Many watch enthusiasts feel that microbrand watches should be inexpensive. Inexpensive can be subjective as well, but I have seen it many times when a microbrand releases a new model and it is over $1,000, there is a lot of yelling about the price. Zelos watches, who is the sister brand to Ventus has dealt with this themselves recently. The Ventus Northstar and other Ventus models are much cheaper and therefore, in reach to many more. Those who don’t want to spend $500 or more on a microbrand should take a look at this brand. The Northstar is not a Swiss or German piece or going to blow you away with specs, but it is a solid piece that currently comes in at under $300.
Ventus Northstar Specifications:
- Case: 316L Stainless Steel
- Water Resistance: 300m
- Dimensions: 40mm Diameter, 45mm Lug to Lug, 13mm Thick
- Lug Width: 20mm
- Movement: Seiko NH35 Automatic
- Crystal: Double domed Sapphire with inner AR coating
- Lume: Swiss Superluminova C3
- Bezel Insert: Ceramic
- 2 Slot Watch Roll
- Horween ‘Distressed’ Leather strap
- Warranty Card
As I have been saying for a few years now, vintage inspiration is the go to for many microbrands and the Ventus Northstar follows suit with the vintage cushion style case shape. The dial and overall font, bezel style and chapter ring all have that vintage feel to it as well and really does have that old watch look about it, as opposed to a fresh, modern piece. Of course, the modern specs are present with the lumed ceramic bezel insert, a slightly domed sapphire crystal, and a Seiko NH35 automatic movement. If you are wanting an affordable microbrand automatic watch, you better get used to this movement. Many call it a “workhorse”, whatever the hell that means, but it is a reliable, solid movement, even though it has a slow sweep and is not what anyone would call an accuracy champ.
Because of the thin bezel on the Ventus Northstar, the dial opening is larger than most 40mm diver-style watches, and with the relatively clean dial, and that overall case shape, this watch feels more like a 42mm to me. I actually had to double-check the case dimensions a few times, because I really did think it was 42mm for the first week or so of wearing it. Even though this watch is very inexpensive at $249, Ventus still gave it applied chrome markers and chrome-plated hour and minute hands, which makes it feel more expensive than it is.
The slim case helps in making the Northstar extremely wearable, and with a lug to lug of only 45mm, this should fit almost any wrist, big or small. Shirt cuffs are not going to be a hindrance here, and while many would probably not wear this particular model to the office, if you are not traditional and like to have fun, it should slide right under. The 4 o’clock crown is easy to grasp, even while on the wrist and the bezel gives nice feedback with good, solid clicks. I describe this as a solid $300 watch, $249 without the bracelet, and I do not mean that as a knock. These days, there are a lot of $300 watches on the market, especially in the microband space. While this watch may not be that holy grail for most, it is a very nice budget diver.
While I know Dan Henry divers are very popular at this price range, they do not have a sapphire crystal, nor do they have an available bracelet option. Those do have a different design of course, but if you are wanting a nice affordable dive style watch, at $300 you can have the Ventus Northstar with a bracelet, the DH goes for $290 on a tropic style rubber strap, very similar to the one you get with this Northstar. The lume is also much better on this model as well, with C3 SuperLumiNova being used.
This watch can be classified for some as a beater, or for those wanting to dip their toes into the microbrand watch world. The man behind the company has a great reputation and overall this is a solid choice at this price. The bracelet end links are a pain to get on, and I would not consider this an easy swap between strap back to the bracelet by any means, but again, you have to look at the price you are paying. This is a made in China watch of course and while specs are very good, the bracelet is not going to be the favorite of your collection. The bracelet does use screws for the links and personally I think it looks better on the tropic style rubber or leather strap.
It is hard for me to find a lot of faults with this Ventus Northstar, mostly because of the price. I am old enough to remember when a $300 watch would have never had sapphire, let alone a ceramic bezel, as these things were reserved for watches with a much higher price tag. Obviously things have changed and the competition is fierce. In this same price range are the Dan Henry as I mentioned and other micro brands such as Obris Morgan, which I regularly refer to as the value king. The Northstar is a solid choice in a crowded space though and as far as the looks, I have always been a fan of this case style. If you are looking for something with that vintage flair, this one may be worth a look to you.