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Everybody thinks magazine writers get everything for free.  Honestly, we like people to think that, and in particular we want every manufacturer to think every other manufacturer is giving us stuff for free, so now that you know otherwise, don’t spoil it for us.  But the fact is, sometimes we just buy things because we want them, and then once we have them, we just can’t help but write about them.  Enter the Deep Blue NATO Diver 300m.

Deep Blue is a newcomer to the watch game, dating back to just 2007.  Taking advantage of the recent “microbrand” trend in watches, they launched to a highly motivated market and began selling what they termed “precision divers” – diving watches built to be highly functional tools with impressive dive-oriented feature sets and extreme reliability, while retaining luxury-grade aesthetics.  Their extensive use of serious lumination and robust construction (not to mention sharp marketing decisions) earned them a great deal of popularity in the military and tactical sector, and yes, we decided we needed to try them too.

Their most recent launch was the USD $299 Deep Blue NATO Diver 300m.  An homage to the iconic Seiko 007, the Deep Blue rendition ups the ante in every category.  At 44mm, the Deep Blue is significantly larger than the 40mm Seiko; the movement is a higher quality, 24-jewel NH36 hacking edition, and the crystal is sapphire rather than Seiko’s proprietary “Hardlex” mineral.  The NATO also sports the rather exotic flourish of a helium release valve; we don’t actually plan to do any saturation diving but if it comes up we’ll let you know.

Like most mechanical watches, the Deep Blue NATO Diver will run for about 48 hours after being set down for storage; if worn regularly, it’s self-winding and will tick away happily forever, as far as we can tell.  We’re seeing an accuracy of about +2 seconds per day, so while it won’t compete with a quartz for pure accuracy, there’s something quite amazing about a tiny, intricate machine that winds itself with the motion of your arm, and through nothing more than gears and springs and pawls, spins its rotors with such precision.

We’ve got both the orange and the black dial models here, the orange sporting a rubber strap and the black an oyster bracelet.  They came on nylon “NATO” straps, which are popular enough, but we just couldn’t leave well enough alone and upgraded the straps a bit.  Deep Blue’s rubber and bracelets, we can tell you, are both very well executed for the money.

We know not everyone will care about mechanical watches, and some of you will care so much you won’t understand why we’d bother with watches that don’t have at least one more zero on the end of the price, but at a landed cost in Canada of around $400 shipped, these are pretty tough to beat.