Saturday, July 11, 2015

Review of TechnoMarine Black Reef Automatic Limited Edition


Model # 513006


Brand/Model:  TechnoMarine Black Reef Automatic (Limited Edition)
Movement:   Swiss automatic
Material:  titanium case, stainless steel mesh band
Complications:  day & date display
Price:  MSRP $1,950 USD


Plenty of photos follow the review. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

TechnoMarine is a brand that I admittedly do not know that much about.  I have seen their watches for sale at a variety of places and would consider the brand to mainly be a ‘fashion brand’ that is not taken seriously by lovers of haute horology.  But even a fashion brand can produce a watch that gets noticed, and in this case, the Black Reef Automatic is one of those pieces.

TechnoMarine was founded in 1997 and has enlisted a variety of celebrities to endorse their products over the years.  Early in 2015, TechnoMarine was bought by Invicta, so what the future of the brand will be is anyone’s guess.

The Black Reef Automatic is a limited edition of 500 timepieces and is one of very few automatic watches made by TechnoMarine.  I thought this watch was an apparition, because I only saw it on the company’s web site and never saw it for sale anywhere. 

Suddenly, about five months ago, they started appearing in limited quantities at some online grey market sellers at substantial discounts, so I took the bait.  I should have waited longer, because one seller has this watch for about $200 less than I paid and since I thought I initially got a good deal, this watch is now a steal for the price they are now selling at.

I kind of liken the Black Reef Automatic to a fancier and better quality Seiko Monster due to its overall size and somewhat exaggerated features.  The Black Reef line is also offered in a myriad of quartz models featuring different colors, but the only automatic model is the one being reviewed here.

The Black Reef Automatic starts with a polished and brushed titanium case.  The marketing materials list the case as being titanium, although the case back is marked ‘stainless steel’.  What I am thinking is the case is titanium due to its slightly grey color, although it feels heftier than titanium usually does and perhaps the case back itself is stainless steel.  Regardless, the quality and finishing is first rate.

The Black Reef Automatic measures 45.5mm in diameter when you count just the case; 48.5mm including the black PVD case guards and 51.9mm with the crown.  So this is a robust, large-and-in-charge watch.  The crown is presented in black PVD, is signed and screws down with about three full turns. 

The case back is polished and is a screw down type.  The TechnoMarine logo is stamped into the case back along with the limited edition serial number of xxx/500.  Case thickness is 15.3mm.

The case has hooded lugs and the actual spacing where the spring bars attach to the case is 20mm, but the bracelet ends measure 28mm at the case and taper to 25.8mm at the clasp.  It would be pretty hard to fashion a different strap that would fit this watch nicely, so best to keep it on the factory mesh, which is a decent quality and looks great on the watch.

At the 10 position on the upper left case side is the helium escape valve (HEV).  The valve is polished with a painted yellow trim ring and is imprinted with the words ‘escape valve.’

The case also features black PVD case guards that are screwed onto the case.  The left side guard starts below the HEV and runs down the case to almost the 7 position while the guard on the right side protects the crown and runs almost full length, from the 1 to the 5 position.  These guards look kind of cool and give the watch a quality look without adding too much bulk to the piece.

The dial on the Black Reef is a textured wave-type dial that gets the job done without being goofy looking or making the dial hard to read.  The wave part of the dial has alternating wavy strips of dark grey and black, encircled by what amounts to the chapter ring that has the applied markers on it, with small hash markers for the seconds on the extreme outer edge of the dial.

The 12 marker is a stylized TechnoMarine logo, while the markers are applied and mostly round, with a small square tail on them, making them look like light bulbs around the dial.  The markers at 3, 6 and 9 are rectangular.  All the markers are ringed in gold tone and infilled with lume.

The hour and minute hands are flat and have a knife-blade like shape to them, with the minute hand carrying a touch of yellow/green that matches the color highlights on the bezel.  The seconds hand is a stick style with a arrow/pointer end that is luminous. The tail of the seconds hand is a TechnoMarine logo.  For such a serious dive watch, unfortunately, I would rank the lume quality as only fair to average in intensity and consistency of application.

At the 3 position is the window for the quickset day and date display.  The day and date wheels are white with black lettering (they would have looked better being white on black).  The day wheel is in English and Spanish.  Alignment in the window for both wheels is fine, which is nice, because often times a day/date display never aligns as well as it should.

The TechnoMarine name is below the 12 position and above the six is ‘500M 1650ft’, ‘AUTOMATIC’ and ‘HELIUM VALVE’.  A small ‘Swiss Made’ is at the very bottom of the dial.  Not too bad for words on the dial.  The watch is large enough to not have the wording crowd the dial.  Just a nit-picky comment here, having the word ‘automatic’ above the words ‘helium valve’ could make is sound like the watch has an ‘automatic helium valve’ (which it does), but they are really talking about the automatic movement.

The dial is capped by a flat sapphire crystal set perfectly into the case.  Surrounding the crystal is a wide black PVD 120-click unidirectional bezel with the large lume pip at 12 along with yellow markers and yellow inpainted numbers.  The marker numbers are 20,30,40 and 50, which are inpainted yellow on a brushed stainless steel square, with additional numbers engraved in the bezel (25, 35, 45, 55) being separated by a brushed stainless steel bar.  Please look at the pictures, as the bezel sounds very busy, but the way it is rendered, it works and looks quite classy.

The Black Reef Automatic is factory rated for 500 meters of water resistance.

While I haven’t cracked the back of the Black Reef Automatic to see what movement lurks inside and since none of the specifications I have found list what the movement is, I assume it is an ETA 2836 or Sellita equivalent. 

The watch winds, sets and runs properly, the quick set day and date function works fine and timekeeping has been average to good at +11/24 hours in the crown up position.  Power reserve is an expected 41.5 hours.  So whatever Swiss automatic movement is inside the Black Reef Automatic, it works fine with no complaints.

The bracelet is a wide mesh constructed of stainless steel.  It’s a fairly fine, tight mesh, with a brushed finish.  The links used for adjustment are on either side of the clasp and the links are actually pieces of mesh formed into a removable link so the bracelet has a consistent look.

The bracelet measures 28mm at the case and tapers to 25.8mm at the clasp.  The clasp is a double locking pushbutton type with a machined deployant.  The clasp is signed with the TechnoMarine logo and has four microadjustment holes.  There is no wetsuit extension. 

I was just barely able to get the links removed because they are so wide they barely fit in my link removal tool, so a word of caution for those who size their own watches like I do, be prepared for the massiveness of this bracelet.

Overall wearability of this watch, despite its rather buxom dimensions, is quite good and it certainly has a nifty presence to it.  It also photographed extremely well, so I hope you enjoy the photos.

Presentation was a disappointment.  For a watch that has an MSRP of nearly $2,000 the watch box and materials where nothing to write home about.  For what these watches are actually selling for, I suppose the box is okay, but still nothing special.

Sometimes a watch pops up from an unexpected source that captivates and intrigues me.  That was the case with this Black Reef Automatic by TechnoMarine.  This watch is a quality piece that is well constructed and has just enough of whimsy to it without going overboard.  Yes, this is a serious diver but it’s also a fun watch that makes for the perfect summer companion.  Grab one while you can at a great price, because they only made 500.

Pros:  Swiss-made quality and movement, unique dial and bezel, rugged case construction, impressive mesh bracelet 

Cons: too big and/or clownish for some, weakish lume, what’s that MSRP?

Verdict:  A surprising hit from TechnoMarine, this is a diver that can run double duty, both in the water and on the shore.  Unique, big and funky, this watch brings some color and fun to a collection while boasting some serious specs.  Who knew?
 
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.

Excelsior!


-Marc


4 comments:

  1. Hi, really appreciate for sharing. May I know the size of your wrist? As to better understand the dimension of the watch on your wrist (shown in your photos).
    Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jimmy,

      I have a rather small wrist, about 6.5 to 6.75 inches. The TechnoMarine, while large, still fits my thin wrist because the case is curved near the lugs (see photos).

      -MCV

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  2. Hi MVC - thank you for your comprehensive review. It was very accurate. Based on it I bought this watch and really do like it quite a bit. I have received compliments on its looks. It fits quite comfortably when sized properly which I had done at a high end watch store. A question I have is I acquired a watch winder for it...what direction should I set the turns switch to; clockwise, counter clockwise or both? Thank you kindly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe Swiss movements wind in either direction, so I would set the winder to wind in both directions.

      -MCV

      Delete