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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Introduction
I think this was the first generation of the Casio Oceanus, Casio’s attempt to create a brand to compete directly with Swiss watch makers from Victorinox to Tag Heur. Unlike later Oceans (Oceanusses sounds silly and Oceanii is extremely pretentious) this one is not a technological tour de force – there are no solar cells lurking in the dial, no atomic clock receiver, no direct drive, no Diamond Like Coating to protect the case. What you get is a made in Japan Casio quartz mechanism with a date and an alarm, 100m WR, what seems to be a thick uncoated sapphire (you can’t hear a sound from the mech as the second hand moves, even with your against the crystal) and Casio’s idea of a stylish, well-engineered retro-looking case - which turns out to be very, very good indeed. It’s sometimes referred to as the Oceanus Panerai homage watch, but it’s much more like a 1970 Heuer racing watch – it’s too subtle to look at home on Sly Stallone’s wrist, but easy to imagine on Steve McQueen’s.

The spec
Case: 40mm across without the crown, 50mm across the lugs (which are 22s) and 10mm thick.
Steel case, sapphire crystal.
100m WR.
Alarm and non-perpetual date.
Casio Japanese quartz mechanism, assembled in China.

Aesthetics and influences
Casio can do style. Some of the classic Mr G’s are amazing and distinctive watches. The Masters Of G series ooze purpose and charisma and have the drama of film props - the snow-grey Mudman is nicknamed the Stormtrooper and the black Riseman is very, very Dark Knight. The G-Shock Stargate got its nickname from its use as a film prop. And the flat rectangular ultra-functional G-Shock 5600 “Speed” series is arguably the iconic watch of the 80s and 90s - the Rolex Submariner of its time. But they have also produced some real monstrosities, and a good number watches that are just too generic to be interesting. Unfortunately the current Oceans fall into this camp as far as I’m concerned – the state of the art technology deserves a better wrapper than the generic school-of-Tag bodies.

But with this earlier Oceanus Casio showed that they could produce a watch that was distinctive and dammed good looking without it looking as if it came from a science fiction film. The watch takes its main influence from the classic cushion case racing watches that Heuer made before it met Tag, adds a dash of Panerai, balances them carefully, and adds some typical Casio thoughtfulness in the engineering details. A very nice aesthetic touch is that the flat part of the case parallel to the dial has a subtle brushed finish but the rest of case is highly polished, so that you get some interesting contrast effects that vary with angle and make the watch seem more "alive". (My thanks to Mikee in the thread linked below for reminding me to point this out.)

At this point even a bad photo would be helpful, so here are not one but two:






This is a watch with strong classic influences, but it isn’t a straight homage – the lettering is high quality but distinctively Computer Age and Casio, and the crown (which is screw-in and signed with an Oceanus symbol) isn’t the oversized affair that you’d expect on a Heuer, still less a Pam.

Those engineering touches
Casio, being almost beyond argument the most engineering oriented watch maker today, hates coating sapphire crystals. As a semi-engineer I understand why – why go the trouble of using a scratch resistant material and then coat it with a thin scratchable film? So that the marketing people can boast of it? The marketing people can commit hara-kiri! All the same, some modern Oceans have AR – although the Casio engineers have insisted on restricting it to the inside face only where it can’t be scratched. Yes, this costs more than coating both sides – but the accountants can go commit hara-kiri too! (I always visualize Casio’s engineers as being Jin and Mugen from Samauri Champloo – the first zen calm and immovable, the second angry and stubborn, and both obsessed with perfectionism and making trouble. This may be racist of me, but then I suspect that most Japanese people imagine that I wear a bowler hat, drive a Mini or Lotus 7, and talk like either Larry Olivier or John Lennon, and I don’t hold a grudge against them.) Casio had to coat the later Ocean’s face because it used a solar cell dial and this was much more than usually reflective. More light reflected from the dial equals a much worse problem with reflections equals, oh-by-Buddha’s-sacred-karaoke-bar – we have to coat the crystal whether we like it or not! The earlier Oceanus reviewed here isn’t solar powered – and it uses the opposite trick: the watch face is textured (a sort of carbon fibre/waffle pattern). This looks cool, yes, but it will also do the opposite of a smooth reflector – it will break up and scatter light in different directions, reducing the need for AR. I’ve played around with bright lights and angles and the hour and minute hands are always instantly readable.

Then there are the edges of the case. Some luxury watch companies machine the edges of their cases like razors. This is supposed to imply better machining, but it does make a watch less comfortable, which imo is pretty damn stupid – I’m sure that if a marketing person even looked like he was going to suggest doing this then Mugen and Jin atemi waza-ed him around the office. Instead Casio have beveled the major edges to an intermediate angle. This looks great – the extra play of reflections on the case puts real life into the watch - and makes the watch more comfortable instead of less.

The case feels terrific – as solid as an ingot, and just the right weight to wear all day without being a distraction using a computer keyboard. It looks and feels as nice as any watch I’ve handled, subject to the lack of AR. I honestly can't tell what more you get by spending the big bucks on a Tag or Omega quartz. Which, of course, is the whole idea of the Oceanus.

There's an alarm. But it's more of a "mild concern"
Yes, there's an alarm. It's pointlessly quiet but easy to operate. There's a recessed on-off button (pull out with your fingernail for on, push back in for off) above the crown. The alarm time is set by unscrewing the crown and pulling it out to the first click. One way then sets the date, the other way moves that short fourth hand. When this aligns with the hour hand Fairy Tinkerbell sings - very, very softly. The second click sets the crown to adjust the time.

And..
What else to say? The lume is good, which I had thought was against Casio’s religion. The hands are brightest, but the number markers, etc, are decently visible too. The black leather strap is matt, has a nice grain, contrast stitched, water resistant and quite as niceto wear or look at as a mid-range Hirsch. I’d have liked it a little longer, but that’s because I like to have a couple of inches of strap through the keepers and have large wrists. (In the top 10% of the population, according to the last WUS poll, I think.)

Being a quartz it has been bang on for the several days I have had the watch. Several previous owners tell me that they have found the watch to be unusually accurate even for a quartz, but that may easily be luck.

What don’t I like? I would have preferred less text on the dial (“Sapphire 100m WR” could be moved to the back) but that’s true of many watches. That’s about it. I can’t imagine a watch without the uber-technology of G-Shocks and later Oceans being any better than this. But then this is overwhelmingly my favourite case style, and I was going crazy looking for one that combined the accuracy of a quartz mechanism with a sapphire crystal.

This model was also produced with a white textured face and a brown strap, and there was chrono with a black face. (The chrono is the OC-503. But be warned that it tries to crowd all the text on the face into small square paragraph-fashion so that it ends up with what what looks like a shopping list on its face, over-crowds the subdials, lacks the waffle texture dial and minute markers. To me it looks like a hasty kludge to add a chrono to the range. But if you do think you want the chrono then there might still be one available from this guy. There are pictures, so you'll know what you're getting into.)

How much and where to buy
As for the price of this watch – well, the bad news is that it is out of production. The very good news is that I found a last NOS cache being remaindered here in a British watch store – at a ridiculous £40/$60. The seller got my watch to me in less than 24 hours (shipping inside the UK), takes Paypal, and ships internationally. If you are having the watch shipped airmail you might want to enquire about having it shipped without the original packaging. On the other hand, if you're building a 1960's look nightclub for your Barbie you'll rejoice at Casio's free gift to you - the heavy packaging splits into what looks like two leatherette chairs straight ideal for a Barbie's very own Valley Of The Dolls party night. Heavy, man!

You might also try several possible sources in this thread - where you might be able to get the white faced version and the black chronograph.

Finally, a sincere thank you to forumite gpjoe who provided me with the model serial number that let me track this watch down and an amazing picture of the white face version that confirmed my desire to do so.

PS
I can’t recommend Samauri Champloo enough. The scripts are HBO quality and animation and design are Japanese Van Gogh and rap inspired animation at its hippest. Even the opening credits are amazing - take a look on YouTube
 

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Great review, thanks! Thanks also for the heads-up on the NOS reseller, some of us are going to take advantage. I dig the modernized Panerai look, lack of cyclops, quartz practicality, sapphire, etc. Lots of plusses for a decent price.

New Oceanus can be had cheaper or way more expensive, depending on titanium case & waveceptor & tough solar & chronograph, etc.

Question, what is the strap width?

:thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Great review, thanks! Thanks also for the heads-up on the NOS reseller, some of us are going to take advantage. I dig the modernized Panerai look, lack of cyclops, quartz practicality, sapphire, etc. Lots of plusses for a decent price.
That's about it.

New Oceanus can be had cheaper or way more expensive, depending on titanium case & waveceptor & tough solar & chronograph, etc.
I love the new Oceans for their technology, but can't take the Tag-ish styling.

Question, what is the strap width?
22m. The strap is excellent. Unless you have a large enough wrist to need a longer than usual strap or a taste for exotic leathers it really it probably isn't worth replacing.

PS Some very cool bicycles! Although if I was going to cycle much in snow I think I'd want disc brakes on my road now they're reasonably cheap.
 

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Great review of a sweet watch. I hope they sell out soon, as I am extremely tempted but another purchase would be virtual hara-kiri at this point in time!
 

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Thanks for the review and the heads up on Bassett - just ordered one as I was looking for a fairly simple black faced sapphire crystal watch - just the job and at an extremely affordable price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
..I ended up giving this watch away to save a friend from buying a Swiss quartz that was about 15x the price and no nicer. (I was mostly swapping between an SKX007 and a G-Shock at the time.) But I needed a new versatile quartz recently found its very worthy successor in the Casio EFR-S107L-1AVUEF. Sapphire, same game with brushed and smooth steel textures, but a modern faceted look strongly influenced by Seiko "Language Of Design."
 
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