The Benarus Moray is a watch that should be rather familiar to our readers, as we have covered the various versions (a review of the 42mm version for example). Most recently, we also brought you word of the new Benarus Vintage Moray. That article will serve as a sort of preview, as we have now been able to spend some time with the watch, and can give you our hands-on impression.
For this review, I am going to start in a place that we normally save for the end – the strap. The Benarus Vintage Moray comes with a beefy brown leather strap snugged into it’s 24mm lugs, with white contrast stitching. Why call out the strap? For a heavy-duty strap, this is one of the better ones I have seen, especially as a stock strap (if you’re going custom, check out our review the 74 Watch Straps). When I get a watch in with a leather strap, I give the strap the ol’ sniff test. Very quickly, you can tell if you have something that is barely considered leather (it will have an almost plasticky smell), or something that is the real deal. Here, there is a rich leather scent, so there is no doubt that this is a higher quality strap.
That strap is of course holding in place one of the more unique Morays to come from the brand. While you would not say that the Benarus Vintage Moray is an homage to a particular model from the past, there are definitely design cues that bring older dive watches to mind. First and foremost is the domed acrylic crystal that gives you the delightful visual warping at the edges. I’ve reviewed a handful of watches with domed acrylic, and this one has got to be the thickest one I have gone hands-on with – befitting considering the watch carries a 300m WR rating.
Next up is the bezel. You have a single lumed pip at the top, numerals at the compass points, and paint-filled pips in between. It’s those pips that really speak to me of the older style. Sure, we might wax poetic about fully-lumed sapphire inserts, but if you’re going for an older look, I think what Benarus has done here works well.
After that, the sunburst dial is another great “old school” nod. Our review sample came in with a blue dial, which was a great shade. All of the dials (regardless of color) feature a fade, with the color being lighter in the center. This mimics the sort of effect you might have from a watch that has been exposed to the sun for many years. In my initial writeup on the Benarus Vintage Moray I called out the printing on the dial, as it did not feel quite right to me. In the steel, it presents much nicer. That said, the numerals at 12 and 6 do not sit well with the design. I think they would be better served by these being the same indice as we see at the other hour markers, just for sake of uniformity. The other option would be to explore some sort of a sandwich dial, further cementing the vintage looks.
That’s the only quibble I have with the dial. The handset is appropriately sized, with the hands reaching to their appropriate tracks. They are driven around by the very capable Miyota 9015 movement, which, in a first for the brand, you can see via an exhibition case back. For a fairly commoditized movement, the finishing is decent, and the rotor has been customized a bit as well. On that rotor, this is one of the freer-spinning ones I’ve run across as well. In other words, you should have no problem keeping the movement wound so long as you are wearing the watch and not tucking it away in a drawer.
Speaking of wearing, the Benarus Vintage Moray wears much easier than the size (44mm diameter, 17mm thick) might otherwise suggest. Then again, I am used to the size and weight (120g here) of heavier dive watches, so your mileage might vary. For my tastes, though, the watch is a great daily wear sort of a watch. The blue and brown combo works well together, and the matte finishing on the cushion case keeps things subdued, leaving the focus on the dial and crystal. If you find yourself wearing the watch when the lights go down, you will be pleased to see the lume (C3 Superluminova) is very modern, and makes reading the watch in the dark a cinch.
For many reasons, we here at WWR have been fans of what Benarus has been creating, and with the Benarus Vintage Moray, we have arrived at a model that brings along styling that really complements the origins of the cushion case. It also brings another choice to the mix within the lineup (along with several dial choices), meaning that if you are tempted by the Moray line, there likely is something there that matches your tastes. For me, I rather enjoyed my time with the watch, and is seriously giving my Benarus Sea Snake a run for the money as my favorite model from the brand. benaruswatches.com
- Brand & Model: Benarus Vintage Moray
- Price: $480 + shipping
- Who’s it for?: You like your dive watches from micro brands, and want something with an older feel without feeling like it’s just a copy of a specific model from the past
- Would I wear it?: Yes, I would
- What I’d change: Drop the 12 and 6 from the dial, and use the indices in their place
- The best thing about it: The combination of the thick (and domed) acrylic dial, bold blue sunburst dial, and cushion case (aka, the “vintage” styling of the watch)