Steinhart Ocean One Review With Three Great Alternatives
Simon Schneider7 January 2021 | 8 min read
Out of all the sub-groups of enthusiasts in the horological universe, none are more intent on preaching the gospel of their crusade against big bad Rolex than the Steinhart simps. What is all that fuss about? Steinhart is a brand in the homage segment of the market that promises to offer unparalleled value and has managed to become a fan favourite.
Today we will look at whether the hype is justified and review their Ocean One diver that is inspired by the Rolex Submariner.
If you like the look of this Submariner homage but want something a little different, read all the way to the end of this article to find some great Ocean One alternatives.
Let’s talk about Steinhart
I would like to begin by talking a little about the brand that makes these watches. We have previously talked about the Invicta Pro Diver, a Submariner homage priced below $100. I mentioned that while their product offers decent value, the company behind them happens to be one of the scummiest in the industry.
I am happy to say that things could not be more different with Steinhart. The German company was founded by an architect who turned his passion for watches into a company back in 2001. Rather than being a cash-grab focusing on the recent hype in timepieces I find it evident that this is a genuine company that cares about their reputation and has pride in
While they do have some obscure homages, for example from Zenith or IWC, the clear focus of the brand is Rolex with an inclination towards their vintage models. A focus for a homage brand is important because it helps establish a niche for a group of enthusiasts with similar taste to form around their products. All these things result in watches that are serviceable and retain some of their value, as proven by used Steinhart watches fetching decent prices on the web.
Steinhart’s Ocean One
Let’s move on to the watch that played a big part in establishing that success, the Steinhart Ocean One. A watch that is supposed to, if you can believe the YouTube comments, strike fear into every watch snob as they second guess all their life decisions because they overpaid for a Rolex while the Steinhart guy swoops in to steal their girl.
The Ocean One is available in two sizes, 39mm and 42mm. I think this is a great decision that allows buyers to match it to their wrist size or embrace a more historic or contemporary look depending on their taste. I would recommend the larger version because not only does it look more like the Submariner it is trying to imitate (which is 41mm in diameter since 2020), but is also the product Steinhart has the most experience with.
Moving on to the case of the Ocean One, I find this to be the best features of the entire watch. You can tell they made an effort to use a little of their own creativity. While from the top it looks very much like the Submariner, in profile it is its own thing.
From the side, the Steinhart looks a lot more like the very first submariner introduced back in 1953. Ironically, while it looks the part, it actually isn’t any thinner as the Steinhart sits ever so slightly higher on the wrist and shows what clever design can achieve.
Lugs & end-links
Another factor where the Steinhart sets itself apart is with the lugs and end-links. The lugs have a more industrial finish compared to the Submariner with end-links that almost disappear into it and the connecting link to the bracelet falling straight down. Aesthetically, the result is very reminiscent of the old Omega 321 and it allows for a lug to lug length of 49mm, for the 42mm version, that is very wearable due to the range of motion from the bracelet.
The bracelet tapers from 22mm to 18mm which is nice to see and the finish is done well with brushed links that are polished on the side just like the Rolex. The individual links seem to be slightly smaller than those of the Submariner which will come down to personal taste, although this will only really be noticeable in a side by side comparison. More noticeable, however, are the bracelet pins which are not screwed in. This though takes nothing away from the wearability of this otherwise nicely done bracelet.
Not nearly as nice is the clasp of the Ocean One. While it does have a milled rotating arm as seen in the Submariner, it is closed with one of those stamped clasps that is found on any low-budget diver, albeit with a slightly better finishing here.
This is fine given the price yet it does break up the design a lot and really falls short of the Rolex in that regard. There also is no dive extension which, although nobody would have probably used in the first place, I miss since it is a core feature of any dive watch. So while the bracelet is good looking, it is let down by the clasp which takes away none of the function but all of the form.
The dial is about as tasty as copy pasta without sauce can be. That is to say while the case matches interesting elements from different time periods of the submariner, the dial is lacking any creative elements.
Then again it is hard to alter a copy when the original always does the same. This situation reminds me of people in university trying to copy an assignment from their buddy without ever reading the question.
Another let-down, similar to that found on the Invicta, is the 1.5x magnification. My advice here for aspiring homage brands is that if you cannot manage to do a 2.5x magnification just leave it be.
That is because at that point any potential gain in legibility is outdone by the disruption of the symmetry of the design. Then again, the easiest solution here is just not to
have a date.
The bezel is unfortunately not great. I do think it is a good decision that they have the entire triangle lumed up instead of just have a pip in it which improves upon a design decision from Rolex that is married to their history rather than smart engineering. A horrible decision on the other hand, is the ceramic bezel. That is because the numbers on it are too hard to read.
They lack the recessed platinum blasted numerals on the Rolex. The result is that it is a flat surface that doesn’t break up the reflection of the light on the shiny ceramic, so while in press photos it may look like that of the Submariner, in the flesh it has none of that legibility or vibrancy.
The solution here is to go for the aluminum bezel version which also
happens to be cheaper. Additionally, it appears that the 39mm version has some quality control issues with bezel having too much play which is another reason to go for the larger model.
The movement powering the Steinhart is the Sellita SW200 Elaboré, which is a decent midrange movement that will outperform your basic Seiko 5. These are quite similar in design and performance to the commonly found ETA 2824 movements.
It features a quick-set date, hackable seconds, and a 38 hour power reserve. It is sealed in with a caseback featuring a seahorse that looks like a bad Seamaster knock-off, and is waterproof to 300 meters.
Why are Steinhart watches so cheap?
In an interview Günter Steinhart was once asked why his watches are so affordable. To this he responded with a counter question: Why are the others so expensive? To that I have to say: because they are better watches. The clear narrative Steinhart and his community seems to thrive on is that their watches offer everything a Rolex does but for a fraction of the price.
A Steinhart Ocean One is not a cheap watch
The truth is that a Steinhart is not a cheap watch, coming in at €430 plus shipping for the 42mm ceramic version, and for that money you get a decent timepiece. The Ocean one is not, some hidden gem offering unparalleled value. Why is a Rolex so much more expensive?
Well, how about the fact that they have a foundry that makes their own metal to begin with. Do you even have a clue how expensive that is? Sure, their percentage profit margin may still be bigger than that on a Steinhart but they have also worked long and hard to be in that position, and a Rolex will do a fantastic job at keeping its value.
Bonus – 3 Steinhart Ocean One Alternatives
If you liked the look of the Ocean One, but can’t quite stomach the price tag, the Orient Baby Triton is a fantastic alternative at a similar quality point. The 43.4mm piece delivers its own unique twist on the Rolex Submariner mold, with a few Japanese tweaks.
This watch (model number RA-AC0K) combines value and quality, something we see with all Orient models in the market. For just $280, you’ll get a fully automatic watch with a date window, rotating bezel, sapphire crystal, 200m water resistance, and a high-quality steel bracelet – a pretty good deal all around!
Maybe whichever way you cut it, you’re not a big fan of homage watches. If that’s the case, we’d recommend taking a look at the Tissot Seastar. Tissot is one of the most respected Swiss brands around the $500 price point, creating beautiful automatic watches on a modest budget.
Here you’ll get many of the same aspects as the Steinhart, but with some key design differences. With the Tissot, you’ll find a slightly cleaner dial, larger hands, and some key differences in the bezel design. But, what’s for sure is that it’s a quintessential dive watch, that’s easy to use, clear to read, and looks great on the wrist.
For around $550 you get all the specs that you’d expect, including a whopping 300m of water resistance, an automatic movement, and a sapphire crystal. It’s an easy recommendation from us if you’re happy to spend just a little bit more.
3. Oris Aquis
This one is for those who find themselves somewhere between the real Submariner and the Ocean One. Maybe you’ve still got dreams of a Rolex but don’t quite want to drop down to the budget price range.
Oris is a solid mid-market/high-end brand, focusing on creating great watches for those who have a little bit more money to spend. The design styles here are slightly different from the Ocean One, but the watch still balances off great diving themes with impressive visuals. We particularly like the additional markings on the chapter ring, which gives some extra detail to the dial.
At around $1,800, the Aquis is a significant investment above the Ocean One. But, we’d recommend checking out the Oris brand and their build quality to understand why this is a great watch at a great price!
If you have zero creativity (which, ironically the Steinhart crowd says about Rolex and their clients) to find a watch in your budget, and you happen to struggle with long-term goals, then by all means: satisfy your dopamine and go for the Ocean One 42mm aluminum bezel.
You will get what you pay for. No more, no less.