While I know most of us love all the new watches announced at SIHH and Baselworld, very few of these announcements manage to be affordable to the average watch nerd. Big announcements are fueled by even bigger retail prices and, at a certain point, we at ABTW know that many of you want to see something a bit more approachable: enter the new Benarus Moray 40mm. Benarus has been producing the Moray for years, but this is the first execution at 40mm, and they have continued to evolve the style, build quality, and finishing, while still offering the Benarus Moray at a very accessible price.
Back in 2013, I reviewed the 42mm version of the Benarus Moray, but with a DLC case and bracelet as well as an updated dial design, we thought the 40mm Benarus Moray was well worth a few more words, photos, and of course some video. Be sure to watch the video for a side by side comparison with the Moray 42mm, as well as a peak at a new product from Benarus.
The Benarus Moray 40mm is, well, 40mm wide, 16mm thick, and 48mm lug to lug. Lug width is a nicely matched 20 mm and the included bracelet (replete with a matching DLC coating) nicely balances the smaller case size. The crystal is a slightly domed sapphire, the case back is solid, and the Benarus Moray 40mm is water resistant to 1000M (double that of the first gen Benarus Moray 42mm I reviewed previously) and tool-ready with an automatic HEV integrated into the nine o’clock case side. Thankfully, the lugs are drilled, and the Benarus Moray 40mm comes with a matching soft rubber strap.
Having been sandblasted before the DLC coating is applied, the case is matte finished and has a very tactical presence. Legibility is outstanding thanks to a large hand set, proportionally-matched and lumed applied markers, and a bright white paint used for the bezel markings. The lume on the hands and markers is long-lasting and very bright, just as I’ve come to expect from Benarus. Unfortunately, beyond the pip at 0, the luminous treatment does not extend onto the rotating bezel. For practicality, I know nothing more than a pip is needed, but I do like the look of a glowing luminous bezel.
Bezel action is really good, as is the execution and functionality of the crown, which is both large enough and sharp enough to provide a nicely positive grip. The Benarus Moray is available in three different versions, each of which can be had with or without a date function. Along with the all-DLC version seen here, you can chose brushed stainless steel with a black or a grey dial. Given that the choice is between a date at 4:30 or no date, I’d go no-date every time. This flexibility is a real advantage for a small brand like Benarus. They can do things that are not always possible for larger brands that have to carefully manage their costs and present the widest range of appeal vs. the number of SKUs. To that end, the DLC version of the Benarus Moray 40mm is a seriously limited offering, with only ten made (five with date, five without). In fact, the entire Benarus Moray 40mm production is just 100 units.
Like the Benarus Moray 42mm and many other indie divers on the market today, the Benarus Moray 40mm uses the Miyota 9015 automatic movement, housed within an anti-magnetic inner case. This is a Japanese movement made by a subsidiary of Citizen and it’s meant to offer a less expensive alternative to Swiss movements like the ETA 2824. In my experience, the Miyota 9015 is every bit a competitor for the ETA 2824 and offers solid timekeeping and reliability at a lesser cost. If you’re looking for good value, your dollars will go further with a 9015-based watch, and you can read more about the movement here.
The dial is where I see the most improvement over the first gen Benarus Moray 42mm. The 40mm sports a finer material for the dial base and upgrades the 42’s painted markers for applied markers that simply look excellent and leave more of the dial open for negative space. You still get large luminous arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 and the hands are similar to those on the 42mm version.
On wrist, the Benarus Moray 40mm is a delight – there is no reason to make it more complicated than that. With the bracelet sized, I found it extremely comfortable and wearable on my 6.5-inch wrist. Weight (with two links removed) is 190 grams, which is heavy but not excessive for a tool watch on a bracelet. The combination of the 40mm width and 48mm lug to lug allows the watch to sit flat and not extend off the bonier parts of my wrist. Additionally, the smaller case width allows the 16mm thickness to be quite deceptive, the Benarus Moray 40mm never felt too thick on my wrist.
While the rubber strap is nicely made and quite comfortable, the matching DLC bracelet is the way to go. The bracelet on the Benarus Moray 42mm is great, and the 40mm follows in step. Screwed links and a simple fold-over clasp with micro adjustment allows for simple sizing and, with a slight taper to 18mm at the clasp, the bracelet offers a svelte profile that matches nicely with the smaller case size.
The Benarus Moray 40mm successfully translates the strengths of its 42mm and 44mm siblings in a package designed for those who prefer a smaller watch. Benarus isn’t the only indie dive watch brand offering a 40mm diver, but regardless of the brand, I think it signifies that the indie “online brand” scene has matured to a point where they can offer value to an ever-growing field of enthusiasts. Benarus advised me that while they decided to build a 40mm version due to some requests from customers, their larger 44mm and 47mm models (Moray and Megalodon) are far more popular than the 40mm and 42mm versions.
For those of you who complain that so many dive watches are too big for your tastes, here is a nicely made watch in a size that, while on the thicker side, offers an appeal and presence that is unlike any of the other Benarus watches I’ve seen in person.
While this may not be the most popular model in their line up, I applaud Benarus for offering a 40mm design and it will undoubtedly be appealing to those who are aware of the brand (and its considerable following) but prefer a smaller case size. Just as I really liked the Benarus Moray 42, I really like the Benarus Moray 40. Not only is the size difference appealing, but the inclusion of additional water resistance and an anti-magnetic case show that Benaurs is investing in the continued development of true sport watches.
Priced from $700 USD in brushed steel and $775 for the DLC versions, the Benarus Moray 40mm is yet another watch from Benarus that offers huge value for your dollar, with or without a date. As with past Morays, for way under $1000, you get a nicely made automatic dive watch with a good bracelet, solid Japanese movement and your choice of grey, black, or all black (if you hurry). benaruswatches.com
>Model: Moray 40mm
>Price: $775 (as reviewed)
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone wanting a solid sportwatch with a somewhat smaller on-wrist footprint.
>Best characteristic of watch: Its excellent proportions.
>Worst characteristic of watch: No lume on the bezel scale.