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The SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch aims to drive innovation and sustainability in the otherwise often conservative watch industry. Materials and manufacturing methods are rethought, turning classic-looking OceanRider watches into forward-thinking timepieces!
Why start a sustainable watch brand
I think it’s important to think outside the box and learn about new brands and their wristwatches. The fact that getting out of your comfort zone can sometimes be very exciting and rewarding is proven by the still young watch brand SDC Watches. Founded as recently as 2020, the company has brought the trend of upcycling to the watch industry, which tends to be more conservatively oriented than other industries.
The idea of a sustainable watch brand came to founder and CEO Sean Clements, who thus wanted to combine his interests in diving and watches while doing something meaningful for the planet. There is hardly any other place in the world where the destruction of the environment by humans is as evident as in the oceans. Microplastics, overfishing, oil spills, dying coral reefs and gigantic whirlpools of waste are just some of the problems that are now impossible to ignore.
How the vision of the sustainable watch is to succeed
Dive watches must be the perfect ambassadors for the watch industry to drive change. Since 2021, about a year after its founding, SDC Watches has unveiled its OceanRider collection. The four diving watches are the first timepieces to realize the brand’s exciting concept. The vision: a combination of luxury and sustainability – two concepts that were actually incompatible with each other until now. To achieve this, the brand relies on recycled materials such as wetsuits turned into bracelets, degradable packaging and support for environmental organizations.
The OceanRider collection comprises four models. They are named after four shark species. My test model today, the Silky Grey Watch, is dedicated to the silky shark. The 2 to 3 meter long animal is one of the most traded shark species; its population is constantly decreasing. Meanwhile, the silky shark is classified as potentially endangered.
In the unboxing
SDC Watches kindly sent me the OceanRider Silky Grey Watch for this watch review. Anyone who also decides to buy one of the four models has automatically already donated 5% of the purchase price to the Marine Conservation Society when buying the watch, which costs just £399 – a good cause, in my opinion. The non-profit British organization is committed to the preservation of the oceans.
When opening the packaging, I am reminded the second time that I am not dealing with a conventionally manufactured watch here. The watch box itself is made from 100% biodegradable FSC materials. It was even glued with a vegan water-based adhesive, as I was told by SDC. Nevertheless, I do not have to accept any qualitative losses. Who knows nothing about the sustainability of this watch, will not notice any differences to a “normal” packaging! At some point, you will also have to throw away this box. The good news is that even the foam inserts are fully recyclable.
But now for the watch. SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch doesn’t necessarily appear to be a true revolution on the outside either. I like that. Just think of new electric cars that want to convey their sustainability to the outside world with an offbeat design, and in the process creep rather than inspire. The design of the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch, on the other hand, is anything but creepy. Those who expect a visually classic diver’s watch with a striking bezel, dot indices and stainless steel case will not be disappointed.
The SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch on the wrist
I notice that the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch differs considerably from the competition in one respect when I put the diver’s watch on for the first time. Instead of conventional straps, SDC Watches presents a strap made from recycled neoprene suits. But more on that later.
First I am interested in the look on the wrist. Here, the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch meets all the requirements of a timeless diver’s watch. Functional, elegant and with dignified colors, the timepiece convinces in every situation. It is this flexibility that we appreciate so much in diving watches. The SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch can always be worn. In the office, on upscale occasions and of course under water.
With a diameter of 42 millimeters, the diver’s watch has a pleasantly moderate size and does not appear too bulky. However, the length between the lugs is also crucial on the wrist. 48 millimeters is a measurement that everyone can wear well. Thanks to the strikingly curved lugs, the watch sits well on the skin. The case does not protrude. In height, it measures 14.3 millimeters including the crystal and case back.
The case of the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch
The case’s top priority is functionality. For all skeptics in advance: the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch not only looks like a diver’s watch, its case also has many important features for underwater use. It is made of solid 316L stainless steel, which can easily withstand external influences such as pressure or shocks. There is praise for the case finish. The primarily matte polished surfaces make a very good impression and feel impeccably finished. SDC itself always emphasizes that it adheres to the highest production standards and only purchases materials from selected suppliers. In the entry-level price segment, the result is impressive!
The black bezel is made of lightweight ceramic and can maintain the quality level of the case middle construction. Turnable counterclockwise, it can be used as a diving bezel to read the remaining dive time under water. The bezel encases a watch crystal, which is made of scratch-resistant and high-quality sapphire. SDC has decided against a classic doming. Thus, the watch is not even higher.
Glass has also been generously installed on the back. Here, a circular glass back allows a view of the movement, which I’d like to say a few words about in a moment. The viewing window is framed by a sixfold screwed case back. This allows the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch to actually dive a whopping 300 meters. So you don’t have to make any compromises on professional dives. Only a helium valve is omitted.
Equipped with a movement from Seiko
Through the glass bottom, you can see the working movement with automatic winding. This is a NH35 caliber from Seiko. The relatively inexpensive movement contributes to the moderate price of the watch. A power reserve of 41 hours should be sufficient for most. Especially if you wear the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch on your wrist every day. The movement offers the typical second, minute, hour and a date complication functions.
Winding up via the crown is very easy due to the fluted sides. To improve everyday functionality, the crown is flanked by a built-up crown protector.
Dial and bracelet of the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch
The silky shark gray of the dial gives the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch its name. Nevertheless, gray boredom does not arise, because the red second hand provides for colorful accents. The color red seems to be popular. Other brands like Vandaag and even Rolex accentuate the dials of their diving watches like this (Click here for my reviews of the Vandaag Tiefsee Automatic Balance and the Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Single Red). The signal color also makes the second hand stand out more and makes it easier to read the exact original time.
Hour and minute hands are polished and covered with Swiss BGW9 Super-Luminova. This also applies to the indices. In the darkness, the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch convinces with very good luminosity values. One more thing to mention is the rectangular date window, which has been inset at 3 o’clock.
Finally, I would like to take a closer look at the strap. In fact, it consists of neoprene suits sewn into silicone rubber. You can see that – if you know it. Per quick release, the bracelet can be replaced in seconds. The lug width is 20 millimeters. You can’t complain about the wearing comfort. This is not worse than alternatives such as rubber or silicone bracelets.
My conclusion about the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch
With the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch, I tested the first watch that really takes the issue of sustainability seriously and tries to replace conventional materials and manufacturing methods with innovative solutions in many places. Examples include the packaging and the recycled strap.
What I find interesting is the fact that you can’t really tell that the SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch (and its three sister models) are sustainable. But why should you? Why try to make a good dive watch design look worse? Customers would rather be put off by that. The SDC OceanRider Silky Grey Watch definitely shows the makers’ love for diving. This has resulted in a successful product that honors the love of diving and the beauty of the marine world, while also highlighting the dangers and threats we face.
I can also recommend the purchase thanks to the very fair price of only £399.