Borealis Oceanaut

Portugal's Borealis Watches has a pretty appealing line up right now. Two of these watches, the Cascais and the Sea Storm, offer traditional vintage designs. With the other two, Borealis took a different route to deliver something fresh (the Oceanaut) and something funky (the Porto Santo). Today, we'll start with the fresh (I'll treat you to the funky tomorrow). 

Borealis Oceanaut
The Oceanaut is a 200m diver in a brushed aluminum bronze cushion case. Amateur metallurgists and microbrand watch nerds already know that bronze is an alloy primarily composed of copper and tin. In aluminum bronze, the primary alloying metal is (no surprise) aluminum. The result is slightly stronger, paler, and more resistant to oxidation than copper/tin or copper/zinc (brass). My Halios Tropic B is made of the same stuff and I have noticed that its patina is neither as heavy nor as dark as the brown that develops on my other bronze or brass watches. Of course, patina is a fickle thing so your mileage may vary. 

Borealis Oceanaut side

One of the cooler details on this watch is the fluting on the case sides. Broadly spaced vertical channels distinguish a section of the left side and the short area below the crown guard on the right. In conjunction with the coin edged bezel and gear-toothed crown, the texture imparts an aggressive, mechanical look. Careful scrutiny reveals that this is a three-part case with discrete upper and lower sections in addition to the seperate case back. Notice the join line traveling around the inset, lugs, and crown, and that these sections are brushed vertically, while the rest of the brushing on the case is horizontal. 

Borealis Oceanaut case back

The case back is stainless steel and decorated with the Borealis mermaid. Anti-refective coated sapphire glass proects the front. Inside, Seiko's robust, Diashock equipped NH35 handles the time. It is a 24 jewels, a 24.6k bph automatic that hacks and handwinds.

The case measures 42mm wide, 50mm long, and 13mm thick. This is a healthy size, but once again, I caution you not to judge size based on the numbers alone as the broad, engraved bronze bezel makes the dial, and therefore, the entire watch, appear smaller than its dimensions might suggest. I wouldn't call the Oceanaut a small watch, or even mid-sized, but it does look trim on the wrist. Bezel feel is excellent, offering positive grip and firm travels through its 120-clicks.

Borealis Oceanaut wrist shot

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the Oceanaut's design is its signed, screw-down crown. Borealis wisely chose not to have the usual oversize screw protruding from the case, and instead went with a wide, but low-profile head, protected by a sleek guard that sweeps down from the top right corner of the case. It looks fantastic, and in no way did it interfere with its operation. Watch designers take note, not every dive watch crown needs to be a 6mm wart. 

Borealis Oceanaut crown

Borealis offers three different dial colors: black, teal, and green. Each have an optional 4 o'clock date window. It is a sandwich dial with four primary numbers and pencil hands, very much in the style Panerai made famous. Bright RC Tritec C3 lume shines through the cut away markers and numbers. The same graces the hands, the second hand's spear tip, and the bezel pip, but not the other bezel markings, which are instead filled with paint. I love the look of the white markings on the engraved bezel, but I do wish they glowed as well. 

Borealis Oceanaut lume

The watch comes on a thick, 22mm calf leather strap with has the kind of oiled matte finish that soakes up scratches and bumps to develop a rugged patina. A sculpted 22mm aluminum bronze buckle is aldo included. I have criticized watchmakers for supplying diving watches without suitably dive worthy straps, but my growing collection of unused rubber straps tells me maybe I should lighten up on that. The Oceanaut looks awesome on leather, why mess with that? 

Borealis Oceanaut strap buckle

The Oceanaut sells for $399 directly from Borealiswatch.com. I think that is an excellent price for this piece. You know what would be even better? Getting one for free. One lucky person attending the will win this very watch at the November 19, 2017 Microbrand Meetup in Washington, DC!

There is quite a lot to love about the Oceanaut, but for me, the cool tone of the aluminum bronze and the sleek crown and guard set it apart from the crowd. ⬩

Borealis Oceanaut

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