A Golfer’s view!

A bit different today in that I’m looking at a “watch” I’ve had for some time – prompted by a friend to do a quick review, so for all you Golfers out there here is the Garmin Approach S3.

Garmin Approach S3 GPS golf aid.

Garmin Approach S3 GPS golf aid. (easy read )

Now I’m not about to explain all the features of this model except to say some basics.  It’s water Resistant, battery life around 20 hours, has a good touch screen and high contrast so easily seen.  It has around 27,000 golf course plans in it, a scorecard feature and doesn’t look overly big on your wrist and weighs next to nothing.  The image shows how easy it is to read – Hole Number 1, Par 4, Big number is 360yds to pin, top number to back of green, bottom number to front of the green – super simple even for me. 😉

So before I start I admit this is a uniquely personal and perhaps cynical viewpoint from a golfer who started back in 1957 – played off Scratch at one time to playing my age today.

The Garmn S3 Approach Golf watch is a piece of golf assistance kit that seems to pretty much do what it says on the tin.  Nothing fancy about it, but for your average golfer it works very well.   It is obviously a GPS enabled unit with a database of all the courses (Europe model has 27,000 courses) you could ever want to play  – I play two maybe with the odd holiday trip adding another couple at most.  Though basically like most golfers I play mostly at my home course and that’s it.

So how does it perform and what does it do for your average player?   Now I’ve heard and read all sorts of guff about the accuracy – Oh! it’s a yard or so out – or it doesn’t agree with my Course Planner – as if a yard or two for most of us honestly makes a difference!    Let’s face it WE are not machines!

And talking about honesty, this unit should be renamed the “Honesty Meter” especially if we really start from basics –  like – Do you know how far you drive the ball?

Now come on – be honest – of course you don’t – you think you do, but you don’t as there are far too many factors to consider.   Did you hit the ball in the middle of the club, was your swing good, did you slice, fade, hook or draw, is there a wind, downwind or up, across etc. is the ground you hit off flat or sloping, is the landing point flat or sloping, what’s the altitude, temperature humidity, dampness and so on and on . . . . .

Now you might reckon on a good day, you can hit say 240 yards?  – that’s a maybe, a perhaps – because golf is NOT exact – as I said, just too many variables (here in Scotland with our cold, damp weather – fantasy golf is out!),  and this is where the Garmin comes into it’s own.   It is a reality check!

OK now you’ve driven the ball and it lands on the fairway and the green is within reach.  Now how many amateur golfers reach that green?   I’ll tell you – the fact is that 80% of them are more often than not, short of the target, mostly because they think they can hit that 6 iron easily 180yds – and the sad truth is – they can’t.

NOW the Garmin comes into it’s own as once you hit your drive, you simply press a button and walk towards your ball and guess what – it counts the yardage.

And what a surprise to find you’ve driven the ball – err – 202 yards.   But it also tells you that you’ve now got a 173 yard shot to the pin – and 160 yards to the front of the green and 190 yards to the back.  Depending on pin placement, you can actually move the pin on a small image of the green on the Garmin screen, just to make it a little more accurate – IF you need to do that.  I never have.

But back to the task at hand – what about this approach shot?   What iron will you use to hit 173 yards?  Duh – I dunno! A 6? – well it’s a guess.

And here you start to see the benefits of this unit.  Because with a bit of “real” practice with this Garmin on your own some evening, it can actually measure any shots you hit with any club – you then build up real knowledge
of just how far you hit, not just the driver but every club in the bag!   And most importantly you finally accept that you might need a 4 iron to hit that yardage (previously you belted the cover off the ball with a 6 or 7 – and would you believe it – short – again).

But this time you hit the 4 iron, without blasting it and as if by magic you are on the darned green!   Probably the irst time since you were 17 years old and one of the leading big hitting Juniors in the club!   Now OK the trajectory was a little lower than before, but who cares – you are ON the green.  Is that good or what!

THIS is the value of the Garmin Approach S3 – it very simply gives you each hole’s yardage, tells you how far you have hit each shot and tells you how far to the pin.   It’s taught you how far you can actually and truthfully
hit every club.  It even can tell you the distance to that stream, or dogleg turn, so you can hit short and not overrun it, or know you can hit your 5 wood over it.   Short or over – it’s your informed decision for once.

It’s very easy to use after a few holes and you soon get the trick of just glancing at it as you reach your ball to play the next shot.   You don’t need one of those that talks to you (I can think of nothing worse!).   And you really don’t need one that tells you about every little hazard on the course, with width, depth and all that value added gimmickry – because you KNOW the essentials – the distance to go, the distance you can hit and which club will do it FOR YOU.

It should really help your game.   As now you know pretty well how far you can drive (honestly), you know how far you can hit every iron you have, from a full out shot to a three quarters easy shot and so on and this probably for the first time in your golfing life.

Now that for me is as accurate as it needs to be – honestly.  So in my book the Garmin Approach S3 is pretty good value for money AND it can tell you the time too . . .

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Elegance lost

Sometimes a Watchmaker known for the wonderful elegance of their creations, maybe once in a while loses that elusive magic ingredient.

Jaquet Drox Grande Second SW - minus elegance!

Jaquet Drox Grande Second SW – minus elegance!

And surprisingly makers Jaquet Droz, for the first time I can ever remember in my experience, has done just that – with the introduction of their latest 2014 Grande Seconde SW.   Which is a great pity as the original Grande Seconde was without doubt the most elegant of models and the model variation I also show here, the Grand Seconde Quantieme, a perfect example.  Fortunately it is also currently available so all is not lost.

The new SW seems to me to pander to the bolts and metal look of the science fiction blockbuster, rather than any semblance of “elegance”.  The Côtes de Genève panels transferred to the front dial and in anthracite gray to me look more like steel shutter blinds than the delicate gold shading we’re used to seeing on the movement.   Now OK the watch has been dare I say, “sportified”-  if such a horrible word exists, but in my opinion it doesn’t work and ends up being neither one thing nor the other.  And this is regardless of how good the watch is – and don’t get me wrong, it is fantastic as always, but this time somewhere in all this modern packaging that elusive “elegance” was lost!

My favorite - proper Jaquet Droz elegance - and as it should be

My favorite – proper Jaquet Droz elegance – and as it should be

So the SW not for my collection then!   I’ll just have to settle for “Seconde” best – the Quantieme – what can you do?

Why the “Sub” is not for me.

Well it had to happen, someone asked me that perennial question: Why don’t you have a Rolex?

The Submariner - but not for me.

The Submariner – iconic, expensive – but not for me.

The answer is complicated, though I hasten to say that I actually DO have a Rolex, a vintage one from around 1928 – a Rolex Oyster, plated case, 15 jewels, bi-metallic balance, Breguet hairspring and in mint condition.   I bought it many years ago as a vintage piece and funnily enough not because it was a Rolex, but mainly as it was a very good waterproof cased model of it’s day.

Rolex Oyster 1928

Rolex Oyster 1928

In fact I bought 3 other models with regards to water resistance – a super old Seawolf Zodiac and a Movado and another one that now escapes me – I must have sold it on.
But these and the Rolex were bought for what they represented in technical terms and of a period and not because I had to have a Rolex.

So the question I suppose is in relation to the fact that in my “modern” collection, it is quite correct, I don’t have a Rolex represented at all.

The problem for me is that the questioner was talking specifically about the model that dominates the Rolex look – the Submariner – and the trouble here is that I really don’t and never have liked the styling of it at all and ever since it appeared all those years ago, this model is synonymous with that “look I’ve got a Rolex” persona.

At a watch auction recently I saw literally dozens of them, all very similar models and after an hour or so watching these amazing and in my opinion unjustified prices – it was frankly – boring!
I mean marketing aside which is brilliant of course, Rolex have turned a fairly ordinary watch by today’s standards into an iconic fashion statement, which is pretty much unsurpassed by any other product I can think of.   If you want to be noticed get a Rolex.   It shouts a certain status, though completely fashion and celebrity driven, but it’s that sameness and the sheer numbers that are around that by the same token actually puts me off.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I don’t dislike Rolex as a brand, it’s just that ubiquitous “Submariner” that always, always typifies Rolex.   It’s also been copied by almost everyone and his dog at some time and do I want one on my wrist – well no is the answer.  And as to the “are they any good?” question, well my personal opinion is, they are OK and quality and technically I would estimate mid range, nothing more.   Status wise and fashion wise, well that’s another thing altogether and in that game, they are the high flyers.

Another Cellini Rolex - and so unlike that submariner

Another Cellini Rolex – and so unlike that submariner

Prices of course are status fed and from a technical viewpoint somewhat overinflated to say the least – and of course these prices are like paintings, they are driven by the movers and shakers of this secretive world of market manipulators and little to do with real value at all.

Nothing wrong in that (well there is actually but that’s another argument) but I have never bought any watch because of the name – I buy because I like it.

The Cellini

The Cellini

In regards to owning a Rolex, today I might be interested in something that doesn’t start with “sub” –  the Cellini range for example and there are other models too – ones that have sort of broken away from that boring and obvious Rolex look and instead have an elegant and individual style of their own and surprisingly there are quite a number around that are really much more interesting.

To get past the usual Rolex advertising and hype is also quite a challenge and not helped by one comment I read recently.   One advocate of Rolex implied that a Timex would be lucky to last 25 years unlike his Rolex – which says to me the writer is a little overexcited as to ignore simple facts.   Now I’m not a collector of Timex as such, but in my collection of well over a hundred watches I have (and this was a surprise to me) actually 4 vintage Timex models ’63, ’67, ’74 and 1982 and 3 or 4 modern models.   And not a problem with any one of them.   Of course the commenter omitted to mention the slight price differential between the brands – and neither will I.  😉

Now this is a proper Rolex

Now this is a proper Rolex

However it’s all a bit of a shame as there are some Rolex models around that are very different and do look good, but you rarely if ever see them.   Instead you’re fed the same old diet of that boring Submariner this and submariner that.

I’ve included some of the models I do like here in this Post –

So no I won’t be buying the ubiquitous Rolex classic “Subby” model any time soon, nor will I reach the age (I’m well past it!) as some say where I’ll feel I’m ready for one – have you ever heard such pretentious claptrap –  used of course (and why not) by those clever marketing people perpetuating the Rolex myth.

But as I say, the Cellini and a few selected others are a certainly worth considering.

And not because of the name but because I rather like them and OK they’ll say Rolex on the dial, so I’ve satisfied the followers, but at least not with that iconic boring same old model I see day in and day out and worn by the “look at me I’ve made it brigade”.

They should perhaps change the marketing blurb and try highlighting individuality – I mean we don’t ALL have to wear blue denim do we?

Of course at the end of the day, what do I know?  Rolex have carved out a fantastic iconic product and made the name synonymous with style, ambition, status and wealth.   The fact they’ve managed this successfully for all those years basically on the merits or otherwise of one particular model, has to be admired, though for me, Rolex should be and actually is more than that, but you’ve actually got to look hard to see it.

Fit for purpose

Nice to see watch models that are made for a specific function and not just called by a descriptive marketing term, such as Commando for Commandos.

Jaermann & Stübi Stroke Play Eagle Heart EH1

Jaermann & Stübi Stroke Play Eagle Heart EH1

This rather intense looking model is from Jaermann & Stubi watches.  The Stroke Play Eagle Heart EHI model.  Made in Switzerland and with it’s patented anti-shock (Shock Guard) system is absolutely ideal for GOLF.   Built in to this model is an automatic clock used to count the number of strokes played and show retrograde indication of the number of holes played – very clever.  It can even manage players handicaps, so a truly bespoke function model indeed.

Automatic Swiss movement, Stainless Steel PVD coated case 44mm x 12mm, black dial with sapphire glass and a 100m Water Resistance, with strap and deployment buckle.   A directional bezel plus handicap function and luminous hands and markers certainly make this model look the business and will surely get some looks in the clubhouse.  However whilst this model might upstage the cheaper option such as the Garmin Approach golf watches, it doesn’t have the GPS capability to really assist in your golf game.  Incidentally I’m actually reviewing one soon and I tend to take a quite personal viewpoint on these after some of the reviews I’ve read.

However if you’re not into Golf with your aspirations set a little higher, there’s this impressive piece of kit!  Specially for high flyers!  The Scheyden True Aviator (Steam Gauge) Watch.  In Stainless Steel and Water Resistant to 100m, bracelet dials to 66ft (pity about the discrepancy) and a heavy duty tri-fold locking bracelet.  It’s also has Chronograph, Alarm and Count down Timer and other flying related gizmos.

The Scheyden True Aviator

The Scheyden True Aviator

Specifically designed for pilots, this watch feature three separate instruments for use on the ground and in the air.

First – the Upper bracelet dial is a liquid filled magnetic compass.
Second – the lower bracelet dial is a special multi-feature digital IFR Timer ( calculates time to way points, fuel changes, holding turn timings etc).
Third – is a rather well featured ana-digi multi-function watch with day, date, dual time, Global Airport Identifiers, Time Zones plus a bi-directional rotating ATIS bezel, Super-Luminova hands and numerals, Swiss ETA movement and a sapphire crystal.

Note –
The bi-directional ATIS Bezel is a reminder of the Automated Terminal Information Service (ATIS) recordings.

The multi-feature digital IFR timer can be used for timing instrument procedures or assisting with timed checklist items.

Not too sure about all that lot on my wrist, but it sure looks impressive and some of the write ups I’ve seen suggest this is quite a unique watch and a hit with pilots – and it’s certainly different!

Smart news – and stuff

Further to my Post regarding “Smart” watches I see that Motorola are soon to be coming out with what I hope is a proper “watch” but with added smartphone technology.  If appearances are to be believed it will look like a conventional watch and be a sensible size.

The new Moto G smart watch - coming soon!

The new Moto 360 smart watch – coming soon!

Motorola apparently are saying they are committed to making it like a conventional watch, circular, very few if any buttons or pushers.  It connects via Google Now assistant with email alerts, phone calls and when messages etc arrive – so this is definitely looking good.

Dial can show various displays as well as conventional time.

Dial can show various displays as well as conventional time.

I can do no more than point you to their rather brief (at this stage) web site ( HERE )as a tester perhaps of things to come – soon and sometime this summer?  I’m very interested in this as if they get the size right and a decent functionality without too much complication, then they may well have a winner.

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I also note the Citizen one of our most well known mainstream makers is touting the Bluetooth smart watches TM84-0351V and TM84-0352V.   Other Smart Watch new boys in this game watch out (sorry for the pun!)

Smart watches from Citizen!

Smart watches from Citizen!

No prices yet or availability for world sales, but definitely interesting and ones to watch for 2014 – 15?

Presently only available and connecting to certain Japanese domestic phones, it does bode well for the “smart” set in that one of the big 4 is now in the game.

Round up (Fossil)

As usual I’ve been checking out some of my favorite watch brands, to see what might interest me and the first brand I looked at was Fossil.  Plenty to choose from perhaps but only one was of any interest, the rest doing nothing for me this time.   My solitary choice is the Fossil Aeroflite 3 hand date watch.

Fossil - my choice from the current crop

Fossil – my choice from the current crop

Still a relatively large case as is the Fossil tendency at 44mm diameter, but as they also often manage, just 12mm in height, so I’ll forgive them, with a decent Water Resistance of 100m.  Crown @4 and a 22mm wide strap.  This is a new model and at a simple price of £105 is good value.  Excellent finish stainless Steel and leather buckle strap give it an everyday watch appearance and I like the crown @4 just to be different and there is a small date window @3.  The Hour and Minute hands are nice and broad, hopefully with some decent luminescence both to the hands and the large green tinted numerals (poor luminescence a failing of some Fossil models I’ve found).  At least on this model the hands are broad with white painted infills so should have good clarity during the day.  There is also a centre seconds hand in white.

One of a number of watch models appearing recently that are moving away from the “let’s make it look complicated” look to a more simplistic expression.  A wysiwyg approach or “what you see is what you get” idea that if managed properly always strikes a chord with those of us who are looking for a watch that has got the basics right.

So a little disappointing to find only one Fossil model of interest to me, though there are obviously folks out there who’ll have different tastes and so on, but I’ll check in to Fossil every couple of months just to see what’s new.  If one comes up that I like I’ll post it here.

Get and forget (2)

Yes, sorting out which watch model to buy in amongst a huge range can be daunting and often compounded by what your particular preference may be.  What you want from a new watch etc.  This is always the problem I have when looking at the big lads, Seiko, Citizen and Timex.  Because they really make models for just about everyone, so it’s very difficult.

Timex Expedition Chrono T49895

Timex Expedition Chrono T49895

I tend to check out the ones I like, not because of the number of functions they squeeze in, but for the model that manages to combine a certain simplicity with function, if that doesn’t sound silly.   By doing this, I gradually out of many dozens of disparate models, manage to pick maybe a couple or so that make sense and manage to fit my simple requirements.

The first one to appear out of the crowd is the T49895 Expedition Chronograph model.  With it’s ion plated steel case and black dial, luminous analog Hour, Minute hands and center Seconds hands it is very conventional.   No superfluous fly back features that to me are unnecessary complications.  3 sub dials for the chronograph function and a multi-date window between 3 and 4 are well defined and clear to read and not a chrome edged reflective numeral in the place!   Note this model also has a back light.  Chronograph bezel outer rings are neat and unobtrusive and the well knurled crown and pushers are just about perfect.   The dimensions are a decent 45mm x 13mm and Water Resistance is 100m.

To cap it all this model has a leather strap fitted to standard lug bars, so alternative straps or strap replacements are not an issue down the road.

This is a model that is sensible terms of Form, Function and Fit and without the added corporate style trappings of being something it’s not – it is what it is.

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My second choice from Timex’s vast arsenal of watches is the T49967 Expedition Alarm Chronograph.

Timex T49967 Expedition Alarm Chronograph

Timex T49967 Expedition Alarm Chronograph

I like this  model as it’s of Analog-Digital design but not overpoweringly so.  Whilst it’s supposedly 43.8mm across, I measured mine (I already have one in my collection) and the width to the crown is in fact almost 47mm, so not a small watch by any means.  It’s only 13.6mm (depth) and wears smaller than it is, albeit with a definite Timex Expedition look to it, but is relatively uncluttered and not over-functioned.
Once again the dial is excellent, matte and well laid out in black with contrasting broad luminous infilled analog Hour and minute hands plus a yellow center seconds Hand. It has a nice overall balance.

Large clear numerals and markers in white and yellow mean good clarity and the Day, Date, Month, Alarm, Timer, Stopwatch plus Digital time display is well positioned @6 and is larger than many, but does not get in the way of the analog functions.   Additional chronograph buttons are on the wide bezel @6 for chronograph control such as Stop and Split laps etc.  The bezel is influenced by their “shock” range and gives good protection to the crystal.

Note this is a perpetual Calendar model, so once the Calendar is set, forget about short months and so on, it’s all taken care of.

Four nicely figured pushers are on the outer edge of the case and are broad and easily accessed, the crown is @3 as usual, well shrouded but accessible.   Once again we have an Indiglo back light, so this is well equipped for low light situations and has a 200m Water Resistance.

T49967 Silicon/rubber strap with buckle.

T49967 Silicon/rubber strap with buckle.

This model comes with a green colored rubber strap and once again if not to your liking it’s an easy matter to replace, as the case/lug/strap bars arrangement is about as standard as you can get – many thanks Timex!  In practice the strap is actually very good and I have not changed it myself – and I’m really picky when it comes to straps and wrist comfort!

This model once again manages to get the basics right and the overall “Form” is pleasing, Function is unobtrusive and it Fits well to the wrist and it does it all rather well.

T49967 Expedition Combo

T49967 Expedition Combo – on the wrist

Both models above are around the same price (approx £85 in the UK) and for me represent excellent value for money without gimmicks and are two of the most practical and sensible Timex models I’ve seen for a while.

True Get and Forget watches = Form, Function and Fit.  (I can see a slogan coming. . . . . 😉 )

Note – I see that many Timex models now come with a generic instructional manual and often these do not relate at all to the watch model you may have bought.  The model above (T49967) is such a model and I note the following additional instructions in case anyone purchases one.

The pushers are labelled and self explanatory, but when setting the digital time (first push the “set” pusher and hold it) and you go through the sequences – hours, minutes etc etc. and once done – push the “set” again, the digital display is then set by default to the Time indication.
However to display the Day, Date and Month (the calendar), you must push the ST button on the bezel and the Calendar will flash up for a second.  To permanently show the Calendar display rather than the Time display, push and hold the ST button for at least 3 or 4 seconds.  This will show the date, day and month then set – then release the button and the Calendar will stay indicated, now as the permanent digital display.   So at a glance you now have the analog hour, minute and seconds hands on the main dial and the digital display will be showing the Calendar. (you can reverse the sequence as you wish).

Also when setting the digital display the Calendar can be selected show either USA or UK style (Day, Date and Month) – something I wish others would emulate.

Timex Expedition Vibration Alarm T49854J - Great daily beater!

Timex Expedition Vibration Alarm T49854J – Great daily beater!

Finally I’d add to this selection my other Timex Digital Expedition.  Quite similar to the ana/digi here, but digital only and once again a really sweet watch to wear – I show an image just for comparison.

It’s interesting to note that out of my collection of Timex watches, the one shown here on the left (T49854J), the ana/digi above (T49867) certainly get the most wrist time.  For methey encapsulate everything that Timex in my opinion does best.  Really excellent low cost daily beaters – true “get and forget” models, that are a perfect balance between “Form, Function and Fit”.

What really and honestly could be any better?

Well to answer that I am looking at Casio next week and as they’re in the same business and “get and forget” is money in the bank!  – I’m betting they’ve got something to offer too!