A Week on the Wrist with the Aera D1 – affordable Rolex Submariner killer?

The Aera D1 is a dive watch with substance, style and a superb price tag

The Aera D1 watch on a grey background infront of a book
(Image credit: Sam Cross)

When you're looking into popular watches, you'll be hard pressed to see further than the Rolex Submariner. Whether you love it or hate it, that watch is just about the most popular in the world.

Whether you opt for the none-more-black finish or the "daring today, aren't we?" green ceramic bezel, the dive watch is always going to be sought after and tough to pick up. It's also spawned a whole industry of near-identical models from other brands.

Today, we're looking at the Aera D1, which could be considered one of the closest to the holy grail. A black dive watch laced with a few brand-specific touches, this is also made from 904L steel. That's the kind used by Rolex in their Oystersteel, which could make this a very close call.

The Aera D1 on a grey background

(Image credit: Sam Cross)

Let's kick off with some specs. There's no missing this one on the wrist, with a whopping 44mm case diameter. That's going to make it quite a tough wear for smaller wristed individuals, though in fairness it does wear slightly smaller than that measurement would suggest.

Inside, a Sellita SW200-1 movement keeps things ticking away. That's a really reliable third party calibre – we've seen it in a host of Christopher Ward pieces recently – and should be more than enough here.

As mentioned above, that's cased in 904L stainless steel. That's a different alloy than the standard 316L, with better properties for corrosion.

That will come in handy, too, as the D1 features 300m of water resistance. That's more than enough for regular use, and should make it perfect for those who enjoy more adventurous lifestyles.

The Aera D1 on a grey background

(Image credit: Sam Cross)

What is the Aera D1 like to wear?

As someone with smaller wrists, I was dubious heading into this test. After all, a 44mm case diameter is quite daunting, even for those with larger wrists.

To be blunt, I was rather mortified when I first used it. It felt huge on the wrist – particularly with the included rubber and suede straps. Those seemed to jut out from the case quite substantially, not helping the sizing issues.

Fortunately, there was a saving grace. Throwing a NATO strap on this completely reformed it. Once that change was made, this was a different beast entirely.

I found myself really enjoying the wearing experience. The lashings of blue broke up the black monotony nicely, making it look really rather pretty. It's certainly one of the nicer black dive watches I've been hands on with.

The Aera D1 on a grey background

(Image credit: Sam Cross)

Is the Aera D-1 worth the money?

This is the real litmus test for Aera. As an unknown brand, they're set to face an uphill battle to get users interested.

That's only going to be harder at this price point. At £1,200, the Aera D-1 is going up against a whole host of tough competition. We've tested the Christopher Ward C60 Atoll 300 and the Certina DS Action Diver recently, for starters.

Pound for pound, the Aera D-1 is absolutely worth the money it costs. Getting that 904L case is a nice addition, particularly if you plan to submerge this often.

It may sit in a very crowded marketplace, but if you like the look of it, it's definitely one to have a look at.

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.