Protos Dive Watch (Review) + interview with founder

Today we are gonna look at a watch from a company called Protos. I wanted to look at this watch for some time, but they sold out everything they had, but now they have the 2nd batch for sale. So the watch was a success if it got sold out, so I wanted to look at one even more now. About month ago I got the watch in for a review and I got to say, I was surprised by a couple of things that I wasn’t expecting. So the company is called Protos. They are another watch company that was crowdfunded and from what I understand a pretty successful one, and I can see why. Protos was crowd-funded about 2 years ago on Kickstarter and they got funded for £8,300. They basically want to make dive watches that resemble vintage designs of the early scuba diving tool watches from the 1950’s.

Before we take a closer look at the watch, let’s chat a little with the founder of the company Nick:

1. Introduce yourself

​My name is Nick Black and I am the founder of Protos watches. I currently live in Chengdu, China but originally I am from Scotland.​
2. What started your watch passion?
​I have loved watches since I was a really young kid. I remember when I was 6 years old my dad took me to a Swatch shop to buy me my first watch. That whole experience of choosing a design, trying on different watches and leaving the store with a new watch on my wrist was just magic. It stayed with me. As a kid in the 80’s I was also a huge Knightrider fan​ ​and loved that Michael Knight​’s digital watch could be used to talk to Kit.It was so cool. I still love that watch.
3. What makes a good wristwatch to you?
​Any watch that makes me feel good about myself when I wear it. When I choose a watch, I’m not overly obsessive about the tangible aspects such as price, spec, image – I am more interested in the intangible feeling I get when I put the watch on and glance down at my wrist. I think watches are so personal and an extension of my personality. Different watches can reflect different moods, memories or times in your life. A good watch gives you both confidence and comfort. 
4. How much watches do you have in your personal collection?
​In no particular order:
  • Seiko SKX007
  • Seiko Prospex SRP777
  • Seiko Superior SKZ330K
  • Rolex Submariner 114060 (No Date)​
  • ​Casio F-91W​
  • Casio G Shock 3229​
  • 9 x Swatches from various years
  • My grandfathers gold TIMEX
  • PROTOS Dive Watch 🙂
5. Who is your ideal customer?
​My ideal customer is definitely not a watch snob, but someone who wears a watch for their own pleasure, not someone that is trying to impress others. Someone who appreciates and understands what a homage watch is aiming to achieve. Protos is re-interpreting a vintage watch design of a rare and mostly unobtainable watch from history. It provides a watch enthusiast with an opportunity to wear and own a watch that emotes a certain era and feeling, but in a tough watch, you can wear every day and not have to be precious about it. 
6. Tell about what you like to do outside of watches. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
​I study Chinese, go to the movies as much as possible, I like to draw caricatures and sketch a lot when I have free time, I like to scuba dive, I travel a lot for work and for fun.
Certain eras trigger design ideas for me. Recently I’m interested in 1930’s designs and the art deco era. Also, old movies and 20th-century style icons like Steve Mc Queen, Brando, Sean Connery, James Stewart inspire a sense of classic men’s style that never dies. All this triggers creativity when thinking about future designs.
7. How do you see Protos watch brand in future?
I would like to continue to focus on small batch designs that tackle a theme or decade in history and do one release per year. 
8. Are there any new watches coming anytime soon?

I am considering a 1930’s inspired watch for my next release. Smaller case design and something to mix it up and provide a more unique watch, as many other microbrands seem to be focused on more modern styles.

So let’s look at the watch. It came in a pelican style box with foam inside. Inside the box, you will find a watch and warranty card. I like these pelican style boxes, they look good and feel expensive. The first impressions of the watch were good. I really was surprised how small the watch is, I was expecting it to be 42mm or bigger, but it is 40mm which is my favourite dive watch size right now. The Protos diver is also vintage inspired so you can see some resemblance with Rolex and Tudor Submariners. The only thing that I immediately did were swap the bracelet for a stingray strap, as the bracelet was a hairpuller.

The case of the Protos diver is made from 316L stainless steel. The case shape is classic Rolex Submariner shape. The case is well machined with no scratches or places where you can see machine work. The sides of the case are high polish, but they are kind of rounded, the underside is also polished and the case back is polished, but the circle in the middle is brushed. The diameter of the case is 40mm, the thickness is 15,7mm, from lug to lug it measures 45,5mm and the lug width is 20mm. Overall very classy size. The 40mm diameter gives it a vintage look. On the top, you will find a classic divers bezel. The bezel has black gloss ceramic with a red triangle and lume pip at 12. I really like that red triangle, gives it some pop of colour. Indented White Indices. The bezel is also uni-directional. Mine example has a loose bezel, but I assume it is because of the shipping, as I checked with other fellow reviewers, they have very smooth bezel action. On the right side, we have an 8mm screw down crown with Protos logo. The crown is pretty easy to screw out and operate, also winding the movement is pretty easy too. The case back somehow resembles the classic Rolex case back, but this one is much bulgier. Also if there are some problems with the watch, you will need a special tool to open this case back, and for example where I live, only two watch repair guys have that tool. On top of the watch sits a domed sapphire crystal. The water resistance is rated at 30ATM (300m) which is more than enough to swim with the watch in the sea or do almost any water-related activities.

The dial is a classic maxi style dial with no date with the Mercedes hour hand. The lume is made to look a bit vintage just like the writings on the dial and the Protos logo. Applied hour markers and hands are in gold colour, and I quite like them that way, many people don’t like that colour combo, but I personally like it that way. The lume is C3 Swiss SuperLuminova and the watch glows quite good in the night and the lume lasts about 3 hours. I always like the look of the maxi style dials. They are simple to read because of the big hour markers.

The movement that is inside the Protos watch is a pretty simple Japan made Seiko NH35A movement which is a great movement and if I ever make my own microbrand watch I would put it in my watches. It is very robust, reliable and of course, Japan made. Trust me, the quality is there. The movement is automatic so the power reserve will be 41 hours. The movement has 24 jewels, 21,600 beats per hour and it has hacking seconds.

The bracelet that came with the watch isn’t the best, but it isn’t the worst. It has solid end links and it looks good. The clasp is a fold over with the lock mechanism, but it is pressed and not machined. I also like how it tapers from 20mm to 16mm similar to Rolex Submariner bracelet. The links are kept together with pins, most of the people usually don’t like these, as it is very hard usually to resize the bracelet, but I think they are ok and if you have the right tools the resize process is easy. The only thing why I swapped the bracelet was because it pulls hairs, so I swapped it for a nice creamy stingray strap which works with the vintage design. On the wrist, the watch looks really good and wears nicely, the bracelet isn’t the best option for my hairy wrists, but it isn’t a bad one either, still better than Seiko stock bracelets.

Overall I really like the watch. I like the size, it is very rare to see a new company coming out with a 40mm diver, usually, they are bigger. I also like the price for the package, you get a nice vintage design, sapphire crystal, automatic movement, ceramic bezel and a lot more for 299$ + 25$ worldwide shipping.

Price: 299$ @ protoswatches.com

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CASE SIZE: 40mm Diameter, 15.4mm Height (including screw down case back and domed crystal). 20mm Lug Width. 47mm Lug Length.
  • CASE MATERIAL: 316L Marine Grade Stainless Steel, Matte Brushed with Polished Sides. Solid Steel Case Back
  • DIAL: Matte Black, Applied Maxi Hour Markers, Yellow Metal Surrounds, Hand Applied Lume
  • HANDS: Maxi Mercedes Hands, Yellow Metal Surrounds, Hand Applied Lume
  • CRYSTAL: Domed Sapphire, AR Coating on Inside
  • CROWN: 8mm Big Crown with Embossed Logo
  • BEZEL: Black Gloss Ceramic with Red Triangle and Lume Pip at 12. Indented White Indices. Uni-Directional.
  • LUME: C3 SuperLuminova on Hands and Hour Markings
  • WATER RESISTANCE: Tested to 1000 ft / 300 Meters / 30 Atmospheres
  • MOVEMENT: NH35a Japanese Movement by Seiko
  • BRACELET: 316L Stainless Steel Oyster (20mm tapered to 16mm), Matte Brushed Finish, Polished Solid End Links. Double Locking Safety Clasp with Debossed Logo

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