Sea-gull Ocean Star Pro 300m Watch review

Published on 26 November 2023 at 17:17

If you follow my reviews or my web page in general, you have already noticed that I have no real prejudices about watches. I have (or at least had) in my collection watches from the cheapest few euros worth watches up to the very expensive luxury watches. So, it can not be a surprise if - from time to time - I buy also some Chinese watches. But so far I have only once decided to make a review of a watch from China. It was the Fiyta Spacemaster review, which happens to be one of the most popular ones among all of my reviews, based on the reading history...

Speaking of no prejudices to Chinese watches, well I am not quite honest. In general I am not attracted by "homage" watches, where the entire design of the watch is an exact copy of some (most common Rolex) high end brand and where some bizarre brand name is used as an excuse. Replica or fakes are of course also avoided.

Yet China's watch industry has some companies and brands, which proudly produce their watches and their movements under their brand name. The quality of those watches grow rapidly from year to year. The most known of such companies is for sure Tianjin Sea-Gull watch company, which was one of the first Chinese watch companies, established in 1950's. In the last decade Sea-Gull made a big breakthrough in the watch industry market and it has become known as an important movement producer. Their movements are widely used by (primarily) microbrands all over the world. Is it true of course, that majority of Sea-Gull movements are clones of some other producer, but nevertheless those clones are getting better while their prices are much lower than other movements on the market (or clones of those movements). 

In front of you is a new "pure" Sea-Gull watch, fully produced in Sea-Gull, called "Ocean Star Pro Diver 300m", which was announced in mid 2022 and released in the beginning of 2023. It was announced in two dimensions, 40mm and 44mm. 44mm is what I have (as I am more keen on bigger watches).

Model Ocean Star itself is not an entirely new model, the first version of the Ocean Star was released back in 2016 (if I remember correctly). That first version back then was already on my watch list, I red a lot of positive reviews about that watch but there were some subjective general overview of the watch issues that bothered me and prevented me from making the final click. I found a picture of that first Ocean Star watch on the internet and attached it here, so don't be confused, the second picture is not my watch :)

To be quite honest I have almost forgotten Ocean Star, when I saw the announcement of the new version. I immediately put it on my wishlist waiting for some good offer to occur. Namely, the original price was (and still is) well over 500 USD, to which shipping and taxes for the EU have to be added. Quite high for a "blind purchase" to risk with a  Chinese watch . And then just recently Julian Kampmann on his web shop started selling this watch for 398 EUR (EU tax included). I already asked Julian to send me the watch when just a few days later I found an even (much) better offer from a private seller based in Italy.

Black and green versions are also available, but for me the blue one was the only real choice. I found one really low offer for a green one from the UK on Ebay,  but nevertheless, I decided for a more expensive blue one instead.

OK, let me now start with the details of the watch. First, I have to point out a great looking sunburst blue dial. Applied bronze star is a nice touch. 

Applied hour markings are a bit to thick (previous version had much thinner ones), each index covers almost three minutes interval. Even though I tried to find with the magnifying glass any imperfection on a dial or on the index markings, I could not find it.

Date window is now moved to the bottom, it is simplified yet date can be read easily from all directions. A big plus. 

Unusual for a Chinese watch - on the dial Sea-Gull explicitly shows that this is a China made watch and that they are proud about that.

Even though there is a lot of text on the dial (Logo, Sea-Gull name, star, Ocean star and 300m/1000ft), the dial is not too busy.  The lack of any number purifies the general outlook of the dial.

It is interesting how Sea-Gull logo is imperceptibly hidden all over the place. First, it's of course on the dial above the Sea-Gull text. Then the twelve o'clock mark has it. Then, the hour hand at the bottom has it again. And at the end, the entire hour hand is shaped in the logo style. Speaking of hands, I like the design of the hands, maybe an hour hand is (again) a bit too thick. A slightly slimmer hand would look better to me.

The next thing that I have to point out is the bezel, which is extremely well done. It is stainless steel, not aluminum. Blue implants have the same color as the dial and over the top implant is covered with sapphire glass. It rotates only anti-clockwise, 60 clicks, the only flaw is that the rotation is a bit too stiff. Maybe the main (12 o'clock) marking is not the best looking and too big. The standard one from the old version of the watch looks better to me. Or it should be again logo designed instead.

What might become a bit annoying is the fact that the bezel is not fully in line with the sapphire glass that covers the dial. As you can see from the picture, the main glass is raised above the bezel. I must admit that this edge is not sharp (I even have a feeling that it is brushed), but nevertheless I think it is worth mentioning.

To conclude with the dial part, just a few words about the night visibility. The luminova is placed all over the dial, hands and bezel. Sea-Gull uses green Superluminova C3. I can confirm that this gives a very good night visibility, which lasts for a long time and fades slowly. In general I have no complaints about that. So, the type of luminova that the diver watch deserves and needs.

Now, let me continue with the case and the bracelet. First, some general measures. As said in the introduction part, the diameter of the watch is 44mm, lugs are 22mm, L2L is just 48mm. Thickness is 13mm. So even though 44mm indicates that this is a big watch, L2L helps in wearability of this watch. Watch is also not very heavy, without a bracelet around 80g, with the bracelet (reduced to 19,4 cm wrist size) around 180g.

Case is stainless steel, polished, all edges are nicely rounded, there are no sharp edges. No cheap shortcuts here, nothing indicates that this is "just some" Chinese watch. A lot of Swiss competitors would be glad to have such a nice finish case.

The crown is of course screwed in, on the top it is signed by the company's logo.

The bracelet is solid, again well made. The links are thick and well made, the finish is good. Shortening the bracelet (removing links) is easy by just removing the pins. Links move smoothly, therefore feeling on the wrist is very comfortable. I like the fact that the buckle is almost the same size as lugs, it reduces to 20mm. Links are polished on the side parts and brushed in the middle part, which makes the bracelet more dynamic. My only remark here is that link parts could be smaller. 

Clasp is double locking, buckle has three additional holes for micro regulation of the length. Of course the buckle is again signed with the logo and the brand name.

End links are very precisely cut, they fit perfectly into the case. No gaps in between.

Unfortunately, the back case is the stainless steel screw-in plate and not the see through glass type. Plate is in the outer ring printed with more or less standard features that we are used to, in the middle, the big star is engraved and surrounded by the "Ocean star" name.

As said, it is a pity that we can't see the movement inside. So, what is inside? It's an automatic Sea-Gull ST2130 which belongs to a premium class of Sea-Gull's movements. In general, ST2130 is the Sea-Gull clone of ETA 2824-2 with some modifications. Parts of those two movements are not fully compatible. Compared to standard ETA movement with 25 jewels, ST2130 has 28 jewels. The basic characteristics are similar, so same size, same frequency (28.800 bph), similar power reserve, same setting of time and date.

Well, what really impressed me is the precision of the movement. Watch works constantly on less than -1!! second daily. I have been wearing the watch 24h a day for a few days now and there is no change. In three days -2 seconds. Impressive! I had to check this also with my time graph app and the results are even more impressive. Almost no positional error - in all positions watch runs in the -1 to +2 sec/daily. I decided to take pictures of those results, you can check it in the pictures below.

Just a few words about the comfort of the watch on the wrist. I must admit that I enjoy wearing it. It fits so naturally to my wrist almost as my wrist would be a model for this watch! In general I prefer other types of straps to bracelets, but in this case I have no complaints at all. Just for the sake of comparability I replaced the bracelet also with some rubber strap that I have at home in 22mm lug size. It's OK, but wearing the original bracelet feels better.

Watch is packed in a hard cardboard paper, there is a booklet with an instruction manual and a tool for removing the lugs from the case. Nothing special yet sufficient.

So, to conclude. I simply can't do anything else but to strongly recommend this watch. For 398 EUR in the EU (and even less elsewhere), this watch is worth every cent. With a bit of luck you can get it even cheaper. Any competitor with at least similar features (so automatic mechanical watch with 300m water resistance, stainless steel case and bracelet, sapphire glass), costs more. 

I have to add, I did not test the "true" water resistance, it might be, that 300m is a total lie. Some cheap replicas or strange branded Chinese watches often have high WR declaration but in fact you can't even walk in the rain with them. I am strongly convinced that this is not the case here and I believe Sea-Gull is honest here.  For my personal use, I don't even need such resistance and 100m or 300m resistance is all the same to me from the point of user's needs. But sealing and gaskets are more expensive to achieve 300m instead of 100m. So just the WR is not the main benefit of Sea-Gull compared to competitors.

I am sure  - if this watch were some Swiss branded watch with some cheaper "Swiss made" clone of 2824-2 - this watch would cost at least twice as high as the full price of this watch. So at least around 1000 EUR. And I am quite sure that you would receive worse watch than this Sea-Gull is. It is just up to you if you can go above the "Chinese prejudices" and grab the chance to get a great watch for a very decent price.

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