The elegant watch (1)

Elegant –  simple enough word to say, but not quite so easy to see – I mean what’s elegant to me may not be to you and as a description of a watch, well it then becomes wide open to interpretation and even ambiguity, so say the least.  What about “refined” or “sophisticated” or maybe “tasteful”.  Perhaps “delicate” would describe it or even “graceful” and so on and on . . . . .
Not so easy is it?  Can this definition actually be defined – Wow, that’s deep, but there lies the conundrum and can it be applied equally to a Dress watch or an everyday Practical watch?

I hope to post 4 models each month that maybe meet my “elegance” criteria and here are my interpretations on what I think is elegant and see if you agree – first up . . . . The wonderful IWC Portofino

The beautifully elegant IWC Portofino Moonphase.

The beautifully elegant IWC Portofino Moonphase.

Perhaps what I’d personally call “simply” elegant, the IWC Portofino – and yes “delicate” even “graceful” and certainly “sophisticated” – oh yes it ticks a good few boxes for me and if elegance is a combination of so many different impressions, it certainly fits the brief I’d say.

A sleek Lemania from the 1950's

A sleek pink Gold Lemania from the 1950’s

A beautiful 18ct Pink Gold cased Lemania (supplier to Brequet) from the ’50’s, with sunken engraved sub-dials at 38mm diameter and only 8.5mm depth, is indeed rather slim and elegant.  Proportionally it is a very pleasing watch and one that I think meets the criteria pretty well.

Ebel Automatic Classic Hexagon 9303F61

Ebel Automatic Classic Hexagon 9303F61

Not sure if this Ebel automatic 9303F61 is entirely “elegant”, but it has a certain “refinement” about it that I personally like.  Definitely “sophisticated” and even complicated showing the Day and Date in retrograde style and all contained in what they call their Classic Hexagon model – 45.4mm diameter x 11mm.  I love the description of this particular dial configuration which is called the “wink and smile”.  Ebel tend to be a little below the radar here in the UK, but they do produce some very sweet and very high quality watches, which is unsurprising as Movado group are involved, so need I say more.

Followed by a Seiko GS automatic, just to show that Gold doesn’t have the monopoly on elegance.  Seiko are masters of stainless steel design and this model is no exception.  Beautiful shaped curve of the GS and it’s balance between refinement and practicality, the perfect matching bracelet says it all and i think a worthy member of my “elegant” selection.

The Seiko GS in stainless steel

The Seiko GS in stainless steel

Note – Another 4 watches will feature next month on or around the same time, same place . . . . . .

The Ultimate

I suppose it’s inevitable that when you collect watches for a few years, you at some point come across a model that simply takes your breath away.  And for me it has to be the F.P. Journe Quantieme Perpetuel Watch.

F.P. Journe Quantieme Perpetuel Watch - Wow!

F.P. Journe Quantieme Perpetuel model- my ultimate Watch – period!

So what can I say about this remarkable watch.  For me as I say this is the ultimate watch – it is simply stunning – and very complicated.  It has a most beautiful and simply executed dial, which displays the Date, the current Day and Month.  A true Triple Date Calendar watch display if there ever was.  The Day and Month are visible through two windows at 12 o’clock.  The 6 o’clock double window shows the current Date.  The aperture/window sizes are quite large so readability is near perfect.  Note that the Date change is virtually instantaneous, so if the time is for example 11:57 the Date will still be correct, it doesn’t slide slowly over as most watches, so that you’re not sure if it’s today or tomorrow!

The  F.P. Journe Quantieme Perpetuel Watch is of course a true Perpetual Calendar and one of the most difficult of all complications to master – and being a true complication can be incredibly awkward to reset if you let your watch stop for a few days.  It is not impossible that such complications may have to be returned to the Manufacturer for this to be done – which is both expensive and inconvenient in the extreme!  However not for  François-Paul Journe, as he strives always to make any watch he designs, simple enough even for a child to operate  – there is an answer – using the center single crown which has 3 positions.  Using it you can set the Time, the Day and the Date.  Setting the Month however is managed by another control, hidden beneath the top right hand case lug.  The reason for this separate corrector control apparently is that within the movement there is a tiny Leap Year wheel connected to the Month wheel and separate from any crown intervention.  The Leap Year indicator by the way is almost unnoticeable at the center of the dial with 4 small indices and indicator.

F.P. Journe Quantieme Perpetuel Watch with 22ct Gold Rotor

F.P. Journe Quantieme Perpetuel Watch with 22ct Gold Rotor

The fact that this wonderful complication Octa Calibre 1300.3 mechanical movement with it’s huge 120 hour reserve, is hidden within such an elegant case with the most simple and logical dial is nothing short of astounding.  Of course this is no surprise to those who know F.P.Journe as he starts every new design with the dial and the aim of perfect readability.  Also note that to achieve the proper visual balance of the dial, the Power Reserve Indicator with it’s retrograde hand is placed @9 – surely a feat in itself!

Anyway, there you have it – my absolute ultimate watch, that unfortunately I will never manage to own unless of course I win the European Lottery! – and even then with such a limited number produced the odds against being a proud owner are just about nigh impossible!

But I can dream!

The elegant watch (2)

Another collection of “elegant” watches from around the world.  First from my own cabinet is this, now vintage, made in France, Michel Herbelin Classic with a Swiss ETA movement.

Michel Herbelin Classic Swiss ETA quartz, sapphire crystal, 100m WR.

Michel Herbelin Classic Swiss ETA quartz, sapphire crystal, 100m WR.

Followed by a delicate but classic form of the Romanson of Korea model, not often seen here in the UK, but nevertheless a popular watch around the world.  This model certainly has an elegance and worthy of including here.  I particularly like the perfectly matching bracelet which also has a delicacy of form I find very pleasing.

Romanson Classic from Korea

Romanson Classic from Korea

From the £300 range we move upwards to the classic Swiss Chopard Luc XP Automatic 65hr reserve with micro-rotor.

Chopard Luc XP 18ct Automatic

Chopard Luc XP 18ct Automatic

What sets this apart is the beautiful formed case at 39.5mm which is delicately thin 7.3mm.  18ct of course and powered by the use of a superb micro-rotor.

Now off to Germany for this wonderfully elegant Junghans Meister Kalender model.  Featuring the automatic J800.3 mechanical movement, rhodium case and a convex hard Plexiglass with SICRALAN * coating which allows much better scratch resistance, excellent UV and chemical resistance.

Junghans Meister Kalender Triple Date Moon phase

Junghans Meister Kalender
Triple Date Moon phase

I love this Triple Date Calendar and Moon Phase model so much that I have included another image – surely one of the most refined Triples around at the moment.

Junghans Meister Kalender Triple Date Moon phase

Junghans Meister Kalender
Triple Date Moon phase

For such a lovely watch you would be forgiven if you thought it far out of reach price wise – however it may surprise you and could be worth checking it out!  I spotted it at €2000 Euros just the other day.

That surely has to be one of the best elegance to value ratio models I have seen in a long time.

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Triple Date Calendar (with Moon)

And no it’s not a mistake in your social calendar unless you’re VERY optimistic!  It does of course refer to the description of my favorite type of watch, which shows “at a glance” (and that’s important) not only the time, but additionally, the Day, the Date and the Month – and crucially all at the same time.  An example of a quartz Triple Date Calendar is the Dugena Moon phase shown here –

Dugena Moonphase Triple Date Calendar

Dugena Moonphase Triple Date Calendar

For me the Triple Date Calendar function really means I should look at just two types of watch –  Quartz Analogue and Mechanical.  The true Triple Date Calendar model was of course a term used to describe this complication in mechanical movements, but technical advances mean quartz can now also provide the same function.  However regardless of watch type one of the important aspects of triple Date is the dial, because that must be clear enough to allow you to glance at it and quickly determine Triple Date information.  Just one glance and you should know not only the Time, but also the Day, the Date and the Month – instantly.  However, this is most certainly not always the case and if nothing else the Triple Date function shows up who can or cannot design a watch dial.

Android Ambassador Triple Date Calendar - with sub-dials

Android Ambassador Triple Date Calendar – with sub-dials

The quartz Android Ambassador model as shown above is a most stylish modern model.  It doesn’t however use apertures, using sub-dials instead, which I’m pleased to see are a decent size and very clear to read.  The sub-dials show the Day and Date, the Month this time being indicated by the center pointer to the outer Month track.  In addition and unusually this also indicates the year/week number.  The hands may obstruct sometimes, but this is a consequence of analogue hands and these are particularly good, as they are luminescent, which I’ve discovered are in fact surprisingly rare in a Triple date Calendar watch.

Remember what I said about dial design.  The two models illustrate this pretty clearly – both may show the same information but the Android is certainly much easier to read.  Had the Dugena larger apertures it would have been so much better.  I have to hand it to Android though as there are not that many good quartz Triple Date Calendar models around the low £100’s which it is (or was).
The concept of the Triple date is all about information – what do we want to see on our watch?  or maybe what do we need to see?  The answer for me is a practical one really and Time, Day, Date and Month just about says it all.  If I don’t know the year, then maybe I have other issues to worry about and my General Practitioner may be able to help!  😉

Here’s some Triples that I personally like –

Jaeger LeCoultre Master Calendar vintage

Jaeger LeCoultre Master Calendar vintage

An absolute Classic Triple Date Calendar is this Jaeger LeCoultre and this is a vintage one – as I said these are easier to come by than modern, though you will be surprised at the high prices these can command.  This is a mechanical movement of course, so the workmanship required to manufacture such a complication is considerable and Jaeger LeCoultre are in a class of their own.

Interesting Mercedes Chronograph Triple Date Calendar

Interesting Mercedes Chronograph Triple Date Calendar

Another rather rare vintage model is the Mercedes Benz Chrono and for me one that I dearly love to own.  Mechanical of course with an automatic caliber Valjoux 7751 with a full Calendar (perpetual).  Looks like a sub-dial Triple Date until you spot the 2 apertures in the sub-dial @12, a Date pointer center driven, 24hr time, Moon phase etc. and yet totally readable – one of my favorite models.

Classic vintage Movado Triple Date Calendar

Classic vintage Movado Triple Date Calendar

One of the most iconic Triple Date Calendar watches in my opinion is this classic vintage Movado, which is as good as they come.  I actually had two some years ago, but sold one on – (I know I was ill at the time!) and now these are becoming more difficult and more expensive to find.

So what type of watch can be called Triple Date Calendars –

Digital? – No – not strictly Triple Date Calendar of course – but today with the digital revolution, to find a model that displays all this information and almost anything else you want to know is common.  Most Digital models do show the 3 basics, such as the low priced Timex AE1200W (shows time, Day, Date, Month in standard view AND features a Perpetual Calendar till the year 2100).  Radio Controlled quartz models of course are Perpetual by default.  But Digital models in general can be the cheapest option of all if what you want is data overload.

Quartz – Yes – Analogue models are becoming more common now especially from mainstream Brands such as Casio, Seiko and Citizen.  But on modern analog models, unlike the classic vintage models must be looked at carefully for good dial design, which is paramount.  All too often they seem tempted to display in a “new” way – often with silvered hands and indices, poor layout and poor clarity as a result.

However there are a few decent ones around including the Dugena and the Android already featured.   Quartz Ana-Digi may models again have the data, but not always presented simultaneously and a push button selection may have to be made, such as Calendar.  More often than not the standard view will feature a 24hr time sub-dial (goodness knows why?) World Time, a selector dial and so on, which for me just adds to the dial clutter.  The whole point of Triple Date Calendar dials is their readability.
And that is a real bugbear of mine – so many quartz analog models seem to go out of their way to make the dial cluttered and virtually unreadable.  And if we’re talking about Triple Date Calendar “at a glance” – then forget it!

Mechanical – Absolutely – When it comes to mechanical Triple Date Calendar watches however, these are not quite so common, and in fact there are more vintage models than modern ones.  And this is simply because technology overtook the very skilled and technically difficult process of manufacturing them and offered a cheaper electronic alternative.  It’s all about cost and also whether the Brand has the technical skill even to make such a model.

So all that said, foe me the Mechanical Triple Date model is almost the ultimate – almost – except for one small problem.  Most models don’t have compensation for the short months. In other words – they don’t have a Perpetual Calendar – So every so often unlike the digital models, you have to reset your Date depending on the month (also on leap years).  UNLESS of course you start looking at the very best classic Brands.

Wonderful Patek Philippe 2499 Triple Date Perpetual Calendar

Wonderful Patek Philippe 2499 Triple Date Perpetual Calendar

As in the case of the Patek Philippe shown above, it also features a Perepetual Mechanical Calendar as well.  BUT unfortunately these are really NOT common – no Sir!  And if you do see one, you’ll need to make a choice between it and that new car!  I think the Patek Philippe models starg at around shown is around $15k to “the sky is the limit” – so not your everyday model.
Here are a few more models I like –

Unusual Jaquet Baume Triple Date vintage model

Unusual Jaquet Baume Triple Date vintage model

Vintage Eloga Triple date Calendar model

Vintage Eloga Triple date Calendar model

This Eloga model is particularly special and rare, in that it has incorporated a disk with the Date printed.  The crown @10 is used to manually align the day against the date and the progressing pointer then reads the Day and date correctly – a wonderfully elegant solution (I’ve also seen a Landau with the same dial system).

Blancpain Villeret Triple Date Calendar

Blancpain Villeret Triple Date Calendar

Then there is the classic 3 sub-dial configuration of the Blancpain above, one of my favorite Makers and kept just about as simple as possible to aid clarity – I love it.

I think I prefer the aperture display system I suppose owing to age – the older you get sub-dials become tricky to make out, whereas windows with words within them are certainly easier – if large enough of course.  And this year I hope to get myself 2 Triple Date Calendar watches – or that’s my aim anyway – as I believe these are the most wonderfully artistic of all the models out there, especially if mechanical and include the Moon phase as well.   And of course they tell you what you really want to know – “at a glance”

What else?

Casio – just goes on and on . . .

So Casio – again!  And not for thr first time featured and I doubt it will be the last time either that I feature this amazing Company’s range of even more amazing watches, because there’s no question that for watch models for everyday and for you and I, they are probably unsurpassed by anyone.  In fact the Casio is virtually a household name to many of us and certainly over the past 50 years.  From that amazing Calculator you used to smuggle into school (they weren’t allowed in the good old days (1960’s & 70’s), then that snazzy Wrist Watch that had Digits and you were the first in the street that had one, to Cameras, Musical Instruments and so on – if it was to do with pushing the boundaries of miniature Electronics – then Casio was right there.  And I’m pleased to say – still is!

Casio Telememo AW80V

Casio Telememo AW80V

What prompted this Post was that I took out of my display cabinet the other day, a spotless as new pristine Casio AW80 Telememo 30 (Japan 2427 module, China case) and wore it for the first time in ages.  What struck me was that it was only about 30 seconds fast and I have not worn this for maybe 7 years or so, and never adjusted in all that time – and that to me is pretty awesome.  On checking my records I find that I changed the battery just over 13 years ago (it states 10 year battery on the dial) which is quite amazing.

And this is one of the major points about Casio watches – they simply go on and on!  And I’ve seen this same watch for sale, new, on Ebay, today at around $19 – talk about value! (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Casio-AW80V-5B-Mens-30-Page-Data-Bank-Analog-Digital-Watch-10-Year-Battery-50M-/231108284017).  It even uses the same 2747 module, so that’s got to tell you something about quality.

But what’s new at Casio and do they even need anything new, I hear myself say – so I had a look . . . . .

Of course there are many new G Shock models around and these can command almost non Casio prices, such as the Premium 30th Anniversary model MTG-S1030BD-1AER which costs around £1000.  Featuring Radio Control, Solar and so forth, the range continues down to the more affordable G Shocks we all know and love.  But I’m more concerned with the smaller dimensioned non G Shocks which I find more interesting.  Such as this classic round dial Casio AE1000W-1A – World Time, Alarm etc. at a very affordable £20.

Casio SE1000W-1A World Timer, Alarm Watch

Casio SE1000W-1A World Timer, Alarm Watch

But this new model (to me at any rate) Casio AQ-190W-1A, World Time, Alarm etc. is so reminiscent of the wonderful Citizen Skyhawks, but amazingly affordable at around £40 is a surprise.  Featuring analogue Neobrite luminous hands etc, high contrast digital displays, a 1/1000 sec stopwatch, 5 Daily alarms, Timer, Auto Calendar and unusually a rounded glass, 100m Water Resistance and a stainless & resin case.  It’s also a neat size at 45mm x 13mm and wearable by almost anybody.

Casio AQ-190W-1A World Timer, Alarm

Casio AQ-190W-1A World Timer, Alarm

And finally in my little round up of Casio is this rather elegant MTF-117L-5AV which is a more conventional style from Casio.  It is an analogue model with no digital features with a stainless case, aluminium bezel, mineral glass Day and Date watch with a quartz movement at +/120secs per month.  The dimensions are a very neat 39.5mm x 9.9mm so is a slim model and there are 9 Gents versions and 6 Ladies versions and a nice addition to the Casio range.

Casio MTF-117L-5AV

Casio MTF-117L-5AV

A slight departure from the more classic Casio look, but a very nice watch and I particularly like the day indicator, which does not reply on the more usual pointer, but rather a red dot indicator, which is both neat and visible.  I have to admit I quite like the look of it and rather impressed they’ve managed to get away from the stereotypical Casio image – nice one!

That’s it for Casio for now, but I leave this Post with a montage image of a few of the Casio models featured or mentioned over the past few months on this site – – it’s quite a line up.

Lotsa votches - and everyone a Casio!

Lotsa votches – and everyone a Casio!

Note – if you are interested in collecting vintage Casio – then this is worth reading first – http://www.ebay.com/gds/Collecting-Vintage-Casio-Wristwatches-/10000000002135944/g.html
I have around a dozen or so Casio models, bought over the years since the 1970’s – and very few of them were expensive apart from my Oceanus and so far they all seem to share a common factor – they still work!

Clear or not so clear!

So, Clarity – What’s all that about?  Well it’s about the number of watches you bought over the years, not over the counter, but over the Internet.  The models that seemed, on screen, so clear to read with their high contrast hands to dial looks, only to find out later that the hands were silver/chrome and taken very cleverly by the photographer.  That other watch with the gold coloured hands against the gold dial and when you turned on the lights in the house, the hands disappeared into the background.  Then there are the ones with those little sub dials that in the picture seem so clear, but in reality the reflections and their real actual color makes them so difficult to even see, let alone read.

Airforce inspired? The Invicta 1514l Force Collection.

Airforce inspired? The Invicta 1514l Force Collection.

The reason I bring this here as a post is that a friend the other day, who buys as many new watches as food (sorry, talk about calling the kettle black!) complained to me that so many of his watches ended up in his drawer, never to be worn again.  He said he couldn’t pin it down, the reason that is, but just fancied something new.  Intrigued I asked to see the old watches and after looking at them for a bit, realized that what was missing from virtually all of them was – yes – you guessed it – clarity!  I don’t think I’d seen such a collective heap of models with the worst hand/dial contrast ratio in the one place at the one time!  And some of them, and I checked, looked pretty dire even on the online clever photographic adverts.

Here is one that’s still around I believe – the Invicta 1514l Force Collection Gents Chronograph.  Now I don’t know about you but I for one struggle to see the time on this, as the hands are just about merged into the background.  Inspired from the Airforce it may be, but they forgot the basics – you have to read the thing!  He did point out to me another thing he initially thought was great, but once in his hands not so – and that was the fact the crown and pushers are on the left side of the watch.  Now he’s right handed as are around 85% of the world’s population and he wear his watch on his left hand so operating anything was difficult to say the least.  So yes he should have thought of that and not one of his greatest purchases.
Now OK a left handed guy with exceptional eyesight might think this is a beauty and I can only congratulate him.  But let’s be honest – for clarity – it really could be better!

Tommy Bahama TB1074 Pilot

Tommy Bahama TB1074 Pilot

And here is another one I struggle with, as again the hands which are also part skeletal are in a colour that just doesn’t do it for me and I really struggle to read clearly.  It is also quite a “busy” dial with all the tacho rings and so on around the perimeter.  So another model he wore for a few days and consigned to that bottom drawer.

However this problem is not the sole preserve of my friend as I spotted the other day this expensive and quite rare Chopard Jackie Ickx Limited Edition 24 hr Chronograph totaliser model.

Chopard Jackie Ickx Limited Edition - not the most legible per $

Chopard Jackie Ickx Limited Edition – not the most legible per $

The silvered hands against the white/silver dial background really compromise legibility, though I note that Chopard allegedly promise that in poor light its analogue display readout will be perfect thanks to the Super Luminova coated hands and hour indices!  Well that’s just great – a night time only watch!

I’ve heard everything now!

As I said to my watch buying nut of a friend, not to worry as he’s in good company and at least he doesn’t spend that kind of money each time.  Anyway he’s trawling around in my watch cabinet at the moment and has already selected a few that seem to appeal to him.  However – and I’ve locked the door at this point – he’s not getting his hands on any of ’em!

But seriously this is an important point to bear in mind, re’ the images on the internet.  If they have those 360º images of the real watch, that of course is preferable to just the art enhanced images, but if you can actually see the watch in real life – then so much the better.
Also read the descriptions (if accurate – another bugbear I have) and if it says “gold coloured hands” and they’re shown black because the photographer has used best contrast angles, then think about it.  They’re not black are they!  And if the indices or numerals are described as silvered or chromed highlights etc – again think carefully about just what you are looking at.  These may be difficult to read in daylight and may have reflections.

Otherwise you’ll join that happy band (I think my friend is a founder member) of guys who have a bottom drawer full of these nice looking, but ultimately poorly designed watches.  You will also probably see one or two even in your own circle – you know, you ask your friend the time and who’s now squinting at his watch . . . . . .

You could of course have a sneak peek first at his watch and then ask him the time on purpose.   😉

Citizen Value

A tricky thing to describe is “value” and how do you actually measure it.  In very basic terms for me, it means when applied to a watch, that the basic requirements I wanted are in fact met and the price was right.  To illustrate the point I can do no better than highlight this Citizen Eco-drive model I bought some 6 years ago in 2008.

Citizen Eco-Drive 180 ( BM8180-54E )

Citizen Eco-Drive 180 (BM8180-54E)

This military inspired Citizen Eco-Drive 180 ( BM8180-54E ) – with center seconds highlighted in red with pointer and a nice sized day and date window @3. It is as good today as the day I bought it and I’ve never had to adjust the time as it’s accuracy is about as good as it gets from a mainstream quartz watch.  I also can’t fault it in any way whatsoever as it does exactly what it’s supposed to do and does it very well indeed.  It also cost under £100 at the time and a sure sign of the longevity of this model is the fact that it’s basically still available today, some 6 years later.

Citizen Military - available at Argos £69.99 (04/01/2014)

Citizen Military Eco  – available at Argos (UK)

It’s basically the same watch and the price again is good at under £70 (from Argos UK) and in my opinion it is a real “value” watch, no question about it.  It also is remarkably good at night as the luminous hands and dial are excellent.  The neat day and day window @ 3 is easily read and it manages 100m water resistance – so what’s not to like?

Here it is again, this time it is the same model code as well, currently available at Watchshop in bracelet form and still under £100.

The Citizen BM8180-54E still around

The Citizen Eco BM8180-54E still around

And it’s amazing in how many guises this model can still be found – this one for example is the BM8470-11E, with a nice dial facelift perhaps and the case has changed a little, but it seems awful familiar to me.  Perhaps a rather more modern take on my original version I suppose and still under £100 (from Timeshop4you).

Citizen BM8470-11E

Citizen Eco-Drive BM8470-11E

So there you have it – what I call a “value” watch.  The design is basically as good as it gets, the size is virtually universal (not too big, not too small), very clear to read, day or night, day and date information.  A good second hand, excellent crown size and is water resistant to 100m, so swimming no problem.  And the price of course has virtually stayed unchanged in over 6 years which is not bad for an Eco-Drive day date watch.  Also as evidenced by my own experience, this model would appear to be what we call a “good un” – never a problem, simply wear it and forget it!

This latest incarnation is rather good, almost a civilian version if you will (the older one was a so called military inspired creation) – no crown guards, cleaned up dial maybe, but the essential model is still the same – I think Citizen know this is a winner all the way.

Now that’s what I call value!