Note: The specific watch shown in this post is the Islander Automatic ISL-01 Dual Time. Also, it looks like Long Island is releasing some Pilot watches for $199.
Discontinuation of the SKX got you down? Still wanting a classic beast of a dive watch to be your companion into the spring and summer? Well, sit right back, and you’ll hear a tale of a new watch brand that’s resurrecting what made the SKX great, and then some. This new brand is from Island Watch (aka LongIslandWatch.com), and it’s called Islander.
More than a few color and bezel options.
Dappered readers may recognize the Island Watch name, because many of us have purchased a watch from them. Yep, Island Watch is also LongIslandWatch.com, which is pretty well known for good prices on high-value watches from brands like Orient and Seiko. It was my search for a Bambino that first took me to them, and I’ve returned for other watches and various accessories as well. I particularly appreciate the customer service, including the openness that owner Marc shows on the Island Watch YouTube channel. As the saying goes, “buy the seller.” Given that history, I was quite excited to hear about this store/source launching their own exclusive line, and I jumped at the chance to borrow one for review.
Yes it looks like a Seiko SKX. That’s the point.
First impressions? This is unabashedly a chunk of a diver. If you’re at all acquainted with Seiko’s SKX family of divers (& full disclosure: I’ve never owned one), the islander will be very familiar. It was created to fill the void left by the departed SKXâ€”a void that wasn’t exactly filled by the new Seiko 5 models, which are lacking the aquatic prowess that was loved by SKX devotees. The islander, though? It’s oceanic (nsfw)! While not ISO certified, the Islander boasts the same crucial specs found in the SKX, including 200m of water resistance, a screw-down crown, and a solid screw-down caseback.
200m of water resistance, but this thing has a hacking & hand winding movement.
What’s more, the case dimensions are nearly the same, with a 43mm diameter, 14mm thickness, and 46mm lug-to-lug. Such is the similarity, that the Islander can also accept the bounty of available SKX007 aftermarket parts. Watch modders rejoice. Yet while it has a ton in common with the SKX, the islander goes beyond SKX spec in several key ways. Here’s what you’re now getting that you didn’t get with a Seiko SKX:
- Hand-winding, hacking NH36 movement
- Anti-reflective flat sapphire crystal
- Ceramic bezel insert
- Drilled lugs for easier bracelet to strap changes
- Upgraded bracelet which includes solid end links and a milled clasp
Still has a screw down crown, while looks are a little more refined than an SKX.
That’s a lot of upgrades. So what’s the end result? A pretty darn nice watch, especially for $299. One of the reasons I’ve never owned an SKX is that I was always drawn to Orient’s budget divers. While still tool watches, they’re a bit more dressed up, and thus more flexible for work & play. The Islander shares this trait, with very nice applied hour indices, instead of the SKX’s pools of lume. Dial text is minimal, too, with “Automatic” and “200M” balanced by the lumed Island Watch logo, above.
Lume is nice for sure.
While I like the triangle-within-a-circle Island Watch logo, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it on the watch face. Sometimes it looks a bit like a tiny subdial, but most of the time, it disappears to my eye and I don’t notice it. Similarly, the case and bracelet feature a great mix of polished and brushed surfaces, which all play nicely in the light and give the watch a refined appearance. Thanks to this mix of elevated features, the Islander would be equally at home spending a day snorkeling at the beach or heading out for a dinner date.
Has some beef. 43mm diameter, 14mm thickness, 46mm lug-to-lug
That all sounds great, but are there any downsides? Well, as I mentioned, this is a big chunk of a watch. I don’t find the diameter troublesome, but it could be a bit thinner for my own personal taste (they have made a 38mm diameter option that’s 13mm thick). But really, that’s about it, and not even a downside depending on your preferences.
A slightly more dressed up dial than the SKX.
Overall, my experience with the Islander has been extremely positive. In fact, it’s made me glad I never bought an SKX, because while this review unit had to go back, it’s only a matter of time before I purchase an Islander for myself. Marc (the owner) has said that there are more Islander models in the works. And with 17 watches released already, in both diver and aviator styles, the Islander line and it’s impressive specs-to-price ratio will be worth keeping an eye on.
About the author: Aaron K. was first brought to Dappered by his love of watches, but has found it to be a great resource for so much more. When not reading Dappered, he’s usually relishing being a dad, spending time with his family & friends, learning about most anything that can fly, or taking photographs.