In February of 2017, the monthly giveaway watch on aBlogtoWatch was a Stranger Ocean Predator Diver watch. The winner was Jeremy P. from Lancaster, New York, USA, and after enjoying his new timepiece (retail price $549), he has given a watch winner review for us to share with you – the aBlogtoWatch audience. Thanks to Jeremy and all the other watch winners who share experiences with the world. Here is Jeremy’s review:
As the winner of aBlogtoWatch’s February watch giveaway, I was excited to be able to choose and receive a Stranger Ocean Predator Diver watch and test the quality and practicality of the newer independent watch company. I’ve always been intrigued and curious about some of the more unique and distinctive watches being designed by companies with significantly less history than the big names that adorn most watch nerd’s wrists. My new Stranger Ocean Predator was subjected to some rough testing over the last few weeks and has surprised me in what kind of value is offered by the Stranger brand, even if it doesn’t carry the brand recognition we often pay a premium for.
When I purchase watches, like many, I want the most value for my money and I limit myself to well-known brands and well-reviewed watches. I will often research an individual watch for many weeks, reading everything ever written on the timepiece before making my choice. When I was asked to choose which Ocean Predator model I would like to receive, I became a little dismayed at the lack of reviews available for me to read before choosing. I can appreciate the uphill battle small watch startups face getting their name out into the market, even when they make a great product.
The five watches in the collection are mechanically the same and only cosmetic differences separate them. I played it safe and chose the Bull Shark Ocean Predator – black face, silver steel case, and black kevlar band with orange contrast stitching. It’s classic and sporty with just a pop of flash in the band stitching and that hammered dial really adds a ton of character to this line. It’s also available as the Megalodon – silver case, white face; Barracuda – rose gold case, black face; Orca – black case, black face; and Leopard Seal – rose gold case, white face. They all have their own appeal and offer a flavor for every personality.
My idea of a quality dive watch is a practical and durable tool watch meant for real activity, even if most people will only ever desk dive with the resident diver in their collection. I will admit that I will never reach the 200 meter limit on my Stranger. It will be lucky to see 2 meters, but I get a sense of confidence knowing it can theoretically reach such lofty depths. I actually prefer to increase my altitude rather than my depth, so with the new Stranger on my wrist, I took off to climb a few quick day hike mountains in New York’s Adirondack range and put it to a real world test. I started the Saranac Six (six mountains surrounding the town of Saranac Lake, NY that are climbed in succession) last Fall and headed north to finish the last two in a weekend.
The watch is wider than I usually find comfortable at 44mm and wears large as it is anything but thin. Surprisingly, the weight disappeared on my wrist and I forgot it was there quickly. The lugs angle down and do a good job of hugging the wrist. Weight is lighter than one would expect for a watch of this size, but it still feels indestructible and solid. The dual crowns have super grippy machined ridges and screw into the case very snug. I’m still trying to figure out what the seemingly faux screwed-in rectangle is on the right side of the case between the crowns. It seems to balance the watch and add visual appeal, even if the practical side of me hates useless decoration.
The upper crown operates the internal rotating bezel which I’ll never use due to the time involved in first unscrewing the crown, setting it, and then re-screwing the crown. It’s novel and operates flawlessly – I just don’t have a practical use for it.
On the other hand, the applied indices are nicely trimmed with bright metal that makes readability outstanding. It’s easily the most legible watch I own. The hands copy the indices, both of which utilize working Super-LumiNova. The date window doesn’t match the face color and it’s slightly off-center between the four and five o’clock indices, but I suppose that is the limitation of using stock bulletproof Seiko automatic movements. For the price and the reliability that comes with the movement, I’m ok with this slight imperfection in the design, but some others might find it unacceptable. The selling point for me with this watch is the thick stainless steel case paired with a scratch-resistant, sapphire AR-coated crystal. I have a bad habit of brushing up against limbs, rocks, tent poles, and just about anything else abrasive I can find in the wilderness. Bulletproof construction is a must for a practicable tool watch.