Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the Raven Venture, let me just say that Raven Watches have a special place in my heart, or better yet a special meaning in the watch world for me. For those that are not aware, the current Raven Watches is run by Steve Laughlin, who was also partners in Benarus Watches for a long time as well. My first microbrand purchase was a Benarus, way back in 2009. Fast forward to 2018, and though lots of things have changed and Steve and Ralf have parted ways as far as Benarus is concerned, Steve decided to keep Raven watches (which Benarus took over in 2011) going and we will slowly see a blend of both brands morph into the future Raven. What amazes me is with so many longtime microbrands disappearing, (Zixen Watches bit the dust just this year), Raven Watches are still putting out a darn nice watch.
Raven Venture Specifications:
• Swiss ETA 2824
• 42mm stainless steel case
• 49.5mm lug to lug
• 13mm thick
• 22mm tapering bracelet
• Expanding divers clasp
• Ceramic or steel bezel
• Double domed sapphire
• AR coated on the inside
• Screw down crown
• WR to 300M
• Ships in black case
• 1 year warranty card
Price $750 USD
In the massively crowded market, it can not be easy to still be going strong after 7 years, especially considering how much the landscape has changed. Steve keeps plugging along though and one of their latest watches, the Endeavor, which I would like to get my hands on for review, is a nice blend of Raven and Benarus styles, and it is nice to see that nod to his former brand. The Raven Venture on the other hands is all Raven. The original iterations of the Venture were clad in a bead blasted case and were a little more muted colorwise. This second round brings on only two new variations, a black dial with blue accents and this blue dial with yellow accents, both available only in brushed steel and a choice of ceramic or steel bezel insert.
While I love an all bead blasted watch, I think the move to brushed steel was a wise choice as it is much easier to refinish with a scotchbrite pad or fiberglass pen. Ceramic is much more scratch resistant material but I have to say the steel bezel insert just works on this watch, at least for me. The Raven Venture is very utilitarian, your everyday rugged companion. The 42mm size is perfect for me and should look good on most wrist sizes, though if you like a larger watch I would check out some of the other models Raven has to offer. Below is how it sits on my 7 1/2 inch wrist.
The Venture not only looks good but of course boasts the majority of the specs we look for, especially at this price in the microbrand watch world. Sapphire crystal, screw down crown, drilled lugs, steel bracelet and a solid movement, this time the ETA 2824. This Raven also included 2 claps, something rarely seen with most watches. The watch arrives with the ratcheting dive extension installed, but if it is too long or bulky for you, or you just prefer a traditional dive watch clasp, one is included in the box as well.
Bezels can really make or break a dive watch and this time Raven chose the classic coin edge bezel for the Venture. The coin edge bezel is extremely easy to grip, not only due to all the “teeth” but also how it sits off of the watch case will allow you to get a good purchase on it. This also applies to the large screw down crown; setting the time and date (notice the date is at my favorite spot, the 6 o’clock position) is simple and satisfying.
Keeping with the simple and no-frills theme is the case back. Stamped in the middle you will find the Raven logo, but that is as fancy as it gets here. The case back is still all brushed, no frosted or textured steel, no high gloss, nothing. It doesn’t need it. Powering the Venture is the workhorse, wait- that word is so overused. Let’s be real, the ETA 2824 is a basic Swiss 3 hand movement that can be found in countless watches for this price and less. While it has a decent power reserve and a nice smooth sweep, it is not a 2892. That said, people love to see this movement in a watch, especially a microbrand and it is much quieter than the often very loud Miyota 9015, which tends to have a noisy rotor.
While I love the proportions and overall design of the Raven Venture, the blue dial is what steals the show here. Even though it is a matte dial, the tone of blue is just perfect and something that not every brand gets right. To give just the slightest amount of contrast, Steve chose a bright canary yellow and it was a wise choice. All white or black against the blue would have been too mundane, the yellow compliments the blue and gives it just the right amount of pop. Most of the time I would prefer applied markers, but those would have made the Venture a little too flashy, and after all, that is not what this watch is about.
Of course, if you are making a dive watch, it should have good lume. I remember a time when only Seiko and Citizen (on the lower end of things) had great lume, but in the last 10 years, that has changed. Raven made sure the Venture could be seen in the dark without issue and put a good amount of BGW9 Superluminova on the hands and markers of the Venture. The lume is bright and long lasting, well into the wee hours of the morning.
Yes, there is a lot of praise going on here with the Raven Venture. As I said at the beginning, I do have a soft spot for the now veteran microbrand. Some, of course, will balk at the price of $750, but the old adage is true-you get what you pay for. The Venture is a solid, well built and in my opinion, very attractive watch. I think many would agree. Now, as someone who has a lot of watches pass through his hands and in his collection, It would be silly of me to say it is the BEST. It would also be silly of me to ignore all the competition out there. One thing I can say about Raven though, that I can’t say about all brands, there is a good chance they will still be around for the next 5 years, as after being in the business for going on 11 years (Benarus and Raven), I don’t think Steve will be throwing the towel in any time soon. The Venture might not be wildly different than what’s available on the market, but it is as well built as any other watch at this price, if not better and has Steve has a great reputation in this business, so if any problems do arise, you will be taken care of. I hope to get my hands on an Endeavor and I am looking forward to what Raven has in store for 2019 and beyond.
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