Citizen Calibre 9000 Eco-Drive

An old chum passed away recently and his boy passed this on to me, purely as he knew I was into watches.  Being one of the younger set – he has a smart phone that I’m sure is surgically attached – and as he says – it’s got a clock on it – what more do you want?  Is it me, or am I getting too old? as I’m obviously not into this smart stuff at all.

It’s a very good condition Citizen Eco-Drive Minute Repeater with a Calibre 9000 movement.  Perpetual Calendar and all sort of other stuff that I’m sure my friend thought a good idea at the time, but like me I fancy, the novelty soon wore off.  His son told me it was at the back of a drawer and he couldn’t remember seeing his Father with it on.

Citizen Minute Repeater, Eco Drive, Calibre 9000

And that’s the problem with these multi-feature watches. You soon forget how it works, the instructions are long gone and so is the inclination to wear it.  The instructions of most Citizen Watches are online somewhere, but who bothers once the watch if off, it’s soon forgotten.  As I remember Bill, last time I saw him had a large easy to read Timex watch on his wrist and the complications left far behind.

Trouble is, I doubt I’ll wear it much myself as I suffer the same issues as my pal, fading eysight and memory, so I would definitely need the instructions. I’m afraid these days I like a watch that has the “quick glance ” feature, without standing for a while studying it, just to tell the time or the day or the date and whatever else it’s got.

So I’ve told my benefactor that I’ll probably move it on and if there’s any money received, we can have a drink on Bill.

God rest him.

My Camaro 7743

Thought I’d show off my old Heuer Camaro 7743, a 1960’s classic if there ever was. Totally as bought, with it’s original and completely unscratched and un-stretched stainless bracelet fitting to the odd sized 19 mm lugs.  Pleased about that, as so often these bracelets scratch up badly – this one however, is pristine.

Classic of the Sixties, Cushion cased Stainless Heuer Camaro 7743.

In fact the entire watch, which is the Camaro 30, 2 register chronometer version, with running seconds and 30 minute sub-dials is in pretty decent condition.  The stainless 37 mm diameter cushion case shows off it’s sunburst upper surface, which is still well detailed.  It is of course a manual wind model with the Cal Valjoux 7733 movement (one of the nicer movements out there even today) and a Plexiglass crystal.  The applied index markers with lumed batons are in perfect condition, as are the main luminescent infill hour and minute hands.  A nicely configured black seconds chrono hand completes the dial assembly.  The sub-dials are especially neat as they incorporate a circular background pattern. In short, this is a real classic watch dial set up and looks rather better balanced that many watches today.

Heuer Camaro 30 7743 classic timepiece from the sixties. Great on the wrist!

The pushers are the castellated version, so slightly later in production, which only lasted 4 years. The centre crown winder manages on full wind around 45 hours power reserve, which is very impressive.  The stainless steel screw back is plain with no markings, the model number being engraved on the case side between the lugs.

The solid cushion case, even at 37mm, which is perhaps considered small today, looks great on any wrist and sits so well, it is a delight to wear.

I have never removed the back, so the water resistance is unlikely to have been compromised and unless the watch has a movement problem, I’ll probably never break in to it, but I show here a stock image of a typical 7733 movement, though I fancy my one might look even better.

Valjoux 7733 Chrono movement – 
Image from Chrono24

It is a fact that there are not many of these models around in really good condition, which surprises me, though sometimes with Plexiglass crystals, that particular material never seems to stand the test of time.  Mine has not completely escaped glass damage either, as there are two particular scratches on the glass, but neither retract from the beauty of this watch.

I love it when a 50 year old watch gets my attention once again and springs to life from my display cabinet. This one is I think destined for my wrist for the rest of the year and long overdue.  It’s great to wear, great to look at and it functions today as well as it did all those years ago.  And it’s proved a decent investment too – not always the case when it comes to watches.

It is also the ONLY Heuer I own (a bit like my Rolex collection which comprises just 1 vintage model).  OK, I admit it – I’m picky!

Copper Bulova vintage

I’ve always liked copper dials and this vintage Bulova is no exception.  14ct Rolled Gold case with copper dial and a signed manual wind Calibre 8AE Bulova movement with fancy lugs is a very neat watch by any standards.  The leather beige Laco strap obviously is a replacement, but it suits the overall color of this ensemble and although has some wear is perfectly acceptable, looks good on the wrist and is comfortable to wear.

Bulova vintage copper dial

Nice to see a copper dial in such good condition. The watch overall is also in decent condition with very few scratches on the case and the back is a tight “snap” fit which is always nice.  The case is solid 14ct Rolled Gold and the movement winds and runs very smoothly, keeping excellent time.

I bought this at auction at a very keen hammer price of just £70.00, which has to be a bargain.  It begs the question why anyone would buy a watch at retail today.  Use common sense and there is no doubt you can still pick up great watches, with some great style (sadly lacking today) at sensible and realistic prices.

This watch is by no means modern, but the movement is working as good as it was when made.  It’s mechanical, so never needs a battery, it’s easy to reset the time for Summer time and so on, the date change is also easy at the half crown position for some of the months – in short it is very easy to live with.

In the same auction I also found a very nice 20 year old quartz mid size in absolute mint condition, at a fraction of it’s new price, though my Wife has snaffled it for herself.  I don’t blame her as it is one very smart looking watch.

So happy auction days recently, which I have to say is really unusual, especially as over this last year I have been banging on about how poor and how expensive auctions are becoming today.  And in general they are unfortunately and I’m sure will come back to bite those selling agents, with fewer successful sales.

But regardless of all that doom and gloom, for me this was a shot in the arm, though caution is the key word.  Today, I am VERY careful at auctions and I never get carried away, especially with the high auction costs, which increase every time you blink!

Buyer beware has never been a more true statement, but this week I’m happy.

Digital delights

There’s something about early digital watches that really attracts me, mostly because they can look so interesting.  Often full of complications and with amazing dial designs, which for me is possibly the most important aspect of these creations.  How to display the most relevant information or data to the user, without causing confusion – and still make the function of it, or the “user interface” as they say today, both easy to read, understand and also intuitive to use.

Not an easy task.

Here are a few that for me manage that task pretty well.

Early Citizen D060 Winsurfer, Timex (later) T49976 Expedition, Early Citizen D100 Promaster Windsurfer

And yes they are all quartz, battery powered and every so often you have to change the battery – it can be daunting, though once you get the hang of the user logic, these ones are actually easy to manage.  Sometimes there are printed highlight notes on the module reminding you to short out this or that, or push all buttons prior to setting up and so on, though that’s basically to clear memory ans rarely affects the basic time function.
Any time a battery needs changing – it’s – clear the desk workspace – take care and concentrate.  But seeing the display come to life again and then scrolling through the various functions and reminding yourself just what these modules can do, is always a pleasure.

Casio 931 – BGP-20 Multi-Planner,
Casio 928 DW-7200 Pentagraph Referee Timer

Casio vintage Alarm Chrono, had tough times but still good!

With a reasonable collection of digitals from the late 1970’s onwards, you can see the dial contrast improvements and the creation of more intuitive commands, to manage this or that function, though I’m still bowled over by some of the early ones and realize just how good they are.

I’m not going to go through the functions and so on, but rather just show here a small photo gallery of some of the ones I’ve collected over the years.  The dials say it all really and there are many more, many covering all sorts of sports and pastimes, but increasingly difficult to find these in really good condition.  They are not expensive and as a result tend to get worn “hard”, often not surviving.  Often as not, if the module goes, so does the watch – into the trash, which is a pity as they are a testament to the ingenuity of the first Quartz sports watch pioneers.

Many are Japan made and although there are many, many lookalike digitals around from China, none of them have the pedigree of these or indeed the quality of the Japanese modules and displays, which in their day, were truly science fiction, and particularly in the actual design.

Rare watches today as they represent a time of change and great innovation and ridiculously accurate for their time too, which is a real bonus.  Usually wherever I go when wearing one of these, people comment and mostly they are rather impressed.  Not bad after some 40+ years of plastic/resin molding, early display technology and large battery styles – I take my hat off to them – great!

Note – I have probably featured these somewhere in the web site at some time as a Post. For more information, just use search.

Is it just me?

I often trawl through the weird and wonderful watches that appear from time to time, where the old analog idea of hour and minute hand is sort of forgotten about.
And we have the sometimes preposterous methods for showing, telling or indicating the passage of time, which at first glance (and you’ll need a few glances I can tell you), it is nigh impossible to read the time.
You also get some rather ingenious ways too, but mostly the common denominator is the fact – it’s haystack time! and you’ve got to find the needle!  The needle being the time!

To the young it may be fashionable and I’m sure a topic of conversation (do the young actually converse face to face any more?), a talking point, as all your friends gather round to see if they can make out what time it is.  However to my old peepers, I would be better squinting at a kaleidoscope via an illegal substance overdose!

Now what time is it?

Xeric Trappist Monk Moonphase – and tells the time I think.

(1) Apparently the Trappist Monk here tells you the time with the window @6 showing the Hours and the planets or stars somehow showing the Minutes.  I haven’t managed to see it myself yet, but I’m sure if I had time, I might figure it out.  Love the colors and the sky design and all that – but . . . .
Seems ironic for me that the watch dial is really large and OK it looks intriguing, but the time telling bits are so small in comparison, it ends up with such a small set of indicators, you certainly can’t just glance at this to get the time.  If you can get it at all!

(2) The next guy is the Last Laugh Tattoo by Mr Jones,

LastLaughTattoo

Mr Jones – Last Laugh Tattoo

which though colorful and has lots of symbolism tattoo stuff, to me seems to be an exercise in how to hide, not show, the time.

Once you have your glasses on you can just make out the Hours on the top set of teeth and the Minutes on the lower set.
But again we have the repeating theme of a large dial area with only a tiny fraction used as the time indicator, so really good eyesight required for this one.

Always remember here, before designers get carried away, that the prerequisite for a watch is first and foremost – to tell the time.  So to my mind these first two have not really managed to meet the brief.

Now I’m all for trying to indicate time in a different way, just for a change if nothing else, but making the time indicators either too small or hidden in some way doesn’t seem the right way to go about it.

(3) Next is the Xeric Soloscope, which is a tricky one and it also requires very good eyesight indeed to read.  On this model and on the face of it, the Hours should be relatively easy to spot, being circled by that single hand BUT it’s only actually effective when directly over the Hour numeral as shown here (7).  When it’s between Hours, say 15 minutes past the hour – Ah, then it’s very tricky indeed!  Because the circle itself partly obscures the very thin index you’re trying to see and there’s no numeral to see.  Each line of the index denotes 5 minutes by the way.

Soloscope – a tricky read indeed.

So basically this is an overly fancy single hand watch – and I’ve had them before, bought for the novelty, but which unfortunately I’ve always found in practice soon wears off – and I’ve sold every one of them on to some other novelty seeker.
I suppose if you’re OK with a vague approximation of the time, when someone asks – you’re answer is “Oh it’s after 7 sometime” – which maybe sounds OK, but if the inquirer is catching a plane – not so clever.

(4) Now this one is a little different.  Not easy to see at first, but none of them are, but this one has purpose, as it caters for the visually impaired, so seeing it, is somewhat irrelevant.

Bradleys Classic Black Mesh

This is the Eone Bradley Classic Black Mesh with it’s inside, outside “silver balls” that you can feel with your fingers.  The outer one on the edge of the case, indicates the Hour and the inner one, the Minutes (assuming a 12 hour clock dial).  The dial is matte black and has raised markers and an strongly embossed diamond at 12, so it has a Braille touch style, which really does assist those with impaired vision.  Obviously there is no glass/crystal here as the fingers can feel the raised numeral markers and the ball on the dial.

So this is a model that has genuine purpose in reading time in a different and very useful manner.

(5) OK this is the last one is probably the best one for me, because it’s relatively readable and is an older idea seen on quite a few vintage watches.

This is the
Klokers Klok 01-D1 Yellow Matte Black Leather – which is an update of the old disc watch, where Hour, Minute and Seconds discs move round a large dial and pass underneath a vertical fixed pointer which highlights the time.

Just read down vertically from the top – this one looks to me to be about 10.20 and almost 30 seconds, so can give quite an accurate time.  Mind you to pick out the seconds it really has to be read.  Personally I’d prefer the numbers to be in a heavier font with more contrast – but that might just be me.

A quick glance, however, should give you the 10:20 bit, which is probably accurate enough for most of us.

Also this watch is a “mobile” – which is evident as the discs rotate, but unlike hands, these rotate anti-clockwise, which is a bit odd when first seen.  Also each disc rotates at a different speed!

So, OK, I accept it can be a little tricky at first to get your head round these odd movements, but once on board you suddenly get the picture.  It’s also a decent full dial size at 44 mm diameter, which helps.

Personally this one has an attraction for me.  And maybe I like it because it shows time actually passing, which can be quite fascinating.  And this is because, as I said, the disks constantly revolve and at different speeds – as I say – fascinating.

Disc watches truly involve you in the process of time itself, and if you like mobiles it’s very much cheaper than a Tourbillon!

The only downside I’ve found with the odd disc watch I’ve owned is their timekeeping. The discs have to revolve smoothly and without touching an adjacent disk and depending on the quality of manufacture, play is sometimes unavoidable, so accuracy can suffer a little.
But if it’s a quartz model it has at least a good basis to start with, the mechanics are minimal and should still be accurate enough for most of us – just check it every fortnight, if the mechanics are not quite to the same standard.

So there we are, just a selection of unconventional watch dials, guaranteed to confuse the elderly   😉

Of course I jest.  These are unusual watches and inject a bit of interest and sometimes humor into what can be a tedious procession of clocks and watches that can be quite boring at times.

And as I haven’t had a disc watch for many years, I could be tempted by the Klok – just for fun.

And it’s also sobering that if you can see time actually moving – you’re still here!

 

Timex Ironman Transit

Odd name for a watch I know and not being in the know these days, unfathomable to me, but those folks at Timex marketing have come up with it and it sounds good. . . . For me it differentiates it a little from the Expedition series, one of which I already own.  And as my Expedition is one of my very favorite watches, from anybody, I thought that a look at this one in this “Transit” guise would be worth a look.

The Timex Ironman Transit

Here they’ve removed the tough looking macho “shock” exterior and replaced it with the running, fitness orientated modern man look that seems to be the thing today (the only thing I run now is a bath and this website!).  I have to admit I like it’s clean looks and easy to read dial with large digits on a very clear display, something that I feel Timex leads the way over all others.  The contrast is good and the displayed information gives the Day, the Date and the Year, plus the time – what more do you need on a quick glance.

And that’s something you can do with this watch – a quick glance is all you need and bingo – no squinting at it, trying to make out poor digits against a poor background.  This is for me the way to go in digital displays.  And once the daylight fades you can use the Timex patented Indiglo dial lighting system, which I have to admit is brilliant on their digital watches (not so good on their analog ones though – see my views at the foot of this Post).

I also like the operation of this Indiglo function.  If in a dark place during the day for example, a press of the center colored button and the dial lights up for 3 seconds.  But later in the day you can activate the system fully by pressing the center Indiglo button for 4 seconds and what this means is that pressing any button on the watch will light the dial.  So no fumbling around looking for that one button – any of ’em will do – the dial light again will illuminate for 3 seconds at a time.  The Indiglo system will stay activated (as a system) for the next 8 hours or until you switch it off (4 seconds press of the center button again).

I quite like this degree of control, which my old Expedition one lacks (or I haven’t noticed it!)  😦

Functions on the watch are useful, such as a Countdown Timer and a Stopwatch (sports) with a 10 lap memory, a few Alarms and the watch also has a 100 m Water Resistance which is pretty good.  Not a diving watch, but it’s OK to shower with it or swim in the local pool or even on the beach.  If beach swimming just remember the salt water doesn’t do anything much good (apart from aching feet), so a rinse in fresh water is a good idea afterwards.

A little chunky perhaps (added to by the under body fast wrap strap), but at 40mm very comfortable.

The watch dimensions are just 40 mm diameter which is a little neater than some of the older models and it comes with one of those very useful “Fast Wrap” straps.  When I first saw these I didn’t know whether I’d like them, but I do.  They are quick and comfortable and usually better than a strap and buckle arrangement, unless they fray, which has been known.

So this is a practical watch from Timex and it’s easy to wear, very easy to see, day or night.  Has enough useful features and functions on it, a decent Water Resistance and at a price of under £50 has to be a really good daily beater in any language.

Note –

I mentioned the Indiglo system of dial illumination and I said it was great on this model and most other Timex digital dial watches.  But as I said I’ve always found it to be a great disappointment on any of the non-digital analog models. 

The reason is that the standard analog watch tends to have hour and minute hands, either colored steel , skeletal or a combination of both PLUS a luminous looking tip or pointer.  The numerals and markers are similar and if it is a Date watch with Date window – forget trying to read the Date at night.

Indiglo lights up the background dial surface in a sort of fluorescent green and shows everything on the dial as black silhouette and I have to say, not that easy to see. The hands, numerals and markers are simply not at a decent enough contrast to this greenish background (makes my eyes go funny) and forget about any so called luminous tips to the hands – these are also dark.
And the date is virtually black and unreadable.

On this watch, which is digital, it is brilliant, as is my Expedition, which is a joy to use at night.  So a case of technology where it’s needed basically and my maxim is simple – for Digital display Indiglo is OK, but for analog display, good luminous coating or Tritium is the best.

Just my opinion and you take it or leave it, but one thing I can’t abide – is not being able to read the time day or night – and I’ve had a few models over the years that manage that feat.  I don’t have them now!

But as to the Ironman Transit – it has to be great value and you don’t look as it you’re in the Army . . . . You’ve just joined the fitness people!

Nightspeed by Swatch

Each year I tend to have a look around the offerings by the Swatch Group, but concentrating not on their high end portfolio, but rather on the Swatch in-house Brand .  This is the one started life back in 1989 with the introduction of 12 new models.  The start of a range of watches from Switzerland, produced to counter the mass influx of cheap quartz watches from Asia.  Termed Swatch to infer “second watch” at a low competitive price point, a Swiss movement and a true “Made in Switzerland” logo.  It was a successful ploy and they have produced millions of successfully selling watches ever since.

IMG_1606

The Swatch Nightspeed blue black

Swatch introduce new models often and you can usually guarantee good quality, a good movement and an affordable price.  So this year I looked to see what would take my fancy and be my model for this year (it might not be a 2018 build, but one I maybe missed in the past).

This time I’ve gone for a black plastic cased, quartz powered model, called the Nightspeed.  I find it to be a very attractive dark toned blue dial within a black case with a black silicon buckle strap. Fitting to a conventional spring bar fitting on the case, this means you can swap out the strap for any standard one, if you prefer.  In the event I like this strap as it’s very flexible, has a nice mat black finish and corresponding buckle.

IMG_1609

Quick change battery hatch – with battery type inscribed on back.

The dial numerals are in white with two different font sizes, the 12, 4 and 8 being larger. There are three sub-dials with running seconds at 6, and the two at 2 and 10 function as stop-watch counters.  There is also a date window at 6 with white against black and most of the dial features are luminous.  There is a black stop-watch seconds centre sweep hand and the semi skeleton hour and minute hands have white tipped pointers.
There is a finely marked dial bezel featuring a Km/h marker ring and there are two black pushers on the right, either side of the centre crown for timing functions and setting the watch.

IMG_1610

Light weight plastic body – easy on the wrist.  Note the date window @6.

Whilst the color scheme is predominantly black and blue, the white features within the dial make this an easy watch to read.  Overall it is both understated and yet very attractive.

The dimensions are 42 mm diameter and just over 13 mm depth including the slightly domed crystal, so a nicely sized watch and being plastic cased is very light on the wrist.
According to the data on the Seller’s website, the Water Resistance is quoted as 30m, though with the Swatch quick change battery “hatch” as opposed to a full screw back, I’d be cautious it testing how good that may be!

One neat point to note is the battery type (394) is inscribed along-side the hatch, which is very useful.

The Swatch 4 jewel Quartz movements, I’ve found and certainly the ones I own are both accurate and reliable . . . . which when put together with the general attributes of this particular model, I am certain will be a great model to own and at around £80 represents a good buy.
IMG_1607

Just a note – if you are looking for a watch to match colors with clothing, it is a fact that generally the Swatch range give you a great choice, as they do offer an extraordinary number of models in all sorts of color options.  Just a thought for Christmas. . . .