TLex How did the name Ocean7 arise?
Mitch We wanted a name that suggested a dive theme, and it had to sound good.
TLex Why dive watches? What was it that first got you into them?
Mitch Dive watches are a good start because there is an easy to reach, established community on the Internet. Also, I have always been interested in dive watches.
I’ve always loved dive watches and I have several in my collection, although I sold some and have not collected others since starting OCEAN7.
TLex Do you remember your first dive watch, what was it?
Are you a scuba diver?
Mitch I don’t remember my first dive watch, but I learned to dive in a freezing cold quarry near Lancaster, PA. My last dive was in the mid-80s, in a cave off the coast of Kawai, Hawaii. I no longer dive.
TLex What sets Ocean7 apart from other dive watch brands? What’s your appeal?
Mitch We take chances; we do things that are different. Our models are not designed to maximize profit; they are designed to push the envelope. For example, the LM-7 PloProf was a difficult case to make on its own, let alone the problems we had making the sapphire insert. We are now considering the manufacture of a titanium version.
Now with the market being very different than it was two years ago, we have made several changes in our strategy. There is no longer a problem getting movements, so we are developing a line of watches that are priced competitively and also have features unique to offerings in its price range.
TLex What do you think has lead to O7’s success?
Mitch We offer the best quality at fair and affordable prices, and we don’t push the same old thing on consumers as everyone else does.We make minimal use of contract cases, preferring to develop our own, and we sell our products directly to consumers at fair prices, eliminating the retail margin.
TLex How much of a role did the online forums in particular WUS play in your success?
Mitch The online forums helped to give us our start. While they are not an important factor in driving sales today, they are still an excellent resource for expertise where we can get help and comments on our proposed designs.
TLex How much attention do pay to the competition and the rest of the dive watch industry as a whole?
Mitch None at all, other than reading magazines to find new ideas for dials and hands, and to check the latest trends in colors and the use of luminous materials.
TLex Ocean7 for all intense and purposes is an internet watch company, with online an online forum. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being based in cyberspace?
Mitch The disadvantage is that we don’t reach as broad a market as brands that sell at retail. The advantage to the consumer is that they pay approximately half the retail price they would pay, had the watch been purchased through a store.
LM-7 Ploprof PVD
© Ocean7 Click To Enlarge
TLex What proportion of O7 designs are lead by O7 forumers' opinions? What are the advantages?
Mitch Model ideas come from us. Forum members have very specific ideas as to what they want, and often that doesn’t translate into a model that will sell well. But there is no better group to comment and suggest changes to our preliminary ideas and drawings.
TLex Are there any other watch companies that you aspire to or admire?
Mitch Rolex. I don’t admire new companies that offer a line of contract case watches that are sold everywhere else.
TLex The LM-7 PloProf was a project that involved a case build from scratch. Do you have any other similar projects in the pipeline, that don’t use contract cases?
Mitch The only contract cases we used were for the G-2 / LM-3, and the G-1. Every other case was custom built for us, even starting with the original LM-1LE. A custom project is many times more difficult to accomplish because of the difficulty involved. With a contract case, just order the dial and hands, pick the case finish, and that’s all. That work can be done in one day.
TLex More and more watch parts are being sourced and fabricated in China especially ones used by the micro brands. What is your take on this? Is this something that companies should be more open about? If the quality is there can’t people’s perceptions be changed?
Mitch There are good and bad parts coming from Europe and China. If a company orders a $5 case, it won’t be good no matter where it comes from. You have to compare apples to apples. People understand this but they believe what they want to believe.
We are honest about where our parts come from. From the rumors I’ve heard, some would be shocked to know that major companies source cases and parts from China and elsewhere.
© Ocean7 Click To Enlarge
TLex What currently is your best seller?
Mitch The LM-2 has always sold well. The first production run is almost sold out, and the second run is being made now.
TLex Where do you see O7 in the future? Retail? Are you happy being a Boutique brand or do you have bigger plans? What are your aspirations for the company?
Mitch That depends on the economy. Our newest offerings will be in the $800 range for 2824-2 based models, and we will offer chronometers for both OCEAN7, and a 2893-2GMT chronometer for AirNautic. We are not considering retail at the moment, but possibly working with a retailer in markets that we cannot cover well from the USA.
TLex Do you have a personal collection outside your own O7 collection? Can you tell me a little about it? Is it all dive watch based?
Mitch Yes, but it is not as large as it used to be. I have thousands of parts for Accutron tuning fork movements, but I no longer restore Accutrons. My favorite non-OCEAN7, non-AirNautic watches are my IDF Kontiki, and my Panerai 195 (that’s the pvd model made in a production run of 200, with the customer name on the back).
TLex Outside O7 what makes you drool?
Mitch The Lamborghini Gallardo.
TLex What’s your everyday wearer?
Mitch I’m mostly wearing my AirNautic Pilot 24 hour watch, and an LM-1 sample.
TLex Is there anything else you’d to say to the OceanicTime readers?
Mitch Try one of our watches, you will like it! And follow our announcements. We are at a slow time right now, but many exciting new projects are in the works, to be released shortly.
TLex Mitch, thanks enormously for your time, it’s very much appreciated. I wish you and Ocean7 every success with all your future projects.
Mitch Thank you, Lex. Good luck with OceanicTime!