While the initial Sea Star was very much a Tudor Black Bay homage, Aquatico injects the Sea Star II with more original styling cues. Billed as an affordable daily beater, let’s see if it’s any good!
Aquatico – the Brand
I’ve previously covered Aquatico as a brand in my previous review of the Aquatico Pilot One, now discontinued. For those interested in more details of the brand, the article can be read here. I’ve also recently reviewed the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel, which – in my opinion – is a great bang-for-buck bronze pilot watch. My review of the Bronze Blue Angel can be read here.
Aquatico Sea Star II – Build Quality
As always, the Aquatico Sea Star II packs great specifications for its price.
Firstly, the Aquatico Sea Star II utilises a flat sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. Furthermore, there’s also double layers of internal AR coating on the underside of the sapphire crystal to prevent the bulk of nasty reflections! Elsewhere, the WR rating for the Sea Star II is stated at 300M, which means that you can actually wear the watch out to the pool/sea without any issues.
The ubiquitous Seiko NH35A movement powers the Aquatico Sea Star II. Some quick specs: the movement beats at 21600 vibrations per hour, has 42 hours of power reserve, contains 24 jewels, and is hacking. I’m a fan of the Seiko NH35A movement, and greatly prefer it to the Miyota 8 series movement (which is the alternative movement commonly seen at this price point). This is due to the fact that unlike the NH35A, the Miyota 8 series movements are non-hacking, suffer from a stuttering second hand (some models), and in my own experience with the Miyota movements, are also more prone to accuracy problems. Last but not least, the usage of the Seiko NH35A movement helps keep the price of the Sea Star II down to a very affordable $279 USD (after promo code below)!
The stainless steel bracelet of the Aquatico Sea Star II is alright. It’s perfectly serviceable, feels solid, but just lacks the refinement of the bracelets found on pricier watches. For example, the bracelet is simply brushed throughout, and the Aquatico logo looks rather cheaply engraved on the clasp as well. Speaking about the clasp, it clicks into place fine, but isn’t exactly buttery smooth. Still, it’s definitely better than the torrid bracelet of the Seiko SKX, and for a watch that costs less than S$400, I can’t exactly complain.
Last but not least, the lume on the Aquatico Sea Star II is a beast. The Sea Star II utilises Swiss Superluminova C3, and it shines like a lamp in the dark. I was really impressed by the strength of the lume here – usually, the lume on affordable dive watches aren’t that good. With the Sea Star II, I can visibly see the indices glowing when I step out of the sun and into a sheltered/indoor area! The pip of the bezel is also filled with Swiss BGW9 Superluminova, resulting in it glowing icy blue in the dark. I love the two-tone lume here – awesome stuff.
All in all, the Sea Star II – like most Aquatico watches – punches above its weight in terms of specifications. For less than S$400, you get sapphire crystal (with AR coating), 300M WR rating, a workhorse Seiko NH35A movement, a metal bracelet, as well as strong Swiss Superluminova! Talk about a complete package.
Aquatico Sea Star II – Design
The Aquatico Sea Star II doesn’t re-invent the wheel when it comes to its design, but it’s a nicely composed watch.
There are two variants of the Sea Star II – blue (pictured above) and one in white – though my vote will definitely be the blue colourway. I’ve a soft spot for blue dials, and the blue dial of the Sea Star II complements the bezel well too! On the dial, there’s applied indices which gives the dial more depth. The contrasting minute (in orange) and hour (in brushed steel) is interesting, and gives the dial greater legibility, making it easy to tell the time. The orange minute hand pairs well with the orange half of the bezel as well, though its painted nature does make it look a tad cheap.
In addition, there’s some contrast in texture, with a sunburst blue inner dial juxtaposed against a matte navy outer sector. Overall, I think the dial of the Sea Star II is well executed, with depth (due to the applied indices) and differing textures present. While it’s not exactly an out-of-the-box design, it’s certainly a leap forward as compared to the Tudor Black Bay homage dials of the Sea Stars. That being said, I do wish that Aquatico had made the date window black to match the dark dial.
Furthermore, I quite dig the blue/orange bezel of the Aquatico Sea Star II. It’s a fresh and sporty looking colourway that is less commonly seen than the “Pepsi” bezel. I like it – it gives off a younger vibe. The bezel itself is stainless steel, with hardened aluminium inlay for greater durability. As compared to ceramic/acrylic bezels, the stainless steel/aluminium bezel of the Sea Star II possesses a more industrial look, which is fitting given that the Sea Star II is meant to be an everyday tool watch. The 120 click uni-directional bezel rotates and clicks into place nicely as well, though there is still some slight play.
Despite the low price tag, the Aquatico Sea Star II comes with a signed crown (screw-down), which is a nice surprise. It’s embossed as well, instead of the cheaply engraved crowns one often find at this price point. In terms of case finishing, the case is brushed finished, with polished bevelled edges. I’m quite impressed by this detail – it’s uncommon to find such finishing at the sub-S$400 price point, so kudos to Aquatico on achieving that!
The caseback is rather simple, with some relevant specifications inscribed as well as an image (calling it an artwork would be a stretch) of a dolphin, which is Aquatico’s logo. It’s quite a forgettable caseback, but at the Sea Star’s low price point I can forgive the brand for treating the caseback as an afterthought.
The Sea Star II actually wears smaller than I had anticipated on the wrist, which is a good thing as most dive watches these days seem to be on the larger side. Its 42mm diameter looks just right on my 7 inch wrist, probably due to the relatively modest 50mm lug-to-lug length. It’s surprisingly not that thick too, coming in at just 12.5mm tall. In many ways, the Sea Star II reminds me of the Tudor Black Bay on the wrist – probably an intended consequence, seeing as the original Sea Star was engineered as a Tudor Black Bay homage.
Overall, I like the design of the Aquatico Sea Star II. It has depth and texture, pops of colour in the hands and bezel, contrasting finishing, and wears nicely on the wrist. I wish the date wheel was black, but aside from that there really isn’t much to complain about.
Shootout – Aquatico Sea Star II vs Seiko SKX007
The most popular pick – by far, I would argue – for a ~S$400 everyday tool/dive watch is undoubtedly the Seiko SKX007. Heck, Hodinkee even did an article on the watch! As such, I’ll be pitting the Aquatico Sea Star II against the Seiko SKX007 in this shootout.
In terms of specifications, the Aquatico Sea Star II trounces the Seiko SKX007. Firstly, the Aquatico Sea Star II uses sapphire crystal, which is significantly more scratch-resistant than the hardlex crystal found on the Seiko SKX007. Secondly, the Seiko NH35A movement powering the Sea Star II is also a step up from the 7S26 movement found in the Seiko SKX007, boasting better accuracy, hand-winding capability, as well as being hackable. The bracelet on the Sea Star II is sturdier than the notoriously ratty bracelet of the SKX007 too. Furthermore, the Sea Star II boasts a higher 300M WR rating, instead of the 200M of the SKX007. Lastly, the Swiss C3 Superluminova of the Sea Star II is brighter and longer lasting than the Seiko Lumibrite of the SKX007. In every aspect, the Aquatico Sea Star II comes up tops over the Seiko SKX007.
From an aesthetics standpoint, the fight becomes much closer. It’s arguable that the design of the SKX007 is iconic – one look at your wrist, and almost every watch enthusiast will know what watch you’re wearing. However, I personally prefer the aesthetic touches of the Sea Star II. I find the Sea Star II to possess more depth (due to its applied indices) as well as texture (due to its sunburst inner dial and matte outer sector). I like the pop of orange in the dial and the bezel too, giving the watch a younger, fresher look as compared to the monochromatic Seiko SKX007.
Given that both watches are priced rather similarly, I have to crown the Aquatico Sea Star II as the winner of this shootout – it simply outshine the SKX007, especially when it comes to specifications.
Conclusion – so the Aquatico Sea Star II “shiok” or not?
Definitely so. I think the Aquatico Sea Star II is a good value proposition, especially if you’re on the hunt for a no-frills, everyday dive/tool watch. It has specifications that punches above its price point – sapphire crystal, Seiko NH35A movement, sturdy metal bracelet, strong Swiss C3 Superluminova – and comes in a well-composed package too.
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will grant you $20 USD off all Aquatico watches! After the discount, the Bronze Blue Angel can be had for just $279 USD/ ~S$380, which makes it a great value proposition. Definitely one of the better affordable dive watches out in the market today!
View Aquatico’s full range of offerings here.
MOVEMENT: TMI SEIKO NH35, Japan made, Automatic, 24 Jewels, second stop
FUNCTIONS: Date 3H
CROWN: 3H/Screw Down
CASE: Stainless 316 L steel satined and polished, Diameter 42 mm, Lug to Lug 50mm, Height 12.50 mm, Weight 175 g, Lug width 22 mm, Sapphire glass flat, with double anti-reflecting coatings on the interior side, Bezel Stainless steel with super hardened Aluminum Inlay, Super luminova BGW9 applied on 12H, Back Stainless steel 316 L screwed, Waterproof to 30 ATM
DIAL & HAND: Dial Matt black, Superluminova GLC3, Superluminova GLC3, Handsets applied Superluminova GLC3
BRACELET & BUCKLE: Solid stainless steel 316L, all brushed ,screw fixed, Buckle Stainless steel with Dive clasp
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!