Times are moving.

Some models that have attracted me recently are the Kinetic range of watches from Seiko.  I’m interested as I already have a 1988 forerunner of this technology (the Seiko AGS) and to see how they have progressed is something else.  I also like them because whilst they do use a quartz oscillator, they’re unlike standard quartz systems as they use mechanical movement to generate electricity via micro rotor to charge an accumulator, which via gearing, drives the watch movement.  Unlike purely mechanical movements however, these can also offer quartz accuracy. The best of both you could say.

Early Seiko AGS Automatic Generating System watch

Early Seiko AGS Automatic Generating System watch

Of course as I said, the technology has been around a while, though a far cry from my early 1988 AGS Seiko, which is the Kinetic predecessor.  My old model (April 1988) has a total full charge time of only 3 days so not quite in the same league as today’s offerings, which on full charge may be many, many months in some versions.  In fact my old AGS if off the wrist too long, takes ages to get the darned thing started. I usually have to waggle it around for about 15 minutes before it grudgingly, in two second hops, decides that it’s accumulator or capacitor is beginning to get some charge.  I do have the updated cell version, which ostensibly gives 90 days, but I’ve never got round to changing it.  BUT – that’s all old hat now – absolutely!

Today’s “Kinetics” as they are now called, are a very, very different animal – Oh yes!

Seiko Kinetic SKA465P1 Black stainless - no frills favorite

Seiko Kinetic SKA465P1 Black stainless – with date if you can see it

And one of the good features I like about the current range of Kinetic watches from Seiko is the fact they don’t have to look complicated and actually make models that have a neat simplicity, which is in contrast to the many sub-dialed, over cluttered faces I see so often when new models appear.  It seems to be the thing that if you can see the time clearly, this is not good!  What nonsense!  The whole point of a watch is to tell the time – easily.  And here are a couple of Seiko models that in my opinion are both good and practical!

The SKA465P1 has a simple dial design  showing absolute clarity – the contrast is great and the layout is clear and simple.  Black dial face with bright white and luminous numerals with good contrasting hour and minute hands – also luminous, with a white center seconds hand with a decent overlap tail end. The date window between 4 and 5 is possibly a little discreet, which is a pity, but at least the date numbers are white against black.  It is however a negative in an otherwise nice watch.  The dark coated stainless steel case could be an issue if it rubs over time and same for the  two tone bracelet, but it makes for an understated and good looking watch. (I have one other Ion coated cased watch and so far over 3 years it has not rubbed, though it’s not a Seiko).

You will note this model has button @2 which is not to adjust the date (which you would do with the center crown) but instead this moves the second hand to indicate the amount of charge the watch has remaining.  Just a note about the bracelet fixing.  This watch I’m glad to say features a conventional strap lug arrangement (spring pins) which is so sensible and means you can change the bracelet for a conventional strap or alternative bracelet of your choice.  And as stated on the watch face the Water Resistance is 100m – very practical therefore as an every day watch.

The Seiko SKA459P1 Titanium Kinetic

The Seiko SKA459P1 Titanium Kinetic – good date window

There are quite a few different versions and another one I like is the Titanium SKA495P1 – a nice example which is also simple to read and use, but a little more dressy.  It also has a much better Date window in my opinion, easier to read with it’s highlighted window, at the more conventional 3 o’clock position.  But on the downside for me is the fact that it is fitted to a bespoke bracelet – in other words you can’t fit a leather strap for example, unlike the previous model, which is a pity.  And there are more complicated looking models such as the Sportura, but for me some of these have a dial that is just too cluttered at first glance and not easy to quickly read the time.  Often a GMT hand is given too much priority and is mistaken for the hour hand.

Another model, the SKA557P1 at first glance appears to give that nice clarity, but don’t let the online images fool you – the typical images really don’t tell the full picture.  Yes it has an excellent face, clear, simple and with good contrast too, but the watch may be spoiled by the very highly polished bezel on the watch case – had this been matte – it would have been just about perfect.

But like everything else it may well suit someone else as we all have different ideas of what we like or dislike.  What I can say is the Kinetic technology is really something rather special.  Terrific accuracy, no battery changing required, no worries about wearing under a shirt or pullover, which can really upset Solar or Ecodrive watches, especially in the UK where we are not in the habit of wearing short sleeved shirts and out in the sun? too often – all you have to do with this watch is wear it every so often.

SKA557P1 dark drown coated Stainless kinetic from Seiko

SKA557P1 dark drown coated Stainless kinetic from Seiko. BUT – too shiny?

And the latest Auto Relay version even allow the watch to sit unworn for up to 4 years! then when you want to use it you simply waggle it around for a few minutes and it  immediately starts up, the static hands suddenly whizz round the dial to the correct time, the date changes to the correct day and hey presto – you’re up and running.

Possible issues – I have noted perhaps four here – one is the Date window on the SKA465P1 model is not so clear as it should be, then the issue of Ion or dark coatings on Stainless Steel – sometimes successful, sometimes not.  Though my experience is good on these so may not be an issue after all.  Then there is the bracelet fitting on the SKA459P1, where it’s not possible to fit a strap, and finally the SKA557P1 model with such a great face, clear etc. BUT looks as if it has that very glossy shiny bezel case which may be distracting.  I’ll have to see that one in person to make sure.  But of course that’s the thing with watches – finding the ideal and the one that ticks (sorry!) all the boxes – maybe that’s the thing about watch gazing and part of the fun.

Oh Yes – times are not only changing, but they’re moving too.

Now if I could just find an Auto Relay model (not chrono) with a nice clear to read face and preferably a strap version, I could be very tempted indeed!  Watch this space!

Chalk and Cheese?

A watch nut acquaintance of mine arrived back from holiday the other day, waltzed into my place and bragged about his new watch.  He only gave me a fleeting glimpse of it as he waved his arm around, saying this was the absolute best watch he’d ever owned.
Intrigued of course I asked to see it and even though I just had the slightest peek, I said it looked like he’d got himself an Aviator classic.  “Oh, he said, you don’t have one too, do you?”

Well I’ve got this one here I replied and dug out my old AstroAvia Classic Aviator Alarm watch that I’ve had for a number of years.  Now I wouldn’t say it’s the very best watch I’ve ever owned, but it is in practical terms, a pretty decent watch and one that I intend to keep for a long time yet.

Anyway the watch on his wrist was marked on the dial as Ernst Benz, which to me, being a bit cynical in my old age, sounds like one of those made up Swiss German classic marques, that more often than not turn out to be (in my experience) a vastly expensive product with little actual pedigree, or indeed watch specification detail (or any), but lots of dialogue about how good it is.  Looking up Herr Ernst Benz I confess to being unsure as to the tie up with a watch brand, but hey why not!  I do have a watch in my display cabinet with my own name on the dial too!

Benz and AstroAvia

Benz and AstroAvia

Now my friend oddly enough after seeing my old Astro suddenly went all coy on how much his Benz cost!  Of course if I’m honest, just because the brand was and is pretty much unknown to me, doesn’t make my cynicism justified – I could be quite wrong and it could indeed be a super quality classic.
However looking closely at it – I’ve got to say it doesn’t appear anything special – it’s a fairly common mechanical automatic chrono, probably a 7750 series or 2824/36 movement or similar (I have many of these), the case and dial design is in ubiquitous “Aviator” style and hardly special, the numerals, printing, hands, dial and case quality and finish are comparable and when we put both watches together, they look pretty similar.

Of course in reality they are not the same and there are differences for sure – mechanical automatic v quartz, Sapphire v Hardened Mineral crystal and “maybe” quality differences and so on, but we’re not talking gold or platinum here, or super complications, but a stainless cased working chronograph.  The cost differential may well be taken up in part by the mechanical v quartz, though other than that aspect, I don’t see much else.  However that said it is fact that mechanical 7750 and 2824 movements models can be anywhere from £600 to £thousands, depending on who they are, marketing hype and fashion.  Factually though it’s OK, but personally I’d be looking elsewhere money wise.

My old AstroAvia has a Japanese Quartz (OS2 or YM62 usually) has never let me down, the hands mechanics and complications work fine and is just what I need from a practical daily beater, which why I bought it in the first place.  I do recall I favored Quartz over mechanical as more often than not, chronograph complications in everyday wear, considering knocks and so on usually fare better.  (See my post of March 2010). It also came with a bracelet and a quality leather strap!

However as the image, they do have a certain similarity – that aviator style and whilst I am very happy with my AstroAvia purchase, I’m not too sure if my old friend is quite so happy after I mentioned it’s £180 price tag.

He never did tell me how much he paid, but checking up on a few of the Benz model prices and which after seeing them, I’d consider this more orientated towards fashion than anything else.

And as to my title “Chalk and Cheese?”,  well it certainly makes this old pessimist wonder.

Blue classic

The color blue is also very popular with watch manufacturers, though as Yellow they can look highly colored for colors sake, rather than any other reason.  However sometimes one model comes along that truly uses the color (blue in this instance) to best effect.  And this is the wonderful IWC Portuguese Silver/Blue shown here.

IWC Silver/Blue Gents watch.

IWC Silver/Blue Gents watch.

The model is called the IWC Portuguese 7 Day Power Reserve Silver/Blue Dial Men’s Strap Watch IW500107.  It has a stainless steel 42.3mm case and blue leather strap. This watch has a silver dial with blue hour markers and hands and a date indicator at 6 o’clock. The crystal is Sapphire glass and matched by a sapphire crystal glass back and is water resistant to 30M.

The Swiss Automatic movement has an extraordinary Power Reserve of 7 days with the reserve indicator sub-dial @3 and seconds sub-dial @9, which makes for a clean and very clearly defined face.  And the touch of Red as a warning indication showing 1 day power reserve remaining is very neat.
But what I really like about this model is the subtle use of the Blue color.  This is not just a blue version of a standard model, but a careful application of tone and form, which transforms this watch into a very elegant timepiece.

So in the Dress watch stakes, this is certainly one of the best I’ve seen yet, regardless of color – it’s a classic.


Touch of Green

Not quite such a common color as red in the watch world, there are still quite a number around.  Green straps and colored resin cases or green dials and not surprisingly quite a number of khaki green military styles.  Fewer dress style models are in evidence, though these two I found are probably in that classification.

Void V03-A Green Alarm Watch

Void V03-A Green Alarm Watch

Very traditional style with interesting touches is the Void model V03 Limited Edition.  Green dial of course in an IP Gold case with date window @3 and an alarm function with pointer hand in red.  Hour and minuted hands are black with glow in the dark infills, plus a center seconds hand and the watch is a neat 38mm x 10mm.  The contrasting leather strap is color coordinated apparently with the gold/green combination look.  The quartz movement is a Japanese Miyota so should be dependable.  And I have to say I quite like the style of it and as a dress watch it should look rather smart.

Costs in the UK around £250 and about the same in Euros – this is the Void Watches site – HERE

As with my Red watch post, the second watch featured moves more up to date I suppose with this nice Rockwell, bracelet style model, Green and Silver from their Rook range.

Rockwell Stainless Green dial Swiss Quartz

Rockwell Stainless Green dial Swiss Quartz

With the stainless steel bracelet, which is what I call a “ladder” style, matching nicely with the case, this green dial watch features an anti-reflective Sapphire crystal and a Swiss quartz movement and appears as a rather sleek modern look.  With a stainless case at 38mm wide matched by a 38mm bracelet, this certainly gives it a very modern and clean look.  It is also very slim at only 9.2mm so will easily slip under a shirt cuff.  I also think the color combination of silver and green works well and I’m pleased to see the contrasting white infill hour and minute hands plus a white center seconds hand.

For me this model has an elegance which I didn’t expect on first encounter, but the more I look at it the better I like it.

HOWEVERCosts around $240 on the Rockwell web site, which is reasonable.  But on the Amazon UK site it’s quoted at just under £400 which has to be after importation.  This is far more than double! – today the exchange rate suggests the true cost should be £150 and I might have been tempted – but for me that Amazon price is just a nonsense!  NO Sale!  

I have seen it today on Ebay UK for around £147 plus £28 US/UK postage.  So plus import Vat etc. it’s probably gettable at perhaps under £250, but for a £150 watch it’s still too high in my opinion.  So again – NO Sale!

Available from USA Rockwell Watches HERE

Touch of Red

Recently on holiday I bumped into a guy at dinner one evening who definitely had style. The first thing I noticed was that being at dinner, he wore a dinner jacket or Tuxedo as my US pals call it.  Now this being 2013 in Europe, on a river cruise, is actually unusual in itself these days, as what ever dress code there used to be on ships, is either flaunted, ignored or not demanded.  That wonderful old elegance of “dressing” up for dinner on boats  unfortunately has long been tossed overboard!

Oclock Watch - Mickey Mouse in red. Model OCD02.

Oclock Watch – Mickey Mouse in red. Model OCD02.

But as I say, he had style, looked awesome and quite evidently drew envious looks – and why not?  However what really struck me was his choice of watch to accompany this elegant, smart and dark ensemble.
A Red Watch no less and a Mickey Mouse one at that!  And furthermore it matched the red silk bow tie perfectly!  This was STYLE!
So here I introduce the Oclock watch – model OCD02 Mickey Mouse in Red.

Made by Fullstop in Italy, it has interchangeable “pop out” faces, a choice of stretch colored silicon strap (of varying lengths), a 35mm white dial with glow in the dark hour and minute hands, so actually very practical.  I love it!

So it got me thinking – what other color watches are around, that could be worn to enhance your personality and that independent free thinking look.

Rosendahl 43108 Red Digital Gents Watch.

Rosendahl 43108 Red Digital Gents Watch.

Sticking with Red as the color of choice I’ve updated the look by coming bang up to date with this sleek Rosendahl 43108 Digital Red PU strapped super digital display watch.

This is a super slim 22mm wide by only 6mm depth digital model with time and date display, featuring a black display with white digits.  The strap is a neat Polyurethane affair with an invisible double locking stainless steel clasp.  The watch has 30m Water Resistance too.  Seeing it for the first time I personally prefer it to the newer technology Phosphor watches with their digital Ink displays.  This watch is smaller, slimmer and neater on the wrist and for me, having a smallish wrist, this suits me much better.  As to features – well let’s say that knowing the time and the date is really all I need.

Now I’m on this “color” kick got me to thinking, what other high color watches are out there, that can give the wearer that “look at me – my tie says it all” look, but in a watch.  I’ve seen quite a few and not only in Red – in fact there’s a color to suit almost any occasion . . . .

Good idea for a post or two – I’m sure.  So watch this space!