If there is one thing I would not like to do heading into 2022, it would be launching a new dive watch. The competition is fierce, consumers are more exacting in their preferences than ever, and the sheer number of microbrand dive watches available makes it hard to stand out from the crowd. I suppose that is why I am not running a microbrand. However, those things are not stopping Singapore-based Horon Watches from launching the Ocean Hunter.
How does one launch a dive watch to market and catch the attention of would-be watch buyers? For starters, paying attention to where microbrands are heading as opposed to what they were doing 5 years ago is a good start. While Seiko NH movements certainly have their place, watch buyers today are looking for a step up. Miyota and Sellita movements combined with solid bracelets with all the creature comforts gets you even closer to a successful launch. Horon seems to be doing the right things on paper, as you will see in this review, but how does the watch measure up in the metal? Let’s find out.
On the Wrist
When I first received the review sample of the Ocean Hunter, I immediately thought it was built well. But what does built well mean? I still have a hard time getting past the fact that a heavy watch triggers that opinion in my brain. I know it’s not 100% correct to assume that, but hey, that’s where my head went. The Ocean Hunter is certainly heavy at 185 grams when sized for my 6.75” wrist (208 grams with all links on the bracelet). The difference in weight between a sized and unsized bracelet should give an indication as to how much beef the individual links have. I am happy to report that even though the Ocean Hunter is heavy, it is extremely well-balanced on the wrist.
I loved the way the Ocean Hunter felt on my wrist and this is something I haven’t said about a 42mm dive watch in a long time. The last time I enjoyed the way a watch this size felt was when I bought my 43.5mm Oris Aquis in 2017. The case is well-proportioned and although it is 14mm thick, it is only 12mm wrist-to-crystal and has a relatively slim caseback and lugs that turn down just enough to give your wrist a little hug. The only downside I felt the case had was the 49mm lug-to-lug, made even longer by the male endlinks on the bracelet. With that said, the aforementioned turndown in the lugs does make this watch wear smaller than its stated dimensions.
The legibility of the Ocean Hunter is a complete non-issue. The markers are properly sized to the dial and the stylized sword hands are wide, long, and give the wearer no confusion as to what time it is. The colorway of the Ocean Hunter I had for review is named the Kraken and features a meteorite dial. Some meteorite dials can create unreadable dials because of how the meteorite disc reflects light. I didn’t find that to be an issue with the Ocean Hunter; the markers and hands were able to stand out enough from the busyness created by the meteorite dial to remain legible at all times.
Taking the meteorite aspects out of the dial, it is clean, legible, and offers a no-BS approach. There is almost no clutter on the dial as it only contains a polished applied logo at 12 o’clock and Automatic and 300M at 6 o’clock. Readers of my reviews will know that I am a fan of dials with minimal text and branding. If I had to nitpick the text on the dial, I would ask that the size of the text at 6 o’clock be reduced slightly. With that said, it doesn’t stand out against the meteorite dial.
As I mentioned above, the hands and markers are properly sized and filled with plenty of lume. And I mean filled with plenty of lume. I was not expecting how bright the lume was going to be when I took the below lume shot and needed to scale back my exposure for the second shot to properly show what it looks like. Not only are the hands and markers lumed, but the date is lumed, as are the markings on the bezel. There is also a surprise on the crown: the logo is lumed there too. What more could you ask for?
The bezel is functional and stylish, if one can use that term to describe a bezel. The markings are nothing out of the ordinary with increased divisions between 0 and 15 minutes and standard numerals every 10. The insert is split into black and gray like an AM/PM bezel would be on a GMT. The stylish part is the knurling, or lack thereof. The bezel is scalloped(think Omega Seamaster 300M Professional), and I was pleasantly surprised to see (or feel) that it is easy to rotate. I am not saying it is as easy as a bezel with standard knurling, but my fingers slipping off the bezel was at a minimum. I’d like to see someone find a way to add knurling on the scallops…that would be cool.
Case & Bracelet
I’m glad that new brands are seeing the importance of proper case finishing and Horon is no exception. The finishing is impeccable and is the sort of finishing you used to see on a brand’s 2nd or 3rd release. When I see this level of detail on an inaugural release, I like to believe that the brand is all-in and has taken the time to set up their manufacturing partners the right way.
The brushing and polishing is all flawless and what I would expect to see as a production piece. Considering the brand hasn’t even launched on Kickstarter yet, I’d say it is safe to say this is a pre-production model.
This finishing is carried over to the bracelet, which is even more impressive for a brand’s first release. The links of the bracelet are a mix of a traditional Oyster-style and flat link bracelets that have become popular recently from the likes of Lorier and Halios. The sides of each link have a polished chamfer which follows the chamfer on the side of the case. If you flip the watch over, you will see a quick-release mechanism. This is becoming more common on watches and I’m glad Horon didn’t overlook this feature.
The clasp is the new generation of ratcheting micro-adjustment clasps that have been around for some time. The functionality is still the same but it is much thinner and less cumbersome. My gripe about this clasp is that it lacks traditional adjustments and can only be adjusted using the ratchet system, which can leave an awkward-looking flat extension hanging out from the clasp. It isn’t a deal-breaker and is far better than the previous generation of this clasp.
There are a few things about the Ocean Hunter I would like to see changed and during the production process, it is entirely possible they will be. That is one the main benefits of Kickstarter watches: they are able to make adjustments before production begins. Female endlinks and a bit of weight-shaving would make a huge difference in how this watch wears. If you don’t mind a hefty watch (something I equated to build quality above), there is no reason to not like this watch.
I said in the beginning of this review that I wouldn’t want to be launching a microbrand dive watch in 2022 and while I stand by that, I will say that I am glad I get to review them. Is the Ocean Hunter a novel dive watch? No. But, it would be extremely hard for any brand to create something never before seen. Horon has put together a great-looking watch that feels great on the wrist and is supremely legible. When it comes to dive watches, what more could you ask for?
Check out more dive watch reviews at The Watch Clicker
Check out the Horon website
Horon Ocean Hunter Specs
*Height of the watch from the wrist to the top of the crystal