An unexpected gem from Tianjin Sea-Gull just recently showed up in the form of their new 200 Meter Automatic Ocean Star dive watch. The Ocean Star follows up on the success of their Limited Edition Dragon King diver from 2012. There are a few similar elements to the Dragon King, but many more unique features that show a step in the right direction for China's oldest (and the world's largest) watch manufacturer.
While just across the border in Hong Kong dive watches are probably one of the most popular choices for go-to everyday pieces, it's safe to say that Mainland consumers are still in the process of warming to the genre. I believe there is a disconnect for many Chinese consumers when it comes to viewing sporty watches as also elegant. Where's the flash? Where's the bling? Where's the skeletonized dial? So many manufactures continue to play it safe and mostly produce pieces that they know will satisfy current consumer demands; consumer demands, which unfortunately could be considered slightly immature when compared to international trends. Of course it's hard to be too critical of this, because many brands need to sell watches immediately just to stay afloat. But as a result, the product itself can end up being somewhat stifled.
However, more and more brands are beginning to challenge trends and dare consumers to step out of their comfort zone, and this is the kind of action needed to advance and mature domestic consumer demands and trends. Advancement happens when brands are able to tell consumers what they want - not simply sell them what they want. So this piece from Sea-Gull might not be extremely innovative to Western watch enthusiasts, but when looked at side-by-side with the other Chinese watches in its price range, it is a welcomed breath of bottled-up and ready-to-dive fresh air. And it's also one that I expect Chinese watch enthusiasts in the West will really get behind.
The Ocean Star is 44mm in case size, and uses the reliable ST2130 automatic movement. One of the various differences between this watch and its older brother (pictured side-by-side below) is the new design of the hands, which are not only attractive in shape but also perfectly sized. Instead of only the brand name SEA-GULL on the dial we also have the addition of the logo, as well as a much improved font choice for the script above the 6 o'clock position.
The case is pretty much the same as the Dragon King, but the bracelet is cleaner without the grooved center-link. Other notables are the rotating bezel, screw down crown and and cyclopes date window, all of which contribute to making this not only a handsome companion on land, but a fully functioning and dependable mate at sea.
The Ocean Star comes in two colors; one an attractive blue, and the other with what appears to be a matte black finish. The price is...honestly the price is just fantastic at ¥2380.00, or roughly $350 USD.