Richard LeGrand Odyssea MK II (Review) + interview with the founder

Today we are gonna look at some watches from a company called Richard LeGrand and this is one exciting company because they sent me their whole dive watch range to review. Alo it is quite exciting because they are very affordable with great quality. So the company is called Richard LeGrand. It is a microbrand company based in Singapore. They first went public in 2016 December with the Odyssea MKI, but today we will be looking at MKII version of the Odyssea. The MKI was funded through Kickstarter and got 181 backers who pledged $ 63,800. The MKII was also funded through Kickstarter and got 105 backers who pledged $ 35,957. With the MKII version, they listened to backers and people and learned from the previous choices to make it even better. The Odyssea MKII now has ceramic dial, bright blue lume, thinner case, upgraded bracelet and a super cool stamped case back. Before we take a closer look at these beauties, let’s talk with the companies founder Alson Lee. 

1. Introduce yourself?

I’m Alson Lee, the founder of Richard LeGrand Watches. I have a strong love for watches and its unique and diverse industry having grown up in an environment surrounded by vintage and luxury watches. Through my young adult years, I pursued my passion and honed my knowledge by learning informally from experienced watchmakers and watch technicians in Singapore.

2. What started your watch passion

When I was much younger, I didn’t understand the difference between a vintage/luxury watch and a mass market watch. One day, my father handed me an old Rolex Datejust Reference 1601, to which I was not able to appreciate as I was distracted by how expensive I thought it was and I felt at that time a watch is just a watch. As my father handed that watch to me however, it was as if he had read my mind as he said “now that you’re all grown up, a watch is not just a tool to tell time.” I did not fully understand what he meant, but longer I held onto the watch and observed, the more I grew in love with the little details on the watch that is on a different level when compared to mass market fashion watches. Every bevel, finishing on the case, sweeping movement of the hand, and even the fonts on the dial, I began to fall in love with every detail that makes a watch a true timepiece. Since then, my passion grew as I got attracted to a variety of watches from luxury brands to micro brands, and it is my hobby to take the time to study each piece and appreciate their unique offerings and intricate details.

3. What makes a good wristwatch to you?

A good wristwatch to me does not necessarily have to be an expensive one. In fact, there are many watch brands that offer great quality at a reasonable price. A watch that is well built, thoughtfully designed, and offers great value is what I consider a good wristwatch. Sometimes, a good wristwatch goes beyond the watch itself. The story and vision of the brand, and how the people behind the brand treat its customers, gives a watch added character (in my opinion).

4. How much watches do you have in your personal collection? 

I’ll try! I might miss a few:

  • Seiko SKX009
  • Seiko Marine Master Professional
  • 300m Deep Blue Sea quest
  • Doxa Sub 300
  • Rolex Datejust Reference 1601
  • Rolex GMT 1675
  • Vintage Omega Constellation
  • Omega Seamaster Professional 300m (various)
  • Omega Seamaster Ploprof
  • Omega Speedster Professional
  • Oris 65 Diver
  • Tudor Pelagos

5. Who is your ideal customer?

Simple. Watch lovers. Watch lovers who appreciate fine details and are opinionated. We pride ourselves as a brand who is inspired by our fans. We always seek to understand what they are looking for in a watch, what they like and what they don’t. That is why we love customers who are happy to give as much feedbacks as they can, even negative ones!

6. What was the hardest part creating a watch brand?

As a new watch brand, there are plenty of challenges. But if I were to pick the hardest one, it would be the exposure (or rather lack of it). We have a vision to bring sincere designs, high quality and great value to watch lovers. We have lots of our own fans who thank us for creating a watch with great value, but it seems like not many people know about us and it is getting increasingly expensive to get more exposure especially when other companies have bigger marketing budgets than you.

7. Tell about what you like to do outside of watches. Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I love the outdoors, be it diving in the ocean or trekking on mountains. Being engaged in those activities allow me to think of new features to add to the watch. In terms of aesthetics, I also get inspirations from things I see outdoors. In fact, our new brushed sunburst ceramic dial is inspired from a gradient I saw on a still lake that is reflecting the rising sun at dawn. I wanted to get that smooth reflective gradient and we found that the best way to achieve that is using ceramic and brush (sunburst) it to get that creamy texture.

8. How do you see Richard LeGrand watch brand in future?

Our brand will continue to grow a step at a time. We will take our time to research and design new watches that resonate with our fans. Our brand will not become a mass market brand that comes out with trendy or popular designs, but rather stay true to our design philosophy of creating intricately designed watches that features classic and modern elements.

9. Are there any new models coming anytime soon?

Yes! We have a few models in mind, and we have just started engaging our fans in our research. Perhaps one or two new designs will be released by the end of the year (we hope!). The new models will either be a different dive watch, or an aviator (pilot) watch. Our fans’ demands could determine which will be our next model! We’ll have to wait and see.

Now that we talked with the founder of the company let’s start looking at the watches. The watches were sent to me without the packaging. But Alson sent me a photo of the watch box it comes in. From the photo and from other reviews I can see that the box is quite good. It is a hard leather box that looks quite fancy if you ask me. I really like when companies make a good unboxing experience. The first experience when I took the watches in my hands were good if I wouldn’t know the price I would think that they cost about 1000-1200$ easy. As the specs and overall design suggests it costs 3-4 times more. I really liked the size 41mm is just the right size for a modern diver. It isn’t too big or too small for my hand. So I immediately resized the bracelets for all the watches and wore each for 1 week straight to get a full experience. I even opened the swimming season with one of them, but I swam with every watch, so I tested them fully, but about that experience let’s talk later in the review.

So the case of the Odyssea MKII is made of 316L stainless steel, the watch has brushed finishing all over the case. The only polished things that you can find on the watch are crown, bezel and edges of the lugs. The finishing is done quite good and works well with the dive watch theme. I like when there is some polishing on a tool watch, with just brushed finishing it would look too plain. The black PVD coated version has also very good finishing on the case but has some flaws on the bracelet, but about that later. The size that Alson chose for the Odyssea is spot on! The diameter is 41mm, the thickness is 13,1mm, from lug to lug it measures at 48mm and the lug width is 20mm. In my mind, this is a perfect size for a modern dive watch. On the wrist, it sits very comfortable and doesn’t look that big even on a small wrist. Rarely I see a perfect dive watch case size, the only other dive watch that had a perfect case size was the Ginault Ocean Rover. The bezel is a unidirectional dive bezel with luminous markings and sapphire crystal overlay which looks pretty amazing and works with the dial. The bezel action is very precise and firm. It is easy to grip the bezel due to the coin edge and pretty easy to turn too. The bezel is also lumed with a BGW9 blue lume which glows in the dark like a Christmas tree. The bezel on the blue version is lumed more or maybe reflects the lume through the insert, anycase the whole ring lumes up. The solid screw down case back is another point that I like, as usually many companies leave the case backs plain with maybe some specifications written on them. But Richard Legrand stepped up the game with the nice stamped case back with the Odyssea emblem that pays homage to the pioneer divers, I like that old diver’s helmet with those anchors. On the top of the dial sits a double domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective underside coating which really makes the dial pop. The water resistance is 200m (20ATM) which is more than enough to swim with it in the sea or for any water-related activity.

The dial is really a stunner, especially on the blue version. I didn’t read any literature about the Odyssea MKII until I received the watches and till that I thought the dial is just plain blue, but it actually is brushed ceramic dial with a sunburst finish. In the light, it plays so much with the blue colour. In a darker room, the dial looks almost black and in the light, it goes from dark blue to a very bright blue colour.  Around the dial, we have a seconds track in white going around with applied hour markers The 12,3,6,9 markers are in Arabic numerals, the others are just regular stick markers. The dial and whole watch actually remind me the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, I don’t know why, as there aren’t a lot of similarities, but somehow they seem similar. Another thing that makes this a perfect diver is that they didn’t add the date window, as many of you readers know that I don’t like date windows on divers because, in my opinion, it ruins the balance of the dial. As you can see from the lume shot that I’ve added, the dial is generously lumed with the BGW9 blue lume. I like how the dial looks, everything looks sharp and lines up perfectly.

The hearth of the Odyssea MKII is the trusty old Seiko NH35 movement. It is automatic 24 jewel movement with 41-hour power reserve and beating away with 21,600 BPH. As you all know this is my go-to movement when it comes to affordable time only movement from Japan, the Miyotas to me are too noisy and doesn’t keep the accuracy so good as this one does. Also, another plus is the hacking seconds. The accuracy is quite good, about +6 to +8 seconds a day, which is great. 

Now we come to the final part of the watch which was a small disappointment for the black PVD coated version. Well, let’s start with the positive, the bracelet looks pretty good, it has solid links and end links. It doesn’t pull hairs out like a lot of Seikos do for this money. The clasp is pretty good, it is machined with Richard Legrand logo engraved on it and the mechanism works pretty well too, it even has some micro adjustments. The finishing is brushed and looks good enough for the price point. As you know the bracelet was upgraded and now works better, but it still has some flaws and from what I see on forums and some Youtube watch reviews I was not the only one to see them. The first is that the bracelet is held together with that pin and collar system, which on itself is ok for me, but the problem is that there are no arrows that point out from which side should I push them out. Another thing that I found, but only on the PVD coated version was that it is almost impossible to size the bracelet. I just think that the PVD coating is somehow making it harder to push out the pins. But just when I was finishing the review I saw a review on youtube where the same thing happened to the regular stainless steel version. But I managed to size the regular stainless steel version bracelets pretty easy.

I spent about a month with these watches, they went with me swimming, through rain, to a fancy dinner and opera, so you really know that I tested them for any occasion, ha ha. And in my opinion, this is the best dive watch in the microbrand market under 300$ to buy right now! And if you are reading this, you should really consider buying one! The package you get is quite amazing, you get a nice big leather box, ceramic dial, nice bezel, bright blue lume, sapphire glass, cool case back and overall nice design and size. So yeah, go check them out, as this is a really great watch!

Price: 299$ @ richardlegrand.com

  • Case material: 316L Stainless Steel
  • Watch size (Diameter / Thickness): 41mm / 13.1mm
  • Water resistance rating: 20 ATM (200meters/660feet)
  • Lug width: 20mm
  • Dial window: Double domed sapphire crystal w/ anti-reflective underside coating
  • Bezel: unidirectional dive bezel with luminous markings and sapphire crystal insert
  • Luminosity: BGW9 blue on hands, indexes, and bezel markings
  • Movement: Seiko NH35A Automatic Movement
  • Dial material: Ceramic (Brushed sunburst finish)
  • Case back: Stamped with Odyssea emblem

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