A quick glance?

Why is it that many of the “New” watches, “cool” watches, or “unusual” watches appear to have the same problem – you can’t tell the darned time on them.   Or at least it seems that way to me as to read them takes an age of staring at the dial until you figure it out.   I mean what is the point of that?  You know we’re trying to read the time, not waste it trying . . . .

I like to have a quick glance at my watch to tell the time – it’s that simple!

Let’s look at a few examples – of a couple of models that require a lot more than a “quick glance”.   First the Deja Vu watch @ around £100.

The Deja Vu

The Deja Vu

Well I look at this one and I simply don’t see the point and whats more I find it quite difficult to decipher the time and that being the case – it’s pretty pointless as that’s the prime function of any watch. !  And yeh, yeh I see that the leading edge is sort of representing the hand if you will, but when the hour “hand” physically comes close to the minute hand, that perception all but disappears.

More a case of Jamais vu (French, meaning ”never seen”) used to describe any familiar situation which is not recognized by the viewer . . . .

Then there’s the Free Time Watch – and yet another case of peering at the dial, that is IF you can see it in the available light.

Never ending spiral, wheel within a wheel - reminds me of a song!

Never ending spiral, wheel within a wheel – reminds me of a song!

Firstly is the contrast good enough to see it for starters and secondly you then have to try and make out little gaps in the concentric rings, as these are – you guessed it, supposedly representing the hands?  As the blurb says –  “The three concentric circles rotate clockwise with each gap in the circle communicating the precise time. The hour, minute and seconds are defined by the outer, middle and inner rings respectively”.

Oh, that makes it OK then?   Even at £85 – not really – and certainly not for me!

I’m afraid by the time it takes to work out the time, the departure gate has closed and my plane has taken off!

But all is not lost as I’ve just spotted a “New”, “Cool” and rather “Snazzy” model that I CAN tell the time from – and at a glance too!

The SOND - one of the few NEW and SNAZZY models that only requires a glance

The SOND – one of the few NEW and SNAZZY models that only requires a glance

This is the SOND™ by VOID Watches injection molded in a single piece, uses the watch itself to secure the nylon watchband and makes the strap easy to change and adjust.
A battery life of two years can be changed via a coin hatch in the stainless back (haven’t seen one of those for a while) and it’s good enough for
3ATM (30m) and the size quite compact at 38mm x 44mm with a 22mm nylon band.

As said with this model I can tell the time (or the date) at a glance – isn’t that brilliant!  And in this company it’s the best price too at around £60.

Of course I’m maybe biased being of the older generation, so if you like these guys, even the first two and you like a challenge – then I have seen them I think on that very good “new watches” web site – Twisted Time – HERE

Anyway I have to go, I’ve just had a “quick glance” at my 16″ kitchen clock and the big hand is pointing to “dinner” – so bye!

It’s a Wrap!

I was looking around for a good digital watch that had a conventional strap or bracelet, as you know I have thing about “bands” as they are sometimes called.  The reason being that too many digital watches that may well feature a good functions set, invariably come with, and in my opinion let down, by having a bespoke rubber/resin/PU style fitted band fitted and some are even integral to the case.

Typical moulded bespoke band/strap arrangement

Typical moulded bespoke band/strap arrangement

And when looking at pre-owned digital watches that are for sale, the strap/band or whatever, is usually a replacement from possibly another watch in the series.   The original more often than not became brittle, split and then replaced.  Trouble is the watch is now obsolete, the strap is not available or if it is, all too often at an inflated price – hence an alternative is found and fitted as best you can.   And that’s the big problem with these, apart from the fact although you love the watch, you might not actually like the band too much, or it may be too long, too thick, hard on the wrist or whatever – you’re stuck with it.

Bespoke strap, but not so easy to replace and look sensible

Bespoke strap, but not so easy to replace and look right

So I tend these days to look for a digital multifunction model that has standard lugs and pins every time, because then straps are never a problem.  Of the big two, Casio and Timex, fortunately the latter has quite a number of models that feature just that – a conventional strap fixing system – not bespoke.  So that’s good, certainly for me, as in general I find Timex digital function settings and operating modes more intuitive than Casio.  But that’s maybe just me.

With your everyday daily beater, the ability to have easily changeable straps is even more important, so again I prefer to have a standard lug and strap/bracelet fitting.  You might, for example, fancy a change of look and would like to fit a NATO style or G10 military strap, as they slip under the pins and are easy to fit to any size wrist.  But though very successful even these have issues.  They often can be rather long and not easily or neatly shortened and I well  remember in the old days, cutting the strap then using my lighter to “seal” the end to prevent fraying).   Also fastening can be awkward with the strap rings and often you have a double strap between the watch and the wrist making the watch effectively thicker.   I used to cut off the “loop” so only one strap was under the watch.

Silicon deployment straps on the other hand are a great favorite of mine as they are very comfortable and fast to wear.  Of course they need to fit to a watch with the conventional lug and pin arrangement and I often use them to replace the supplied straps or bracelets.  The issue of course is that to fit them to your wrist, you have to cut the silicon rubber strap at set points along the strap, so it would not suit someone else if they had larger wrists for example.  However, not a problem for me as if I sell the watch on, I simply replace the original strap.  The advantage to the new buyer is he gets a brand new unused and original strap with his new purchase.

Some strap examples. Silicon deployment, Butterfly and Fast Wrap Velcro.

Some strap examples. Silicon deployment, Butterfly and Fast Wrap Velcro.

But for sheer ease of use and practicality the Velcro Fast Wrap strap is to me one of the absolute best solution to everyday watch wear.

It seems to me that Timex maybe pioneered to the mainstream the idea of the next generation of NATO style straps by introducing the oh so simple Fast Wrap and in particular my favorite, the Velcro Fast Wrap.  Incredibly easy to fit to standard lugs and will fit instantly to any wrist, regardless of size.   And this is a perfect fit, none of this between holes situation as with a conventional leather or PU strap with buckle and pin.   It simply feeds through the lug pins, pulled to fit and smoothed down – job done – every time!   And let’s see a pickpocket steal that!  Because it takes a sustained pull to part the Velcro with that well known velcro riiiiiip sound!

Fast Wrap Velcro - best for your daily beater

Classic Timex Fast Wrap Velcro – best for your daily beater

So what I’m saying is for those daily beater situations a good cheap Velcro Fast Wrap strap beats them all – conventional leather buckle strap, the bracelet, the deployment and clasps, the pull through, Butterfly and the NATO – all of them.

I show here one of my Timex vintage models with it’s original Timex Fast Wrap Velcro and also the much larger Aeromatic with an independent “Sports” Fast Wrap Velcro strap which made that watch so much better to wear than the original.

Different sizes - no problem - Fast Wraps manage it all.

Different sizes – no problem – Fast Wraps manage it all.

The supplied strap was far too hard, stiff and uncomfortable – but as the watch had standard lugs and pins – this was easy to replace and now this watch gets a lot more wrist time than ever before.

Note – that as in fitting a NATO strap, the strap fits under the watch case and often with 2 parts of the strap.  If you feel this makes the watch too thick on the wrist, you can depending on the strap, cut this loop part off –

See the image of my Aeromatic above which shows the back of the watch (the one on the left) – note the black part above and below the case, but the part against the case back is green.   This is because the double part or the black part that should be there has been removed, cut off, as it was not required.   The Aeromatic model has a fairly thick case to start with so I simply cut that loop out.

To “wrap” this up (sorry!) here are a few images of Fast Wrap Velcro straps that are available – and there are lots around at very reasonable prices.   There is no doubt that the Velcro Fast Wrap is a very practical solution to straps and bracelets that maybe don’t work for you – BUT – you must have a model that has the conventional lug and pin arrangement.

However to find a digital watch today that has that convention is becoming harder, as the after market sales of these bespoke straps are terrific (and cynical in my opinion) money earners indeed to the watch company.  However standard lug/pin fit watches are around. (I have 8 of them).   Now of course not all 8 have been changed to Fast Wrap as the supplied straps of some are fine, but those that weren’t quite so good – were changed to either silicon deployments or increasingly Velcro Fast Wraps and they work every time!

The Apollo Fast Wrap - a favourite of mine.

The Apollo Fast Wrap – a favourite of mine.

Velcro Fast Wrap, neat and fits all wrists

Velcro Fast Wrap, neat and fits all wrists

Mainstream brand Fast Wrap

Mainstream brand Fast Wrap

The "Sports" Fast Wrap Velcro strap - as fitted to my Aeromatic

The “Sports” Fast Wrap Velcro strap – as fitted to my Aeromatic

The elegant Watch (3)

My third outing of “The elegant Watch” feature, showing watches I would consider could meet that description.  Starting with the Ralph Lauren “Sporting” model with it’s IWC Cal.RL98295 mechanical manual wind movement.

Ralph Lauren "Sporting" model - (IWC Cal.98295)

Ralph Lauren “Sporting” model – (IWC Cal.98295)

The well constructed Stainless steel case and matching bracelet and general look of the piece I find rather pleasing.  It features a seconds sub-dial @6, convex Sapphire Crystal with internal and external colorless anti-reflective coatings.  The dial is unusual with a black matte galvanic center, brown elm burr wood outer (fixed with 4 screws), Arabic beige colored numerals and white hands, each with luminescence.  At just over 44mm diameter it is a substantial watch and yet still manages to look elegant.

Another very stylish watch but from Germany is this lovely Limited Edition BENU by Moritz Grossmann.

Moritz Grossmann

Moritz Grossmann

This model in Rose gold equipped with a manually wound movement adjusted in five positions.  Hours, minutes and seconds, 42-hour power reserve, solid silver dial, Arabic numerals, sapphire crystal with anti reflective coating, hand-crafted steel hands with brown/violet hue, hand-stitched alligator strap and limited to 100 watches worldwide.

Not to be outdone in the “elegance” stakes this next model shows that not all elegant watches have to be gold or classically shaped.  This is the v-tec Gamma designed by Michel Huber.  A highly interesting design from the orginal Ventura square model back in the 1990’s.

Ventura V-Tec Gamma

Ventura V-Tec Gamma

The watch dimensions are 41.85mm x 36.50 in a hardened Durinox® case.  Sapphire crystal, multifunction VEN_10 digital module (backlit LED display), 50 metres Water Resistance and orange rubber strap with adjustable folding buckle.  The brushed case finish and orange/yellow strap with the black face really set this off and for me it has a definite modern elegance.

Last and certainly not least is the wonderful (and expensive) Jaquet Droz 6553L2, Self winding mechanical, double barrel, retrograde moon phase with 22ct white Gold rotor.  Bit of a mouthful I know, but what a stunning watch. 28 days reserve, 28 jewels in an 18ct red gold, 39mm diameter 12.7mm height case, with 3 bar WR or 30 metres.

Jaquet Droz - who else?

Jaquet Droz – who else?

The dial features Triple Date Calendar complications on an Ivory Grand Feu enamel with 18ct gold applications plus moon phase and 18ct gold hands including the strap buckle.  Yes this is one very highly specified watch from one of my very favorite watchmakers.  For me this is simply a delight and elegance in the extreme – if only I could afford one of these, then I’d happily reduce my collection down to far less models but much more of this quality.

So another four “elegant” models for you to consider and I’m already looking forward to the next Elegant watch post . . . .

Lorus, Pulsar choices (2)

Part 2 of my quick look at Pulsar and Lorus brands –

The LORUS range of watches have been around for quite a long time and usually represent very good value for money.  Part of the Seiko brand, Lorus price point is slightly lower than Pulsar, with around £150 being their most expensive model – and yet manage to offer some really stylish and well specified models, two of which I’ve picked for a brief look.

Lorus RW605AX9 Ana-Digi Chrono (Cal Z021)

Lorus RW605AX9 Ana-Digi Chrono (Cal Z021)

First is the Lorus RW605AX9, and I picked it owing to it being an Ana-Digi display (one of my favorite combinations).   Note that these models feature Dot matrix displays rather than the more common LCD.  I have  a couple of dot matrix “style” LED display watches and find them very good, though it has to be said whilst OK this particular one is perhaps not quite as bright as I would like, though the back light is good.

This model as those in the Pulsar range is pretty well specified.   Analogue wise it features Hour, Minute and centre Seconds hands and the Digital display shows the Day, Month, Date and also the Time.  It also features an Alarm (with snooze), a Chime, a 23hr/59/59, 1/100sec Stopwatch Function with Split Time, 12/24 Hour Indicator and for night use has a full dial EL (electro-luminescence) Back Light.   The watch also features a flat mineral crystal, a good size stainless steel case with black fixed IP bezel and a 10 bar (100m) Water Resistance.

The Analogue and Digital times are set independently (analogue seconds hand stops during Analogue setting) and interestingly this model has two (2) batteries.   The analogue movement has a SR622SW battery and the Digital movement a CR2025 – (how they squeezed them in I’ll never know) so it should give decent usage time for the EL back light and alarm.   Battery life is quoted as approximately 2 years.
The case is 46mm, so is maybe a bit larger than I’m comfortable with.   I comes with an OK looking black PU strap with buckle.
I note the hands are chrome edged, which in my opinion is never a great idea as it tends to give reflection – and as only seeing one in the flesh will confirm that, I would have to reserve judgement on the actual clarity of the overall dial set up.

Now when you consider the price for this model is around £50 on Amazon – plus in my view three plus points going for it – 1) – it’s NOT the same style as a Casio,  2) – it has an analogue seconds hand and 3) it has a 23hr/59/59 chronograph – so it’s pretty well specified and there are three versions available.  I would note though the Pulsar models do seem overall to be in a slightly higher league.

FootnoteI note Pulsar make a cosmetically different model at around twice the price.  However I see the hour and minute hands are broader with no chrome edging and the display may be a different fluorescing matrix LCD, so could well be much brighter (as the Pulsar review in the last Post) – perhaps justification for the higher price?

Pulsar PW6005X1

Pulsar PW6005X1


I also checked out a low priced Lorus all digital model – the Lorus R2307EX9, a neat watch with modern  clean lines and decent size digital display.
It features a custom strap, which I confess is not my choice, but this is very often the case with these styles of watch, though the whole piece does look well balanced.  The case is ABS with an ABS bezel and a 4 screw case back.  A black PU strap as mentioned and curved acrylic glass and some 13 digital functions.

Lorus R2307EX9 (Z009 Cal)

Lorus R2307EX9 (Z009 Cal)

These are – Hour, Minute, Second, Auto-calendar (2000 to 2049), Month, Date, Day of week, Chime, Chronograph, Alarm, AM/PM or 12/24 hour format, Dual Time & Count Down Timer.  Night use is catered for with a full dial EL back light and the watch is 100m Water Resistant.  The movement designated as Cal. Z009.  Once again this is a pretty good specification and appears reasonably well made and can be sourced for as little as £12.95 on Amazon, which is frankly amazing!

However, and I say this with every digital display, it does depend on the contrast and LCD/Matrix fluorescent quality and whilst both models appear OK in the images, it’s a learning curve as to how you see it in less than ideal light.

Lorus conventional watch styles - OK but?

Lorus – basic style chronos – low Price point

Pulsar conventional styles are more progressive

Pulsar – more progressive & next level Price point

Lorus and Pulsar produce a good range of conventional chronograph styles though Pulsar (more expensive generally) appears to offer a slightly higher quality and are more adventurous in design and features.  For me though it’s the range of dare I say “Casio features” style models that mostly attract my interest (ie: the Pulsar PV4005X! ).  Their Digital and Ana-digi models seem to be their designers forté and give a hint to what they can do.

So it seems Lorus and Pulsar (from Seiko) are brands worth looking at, as they appear in certain areas, to offer pretty good value against their peer brands and competitors.  Obviously there are production and parts savings somewhere in the equation, but the end results do confirm they have a good few models worthy of consideration.

And when money is tight – you can’t afford NOT to check them out.

Pulsar update (strap)

As promised here is an update regarding the alternative strap arrangement on the Pulsar.  The original strap which is reminiscent of a tyre tread as a wrap fitting at the case lugs – ie – it almost grips the case in a pincer grip.  This in turn causes the strap to push the watch out a little from the wrist, on an already rather thick case.  The strap is also rather hard and stiff which I find a little uncomfortable.

The replacement is a black silicon rubber double ridged 26mm wide and 6.2mm thick at the watch lug end which suits this large watch very well.  It tapers down to 4.4mm thick at the buckle and has highlight yellow stitching which compliments the yellow accent on the pushers on the Pulsar case front.

Alternative 26mm soft flexible silicon buckle strap from Weston Straps UK.

Alternative 26mm soft flexible silicon buckle strap from Weston Straps UK.

This is the first strap of this type I’ve bought and very impressed with it as it is extremely comfortable and now makes the wearing of this large Pulsar just perfect.  Having a relatively small wrist I had to add an additional hole for the buckle to fit, which was easy enough to do.  The only down side is the buckle end is 25mm wide (only a 1mm taper) and the original Pulsar buckle is 24mm (the standard Pulsar strap is a 26mm with a fast taper to 24mm buckle fit, so presently I’m using the 25mm buckle that came with the strap.

Silicon double ridge with yellow stitching.

Silicon double ridge with yellow stitching.

The strap whilst it’s smooth on the outer surface with the twin ridge definition, has a textured surface underneath against the wrist.  Just enough to give added grip without discomfort.

The strap came from a watch supplier new to me here in the UK and that’s Weston Watch Straps and their web site is http://www.westonwatchstraps.co.uk

They also have a presence on eBay and if you’re struggling to find a strap to suit, they may well be worth a look as they ave a pretty wide range of good quality and sizes available.

Anyway as you can imagine I am delighted with the result and it does solve an issue that many folks have mentioned to me in the past.  And this is especially with large watches and Diver or Military models, as they often provide straps that ,may well look good or even “macho” but when it comes to actual comfort, they seem to have given it little consideration.  Many of the models come with very hard and stiff leather straps or 8mm thickness plus and frankly these are often very uncomfortable in the extreme.  Just make sure you keep the original as if you do come to sell it on, then you can fit it back on the watch – and being unused – the buyer gets a great strap and you get an enhanced price.  Winners all the way.

Underside of the strap is textured gives added grip - without discomfort.

Underside of the strap is textured gives added grip – without discomfort.

Almost but not quite the same as in the old days when you got your first car with leather seats!  The first thing you did was to cover the seats in plastic, to protect them!  2  years later you sell the car and the buyer gets this car with the most pristine leather seats you can imagine – is that not sick or what!  You never even sat in them . . . . . .

OK not the same I know, but with watch wearing – comfort is no small consideration and if the strap is not comfortable – change it.

Last point – This large Pulsar has an added bonus especially if you wear glasses.  This display is so big and clear that I can read the time easily without my glasses on – and you can’t say that with many digital watch displays.  And since I got this not one but two friends I know have already bought the same model – and I bet they ask where I got my strap . . . . .  😉

The Powerhouse Format

Since my trawl around for G-Shock alternatives I’ve found a few unfamiliar watches that have impressed me greatly.  And not because of the alternative concept, but just because these are different and maybe even special.  As wrist statements they’re good as they are built solid and look great – and not usually guilty of being a “macho” type, I try not to swagger when wearing any one of them!

I’ll feature just one and I was so impressed I bought the company – eh?  . . .well not quite, but I did buy one of their best models – the (St Moritz) Momentum Format 4  – I call it the powerhouse!  For those in the know some apt descriptions come to mind – such as the T90, the Type 90 (Kyu-maru), AMX-56 Leclerc, the T57, the Soviet IS-3, the Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte and finally the Challenger 2.

OK maybe I’m a bit over the top here – and for those not in the know, these are all main battle tanks of various Countries.  But you get my drift – the Format 4 is a VERY solid piece of work! and built like one.

St Moritz Momentum Format 4 - a classic tough watch

St Moritz designed Momentum Format 4 – a classic tough watch

Made of high grade matte Titanium this watch certainly has presence, with it’s uni-directional wide deep figured bezel with luminous dot @0, plus a very definite 60 click function, large well figured screw down crown and shaped pushers.  Surprisingly the dimensions are just 43mm x 14.2mm and the whole ensemble weighs only 90gms.  The rubber strap as always with these Diver orientated models has the usual “wave” construction silicon/rubber, which as I’ve said before might be ideal for added grip over a neoprene wet suit, but against your wrist can be somewhat aggressive.  I’m resolving that issue later this week when a deployment silicon 22mm strap I’m waiting for arrives. (note – my Apeks Diver 200 model has similar “waves, but which are flat on the under side – very sensible).

Orange Monster, Format 4 and the Pulsar Race - every one a powerhouse!

Orange Monster, Format 4 and the Pulsar Race – every one a powerhouse!

The size comparison above shows the territory we’re in and it shows well here.  Actually three watch are types shown – The Monster is “analogue”, the Pulsar is “digital” and the Format (and why I picked it as one of my alternatives to the G-Shocks) is “Analogue/Digital” AND has a very comprehensive digital function set.

On first looks the dial has a very black background (called a blackout dial) within which there are two digital display windows.   There are numerals at 12, 3, 6 and 9 with indices in between.   An Hour and Minute hand plus a centre Seconds hand in orange plus a white coated end.   The luminous aspect of each of these elements is provided by Super-Luminova coatings and according to Momentum, guarantees up to 8 hours legibility in low light and darkness.   The heat tempered mineral glass is very scratch resistant and the analogue movement is Swiss quartz with LC digital display.

Digital matrix displays show well - Note the Format4 can be programmed out.

Format 4 Digital matrix displays show well – and can be programmed OFF.

The digital function of this model is very comprehensive, featuring Local Time mode, World Time mode (59 cities + my city), Alarm mode (5 + scheduled), Timer mode and Chronograph mode (10 laps + memory).   An auto and manual Power Save setting is also incorporated where you can turn OFF the digital display at a preset time or immediately with any key reinstatement.  The dial has an EL back light which illuminates the matrix digits on my one for 4 seconds (not 3 as instructions) which is ideal and excellent in use.
The watch has a battery life (CR2025 Lithium I believe)) of approximately 2 years and the Water Resistance is 20ATM or 200m.

Great dial, clear, uncluttered and excellent digital display

Great dial, clear, uncluttered and excellent digital display

Note – some of the descriptions I’ve seen for this watch are inaccurate in some details.  Possibly as the previous version has been  substantially upgraded by the introduction of the Format 4 and their sales info not updated to reflect the changes.  The improved Water Resistance rating for example from 100m to 200m and the much improved digital display, which is excellent.

Exposure to dull daylight via window, then shown in low light curtained room

Exposure to dull daylight via window, then shown in low light curtained room

Shown with digital back light lit, just after the previous image.

Shown with digital back light lit, just after the previous image.

The above images taken after the watch was exposed to the window (natural light on a dull day), then into a darkened room with curtains drawn.   The second image taken with difficulty (I needed three hands) as the EL back light is only on for a few seconds, so a case of press the pusher then try and compose the picture and take the photograph.  Not that easy!   So forgive my shaky hand, but it gives some impression.   The digital EL back light in total darkness is excellent and as above, can show any of the digital functions including as here, the Day, the Date and the Time.   Analogue display night vision with Super-luminova is OK, though not quite as good as my Citizen, Seiko or Apeks 200.  Whilst it doesn’t appear to take such a bright initial charge as the former, it is still readable in the dark after a good 8 hours – I tried it last night and it’s fine. (to be picky reading analogue time would be easier if the hands were full length solid infill).

So overall I’m really pleased with this model as it manages everything I could possibly need or want from an ana-digi watch.  In addition it’s built like the proverbial brick outhouse, but conversely is really lightweight and also a good size.   Anyway on this watch, which I’m sure is a keeper, the only change will be to the strap (can’t snorkel these day, so a wetsuit and I will never meet) and I hope to have a suitable one soon, that’s a bit kinder to my old wrist . . .

A great watch at an affordable price and considering the functions and performance – great value.

As said when I started this Post, I felt the strap had to be changed and here is the straight forward alternative.   A silicon deployment style that fits great and pulls the watch in nice and close to the wrist with perfect comfort.  No Diver’s “waves” to contend with  – and it makes all the difference.  Funny how it is reminiscent of my old Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster (I wore this back in 1961-73) – see images below.

Format 4 with my preferred silicon deployment strap.

Format 4 with my preferred silicon deployment strap.

Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster - 1000ft

Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster – 1000ft (courtesy of watchuseek)

Not quite in the same league and many differences of course – but it just has that old Nivada look.  The above image is similar to my old one, which like an idiot I sold on some years ago to a collector, which I wasn’t at the time, but having given up diving and so on I was unlikely to don a wetsuit again anyway.  Oh how I wished I’d kept it now!
However – back to the new strap images of the Format 4 – much better and neater without the Divers style strap and much, much more comfortable.

New silicon strap fits watch flat to wrist.

New silicon strap fits watch flat to wrist. Makes the watch seem smaller.

New silicon deployment strap fits perfectly

New silicon deployment strap fits perfectly


And finally the back of the watch showing the screw back fitting with the 20ATM mark and which also illustrates the very neat silicon deployment strap fitting (straight) which is such an improvement in my opinion.

Format 4 screw back (note 20ATM)

Format 4 screw back (note 20ATM)

An interesting point about the replacement strap – it makes the watch actually look smaller on the wrist (as noted on one of the images above).  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – never judge a watch by it’s supplied strap – is it OK for you?  And if it isn’t – check out the alternatives – you might just find that perfect combination.

I did.


You may be used to swapping out your old battery on most watches and it’s usually quite easy to manage.  However be CAREFUL when changing this 2025 Battery.
Unscrew the watch back and you will be faced with what appears to be a quite solid frame inside, which is secured to the movement assembly.  Leave it well alone and DO NOT try to remove it.  Stuck on the top surface you will see a sticker, which says “do not remove this sticker”. Well you can (in fact you have to, to get at the battery).  BUT take care.
There are 3 points to watch here.  On the edge of the sticker there are two small opposing cut outs, which allow 2 x metal connectors to connect to the watch back, when it’s in place. The 3rd point to note is, if you look very carefully, there is a small gold coloured spring that sticks up through a small hole in the sticker.

Once you have spotted these, then you can carefully peel off the sticker, noting it’s position relative to the connections and the springOnce removed, the battery is there in front of you.  A small battery cradle holds the battery secure – simply release one side (there is a sprung clip affair – which is easy to release) – once it pops/hinges up (leave the other side attached), you will be able to slip the 2025 battery out.

Slip in the replacement battery, push down the battery cage until it clicks into place, then carefully replace the sticker in the same position you found it – taking care to make sure the two metal connections are free of the sticker and the little gold spring protrudes from and through the small hole in the sticker.  If OK, then simple screw on the watch back once again.  You will should now see that everything has come to life – second hand is moving and the digital display is live.
Now you just have to set the analogue time and digitals to the correct time, date, month etc etc etc and you’re home free.

A good tip if you’re one of those folk that find it difficult to remember the sequence of things.  Once the back is removed, take a photo with your phone – a nice close up of the exposed movement and interior of the watch.  You will then see quite clearly, the 2 x metal connections at opposite edges of the sticker (it’s cut away so it doesn’t cover them) and also the gold spring that pokes up through the sticker.  Once you’ve done the battery change as above, you can check your work against your photo -they should be the same – JOB DONE!

G-Shock not for you?

The title poses the question:  What if you don’t like the G-Shock style?  What else is there?

It depends, apart from a fashion thing, on just what you want from a watch.

G-Shock Stealth

G-Shock Stealth

If it’s just toughness (perceived or otherwise), then it’s relatively simple especially as in reality the question is – How “tough” does a modern watch actually have to be – honestly.    And let’s face it, most good watches are intrinsically pretty tough to start with and “on your wrist” they are very much part of you – so whatever happens to your watch, may well happen to you!

My own view is that whatever model I pick, tough or otherwise it has to have certain basic Watch requirements.

1) – I have to be able to read the time – easily – and that’s day or night (a basic requirement in my book).
2) – 100m Water Resistance minimum – OK that’s not silly.
3) – Not too large – PLEASE!  Too large and too thick, it starts to take on comic proportions!
4) – Battery quartz is fine – It doesn’t have to be Solar, World Time, have Multiple Alarms or Chronograph – though “some” functions can be useful.
5) – It doesn’t have to survive a 10m drop to concrete – it really doesn’t (definitely the forté of Casio)

And are functions essential? –

  • Chronograph/Stopwatch – when did I last use a chronograph/stopwatch?  Answer: Can’t remember it was so long ago!
  • World Timer settings – I can manage that on any cheap analogue model in 5 seconds (without referring to the instructional booklet – IF I can find it).
  • Solar (Eco-Drive etc) – Battery is fine with me, with a cell change every 2 to 5 years. (Kinetic is another option).

So in reality (and that’s the point here) it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a relatively “tough” watch model that can meet sensible requirements.

Knowing I was writing this today I asked a friend (this morning actually) what functions had he actually used on his G-Shock DW5600 (I have one of these myself) in the last month?   And his answer didn’t come as much of a surprise – “None” he said, “except the time, day and date plus the back light”.  And that really does say it all . . . . . and had I asked myself the same question, the answer would have been identical!

However, G-Shocks usually come with a large function set, whether used, useful or otherwise and a major reason for their attraction.  However as to the hard knobbly looks, overly protected pushers, and surprisingly not too intuitive settings/controls and arguable legibility, are often NOT as one would like – hence the reason I like to look for alternatives.  Incidentally Casio do make the odd model that whilst not as obvious in shock protection terms does have that facility and without the “macho” look (I’ll perhaps consider them at a later date).

So what’s out there?

I was advised Luminox are a good alternative, but after checking them out I thought them a little overpriced for what they offer.  Mechanical prices for average quartz – not an option for me.

In fact my 6 year old Uzi Protector (looks like Luminox) costs around £175 today and it’s managed all those few years without any issues of any kind and still going strong.

Uzi Protector - Swiss Quartz and 200WR

Uzi Protector – Swiss Quartz and 200WR

200m Water Resistance, analogue H,M & seconds, plus Date, Tritium light source, battery Swiss quartz and a tough blighter it is too.  40mm x 14mm dimensionally with webbing strap.  No fancy functions, but a very good performer that meets my basic requirements and is pretty tough I’d say.

So that’s one option, so then I looked for a model that was both tough and had a comparable function set and this one came to mind.  The Momentum Format 4 – which is smaller than it looks and also in Titanium.  Some would immediately comment that Ti will scratch and it won’t last etc etc.  Well I have to differ on that as I have 7 Titanium watches and they look as good now as when I bought them many years ago.

Momentum Format 4 Titanium

Momentum Format 4 Titanium divers strap

The Format 4 actually has an impressive function set – both analogue and Digital displays.  Analogue Hours, Minutes and Second hands and Digital two Digital displays which can show a whole range of indications – such as – World time (59 cities plus user defined), 5 Alarms plus a schedule Alarm, Date, Day, Month, a Chronograph and Stopwatch 23, 59,59 with multi-laps, Timers.  In addition the digital displays can be switched OFF facilitating power savings with or without auto on feature and the watch has Super-luminova analogue hands and indices, plus a 3 second duration EL back light, so no problems in the dark, even if not using the digital features.  The watch has a Mineral anti-glare crystal, uni-rotating bezel (useful), a 200m Water Resistance (20ATM), with large screw down crown and back and takes a standard 22mm strap or bracelet and is powered by a Swiss quartz movement.  And the 2 year Guarantee is extendable to 6 years.

And whilst I said it looked big and it does, it only measures 43mm x 14.5mm and in Titanium weighs just 90 grams and it looks pretty tough to me.  Now I’d say this is a decent alternative to the G-Shock style and OK the watch face may not have much protection, but personally I’ve never had a shattered watch glass on any watch I’ve owned in my lifetime, so not a priority for me.

What I do see is a very fast legible take up analogue face, plus a secondary digital display and function set that meets and surpasses anything I’m ever likely to need or even want to use.  So I’m happy with this choice.   There are of course others out there, perhaps obscured to some extent I suppose, by the hype that “G”, “Shock” and “Tough” descriptions engender, but they are there – you just have to look.

Note – The Momentum 4 is also reasonably affordable and highly competitive in comparison to many of the G-Shock variants, especially considering the function set.  Currently it sells for around £180 in the UK, which is pretty good for a Titanium cased Ana-Digi Diver Grade 4 Water resistant model.  In fact I liked it so much I ordered one myself which will join my other Divers models, though this particular model I’ll have to consider my first real G-Shock alternative.

However – and there’s always one of those – IF you can’t get your head round the fact that it’s not that easy to inadvertently smash or crack your watch glass – and it really isn’t – you do have another option.  And this model from Citizen might just solve your concern.


Citizen Royal Marines Commando Eco-Drive

This is the Royal Marines Commando Titanium from Citizen which whilst it doesn’t have a great function set, it does the “tough” basics very well – in fact just what I needed when I was in my action days!

The one piece IP plated Titanium case is 42mm x 13mm, with an ultra thick 2.5mm sapphire glass, which is just about bomb proof I would have thought.  Eco-Drive Citizen movement with the basic analogue functions of Hour, Minute, Seconds and a date window @3.  Plus good luminous numerals/indices and hands means decent night use.  Good crown protection and with a tough Kevlar strap and a commendable 300m Water Resistance all point to a seriously “tough” watch.  It comes with the Citizen 5 year warranty.  Price should be no more than £300 here in the UK.

So there you have it, after a few minutes crawl around the net and already I’ve come up with a couple of decent contenders.

And I have to admit (and the reason for this post) personally I was becoming a little bored by the whole G-Shock and “tough” watch concept, especially as the prices seem to be rising with each new model.  And with few “new” features in the latest models, with the exception of a more extreme case, an extreme name and a larger SIZE, it’s little surprise that I decided it’s time to look elsewhere.

And very glad I did too, as there are certainly alternatives out there – you just have to get past the “G’s, “Toughs”and “Expeditions”, to find them.
And what of the two I’ve found here?  Well I like them both and whilst I hear the concerns about watch glass breaking, I really have no experience of that ever happening to me.  The odd scratch maybe, but nothing serious.  So on that basis considering the impressive function set and the price, the Ana-Digi Format 4 is maybe the one I’d pick.  Mind you the Citizen is one seriously smart and tough piece of work – a bit like the guys it was named after perhaps . . . . .

But there will be others around, you can be sure of that, so have a trawl – you might just be surprised.

But – and here’s a “but” to contend with!   The Casio G-Shock for all it’s macho looks IS a seriously tough watch, though whether you actually need one is another matter entirely and just to illustrate the point I show youthe “drop test” video from Casio.  And you have to admit – it IS very impressive!

Independent Artists (2)

Every week or so I have a look to see what the Independent Watch Maker has on offer.  This is my second Independent Artist feature, which basically is just a taster without too much if any detail, but here is a LINK to their web site if further detail is required.  A little out of my league of course, but artistry doesn’t come cheap!

Watchmaker Christian Klings is from Dresden, Germany and one of his marvelous creations is the
Tourbillon N.7 –Ashampoo_Snap_2014.01.26_00h36m59s_013_

A 18 k yellow gold case Diameter 42, Height 12mm – Free sprung bimetallic balance:4 gold screws for regulation, blued hairspring ,18 000p/h
Anti tarnish silver dial: Guilloche`texture own design, winding indicator,40h power reserve,moon phase, Geneva stripes (1500 grain) satin gold plated movement.

C Klings Tourbillon Nr.7

C Klings Tourbillon Nr.7

Further information can be found on his web site HERE.Ashampoo_Snap_2014.01.26_00h36m12s_012_

The DesmodromicAshampoo_Snap_2014.01.25_21h52m07s_011_
Wristwatch with shock resistant single beat Chronometer escapement with pivoted detent.  Locking regulated through the escapement wheel, without spring returning the detent.

I quote from his website –

“His skill of making watches depends mostly on the touch of his hands, and not the machinery.  The detail of the mechanism is visible through the exhibition back, and sometimes on the dial side of the watch. Some of his designs and innovations, like Tourbillon Nr.7, or modified versions of pivoted detent escapements  in wristwatches (as above) which are resistant against shock, cover one of the most difficult aspects of watchmaking.  Some of his complicated timepieces may have more appeal to the scientist than the watch collector”.

Well I’m no scientist, just a humble watch collector myself but I simply love his work – period!

Lorus, Pulsar – choices

Sometimes in this world of Casio, Citizen and Timex I yearn for the odd model that doesn’t have that corporate look.  The Casio and G-Shock or the Timex Expedition for example, so this week I decided to have a look at some different watch models and styles from two Brands, Lorus and Pulsar.  Although specialising in a lower price point as a sales philosophy they do manage to produce some up to the minute watches.
And being part of the huge Seiko empire they have access to some serious watch electronic know-how and are well worth a look.  The first model that caught my attention is the striking Pulsar PV4005X1, which on first impression is Style with a capital S and when you see it up close it really does stop you in your tracks!

Pulsar Race PV4005X1

Pulsar Race PV4005X1

Whilst it looks the part it also appears to come up with the goods as far as specifications is concerned –

Black dial (Negative) full-panel dot-matrix “style” liquid crystal panel, with Hours, Minutes, Seconds (Digital).  It also shows Day, Date, Month, Year.  Other features are a 10hr 1/100 sec Chronograph, Split time, Timer, 3-channel Alarm,and World Time (33 cities).  For night use it has a LED panel light with auto illumination, Mineral crystal, a Stainless Steel case, 4 screws back and a Water Resistance of 100m, plus a PU strap, rounds up what this model has to offer.  Dimension wise a little big for me at 49mm width, but still smaller than most of the newer G-Shock models, so could well be a popular choice.

As with all digital displays, it does depend on the contrast and whilst it looks OK in the images, it is a learning curve as to how you see it in less than ideal light.  It has of course a panel light operated by the lower right pusher.  (Personally I prefer an Ana-Digi set up as I find analogue hands easier to see these days, but for those into digital this model certainly has bags of appeal).

– The LED panel illumination selected manually or on auto has a nonadjustable duration of 2 secs.  From my experience especially at night, the eyes and brain struggle to take in and read dial information in that time.  Timex for example have a 3 seconds option which is much more effective.  An adjustable duration setting would be preferable.

However on balance and certainly for looks it’s a winner and I’ve seen it on Amazon for around £90, so it also appears to win on price too.

Here from their European web site are a few images – these can all be seen HERE.

Pulsar - selection 2

Pulsar – selection 1

Pulsar - selection 1

Pulsar – selection 2

I’ll be looking at Lorus (another Seiko brand) in a forthcoming Post and featuring one specific model that a friend has just acquired – might be interesting.

Managed to get hold of one of these models and it is pretty impressive I have to say.  It’s not too big on the wrist (mine is only 170mm, so quite small) as the case is 13.9mm, but the rubber strap is quite thick at the fitting point on the watch.  The strap has preformed underparts which hold the strap at a curve at the fixing point.  This makes the watch stand out further than perhaps it should from the wrist.  I will play around with fitting an alternative (26mm) silicon strap just to see how it looks and post the result in a further update Post.  Maybe I’m being picky here and it may turn out to be OK anyway – but we’ll see.

Here’s a couple of images of this watch – 1) on the wrist and 2) in comparison to a Fossil with similar display set up.  I note that the matrix “style” display on this Pulsar is certainly one of the best I’ve seen.  It has a similar luminescence almost on a par with my Breitling Aerospace, which has always impressed me.  So full marks to Pulsar!  ALSO – In reality the matrix “style” display clarity is exceptional and as the figures are so large, 2 seconds is easily enough time to read the time/data in the dark – very impressive and I stand corrected!

Pulsar on smallish 170mm wrist

Pulsar on smallish 170mm wrist is actually not to bad at all.

Comparison to Fossil with similar display set.

Comparison to Fossil with similar display set.

British (made) Watches – do they exist?

Unfortunately, today you’ve got to look very carefully to find a British watch – and this would have been unthinkable 200 years ago, when Great Britain produced over 200,000 pieces, or half the world’s supply.  Though we are talking of another world in terms of watchmaking, as most all of them would be hand made.  This incredible fact I picked up the other day when checking out the great-british-watch.co.uk web site run by Colin Andrews, who knows a thing or two about watches and watchmaking.  If you want to know more about him and British Watchmakers, then HERE is where you can find this excellent site and some great information.

It is indeed fact that to find a true “Made in Britain” watch is not that easy and in my watch collection I only have a few models, which apart from one are vintage models.  So as this is about British Made, I thought I’d re-post an excerpt from an older 2010 feature I wrote on one particular model, which is as good today as the day it was made.

Called England’s finest.(excerpt)

August 14, 2010

A simple and stylish English under-statement of timekeeping – a Smiths Astral gold plate Gents watch from the 1950′s.

Smiths Astral 17j

An elegant watch indeed and with “Made in England” below the 6 makes it a rarity these days.  Produced by the Smiths Watch Company in the 1950′s it shows all the best attributes of English watchmaking.
Lovely blued steel hands on a virtually unmarked clear dial plus a red filled tip centre seconds hand and with neat raised numerals – it is quite simply – a classic.

Not a UK built or assembled watch with a Swiss movement, but an English watch built with an English movement too – and in reality a darned good one at that – so a bit unique in my opinion.  AND as it happens this one is pretty much original and in superb condition – another plus.

I’m sure this one will receive quite a bit of wrist time which is always a good sign as my philosophy on watch collecting is simple – if I get it I have to wear it.


So back to today –

That was an excerpt from my article about the Smiths Astral watch I posted in 2010.   I can also confirm that has been worn quite regularly ever since.  In fact it shares equal wrist time with my vintage Swiss Blancpain dress watch and both a delight to wear.
I also have a non vintage 60% “Made in England” J&T Windmills watch, which within it’s elegant solid silver case sports a Swiss ébauche movement.

For the uninitiated an ébauche (blank) is a generic movement from vendors such as Swiss ETA or Sellita, who supply clients who don’t have in-house movements (and let’s be honest, few do).  The client assembles and fits this movement to their watch, often modifying certain elements for their own purposes.

So the J&T designed in the UK, has a Swiss hand wound movement and is UK assembled and worked.  I bought it in 2009 and it’s an elegant model with an interesting and original Windmills design dial.

J T Windmills "Threadneedle" Made in England model (60%)

J T Windmills “Threadneedle” Made in England model (60%)

Today as I understand it there are only two (2) true 100%  “Made in Britain”  watchmakers (according to great-british-watch.co.uk) plus around half a dozen others with varying percentages of British parts or manufacture.

So perhaps seeking a 100% “Made in Britain” watch brand is being unrealistic.  A 100% “Made in Anywhere” watch is just about as rare!  However finding a watch maker who sources from good quality components and assembles, perhaps modifies and produces an own Brand watch is something else – and easier to find.

After all there are relatively few Watch Makers who do produce 100% of their own models.   Parts are often out-sourced, perhaps too the watch case, dial and movements.  Movements are sourced from Japan to India to Switzerland and China, then assembled in the home country (as the J&T Windmills) and far from being the precedent, it’s very much the normal.

So what about British Watchmakers – are there any and if so  – are they any good?
Well we have J & T Windmills with about 60% Made in Britain, so pretty much on a par with the Swiss edict, but we can do better than that . . .

Our only 100% British watchmaker (as I understand it) is Bremont, located in Henley on Thames in England.

Not as well known as Swiss brands perhaps and relatively new with their first watch appearing in 2007 after 5 years in development.  They tend to specialize in mechanical Military and Aviation inspired chronometer models.

Bremont Alti-B Chrono Made in Britain

Bremont Alti-B Chrono Made in Britain

They do however assemble and manufacture as much as they can in the UK and quoting from their web site –

“Bremont is on a long term staged investment program to develop mechanical watch manufacturing expertise in the UK”, so are very committed to being very much a British Made company”.
Prices are from around £2000 upwards, so not “man in the street” range, but for quality/price ratio, their watch models appear to represent extremely good value.

Bremont and the other UK Watch Manufacturers I’ve come across I hope to feature in a new series of Posts “Independent British Artists” in the very near future.

So – Made in Britain watches do exist, from designed & assembled to 100% British Made – but you really have to look for them.

NoteIt’s interesting that so many watch brands today are simply smart designer watch cases and dials, with a low cost Japanese or Asian quartz movement dropped in and that’s it.  Then market the product under “whatever” Watch Company – and job done.
And I should emphasize here that there is absolutely nothing wrong in doing just that.

But when it comes to Britain, maybe it’s something to do with heritage, when the British decide to come up with a British Watch company – it seems we have to be the best, top quality, innovative, inventive (after all we used to be!) and all about true watchmaking, using mechanical movements and not a quartz among them . . . . Now is that British or what?