Introduced to celebrate the brand’s tenth anniversary, the 2016 Deep Blue Master 2000 10 Year Anniversary collection is currently offered in a choice of three color schemes including two versions in black and blue that feature a combination of white and orange accents. The version in black and orange (ref. M2KILBLKORGBLKORG,) which is reviewed in this article, is the most interesting -or at least the most striking- among them. Delivering an impressive level of legibility in all lighting scenarios that I can imagine and combining good build quality of the case and bracelet with the dependability of a time-proven Swiss-made movement, it may be a bit expensive compared to their earlier models of similar design, but still offers good value for money if you can afford one.
Staying for a whole decade in a business of luxury watches is an achievement that many independent (micro-) brands can only dream of. Staying in the business while moving up the price ladder is, probably, even more impressive. In this respect, the limited-edition Master 2000 10 Year Anniversary (ref. M2KILBLKORGBLKORG) is a nice way to celebrate the jubilee of the brand.
Although I would have probably preferred if Deep Blue based the special edition on a model that featured a set of T100 tritium micro-tubes -a technology that I came to associate the company with- the choice of a more traditional chemical luminous compound is still fine with me.
After all, the brand’s fan base is probably still not big enough to justify a 1000-piece series of a timekeeper that features radioactive -even if they are absolutely safe if you don’t plan to chew them- parts in it, while the lack of tritium tubes allowed the company to create a watch that is both extremely elegant -at least, for a diver that is rated for whole 2000 meters of water resistance- and is highly legible, too.
There is a widespread perception of Deep Blue as a watchmaker that gives you exactly what you are paying for. This seems to be the case with this model, too. Although a bit more expensive than similarly styled and closely specced models from the “second-tier” members of The Swatch Group, the Master 2000 collection gives you good build quality and a proportionally higher level of refinement than, say, Certina’s collection of automatic diving companions. Well, maybe there is just a tiny grain of extra premium for the ‘uniqueness’ of the brand, but, from my perspective, it is justified. On the other hand, you shouldn’t expect it to be even close to an Omega or, God forbid, a Rolex: you get what you pay for, remember?
The only problem with this timekeeper (just like with timekeepers from other independent brands) is that that Deep Blue doesn’t have a network of its service centers. If anything goes wrong with the case or the movement while the warranty lasts, you would have to send the piece back to the seller and patiently wait till the watch is either repaired or replaced. If you happen to live on the other end of the world, this may mean weeks or even months without your precious time measuring toy.
Well, again, this is the price we pay for exclusivity: if you simply need a tool, you go and buy yourself a Timex. Otherwise, I must admit that I am pleased with the gadget and would have gladly ordered one for myself if only custom duties on mail orders weren’t so high here.
Case, Bezel & Bracelet
Don’t quote me on that, but I have an impression that the Master 2000 10 Year Anniversary shares its rugged stainless steel case with the BlueTech Master 500 Diver, an earlier model that was introduced back in 2012. Too, measuring 46 millimeters in diameter and sporting a set of prominent integrated lugs, the body features the same Rolex-style crown-guards, while its 120-click unidirectional rotating bezel still features a black ceramic inlay (albeit with different styling of its luminous diving scale.)
The overall design of the case is slightly biased in favor of functionality over style, yet the Master 2000, unlike some of its German rivals, still doesn’t look too blunt: there is a nice aura of ‘rugged elegance’ about it that makes it more desirable to yours truly.
Speaking of functionality, the massive crown guard provides adequate protection for the said crown, which, in its turn, will be easy to operate thanks not only to its impressive size but also to the prominent notches: you will probably have no problem operating the crown even while wearing scuba diving gloves. The crown, as usual, features a screw-down design contributing to the impressive water-resistance rating and protecting the mechanism that powers the whole assembly.
Although watches with a water resistance of up to 2000 meters sometimes feature sapphire case-backs, this one, again, ditches style in favor of functionality preferring a more practical engraved stainless steel to a flashy transparent sapphire. While the choice of the back cover probably allowed Deep Blue to shave a millimeter or more from the overall top to bottom thickness of the piece, I must warn you that the case is still thick. Well, maybe not as thick as the 2013 Sinn U200 B (EZM 8) model that measured over 18 millimeters in height, but, being 17 mm from top of the 4.00 mm front sapphire crystal to the screw-down bottom, it is certainly thicker than the 2012 Sinn U2 Meisterbund.III that, too, was rated for 2000 meters.
The bracelets that Deep Blue uses for their watches are generally of good quality (especially if you factor in the relatively low price of the part) and are dependable, too, yet I have heard some complaints from people having a hard time trying to adjust the bracelets to fit their wrists. A toothpick and a healthy dose of patience usually make the problem go away, but you may still find the experience somewhat frustrating. Well, a bracelet or a strap is something that is often replaced in favor of an aftermarket part as soon as the presentation box is opened, so I don’t see a problem here.
By the way, Deep Blue claims that the watch is not only rugged but is also antimagnetic and is rated to 70,000 a/m, which is nothing to sneeze at. I am not sure how did they manage to achieve such an impressive level of antimagnetic protection, but can assume that the mechanism is probably housed in an inner soft-iron cage that keeps the magnetic fields at bay.
Dial & Legibility
The trendy black and orange dial is, perhaps, the most attractive thing here. Playing nicely with the massive bezel whose ceramic inlay, too, features the same high-contrast combination of colors, the face is bold and energetic. Yet, it somehow manages to be neither arrogant nor blunt: something that many Japanese (and even some European) divers are often guilty of.
The broad sword-shaped hands are just wide enough to house an adequate amount of lume (not sure what luminous compound was used here, but it looks pretty bright to me,) while not dominating the dial to a degree where you don’t see anything, but the pair of hour and minute hands. The thick orange minute track (it, too, is luminous, as you can see on the photo below) helps, too, although I think I would prefer it to be just a hair thinner (but that’s my personal preference, of course.)
The date window, which is located at 3 hours, is small, but readable, while the central-seconds hand is easy to see even in darkness thanks to a relatively large dot of orange lume closer to its tip.
What spoils the pleasure of admiring the dial is the brand’s logo, which is, firstly, a bit too large and, secondly, is too close to the center of the face. The four strings of capitalized inscriptions (these are, too, were probably influenced by Rolex,) too, look out of place here detracting from the timekeeper’s rugged beauty instead of enhancing it.
Except for these two mistakes, the dial is almost flawless offering you a good combination of functionality, legibility, and style.
As soon as ETA has decided to gradually withdraw from the market of blank calibers, most of the independent watchmakers -and Deep Blue is no exception here- moved on to other suppliers that offer either clones of the most popular ETA mechanisms or base calibers of their own design.
This limited edition, however, sports the good old ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. Staying in production for decades, the unassuming mechanism is good at keeping time, offers an adequate power reserve of some 42 hours, and is as reliable as a hammer. And even if something goes wrong, it is as easy to repair as an old-school car: the spare parts and the skilled labor needed to repair the movement are in abundance in any part of the civilized world, so fixing one is never a problem.
Pricing & Availability
If you have somehow missed the point when Deep Blue moved upmarket, the price of this new limited edition may disappoint you a little. According to the brand’s website, the Master 2000 is currently offered with a “regular price” of $1200, although you can still get it at what they prefer to call a “sale price” of less overwhelming $833.
I can’t say that, for a professional-grade “diver” that is powered by a time-proven Swiss-made caliber, the price is too high, but, if the water resistance rating of 2000 meters is more of a marketing gimmick to you and you simply want something diver(ish) that would look impressive and menacing on you, there are dozens of less expensive timekeepers out there that look just as cool.
However, if you are not interested in “affordable” brands like Certina or, perhaps, Victorinox Swiss Army and would like to get yourself a timepiece produced by an independent, niche brand, the price suddenly becomes more or less normal and, in some cases, relatively low.
For example, a Sinn U212 EZM 16 on a solid link bracelet would set you back at some $2900, while less expensive Dievas Focal with the same ETA-2824-2 would still cost you $1550 with taxes not included. Heck, even a relatively cheap Archimede SportTaucher is currently offered at €790 (more than $800 USD,) but is powered by Sellita SW 200-1, which is more or less identical to the ETA caliber, although is considered ‘plebeian’ by some, um, purists.
Well, in two words, if you like one and, even more importantly, can afford one and are not afraid of it being not as easy to move compared to some better-advertised brands, get one: the build quality is usually great and the fact that the model will fairly soon be discontinued may give it some collector’s value. It also looks cool and, for an accessory, this is the most important, right?
Build Quality: 4.5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 5/5
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Photos: Deep Blue
Deep Blue Master 2000 10 Year Anniversary Diver (ref. M2KILBLKORGBLKORG) specification
Price: $1199 (MSRP) / $833 (“Sale price” listed on web-page)
Movement: Caliber ETA 2824-2, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 24
Movement frequency: 28,800
Power reserve: 42 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Case and Crown: Stainless steel
Bezel: Stainless steel with black ceramic inlay and luminous markings
Size: 46.00 mm
Case height: 17.00 mm
Lug width: 22.00 mm
Dial: Black, orange accents (luminous)
Hour markers: Orange, luminous
Hands: Sword-shaped, luminous
Water resistance: 2000 meters
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with solid links and push-button deploy clasp / Optional rubber straps in black or orange (MSRP of $49.99)
Crystal: Sapphire, 4.00 mm, anti-reflective coating inside
Back: Solid, screw-down, engraved