Scrolling Pulsar

Since getting my own Pulsar recently (Pulsar PV4005X1) with which I am surprisingly pleased by the way, I thought I’d just mention these two models.  They’ve been around for a while but have an interesting display feature that lifts them above the ordinary.   The actual function set is similar to my more conventional standard matrix display model though quite different in operation.
This is the Pulsar PQ2013X1 and the PQ2011X1.

Pulsar PQ2013X1 scrolling Matrix LCD Display

Pulsar PQ2013X1 scrolling Matrix LCD Display

A full dial matrix* display using a scrolling system with adjustable settings such as the LCD contrast and the LED light color.  The digital display can be switched off and it also has an automatic Eco setting.  The scrolling display is really quite odd at first until you get used to it, but actually very intuitive once you do.  The two models here as far as I can tell are the same except for the color and the strap (they use the same instruction set).
Which do I prefer?  Well I’d like the red highlighted dial but the black strap – just to be awkward!

Pulsar PQ2001X1

Pulsar PQ2001X1

The dimensions are substantial at some 48mm width by around 14mm depth, so on the limits for my 170mm wrist, though in saying that the buttons are quite flush to the case, so it might look OK the wrist.
But such is the scrolling display concept and the overall style of these models they are very tempting.  One of the settings I like is the fact you can alter the display digits and show a very large date for example – could be very useful when not wearing my spectacles.

So a rough breakdown of the features – a Pulsar 2 year Guarantee, a 48mm x 14mm, black dial scrolling digital display, multi-function Day, Date, Month, Year, perpetual calendar (2059), World Times (39 cities), Stopwatch/chronograph 100hrs, Alarms etc etc. plus a stainless steel case, PU rubber strap with buckle and Oh yes a back light.
In fact the specification is really quite large especially with the added contrast and color settings and so on – very comprehensive.

There also appears to be a few different variations on this theme, such as the PQ2003, but they all have the same functions and it’s really a matter of cosmetics as to which you might prefer.
One thing is certain, they have a quite different look in comparison to the Casio and Timex range and have moved away from any sort of corporate look, which is nice.
For anyone who struggles with small text these are actually very good, as the text is exceptionally large and the contrast is good, certainly on the models I’ve come across.
However as I always say – try and see one of these in the flesh if this is important to you and BEFORE you buy.
And here is where the internet scores.  Most of the reputable dealers have a good Refund policy, where if you’re not satisfied with your purchase you can return the item for a prompt refund without hassle.  Just remember to make sure you keep everything, box, papers, attached labels and original packing and try not to wear it thus curving or creasing the strap etc. and you should be OK in your return process.  Normally you receive a Returns Number and possibly a label from the supplier and if you then send it back with some form of recorded delivery, all should be well.
Notethe term matrix* should not be confused with “dot matrix” which was originally introduced by Seiko back in 1977.  Whilst some modern LED models today may look “dot” are actually bars on ceramic substrates with small parts of this actually lit to conserve energy.
However as to these particular Pulsar models and as far as large digital displays are concerned, the older Timex Expedition (vibration alarm) Model T49854J is actually pretty good too –  and – it’s one of the easiest of watches to set, it’s lighter, smaller, cheaper and I’ve got one already – so . . . . . . as much as I like these new Pulsars here, I might give them a miss – for now . . .

The elegant watch (4)

Another look at those “elegant” models that we are so lucky to have around these days.  Here is one of my favorites – the Blancpain Villeret Répetition Minutes.

Blancpain Villeret Répetition Minutes - absolute elegance

Blancpain Villeret Répetition Minutes – absolute elegance

Surely one of the most elegant watches that you not only can see, but hear!

Born from a need to know the time many years ago in the dark without light when luminous hands simply did not exist.  Trials of a “touchable” watch with exterior hands and minute graduations was never going to be the answer as they were too easily moved by accident.  And so “sound” was the key.

The Minute Repeater is probably one of the most complicated watch movements even today and there are not too many of them around.   A slide on the side of the watch is moved and a chime sounds the Hours, Quarter Hours and Minutes – so much more artistic than luminous paint and with a discrete elegance that’s quite personal I think.

To find one today that has the purity of sound and the incredible exactitude of transforming the exact time with the applicable sound is a feat of watch intricacy that is extremely hard to achieve.   This model features the calibre 35 which has 2 hammers @3.  These strike against little “sounding rings” on the outer circumference and features 35 jewels in the movement.

Next up is this brand that I would not have normally have associated with the word elegance.

This is the Suunto Gambit 2 – an all in GPS, Weather Station, Time, Distance, Altitude – you name it and perfect for all you runners, trekkers and bikers and so on out there just raring to go.

The Suunto Gamit2 a position of elegance?

The Suunto Gamit2 a position of elegance?

But for one in this particular guise it is really rather superb to look at too.  Perhaps a bit big for me at 50mm x 17.5mm – but I feel I have to add this in to the “elegant” category I really do.

And then something perhaps unexpected in the shape of the Timex Easy Reader – Why?

Timex Easy Reader - simple elegance

Timex Easy Reader – simple elegance

I suppose it’s because of it’s utter simplicity and purity of form and function, this model has an elegance all of it’s own.  Forget all those digital “hard to read” over functioned monsters hanging on to wrists that simply are not big enough to handle them and look sensible – THIS is a bring you down to earth reality check.

This watch does exactly what it says on the tin!  Great dial, great numerals, even a 24 hour clock set and a clear date.  Centre second hand and excellent clear hour and minute hands.  For night use “Indiglo” of course.   Nothing more and nothing less than a “watch” and there’s such a natural elegance in that.

The last pic this week is more in your classic form –

The very elegant De Witt – what can I say – except that it’s not quite as simple as your average watch.  From one “easy reader” to another – in the form of this beautiful “jump” disc watch.  This model is just 40mm in diameter and in 18ct Rose Gold and is powered by a manual wind movement with a 42-hour power reserve.  The 21-jewel fully decorated movement operates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour is also visible via an exhibition back.  There is another color I understand and both look very elegant indeed.

De Witt elegance

So without doubt there are some very elegant watches around and most are really beautiful designs too.  They don’t have to complicated either – take the Timex easy Reader for example, but can have a purity of form and function that has an elegance of their own and rightly so.  It is also a fact that you don’t have to necessarily spend a fortune to find an elegant watch, though it is I contend somewhat easier, as design has so much to do with elegance.

Anyway what will I find next week?   Difficult to tell, though I might just include another of my own collection and see if you agree.

Stealthy, different and dark?

Well this is definitely different – OK a concept watch presently and stealth owing to the angular case patterns apparently.  Though lowering it’s radar signature doesn’t seem quite apt for a watch!
In this titanium alloy model, rotation of the bezel activates capacitive touch sensor buttons under the four directional arrows, which alters the display as shown on the image.  Dual time, Date, Alarm Compass and perhaps even Altimeter – the possibilities seem amazing.

More information can be seen at
Which leads me on to the actual subject of this weeks Post – Stealth watches, what are they?
According to the Thesaurus at –
stealth mid-13c., “theft, action or practice of stealing,” from O.E. *stælþ, which is related to stelen (see steal), from P.Gmc. *stælitho (cf. O.N. stulþr). Sense of “secret action” developed c.1300, but the word also retained its etymological sense into 18c. Got a boost as an adj. from stealth fighter, stealth bomber, radar-evading U.S. military aircraft, activated 1983.
So pretty simple then 😉

The Redline Stealth - press the red button and retire immediately!

The Redline Stealth – press the red button and retire immediately!

Anyway I seem to have heard and seen quite a large number of “stealth” watches, though what this term actually means regarding a watch is somewhat varied and open to interpretation.   Aeronautical folks would say that it means that whatever has been “stealthed” will avoid radar detection by reducing it’s surface signature.   Breaking up the outline with angular planes so that radar struggles to detect it.  OK I get that, but applied to a watch?Or it might mean that it’s black or gray and almost impossible to see, by not only casual passers by, but perhaps even the wearer!

Citizen Stealth - even the mainstream guys are into it!

Citizen Stealth – any color as long as it’s gray!

Another interpretation is a hidden on demand digital LED display on an otherwise analog dial watch – press the button (why are they always “detonator” red?) and hey presto, there’s a bright LED digital display –  OK – actually I can go along with that one.

And I thought I knew what Stealth was!

And I thought I knew what Stealth was!

But “seriously” I think that maybe the most common take on “Stealth” does appear to be a black case, black dial with gray numerals – or is it difficult to see blue numerals, I could be wrong . . .!

Then there is the fascinating fact that although some watches are advertised by dealers and sellers alike, as “Stealth”, the actual manufacturers don’t always describe it as such.Ashampoo_Snap_2014.03.08_17h33m25s_015_ Ashampoo_Snap_2014.03.08_17h42m50s_016_

Citizen Stealth - I just hope it's luminous!

Citizen Stealth – I just hope it’s luminous!

So it seems that it’s another of those emotive words used to sell the watch to the fanciful buyer, or one who just loves that “look” on their wrist for a bit of fun!  Like Commando, Infantry, Covert and so on, but whatever the interpretation of this “Stealth” term one thing is absolutely sure, it promotes some extraordinarily fun looking watches!

The Gulper Shark - you can't help wanting to press the plunger!

The Gulper Shark – you can’t help wanting to press the plunger!

But beware if you’re looking for quality then it might be better to view the term with an open mind, as it’s not always synonymous!

Shark - Gulper analog - PRESS the red and LED pops up.

Shark – Gulper analog – PRESS the red and LED pops up.

I’m also not going to say anything about these models as regards quality or function, but simply show this collection of models to feast your eyes on.
These particular models are or have been described as Stealth and the last one, the Gulper Shark (what a name!) so described on just one obscure cached web page – but the red detonator button absolutely does it for me – I simply can’t wait to press it!  😉
And as a serious watch collector I wouldn’t be seen dead wearing such a thing – would I?
Oh yes I would – the RED detonator does it –  it’s brilliant!!!!
Here is an amazing concept watch called Stealth Tourbillon, inspired by stealth fighters. Featuring sharp lines and edges, the watch is crafted with titanium alloy. The highlight of the concept is its ability to switch modes from analog to digital. You change functions by rotating the face dial. Switching to the Dual Time module shifts the focus to the different time zones. In the Digital Module the user can set the date and alarm and access many other functions like compass and pressure meter.

Wu explains, “To control the digital module, the capacitive touch sensed buttons inside the four directional arrows on the bezel are used to select the option efficiently, which is activated on digital mode.”
Here is an amazing concept watch called Stealth Tourbillon, inspired by stealth fighters. Featuring sharp lines and edges, the watch is crafted with titanium alloy. The highlight of the concept is its ability to switch modes from analog to digital. You change functions by rotating the face dial. Switching to the Dual Time module shifts the focus to the different time zones. In the Digital Module the user can set the date and alarm and access many other functions like compass and pressure meter.

Wu explains, “To control the digital module, the capacitive touch sensed buttons inside the four directional arrows on the bezel are used to select the option efficiently, which is activated on digital mode.”

Smart time

Thought I’d try and find a Smart watch that at least looked like an actual watch.  Not one of those devices trying to be a full blown tablet on the wrist, because I consider them in their infancy and experimental enough that I’ve no wish to spend my cash just to bolster their development costs.  So for me, less is more so to speak and I am encouraged to find two models along the lines of what smart watch should mean, with the emphasis on “watch”.  These are basically devices that will “pair” to your iPhone or Android device without overreaching their capabilities.  Get these right and we’re on the right track.

First up is the Cogito Original – a smart watch that actually looks like a watch!

Cognito Original Smart Watch.

Cogito Original Smart Watch.

And as they say on their web site –

“COGITO ORIGINAL brings together the power of a connected watch with the sophistication of a precision-crafted timepiece”  and  “When linked with the smartphone or tablet app, COGITO allows users to cut through the digital noise by customizing settings based on their priorities and selecting which notifications will appear.   On the watch face, users can see who is calling or messaging, and decide whether to answer or mute it and  “COGITO frees users from continually checking their phones “.

Perhaps like me you’ve been looking at those odd “smart” wrist gadgets appearing here and there, such as Samsung and Sony, Pebble and a good few others and maybe like me you’ve not been that impressed.  My dislike of these things is initially that they simply look like an oversize slab of square or rectangular glass strapped on top of the wrist, but which have no consideration of wrist shape or size.
Some manage phone applications, others simply link to your phone, assuming you can get a signal of course.  Though why you need to link from your wrist to your pocket (where your phone is stashed) I find perhaps debatable as a must have.

I just don’t see the point when you can simply take out your phone or whatever and use it directly (mind you I only use an old cell phone for emergencies – so maybe I’m in the stone age here).  And personally being a pessimist, maybe I feel it’s technology for technologies sake, rather than practicality, BUT who am I to stand in the way of progress!

Now apart from the size and shape issue, there is the rubbish battery life to consider.  Their problem of course is that we’re all so used to watches, that is wristwatches that don’t require a battery charge ever, mechanical or solar quartz.  Even standard quartz models have a battery life of 2 to 10 years these days and yet this so called Smart technology can only manage 1 day or at best 1 week? before having to charge the battery!   I’d have to say that “smart” is not the word I’d use.
This means you to have a charger of some kind with you if on a trip for example and find a power supply too . . . .?   And if for some reason you’re unable to manage that, maybe lose it for example (easy to do if traveling) then you are literally stuck.  No smart anything and let’s hope no one asks you for the time!

Cognito Original - a proper "smart"watch at last?

Cogito Original – a proper “smart”watch at last?

COGITO ORIGINAL appears to incorporate the power of a “connected” watch and a decent timepiece.  It links to your the smartphone or tablet app and allows you to customize settings based on your priorities and then decide which notifications will appear on the watch face, see who’s calling or texting and decide your response.
It also features a tap-to-act function, which means a faster response plus it uses Bluetooth 4.0 low energy technology, which means no battery charging as the cell will last well over a year without a charge and when necessary can be replaced easily by the user.

It comes with a SR626SW standard button-cell battery plus a CR2032 Battery and a Quick Start Guide + with alternative colour and material choices available, this 100m Water Resistance smart watch, can be as individual as you like and used in most situations, even in the pool.

Well that’s what Cogito says and it certainly sounds very promising and it appears to me, to be much more in keeping with my idea of a useful “smart watch” at this stage in our technology.   It looks like a watch, it tells the time like a watch, it talks to your phone and it’s got a watch battery life . . . .  it sounds good to me!

So far I like what I see and I note it’s going to be available around the end of this month at $179.99 on pre-order – so if you’re into this smart technology stuff – could be well worth a look!


My second find is the Cookoo Life smart watch, that again is in keeping with a proper wristwatch, rather than an odd box stuck on your wrist, trying to be something more than it is

The Cookoo Life - a smart watch that thinks it's a watch

The Cookoo Life – a smart watch that thinks it’s a watch

The COOKOO Life comes in a whole pile of colors and the core functionality of linking via Bluetooth 4 to your iPhone or Android seems to be excellent.  And it also tells you the time all the time, as it has permanent analogue hour, minute and seconds hands.
Once linked or “paired” to your device it keeps you in control of any alerts and notifications you receive on your phone, either by Icon, Beep or even Vibration.

Cookoo color options are many

Cookoo color options are many

Phone features are notified to you, such as Incoming Calls, Missed Calls, Facebook messages, Calendar reminders, Email and SMS, Low Battery on your iPad warning and Out of range alarm.  You can even take photographs with your device/phone remotely and play music.  I particularly like the “find your phone” feature, just press a button to sound an alert for locating it.

Again this watch has a decent Water Resistance, a CR2032 button-cell battery and a easy change battery hatch on the rear so you can replace it if required sometime after a year.  I also like the fact that both these models can update functionality by using different Apps which are often free downloads to your phone device.

Looks like a wrist watch and acts like a wristwatch, that's smart as well.

The Cookoo Life – looks like a wrist watch, acts like a wristwatch, but smart as well.

OK and let’s be honest here, this is a completely different world for me, being the sort of guy who loves vintage timepieces and traditional watches, but I have to admit to being quite impressed by both these smart watches first and foremost as they both look and act like a proper watch.  Plus the added “new age” functions that for modern people are probably more relevant and useful than the old traditional features and watch complications.  Though Timers and stopwatches can still be managed, these are normal rather than added function sets here.  Perhaps Altimeters and Compasses are better left to individual devices at the moment.

But it looks like Time’s not stopping for anyone and although it might be going that little bit fast for me – I’m hanging on best I can . . . . . . . if I’m “smart” and have the time.  😉

Wrist matters

Wrist matters
Have you ever wondered why some watches seem to fit your wrist and others don’t?  With the prevalence of ever larger watches today it can then be a real downer once you’ve found that great watch, to find it’s just too big – you look geeky and your friends laugh behind your back – “Gee, Marty, What IS that on your wrist, Man?”

Gruen "Curvex" Gents watch.

It’s true to say that year on year watches have increased in size and where in the 1940′s a small rectangular model for gents would be small even for a Ladies watch today.  When round models became more fashionable just 30 mm diameter was common, then what I call the Patek Philippe size, 36 mm became the “norm”.  Over more recent years 40 mm has been very acceptable and today, well 45 mm and upwards is becoming commonplace.

However the odd thing is that the average wrist size has hardly altered in all that time and the average (World) wrist circumference is only  6.5″ – or 165 mm and nowhere near as big as many think.  And as the image on the left shows, there was a recognition even in the 1930′s and ’40′s that watches could be rather too large for the wrist, hence the wonderful Gruen “Curvex” model shown.  To assist fitting to the wrist curve Gruen actually made the movement on different planes, thus “curving” the total mechanical train system.  I think Watchmakers of that time would be amazed at the size of watches today that seemingly have no consideration whatsoever of wrist size.

Curved to fit . . .

In regards to wearing a watch that is “sized” sensibly, I’m sometimes amused when I hear some guy saying that wearing a small watch – say 38 mm diameter is proportionately silly.  Looks like a kids watch I hear him say.  Makes me wonder where he gets his idea of proportion from?  Put another way, it’s funny that I never had any snide comments like that when I wore my 36 mm diameter Patek Philippe – not one!

Now OK it’s partly about personal taste, but mostly it’s influenced by two things – the first is what the watch manufacturer produces, or in other words what is available to buy.  And second is fashion and what “style” are we wearing this year.

But still the majority of us wear watches (though kids today use their Smartphones) and we very often use the internet to get search out our new watch.  We check the model of interest, note any measurements given, then decide on whether it’ll fit or not.  The trouble is that often the dimensions you need to make that assessment are not given.  Typically the watch model blurb might note the diameter in millimeters (mm) and perhaps the height or thickness, which whilst an indicator is not really what you need.  I would note that the diameter  mainly refers to the width across to the crown, east to west.  Indeed it’s often noted as with or without crown (not with or without lugs).

Lug to lug – need to know!
There’s rarely a reference unless your lucky, of the lug to lug measurement and that’s possibly the most important dimension of all.  Because that’s effectively across your wrist, not along it as diameter “width”.  You basically need a combination of two particular dimensions and then you will have a true indicator of fit.  However it is also very useful to know what size your wrist is . . . or your wrist circumference.

Watch case dimensions can be given as (1) diameter or width, (2) height or how thick it is.  The first one, the diameter or width is not too important, though obviously if far too large, it will look like a wall clock on your wrist.  Now the diameter width can be reasonably large, but invariably influenced by crowns, lugs and strap/bracelet fitment.  The second dimension, the height is useful, as it gives an indication of “under the cuff” wearing (under a shirt sleeve for example) and it can certainly have a bearing if the watch overall is a bit larger than you’d normally wear, as if it’s not too thick, it’ll not look too clunky on your wrist.

However when we come to the lug to lug dimension, for some unaccountable reason it always leads to confusion.

Lug to lug dimension - approximately 3mm total larger than diameter.

Lug to lug dimension – approximately 6mm total larger than diameter.

Yet it’s so very simple – It is the total distance between the top edge of the top lugs to the bottom edge of the lower lugs.  Top to bottom.  And because this is where the strap or bracelet will start from the case spring bars and start it’s journey around your wrist, it is the most important dimension of all.
If the lug to lug distance is too large, the watch case basically overhangs the width of your wrist and the strap will not immediately go around your wrist, but rather drop vertically from the case overhang, down the sides of your wrist and then around.  In other words the lugs will overlap and overhang your wrist and in those circumstances the watch is just too big (however there are ways to reduce the oversize look – see later).

Wrist size and lug to lug.
Now my wrist circumference is approximately 170 mm ( so just above the World average, surprisingly) and most of my modern watches are no larger than about 50 mm lug to lug.   At that size or preferably under, the watch sits on top of my wrist as does the strap/bracelet for the first few mm then wraps around the wrist – perfect fit.  And it looks right.

The right fit

However the largest watches I own are (Fossil, Pulsar, Aeromatic, Casio) and all are oversize for me at roughly 53 or 54 mm or larger lug to lug.  I can get away with 54 mm just, as it’s relatively thin and it sits low on my wrist and came with a very flexible soft silicon strap.  Another when I first got it was hopeless, as the strap was really thick and stiff, which effectively made the watch even larger – I replaced it with a very soft flexible silicon one and it hugs the wrist so well now, it looks fine.  The third one I again changed the strap to a Fast wrap – and what a difference that made (Aeromatic).  Yes it’s big, but it looks OK (see image), so in these instances unencumbered by a large, heavy and stiff or molded straps – I got away with it.   So a tip for those who end up with that larger than ideal model – check out alternative straps – they might solve your problem.  I was defeated however with a Citizen Attesa.  Lovely watch and one I always wanted but it was 56 mm lug to lug and not possible to change the strap/bracelet and it was just too darned big.  I sold it on Ebay.

On the large side - but made wearable by use of a Fast Wrap strap.

With my 170 mm wrist I also have to be wary of rectangular watches, as some can easily be 60 mm lug to lug, which is impossible for me to wear.  Also care should be taken when considering any model with incorporated bespoke straps or bracelets, such as G-Shocks for example, as they effectively can be very large lug to lug AND have a preset, molded, stiff curve strap/band arrangement, which will almost certainly not match the circumference of my wrist.  And no use for me.

So if you can avoid fiddling around by ensuring you get closer to the right size for your wrist right at the start, this has to be good.

A rough guide –
A reasonable approximation to what size watch will suit anyone is to reckon on 27% to 29% of your wrist size.
The guide in my case is (170 mm x 27%) = 46mm.  Which is (for me) the ideal lug to lug size for a good wrist fit.
I can allow an addition  of +12% (up to around 52mm) and still look comfortable.   Consideration can also be made for lug shape and size, whether curved down and so on, but usually over that size a strap change might be in order or maybe I should look at another model.

OK it’s not a hard and fast rule by any means and is an indication only.   Most men probably fall into the range of 27% to perhaps 29% of wrist circumference as the ideal lug to lug.  Of course once you’ve got your size in mm or inches worked out, then it’s easy.  Optionally rather than fiddle about with % figures, simply check the lug to lug of your favorite daily beater – ie: the watch you wear every day and if it’s 52 mm then that’s your ideal lug to lug watch size.

And what if when looking at watches on the net no lug to lug dimensions are given? –

Well as most lugs project from a watch case diameter by anywhere from 2 to 4 mm – so unless these are really oversize lugs, which should be obvious, that figure x 2 will give the approximate lug to lug size and you’ll not be far wrong.
So a watch with a given 45 mm diameter with the average lug projection of say 2 x 3 mm, will be approximately 51 mm lug to lug.

Articulated lugs - to fit all wrists

Articulated lugs – This Laco will fit most wrists.

So there you have it.  Not an exact science by any means as folks wear their watches in different ways anyway.  Some love them loose like a large bracelet where the watch swings around, others like myself like them neat and taut to the wrist.  Others tend to like big and chunky regardless of whether it fits or not as long as it look macho and if that’s your thing, then that’s fine too.

Over the past few years the trend has certainly been for ever larger models, which is a little odd when you consider most electronic modules are reducing in size, so I suspect it has little to do with technology and everything to do with fashion.   Though I’ve noticed recently that this trend may be changing and indeed some well known brands are actively reducing model sizes, even down to 39/40 mm.
I just wonder if sales figures are driving this change – after all if the watch is too big, you effectively rule out about half the world’s population.

Wall clocks are for walls . . . . . .  perhaps this should be a new slogan!  😉

Independent Artists (3)

My third foray into the almost conceptual world of Independent Watchmakers, who produce some of the most fascinating timepieces not seen on any High Street.  So I like to share these masterpieces (that’s what they are) with everybody as often their web sites, unless you already know the name, are quite obscure and unseen.
I offer no critique (I’m not qualified to do so) apart from my admiration of these Masters of timepieces and simply present them for your interest and Link where possible directly to their web sites.  This is the Red Gold “Logical One” from Romain Gauthier of Switzerland.

"Logical One" from Romain Gauthier

“Logical One” from Romain Gauthier


This Limited Edition model features a 60 hour power reserve, push button winding and an innovative and quite unexpected chain and fusee style constant force system – and I can do no more than point you towards his web site HERE.

Wenger – Swiss Army knife stuff

Wenger is a name I haven’t heard about much since I had one of their models some years ago.  I do remember that it was actually a very good watch, though the range at that time seemed limited, in that each”Wenger” looked much the same as any other model.  Perhaps I was being unfair at the time, but checking out their stuff today I find a rejuvenated brand that sports some really neat models and worthy of a look, especially at the lower end of their price range.

Wenger Roadster 0851.106 Date watchI’m impressed too that even at this lower price, each model has Sapphire crystal and a decent Water Resistance.

This is the Wenger Roadster 0851.106, a 45mm x 12mm Stainless Steel model with military dial markings and date.  The 106 code denotes the orange 22mm silicon band (the 105 has black band).  A uni-directional PVD coated bezel surrounds the black dial and the numerals, markers and hands are luminous.  Swiss Ronda 515 Quartz movement and 100m Water Resistance. (Amazon quote Water Resistance as 50m and hardened mineral crystal – both of which are incorrect – see watch back image below).

Note 100m Water Resistance & Sapphire Coated crystal.

Wenger Commando Black Line 70172

A neat red centre seconds hand sets off the dial nicely, the end result being a very pleasing model.  The fact that this watch retails for somewhere in the £139 region to me represents good value.

The second model that takes my fancy is this really sweet “Commando” Black Line.  40mm x 11.5mm PVD and Steel case, screw down crown, 100m Water Resistance, sapphire crystal and luminous markers on the 3 hand display.  Day and Date window @3, Swiss Ronda 517-1 quartz movement plus a few color variations make this a popular model and one that certainly interests me.

The Commando Black line featured here retails for around £150 – again good value.

Wenger now have around 15 models with a whole host of variations offered and personally I’m really pleased to see this updated range, firstly as I’ve always rated their products and secondly as they do represent pretty good value, considering the excellent quality of their watches.

Finally here’s a selection of a few of their Commando and Squadron range –

Just a few Wengers froma comprehensive range
Just a few models from a comprehensive range, shows a neat line up of pretty good value for money watches that look great on the wrist.  So definitely worth a look to see what’s on offer and I reckon you won’t be disappointed with whatever model you choose.  They are certainly on my list to watch and I might just get myself another model as I actually miss not having my old one.


Briston class!

Perhaps a term to use for the quality and elegance of this new French Watch brand.  Seeing on paper is one thing but to see it close up and personal is an absolute delight!  I pulled the trigger on this one as I had a feeling this could be a gem – and I was right!   This is the Briston Clubmaster HMS Date quartz watch in Black/Khaki case/strap combination.  Wonderful hand finished Italian polished acetate (Tortoise shell) case, seamlessly integrated into a stainless steel framework and is one of the sweetest watches I’ve come across for ages!

Briston HMS date watch - black/khaki with polished acetate case

Briston HMS date watch – black/khaki with Italian polished acetate (tortoise shell) case

Measuring 40mm x 40mm x 11.7mm this cushion shaped case impresses me greatly, such is it’s soft dark Tortoise shell lustre finsh.  The highly polished stainless bezel, lugs and case frame/back are so smoothly integrated it’s like an Art Nouveau gem.

Briston fits my wrist to perfection - and looks great!

Briston fits my wrist to perfection – and looks great!

The well figured large stainless crown has twin rubber rings for added grip and it’s two positions set the time (hacking) plus the quick set date.  The matte background dial is contrasted by the quite broad but perfectly sized silver edged hour and minute hands, with luminous infills and a white center seconds hand.  White numerals at 12, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 with baton markers in between plus the date aperture @3 make up the uncluttered and very legible dial.

Luminous infill seems just fine, for a dress watch.

Luminous infill seems just fine, for a dress watch.

This model is powered by a Miyota 2315 quartz movement which is a straight forward Japan assembled unit with an accuracy of around 20 secs/month and a battery change (Silver Oxide SR626SW or Renata 377) every 3 years or so.  A sensible choice in my opinion as these are very reliable and also not a problem if replacement is ever required.  The Crystal is a 2.3mm thick domed mineral glass and the model has a 100m Water Resistance rating.

Seamless case/acetate fit shows high quality finish

Seamless case/acetate fit shows high quality finish

The stainless steel back is a screw down type and again everything is seamless and smooth, it’s almost as if it was one piece.   Others should take note!

Clubmaster screw back shows Swiss Design & perfect fit

Clubmaster screw back shows Swiss Design & perfect fit

The supplied khaki NATO strap is 20mm wide and approx 245 in length and the case having standard lugs will accept almost any strap you care to name without difficulty.
I particularly like this colour combination of the polished stainless steel bezel, lugs and back, framed by the brown lustrous tortoise acetate and all against the khaki colour of the strap – just does it for me.

Receiving the watch was actually a nice experience, if I can say that, as the box has a soft touch white finish and opened with the little red ribbon pull, reveals the watch elegantly presented on a broad mounting pad.  Also inside is the Instruction Booklet in French and English with the 2yr Guarantee incorporated on the back page.

Briston box is also an elegant affair without being pretentious

Briston box is also an elegant affair without being pretentious

So am I pleased?

Yes! in fact VERY pleased and delighted with this purchase – it is certainly one of the sweetest watch models I’ve seen for years!  In fact a breath of fresh air from a new Watch Company just has to be good!

For wearing it’s equally as good as a dress watch or as a daily.  It costs around £130 in the UK (HERE) from Twisted Time and for me, the use of that perfectly finished and shaped acetate, is an absolute design triumph and the overall concept is arguably well above it’s price point.

I have to assume the chronograph versions are every bit as good and I’m sorely tempted already – maybe a new collection starting?

Note –  The Briston Clubmaster Chronograph model is also available from Twisted Time here in the UK.   Whilst it uses the same design concept and a similar quality of movement (Miyota OS21 Chronograph quartz), I would maybe question it as regards value for money, as the cheapest version is more expensive at around £200 (other versions more).
Now they are nice, of that there is no question, but whereas my date version is in my opinion really good value, I’m not quite so sure the same can be said of the Chrono.  The same colour scheme as my Date model for example is £215.

Auctions – full of surprises!

Well it was one of those days where you manage to do what you said you’d never do – and that’s impulse bidding at an auction.  I mean there you are zeroing in on that little vintage model you’ve been after for ages, the estimate is £80 to £140 and you’ve got the cash in your pocket and Bam!  the bids suddenly thick and fast between 5 or 6 phone lines and the internet goes cosmic, through the roof and so far above your budget that you feel really quite inadequate – out of your league.  And before you know it, your day, full of expectations that it was, is no more.   Gone in a flash of someone else’s money and your item well out of reach.

Then, would you believe it and before you can even go off for a shell-shocked sulk and a cup of coffee, the next item’s up and, Hello? one that you’d never even noticed, such was your tunnel vision towards the previous one – and suddenly there’s this absolute gem – it’s there – right in front of you. . . .Gerald02xc

Wow – I’ve been looking for any one of HIS – for ages!  And the estimate is what?  That’s not too bad you know – just maybe I could wing it and swing it!  Then you think – oh oh, what’s wrong with it?  Maybe it’s a “come and buy me” estimate to lead you on . . But no time to check it out . .  . damn . . . .

Nothing much said in the description and that estimate seems awfully low, so big decision – do I take the chance?

And looking around I don’t see that anybody else has actually spotted it either – after all I didn’t, sandwiched as it was between the big boys or should I say the big name boys, because that’s what the Dealers here were obviously snapping up – to resell at  inflated big City prices to their retail suited pals.   You know the usual Omega (there are soooo many of the darned things), the Rolex’s (are they really that good?) and then Tag and the Muller – you get my drift.  But this one is just, well, sitting there, almost hidden by the weight of the buzz names – so maybe . . . just maybe . . . .

Sod it! – I’ll have a go – what’s to lose?

Well the first bid is just plain silly, derisory really and after that it basically just creeps up.   This in itself can be deceiving as it could suddenly take off, but sometimes, just sometimes it bombs and often without a reserve somebody gets themselves a real bargain.  And that’s my hope here.  So wary of that possibility I quickly jump in don’t I – I mean it’s the obvious thing to do – because – you never know . . . and then, bid, bid, bid and before you know it – it’s all over and the auctioneer is looking at the buyer, saying SOLD to . . . . . and I’m looking around me like an idiot – SOLD to – as I catch his eye – Yes! it is – Moi!   Yours truly  – as I fumble with my auction “paddle” which was stuck in my jacket, ripping the pocket as I struggled to get hold of it and hold it up!

Wow!  This is just so brilliant.  I’ve just paid …..HOW MUCH? ( I can still hear the echo from my Wife’s shriek!) for something NOT on the menu – and the lot number, whatever it was is off the large screen and the auction is going on without me.  Is this a dream or what?  And was that my bank manager smirking as he turned away at the back of the auction house – I’m sure it was . . . . I never knew he even went to auctions . . .!

Anyway – it was no dream and you might just wonder what on earth I bought after all this excitement.  Well here’s a clue or two . . . .

The watch was designed and signed by a guy who was perhaps one the best designers of watches – ever.   In 1966 he designed the Universal Geneve Golden shadow range of watches, then in 1972 designed the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and in 1976 the Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, then cases and dials of the Omega’s Constellation and Seamaster watches.  So quite a pedigree!  He also contributed to the designs for the Ingéneur, The Pasha Cartier and the 222 Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Chopard, and so on and on . . . .

He had his own Watch Company from 1981 till 1998 and another from 2001 under a different name.   All his watch models are quirky, unique and novel, very technical and high specification and often quite expensive.  Octagonal cases he particularly liked and played around with, even producing a Mickey Mouse model or two just for fun.

My model was from 1995 so bang in the middle of his best production period – and it’s actually quite rare!  There’s only a handful been sold at auctions in the last 10 years and this one changed hands twice before it got to me.  In fact apparently not many were produced, so is very much a limited model.   So I better check this out – now in my hand.

OK, the watch goes as soon as it’s touched – always a good sign.  The quick date pusher works perfectly – OK.  Oh oh – the alarm stem is and feels completely disconnected, so no rotation of the alarm disc, winding or setting- OK?  BUT – maybe I don’t understand how to set the alarm.  Often these watches have a sequence to follow to move the alarm set pointer – so I’ll have to investigate further before passing judgment.  The case is in very good condition – a tiny dint in the sapphire glass – OK,  a screw missing from the stainless steel back (should be six only 5) – OK and the original leather strap (with tolerable wear) and deployment is for a large wrist – OK.  Soo it all looks fixable . . . . . .Phew!

So after all that – here are a few images of my impulse buy.

Gerald Genta Bartolomeo Stainless Automatic Alarm Calendar.

Gerald Genta Bartolomeo
Stainless Automatic Alarm Calendar.

Bartolomeo 40mm diameter Alarm on the wrist

Bartolomeo 40mm diameter Alarm on the wrist

So this is a Gerald Genta Bartolomeo Alarm Calendar watch with slate dial, gold filled numerals and markers, gold hour, minute and seconds hands plus a GG logo in gold on the red tipped Alarm pointer.

The Alarm function is by a central rotating disk and operated  and set by the secondary capped 3 position Crown at between 1 & 2 o’clock.

The watch has an automatic Omega Cal.980 movement so no winding required.  The time is set by the main capped Crown at 3 o’clock.  A Date aperture is between 3 & 4 o’clock and there is a quick set date adjuster just below the 2 o’clock position on a raised Crown mount in the form of a small pusher.

The dial indicators are luminous filled (perhaps Tritium) and the gold colored bezel is secured with 4 screws.  The crystal is sapphire and slightly domed.  The watch case appears to be stainless steel as is the back with 6 securing screws and serial & model details inscribed plus the Gerald Genta logo.   The Gerald Genta original T bar leather strap has a signed stainless steel double deployment clasp and the watch diameter is around 40mm ex. crowns.

A point to note is the case materials used are not known.   I’m unable to find detailed information on this model, so whether stainless, gilt or solid gold, the case and bezel materials are a bit of a mystery.  Without metal marks I assume a stainless steel case and unknown bezel.   However and whatever, the price I paid is still a pleasant surprise.   The very few previous auction sales I’ve seen for this model have been considerably higher, though metal specification obviously a factor.   But I’m pretty happy and a bit of a bargain considering it’s quite a rare model, so I’m really pleased with my impulse buy!

Gerald Genta watches are an iconic brand and to actually have one is an unexpected surprise and a pleasure – and my Wife has forgiven me since she set eyes on it – she liked it as much as I do.