When it comes to the watches that Steve Laughlin has been producing under the Raven and Benarus brands, I think we here at WWR have reviewed just about every model that has been released. Â You might think that over the years it might get a bit tiring, but to the contrary, Laughlin has kept things fresh. Â The latest release (which is fairly close to sold out at this point) is his Raven Venture.
What Iâ€™ve liked about the watches from Laughlin is that theyâ€™re generally identifiable (some straight-up homages, but by and large thatâ€™s not the case) with cues sneaking from other famous watches of the past. Â As you have probably sussed out, theÂ Raven Venture has a dose of the Tudor Ranger to it, but itâ€™s not in a way thatâ€™s contrived or forced. Â For me, it shines through in the handset.
In fact, itâ€™s the hands on theÂ Raven Venture that are one of my favorite things, actually. Â It sounds like a minor thing, but it seems that we only have a few variations on a theme. Â And I get it, you canâ€™t get things to o crazy or you impact legibility and actually being able to tell the time. Â Then, you get something like we have here, and itâ€™s a different shape than the norm, but itâ€™s still something thatâ€™s quite functional and usable.
And really, thatâ€™s the tagline for theÂ Raven Venture – functional and usable. Â Yeah, itâ€™s a good looking watch (and if you donâ€™t like green dials, there are also grey, black, and orange ones). Â To start with, youâ€™ve got that steel case. Â While thereâ€™s a brushed finish, we looked at the sandblasted one, and I think I rather like that. Â It softens the steel a bit – visually – and of course repels any fingerprints you might want to try to put on it. Â The bracelet has the same finish, as does the clasp. Â The clasp, with the built in ratcheting extension, another small delight. Â I may not dive, but I sometimes want a little extra wiggle room during the day, and popping things out one click gives me that.
You can think of the sandblasting on theÂ Raven Venture as giving it a matte finish (because it does), and that carries forward onto the matte ceramic insert (which is lumed to nice effect). Â Not only does this fit with the look of the watch, it fits the theme of usability. Â Youâ€™re not blinded by extra glare off of the dial (which you can sometime have with sapphire inserts), and you can easily see where youâ€™ve set the bezel to. Â Oh, and speaking of – I detected no play at all in the bezel, and itâ€™s a satisfyingly solid click action as you rotate it around.
Of course, theÂ Raven Venture is not all dull surfaces. Â The sapphire crystal has itâ€™s gleam, and comes with a double-domed shape and AR coating on the underside to keep the glare down. Â This, of course, then gives you an unobstructed view of the dial. Â I would not go so far as to call the dial sparse, but it is certainly clean. Â Youâ€™ve got a classic 3-6-9 layout with a modified triangle at 12; minute markers, the logo, and a small bit of text on the lower half. Â Mix in the date wheel, and thatâ€™s it. Â Itâ€™s an instantly legible look, and allows the compass-point indices to be larger than you might expect. Â Itâ€™s a look I dig, and I particularly like how the orange seconds hand sets off against the green of the dial.
Now, you might notice that some of the text proclaims a 300m WR rating for theÂ Raven Venture, and thatâ€™s fitting with the lineage of what Laughlin has been producing. Â While the Venture may not look like a stereotypical dive watch, thatâ€™s what I think of when it comes to his brands. Â In fact, some of the shots here are side-by-side with my gen 1 Benarus Sea Snake (for another reason which weâ€™ll get to in a bit) as a way of underscoring it. Â While theÂ Raven Venture has more of a field watch feel to it, itâ€™s certainly not afraid to get wet.
So, why set theÂ Raven Venture next to the Benarus Sea Snake? Â Aside from having the same creator, it was a way of showing how Laughlin has changed his designs over the years (I believe 5-6 years separate these) all while still being powered by the same movement – the venerable ETA 2824. Â Comparing the watches, they have different looks, of course, but you can see how theÂ Raven Venture has become a bit slimmer while retaining the WR, and the bracelet and clasp have certainly improved as well. Â Itâ€™s something Iâ€™ve mentioned before, but we (or at least I) enjoy seeing how a designer and brand grow over time, and being able to have these two examples side by side really underscores that.
So, if you couldnâ€™t tell, I am definitely a fan of theÂ Raven Venture. Â Which meant, when it came time to size and wear the watch, I was an eager beaver. Â On the sizing, it is worth noting that there are no half links on the bracelet (though the links themselves are closer to half size anyways). Â On the first sizing, I got it to the correct fit that I prefer, but I found myself needing to use the ratchet clasp at some point during the day for some more room. Â So, I added a link back in (simple to do, as the watch has screwed, solid links), and then used the pin on the far end of the clasp to move stuff in a bit. Â In other words, sort of what youâ€™d do with a half link. Â This got a looser fit, but not so much that it was hanging out below my shirt cuff.
I illustrate that for a reason. Â Basically, when it comes to theÂ Raven Venture, or any other watch, you may need to experiment to get your correct fit. Â What works for one person may not work for another. Â Whatâ€™s nice is, that with the ratcheting extension, you can test out the various sizings over the day, and if itâ€™s too tight, you get yourself a little more breathing room.
For me, the Raven Venture settled in, and I just enjoyed having the watch on the wrist. Â With the overall matte finishes, itâ€™s a quiet sort of companion for the day, and I found it worked well for just about anything. Â I think where the watch would excel would be in the outdoors. You know, actually venturing out. Â So, with the warm weather just around the corner, strap on those hiking boots and a backpack, and get yourself a sturdy, well-designed watch. You know, like the Venture. Â Which, at a price of $650Â feels like an absolute steal. Â ravenwatches.com
If you’d like to know a little more about Laughlin’s design process, you’ll want to check out this podcastÂ episodeÂ from Two Broke Watch Snobs.
- Brand & Model:Â Raven Venture (RV02 Sand Blasted)
- Price: Â $650
- Whoâ€™s it for? Anybody. Â I mean that – this is an anybody, everyday, every adventure sort of watch.
- Would I wear it? Without a question, yes. Â Just feels like a great camping and hiking watch, if youâ€™d ask me.
- The best thing about it: The whole package, really. Â Focusing on a single detail, Iâ€™ll pick that handset.
Tech Specs from Raven
- 42mm stainless steel case
- ETA 2824 automatic movement
- Double-domed sapphire crystal with AR coating
- Hands, dial, and bezel all with SuperLuminova
- 120-clickÂ uni-directional bezel with matte ceramic insert
- 300m WR rating
- Bracelet is 22/18, with a 20mm wide expanding divers clasp