Don't Mind If I Do: Diving into big, fun watches with the Bausele OceanMoon IV
The Basuele OceanMoon IV is a big, chunky dive watch in most senses of the archetype. For those with boxes full of burly, purpose built watches designed to reach the depths of the sea, this should be of immediate interest. For those who do not, I urge you to think outside your (watch) box. In all honesty, I didn't own one, despite dive watches having to be one of the most recognizable types of watch and design. I've been proselytized by well-intending friends for years, "You have to have a least one diver in the collection!" Sprinkle in the calendar-driven chatter about big, chunky watches and what makes them so fun during summer. Well, I have to say, that now I fully get it.
Watch folk are a romantic type. It's what makes the hobby fun. We have chronographs for timing laps and count up bezels for tracking time underwater. When in reality, most of us use the chrono function to track a parking meter or the dive bezel as a burger flipping complication. Facing this reality, it wasn't clear to me why a diver, more so a 42mm iteration, was a necessity in my life. After a few weeks on the wrist with the OceanMoon IV, the answer is (that none of these things truly are a necessity) that it's incredibly satisfying to have a rugged, go anywhere watch with you that looks the part of a true piece of kit.
So, let's get to the OceanMoon more specifically. It is the fourth and most recent version of the model, which first launched in 2011 around the time the brand came to be. Founded by Christophe Hoppe who is still the Head designer today, The OceanMoon was born in the sea and has been around for a decade. Hoppe spent time in the Swiss watch world before moving to Australia and creating Bausele, working within the Swatch family, as well as Girard Perregaux. Bausele has become the most prominent Australian watch brand, celebrating collaborations and special projects with entities such as the Royal Australian Air Force and Invictus Games. I've met Arron Cootie, Bausele's CEO, and I suspect many of you may also have met him at a watch gathering or event. From what I've learned, they're a nice group of people.
This is a 42mm offering, 14.5mm thick with 22mm lugs. The lug to lug is approximately 46mm and the short lugs slope gently down to provide a relatively easy wearing experience. The watch head weighs 103 grams. As many people before and after me will say, get the watch on your wrist before finalizing your thoughts on wearability. The OceanMoon retails for $855 USD.
The fourth release of the OceanMoon appears to my eye as the most clearest vision of the model. It has always carried a distinctive 12-4-8 Arabic numeral dial configuration, now distilled down to its simplest and cleanest configuration. No sub dials or extraneous text, just a simple addition of an inner-rotating dive bezel. Dials are sandwich style with cutouts for the hour markers and numerals executed with a beautiful sunray finish for additional character. A circular white date window sits at six o'clock. Standard models are available in green, blue, silver, white and black. It's worth noting that each color is available in limited releases of 100.
The distinctive, bright orange minute hand is large and sword shaped, offering maximum legibility when used for timing. Its joined by short and squat hour hand and Seiko SPB-esque seconds hand. Given the large numerals and hands, Super Luminova is generously applied and presents a sweet lumed presentation. I do think the OceanMoon IV may have befitted from an additional application though, as the glow from the lume fades relatively quickly.
Cases are 316L stainless steel, with the black and green models available in an ion-plated gunmetal finish. It features double screw down crowns in a super compressor inspired setup. The 2 o'clock crown manages the inner rotating dive bezel, which includes a lumed pip, individual minute markers and numerals at 10 minute increments. The 4 o'clock crown controls winding, time and date setting. Additionally, this crown has a small transparent capsule of Australian sand, which is a unique reminder of the watch's provenance. My thoughts on the crowns: it looks the part of a beefy, dual crown dive watch, which is really attractive. The knurling on the top crown is well machined and easy to grip. Less so for the main crown, which has a smooth texture and some notches that don't deliver the same friction one would hope for. Operating an inner rotating bezel on wrist doesn't come as easily as an external bezel, though the aesthetic choice is a solid one and the height of the watch surely would've increased with an external, rotating bezel.
Sure, that all sounds compelling. Now let's get to the tech. The OceanMoon houses a STP1-11 automatic movement with Incabloc shock protection and a Niveflex mainspring. The movement has 26 jewels and beats at 28,800 bph with a power reserve of 44 hours 200M water resistance. Based on the ETA 2824-2, the STP1-11 come from Swiss Technology Production and has become a "customer movement" from the Fossil Group. As access to ETA movements continues to be contracted, the alternatives such as this movement are offering solid performance and accessibility. Finally, it is cased up with an inner Faraday cage and anti-magnetic caseback, which is closed and faithfully is engraved with a globe over an ocean horizon.
Finally, the provided strap is described as a high-performance PET plastic (recycled from the ocean) with a butterfly deployant buckle. I'd describe it as a synthetic canvas and its very well made, as is the buckle. For my wrist, it added too much bulk and I've enjoyed it on a FKM rubber strap. But I wont deny its build quality and it's a value-add to the entire package.
So where does this the OceanMoon IV belong? The obvious answer is - in the water! This is a well-built, functional dive watch that is spec'd to meet what nearly anybody could possibly throw at it. But the bigger picture is that it does just well on the wrist when you want something that stands out, offers reliable performance and distinct styling from a brand that brings a unique design perspective, proudly based in Australia. For me, this really fits the t-shirt and a shorts look on a summer weekend. When you don't need to fit anything under a cuff and just might find yourself in settings, at a moment's notice, where plenty of water resistance and a bring-it-on attitude will suit you well.
The pool for sub-$1,000 dive market is deep with quality offerings. From well known brands to micro/independents, there's plenty of options. After wearing a few of its more diminutive peers, I typically would have thought to go with something under 40mm and vintage styling. The OceanMoon IV is not that. It is modern, it is big, and it is playful. But you know what happened? I had the opportunity to put on something that zigged from from my zag and in some ways, was more fun. And I like to think my watch box became more diverse because of it.
You can find the OceanMoon IV, along with all of Bausele's other watches, at their website https://www.bausele.com/