My original review of this watch was written for ablogtowatch.com in 2015. As I revisit it, I am reminded of what a heavy-hitting watch this is, style-wise, from a brand that is normally not very interesting to me. It's a shame to have been dropped from their catalog, but you can still get them new on Amazon. Check out the latest price at this affiliate link. You can also check out the new and used market on eBay at this affiliate link.
The Pontos falls somewhere in between a tool diver, and a dress diver (if you are in the James Bond camp that believe such a thing exists). It has just enough polished surfaces to it to allow it to go from t-shirt and jeans, to a night out at a semi-fancy restaurant. To me, the large crowns prohibit it from being any dressier than that, but I wouldn't wear this with a suit anyway.
From what I’ve read, the 43mm case is made in-house by Maurice Lacroix. The finishing on it is quite good. The lugs have a great curved shape to them, with a polished bevel to add to the appearance of the watch. The polished edge on the bezel is a detail that I love. It, along with the raised crystal, really catch the light and make the watch stand out.
The Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Diver features the now common HEV, or Helium Escape Valve. I, as probably every single other owner of this watch, do not expect to make use of this feature, but it adds a bit of style to the side of the case and helps justify the price. It’s the automatic variety, so it is well integrated, and does not create an additional protrusion. I’ve heard the argument that this is another potential leak point if it were to be used for conventional diving, but I’ve never actually heard of this failure occurring, so I’m not worried about it.
The caseback does not have a window, which is appropriate for the level of movement in this watch, and the fact that it is a 600m diver. It does have the typical engraving with various technical specs about the watch.
The Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Diver also features an internal bezel which is rotated via a crown at 2 o’clock (the so-called "compressor" watch). It rotates smoothly in both directions, and the crown is very easy to grasp, even while on the wrist. I like this feature a lot, and it’s well-executed. It helps to make this watch stand out from the hordes of divers with external bezels. The crown features a black ring at the base which adds to the style and also makes it easier to grasp.
The time-setting crown is at 3 o’clock and features a Maurice Lacroix logo. Ribbed sides like the crown for the bezel make it very easy to grasp. Despite sticking out from the case, it does not cut into my wrist noticeably. I prefer the look with the crown in the traditional location, rather than being offset somewhere else.
The watch arrived with the stainless steel bracelet, as well as a leather NATO-style strap. The bracelet is extremely high quality. The links have a brushed finish and subtle polished bevels on the links. The clasp is a very solid piece of machined steel also with a brushed surface and polished edges. The bracelet does not have any half links, and at first glance, I was worried because I did not see any micro adjust holes. Upon further inspection, I found that they are hidden inside the clasp. This gives the outside of the clasp a much cleaner look. The clasp also includes a diving extension which is easy to use. A note to potential DIY bracelet sizers: there are no arrows inside the links, and the pins are quite tricky. I ended up taking mine to a professional.
A small complaint about the bracelet is that it does not have push-buttons to release it. I prefer the push-buttons (I once made a vintage Rolex fan extremely upset when I made the same comment), bit to each his or her own. Regardless, it is not a deal-breaker, and it seems to be getting easier to release with time. The upside is that it creates a much cleaner looking clasp, and allows for the hidden micro adjust holes. The clasp does have a safety latch engraved with the Maurice Lacriox name.
Most of my friends and family who have seen the watch prefer the bracelet, but I think that it also looks great on the included leather strap. It matches the vintage vibe of the watch, and is quite comfortable. It’s also a good way to dress down the watch a bit. I also like how the keepers are leather, rather than the metal that you see on most "NATO-style" straps. The contrasting stitching is a also great touch. The leather is a bit difficult to tuck into the keeper, but I imagine that it will become easier as it breaks in.
The Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Diver has a sapphire crystal which appears to have AR coating on both sides. The crystal has a noticeable dome to it, and is raised above the edges of the case (possibly to allow fitment of the internal bezel). Despite the dome, it offers great legibility from any angle, and I think it fits the style of the watch perfectly.
I’ve always been nervous about chipping or cracking unprotected crystals that stick out above the case with a careless arm movement. That being said, but I have never actually damaged one before (knock on wood), and the shape of this crystal really stands out, matching the style of the watch perfectly.
The dial has a typical matte black finish. The Logo as well as hour markers are applied polished metal. It has printed hash marks for the minutes, and has very minimal text compared to some divers. I greatly prefer this, and feel that it matches the classic, vintage style of this watch.
The hands are very attractive and are well-proportioned with the minute and second hand reaching to the edge of the dial. Red tips to these hands add a splash of color, and help the wearer to quickly differentiate the minute hand at a quick glance. The area that I would normally call the chapter ring has small red has marks on the hours, which are a great touch.
Normally I dislike black dials with white date displays, but the location at 6 o’clock rather than the typical 3 or 4 gives it symmetry, and it does not stick out badly. A unique font was chosen for the date, which adds a classy touch, and the date window has a nice chamfer.
One minor complaint that I have is that the lume area on the main hands is fairly thin, and the seconds hand has no lume at all. I feel that a watch serious enough to include a helium release valve and a bracelet dive-extension, should have hands that are also equipped for diving. That being said, I don’t plan to dive with it, and wider hands would spoil the great aesthetics of this watch during daylight hours. The lume that is there (including the bezel) is quite bright and long lasting.
My understanding is that the "ML115" movement is a Sellita SW200 (ETA 2824-2 clone) typical of this price range. I have not opened the case, so I can’t comment on the finishing. The watch has kept time within a few seconds per day, and has performed flawlessly during its tenure with me thus far. The winding action is very smooth, as is the motion of the second hand.
The watch arrived in a wood (or wood-look?) box with a metal logo. It is appropriate for the price range.
At the original MSRP or $3400, the Pontos S was something to strongly consider, but I would have probably recommended a potential buyer to check out a Tudor with an in-house movement for not much more.
Where they currently sit on the used market however, in the mid-1000 range, I think it is a fantastic value. The case finishing and details are well-above other watches in that price range. You'll be getting a diver with an internal bezel that you won't see others wearing often. You can still get them new on Amazon. Check out the latest price at this affiliate link. You can also check out the new and used market on eBay at this affiliate link.
Do you love the Pontos S Diver, but don't have a four figure budget? You're in luck, because there are a few affordable compressor diver alternatives:
Dan Henry 1970
For $290 Dan Henry will sell you their 1970 twin-crown diver with vintage styling in two sizes and a number of colors. You'll even get a sapphire crystal and an automatic movement.
I'd personally go for the 40mm orange version. Check eBay for prices and older versions (affiliate links).
For within $5 of the Dan Henry, Spinnaker Watches will also sell a you twin-crown diver called the Bradner with Sapphire and Seiko movement. There is only one choice of size, but there is an option bracelet upgrade. I'd go for the green dial to have something different.
It's currently almost $100 cheaper on Amazon. Check it out at this affiliate link.
Unfortunately, Seiko seems to have discontinued the SRPB31. Otherwise, I would say that you could do what I did, and modify one, and put it on one of my StrapHabit straps! But you probably shouldn't, because by the time you add up the cost and time, you'd be better off with one of the above two watches!