Deep Blue Defender 1000 vs. Anstead Oceanis 1

Does anyone remember the Anstead Oceanis? I sure do. It launched on Kickstarter in 2012, and it was both the first crowd-funder I backed and the first microbrand watch I purchased. It was a very cool piece, most known for its pilot-diver aesthetic and massive, sawtoothed bezel. It had its quirks, but I loved it, and indeed still do as that watch is in my regular rotation to this day. Anstead produced an updated Oceanis later but ceased operations by January 2017. So imagine my surprise when I saw that the Deep Blue Defender 1000 looked for all the world like an Oceanis series 1 homage. I had to check it out.

Deep Blue Defender 1000 40mm
Deep Blue offers dozens of variants including 44mm and 40mm cases, steel or PVD black finishes, five dial colors, and NATO or bracelet options. I ordered up a 40mm, steel finish, dark blue matte dial on a NATO, which was different enough from my 44mm black dial Oceanis to justify a place in my collection.

Anstead Oceanis and Deep Blue Defender 1000 40mm

So, how does the "Baby Anstead" compare? Pretty well as it turns out. They generally share the same specifications: Seiko NH36 movement, 300m water resistance, AR-coated sapphire crystal, 120-click bezel, etc. Of course, the devil is in the details. Shall I pit them against each other, point by point, and see where they end up? Yes. Yes, I shall.

Layout

As you can see from the photo, the Anstead (left) and Deep Blue (right) are practically fraternal twins. The pilot-style layout is almost identical save for the deletion of the tiny 24-hour markers on the Anstead. Truth be told, this addresses one of the criticisms of that earlier watch, that the numbers were too small to be really useful and ate precious space on the dial. Ah, but what one hand giveth, the other taketh away. By printing the model name in white instead of red, Deep Blue makes it look as if they packed an extra line of text into the Defender's dial, which, when combined with the larger typeface and Deep Blue's busy logo, adds up to unnecessary clutter. I'd blame this one the 40mm Defender's smaller dial, but the proportions are the same on Deep Blue's 44mm version too. While I prefer the Defender's more stylized typeface, I wish it wasn't all up in my face. Score one for Anstead.

Lume

Both watches did well with their SuperLuminova. I don't have a side-by-side lume photo, but here is the Defender in its full glowing glory. Take my word for it, this aspect is a draw, and both sides acquit themselves admirably.

Deep Blue Defender 1000 40mm lume

Date

You will notice the different day/date functions too, but here, a little explanation is in order. Those 2012 Ansteads came with Seiko NH36a automatic movements with black-on-white disks, on which the days were printed ever so slightly off register. Monday looked straight enough, but by Thursday, it was noticeable, and the weekends looked awful. I addressed this by having my watchmaker swap them for white-on-black disks harvested from a Seiko 7s36. I like my version better, but that's cheating. As far as comparing the two contenders, the Anstead's day/date had an attractive brushed frame that the Deep Blue lacks, but the Defender's days aren't crooked. Advantage Deep Blue.

Handset

Not much to discuss here. The baton hour and minute hands are the same, or at least, near as makes no difference; however, the second hands diverge. I think the older watch's black shaft and red tip is classy look, but the all-orange pop on the new kid's face is not bad at all, and far more legible. I'll call this a draw.

Anstead Oceanis and Deep Blue Defender 1000 40mm

Bezel

Things get pretty interesting as we turn our attention to the bezels. Arguably, this is the defining feature of both watches. The similarity in the engraved and brushed index is unmistakable. Still, weirdly the Defender looks like Anstead's Kickstarter prototype before they decided to give the triangle a black outline and a lume fill for better visibility. The lume outline on the Defender gets lost in daylight. Also, you will notice that the Deep Blue's 30 is oriented outward, so it is upright when the bezel is in the 12 o'clock position. The prototype Anstead had this too, but it was flipped to be oriented inward like the other numbers in production because why the hell would you have it any other way?

While the Anstead wins the bezel round on aesthetics and legibility, the Deep Blue trumps it on function. You see, the Oceanis had a notoriously stiff bezel. You could turn it, but only if you applied some real force, with those sharp little teeth biting your fingertips the whole way. The Defender, on the other hand, snaps through its 120-click rotation without any fuss. So, on bezel form and function, I must assign one point to each.

Case

For some vast differences, you will want to look to the case. Deep Blue went in an entirely different direction. Where Anstead had chiseled lugs, sheer sides, no crown guards, and a uniformly brushed finish, Deep Blue opted for smoothly curved lugs, rounded case sides, pointed crown guards, and a bright polish along the sides with brushing elsewhere. Where the Oceanis's case back was solid, the Defender's has an exhibition window ... that exhibits a workhorse Seiko, so who cares? It also has a helium release valve, which is a handy feature for the 0.001% who will use the watch for their weeks-long saturation diving. For the rest of us, not so much. So, after all that, is the case any better than that of the Oceanis? Well, I'm torn. The Defender's is very nice, but I can't say it's better so much as it's merely different. Another draw.

Deep Blue Defender 1000 40mm side and crown

Crown

The crowns are another story altogether. Both screw down, both are engraved, but the Anstead Oceanis had one of my all-time favorite crowns -- a huge unit that made the most of its size by mirroring the aggressive tooth pattern of the crown, proudly wearing the Anstead logo, raised on its domed head. The Defender's crown is just a standard crown. Nice. Not thrilling, but nice. Points for Anstead.

Deep Blue Defender 1000 40mm NATO strap



Strap


Truth be told, I removed the ho-hum 24mm leather strap from my Anstead almost as soon as I got it, replaced it with a Hadley-Roma Brown Oil-tanned leather strap, and I never looked back. When I ordered the Defender, I decided I really didn't want it on the bracelet - not that I saw anything wrong with it, mind you. It just wasn't the look I was going for. I got the cheaper two-piece NATO instead. When it arrived, I saw the four stainless steel keepers and signed buckle and thought it would be pretty cool. It was not. This is the lamest strap I have encountered. The lower keeper serves no practical purpose and sticks out far beyond the strap, while the top keeper fails to contain the tail and also sticks out far beyond the strap. Despite all my fiddling, this is the best look I achieved.

Deep Blue Defender 1000 40mm wrist

Utter crap. I whipped it off and fitted a 22mm Hadley-Roma just like the one on my Anstead, but in oil-tanned Chestnut. As I predicted, it looks great. For straps, I give the advantage to Anstead, because at least theirs functioned.

Fit

The Anstead is a big brute: 44mm wide, 51mm long, and 14.3mm thick. As you recall, the Deep Blue Defender 1000 comes in size large (44mm wide, 52mm long, 13mm thick) and the small size tested here (40mm, 28mm wide, 15mm thick). I cannot explain why the small Defender is the thickest, but there it is. It is unfair to compare a 40mm to a 44mm, and I see no reason why the large Defender would wear significantly differently than the nearly identically sized Anstead. I award no points to anyone but will note that the 40mm Defender sits nicely on my 6.75" wrist, and given the Defender's tool watch design brief, its chunkiness is not a deal-breaker.

Deep Blue Defender 1000 40mm

Price

Sadly, Anstead is no more, but in it's prime, the first generation Oceanis sold for $399. The Deep Blue Defender 1000 lists for $299, has been on sale for $249 for quite some time, and if you apply Deep Blue's apparently perpetual 40% off "BLUE" sale code (you'd be a fool not to), you will snag it for the impulse-buy price of $149.40. There is no contest here, just math. The bargain-priced Defender takes it.

And The Winner Is ...

The Anstead Oceanis! For the folks keeping track at home, The Deep Blue Defender 1000 takes the advantage on date and price, but the Anstead Oceanis bests it in the layout, crown, and strap. Still, I must note that they were tied in the other five categories and the Deep Blue has the huge advantage of still being available for sale. If you don't want to trawl Watch Recon waiting for a good second-hand piece, you can definitely satisfy that Oceanis itch with the crazy inexpensive Defender 1000, and sample a whole range of variants that Anstead never made. I'd call that a win. ⬩

Deep Blue Defender 1000 40mm


Share:
© The Time Bum | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig