Classic Expedition

An early digital Expedition Timex is featured in this post, dated around 1998 (80 M745) in pretty decent all round condition.  The digital display is clear and basically as good as the day it was bought.  Classed as a Chronograph model the features are more or less what you get in the current Expedition models.

1998 Timex Expedition digital display normal daylight.

1998 Timex Expedition digital display normal daylight.

Digital display wise – Standard view is along the lower part, hours, minutes and seconds plus an AM/PM indicator and the upper part shows Day, Month and Date.  Using the lower left pusher or “mode”, this changes the display in turn to Chronograph (with slit/lap timing), Alarm, Timer (100hrs) and 2nd Time Zone, in that order.  This model also features a 12/24hr display option and an Hourly Chime.  It has a night light (Indiglo) using the top left pusher which is on as long as the pusher is pressed.  All setting is done using the lower right pusher and the top right pusher selects Alarm on or off etc.  So quite familiar really to anyone used to using these digital display watches.  Note in the images shown here the display shows grey background and black numerals when light is not being reflected off it, however its almost fluorescent when the light  strikes at some angles and then appears very high contrast green background with black numerals.

Timex digital display in reflecting light - gives fluorescent contrast

Timex digital display in reflecting light – gives fluorescent contrast

In most conditions it’s pretty good though as most of these, the top data can be slightly over-shadowed by the black surround of the watch face.  Still featured on some current watches, though I note many now have a visible face area wider than the numerals, so avoiding any possibility of shadows.

It’s a very neat watch at 39mm diameter and only 9mm depth, so a good bit smaller than current Expedition models.  It has spring bars so you can fit any standard strap to it, though it actually measures a slightly non standard, but gettable, 19mm width.  I have a Timex “E” quick wrap strap fitted and it is perfect and comfortable.

Timex Expedition on the wrist - very neat.

Timex Expedition on the wrist – very neat.

In a dark almost black resin case, light grey bezel with printed pusher data, the back has a stainless steel plate secured by 4 x corner screws and has it has 100m Water Resistance.

1998 v 2012/13 - watches are getting bigger.

1998 v 2012/13 – watches are getting bigger.

Some of the older Timex models like this one, for me, are often nicer to wear than the present offerings.  Only 15 years before the current stuff (an age in electronics of course) the displays funnily enough tended to be neater, as are the watches which were smaller and slimmer and yet managed to portray the excitement of the new Digital age without bulk or large knurled or knobbly bits here and there.  They were and still are science fiction in a way, because they’re ground breaking and the core function and the attraction of the watch is not obscured by too much over the top and perhaps unnecessary Dr Who extravagance.  Note this model has a battery life of around 6.5 years.

I might yet add more to my digital collection, though perhaps it could be more appropriate to call it my Timex collection, as I seem to be acquiring more of these by the week!  Whatever – I’m sure it won’t be the last!

UPDATE – 4th August 2014

Started to get a little erratic this morning and I decided to check out and hopefully replace the battery – assuming this was the problem.  Removed the 4 back screws and realized this was a different style of module that I am used to.  The center part is a round cover which is actually clipped on to the very large CR2016 battery!  The cover is held down by 3 screws to the module board.  Simply removed these and un-clipped the battery from the cover once it was in my hand.  Replaced the battery by clipping the cover over it, then dropped the cover and battery assembly on to the board, lining up the 3 screw holes and screwed it back in place.  Writing on the cover says to “press this” to reset after battery change, referring I think to small metal contact on the module.  However on turning the watch over I saw that the digits were indicating fine, so skipped that instruction.  Replaced the back of the watch and set the time data.  All functions are working perfectly now including the back light, which actually was the first problem I saw prior to replacing the battery.  Instead of lighting, it indicated code and altered the time setting to 12:00.  This I suspected was the lack of power – hence the battery change today.  It took me about 10 minutes start to finish.

Sorry I didn’t think to take photographs, but suffice to say it was very easy to manage.

Cheap discs

A friend of mine appeared the other day with a new watch they’d got as a fun addition to their main birthday gift and was keen to show it off to me.
This is a disc watch that shows the passage of time not with conventional hands but uses flat discs instead.  Not that this is a particularly new concept as I have a few myself including some vintage models, but this one is a sort of retro/modernist model and I show it to you today basically for one particular reason which I’ll share at the end of the review.

Disc watch from Zuricht

Disc watch from Zuricht – and the time is 1:54 and 31 seconds.

I’ve seen a few disc watches round and some are better than others.  Some are also cheaper than others, though in this case (so far at any rate) this does not mean they are any less of a functioning disc watch.  This model from Zuricht (via Amazon) is not a bad looking watch, it slips so well under a cuff and here’s the first good point – because the display is offset to the right and if like me you wear your watch on the left wrist it is perfect.  So many other disc watches have the display at the top or even to the left and are not so easy to read quickly – here just a glimpse from under the shirt cuff and there it is.

On the wrist - looks good with display at right side of case.

On the wrist – looks good with display at right side of case.

The watch itself is neat at 43mm wide (45mm top to bottom) and only 8.9mm depth, so is really slim to wear. The entire watch is in black gloss finish steel and the case top is slightly curved as is the large clear plastic face. The time window is 15mm x 18mm so is a good size to enable a decent view.

The bracelet is black finish stainless steel and fully adjustable.  For smaller wrists, adjusting is by way of split pins, which can be pushed out of each segment and these can be removed to reduce the overall size.  These should be pushed out from the solid end of the pin – and when replacing push in from the split end and usually have to be tapped in with a protected face small hammer or similar.  It sounds a little more difficult than it is, but is quite easy to manage with a bit of care and common sense. Your local watchman will do it in a few minutes. The bracelet is a fairly standard fold over clasp with a double push button clasp which works very well.

The watch back is plain stainless steel and a snap fit.  There is no mention of Water Resistance, but as with most snap fittings I would NOT recommend using it in water.  If it doesn’t say – it isn’t – in other words don’t shower when wearing it!

Solid stainless fold over adjustable segment bracelet.

Solid stainless fold over adjustable segment bracelet.

As to the function if the watch, I’ve found it to be excellent.  The display shows 3 discs which are colored white with black numbers and the outer Hours disc has larger numbers than the inner Minute disc, which graduate in size down to the continually rotating Seconds disc, which is more or less in the center of the watch.  Although the discs have no graduations, it is actually unnecessary as it is very easy to read the time accurately.  All the discs rotate, the most obvious being the Seconds which ticks round constantly, the others of course rotate,  but much slower.

Accuracy wise it’s apparently a Japanese Quartz movement and is as good as most quartz models with mechanical indicators – such as hands or discs.

Quality –

Whilst the case, bracelet and general look of this model is actually very good, there are some issues regarding the discs.  First is the printing of the numbers which could be better and second is what appears to be evidence of dust on the discs.  The first issue is just plain careless and the second shows to me that assembly of the watch is maybe not done in ideal conditions.  I would suspect that final Quality Control is the buyer!  There is a 1 year Guarantee however and if you get one where the issues are more serious or if concern to you, I would think a return would be a replacement as the repair.

Some evidence of dust on the discs and the print quality could be better.

Some evidence of dust on the discs and the print quality could be better.

But that said, overall I’ve got to say that I am pretty pleased with this watch at such a low cost, especially when considered against a similar looking model such as the Nixon Rotolog retailing at over £200 versus £15 for this model.  Of course there will be quality differences, but I have to confess I see nothing that would stop me from buying this over the more expensive one.

What would I like to have seen?  Maybe a back light for night use or perhaps luminous discs or numerals – but there again these extras cost money and not essential.

So to conclude, this watch basically does what it shows and does it very well and at low cost. Quality Control is another matter, but without another sitting beside it I’m unable to gauge one against the other.  What I can say is that this particular one certainly looks good and should the worst happen and it die a death sooner rather than later – so what?

However it has to be said that I have no reason whatsoever to suppose that it will not give many years of service.

So a good watch – and a great buy and under £20.

True elegance

Whilst over the years I’ve liked the multifunction models, it’s a fact that my favorite style is probably still the conventional “Dress” watch.  The one overriding word that says it all for me is “elegance” and my choice would always be for a slim cased model that can in turn show off a truly “elegance” with simplicity of dial and case, in fact an “ensemble” of complimentary features that simply work.  And I do not mean “minimalist” even thought this seems to be the modern way of expressing this, I tend to find those offerings both bland and unexciting, certainly not elegant.

Frederique Constant Automatic Slim case

Frederique Constant Automatic Slim case

So having had a look round at the currently available slim and elegant models this is the first of a few that caught my eye.  The Frederique Constant of Geneve Automatic slim cased model above.  A nice sized 40mm diameter case at only 9mm thick, with a sapphire crystal, 30m Water Resistance, FC-306 25 jewel Automatic movement, in a Yellow Gold plated case.  I think this dial face though simple also has an elegance (note it is slightly bowed, not flat), nice gold applied stick hour markers, beautifully shaped gold hands and a neat sized date window @3.  The onion crown is a nice touch and perfectly sized and overall a classic dress watch I’d say and mid priced too for this class of watch.

As you can see for a dress function there is absolutely no need for an overly “busy” face with sub-dials and extraneous features.  It’s about elegance.

It’s also interesting to note that to find a Quartz watch that can be described as truly elegant is not easy.  I show the same maker here as an example – this is the Frederique Constant Quartz version of an almost but not quite similar model.

Frederique Constant Quartz slim Gents.

Frederique Constant Quartz slim Gents.

Now it looks fine of course, but that “elegance” of the previous version is, for me at any rate, just not there.  This model is slightly smaller at 37mm diameter and is actually thinner, being an ultra-thin 5mm with a sunray silver dial, stick hands, and sapphire crystal.  The case has that double stepped bezel top that for me doesn’t have the style of the first.  The gold hands are not “quite” as well shaped and the marker @3 is chopped almost in half, plus that “bowed” look to the dial just isn’t the same.  All that said of course, it is still a very nice watch (and perhaps the image does it an injustice) but the first one is my personal and more expensive choice (£1750 to £750 for the quartz).
However an interesting point about models without seconds hands, is that it’s not easy to see at a glance if the watch is mechanical or quartz.  So if you are with friends that are mechanical nuts, then you might just get away with it. 😉

Rotary Originals Quartz

Rotary Originals Quartz

Another quartz offering is this model from The Originals collection from Rotary – and not a bad looking watch it is too.  PVD Gold plated case is very slim at 5.7mm and a diameter of 43mm including crown and a nicely patterned champagne dial face plus neat contrasting black stick hands and printed numerals.  Crystal is Sapphirite (a sapphire coated mineral glass).  Simple case design with the “bar” lugs from another age and a quality leather strap.  A pretty good dress watch and at a low/mid price of around £150 – £220.  I understand the “Originals” series feature Swiss Quartz movements.  Overall it seems a pretty decent dress watch for the money.

For me the above Rotary whilst a nice dress watch loses out on the elegance stakes for various reasons.  The black stick hands in this context are just that, pointers, and the printed numeral here are rather bland.  The whole comes across as more plain than elegant, though in reality as opposed to the image, it does look a class watch.  At the price of course it has to be worth a look.

Stuhrling Original Ascot Quartz

Stuhrling Original Ascot Quartz

Another stick hands dress watch comes from the Stuhrling stable.  The Stuhrling Original Ascot Quartz, which is an even lower priced model than the Rotary at around £56.00.  This is 38mm diameter and only 5,5mm depth, so is a very thin watch indeed, with a Krysterna Crystal, white face, printed hour batons, 10M Water Resistance and a Swiss movement, represents very good value.  However in looks it comes across as just simple or even minimalist and with no hint of any elegance at all, so falls short as a dress watch for me personally.  Nice enough watch, but not for me.

Skagen UltraSlim 858xlgld

Skagen UltraSlim 858xlgld

I mentioned minimalist at the start and this is such a model.  The Skagen 858xlgld – whilst a dress watch I suppose it has this Danish design minimal look which frankly does absolutely nothing for me.  Flat gold hands are positively inelegant and the flat featureless dial and printed hour batons just add to that barren look.  The case at 39mm diameter and only 5mm depth is fine, but I find this a non starter in the elegance stakes, though for a cheap dress watch at £50 – can’t be bad.

Dugena Classic

Dugena Classic

This watch from Dugena Classic range is a better affair than the above and even though it has stick hands, it does have a certain elegance about it overall.  It has a two tiered dial face and applied gold numeral batons, nicely shaped gold case at 38mm diameter and just 6mm depth, so is slim too.  Mineral glass crystal.  It also has a very good quality quartz movement of Swiss/German origin and a price point well below it’s quality (around £70.00).  An excellent dress watch and with a touch of elegance perhaps.

Piaget Alto Plano

Piaget Alto Plano

Well here’s a watch that’s close to home for me as I actually own two of this maker.  One vintage and one modern.  And now we have to be talking elegance.  This is the Piaget Alto Plano ultra slim model (current) and although this model has a sub dial for seconds @10 (mine is at@4) it is one of the few dress watches with a seconds feature that looks both different and yet retains a certain elegance too.  Stick hands here don’t look wrong in this setting and neither do the printed baton markers.  They blend together very well indeed as I mentioned at the start – the “ensemble” or combination of elements is superb.  Again you have, as the Frederique Constant Auto mode,l this slightly bowed dial face that just looks right. This particular model is 38mm diameter and just 4.1mm depth is incredibly thin, an 18ct pink gold and subtly shaped elegant case (even the automatic is only 5.25mm depth), though as you can guess this is not a cheap model but pretty expensive at around $13,00o.  You better believe it, this sort of elegance costs!

Of course there are many, many more dress style watches out there and if I look long enough I’d probably find quite a few more, that would suit my own particular requirements and opinion.  But suffice to say, there are literally dozens around.  And this is very encouraging, especially in this modern day obsession for big, sometimes clumsy, over featured, extravagant models that seem to proliferate now.  The fact that the “classic” dress watch is still available, says to me that with a bit of luck others may enjoy the feeling of wearing such wonderful watches, well into the future – and that has to be good.

But a word of caution – I’ve found over the years and confirmed it yet again – that true elegance = expensive!

Isn’t that the way of it . .

//

Not another Compass!

You may recall I got myself a Timex Digital Compass model T467619 recently, which I like immensely by the way and the only negative thing on it, if being very picky, is the fact that it has a bespoke strap.  And you may also know from my posts that this is a feature that always niggles me.  Why they can’t simply have a conventional strap and spring lugs I do not know, because after a few years use when the strap goes and the problems of trying to get that particular strap or bracelet can be difficult and expensive too.

However recently I managed to find within Timex’s enormous product range, another Digital Compass model, which this time has a simple, conventional strap fixing to lug spring bars.  The T42761

Timex Digital Compass on strap - T41261

Timex Digital Compass on strap – T41261

This and the previous T42761 are a sensible size (I wish Digital Compass models from Casio and others would take note) and also light weight, both being a resin material.  This one is the neatest at 43mm diameter and 12.4mm depth against the other at B 45mm x 13.6mm.

The T42761 (rt)  Digital Compass smaller and lighter than T42761 (left)

The T42761 (right A) Digital Compass smaller and lighter than T42761 (left B)

Both have large digital displays when compared to the case size AND they are super easy to read, though slightly different.  The left one has fractionally thicker digital & taller numbers in comparison to the other, though both are perfectly fine to read.  The digital operation of functions is similar, though the left model scores here for UK users as it can alter the Date/Day to Day/Date – whereas this new one cannot.

Compass reads headings and bearings of 12 o'clock position.

Compass reads headings and bearings of 12 o’clock position.

The largest difference function wise is in the Digital Compass operation.

My previous model indicates North and South with small block markers which appear just outside that outer black dial ring AND gives the Heading and Bearing of the 12 o’clock position.  It also display the data for 20 seconds.

My new purchase does not indicate North or South, indicating only the Heading and Bearing of the 12 o’clock position and only displays this for 10 seconds – I find this quite short to fully take in what I’m seeing, though you can of course just press the button again.

Note that the T42761 (my new one) has 4 side case buttons, the Indiglo button being on the top of the case @6.  I also note that the other model allows you to have a + and – adjustment when setting, whereas the new one only has a + setting (the button @4 o’clock).  However the numbers change very rapidly so not much of an issue.  They are both very easy to use.

On the wrist - a sensible size and WITH a compass!

On the wrist – a sensible size and WITH a compass!

The final difference is of course the strap arrangement, the new one having the conventional strap.  It means easy replacement if it breaks, wears or just happens you don’t like it – you can fit your choice of strap.  You can also sit the watch flat on a table or in a display box, but you can also sit it upright on the lugs @6 and use it as an alarm clock on a bedside table for example.  And that’s quite useful if you don’t wear the watch at night and you can’t do that with my previous model.

I also find that this new one feels cheaper and although lighter in weight at 47g against 50g, it’s not because of that, but just a feeling there’s maybe a quality change.  No real evidence for this as both watches are very, very good, and I do realize this is all very personal and maybe overly picky.  But that’s what makes us buy different models and versions I suppose – what suits you may not suit me.

Now I have them both – which one do I like best?
Difficult to say, though I do prefer the fact my previous one indicated North/South + bearings etc. and that it can adjust to display Day then Date.  Of course I like the strap on the latest one, but that’s the only plus actually and even that has it’s limitations as an issue.

My solution?

I bought a spare Timex strap for it – today!  🙂

A trio of Timex - and I like them all!

A trio of Timex – and I like them all!

This an image of my three new Timex models from largest to smallest –  Vibration chrono (center), Compass 1 (left) and latest compass 2 (right)  And I like them all!