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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Review of Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT

Introduction

My introduction to the Steinhart brand came by way of the internet (where else these days). I have had a watch collecting mania since around 2001, and internet access made it possible for introductions to numerous manufacturers I was previously unaware off. The vast array of watches and complications available was mind boggling and with prices that were more than reasonable. Certain horology manuals, publications and periodicals also helped in the introduction of previously unknown brands, both well established and new. The watch bug had bitten me hard! Previous to this revolution the local jewelers were the only port of call, either the local well-established independent who stocked the high-end, expensive watch houses, or the high street chains who sold….well, the others, mainly powered by economically produced quartz movements.
The world of watches has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, which means the substance of the watch lovers’ dreams really is readily attainable. A handful of businesses run by individuals who have a passion for watches, being equipped with good business acumen, and with the benefit of modern communications, are making it possible for us to purchase the small production runs of dive and pilots watch models that haven’t been available for decades. Okay, these newly manufactured examples of discontinued models are not to everyone’s taste, but there is usually no attempt being made to deceive the avid collector.
I had already noticed the stand-out Triton 100, and as a result of following a link to the Steinhart website came across the Ocean Vintage GMT. The strong affinity to a certain Rolex wasn’t lost on me; it is this very resemblance that attracted me to the watch, and ultimately encouraged me to buy it. Steinhart is allowing us to step back in time to the 1970’s and own a piece of watchmaking heritage, without having to spend upwards of £17500 (€20500 or $27700 at Jan ‘11 rates) on a second hand Rolex.

Brief History of the Rolex Explorer II 1655

The Rolex Explorer II, ref. 1655 was issued in 1971, and was designed specifically as an essential tool for Speleologists (more commonly known as cave explorers). One of its most distinctive features was a secondary large orange 24 hour hand. The 24 hour hand was intended to help the explorer, who may have lost his sense of time in the absence of sunlight, to tell if the main hour hand was representing AM or PM. Production of the 1655 ceased in 1985, and the watch is now extremely valuable and highly collectable. The earliest models had a straight second hand and an orange 24 hour hand, whereas all 1974 models onward incorporated a luminous circle on the second hand, and shortly after the introduction of the luminous circle the 24 hour hand's colour was changed from orange to red. The Rolex 1655 is quite unique in that it uses hands that are not found on any other Rolex model. The Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT is based on the post 1974 model.

Packaging and presentation

Very important; first impressions of any new purchase can depend on how well presented, and protected, the watch is on opening the package. I purchased the watch from Chronomaster, the UK Steinhart retailer, and the watch box had been further sealed with corrugated cardboard and well wrapped in brown packaging tape for added protection prior to posting. After carefully removing the cardboard I was presented with a white box with the Steinhart logo, and the words ‘Steinhart’ & ‘Timepieces’ laid out in silver on the top. Inside the box is black leatherette bound, hinged lid storage box (wrapped in white tissue paper) containing the watch, which has a front flap secured by a push-fit ball and eye catch. The watch is mounted on a black leatherette foam cushion. The white box also contained the instruction booklet with signed 24 month warranty, and the receipt. The watch itself had the protective clear vinyl discs applied to the crystal and caseback. The bracelet and buckle was also well wrapped in clear vinyl, and had the plastic hangtag threaded through.
The booklet/warranty is written in both German and English, and contains the operating instructions for the various Sellita, ETA, Valjoux and Unitas movements that Steinhart use.



INNER_BOX.JPG

INSIDE_BOX.JPG

The watch case

The Ocean Vintage GMT 42mm diameter watch case is 3 piece stainless steel, consisting of the case body, screwed case back, and the bezel.

The sloping bezel is fixed and is graduated with the 24 hours on the day, with even numbers written and odd number indicated with a hash. The graduations on the bezel are indented and filled with black paint to finish flush with the surface; this serves to protect the paint, which should last a reasonable time. The bezel top has a circular brushed finish, which serves as the ideal contrast with the black graduations. The side of the bezel is vertical and finished to a mirror polish.

The watch case features curved lugs which are cut at the end to finish flat rather than being rounded. There is a brushed finish to the top of the case. The case sides are flat and vertical with no contouring, and again finished to a mirror polish to match the theme of the bezel.

The polished surfaces to the watch sides may be susceptible to minor scratching however, and will definitely show up fingerprints. Care will have to be taken in wearing the watch for certain sporting activities.

The screw in case back (circular brushed finish) is engraved with a giant seahorse pulling a helmeted figure armed with a trident (Neptune?). It is inscribed:


STEINHART OCEAN ONE


STAINLESS STEEL ◊ SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL ◊ SWISS AUTOMATIC MOVEMENT ◊ 1000FT/300M


CASEBACK.JPG

The well proportioned screw-down crown features plenty of thread, and unscrews to the winding position with a very smooth action, which indicates that the stem is perfectly aligned. The crown features deeply cut serrations and is signed at the end with the Steinhart monogram logo (letter ‘S’ and a crown). The crown is protected by crown guards.

The 30 bar water resistance is welcome, particularly when most other generic divers watches are normally rated 20 bar.

CROWN.JPG
ON_SIDE.JPG

The dial is the most interactive part of a watch. It is glanced at many times during the course of a day, and as such must perfectly legible. The dial design of this Steinhart is not original to the watch. As already mentioned it heavily influenced by the Rolex 1655 Explorer II, to which it is almost an identical copy. The dial colour is matt black. The application of lettering and indices is uniform, precise and no ragged edges are visible. The minute graduations are crisp and are extended in width at the 5 minute markers. There are square markers at 2 hour intervals to correspond to the odd hour hashes on the 24 hour bezel, and are there only to assist in reading the 24 hour hand in the dark (they correspond at 2½ minute intervals and cannot be used for any other purpose). The luminous compound is C3 Luminova and again the application of the lume is crisp and precise.

The dial is also printed with the Steinhart logo and the following words;


STEINHART


OCEAN GMT


1000ft/300m


AUTOMATIC.


FACE.JPG

The words ‘SWISS MADE’ appear at the bottom of the dial adjacent to the sixth hour marker.

The second hand is all white and incorporates a luminous circle. The minute and hour hands are white with matt black finish at the spindle ends and incorporate luminous C3 fill. The 24 hour hand is a colour between orange and red; more a burnt sienna shade, and also has a matt black finish to the spindle end. The triangular arrow to the 24 hour hand, which is slightly smaller in proportion to the original Rolex design, also has luminous C3 fill. The paint application and luminous fill to the hands is thick and evenly applied.

The matt black ends to the minute, hour & 24 hour hands provide the illusion of the hands ‘floating’ above the dial, since the finish blends into the matt black background of the dial. The illusion is complete by the all white second hand on top which appears not to be connected to the watch.

The domed sapphire crystal has an anti-reflective coating to the underside, and stands slightly proud of the bezel. The Cyclops lens over the date window, which is a common feature on many generic watches, including other Steinhart models, and the 1655 Explorer has been omitted in the Vintage GMT. This however, doesn’t detract the appearance of the watch, and actually makes it more streamlined. The date window however is quite small, and it is sometimes difficult read the numbers (due to age-related short sightedness no doubt).

No review is complete without noting any issues encountered, however slight, which the writer has observed, and considers should be mentioned. This relates to the length of the minute hand, which extends to the outer edge of the minute graduations. In setting the time the minute hash is actually obscured by the minute hand, therefore the hand can only be set by centring, by line of eye, between the minute hashes either side of the hand. The luminous markers at the 5 minute intervals are also hidden by the hand. The minute hand should ideally be shortened by 1mm so that the triangular end of the hand points to the hash, thus enabling more precise setting. The original Rolex model and some other manufacturers who also draw inspiration from the 1655 are equipped with a shorter minute hand, so a comparison can be observed. A separate conclusion however may be reached by the reader, which may differ from this minor criticism.

Another slight issue noted, which again may have something to do with the age of the writer, is some confusion with reading the time! For example, when glancing at the watch to check the time, what was read as 20 past the hour was actually 22½ minutes past. The square markers at the 2 hourly intervals (noted above on the bezel description) were being confused with the 5 minute markers. The misread only seems to occur at 7½, 22½, 37½ and 52½ minutes. The writer is convinced however that this effect is also related to the length of minute hand which actually serves to draw the eye to the markers meant solely for the 24 hour hand. A level of conditioning is being gained in recognizing the wrong time being read, and with frequent use, this error should disappear to the eye.

Bracelet

The 22mm stainless steel bracelet is perhaps predicable, but an essential fixture for this particular style of watch. This one features heavy solid links all the way though with screws rather than push pins for link removal. The bracelet features a brushed finish to the outer and inner faces, and mirror polished sides. The bracelet tapers to 20mm once the removable links start. There is a folding clasp (brushed finish) with a safety catch. The safety catch is mirror polished with the Steinhart logo. The articulated hinge is heavy gauge and is unlikely to distort/bend in use. Overall the bracelet is good quality, with only minor tooling marks visible. 3 links required removal to fit my wrist, so the unaltered circumference out of the box is quite generous.

HINGE.JPG

Movement

The movement is the ETA 2893-2, part of the MECHALINE SPECIALITES range. The base calibre used for the production of the 2893-2 is the slimline 21 jewel 2892-A2, which is widely regarded as the best movement ever produced by ETA. The 2892-A2 was first introduced in 1975, with a lineage going much further back to Eterna. ETA add a complication to the base calibre in the form of a 24 hour hand.

Basic specification;
Diameter: 25.6mm
Height: 4.1mm
Jewels: 21
28800 vph; 4Hz
Bidirectional automatic winding
Power reserve: 42 hours

Functions: central second hand with hack feature, minute hand, 12 hour hand, 24 hour hand with quickset feature, and date wheel with quickset feature.

The movement is available in 3 grades, however the grade fitted to the Ocean Vintage GMT is not declared by Steinhart. The case back has not been removed either to examine the movement. The movement has gained approximately 6 seconds per 24 hour period over 13 days, with the watch continuously worn apart from 3 nights. This is just on COSC limits.

The GMT function is limited to a quickset 24 hour hand, whereas the professional pilot really requires a quickset 12 hour hand in addition to the 24 hour hand, such as found on the Rolex GMT with the calibre 3185. Interestingly Omega made extensive modifications to the ETA 2892-A2 to create their calibre 1128 found in the Seamaster GMT ref. 2538.20.00, which had the quickset 12 hour and 24 hour hands, although as a result of the GMT complication the quickset date function was lost. ETA therefore could easily create a further version of the 2893 that includes an independently adjustable 12 hour hand.

However for the normal air traveller, or an AM/PM reference in 24 hour daylight latitudes (and not forgetting those Speleologists), the 2893-2 is more than adequate.

Conclusion

The Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT is a very fine wristwatch indeed, which represent incredible value for money (even when adding on extortionate import taxes and currency exchange fees for non EU countries). It is based on a design some 40 years old, yet still looks fresh and contemporary. It is built to a very high standard, and should also perform in the same manner. Personally the only suggested alteration to give the watch a 5 star rating would be to shorten the minute hand.
 

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Althou I don like the Ocean Vintage GMT for where once again the inspiration is being taken from , but this is one super detailed review!

thanks for taking the time to share your experiences!
 

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Great review and beautiful watch. I am awaiting delivery of a GMT Ocean Pepsi and one of these may be in the future. One point worth mentioning, the ETA 2893-2 movement comes in three grades from all the research I have done. Elabore, Top and COSC. Here is a link to where you can find the document: https://secure.eta.ch/CSP/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabindex=2&tabid=28

Thanks for taking the time to write and post this.
 

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Great review. Thanks! And I agree, the minute hand is a few millimeters too long. That was the first thing I thought when I saw pictures of this very nice watch.
 

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I really enjoyed reading this review. Thanks for posting it!
 

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Wonderful review. Can't wait to get mine back this coming week from getting the GMT hand re-alligned.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Great review and beautiful watch. I am awaiting delivery of a GMT Ocean Pepsi and one of these may be in the future. One point worth mentioning, the ETA 2893-2 movement comes in three grades from all the research I have done. Elabore, Top and COSC. Here is a link to where you can find the document: https://secure.eta.ch/CSP/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabindex=2&tabid=28

Thanks for taking the time to write and post this.
Thanks for the heads up on the correct number of movement grades. I have amended the post accordingly.
Cheers,
Scott.
 

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I enjoyed that little read...

Thanks for that & enjoy the watch Finn...;-)
 

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Congratulations and thanks for the great review.

Now ... is it the angle the camera is shooting from, or is your 24H hand also misaligned? :think:

 

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Discussion Starter #16
Congratulations and thanks for the great review.

Now ... is it the angle the camera is shooting from, or is your 24H hand also misaligned? :think:
Definately the angle. The hand is perfectly aligned. I was trying to avoid a reflection from the overhead flourescents, and the camera.

The camera was a compact Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS3, with the lense set to macro, but I had to switch the flash off.

Mind, the first watch I received at the beginning of January did have a misaligned 24 hour hand, but this was speedily and efficiently resolved in 1 week.

Cheers,

S.
 

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I am still waiting on getting mine back from repair. Steinhart said that it was repaired last week and mentioned it would be shipped out. Now going on 3 weeks. Oh well. It will arrive eventually.
 
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