Ares Watch Review

Matt Graham is best known for his work running Graham Combat. For over 20 years he has been training our nation’s warriors, law enforcement and even intelligence operatives to prepare them for operating in harsh and dangerous environments. He spent 12 of those years in the Central Intelligence Agency. He still runs many training classes and they are sought after but operators and civilians alike (see a previous SpotterUp AAR here), but these days Matt can more often be found in the PNW making time pieces.

What? Watches? Yup. Matt started Ares Watch Company in order to produce the watches he had wanted when he was operating overseas. Rugged, reliable, easy to read and still good looking. And he wanted to make them in the US with a lifetime guarantee and a reasonable price. After working with the Seattle’s Watch Technology Institute, late last year Matt launched the Ares Diver-1 Mission Timer watch. The name Ares is an homage to the Greek god of war and this watch is designed for today’s warriors.

From his website:

The ARES DIVER-1 is an American Made hard-use mission-timer tool watch, created in limited numbers, and manufactured in the US from domestic and internationally sourced components.

Each individually serialized DIVER-1 is guaranteed for life and is created, assembled, tested, certified, and serviced by hand in Seattle.

The DIVER-1 has undergone over 20,000 hours of hard-use, mission-driven, operational test & evaluation around the world.

Case, Caseback, Crown & Bezel

41.0mm 316L stainless steel bead blasted two piece case with individually serialized, engraved, screwback construction

42.0mm 316L stainless steel bead blasted bezel, featuring countdown timer with C3 Superluminova, clear coat finish, aggressive ‘no slip’ teeth, and 120-click uni-directional countdown mission timer

49.5mm lug to lug 22mm drilled lugs with 1.8mm shoulderless spring bars, supplied with an OD green and a black 3-ring ARES LASH ballistic nylon strap

10 o’clock ‘fat head’ 7.2mm logo’d screw down crown, featuring aggressive ‘no slip’ teeth and double Viton seals

Individually tested and certified, fully assembled, to 40ATM

Movement, Crystal, Dial & Hands

Ronda 715Li 5-jewel / gold plated analog quartz movement with EOL indicator

10 year standard battery life utilizing No. CR2016 3V lithium-ion battery

Brass dial with C3 printed hour indicators, painted minute indices and logo

Flat sapphire crystal with inner AR coating

Brushed stainless C3 hands

Anti-magnetic rating 18.8Oe, shock resistant to NIHS-91-10 standards, and thermo-compensated -0 to 50+ C

13.3mm overall thickness, 3.3oz total weight with LASH strap

This watch is a workhorse. I’ve worn it while skiing, diving, surfing and fishing. I’ve shot a couple thousand rounds while wearing it. It held up when I pounded fence posts with sledge hammers and cut up a 75 foot red oak with a chainsaw with it on my wrist. I’ve used it to time my backcountry hikes and how long I’ve been in meetings. It has never skipped a beat throughout.

I’m not alone in my praise for the Ares Diver-1 functionality. According to a senior SOF NCO, US SOF personnel used the Diver-1 in all phases of their workup for a deployment last year. Those same troops are still wearing it down range. According to the team, it worked flawlessly. According to him, they “conducted helicopter rappelling, urban CQB and cold water (sub 36 degree F) diving operations with multiple operators wearing the watch. No issues encountered and watch performed in arduous conditions as designed with the additional feature of clear visibility of the dial, hands and bezel in cycle of darkness operations”.

The lume is out of this world and holds strong for hours after going dark, typically 2-3 times longer than the other watches on my nightstand, including from some pricey luxury brands. It is also worth noting that the bezel is rock solid. It may be the first dive watch I have had where the bezel has NEVER moved accidentally on me. When I need to move it, it is easy enough to move. But when I want it to stay in place, it doesn’t move.

In addition to the ruggedness, it is a great looking watch. I am regularly asked to take it off so folks can check it out. When I saw the initial photos of the watch, I was concerned that the aggressiveness of the bezel would mean it would catch on clothing. As soon as I received it I knew that my concerns were unfounded though, as Matt machined the angles such that it is easy to grip, but not such sharp angles that they grab fabric.

Probably the biggest question most watch fanatics ask about is the Mission Timer feature. From the website:


The Mission Timer bezel functions as a 60-minute countdown timer. The 0 is indicated by the illuminated bezel pip symbol: ▼

For example, with the pip in the 12 o’clock position the minute hand will indicate – point to – the remaining countdown time to “0” on the bezel. To set, move the bezel counter-clockwise to place the desired bezel number onto the minute hand; the pip indicator will then mark the “END” time.

Users in online forums seem to get wrapped around the axle about not having a traditional dive bezel (which tells elapsed time) vis the mission timer (time remaining on target). I asked Matt about the controversy about it and he said, “Knowing the remaining time on target (Mission Timer) is easier to note and calculate than the elapsed time on target. The face of the watch tells me how long I’ve been there, the bezel tells me how long I have remaining: both sets of information are critical yet traditional dive watches and bezels only give you one.”

He further noted, “The Mission Timer bezel is a fail-safe as well: if you bump it and it moves, it moves in the same manner as a dive bezel: it SHORTENS your stay. I’d rather leave a target early than stay too late. Using a Mission Timer bezel Is a simple way to convey complex information visually.”

In addition to the Diver-1, Matt has created the Diver-1B (Black PVD) and Diver-1C (two tone). He also did a limited collaboration with SOG Knives called the Diver-1 SOG. Most exciting is his GMT version, which is still in prototype development though a few versions have been seen in the wild adorning the wrists of some studs around the world.

Matt has delivered what he set out to do. A rugged, highly functional yet good-looking watch that will withstand anything you can throw at it. On top of that he guarantees it for life. He will even provide the first battery replacement for you (essentially providing 20 years of battery life.) You’re gonna have a hard time getting this off my wrist. Got get your own at

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.



By DougP

Doug is a former CIA officer with extensive overseas experience in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. He has an MBA from Wharton and worked in high tech, private equity and manufacturing. He regularly writes on business and intelligence topics for both web and print publications and advises on film and TV productions

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