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ARCTOS Elite SEKM Black-Wave Review

BACKGROUND ARCTOS have a watchmaking tradition that dates back to 1923. Their watches are made in Pforzheim, Germany using Swiss ETA and European mechanical movements. SEKM is named after the German 'Spezialisierten Einsatzkräften der Marine', which means ‘Special Marine Forces’.

PACKAGING (presentation)
The SEKM Black-Wave came presented in a very smart luxury metallic wooden watch box with a polished metal ‘Arctos ELITE’ plate on the top of its lid. Inside was the watch, but that’s it, no extra straps or tools. A really nice looking presentation, but somewhat lacking; strap changing tools are a must and a NATO or ZULU strap would have been a thoughtful addition to a military dive watch presentation.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS It’s a big heavy watch. It looks as solid as it feels. It has the kind of quality that one would expect from a 2000 meter diver, yet is quite unassuming.

The Black-Wave is an understated, no-nonsense looking watch. It’s big, bad and has plenty of presence on the wrist. However it doesn’t exude enough warmth or character for me, and the design lacks that certain something. I’m not sure if this is because it’s been designed with the military in mind. Perhaps this is what gives it such a staid aesthetic?

DIAL The SEKM Black-Wave has a mat black dial with professional hour markers. My personal feeling is that, the design of the hour markers aren’t really strong enough and don’t make enough of an impact. A sporty sword-handset that consists of; a large yellow minute hand, a white semi-dwarfed hour hand and a black second hand with a yellow pointer do make a stronger impression.

There’s a white date window at the 4.30 position, however a black date wheel would have looked sleeker in my opinion. Then there’s the ‘Arctos ELITE GERMANY’ logo at 12 o’clock and SEKM (white) and 2000m lettering (yellow) at 6 o’clock. I’m a fan of yellow on black, who isn’t; the yellow minute hand and the 2000m lettering work very nicely against the black of the dial.

The hands and markers have been generously applied with Swiss C3 SuperLumiNova.

The Black-Wave has a 316L stainless steel case with a special black surface treatment know as PVD. There are many advantages to PVD; apart from being stealthy, it also protects the steel underneath from light scratches. The actual PVD coating on the Black-Wave is neither matt nor gloss, but somewhere in between, it is nice and even though. Integrated into the side of the case an obligatory automatic helium release valve making the SEKM suitable not only for scuba but for SAT diving as well.

This is my third watch with this type of case. All three differ slightly from each other. The SEKM, like the HELSON Sharkdiver has a smaller HEV and a more angular crown guard.

The case is as solid and hefty as you could hope for in a watch of this type.

DIMENSIONS 45mm wide (without crown) x 17.9mm high.

BEZEL Unidirectional rotating diver bezel (120 click) with C3 SuperLumiNova inlayed numbers for low light and night readability. A nice firm action if not a little ratchety. The Lumed inlay is sensational !

CASEBACK The Black-Wave has a large domed screwdown case back; there’s a light engraving of an anchor and the Arctos ELITE logo as well as some basic specifications ; 200bar – 2000m - anti-magnetic and the words ‘German Industry’.

CROWN Screwdown type signed with an ARCTOS ‘A’. Rock solid crown stem, nice movement, no complaints.

GLASS A flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating (inside).
The SEKM Black-Wave is water-resistant to 2000m or 6600 feet and is pressure proof to 200 bar meeting with German Industry Norm DIN 8310.

The SEKM is powered by an automatic Swiss Movement (ETA 2824 base) that has been modified to Arctos’ own specifications and fitted with an Arctos rotor. It has a power reserve of 40hours. The movement has been keeping excellent time around 4-5+ seconds a day. ARCTOS might consider putting some pictures up on their website of their modified movements with the ARCTOS rotors.

Solid steel 3 link bracelet with locking clasp and divers extension. Only the bracelet and outer portions of the clasp have been PVD coated. The divers extension and clasp’s inner portions are in plain steel and stamped ‘GERMANY’. The 24mm lugs have not been drilled.

FUNCTIONALITY / Wear-ability
Time and date function, elapsed dive-time scale marked out on a 120-click lumed rotatable divers bezel and a full steel bracelet with divers extension locking clasp.

As mentioned before, it’s a heavy watch, if you’re used to this kind of watch it will wear very nicely, if you're a 40mm dress watch man, get yourself down the gym, fast.
316L stainless steel, WR to 2000m with an extra thick sapphire crystal; the SEKM is built like German Panzer tank and probably tough enough to handle shell or two from a Howitzer.

The lume on the SEKM Black-Wave is very impressive. It’s bright, not burn your eyes out bright, but still very bright. The lumed bezel is pretty spectacular; yep, gotta say; when I first stepped out of the sunlight and caught sight of the SEKM's lumed bezel in all its glory my face lit up almost as much as the bezel did. I would rate the lume at ‘very good’.

When comparing the SEKM Black-Wave’s 1’985USD price tag to the many other comparable Asian made divers on the market, it would seem that a fairly hefty premium has been added for the ARCTOS name and heritage. And perhaps even for the sake of having ‘Germany’ stamped on the case back and dial.

I can understand this to a certain extent because people are willing to pay huge premiums for a particular name or origin on a watch dial, myself included, but ARCTOS are in danger pricing themselves out of a market in which they have only just recently entered into. I’m talking about the online dive watch market; sure mark ‘em for sale in the boutiques, but this is the internet.

The SEKM Black-Wave can hold its own against far more expensive divers - and in a cage fight would undoubtedly savage most of the overpriced ‘Swiss Made’ divers that we can buy on the home shopping channels for similar prices, but then again so could countless other Asian made divers less than half its price.

At the end of the day we pay what we want to pay. But I do feel ARCTOS should endeavor to lower the price of the SEKM and at the same time try to increase the value of its presentation.

CONSIDER You might also consider either the ZENTON M45 (PVD) which has a modified ETA movement or a HELSON Shark Diver ETA. Both of these watches have pretty-much the same 2000m case as the SEKM Black-Wave, but come in sub 1’000USD and make no bones about their Asian origins.

OVERALL IMPRESSION The SEKM Black-Wave is a good looking watch. It’s beautifully made and finished. It has a great spec. and is what I’d call 'a serious piece of kit'. Ideally suited for military use or heavy duty recreational diving and cool enough to earn you bragging rights about your 2000m German Military diver.

It doesn’t scream out for attention, but when noticed it will be appreciated for its subtleties and remarkable build quality. It will no doubt provide many years of reliable service, but at the end of the day is let down by its price.


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