10 Nov Long Term Review: The Aquatico Bronze Sea Star
You would think that after a while, getting a new watch in the mail might get a little boring…well, you would think wrong! There is nothing better than my kids yelling down the driveway, “Dad, you have a package!” I think they are just as excited to unbox things as I am. Watches and pocket knives are definitely some things that the fun of getting a new one hasn’t worn off yet. So when the Aquatico Bronze Sea Star made an appearance a few weeks ago, I was more than excited… I was thrilled. It’s not all the time that a company contacts you to review a watch and it’s actually a watch you want and will wear. I can tell you that my tastes and some watches I’ve been sent do not always line up.
I’ve had the Sea Star for a few weeks now and have spent a good amount of time with it on the wrist. I can tell you, it’s a solid watch that’s definitely worthy of your cash. If you like the looks you can stop reading and get your own, or if you want to know the details, you can keep going. First, out of the gate, the Sea Star checks my boxes for what I want in a watch, right down to the drilled lugs. It wasn’t hard to be smitten with it, but I did set out to be objective and not be blinded by all the good so that I couldn’t see any bad. Although, when it comes to the Sea Star, the list of bad things is pretty much non-existent. As long as you’re in the market for a bronze diver, you really can’t go wrong.
Let’s start with the dial. It definitely has more than a little look of the Tudor Black Bay, but I love that watch, too, and I think the layout works exceptionally well here with the sapphire crystal and beautiful bronze case. Put together, the watch is a real stunner to look at. Talking about the crystal, it’s flat on top but has a slight dome on the underside that throws off a nice hint of distortion when you look at the dial from low angles. The crystal also has a double dose of anti-reflective coating. My version has a matte black dial, but you can also get the watch with a blue, brown, or green dial and there is a ceramic bezel option which also looks really cool. You can also purchase additional bezels from the Aquatico website.
The dial is beautiful, to say the least. Both the hands and hour markers all have gilt edges and it gives the face an extremely crisp look. The traditional snowflake hour hands make an appearance here, but, like the rest of the package, it really does work and look sharp. The watch has BGW9 Superluminova on the hands, hour markers and bezel pip. As you would expect, the lume is decent and shines bright, giving a solid 5 hours of view-ability before fading out.
When it comes to the movements, microbrands have a few solid options and Aquatico choose to go with a Seiko NH35. It’s a fantastic movement that keeps good time and is a known quantity. It’s also really nice to see a quality movement at this price point. With a $299 retail, you are right on the cusp of some brands dropping in a cheaper, non-hacking movement. This choice in movement shows, in my opinion, the dedication to delivering a quality timepiece that’s also a good value. Talking about price, the Sea Star really delivers in the area of value. At the three-hundred dollar mark, there are a ton of watches to choose from, but not many that deliver the specs AND look as great as the Sea Star.
So many times, it feels like the strap or bracelet on a watch is just an afterthought. That is not the case here! You get a genuine Horween leather strap with a matching bronze buckle.
I’m a stickler for drilled lugs. I think it makes life much easier if you’re a strap junkie (like me!) and you can remove the spring bars much quicker and with less chance of scratching the case. I get that not every watch warrants drilling the lugs, but on a diver or tool-style watch, I think it’s a no-brainer. The case finishing is exceptional with the sides having a nice brushing all in the same direction. The cuts and bevels are clean and the watch has a screw down case back with an embossed design of the company logo. The watch has no crown guards and I like the vintage feel it gives the Sea Star. The crown itself is solid, being easy to screw open and when you reach the last thread, it has a nice pop to it. I have felt other watches at this price and higher that have crowns with a gritty operation that makes you wonder at the longevity of the unit. Instead, the Sea Star feels very tactile and crisp. The crown is also signed with the Aquatico logo on it, another nicely done touch. I do have a little gripe here with the bezel action, as it feels a little rough. It does line up perfectly at 12 o’clock but I wonder if the bronze bezel material just doesn’t let it rotate as smooth as stainless steel. It’s not an entirely bad action and has very defined clicks, it’s just a tad rough.
I think it’s fitting to mention here that Aquatico choose to go with a better quality bronze for the case construction and bezel. All the bronze on the watch is CuSn8, which has a higher percentage of copper compared to other bronze mixtures. This results in a watch that’s more resistant to corrosion, which is great if you’re actually going to go diving or swimming with the Sea Star. I would imagine if your thinking of purchasing a bronze watch, that you’re into the patina that will eventually develop over time. The Sea Star, undoubtedly, won’t let you down if that’s your goal. And thanks to the better quality bronze, the patina will look even better. You can read more about the different types of bronze used in watch making over at the Wound For Life blog.
Another highlight of the Sea Star is the fantastic leather strap that the watch comes on. So many times, it feels like the strap or bracelet on a watch is just an afterthought. That is not the case here! You get a genuine Horween leather strap with a matching bronze buckle. The strap is what you would expect from a higher caliber leather such as Horween and it was very supple even right out of the box. The leather keeper on the strap is also nicely done and is tight on the strap making sure to keep the excess strap close to the wrist.
The watch itself is part of a limited edition run of just 88 pieces and the case is engraved with its numbered place in the collection. I happened to get number 46 out of the 88 of the matte black dial versions available. The limited edition run is not something you always see with your typical microbrand watch, but it’s a pretty cool thing to do. Where the Bronze Sea Star edges out some competitors is in the water resistance arena; the watch comes in with a 300 Meter rating. Doubtful many of us will need that kind of depth rating, but it’s nice to know you could dive down that far without removing your watch, if you so desired.
All in all, the Aquatico Bronze Sea Star is a real winner. Landing smack in the trenches of the ultra competitive micro brand diver category, Aquatico really makes the case that this is a watch to add to your collection. It’s got a lot going for it, especially if you want a handsome, well-built watch that will stand out for being unique, but not gaudy. I got to like the Sea Star even more as I wore it (and got compliments on it!) than when I first opened it. The wear-ability, good looks, fair price and great strap all add up to an awesome experience.