Founded in 2002 by Bill Yao, MKII (Mark 2) was originally born by making small watch parts and customizing pieces for customers. But MKII is now far from just a tinker shop. Located in Pennsylvania, Mr. Yao is now producing an average of one thousand watches a year. Their firm belief in quality over quantity keeps them in the boutique class, but they command a large presence amongst watch enthusiasts. I originally found MKII years ago via Instagram through the variable Black Hole you can find yourself in while scrolling the web before bed. At the time, they had released their Nassau, which instantly caught my eye due to its classic Submariner look.

Paradive MKII Gen 3 | Special Operations watch reborn
Shown on black NATO with prototype PDW thermometer.

When I first saw the Paradive MKII Gen 3, to be honest, I didn’t think much of it. It was clean no doubt, but it failed to show any type of sophistication that I frequently see. So when I started seeing some of my close friends sporting the piece, I hopped on the web and headed to their website which only raised more questions as to why Bill Yao created this piece. I had no clue this was an interpretation replica watch made after the Benrus Type 1 that was issued to Maritime Special Forces and CIA personnel from the 60’s into the 80’s. Being not only a watch nerd but also an Army veteran, I dived deep into the story of the Benrus and its heritage. Little of the originals are around today and the ones that are show pretty serious wear given the badass men that wore them. You can check out the history of the Benrus here.

Paradive MKII Gen 3 | Special Operations watch reborn
Shown on with blue Stingray band.

The Paradive measures 44.5mm wide and 15.4mm thick. Now those are sizeable dimensions, but the watch wears like a 42mm due to the convex case back that keeps the watch resting slightly elevated off the wrist. I couldn’t get over how small the watch feels, but noticing the presence it commands. In fact, the Paradive has led to more questions of what watch I was wearing than any other piece I have. I always love telling people about the watch, but when I reciprocate the question, it usually leads to “Oh, my Girlfriend got me this FOSSIL” and I immediately tune out. Call me a snob, but everyone has a preference.

Paradive MKII Gen 3 | Special Operations watch reborn

Unlike the bi-directional bezel on the Benrus, MKII has updated theirs to be un-directional. This is the best choice for all dive watches, so that you can never add time to your dive or breath hold, but only subtract from it. This little feature is a must for anyone that lives the dive life. The double-domed AR Sapphire crystal is a welcomed addition to this watch and a feature that I absolutely covet. There’s just something about a big, crystal clear curvature highlighting the simplicity and precision of the dial.

Paradive MKII Gen 3 | Special Operations watch reborn
Seen with the vintage H&K P9S

The hour markers are filled with the very bright SuperLumiNova BGW9. Rectangles are at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock with an upside down triangle at 12. There are tick marks for every minute, and with the 120-click bezel, you can dial right on the mark, which just shows the craftsmanship and level of detail. All too often I’ve seen offset bezel clicks from the minutes in the dial. The hands are a tasteful and simple ladder style with the same BGW9 filled in. The case has some weight to it, and feels incredibly durable and as tough as the men that used to wear the originals. With an ATM rating of 200 Meters, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone diving deep enough to run the risk of getting water inside the mechanism. The bead blasted case is perfectly neutral and exactly in line with its military heritage. But the smooth texture and robust look actually cause you to take a second glance at the watch because it’s not often you see something this purpose built anymore. Now and days it’s a tacky MVMNT with zero lume and a $3 dollar quartz movement that can hardly sustain a shower or a light rain.

One of my all-time favorite design features of this watch are the drilled lug holes that allow you to easily use the long thin spring bar tool to disengage the spring and switch out bands. This seems petty, but when you’re scratching your case trying to wedge a tool between the strap and the case, it becomes something you notice and appreciate very quickly. I was very fortunate to be sent the new Gen 3 version that takes the Seiko Fat Bar 2.5mm as well as the standard 1.8mm. This was MKII’s way of finding the perfect alternative to the Benrus fixed lugs. I’ve had an old Luminox that was almost lost on numerous occasions due to broken spring bars. So the 2.5mm upgrade is most welcomed, especially when I spearfish.

Paradive MKII Gen 3 | Special Operations watch reborn

If I had two proposed upgrades for the Paradive, I would like to see the Japanese NE15 movement replaced or have the option of replacing it with the ETA-2824. Now don’t get me wrong, the NE15 is a robust and very capable option. But the ETA-2824 is a trusted work horse that I tend to favor. I would also love to see the option to add the Type 2 dial that Benru put inside their later models. The 24hr time option looks great and adds more military flair that I welcome with open arms.

Paradive MKII Gen 3 | Special Operations watch reborn

Overall, the Paradive has seen more wrist time since its arrival than any of my other watches saw after their purchase. It’s simple, clean and pairs well with anything I wear. Every time I look down at my wrist I am reminded of the brave men that once donned this very special timepiece and it’s a humbling reminder of how amazing we have it. I tip my hat to Bill Yao and congratulate him on his impeccable attention to detail and classic styling.

• Case Width: 41.25 mm (bezel diameter)
• Case Thickness: 15.54 mm
• Case length: 49.50 mm end to end
• Lug width: 20.00 mm
Weight: 98 grams (without strap)
Crystal: Double domed sapphire crystal, with anti-reflective coating on interior surface only
Luminous: SuperLumiNova BGW9
Movement: Made in Japan SII NE15 (Rotor features Côtes de Genève), quickset date, hack setting, automatic with manual winding capability. Movement origin: Made in Japan
Water resistance: 20 ATMs (200 meters – verified according to ISO 6425)
Case Finish: Bead blasted 316L stainless steel
Other: Drilled through lugs

1.8 mm and 2.5 mm diameter heavy duty spring bars

Screw-down crown

120 click unidirectional bezel

Strap: Natural rubber dive strap, or UK MOD-style strap

Bezel: 12-hr aluminum inlay

Timed in 3 positions.