The very first watch released from Ocean Crawler was the Champion Diver, and now there is a very slightly updated version, the Ocean Crawler Palomino Island Champion Diver. That is quite a mouthful, I think most will refer to them as the new Champion Diver, but what you need to know is that the only differences are new dials and 3 colors of said new dial. The one shown in this article is the blue variation, and also available are red and grey dials. The rest of the watch stays the same. The case, crown, case back, straps and movement are all the same. With that said, the dials are very different from the original models, so that may be enough to get people to give the Champion Diver a chance.
Case Diameter (excluding crown): 44.2mm
Case Thickness: 15mm, Lug-To-Lug: 51.8mm, Lug Width: 22mm
Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Bezel: Unidirectional Rotating Bezel with 120 Clicks and Swiss SuperLuminova Marker
Movement Accuracy. +/- 5 seconds/day in 3 positions
The Champion Diver has actually had quite a few iterations over the years, the first one only being 300 meters water-resistant and a few other differences but the overall look has stayed the same. In 2019, they debuted the latest version this watch is based on, with double the water resistance to 600m and the SW200 movement. (I believe the original movements were Seiko 4R36, and it has been a few years, but I believe the price was a little bit cheaper back then as well, but clearly now, you are getting even more for your money when it comes to specs and overall construction. I have reviewed so many of these models over the years, I think I mistakenly said in the video that these have always had the SW200 movement, which is incorrect. All this is to say because I have reviewed almost every version of this watch, including the funky Lume Rush, this will be a shortened review, and I will mostly be discussing this new dial.
A good portion of the watch community has always been somewhat unsure about the Champion Diver, mostly because of its design. See, this watch borrows heavily from the Seiko ANA Pilot, a now-discontinued watch, and I believe it was discounted when the Champion Diver first debuted. The actual case shape was different, the lugs and overall lines are not the same, but the bezel is very similar and many WIS were quick to point that out. Now, the crown is placed at the 4oclock position on the Seiko and if you were to put them side by side, they are very clearly different watches, but it is a somewhat odd design for a dive watch, especially one that is built to actually dive, and not just chasing a style. It does have a pilot watch look about it, that it is until you look at the helium valve and much more robust case and crystal that this Ocean Crawler Palomino Island has.
If you are a watch aficionado with a keen eye, you already figured out the inspiration for the Ocean Crawler Palomino Island dials. Yes, the Eterna Super Kontiki is what first came to my mind as well, though many other watches from the 60s and 70s had a dial design similar to this as well, so I can not say for sure that is what OC was looking to emulate. Instead of the sandwich dial or regular printed Arabic numerals we have come to know on the Champion Diver, this new dial uses applied triangle markers, with the typical 12, 6, and 9 numerals and the date at 3. Even though the bezel does not have any markers beside the lume pip, you can still track your time using the elapsed time printed on the inner chapter ring.
The other highlight of the dial, is somewhat an actual highlight, as the dial is lighter in the middle than the rest of the dial, create a fume-type look. Unlike many fume dials, this is a matte dial rather than sunray and as such, doesn’t have that contrast that most associate with this style of the dial. It is somewhat stagnant, but the shade of blue used here on the Ocean Crawler Palomino Island is very attractive, and the orange of the minute and second-hand contrast nicely with it.
The straps are the same as the last versions I reviewed, the rubber is still silicone and I still find the way the strap goes under the deployant buckle to be uncomfortable, at least for my wrist, and the brown leather strap is still beautiful. No metal bracelet yet, and I have to say, I was really hoping to see a metal link bracelet for the Champion Diver (and other models from Ocean Crawler) by now, but I don’t believe the owner likes bracelets, otherwise, why wouldn’t they be an option already? This piece is pretty mighty on my 7 1/2 inch wrist at 44mm with the large crown, but still completely wearable on a daily basis in my opinion.
I think the new dials of the Ocean Crawler Palomino Island Champion Diver are fun and quirky, much like the Eterna’s I mentioned earlier, and that is definitely part of the appeal. The new look may be too much for some, but I do often tend to admire pieces that can meld traditional with the untraditional, and still create a piece that flows. Let’s face it, every time I sit down to write one of these articles, the watch market has probably gained 10 new brands, and though that might be a slight exaggeration, the completion out there is no joke. Brands need to keep things fresh and try out new styles, and while I am not sure if this is my favorite version of the Champion Diver, I do like it and look forward to what future offerings will be.
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.
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