Collins Watch Company has been producing pilot watches like the Hyperion and the Bronson for a few years. Their pilot watches have been the sole occupants of their lineup since the company started. Strange for a young microbrand when the rest of the herd produces so many dive watches.
With that said, Collins didn’t want to be left in the dust when it came to releasing a dive watch. The Collins Sonar is the brand’s entry into the segment and despite not being in what some may consider their wheelhouse, it bears many of their trademark touches.
Owners of microbrands often have compelling stories and Jimmy, the proprietor of Collins, is no different. Jimmy left the glitz and glam of Hollywood behind to start Collins. He already had a background in design and after becoming familiar with Collins’ watches, this is no surprise. Let’s take a closer look at the Sonar.
On the Wrist
The Sonar is a comfy watch. That’s easy to say, but when it comes to making a watch comfortable to wear day-to-day, that is no small feat. The dimensions of the Sonar are spot-on for a modern dive watch built for everyday wear: 39.5mm wide, 20mm lug width, 47.5mm lug-to-lug and 12mm thick. The thickness is impressive for a 300 meter water resistant-rated watch.
There is no shortage of watches that have dimensions the same or similar. However, there is a shortage of watches with those dimensions that don’t make good use of them and sacrifice their comfort. The lugs on the Sonar turn down just enough to make the lug-to-lug distance feel true and not too short or too long. Because of the Sellita SW200 beating inside of the Sonar, the case height isn’t too thick in relation to the other dimensions. It just works all the way around.
When I first got a look at the Sonar, I was concerned the crosshair on the dial might distract from the hands and affect readability. I can say that, at least on the blue dial I reviewed, that is not the case. The crosshair extends all the way to the markers on the left and right but is cut short for the dial text going up and down the dial. This helps the dial feel more familiar for those who might not have had a crosshair dial before. Everything is balanced and legible.
Collins Sonar In Motion
Bearing some of Collins’ trademark touches, the dial is familiar to those who have experience with the brand’s other offerings. Their trademark arrow at 12 has been carried over from their pilot watches and it fits perfectly on the Sonar. The arrow helps with orientation, especially when combined with the markers at the other cardinal positions. The rest of the markers are simple applied rectangles that fit well with the design.
As I mentioned previously, the dial text is broken up by the crosshair on the dial. Even with that, the text is kept to a minimum as to not become distracting. Collins is present at 12 with Sonar and 300m at 6.
While the handset is simple, it fits with the overall design of the Sonar and maintains legibility. The markers and hands are filled with a ton of Super LumiNova BGW9 lume. I was pleasantly surprised to see the lume glowing throughout the day.
Collins has chosen bold dial colors for the Sonar. Dive watch favorites like black, orange, and blue as seen here are options. Collins is also offering yellow, green, and fullly lumed white dials as well. I love the shade of blue used on this review sample. It works perfectly with the steel bezel insert.
Speaking of the bezel, the steel is a great choice. The microbrand dive watch world is currently ruled by ceramic and sapphire bezels, with the occasional steel bezel sprinkled in. I’m happy to see Collins chose a steel bezel on the majority of the Sonar models. The markings on the bezel are filled with paint that coordinates with the dial color (only on the blue dial). However, the 0s used on the bezel numerals look like 8s and could have done without the slash in the 0.
Case & Bracelet
The case of the Sonar, while well-executed, is nothing novel. Kept simple with only brushing and no bevels, this is a no-frills case with a utilitarian purpose. I don’t have any problems with the case being executed this way, but it makes me wonder how it would further elevate the watch if it had more dressing up.
With that said, the edges are crisp, tolerances are tight, and everything feels solid. I have a hard time complaining about a case when everything that is done is done right.
One thing I enjoyed about the case was unfortunately something I won’t get to look at often enough, the caseback. The screw-in caseback features a design that resembles chunky teeth on a bezel. I’m not sure if that was the intention, but I loved it.
Beating inside the Sonar is the Sellita SW200. Given ETA’s current stance on selling movements outside of the Swatch Group, this is the movement of choice when stepping up from Seiko and Miyota. I’ve had plenty of dive watches with Sellita movements and have always been a fan. They’re reliable, accurate, and easily serviceable.
The bracelet on the Sonar is great. The links feel solid and articulate nicely to conform to the wearer’s wrist. I would have opted for female endlinks if I had the option as I feel it would further enhance the overall comfort of the Sonar, but this isn’t a deal-breaker by any means. One shortfall with the bracelet is the clasp. A stamped catalog clasp is a letdown when the rest of the watch is so good and well-executed. Opting for a higher-grade milled clasp would have been welcome.
When I first checked out the Sonar at Wind Up in New York in October of 2019, I was excited to review the watch. Having my hands on it and talking to Jimmy got me excited to spend some time with the watch. I’m happy to say it lived up the expectations I set. Almost everything on the Sonar is done with purpose and executed well. Aside from a quibble or two, I’d have a hard time not recommending this watch.
Collins has done well with their first dive watch. While they aren’t newcomers to tool watches, they are to dive watches. With so many options available, dive watch buyers are more discerning than ever. The Sonar brings something with a little flair to the market at a competitive price. A robust Swiss movement combined with fantastic looks makes the Sonar worth a good look for your next watch.
Check out more dive watch reviews from The Watch Clicker
Check out the Collins website
|Lug-to-lug Height||47.5mm||Lug Width||20mm|
|Water Resistance||300 meters||Lume||Super-LumiNova® BGW9|