What are the key features you would like in a basic dive watch, beyond the requirements for lume, pressure and a bezel? Sapphire crystal? A reliable automatic movement? A little flair? The Borealis Sea Diver is their entry level diver which offers a lot of value at a price point below $250, plus a clean, modern design.
There are other low cost automatic divers out there, most notably the Seiko Orange Monster. But most of these divers are equipped with a mineral crystal, not a sapphire crystal like the Borealis Sea Diver. In addition to the premium crystal, the Borealis uses a Miyota 8215 automatic movement and C1 Superluminova for the dial, hands and 0 mark on the bezel. The stainless steel case is water resistant to 300 meters and is 44mm in diameter and 14mm tall. The caseback also features an engraving of the Borealis Mermaid.
The markings on the watch are very simple, with dashes (a pair at 12:00) at the ordinance points on the watch and dots for the rest of the hour markings. A small date window is at 3:00. The watch hands do use two styles (which is a part of the diver watch ISO standard, though the Borealis is not ISO certified), a baton for the hour and pencil for the minute.
This is a pretty good way to provide a differentiation between the two hands without creating a major clash in styles. The second hand is in red with a dot of lume toward the tip. Branding is fairly limited, with “BOREALIS” in the top half of the hour and 300 METERS and AUTOMATIC in smaller white text in the bottom half. So where are the downsides, after all, this is a $229 watch? Honestly, I don’t see a lot of them. The most obvious thing I came across is that there is a bit of play in the bezel. It is not loose, but I can wiggle the bezel in each direction. At 120 clicks, when you stop playing with the bezel, it centers back to the desired point and stays there, but it is not as precise feeling as a higher end watch.
The numbers on the bezel are engraved, which is another tip off that the watch is an entry level diver, as opposed to an aluminum or ceramic ring mounted to the bezel. If you want that higher end bezel, along with a domed sapphire crystal (the Sea Diver’s is flat) you can look at the Borealis Sea Hawk, which Patrick is in the process of reviewing for the site.On the wrist, the watch is very comfortable. Borealis also shipped a pair of rubber straps with the watch, and I swapped out the included leather strap for both an orange and a black rubber strap for a while. The orange is bold. They are also pretty comfortable, but a little thicker and less pliable than the silicone strap I have for another watch.
My wife commented that the orange was a bit… too colorful for me when I wore it out for dinner, but I liked it. The black rubber strap is something that pairs more naturally with the watch, but sometimes, you want to stand out. The included leather strap (ochre/tawny brown) is thinner and more pliable than the rubber straps, and has contrasting yellow stitching. All the straps have a branded stainless buckle.
The design of the watch makes it look a bit bigger than it actually is, something I like and something that helps give it a clean, uncluttered look. The bezel is fairly narrow for a dive watch, giving more real estate for the dial, and the relative lack of markings opens up the center of the dial. The bezel also overhangs the case a small bit, making the bezel easier to grip and turn, but also making it look like it is floating a bit. The lugs are downturned, keeping the strap close to the wrist. Lume is very well done and generous on the watch, lasting (though dimmed) through the night to morning.
For under $250, I think this would make an excellent purchase or gift if you want your first automatic dive watch and are on a budget. For me, the most obvious comparison is Seiko SKX779, the black dial twin to the Orange Monster, which can be had on a rubber strap (or sometimes a bracelet) for under $200. Both watches feature reliable Japanese automatic movements (though the Borealis also has a sapphire crystal), and the Seiko has a better brand name, but I think the Borealis Sea Diver is more readable and potentially dressy.
With a change of strap it is understated enough to work in a business environment (maybe not with a sleek suit, but certainly for the average daily office wear), on the weekend with a punch of color, or when (gasp!) actually SCUBA diving. borealiswatch
- Brand & Model: Borealis Sea Diver
- Price: $229
- Who’s it for?: Someone moving from quartz to automatics and on a budget.
- Would I wear it?: Yes.
- What I’d change: A little more tension on the bezel.
- The best thing about it: Miyota automatic and sapphire crystal for under $250.