The Rebel Aquafin was a Kickstarter funded that funded back in 2017, though watches did not start to ship really till December of 2018. I am not sure what issues in manufacturing that the brand had, but the watch did finally start reaching the customers who backed early. Kickstarter is usually a place where you can get a really good price on a watch, after all, you are helping to fund the most if not all of the production. It is basically a preorder, or at least this is what most watch brands use the platform for these days. The price on this one though, was pretty low, somewhere around $450 for early bird specials. When you read the specs and look at the watch, that was a pretty good deal. Retail price was said to be $799; I am not sure what happened once the campaign ended and the watches started shipping, but today’s price on the Rebel Time site is $1200.
Rebel Aquafin Specifications:
- 42mm Case Width (46mm with Crowns)
- 48mm Lug to Lug
- 13.5mm Thick
- 20mm Lug Width
- Black DLC Coated Case
- Saphire Crytal
- Sellita SW-200 Automatic Movement
- Steel Bracelet and Rubber Strap
Because of that current price tag, that is how I have to look at this watch. It is not a $450 watch, nor an $800 watch, but a $1200 watch. I have to say, the Rebel Aquafin has some good things going for it, but there are a few aspects that I have to bring attention to that make me a question that high price tag. If you have watched the video already, you might know some of them, and the specs are above, so no need to bore you with those again. On paper, this is a very nice watch. In person, there are many nice things about it. Let’s start off with the case. The milling on the sides of the case while not unique is a nice touch and adds some dimension to this diver and I like how the crowns screw down into pockets of the case, it is smooth looking and a good design choice. The writing on the crowns though, that was not a good choice. It makes the watch come off as gimmicky.
The wave dial is attractive and the dial has sort of an oily appearance, it is a deep glossy black, and I like it. The problem is, as you can see in my photos, video and real life, the dial is just hard to see most of the time. The domed sapphire crystal really causes so much glare that it gets infuriating, especially while trying to photograph. Putting photography aside, just looking down at it, you do not see that nice dial, nor do you see that logo. The choice of a metal shield for the logo was not a good one, it gets blocked out by the crystal and glare constantly. I am not sure if the crystal is solely to blame or it is a combination of everything, but this dial is def, not easy to read at a glance. Because of that domed crystal, maybe it is much clearer when in the water, but I did not get a chance to check that out.
But Don, this is a dive watch, what do you mean you did not go diving with it, or at least in the pool. Listen, If I had the time to go diving or in the pool on a weekly basis, that would be awesome. Unfortunately, I do not. The other factor at hand here is I would bet the majority of the guys that are buying these microbrand divers are not going in the pool or diving with them either. This may be a great diving companion and look great underwater, I will probably never know, but a company should know their market as well. Having to move your wrist around to catch the right angle to see the time, can be frustrating.
Now, the Rebel Aquafin is by no means all bad. Far from it. The crystal glare and crown text are not for me, but when you strap it on the wrist, it looks good and is very comfortable, especially on the rubber strap. The dial, when you get really up close, is well made. The case cutouts are pretty clean, meaning they do not have any rough spots and there are some small things they have done that shows someone had a good eye for detail. Take a look at the cutouts on the bezel for the hex screws. Look at how they match up perfectly with the two crowns. There is a possibility that this was nothing more than a happy coincidence, I don’t know, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and say it was done on purpose.
Powering the Aquafin is the SW-200 from Sellita, which as most know by now is a clone of the ETA 2824. My example has been keeping pretty good time, about 5 seconds slow a day over a 6 day period, which is not bad at all. Some people have mentioned issues with winding, or lack of when pulling the crown to the first position. I have not had that issue, so I can not comment on that. I have heard from a few other owners of this Rebel watch that their lume is not very bright or long lasting, and somewhat unevenly coated, again, not on my particular example.
The Rebel Aquafin also comes with a DLC (?) coated stainless steel link bracelet. While no picture of it here in the written review, please make sure to watch the video, where I give a real good look at it. The bracelet just feels cheap, like an afterthought and was coated after it was assembled, which does not coat the bracelet completely, especially in between the links. Of course, you do not need to wear the bracelet and can just wear it on the rubber strap, or even a strap of your own. That is very true. The fact that they are giving you both should be a good thing, right? Well, not one when one of them is sub-par. $1200 is not throw away money for most people and the bracelet should not be a throwaway one either.
I really wanted to like this watch. I followed them back in 2017 and watched the initial renderings, the progress shots etc. I wished them nothing but the best of luck, and fortunately for them, they were successfully funded. For me, the Rebel Aquafin had a lot of promise and it just did not live up to its expectations. No other way to say it. If you got in at under $500, it was a pretty good deal, I will not lie, even with the bracelet issue. At the current pricing, it is a lot to ask. The bottom line here is that I always give my real thoughts and opinions, good or bad, and the Rebel Aqufin leans to the latter, unfortunately.