Debaufre Ocean 1 Classic Edition Review

February 5, 2008


On a waterproof leather band

On a 22mm Nato for a change of pace


Lume shot





Have you ever had one of those moments when you make an annoying mistake in slow motion. Sort of like locking your keys in your car. You see the door closing, realize with panic what is happening, and then…clunk…the door claps shut with your keys locked inside. This is invariably followed by a few choice words and then with the feeling of resignation that you will now have to deal with the problem you just created.

You may be wondering about now what this has to do with the Debaufre Ocean 1 Classic Edition. Well, not long ago I acquired an Ocean 1 for a song before the Debaufre name change happened. It was a beautiful piece (note the use of past tense) and I regularly wore it when swimming with my kids. Well, one day my brother-in-law was over and he commented about how sweet the Ocean 1 was. That’s when the car door went clunk. In a moment of brain lock I took off the watch, handed it to him and said, it’s yours-enjoy it. (For those of you who know me from the Poor Man’s Watch Forum, this is the same guy I gave my Seiko 009 to. At least I’m consistent). As he left my house, smiling at the new Swiss diver on his wrist, that little voice in the back of my head spoke up. You know the one; it says “IDIOT!! Why did you do that!!”

Well, since I really missed having a sub-homage diver, enter the Ocean 1 Classic Edition. As you can see from the pictures above, this is a really beautiful watch. The resemblance to a certain other diver of note is evident albeit with a few touches that differentiate them very nicely. The Classic Edition is an all stainless steel diver that is rated at 300 meters water resistance. Clearly water should never be a problem for this one. The crystal, which also includes a cyclops magnifier, is made of sapphire to ward off scratches and the lume is superluminova that remains visible in darkness for a few hours. (It’s not in a Seiko diver’s league but it is pretty good, better than the previous example that I had as a matter of fact). The Ocean 1’s bracelet is a heavy solid-link design that includes solid end links (Hollow end-links are a pet peeve of mine as those of you who have read my other reviews already know. They are tinny and bend easily. It is amazing how many otherwise nice watches are ruined by them. Are they really that expensive to make?) In addition to the lume being improved on this model, the bracelet feels better too. The old Ocean 1 had a good but not great bracelet. The one on the Classic Edition is tighter and has a better clasp. The watch features a stylized screw-down crown with the Debaufre star logo cut into it. Lastly, the Ocean 1 features a unidirectional rotating bezel with an embedded luminous marker. (The reason a diver watch has a bezel that only spins counter-clockwise is for safety. If you are timing your dive, it is important that the bezel used to mark the safe limit of your available air not rotate clockwise if banged against something. That could confuse you into extending you dive time in a dangerous way).

Visually, the Ocean 1 is a big watch in keeping with today’s trend toward large men’s watches. It measures 42 mm in width (46 mm with the crown), is 13 mm in thickness, uses a 22 mm band lug width and weighs a tick under 7 ounces. The reason it is called the “Classic Edition” is because of the markers on the face. They are larger and more reminiscent of, ahem, a certain other diver.

Internally, the Ocean 1 Classic Edition is powered by a Sellita SW200 26 jewel automatic movement. For those of you who are scratching your heads and saying Sellita??, they are a Swiss movement company who provide movements to a number of watch manufacturers these days including Oris and Breitling among others. They also may represent the future of the non-Swatch Group movement suppliers. ETA, the division of the Swatch Group that supplied everyone and their uncle with movements up to now has decided to greatly restrict this practice. See: here for more details. This thread on Watchuseek.com also discusses this development. From a practical standpoint this matters little as the SW200 is a drop-in replacement for ETA’s popular 2824-2 movement and its performance is apparently excellent. Service should not be any problem either. In terms of accuracy, my example is currently running at +8 seconds a day. Not bad at all for a mechanical watch right out of the box. Lastly, like the ETA 2824, the SW200 can be hacked and hand wound if those features matter to you.

In summary, the Ocean 1 Classic Edition is a very fine timepiece in all respects. It has a great looking “wrist presence” and is comfortable to wear, even after a full day. If, like me, you are realistically never going to own a certain other diver that looks similar to the Debaufre (alright-Rolex, there I said it) this one is a great way to go. With its heavy stainless steel construction and water resistance, everything about the Ocean 1 says first class. It really feels, and I know how fuzzy that word is, like a much more expensive piece than it is.

As an aside, the Classic Edition has only been produced in limited numbers according to the Debaufre website. If it is sold out, or you like one of the other Ocean 1 models available there, pretty much everything I’ve said here is equally applicable to them except for the style of the face markers.

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2 Responses to “Debaufre Ocean 1 Classic Edition Review”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Good stuff as usual, Ed. Thanks for taking the time to lend some insight to this one.

    My first experience with a Steinhart was lukewarm, in that I thought it was a well made watch, but rather vanilla overall. (This was a standard model Ocean 1.) I liked it, but just not enough to hang on to it.

    When this Classic edition showed up the first time, I had to have one. The larger “old school” indicies on the dial really work for me personally. Unfortunately, multiple attempts to have my nit-picky questions answered by a very busy- and in name change transition- sales rep got us out of sync and I missed the the boat.

    I’ve had this one mentally bookmarked for some time, and just the other day, I saw a post on the PMWF discussing the Classic model. On a whim, I stopped by the Debaufre site and was stunned to see they had this model available again. So, based on my initial curiosity and your review here, I pulled the trigger. Hope to have it on my wrist mid-week. 😉

  2. Ed Says:

    Congrats on the new acquisition. Since I’ve gotten this one, I have a hard time putting it down.


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