There is certainly no shortage of midsize, casual, tool-like dive watches in the five hundred to one thousand dollar category these days. However, standing out in this category with the present abundance of choice is a bit of a rarity.
Manufacturers in this genre span the gamut of fledgling microbrands, into the mainstream alternatives of Phoibos and Zelos, to the largest mass producers of sports-focused timepieces, including Seiko, Citizen, and Orient. It is no small feat to stand out with a solid, great looking, and functional dive watch with such a wealth of competition.
NTH seems to be as much brand and design focused, as they are committed to performance and function. NTH has been producing well-designed, functional sports watches since 2013. The DevilRay is an excellent example of hitting the sweet spot between exquisite design and absolute performance with very little compromise of either.
The 45mm Case
In terms of specifications, the NTH DevilRay falls in the medium to large size arena at a claimed case diameter of 43mm. While I measure it at 45mm, it definitely wears smaller than its measurements would imply with its tonneau or cushion style case, similar to the Seiko Turtle and Doxa Sub. I measure the lug-to-lug distance at 46mm, dead on with the claimed measurement from NTH Watches, making this a very comfortable watch for most wrist sizes down to 6.5 inches.
The NTH DevilRay is rated at 500m of water resistance, with a screw-down crown, making this a serious choice for recreational free and scuba divers. Without an ISO water resistance rating, and due to a few design choices, I would not consider this a serious choice for professional saturation divers.
The White (Silver) Dial:
With a few detractions, the aesthetic design of this NTH watch is the real draw, and nearly perfect, for my taste. In addition to the well crafted and highly comfortable case, the dial design and color choices are well thought out. The DevilRay is offered with date or no date, in a black dial, blue dial, and what is called a white dial, which is what I purchased, but it’s really more of a silver, matching the case and bracelet. There is nothing wrong with the silver dial choice, but I believe it should have been named to match its actual color.
That notwithstanding, the silver dial is still my favorite, despite me being a blue dial fanatic. The combination of the silver dial with radial brushing, matching the raised outline of the applied and lumed silver indices, generous signed screw-down crown, and the case and bracelet, really make for a tasteful and well designed combination, solidifying NTH’s commitment to design aesthetics complementing function.
The DevilRay’s dial design is quite complex and detailed, compared to similar offerings from Phoibos, Helm, and even Seiko. The raised and lumed indices are cut into the chapter ring, which is trimmed with a colorful ring that mimics a no decompression timer, which is marked with minute indicators at five minute intervals.
These markings are quite small, and are nearly illegible with imperfect eyesight. While this is a complaint, it does not interfere with the function of the dial, and in no way detracts from the satisfying appearance. Both the dial and the stainless steel bezel are lumed with X1 Superluminova, and look absolutely spectacular.
The DLC Bezel:
While I prefer ceramic or sapphire bezel inserts for durability and wear resistance, the DLC stainless steel bezel with both a black hour track and a silver count-up timer track, is a call-back to the Doxa Sub steel bezels and is similarly striking in its appearance and function. The NTH DevilRay’s bezel sits low and unobtrusive in the case, making it slightly hard to grip, except at the top and bottom case cut-outs, but the sawtooth knurling eases that.
The bezel surrounds a slightly double domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal that generally disappears while viewing the dial. All the dial and bezel components work together very well and make a functional, pleasing package.
From a design perspective, the DevilRay bracelet might be the most impressive component. The bracelet is a unique, three link affair that drops completely from the solid end links, and tapers from 22mm at the end link to 20mm at the clasp. The links are brushed at the angled side links, with ribbed and polished center links, all married together in a very attractive and functional bracelet.
The bracelet is a bit chunky, but a real eye catcher, and above the norm in this category. The push-button, signed foldover clasp lacks a diver’s extension, but is fully milled, and extremely secure, with six micro-adjusts, as you would expect. The clasp is a bit fiddly to adjust, but the bracelet has screw links, and once sized and adjusted, is hassle-free, and confidence inspiring. While I do experience a few captured hairs in the bracelet, it is not more than other similar models.
The DevilRay is powered by the well known and venerable Seiko NH35a (date) and NH38 (no-date) 24 jewel automatic movements that beat at 21,600 bph, with 41 hours of power reserve, and accuracy of -20 to +40 seconds per day. While I did not get confirmation that the movement is regulated by NTH, the watch that I have is solidly in the +5 to +10 seconds per day range, which is more than acceptable in this price category.
With few complaints, I believe the NTH DevilRay to be a tremendous timepiece and value at $525. The DevilRay is packed with attractive design elements and high quality materials. The union of utility and appearance is absolutely stunning at this price point. While it extracts a few gripes from the highly critical watch enthusiast, the DevilRay is such an attractive and unique watch with undeniably impressive specifications, that it is worth a look compared to similar offerings. The NTH DevilRay is available from watchgauge.com in the US.