Deep Blue NATO Diver 300
I know I know…. it’s controversial, it’s not a Seiko SKX! People called it a Feiko! A knock off! A blatant copy! Unoriginal! Is it all of these things? Any of these things? Does it really deserve the jabs? I’m not so sure. Let me start by clearing the air, I am a huge Seiko fan! I’ve owned numerous models and have had no complaints about any of them. What’s to complain about, they’re sturdy, well built, reliable, affordable, and the lume quality is fantastic pretty much across the board. But to be honest, I think if Seiko did a better job of listening to more of their buyers though, this Deep Blue wouldn’t exist.
Hear me out here… I mean sure, they’ll say. “The NATO 300 looks just like and SKX!” Well it’s slightly larger… “Well the case design is identical except for the size!” Actually there’s a helium release valve on the Deep Blue on the outside around 10 o’clock… “Fine but they totally copied the dial and hands!” Well close, except for that part where the numbers say 300m because it’s rated to go 100m deeper than the Seiko. “But they even used a Seiko movement!” Indeed, you got me there, it is the NH36, but unlike the one in the SKX this one has a Hacking and handwinding function, so I can accurately set the second hand and I don’t have to spend a couple minutes shaking my watch like a tambourinist in a mosh pit if I’m worried about the power reserve, I can just wind it up…. “Hmm ok fine, well did they copy the Hardlex crystal too?” Nope they didn’t, they just used sapphire….. “Fine, well the SKX is still the most affordable quality made diver!” Well actually the Deep Blue is $249, but they seem to love selling their watches at 40% off, so if you enter the correct discount code it’s really $149… oh and you can pick from a bunch of different colours too… whoa!
Ok, so you see where I’m going here? Do I think it’s a knock off or a copy? No. Is it original? No, but! Do we live in an original society anymore? Hell no! I mean how many times can the movie The Incredible Hulk be re-made!!!! How many times can the Dodge Challenger be re-released?! I don’t know. But that’s what a lot of people are into. Take something that worked really well, then tweak it, update it, add some new paint options or film it with better special effects and a better actor! People will come back for it and drive it home again, or watch it 3 times. This watch is like the challenger (mind you not that terrible 1980s version with the 4 cylinder Mitsubishi motor) it’s the Hellcat. Deep Blue listened to the buyers, they took a fantastic watch and added to it the features the SKX is missing. And they did it in a humble way, a respectful way. I feel they truly are paying homage to the Seiko.
My NATO 300 has gone a long way with me in the back country. It’s one of my go to pieces and has done more than it’s share of multi day trips. It’s not a cocky, loud or in your face watch. It’s soft spoken yet confident and capable. It feels like it won’t let you down. Wipe the mud off it on your canvas pack, rinse it off in the ocean, sleep in it, whatever… it still looks like it’s in great shape. You see this watch is that modern re-issued classic muscle car! It still gives you all the thrills your 1971 model did, it still has that rumble, it still has that power, it still has those looks. But it also has air conditioning, airbags, power steering, heated seats and push button start, and I was able to choose whatever colour I wanted. Back in the day I believe Henry Ford said about his cars that they could be any colour you want as long as they are black. (I could see Seiko saying something similar about their watches…) Well Mr. Ford you would’ve been proud of my choice of Watch colour, it’s the PVD black version. But guess what, it didn’t have to be.
Bear in mind I’m not speaking about the Seiko without experience. I owned an SKX007K. I really liked it, I owned it first before the NATO. Then when I drove this new model home and parked the two watches side by side I was pretty certain they both had a place in my collection. You see the Seiko is a classic! It has a huge following with tons of fans, and tons of support, from dedicated forums and groups to aftermarket suppliers, and all sorts of modifications available to be made. And that’s where it really outshines the Deep Blue. The Seiko truly is a cult classic, it’s the original, it has lineage and pedigree and after the last NATO 300 diver has ticked its last tick there will still be the Seikos.
For me though the Deep Blue works better, the value is unbeatable. As I’ve mentioned before in a Lum-Tec review, you could buy 5 of these Deep Blues for the price of the Lum-Tec with similar specs. So no question when it comes to a beater watch at this price it is pretty much disposable! And having the upgraded features over the SKX is really nice. In fact, I no longer have the Seiko, I traded it for another watch. So maybe I’m getting old. Maybe that ’71 challenger is a little too loud, maybe it rattled a bit too much, maybe I just couldn’t deal with reaching all the way across to the passenger side to wind down a window because it’s too hot out. I’m not sure what clinched the decision. But for me, in my garage, the Deep Blue won the parking spot.