Looking back – on balance

Despite the new and current watches that appear every month, I often find myself looking back at some of the older models and realizing that I’d maybe lost out on some classics.   For I confess there are many reasons I find find some of them far more appealing than current  models.
If I look at Citizen for example one reason might be that many of the older models featured dial designs that were both simpler, easier to understand and read and use practically.  They were also economical with inappropriate colors and managed to achieve a balance between data overload and clarity – in other words they avoided “dial clutter”.

Citizen JQ8250-52E World Time (Wingman)

Citizen JQ8250-52E World Time (Wingman 11 or 111)

And “balance” is  a good description and not only regarding data clutter, but in the overall look of the watch.  For example, the size ratio of case to wrist and to dial, the bezel to dial and how the overall thickness of the watch doesn’t compromise the wrist fit.

As an example I highlight the Citizen JQ8250-52E to the left here, which would be interesting alone for the fact that this watch is 43.5mm x 11mm – an achievement I wish they could manage today!  But when I look at the overall “balance” of this model it really is very, very good. Note the slightly dated bracelet fit, but importantly note that it can easily be changed for a strap, Nato or whatever and then it truly starts to look the part.  It coincidentally affirms my contention that in many cases bracelet/strap changing can dramatically change a watch from the ordinary to something special.  Like a frame around a painting.

JQ with Nato - (watchyouseek) transformation!

JQ8250 with Nato – (watchyouseek) transformation!

I attach here an image of a Nato strapped version (watchyouseek.com) – the Nato strap shows off the “balance” to perfection.  Note too the broad diver like hands which again balance the dial layout.  So often chronographs have slim hands and lose visibility as a result.  This version features the C460 Quartz movement, Ana-digi, two alarms, world time, stopwatch/chronograph, countdown timer, EL backlight and three LCD displays.  It is 100m Depth Rated, domed mineral crystal, luminous hands and markers, bi-directional slide rule bezel with fuel consumption markings and a 20mm wide bracelet (or strap) to standard lug pins.

Now I don’t know about you, but for me this model has that balanced look of a Classic – it looks and feels just right.

But conversely another Citizen model in the same family is the JQ8995-56E and whilst it has a similar a function set, ana-digi display, you would think that it should have the same “look” – well it doesn’t – not at all.  For some reason it just doesn’t have that “balance”.

Citizen JQ005-56E

Citizen JQ005-56E

The bezel appears far too large and the same size hour and minute hands are too thin for the size of the dial – somewhere here the ratios just don’t work.  And here’s this idea of having to add color, where color is not needed.   It simply distracts, which I’m sure was not the intention.  Now don’t get me wrong here – I mean it looks OK . . . . but nothing else and it certainly doesn’t look a Classic.  It might look a little better with a Nato strap I would imagine, but overall it doesn’t work for me.

And neither I’m afraid do a good number of the current crop from Citizen.  And from the above examples it is very evident that a fine line exists between data, clarity, size and function – even a color here and there can make or break how a model will turn out.  A bit of a muddle with overdone clutter or a Classic?

It’s not easy, but my advice for what it’s worth, if you see a model that just shrieks Classic and it has that “balance” – don’t assume the next model will be better – don’t hesitate at all – buy it!

Categories: Commentary


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