sapphire Bezel Insert
Seiko NH35 Automatic Movement
300m Water Resistant
Comes with Beads of Rice Bracelet and Rubber Strap
So, I think some context is needed, especially for those of you reading this that may not be familiar with Maranez or those not familiar with the Doxa Homage trend that is currently going on. At some point in 2020, they released the Samui. Or maybe it was 2019 and I am off on my dates, but I think many will agree that 2020 is a blur for most of us, and things are still a little hazy when it comes to recollection. Maranez has been around since 2013 I believe, and many believe they are made at the same factory as Helson, Armida, and Zenton. So, maybe they are not the microbrand we think they are, but either way, they have been around a while and have produced quite a few good watches, some that have been reviewed here over the years.
But, Maranez is not the first brand to release a Doxa homage. Beyond what Dagaz would do with the SOXA mods, there was one standout in this space and that was the Irreantum Magellan. Now, the Maranez Samui is based on the Doxa Sub 300t, where the Magellan was based more on the Sub1500T I believe, larger case size of 45mm. The Magellan didn’t straight up look exactly like a Doxa though. It had a one-piece bezel and the dial and hands were completely different altogether, but the basic silhouette with the case shape and beads of rice bezel were present. The one other thing that was very different was the crown placed at 4 o’clock instead of 3. You could really say the Magellan was more inspired by Doxa instead of trying to create a copy.
But Maranez is also not the only brand currently making Doxa homages. There are some factory brands, which again, technically I believe that is what Maranez is as well, but these brands kind of popped up out of nowhere, and they are the Tactical Frog and the Seestern Watches. Now, brand names are always subjective and some hit better than others, and I like many don’t care for most brands where a person’s name is used, and I have to say, Tactical Frog and Seestern are just awful names as well. Naming aside, both of these watches are about $200 cheaper than the Maranez versions, but below I will show one of each of the standard 300t homages (Maranez has quite a few versions actually).
Now, I am not about to go over all the differences between the 3 and the Doxa itself, as you can see in the pictures above, and also, I do not have any of these watches in hand. What I do have in hand though is the Maranez Samui Diver, another variation of what Maranez is doing with their Sub 300t inspired cases. The full lineup, currently, is the Maranez Samui, the Samui Vintage (currently out of stock), this Samui diver, and the latest release, the Samui Army, which yep, is an homage to the Synchron Military, and I guess of course the Orginal Doxa Army. If that is confusing, and you are not all up to date on the Doxa/Synchron controversy, I would go ahead and google it, but the shortest version is they are separate companies, there is some animosity, and Synchron released an Army homage before Doxa was able to release a tribute version of their own. All Maranez Army versions are currently out of stock as well.
So, finally, we can get to the Maranez Samui Diver, the one I chose to purchase, and I wanted this one specifically for a few reasons. Before I get into that, let me state, I am not a Doxa expert by any stretch of the imagination, and I could sit for a week and do a ton of research on all the models and variations and the company going defunct and brought back to life and all the differences to the cases over the years, but I do not have the time for that and to be honest, it would be silly, as this site exists- http://www.doxa300t.com/. That site is run by Peter Millar, who is a Doxa historian and has released a few books on Doxa as well, and who has also reviewed some of these new homages out on the market, so if you want to delve into all of that, I suggest checking out his site.
Why did I choose what Maranez has dubbed the Diver version? Basically, because it really doesn’t look like a Doxa. I am not against homages as many know, but some just strike me a different way, and none of the homages that are currently available look exactly like the Doxa itself, and if they did, I probably wouldn’t want it anyways, as the real thing is not that far of a reach at $1800. Why don’t I currently own a Doxa? I am not sure. I have thought about buying one many times over the years, but then you read about company issues, especially customer service issues, the bracelets not always fitting right, very average lume, and so on. But, I can’t help but love the case design. It is definitely unique and at this point iconic. I did own an Irreantum back in the day, actually, I owned 3 different versions at 3 different times, but that case was too large for this style and the dial and overall look so bare, they never stayed with me long. I wanted to love them, but they just never bonded with me.
Without having a Doxa in hand, and again, Peter Millar does go into the differences between this case and bracelet and the current and past Doxa 300t models, but the first thing I noticed between this and current 300t is the drilled lug holes, which I am glad Maranez included. The overall finish is the same, the vertical brushing on the top of the case, polished sides, the same bezel design with brushed grips, and you will notice the area under the raised bezel before the case is bead-blasted. I will admit, I am not sure if the Doxa has this or this is something the factory that makes these Samui models decided to do.
Then we get to the dial, and bezel insert, and this is where the real differences are. This Maranez Samui Diver has a completely different dial, one that to my knowledge was never done on a Doxa, especially considering, at least in my opinion (not confirmed), that the inspiration was from the Omega Seamaster Banana dial. This style of hands has been used on countless watches, vintage and modern over the years, but if you need one example, the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf. Unfortunately, at the time of publication, this blue/yellow combo is sold out. I am sure more of them will be produced, but there are teal/yellow options as well as 2 other colors of the Diver available.
The dial text is kept to a minimum, and of course, as I purchased this piece, I find the dial very attractive. Just because I bought it though, doesn’t mean I have rose-colored glasses on. Keep in mind, this is a $399 watch, or when on sale (like a recent sale in September of 20% off, $339), so as I always say, you should limit your expectations. When you get closer to the dial and look at the indices and especially the white surround of the date wheel, you will see it was applied rather sloppily. Other than that, I will say I noticed the date wheel isn’t exactly centered in the box properly, which I do find a little aggravating. That all said, I love the colors and the array of finishes on the dial from satin, to matte and the center being a blue sunburst pattern.
If I mention Peter Millar one more time, you may start to think I am getting a cut from him directing people to his website, but I assure you, I am not. But when it comes to the beads of rice bracelets, especially on Doxa and Doxa homages, I will again refer you to his site, as he shows and explains all the different levels of quality and differences between them all. I find the bracelet on the Maranez to be a good example of a BOR though. The end links due to the case design do fold down a little odd when it is on the wrist, but it doesn’t make it uncomfortable.
The links are fully articulate, not soldered together, allowing it to wear much better than the cheaper variety and while Helson and Armida have both done the ratcheting extension clasps over the years, and current Doxa Sub 300t’s have them as well, Maranez chose to go more classic with the clasp, so it is rather basic but very functional, and it doesn’t overwhelm the bracelet either. It has 4 micro-adjust holes (only 3 are usable though) and a dive extension. *One important thing to note. The bracelet uses one-piece screw bars, but I have found over the last 2 months that they are prone to backing out after you size it- and I will be giving them the old Loctite treatment very shortly after I finish writing this article. This is not uncommon in many watches with screw bars and is usually more prevalent in cheaper examples such as this.
When it comes to functionality, I find the Maranez Samui Diver to be on par with other watches in its price range. The crown had some grittiness to it upon arrival, but I unscrewed it and gave it a couple of shots of compressed air, and it seems to be better. Traction is easy to get and the crown is easy to grasp even though it screws down into the case. With bezel teeth such as this, the grip will never be a concern and the action is pretty smooth as micros go. The insert is sapphire, and lumed underneath, though not fully as you will see in the lume shot.
Housed inside the fairly plain case back (which I don’t mind at all) is the Seiko NH35, the workhorse, blah, blah, blah. If I seem jaded, I apologize, but I have talked about the NH35 probably more than any other movement ever on this website, and that is because I review a lot of microbrands, and this movement is widely used, especially for budget-minded watches like this. Simply, if you do not mind not having great accuracy, the movement is otherwise solid, and if any problems do arise, easy and extremely affordable to replace.
We did it. We finally made it to the end of the review. Whew! This is one of the reasons I did not intend to review this piece, as I knew I would have to go into a lot of backstories, but I will say I am glad I purchased this piece and glad I decided to review it here. No, this is not a Doxa replacement, especially in this configuration, but neither are the others. We can argue about pricing and profit all day long, and debate whether the Doxa is actually worth $1400 more, but at the end of the day, if you want the real thing, then I guess it is worth it. To me, these are fun pieces, no matter what version you choose, and as many of you have witnessed over the years, $400 micros have come a long way, and this one is no exception.
I thoroughly enjoy this Maranez Samui Diver and I have been contemplating the Army version in DLC (if they ever come back in stock), and for the price, they are built well and hard to beat. To those that hate this because you are a Doxa fanboy, I completely understand, but it was only a matter of time that factories started producing homages to the iconic dive watch brand, much like they do with so many other iconic brands. I don’t think these take away from the real thing, and I still will probably purchase the real deal one day when I get around to it, but in the meantime, I will have fun wearing this mashup.