The MKII Stingray II Keroman is a true military diver, recreatedTime+Tide
We don’t need more dive watches. According to some anecdotal data, divers are the most popular type of watches because they are robust, versatile, and can sometimes be handsome to look at, considering personal preference and all. Don’t get me wrong – I love dive watches – and wear them on a mostly daily basis. But I also have a thing for military horology because of the watches’ history and the fact that they look, to put it simply, rugged and purposeful. We don’t see many military-type dive watches nowadays so it feels special when a brand does release one. Just like it is true of any watch nowadays, military divers are not something anyone truly needs, so might as well create something special, just like the MKII Stingray II Keroman.
For background information, MKII is an American brand created in 2002 by avid watch collector Bill Yao. MKII specialises in creating modern tool watches inspired by iconic and classic models used by the military. MKII started by making high-end mods (before it was a thing) and eventually expanded into making their own collections.
In terms of dimensions, the Stingray II Keroman is a more wearable version of the 1970s models Bill drew inspiration from. It brings the case diameter from a typical 42mm down to 40mm, and matches that to a 48.5mm lug-to-lug distance, a 14.70mm thickness, and drilled lugs set 20mm apart. Overall, the case comes with a simple, yet practical, profile, showcasing long lugs, straight case sides, and a bezel that sits flush on the case. Being sandblasted, the case is smooth to the touch, and so is the bezel. The latter is easy to grip and operate thanks to deep notches, however deep enough to compromise the balance of the design. I would add that the bezel action is smooth and precise, something that I know many watch enthusiasts would appreciate.
Upon first inspection, the sandblasted finish on the Stingray II Keroman clearly indicates what type of watch this is – a military tool watch. As far as I know, sandblasting a case serves two purposes, one being to prevent light from bouncing off the case (and I suppose concealing your position from the enemy), and second, protecting the case from minor shocks and scratches. Just like brands often sandblast titanium cases, they also coat stainless-steel cases for added protection. This is why military watches often come with this type of finish. The case, crown, and bezel on the Stingray II are therefore sandblasted which gives this model an unmistakable utilitarian aspect.
Speaking of the bezel, the Stingray II Keroman comes in two versions – one with an acrylic insert with no lume pip at the 12 and markers for the five-minute increments and another with an aluminium insert, this time with a lume pip at the 12 and full graduation from 0 to 15 minutes. This type of bezel design might indicate that the Stingray II is a proper diver, helped by the 200 metres of water resistance thanks to a screw-down crown and case-back. Note that MKII tests its watches to meet the ISO 6425 requirements for water resistance, however they are not ISO 6425-certified.
What visually defines military tool watches is the fact that form follows function. MKII designed the Stingray II Keroman as if the watch was commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence, following strict mil-spec design codes. In other words, it’s a monochromatic dial that is highly legible and functional. It comes with a matte finish which, by its very own nature, absorbs light that aids in keeping the dial legible. The white, sandblasted, sword-shaped hour and minute hands pop from the black abyss that populates the background, and so does the lance-shaped seconds hand.
To make readying the time even easier, Bill opted for an alternation of painted hour markers of different shapes. There is a diamond-shaped triangle marker at the 12, baton markers at the 3, 6, and 9, and circular markers everywhere else. There is even a date window at the 4:30 position making the Stingray II a truly functional tool watch. Putting the date aperture in this particular spot also helps in preserving the symmetrical marker layout, though the position is a common point of contention for enthusiasts. As a true mil-spec watch, there is only a minimum amount of text on the dial. We see the brand’s logo at the 12, and the words AUTOMATIC and 200m ~ 660 ft below the pinion.
Lastly, reading the time in any lighting condition is an easy task. The dial is covered by a thick piece of double-domed sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating, which gives a clear view of the hands and markers. Furthermore, the hands, markers, and bezel insert received generous applications of Arclite SuperLuminova which looks white during the day and glows radioactive green at night.
The Stingray II Keroman is delivered with a thick NATO-style fabric strap, accompanied by two sets of spring bars – a beefy 2.5mm pair and a more slender 1.8mm set for thinner straps. The NATO is indeed thick, a little stiff, but certainly robust and capable of handling your most insane adventures. MKII went as far as reinforcing the eyelets to make sure the strap pin wouldn’t damage the fabric and loosens over time. Having drilled lugs, it is easy to swap straps on the Stingray II.
Staying with the theme of tool watches, the Stingray II is equipped with a Seiko NE15 caliber which beats at 21,600 BPH (3Hz) and comes with 50 hours of power reserve. The NE15 is not a calibre we see often, usually trumped by the NH35 or NH38 from Seiko. The NE15 is a re-branded Seiko 6R15, with the NE name used as an indication that it’s a movement sold to third parties, and is a better performer than the NH35/4R35, with tighter accuracy tolerances and superior power reserve.
MKII Stingray II Keroman pricing and availability
The MKII Stingray II Keroman will be available on the brand’s website the week of June 19th, 2023. Price: US$895 (aluminium bezel), US$940 (acrylic bezel)
|Model||Stingray II Keroman|
|Case Dimensions||40mm (D) x 14.7mm (T) x 48.5mm (LTL)|
|Case Material||Stainless steel|
|Water Resistance||200 metres|
|Strap||Heavy-duty NATO-style, black, with reinforced eyelets and stainless steel buckle|
|Movement||Seiko NE15, automatic|
|Power Reserve||50 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, seconds, date|
|Price||US$895 (aluminium bezel)
US$940 (acrylic bezel)