BACKGROUND The name 'moVas' is short for Movements of Asia, a young and progressive Asian brand from Singapore, whose main premise is to be; proudly Asian made and designed whilst using Asian Mechanical Movements, which they feel deserve more recognition than they currently get. Their designs however have a distinct Western aesthetic.
The 'AG’ in AG Diver is simply an acronym for Avant Garde, the design principles of which bend or change the rules, pushing the limits of what is considered the norm. In this instance a dive watch that is in many ways defined by its use of contrast to create the best possible conditions for reading dive time.
The AG Diver ignores this principle by using black on black for its dial and blacking-out all but one of its bezel markers. It is more about its minimalistic aesthetic than it is reading dive time. Whilst the design is an original concept, you can clearly see some influences from other European brands.
The 45mm wide case has been constructed from 316L marine grade Stainless steel, which has been coated with one of (if not the) toughest case finishes available, DLC (diamond like carbon). Whilst protecting the case from light scratches and possibly a lot more (I wouldn't want to test this point) the coating also gives the watch an attractive stealthy look.
The case design itself forms a square, kind of like those famous instrument panel watches only with the addition of a 6mm high CNC machined bezel and a 7mm wide crown protector. The combination makes for a very chunky looking watch!
b e z e l The bezel itself is of the 120-click type. Its movement is very smooth, almost a little too smooth, tighter would be better. There is also a noticeable bump three quarters of the way through its cycle, like it's getting caught on something underneath. The grip is fantastic - large well-defined and widely spaced teeth.
As explained earlier it does have bezel markings, but only the 12hr pip is clearly visible. The bezel pip in my opinion is not nearly large enough; it should be double the size or at least half as big again - if not just to look more in proportion with the rest of the watch, then to allow for more lume.
c r o w n A big 'n' chunky signed screwdown crown with nicely defined grip echoing that of the bezel. I really appreciate this kind of detail. However at its tightest point the 'v' doesn't sit vertically. On the plus side the crown has a nice solid action and its stem is sturdy. It is protected by a detachable (via screws) crown guard at the side of which is small button for changing the date.
b a c k The screwdown caseback features an engraving of the Chinese symbol for water. Some basic text is also present; such as water-resistance '30 atm' and its LE # / 50.
c r y s t a l In my opinion, the crystal is one of the AG Diver's most attractive features. The 4mm thick domed Sapphire crystal furthers its rugged appearance whilst adding a sense of luxury. Outside the world of Boutique brands, Sapphire crystals are still (for the most) only supplied with ‘expensive’ watches. The crystal has an anti-reflective coating on its inside, which has a lovely blue tint to it.
The AG Diver is water-resistant to 300m or 30atm. However given its robust stature, its thick domed crystal, solid screwdown caseback and use of double seals for its screwdown crown; I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was in fact capable of a lot more.
The AG Diver boasts a very attractive sandwich (dual-layer) dial with recessed baton-shaped hour markers and a circular ‘o’ shaped 12hr marker. There’s a small recessed sub-seconds dial at 9 o’clock and a power-reserve indicator at 6. The dial color is matte black, but with a slightly golden brown tinge to it. There’s a B&R-style handset plus an additional skeletonized 12hr hand. A lot thought has gone into the look of the dial. It’s modern and classic all at the same time. Kind of like Bell & Ross meets Panerai.
The white C3 lume on the handset is nice and bright. It holds its luminosity reasonably well over time. However the dial markers are quite faint – an obvious drawback that comes from using black lume. I would rate the lume at average.
The AG Diver is powered by a Chinese made, Tianjin Seagull Caliber 2533 with 31 jewels, beating at 21600bpm with 45hrs of power-reserve. Features include: sub-seconds (9 o’clock), a linear power-reserve indicator at (6 o’clock), a 24hr hand, a date window at (3 o’clock) and an anti-shock protection system on balance wheel.
This is a hackable movement, meaning that the seconds stop when the crown is in the ‘out’ position. Thus far I have had no issues with it (given that it’s Chinese); it keeps great time, too. I really like the power-res indicator and the push-button quick date adjustment – very cool.
STRAP & BUCKLE
This is a 24mm handmade, hand-stitched brown leather strap with contrasting black stitching and double keepers. The quality of the leather is very nice – soft to the touch, but quite stiff. The workmanship is excellent. Nice clean stitching both inside and out.
b u c k l e This is a really great item; unique and striking in its appearance. The buckle measures approximately 28mm across. It’s big and heavy, but very comfortable thanks to nicely rounded-off edges. There’s a really cool ‘v’ for ‘moVas’ detailed into the top of the buckle and the ‘moVas’ name across each of its sides. The buckle is then attached to the strap with a standard screw. I’m a huge fan, wonderful work. I wish more watch companies would pay as much attention to their buckles.
I only have one quibble with the build quality of the AG Diver, and that’s regarding its bezel action. As discussed earlier it’s a little too loose for my liking. I wouldn’t say sloppy, that wouldn’t be fair, but it should be tighter. Also the ‘the sleeping policeman’ three quarters of the way round its cycle – it shouldn’t be there either. These are minor flaws that can easily be rectified by moVas by adjusting the bezel coil and checking for debris underneath it.
The rest of the watch is spot on: the execution of the dial, the case, its DLC coating and its components as well as the CNC machined buckle and handmade leather strap. Thumbs up!
on the w r i s t The watch sits up fairly high on the wrist as one might expect from such a chunky diver. However the lugs, which have been curved, hug the wrist making for a comfortable fit. As mentioned earlier the strap is quite rigid, but still comfortable.
Functions include: time (hrs, mins, sub-secs, and 24hr), date and power-reserve indicator. The watch has a unidirectional rotational divers bezel with elapsed dive time, it’s not particularly easy to read though (this is the AG version, so it’s not really meant to be). The AG Diver is about its minimalist look, which it achieves well; consequently it has had to sacrifice some of its functionality.
The AG Diver DLC is sold for 700USD. The non-DLC versions are 650USD. Everything on the watch has been designed from scratch; case, bezel, crown, buckle, dial, which costs money. When comparing it to the HALIOS PUCK below the pricing seems quite fair.
ALSO c o n s i d e r There isn’t much else like this about. HALIOS have some really cool watches with a similar chunky look to them, which have also been designed from the ground up. The HALIOS 1000m ‘PUCK’ sells for 780USD (steel) 855USD (DLC) if you can get your hands one, HALIOS watches usually sell-out very quickly.
The biggest objection that moVas will have to overcome is people’s perception of the quality of Chinese made movements. They get a pretty bad rap; although I’m not too sure why? Perhaps that’s partly down to snobbery. Who wouldn’t prefer Swiss or Japanese made over Chinese made? I know I would, and that’s not because I believe a Chinese made movement is going to fail on me, chances are it will run beautifully for many years.
And it’s not just because Swiss or Japanese prices are so much higher either. It’s because Chinese calibers just don’t have the same appeal. And yes, they do lack the pedigree and breading, but aren’t they just a little bit cool? What’s not to like about a linear power-reserve indicator and push-button quick date adjustment?
I hope watches like the AG Diver can do something towards changing people’s perceptions. It’s got the looks and sophistication. It looks just as a good on the wrist as it does in the shots and Sean Wai, owner and founder of moVas is an absolute gentleman to deal with. He is incredibly passionate about his watches and has worked tirelessly on all his projects this one included.
If you are willing to take a chance on all-Asian made diver then you can’t do much better than this. If you’re one of my many readers in Singapore, and haven’t yet had an opportunity to handle the watches, then maybe it’s time you did; you won’t be disappointed!