Watch Review - H2O Orca - Watch Freeks


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Old 12-26-2012, 02:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Name of Reviewer: Mark (AKA andrema)


Watch Brand and Model Reviewed: H2O Orca – Dress & Mono Cases with bracelet

Watch was purchased by reviewer for personal collection.




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Company Information:

H2O watch GmbH
Neubauer Heide 23
D-27367 Sottrum
Germany

Tel: 04264-836795

Fax: 04264-836794



E-mail:contact@h2o-watch.com


Website:
http://www.h2o-watch.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/H2Owatch?v=wall


Description of company from website:




Customization is Everything - Under this premise we develop all our products! The usage of handmade or exotic materials, such as Mokume Gane, Damascus Steel or Tungum, ensures individual and unique H2O watches.



H2O Orca Dress Stock Photo:





Description of watch from the H2O website:


H2O ORCA - The New Generation

H2O ORCA = GREATER TOUGHNESS, VERSATILITY AND WEARABILITY

THANKS TO: ITS HARDENED CASE, ITS SHORTER OVERALL LENGTH AND LOWER PROFILE

H2O developed the all new H2O ORCA series including an innovative customization concept with user exchangeable inner & outer watch case. Only your imagination is limiting you!

The Concept:

Create a new look of your H2O ORCA watch within seconds by simply

* inserting a new inner case with different dial and handset layout or

* exchanging the outer case against one of our initial 5 outer case designs.

The design and construction has been made entirely in-house by H2O with our own German engineer, who is a dive watch enthusiast since many years with over 24 dive watches and an active member of a German watch forum. We have developed for the H2O ORCA some unique patent pending solutions. As we are working with our own engineer we could speed up our developments and will extend the H2O ORCA system continuously. In short time we will receive our first CNC milling machine to be able to start manufacturing parts in our German office.


Watch General Specifications:

As their motto states "Customization is Everything" states, there are MANY case designs as well as options available on the H2O Orca model to make your watch a unique combination. As you can see from the image below, there are several options that the company is offering, including an option for hardened steel case and bracelet!





* THINNER (13.50mm flat sapphire front glass / 15.50mm highly domed sapphire front glass)

* SHORTER (51.00-54.00mm)

* HARDER (hardened 316L / 7x harder compared to normal 316L)

* 5 different outer cases

* 2 different inner cases with flat or highly domed crystal

* 2 different 120-click bezel with sapphire or stainless steel inlay / each bezel and case could be combined (except H2O ORCA MONO case)

* 3 different dials incl. sandwich / 2 unique handsets

* 5mm thick, 2-sided (round+straight styling) bracelet with HEX-screws and highly decorated micro-adjustment clasp


Price of Dress Model as configured for review: $1,260, shipped.








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For a little while, I have beenlooking for a fun watch that Ican wear on the weekends or in other casual situations. When H2O released their Orca concept, it seemed to fit the bill – So I sorted through the multitude of options, waffled back and forth on what to choose, eventually ordered it and then anxiously awaited delivery. The components that I selected for my Orca were as follows:


Case(s) – Dress (7CARBON© hardened) and Mono (non-hardened)

Bezel – Bezel 1 with sapphire inlay “15 Second” (Dress case)

Dial – Dial 1 “Cool Grey”

Handset – Handset 1 “Black and Orange”

Crystal – Domed Sapphire

Options – 7CARBON© hardened Bracelet and extra grey leather strap.









Packaging:

The watch was arrived at my home packaged in a cardboard outer box. Inside the box, the H2O Orca was protected within a custom made “pelican type” hard case. The case is branded with H2O’s logo and appears to be very well made.

The inner hard case contained: the Orca mounted on a leather strap, a generic Italian rubber strap, warranty card, two custom made H2O hex screwdrivers and the optional 5-link bracelet. All of the pieces were all securely contained inside the case within separate cutouts in the foam padding.












Case, Bezel and Crystal:

The overall design of the H2O Orca is very nice. The “Dress” outer case is one of the more conservative designs for the Orca line. The polished corners of the case give the case a refined look, but the industrial “tool watch” design remains a constant throughout the entire watch. I selected the optional 7CARBON© hardened case, which was one of the features that appealed most to me for using the watch in a casual environment without worrying about getting scuffs and scratches. I own several watches with hardened finishes and I am looking forward to seeing how the H2O hardening process compares.


Dress Case:











Mono Case:







The fit and finish of the watch head is very nice and the components that I selected seem to blend well into the overall look of the watch. When Ireceived the watch, however, therewere afew imperfections in the model that I received. In their usual manner, H2O addressed the issuesandprovided a resolution in timely manner.

The bezel that I selected for my "Dress" case was the black sapphire coated crystal, with 15 minute dive timer. The grips on the edge of the bezel are very substantial and allow for easy manipulation of the bezel, even with gloves. The bezel has been hardened and, with the sapphire crystal, fairly safe from inadvertent scratches/scuffs. The timing increments on the bezel insert contain lume, which glows a nice blue tone when charged. As you can see from the photo below, the bezel glows nicely in dark conditions.





The crown on the H2O orca is fairly substantial size at 13mm in diameter.The crown is nicely finished, with the company logoon the top and nice, deep grips on the edges to ensure a firm grip.










The final component to the case that I wanted to mention is the crystal. When I made my order, I decided to go with the sapphire “super domed” crystal. The crystal hasanti-reflective coating applied on the inside of the crystal to reduce glare and ease of reading the dial at an angle.




Dial and Hands:

Out of the four potential dial options, I selected the “Cool Grey” version of “Dial 1”. This option provides the watch with a casual feel and, I feel, a great combination with the “Black and Orange” version of “Handset 1). I would describe the color of the dial as “medium grey”. It has a matte finish and the hour indices are outlined with (I believe) polished stainless steel. This gives a dial a very nice look and ties in the polished touches in the case finishing.






On the other hand, the handset that I selected is painted to contrast with the dial. The glossy black and orange finish provides an ease of legibility and a more casual look for the watch.





The dial and hands all contain a generous application of SuperLuminova. The lume is white in color and provides a nice, strong blue glow in low-light conditions.





Bracelet,Strapsand Clasp:

The Orca bracelet has a very industrial look, with sharp angles and brushed texture. It is constructed with five piece link structure and is secured by hex screws down its entire length. The bracelet is 24mm wide from the endlinks down to the clasp, which gives it a very substantial presence on the wrist.



As supplied, the bracelet has a very aggressive look. The pattern created by the small links and sharp angles gives it a very unique look. This, in my opinion, may be off-putting for some. Fortunately, the owners do have a second option. The bracelet is able to be reversed, which gives it a much softer look and makes it blend into the design without drawing away from the design of the watch head. This is my personal preference and how I have my watch currently set.


The one issue that I experienced with the bracelet was related to the tightness of the endlink and bracelet screws. Based on some input from H2O, the screws on the hardened bracelets may be a little more difficult to remove as a result of the hardening process. This did happen to me for my first attempt at sizing my bracelet, which resulted in a few semi-stripped hex screws. Fortunately, my wrist is only 7.25 inches in diameter, so I had more than enough spares.







To provide current and potential owners of the Orca with a visual for what the bracelet looks like with the two alternative options for mounting it, I have combined the two on my watch. As you can see from the photos below, the original side and the alternative side give the watch a slightly different look. For reference purposes, the original option is on the left and the alternative option is on the right.







Mono Case:




The hardened clasp on the bracelet comes with a ratchet type divers extension. This is operated by a lever placed on the side of the clasp. This functions fairly well and takes a few tries to get the hang of it. It is my understanding that a few components of the clasp have not been hardened (tension spring related), which may show signs of wear at some point. The clasp on my watch certainly has signs of wear after a few days and has a slight imperfection on the underside of the clasp.















In addition to the bracelet, the Orca comes with a leather strap as well as a rubber strap. By utilizing the supplied hex screwdrivers, the change-over process is fairly easy. With a little effort to break free the hex screws for the endlinks, a strap swap takes only a minute or so.

The leather straps are well made, pliableand very comfortable on the wrist.Each strap comes with a custom clasp that was designed by H2O. The clasp has a fantastic aesthetic and blends very nicely with the Orca design. One item to note on the clasp is that they have not been hardened. This really isn’t a big issue, but worth mention.












Rubber Strap:

The rubber strap that comes with the Orca is a fairly plain looking rubber strap. The strap has that familiar vanilla scent of many similar straps and is fairly pliable. The clasp on the strap has a polished finish and when it was received had ading in the finish.



Module and Movement:

One of the best features of the H2O Orca is the module. The module contains the the dial, sapphire crystal, and movement for the watch. The module is secured to each of the five Orca cased with 4 hex screws. This enables the owner to easily transfer the module to another case with relative ease. To follow my review (post #2), I will post a video that demonstrates this process.








The H20 Orca contains the venerable ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. This movement is very reliable movement and should prove to be workhorse for years to come. The one customization that H2O made was the use of coordinating date wheels. For instance, my “Cool Grey” dial contains a coordinating grey date wheel. This feature helps the date complication blend nicely into the dial and maintains the legibility of the dial.




Wrist Shots:

The watch measures approximately 44mm in diameter and 52mm in length (lug to lug). It wears very well on the bracelet as well as the leather and rubber straps. Due to the short endlinks and short bracelet links, the bracelet conformed to my wrist fairly well and the watch wears slightly smaller than one would expect.

"Dress" case on bracelet:









"Dress" case on leather:








"Mono" case on bracelet:













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Overall impression:

Overall, I am fairly pleased with my purchase. Other than a few misteps, the finishing on my Orca was well executed and the customer service provided by H2O was excellent. As with any watch, there are always items that do not meet your expectations or areas which could be improved. Below is a listing of the items that I noticed while wearing the watch for the past week as well as items noticed whilst preparing my review.

Quality Control – When I received my Orca it had a few minor imperfections.

The first issue was scratches on the one of the lugs of outer “dress” case. This caught me by surprise as I ordered a hardened case and my expectations were , like my other hardend watches, it would be fairly durable. I followed-up with H2O and they immediately offered me a replacement, which is expected to be delivered any day now. The company's communication was very timely and, given the time difference, was greatly appreciated.




The second were marks on the underside of the ratcheting divers clasp. This was another unexpected item. Like the case, my bracelet was ordered with a hardened finish. With that being said, I expected it to be mark free when it was delivered. Upon inspecting the watch and testing its functionality, I noticed a gouge on the underside of the clasp. H2O is aware of this issue and has proactively ordered replacement clasps. I am not sure of the timing for shipping the replacement clasps, but I will provide an update to this review once they are made available.


In addition to the mark mentioned above, there were also sight marks on the portion of the clasp that contained the release button/components.Based on feedback received from H2O, this is due to the portion of the clasp that contains tension springsnot being hardened. With this being said, this area of the clasp is not exposed when the watch is worn, so I believe that this is a reasonable issue to deal with and leads to a more reliable clasp.


Hex Screws – The screws on my bracelet were very hard to remove. During this process, several of the screw heads were damaged. As you can see from examplephoto below as well as a few other photos in my review, the screws seem to be damaged or partially stripped as a result. As far as a cause for this, I can only speculate that it is either a fit issue for the allen wrenches provided, the force used to remove the screws or a combination of both.


I am not sure what the resolution for this would be, perhaps better quality screws or hardening of just the bracelet links without the screws? Either way, I have never had a screw strip, so something is amiss.





Endlinks – There is nothing blatantly wrong with the endlink design, but the fit could be improved to reduce the spacing between the endlink and the case. It has always been my preference for fitted endlinks and I feel that this would benefit the overall look of the Orca. This may mean custom endlinks for each outer case, but perhaps they could be included with the purchase of the outer case to enable a more custom look for the buyer and to ensure that the buyer gets the proper parts. Like I said, this is my preference and a pretty knit picky point.

Rubber Strap – I am not a fan of the rubber strap provided. The design is fairly generic and doesn't do the Orca design justice.It is not a quality issue as the strap seems to be good quality, has that great Italian rubber vanilla scent and is fairly pliable…but I feel a custom strap designed/styledsimilar toan IsoFranewith aSinn Style hardened clasp would complete the tool diver feel of the watch and give it that “something extra”.


Fortunately, H2O is working on a prototype strap. Here is a preliminary drawing that was provided by the company:



Prelimary Specs:


- natural rubber strap
- 5mm thickness / slightly thinner with 4.80mm at the clasp side
- 24mm/24mm
- 2 different length to fit to all wrist sizes / one strap could be shortened by links that could be cutted / second strap could be exchanged against shorter or longer version
- Micro-adjustable clasp
- color: black / other colors tbd



Module crown stem - On the two Orca outer cases that I own (Dress and Mono), there is a noticeable gap between the case and the bottom of the crown when it is fully seated. I am not sure if this spacing is related to spacing issues related to the fit for all five of the optional cases, so this may just be unavoidable due to the interchangeable design of the Orca. At best, this is a knit picky point, but this is something that I am pretty anal about on a watch and an area where I usually look at when considering a watch. With that being said, this may not even be noticed by and may not even be an issue other owners.

Custom H2O Buckle - One of my favorite features of the entire Orca package is the custom buckle. However, when I have the watch strapped to my wrist, the tang does not fully seat --The tang remains raised slightly. It seems that this is caused by either the thickness of the tang at its base or the way it is designed/angled as it goes through the strap. By far, the leather option is my favorite way to wearmyOrca, but this quirk is something that gets under my skin.


For those of you that are looking for a nice, casual diver, the Orca should definitely be considered. From my perspective, it appears to be well built watch, a good value for the components/finishing utilized and provides a multitude of options to enable the buyer to create a unique timepiece. This, combined with the hardened components, gets you a custom built watch that should be able to take all of the “fun” that you can throw at it.


Thanks for reading ~ Mark










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Old 12-26-2012, 08:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Changing out an outer case is very simple. Please see the video below for more details:


[flash=425,344]http://www.youtube.com/v/lKoHONW-wpM[/flash]
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Great Review Mark! And excellent photos.

Couple of things I took away from your review and photos and the video as well.
With everything being so custom, that rubber strap just doesn't belong. To me , it shouldn't have been included. Very generic.

The crown sits really low on the case, and in your wrist pics of the dress case, shows it sitting right on your wrist. That is something I personally don't like, I see crown marks on the wrist after a day of wear.

The inner module is obviously water resistant. But, watching the vid and how you attach the cases, if you were to go diving or submerge the watch in water Im guessing taking it apart and letting it dry would probably be the thing to do??
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:14 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Very good review Mark. Any one of the issues you pointed out with this watch would be a deal breaker for me. It has come off my listof possible new additions for 2013. Great pictures.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:21 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Great review Mark. I think the Iso Frane type rubber strap would have been the better choice on this watch.I agree about the custom end links on this watch because of the gap when the bracelet is attached.I have to admit the Mono looks a lot nicer that the initial drawings.It is a very comfortable watch and even at 44mm not too heavy.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:53 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Great review Mark. Great pictures. And a very interesting, unique and beautiful watch. Specially that bracelet, I love it.
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Mark, looking at it again, would you agree that its a great concept but maybe not the most practical design?
Its just my opinion but maybe it would have been better to just have 4 separate watches of the Orca line, as opposed to interchangeable cases.
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Tattoo Chef wrote:
Quote:
Mark, looking at it again, would you agree that its a great concept but maybe not the most practical design?
Its just my opinion but maybe it would have been better to just have 4 separate watches of the Orca line, as opposed to interchangeable cases.
The interchangeable cases is what i did not like even though a great idea. My reason for not liking them was what happens when and it will happen strips one of the bolt holes out on the case then the second one and so on.
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Tattoo Chef wrote:
Quote:
Mark, looking at it again, would you agree that its a great concept but maybe not the most practical design?
Its just my opinion but maybe it would have been better to just have 4 separate watches of the Orca line, as opposed to interchangeable cases.
Interesting point!
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:31 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Tattoo Chef wrote:
Quote:
Great Review Mark! And excellent photos.

Couple of things I took away from your review and photos and the video as well.
With everything being so custom, that rubber strap just doesn't belong. To me , it shouldn't have been included. Very generic.

The crown sits really low on the case, and in your wrist pics of the dress case, shows it sitting right on your wrist. That is something I personally don't like, I see crown marks on the wrist after a day of wear.

The inner module is obviously water resistant. But, watching the vid and how you attach the cases, if you were to go diving or submerge the watch in water Im guessing taking it apart and letting it dry would probably be the thing to do??
Thanks, Don (and everyone else!)



In regards to your points:
  1. I totally agree on the rubber strap.
  2. The crown position is not the best and it seems to sit tool low. In addition, I would have prefered that the crown guards be more formed to the shape of thecrown. That would have given the watch a more custom look and the gap would not have been so noticeable.
  3. This was a great point. Especially in salt water conditions, it could definitely cause issues. Essentially, the water would be allowed to sit and cause corrosion(especially in the non-utilized module holes that connect themodule to the case).


As a side note, the watch is rather heavy on the bracelet. The edges of the bottom of the outer cases and bracelet are rather sharp too, which causes the watch to be unformfortable while worn on the bracelet. I definitely prefer the Orca on leather and it wears great that way too!


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Old 12-28-2012, 11:43 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Interesting comments about the modular nature of this item. It is what attracted me to the watch at the start. I think the modular design is well executed here. You can't even tell that it is modular by a simple visual inspection.

I agree about the rubber strap but as I don't wear rubber it is not an issue for me. I am still evaluating mine. I have no issue wearing it on the bracelet. I do not like the date color and think it is very difficult to see. It should have been brighter. I will have more comments later.

PS: Excellent review Mark!
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:45 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Nice review. Now I just need to get mine (if ever)......
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:50 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Extremely detailed review and AMAZINGLY detailed pictures. Thank you for being so thorough.

I am surprised by the multiple issues you experienced with the watch you received. Add this to others who have posted about issues they have experienced.

Personally I am not keeping a watch with as many issues as you posted about. It is going back for a replacement or refund, and that would be from ANY brand (micro brand or well known bigger name). But at the $1200+ price point this watch really should be issue free out of the box IMHO.

Overall I do like the concept of the Orca and the ability to have multiple looks and styles all with the same base starting point. Very well done with the concept.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:17 PM   #14 (permalink)
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excellent review






thx


CLEMENS... makes a FINE boutique tool


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Old 12-28-2012, 12:24 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Great review, very informative and complete.

I looked at those and liked the design. After reading all of this, it wont be on my list.
Too many potential "situations" with it. Too bad
Also the QC seems a bit relaxed or there's a lack of it?. Too many minor flaws on yours. Yes the service did respond fast but I prefer not to use the CS

Thank you for sharing ,
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:17 PM   #16 (permalink)
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That's an interesting piece for sure.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:03 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The potential corrosion issue between the case and the module is a perfect example of how innovation sometimes brings new problems along with it.
In any case whether or not its worn in salt water or swimming pools I would think a semi-annual inspection and cleaning would be in order. More often if actually used as a diver:whatever:

BTW, excellent review and pictures! :c
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:54 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I enjoyed the review. Disappointing to see some "minor" issues right out of the box. I agree with TVDinner that watches should be free of defects out of the box at any price point. I like that H2O CS is very responsive and helpful.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:22 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Just received my dress version ORCA, with grey sandwich dial and domed sapphire and a boat load of goodies!

OFF SCALE concept and IMO = micro brew watch manufacturer watch of the year!

Cheers and Happy new Years!
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:25 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Thank you for the review, Mark.

We are of course improving the points you made:

1. Crown placement: Unfortunately you didn´t insert and screw in the inner and outer case correctly as could be seen on the images. Please insert the inner case until it´s flat with the outer case and you will see that the crown has the right position without being too low.

Therefore all images showing the case from the side are not correct as the inner case sits too deep in the outer case.

2. End Links: 5 different outer cases would require also 5 different endlink designs. The system is living from the fast interchangability and I´m sure changing also the end link would be too complicated. Therefore we decided to place the lug screw below the lugs "roof" and you cant´t see through between the end link and the case.

3. Screws: We will loose the screws before shipment of the watches to ensure an easy setup of the bracelet on customer side.

4. The rubber strap is manufactured by the same company, who is manufacturing the ISOFRANE straps as well. It´s the best quality rubber strap you could get around the globe. We are thinking about developing a new clasp for the rubber strap to add more H2O to the design.

5. Imperfections: We are doing our best to satisfy our customers and did the same here. The replacement case is already on its way. While shipping about 20-30 watches per day this was unfortunately slipped through my eyes.
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