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Audric SeaBorne 500 M Dive Watch Prototype Review ( 43mm case/51mm L2L/15.4mm height/22mm lugs)

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  • Audric SeaBorne 500 M Dive Watch Prototype Review ( 43mm case/51mm L2L/15.4mm height/22mm lugs)

    The ridged “sunburst” pattern that defines the whole ensemble looks cheap and is not guaranteed to make it to the final production


    Audric SeaBorne 500 M Dive Watch Prototype Review
    A task that raised some interesting questions...

    JUNE 26, 2020
    9 MIN READ

    A challenging task

    The prototype I received was, admittedly, far away from the finished product. I actually vacillated on whether or not to write this review at all because of that fact. I was unsure of how to approach the task. Analyzing the Audric prototype I was sent in the typical blow-for-blow manner we might normally employ seemed unfair. I ran the criticisms I had of the build quality and design past the founder only to be told that most everything I had mentioned would be changed when it came to the final production run.

    First impressions count

    This left me in a bit of an awkward position. What was I reviewing? A product or an idea? Was it fair to be overly critical of a product that was (supposedly) in no way representative of the final offering? Similarly, however, would it be fair to the watch community that relies on the unbiased, no-nonsense approach we take to new releases here on Fratello if I glossed over a product’s deficiencies just because I’d been assured these problems would be fixed when it came to it?
    …a wider discussion of brand building…

    I expressed my concerns to Akshay Solomon, the man behind Audric. He was very understanding of my position and supported me in writing whatever I wanted to write. As a compromise, I told him I would give a fair analysis of the product I had in my hands and draw attention to the aspects that would be updated in the production run. But also, I expressed a desire to use this project as a starting point in a wider discussion of brand building and highlight a couple of “dos and don’ts” as I see it.

    And so what you’re reading here is one part review and one part personal opinion on how brands should go about promoting their wares. I would truly love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below as I feel they would be interesting and of great use to anyone hoping to start a successful brand.

    The review

    The Audric SeaBorne 500 M is an absolute beast. That much will remain as true tomorrow as it is today. It is a generous 43mm wide and an uncompromising 15.4mm thick. It has a surprisingly stout lug-to-lug measurement of 51mm (thanks to the blockish cushion case and stubby lugs). That lug-to-lug measurement actually saves this piece. It means it is at least wearable. But it is undeniable a weighty piece of 316L stainless steel on the wrist.

    A mathematical aside…

    Just to give you a rough idea of what I’m talking about here, the end result of my equation (which aims to show “perfect” proportions) should be 1.6. Below this and the watch appears smaller in comparison to an “ideally proportioned watch” of the same diameter; a score of above 1.6 means the watch appears larger than it actually is. The Audric had a base score (without modification for the bezel) of 1.39. To give you an example of a watch that typically wears larger, I could reference the NOMOS Orion 38 on my wrist right now. With a width of 38mm and a thickness of 7.9mm, the NOMOS scores 2.4. That means it wears like a dinner plate and anyone used to wearing a 42mm Breitling Chronograph that complains a 38mm NOMOS is “too small” should really think twice about what they actually mean by that.

    Don’t worry, I will follow this up with a detailed explanation of the index with additional factors explaining the effect bezel width and dial layout can have on visual impact. But rest assured, the Audric, for all its literal heft, does not look as gargantuan as you might imagine.

    The rollercoaster dial

    Oh, the dial. Well, where to start. The dial will receive a ton of changes before the product lands in customers’ hands. Not even the ridged “sunburst” pattern that defines the whole ensemble is guaranteed to make it through to the final draft. Honestly? I wouldn’t miss it. It looked cheap to me. While you may balk at that and accuse me of being unfair for a watch that is currently outperforming its target on Kickstarter priced at $600, the build budget is not to blame for this element. This is a design choice.

    A classic?

    Now, with more money to spend on the dial perhaps it could be done so sharply that I would pivot 180 and profess my love for it. But, look, that isn’t the case here. Akshay assured me he’d been let down by a shoddy supplier that had been unceremoniously canned in favor of a new, super-duper manufacturer that would breathe new life into the dial execution. I look forward to seeing it. Because honestly, if it were done well, this Audric dial could be pretty neat. The colored rehaut ring is goofy. But goofy touches on sports watches sometimes result in a classic! Do I like the execution of this prototype? No. It is atrocious. BUT, if the paint is evenly applied and the breaks between the colors are crisp with no bleed whatsoever, I could see this being a pretty interesting design.

    The best bit about the dial is the many little perforations for the minutes. I thought this would look a bit busy when the lights got low, but it actually looks pretty decent. The worst thing? Lume homogeny! You probably know by now that I frequently lose my temper when brands do not blow the budget ensuring every luminous element glows with the same strength, but for once I am willing to overlook the fact the hour markers are way below the standard of the minute dots and the hands simply because, alongside the equally dull bezel, there is a kind of nighttime balance to it all. Could it be better? Yes. Is it bad for $600? No, it isn’t really bad at all. And the best thing is certainly the fact the brand tried something a little different.

    The movement and case

    One big plus for the Audric SeaBorne 500 M is the movement. A Sellita SW200-1 Elaboré was a good choice for this kind of money. If the brand had charged €200 less and run with a Seiko NH35 (or NE15) that would have been fine for me, but the Swiss movement does give it a little bit of a boost. Especially if those sorts of things matter to you. To me, the micro world should be about design first and foremost. I don’t come down to this level looking for horological innovation. I look for designers with a cool vision. And I think Audric is trying to walk the line between the two. The caliber selection was a good choice to that end.

    The prototype I received had been battered to high heaven. Honestly, I don’t know what some reviewers do to the watches they are sent, but it looked like it had been put through its paces by a maniac that liked polishing things with bricks. On the plus side, the case was still structurally sound and the watch was performing remarkably well. The crown screws down and was nice to operate, but on the other side of the case was a helium valve that looked in pretty poor shape.

    So the H-valve on the Audric SeaBorne 500 M is sunk into the milled case flank. On paper, it is a neat and unobtrusive design. The execution of this prototype was not good, but Akshay assures me the helium valve will be properly finished and installed on the production model.

    The case back, I must say, was good. It is closed (thank the heavens) and laser engraved to a better-than-average depth with a tribal turtle design. Unimaginative, maybe, but wholly inoffensive and nicely done both thematically and practically.

    This Audric prototype was a work in progress. Please do not judge it too harshly from the photos. The concerns I raised in this write-up were fully communicated to Akshay and his team. They will be addressed. In what way or to what standard, I cannot possibly attest, but I would be keen to see a production model side-by-side with this prototype to compare the difference when the time comes.

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  • #2
    A very sharp looking design concept. Thanks for posting this up, Mike.