Like so many pieces of gear I try out, I saw the ADDIESDIVE Steeldive watch well over a year ago while looking at watches on Amazon. Originally, I thumbed my nose at another homage attempt, and I really wasn’t a fan of the Willard Diver. However, that has changed and I have found myself enthralled with the new Seiko re-issues of the Seiko 6105s. But at over $1,000 each, it was out of my budget for now.
Enter the ADDIESDIVE Steeldive
I personally don’t have an issue with homage watches. They really do serve a purpose. If nothing else, you can experience how a watch may wear and look on your wrist for a fraction of the actual cost. You limit any monetary damage from trying a watch and then not being able to sell it off if it’s not your cup of tea. In some cases, an homage or an original interpretation with historical design cues might just be good enough. Remember, 99% of people have no idea what’s on your wrist.
So, this was my rationale when I charged $119 to my debit card and ordered a black dial on a bracelet, model# SD1970. I wanted to see what a Willard would be like on my wrist and if there was any chance that this cheap Chinese watch could somehow fill the void. I know the Steeldive would never quench my desire for a real Willard, but maybe it would pacify me for a while.
I am no stranger to inexpensive microbrands and have my fair share of AVI8’s, Spinnakers, Phoibos, and others. They all fill a spot in the watch enthusiast’s spectrum, and many are surprisingly pretty awesome for the money. What was one more in the collection?
Spoiler alert, the watch surprised me and I see a Seiko Willard in my future.
Microbrands and no-name watch companies all usually do one thing well, and that’s the packaging. The ADDIESDIVE is packed very nicely in a branded cardboard box that houses a hard plastic case, similar to a mini dive locker. The packaging was a nice touch, but I have said this before, I could care less what it comes in and as soon as I took a picture of the box, I tossed it.
Initial Impressions of the ADDIESDIVE Steeldive
All in all, this is a decent package for what you spend. The fit and finish is definitely equal to many watches costing 3-4x the amount and, honestly, I was more than pleasantly surprised about the whole thing. I was worried that the bigger, cushion case of the Willard would be too big for me or oddly shaped. I wear a Turtle all the time, so I was hoping for a similar experience here. It’s definitely a bigger watch, and it doesn’t hide its size as well as a Turtle, but it’s not so gigantic that it looks foolish.
The Seiko 6105 is one of the more unique case designs out there, and the ADDIESDIVE is an almost exact copy of the original. The stainless steel case is a mix of polished and brushed surfaces and is nicely done. The quirk of the 6105 are the integrated crown guards. The ADDIESDIVE keeps them as well, which gives the watch the immediately identifiable shape. They do make for a little more fidgety screwing and unscrewing of the crown, but definitely give it protection from knocks or hits. When it’s fully screwed down, it sits just shy of being flush with the case and safely tucked away.
In the back is a stainless steel, screw down caseback that is engraved with the ADDIESDIVE logo. It has a slight, flat bubble to it which adds a tad in the height department, but it should sit fine on the wrist and sink down a bit (it does on my wrist). One thing I wish ADDIESDIVE did was drill the lugs, it would make strap changes that much easier.
The watch really does feel robust and knowing that there is a reliable Seiko NH35A movement inside gives you a level of confidence that this watch will handle some abuse. Like so many other micro-brands, ADDIESDIVE chose a workhorse Seiko to put inside, and the watch has hacking and hand winding capabilities. What more needs to be said about the movement? We have seen and read all there’s to know: it’s basic, reliable, and lasts forever.
On top of the movement is a matte black dial with gilt-edged square batons marking the hour increments. There must be a few versions of the watch, because up close the markers look to be edged in a gold-tinted metal, but on the ADDIESDIVE website it doesn’t look as if there is metal edging around the markers. You know how these watches go, every batch is sometimes different. I like the dial a lot and it keeps all the original design cues of its inspiration in the 6105. (Of course, the difference is that it doesn’t say Seiko Automatic across the top.)
I have never seen an original 6105 in person so it’s hard to tell the exact chapter ring it has, but the ADDIESDIVE has a solid black chapter ring. Again, it’s a look I really like. The hands are solid bars with some lume and there is a square date window at 3 o’clock. The date wheel here is white. Capping all this off is a synthetic sapphire crystal, you can read about the difference between mineral and synthetic sapphire here, but either one is a good choice and both offer lots of scratch resistance. The flat crystal on the watch is also treated with an anti-glare coating, and the visibility of the dial is excellent.
The bezel is only so-so. I can’t tell what the insert is made from, it seems to be aluminum. The Amazon listing says it’s ceramic, but I don’t think it is. However, I could totally be wrong here, it just doesn’t seem like other ceramic bezels I have. The bezel itself has nice knurling on it which is good because you’re going to need it if you actually want to turn it. The bezel action is super tight at the top of the rotation. It’s almost like this may be an on-purpose design. From the 12 o’clock spot it’s hard to turn, then it loosens up and once again gets super tight when the hour marker makes its way back to 12 o’clock. Perhaps they did this to prevent accidental movement when diving, etc.
I chose to buy the version that comes on a bracelet and, again, I was surprised here. The bracelet is probably better than what you get on most $500 Seikos, I know it was way better than the stock bracelet that came on both my SRPE03K1 King Turtle and my Samurai. It’s just a basic push pin design, but it does have solid end links and a push button deployment clasp. The cost savings here is in the cheapish foldover clasp, but at least the buckle has three micro adjustments. I thought I would junk the bracelet immediately in favor of a rubber strap, but the bracelet was good enough that I left it on and wore it that way.
I have been wearing the Steeldive quite a lot since I got it a few weeks ago and it’s actually been in heavy daily rotation. If you read any of my other watch reviews, you know I work from home and like to wear multiple watches a day – not as much since I’ve been testing the ADDIESDIVE Steeldive, it’s been getting more than its fair share of wrist time.
The watch is actually a real winner. The lume is great and lasts several hours through the night and dial legibility is perfect. It has a cool vintage look to it and, as a basic steel diver or sports watch, you could do much worse.
The Value Factor
Value is a huge topic for me, and I have beat that story into the ground on a ton of other reviews. For what you pay, the watch is just shy of being amazing. It’s a pleasure to wear, well crafted, and doesn’t break the bank. I think Jodie from Just One More Watch made a joke that the ADDIESDIVE Steeldive is an homage to an homage and was copied almost exactly from the San Martin SN047 (which is another Seiko Willard copy with an original logo). However, the ADDIESDIVE beats the San Martin hands down on price and value alone.
Final Judgment: It’s Definitely Worth The Price of Admission
The issue with watches like these is that if you are really into the hobby, and you know what the ADDIESDIVE Steeldive is trying to do, it can sour the overall experience. After all, who wouldn’t just want Martin’s Sheen’s Seiko 6105 (or at least the recent re-issue from Seiko)? However, if your budget is way south of the original, the ADDIESDIVE really can be a decent substitute. For the most part, no one will know what you’re wearing, and the watch is absolutely worth every penny. Remember, the watch does sport a big ADDIESDIVE logo on the dial so there is no harm in wearing a good watch that gives credit where credit is due.
I have seen the ADDIESDIVE Steeldive on Amazon forever, and I am glad I gave it a shot. I actually think this guy will be a long term keeper….or at least until a Green Seiko SPB153J1 makes its way to my watchbox.
Are Steeldive Watches Good?
This will be the second Steeldive watch I have had a chance to handle and inspect. I will get to the point, yes, these watches are good. Like I have stated in countless reviews before, all opinions on gear and watches have to be looked at through the lens of cost and value. When it comes to Steeldive watches, the cost is one of the factors that make them so good. On paper they deliver a knockout punch to many knives in their price range. I also like the fact that they are very clear about the watches purposes and intent in looks. This is another point that makes them a worthwhile investment.
I’ve read through this review a few times and I want to make sure I highlight something here: I wrote this already wanting a Seiko Willard. I know nothing else out there will ever take its place, and that’s not how we should look at the ADDIESDIVE Steeldive. We know it’s not a replacement or really an alternative. It’s a watch that is good enough to stand on its own merit. In the real world, watch nerds only make up a tiny percent of the population and the average Joe will just walk by you with the ADDIESDIVE on your wrist and say, “Cool watch, man.” And that’s how you should think about it too, it’s a heck of a cool watch for a few bucks.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights, and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his client’s websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.