Model # Aqua One Military Green ‘A’ (301)
Brand/Model: Aquatico Aqua One Automatic Diver
Movement: Japanese automatic
Material: stainless steel case and bracelet, ceramic bezel insert
Complications: date display
Price: approx. $200 USD plus shipping
Plenty of photos follow the review. Click on the pictures to enlarge.
We are certainly living in the golden age of micro-brand watches. Pretty much never before in horological history have there been so many affordable, diverse and interesting automatic watches available for the discerning collector (or casual collector for that matter).
As a dive watch enthusiast, I keep my eyes open for any new dive watches that might appear on the market and I literally stumbled on the Aquatico brand while perusing the Sales Forum on the popular worldwide watch forum WatchUSeek. I was not familiar with this brand and it seems they haven’t been promoting themselves too much; even their web site appears to be somewhat of a work-in-progress. But let’s get this out in the open right away: Aquatico makes a darn good watch, especially for the price.
What drew me to the Aqua One diver, aside from its low $200 USD price before shipping (which was $20 from China to the United States via DHL, with arrival in four days after purchase) was this model’s great military green dial. It just looks super nifty.
The Aqua One is also available in black and what looks to be a terrific blue dial, with your choice of either ‘classic’ Mercedes hands or the ‘snowflake’ handset you see here. While I own a Tudor Black Bay and a vintage Tudor ‘snowflake’ Sub, I opted for the snowflake hands on my Aqua One for a nice change of pace compared to my other micro-brand pieces.
The Aqua One diver seen here starts with a polished on the sides and brushed on the top all 316L stainless steel case, measuring 41.4mm without the signed screwdown crown; 46.5mm crown included. Case thickness is a relatively slim 12.6mm. Lug spacing is 22mm and lug-tip to lug-tip clocks in at 49.5mm, so the overall dimensions of the watch are just about perfect.
The crown is signed, screws down with about 2-1/2 to 3 turns and has a nice spring-loaded tension about it, which exudes a feeling of quality.
The case back is brushed stainless steel, screws down and is engraved with the Aquatico logo (a mermaid on a dolphin).
Case fit and finish is good with no sharp edges, unfinished spots or ill-fitting pieces.
The Aquatico Aqua One is factory rated for 300 meters of water resistance.
The dial is one area where this watch really shines. The military green is a perfect matte green, slightly olive toned in certain light and looks great against the white handset and applied white markers and arabics. I wasn’t too sure about having just two arabics on the dial (at the 6 and 9 positions) but it’s much better than putting a bunch of arabics on the dial and then hacking them off at certain spots like some companies do, which is something I really dislike. I’ve grown to like the two arabics on the Aqua One’s dial.
The markers, arabics and hands are all white and coated with Super Luminova BGW-9 lume, which glows that cool blue that we’ve all come to love. Lume quality is good and the lume is evenly applied, but it could be a tad stronger.
A quickset date window resides at the 3 position with a small silver frame around the opening. The date wheel is black on white and aligns perfectly within the window. Quickset date action works as it should.
The hour hand is the snowflake design (the diamond part of the hand could be, in my opinion, slightly smaller, but this is a minor quibble) and the minute hand is a simple sword style, which should be about one to two millimeters longer. The second hand has a snowflake diamond about two thirds of the way out on its hand. The ends of all the hands where they attach to the pinion are finished in matte black, which gives the watch a more expensive look.
A printed-on-the-dial chapter ring has small white hash marks for the seconds encircling the dial. Fairly minimal dial printing (something I always appreciate) consists of the Aquatico name and dolphin logo (sans the mermaid) below the 12 position and ‘Aqua One’ printed in orange, along with ‘1000ft/300m’ and ‘AUTOMATIC’ all positioned above the 6. All said, nothing garish or distracting here.
Under my standard 8X loupe exam, the dial looks clean and the quality of the applied markers and overall assembly look strong.
The bezel is polished stainless steel with a ‘bottle cap’edge which makes for an easy grip. The bezel is a 60-click unidirectional and exhibits a bit of backlash but operates smoothly and positively nonetheless.
The bezel insert is ceramic and has a combination of markers and arabics, along with an inverted triangle at the 12. All of these items are finished in white and are luminous with the same lume as used on the dial. The bezel insert also has a matte finish instead of the high gloss that some ceramic inserts feature, which is a pleasant change of pace and harmonizes perfectly with the matte finish of the dial.
The ceramic insert is military green and matches the color of the dial fairly well, which is nice, because I have seen too many watches that have a ceramic bezel insert that’s supposed to be the same color as the dial, but where the color match between the two is too far off and lends a disconcerting look to the watch.
The dial is capped by a flat sapphire crystal with internal (inside/under crystal) anti-glare coating. The crystal is flush with the top of the bezel.
Inside the Aqua One is the Seiko NH36 automatic movement (which is pretty much the same as or identical to Seiko’s 4R36 automatic) that runs in 24 jewels, hacks and manually winds and beats at 21,600 bph.
The NH36 is the day/date version of the NH35 (date only) and I have no idea why Aquatico chose a day/date movement for a watch that has just a date display. My guess is that maybe the NH36 positions the date display farther out on the dial, which they found more aesthetically pleasing? For whatever reason, I have no complaints about the choice.
I have the NH35 movement (same as the NH36 but date only) in a bevy of other watches and some are more accurate than others, so I don’t know if the more accurate ones are tweaked by the watch companies prior to casing, but it shows this movement is capable of very good timekeeping. This movement has become nearly ubiquitous in the micro-brand watch world, along with the similar Miyota 9015 automatic movement.
The NH36 in my Aqua One is exceptional, running at +1 second over 24 hours in the crown up position and while on the wrist, it shows no variation at +/- zero seconds! Superb! Power reserve was an expected 45-3/4 hours. The watch winds, sets and functions perfectly, which has of course contributed to my overall enjoyment of this piece.
The bracelet is a fully brushed all stainless steel Oyster style with solid end links and a double locking signed clasp with machined deployant. The clasp has four micro-adjustment holes. There is no dive extension or half links. The links are secured with standard split pins and sizing the bracelet was a straightforward exercise.
It would be nice if watch companies would include at least one half link on a bracelet, since lately it seems I have encountered too many watches that are either too tight or too loose and where a half link would make all the difference. The Aqua One almost fell into this category for me, but I was able to achieve a comfortable fit after all. Comfort while wearing the watch is good and the balance of the watch on the wrist is just right.
The bracelet measures 22mm at the lugs and tapers to 20.1mm at the clasp.
Presentation is simple, with a small blue cardboard box with a white cardboard sleeve, totally appropriate for the price point. No instructions or specifications were supplied, just a warranty card with a rather poor translation into English. It’s also the only watch warranty card I have ever seen that specifically states no warranty coverage due to earthquakes (!)
As I mentioned earlier, despite the company’s web site being a bit incomplete in parts, the actual on-line ordering of the watch went fine and shipment occurred in less than 24 hours from ordering. Delivery took four days from China, so no complaints here.
Overall, the Aquatico Aqua One automatic dive watch is a terrific piece. It features excellent build quality, solid credentials and a not-totally derivative look to create an unbeatable value. Aquatico appears to be an upstart company that has a future to it if they would only get the word out more. A smashing first effort!
Pros: perfect military green dial and bezel, high quality dial work, accurate Seiko automatic movement, solid build quality with good crown action, impressively low price
Cons: minute hand could be a bit longer, lume could be a bit brighter, a half link in the bracelet would be nice
Verdict: the Aquatico Aqua One is a micro-brand dive watch that merits your close attention if you want a good looking, well-made diver that won’t break the bank while looking and feeling like a much more expensive watch. Nicely done!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.