Monta is a St. Louis, MO-based boutique brand that’s garnered attention in the horological world for its incredibly robust tool watches. Its original dive watch, the Oceanking, while well-made and beautiful, caused some push-back from its customer base for its relatively high price (about $3,000). Thankfully Monta was able to reduce its pricing to below $2,000 without compromising its quality, and today, the Oceanking V.2 is enjoying significant success.
The Good: This is a solid, Submariner-type diver with comfortable proportions and a case, dial and bracelet that have been given significant thought. The bezel is a patented design that cannot be misaligned, the movement is a solid Swiss automatic that has been regulated to within +/- 2 seconds per day and the bracelet features a patented 5-position dive extension for fitting it over a wetsuit. This is a serious, overbuilt diver meant for people who actually take it underwater.
Who It’s For: People who will take it underwater. No, but really. If you’re aware of Monta and are willing to spend between $1,700 and $1,925 on a watch from a boutique brand, you’re likely someone who intends to use the watch for its intended purpose (or you just really like the brand). That said, anyone could conceivably enjoy this watch a desk diver. But if you’re gonna shell out, you should really take this thing into the water.
Watch Out For: Yeah, not much. The quality on the Oceanking V.2 is sufficiently high that it’s tough to find gripes with the build or value, esepcially considering all the extras you’re getting for your money. I could perhaps see some customers griping that certain elements of the watch are too Rolex-derived (maybe that Oyster-style bracelet), but even this is a stretch. The Oceanking is really an amalgamation of different influences, which makes for an interesting design.
Alternatives: Where do I start? Pretty much everyone and their mother is offering their version of an “affordable” diver watch these days, from microbrands to the large Swiss players. But if you’re looking to spend roughly $1,700 to $2,000, you’re also spoiled for choice. One option is the Doxa Sub1200T Professional for $1,890, a classic 42mm diver with steel bracelet and helium release valve. If orange isn’t your thing, it might be worth checking out the more classically-inspired Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook M for $2,000. This vintage-inspired piece comes in at 37.3mm and is available on a steel bracelet with unidrectional dive bezel.
Review: I’m going to forgo a detailed review of the Oceanking’s case, as it’s the same case used in the SkyQuest (with the exception of the crown position, which is slightly higher on the Oceanking), the review of which you can read right here, but suffice it to say that you’re getting a well-proportioned piece of stainless steel that’s perfect for the modern wearer at 40.7mm, with a screw-down crown, crown protectors (which weren’t featured on the original Oceanking) and a screw-down case back. It’s also 11.9mm thick (which is roughly 2mm thinner than the original Oceanking), though still water-resistant to 304 meters. Consumers also felt that the glass on the original model was too reflective, and so Monta has replaced this with a parallel, flat sapphire variant with a unique seven-layer AR coating.
So let’s talk about the bezel: you have the option of a black or blue ceramic version or a steel version, but all variants have a similar underlying feature set. The bezel assembly itself is a undirectional model with two patents; it utilizes a 12-piece design with washers and pins to prevent misalignment, which is something that frequently plagues the offerings of smaller brands’ watches. Monta was told that creating the unique double-triangle at the 12 o’clock position would be impossible on a ceramic bezel, but it managed to persevere, and what you get as a result is a beautiful, accurate bezel in ceramic or steel with a LumiNova BG W9-lumed triangle at noon, and fully-lumed markings on the ceramic version. The bezel itself sits high enough above the dial that it’s easy to grip with gloves underwater, a necessary feature in a dive watch.
The dial variants available are black, gilt, blue and “wet blue,” a beautiful teal (it’s worth noting that not every dial color is available with each bezel variant: the black ceramic bezel is available with the black and gilt dials; the blue ceramic bezel is available with only the blue dial; and the steel bezel is available with the black or wet blue dial). I received the black dial variant for my review, and as with the SkyQuest, it’s a simple, effective and attractive design, adorned with the Monta name and symbol, “Oceanking,” and depth rating. Thick, LumiNova BG W9 lume-filled markers adorn the hour positions, and the lume color matches that of the thick sword hands. There’s a date window at 6 o’clock that melds well with the dial and manages to remain unobtrusive.
Inside ticks away the Sellita SW300, a Swiss-made ETA 2892 clone. Monta originally utilized the Eterna 3909 on Oceanking V.1, but found that the SW300 performed better and also allowed them to lower the price of the watch significantly (another factor in lowering the price was the move to a completely direct-to-consumer model). The SW300 used by Monta is a spécial (élabore)-grade version of the 25-jewel movement with 42-hour power reserve tuned to chronometer specs, and is realistically operating with a tolerance of roughly +/- 2 seconds per day — even better than the quoted +/- 5 seconds per day.
The new Monta bracelet is worth highlighting — it features a 5-position micro-adjust system similar to the Rolex Glidelock for easily extending the size of the bracelet, either to fit over a wetsuit or for micro-adjustment of the bracelet for everyday wear. This type of small detail isn’t something that you generally see from a boutique brand’s offerings, and further enforces the value proposition here. The clasp itself is a sturdy chunk of stainless steel with Monta branding that offers a satisfying click when closed.
The rubber options offered with the Oceanking are incredibly supple and comfortable, with two thick keepers and a heavy-duty stainless steel buckle. Coupled with the thicker, Rolex-style spring bars, these straps are some of the best available, and getting two of them with your watch is a bargain, considering what Everest-made straps otherwise sell for.
As Monta is owned by the same folks behind Everest straps, which makes some of the best rubber and leather replacement straps available for Rolex users, you can be sure that you’re going to be spoiled when it comes to strap selection. The options available with the Oceanking V.2 are either the steel bracelet with adjustable diver clasp, or two vulcanized FKM rubber straps manufactured by Everest Horology Products. Whatever option you choose, you’ll also get an included NATO/RAF-style strap that compliments the dial color of your watch. As always with Monta, you also get a beautiful wooden presentation box, watch pouch and strap-changing tools. Overall, unboxing a Monta feels not dissimilar to unboxing a watch that costs tens of thousands of dollars, and there’s something to say for being able to enjoy this experience with a sub-$2k watch.
Verdict: I enjoyed wearing the Oceanking almost as much as I did wearing the Skyquest (I’m on a GMT kick lately, so don’t take this a slight to the Oceanking). This is a comfortable, Submainer-style dive watch with a tremendous feature set for under $2,000, and it comes with a robust, easily-serviceable movement in a variety of colorways.
There may be some people out there who are worried about buying from a smaller brand, who think that it might be safer to spend similar money on a watch from an established company with a network of authorized repair facilities — but the truth is that we’re beyond the point at which a potential customer need worry about this, at least as concerns a watch that utilizes a commonly available movement. With the Oceanking, you’re getting a serious diver that packs heavy value from a brand that cares about each and every one of its customers — it listens to them, communicates with them, and considers their opinions when making and updating its watches. So if this is the type of experience that you’re looking for when you buy your next diver, the Oceanking V.2 is a perfect place to start.
What Others Are Saying:
• “One of the real highlights for me during my time with the Oceanking was the bezel action. There’s no slip or play whatsoever on the 60-click rotation. Once the ceramic bezel begins its movement into that next slide, it can’t slip back whatsoever. This ends up providing the dive watch with a resolutely accurate and trustworthy feeling. ” — Logan R. Baker, Watchtime
• “Carrying a number of updates prompted by feedback from customers, the 2018 Oceanking is well-made, and has a conservative design that seeks to cater to the dive watch enthusiast. ” — James Stacey, HODINKEE
Case Diameter: 40.7mm
Case Height: 11.9mm
Movement: Spécial (élabore)-grade Sellita SW300
Water Resistance: 304m
Monta provided this product for review.
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