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REVIEW: Raven Vintage

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In the past, we’ve looked at several watches from Benarus (Megalodon, Sea Snake), and these are all serious (and modern) divers.  Today, we’ll dive into their sister catalog, which is from Raven Watches.

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Raven comes from the same design minds (Steve Laughlin and Ralf Schreiner) that are behind the Benarus line, so you know you’re in good hands here.  When you first take a look at the Vintage lineup (our review sample is the 40mm with date), you’re going to see watches that feel immediately familiar – and that’s for good reason.

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The Raven Vintage is a throw back to the old Rolex Gilt-Sub watches  – which also used acrylic crystals, gold hands (not something you normally see paired with steel cases these days), gold dial printing, and no crown guards on the case.   Of course, a strait replica simple won’t do, so they’ve made some styling changes, including  a grippy coin edge bezel on the larger case.  You can compare the two if you like, as we’ve got a picture of the Rolly right above this paragraph.

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I’m sure there are a few readers who are turning up their nose at the mere thought having having what they’d consider to be a replica on their wrist, but I think this is more in line with something that is an homage, given the design changes made.  I think this, frankly, is a great watch for someone who just likes the vintage styling, but can’t afford the thousands they run for, or someone who wants to leave their original safely ensconced and want a reliable daily wear version.

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And in the course of a week, daily wear is what this watch was for me.  There’s something about the designs Steve & Ralf put together, but they just click with me.  The sizing and proportions feel “right” on the watch, and it fits snugly in place, even without drastically curved lugs.  On top of that, the proportions feel spot on as well, with the 20mm bracelet paired on the 40mm case.  As an added bonus, the case is thinner than you’d expect for an automatic (14mm from case back to top of domed crystal; the case itself is 9mm thick); this all nets to a 5.2 oz package on the bracelet.

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The finish on these items is another area that has changed from the original – rather than full polish, they’ve got a sort of “selective” brushed finish. You still get some shiny streaks in there, but with the finish as it is now, you’re not going see all manner of smudges and fingerprints.  Now, I don’t know about you, but that does drive me a bit crazy on a fully polished case or bracelet.

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On the dial, it fits well with the vintage theme – just a simple matte black with gold and red lettering, and some slightly yellowed (for that vintage feel) C3 luminova on the dial and hands, which glows just as nicely as you’d expect it to.  If I were to change anything, it would be the date window (white text on black would blend better), but I realize that wouldn’t fit as well in the vintage inspiration.

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The watch itself is powered by a Miyota 9015 automatic movement, so you’ve got something nicely modern (and reliable) keeping time for you.  This also helps keep the pricing down, which comes in at a very affordable $580 – and that’s inclusive of the black/grey zulu and leather NATO straps in the packaging.  I should also note that this all ships in a travel roll – which, while you might not travel with it, creates a very nice work surface (ala this one I wrote about here) to keep the watch safe.

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All in all, this is a great package – you have the vintage look and feel with the reliability of a modern movement (and manufacturing), paired with some very nice extras (the straps and 5-place roll), all at a nice price.  If you’re looking for a diver, but don’t care for the more modern designs, this is one you need to check out.

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