Melbourne Sorrento Watch Review
By: Michael Penate
Let’s just acknowledge something right off the bat–there are a whole hell of a lotta dive watches out there today, more than I have time to try hands-on. As a self-professed addict, I find it hard to follow my own advice and I often pull the trigger on watches before even seeing them in person. There are just too many that I want to try on and as awful as this is, I just keep doing it. For a while, the Melbourne Sorrento dive watch seemed like the next model I’d take a risk on. But, this small Australian brand was kind enough to send one in for review so I could you give you guys a better idea of what it is you might be in for. So, here’s an honest review of a watch which I discovered might not be totally right for me–even though it’s still pretty awesome.
Melbourne is a smaller brand from Down Under that produces a range of timepieces including beefy dive watches and marine chronometer-inspired dress watches. They’ve been on the scene for a while and the Melbourne Sorrento is the watch that immediately caught my eye. If there’s one way I can sum it up initially, I’d say it’s what most people would refer to as a “dressy diver.” This is mainly due to a very specific set of design elements like the patterned dial and the polished center links. These traits are a lot more pronounced than I thought and while they don’t exactly work for me, I still think there are a ton of folks that would enjoy the versatility this watch can provide.
Like I mentioned before, the Melbourne Sorrento is a pretty chunky dive watch and you can’t really get a good feel for that until you strap it on your wrist. It feels immediately premium but I guess a great deal of that could be the weight. It’s 42mm wide and 14mm thick. That kind of thickness combined with the weight makes for a pretty top-heavy watch but it’s my understanding that some enthusiasts actually like this. Shortly after receiving the watch, I went out to dinner and by the time I finished my meal, it felt like I was getting a bad case of wrist-fatigue (you guys are totally allowed to make fun of me for using “wrist-fatigue” in a sentence now).
I also understand that some people see this as a mark of quality, which is funny because watchmakers everywhere are breaking their backs to bend and morph case and movement materials to be as light as possible today. That’s totally unrelated, though. However, the most standout feature here is the bezel, which has a cool engraved wave pattern that looks like nothing I’ve ever seen on a dive watch before. This is perhaps the single most important design element that really had me curious about the watch. Throughout this review, you’ll see some shots in weird and not so ideal lighting set-ups just to give you an idea of how the pattern can look day to day. The teeth are grippy and the bezel is easy to manipulate, so no issue there. And, water resistance is 200m–more than you’ll ever need (as usual).
Like the bezel, there’s also considerable depth to the dial. It’s layered with a series of rings (one of which is ceramic, I believe) and horizontal line engravings throughout the dial’s deepest point. Besides the polished center links, this is what I find to be the watch’s dressiest feature. It’s elegant, in a way, and reminiscent of the nautical marine chronometer aesthetic Melbourne enjoys playing with. In the context of a tool watch, however, I found this rubbed me the wrong way. This is not an issue with the watch, its design, or construction but rather, something that I just found odd and unexpected in a dive watch design. The hands are large, brushed with a little bit of polishing, and extremely easy to read. Time telling is aided further by big baton-like indexes at 3, 6, and 9 along with applications of luminous material throughout the dial. I would’ve liked for the smaller dotted indexes to be a little larger, but I understand the decision to keep those a little more subdued.
I also really enjoyed the “M” counterweight on the seconds hand. Believe me, if you don’t get this right on your watch, I’m going to make fun of you for it (just ask Kaz). But, it just looks classy here and it’s my understanding that this little touch can be found on several of Melbourne’s watches. Overall, I’m very impressed with the dial execution. Best part? No date and minimal text!
On the bracelet side of things, the Melbourne Sorrento diver does a good job of balancing its weight on the wrist. Like the case, the bracelet is chunky and satisfying to operate. It’s tapered (slightly) and when you get into a bracelet this wide, I find that to be a requirement. The clasp is almost Seiko-like with easy operation, a secure fit, and a milled components. One again, no complaints here.
However, you should be aware that the polished center links are quite prominent. I’ve slowly been getting over my PCL phobia, but know that they can act as fingerprint magnets and result in a slightly more “blingy” look. That’s true with any watch that chooses to incorporate polished center links, really. While the bracelet does help you achieve a close fit, I’d still find it hard to imagine the watch fitting under dress cuffs, which, ironically, is what I’d picture myself wearing with this watch. Nevertheless, the bracelet is a fine choice for the watch. I’m not sure I can picture this on a NATO or leather.
This is where things get awesome–the good ol’ Miyota 9015. As always, operation is smooth and satisfying. It offers around 42 hours of power reserve and operates at a 28,800 bph rate. Personally, I think that the supply of these movements is slowly running dry, so whenever I find a watch that uses one, I get a little excited. It just won’t let you down. Other features include 24 jewel construction, hacking, and hand-winding.
In a weird way, the Melbourne Sorrento diver reminds me of a smoky, hole in the wall Jazz club. There’s skill, proficiency, and atmosphere. Sure, all the notes bombarding you aren’t necessarily “right” but somehow, it all works into something cohesive. But, just like Jazz (real Jazz), it isn’t for everyone. The watch isn’t for me, and that’s fine. However, I must say that I’m impressed with Melbourne’s efforts in creating something that drifts away from the typical dive watch aesthetic. It shows that they’re capable of bringing something different to the world of micro-divers and I’m excited to see how their designs evolve over time. The Melbourne Sorrento diver retails for $755.40 melbournewatch.com.au.
Michael Peñate is an American writer, photographer, and podcaster based in Seattle, Washington. His work typically focuses on the passage of time and the tools we use to connect with that very journey. From aviation to music and travel, his interests span a multitude of disciplines that often intersect with the world of watches – and the obsessive culture behind collecting them.