Mondia Grande

Always on the lookout for different models and brands from what I consider non-mainstream and here is one I particularly like – the Mondia Grande Montre Automatic Chronograph.

Mondia Grande Montre Auto Chrono - Gents

Mondia Grande Montre Auto Chrono – Gents

This model like many in the Mondia range has a touch of Italian style which I’ve usually found to be rather attractive and yes – stylish.  The watch has a 25 jewel Swiss Valjoux 7750 automatic movement with a 30 minute elapsed time sub-dial @12 and a 12 hour elapsed time sub-dial @6 plus a Date aperture also @6 within the sub-dial.

The case is 316L Stainless Steel with 5ATM Water Resistance plus an Anti-scratch resistant mineral crystal.  The dimensions are 40mm wide, 45mm lug to lug and 13mm depth.  The black outlined hands are luminous infilled, there is a black centre seconds sweep hand and the dial has neat blue markers, the combination of which gives the dial great clarity.  I also like the fact that the push buttons are oval and not those sticky out things that seem so old fashioned.

In essence it is a very stylish model, practical and yet dressy and one that I certainly would have no trouble wearing myself.  The price is maybe upper mid range for me but at around £795 UK it seems to give good value and being off mainstream, your friends might be that little bit envious.

“Squad” Lookin’ back (3yrs)

This is a bit of a reprise which I do every so often.  Taking one of my watch models after a few years of living with me (which is not easy – according to my better half) I have a look to see how it’s held up and the one in question today is my lovely German Laco 1925 “Squad” quartz model (86 2014)

Laco Quartz "Squad" model after 3 years.

Laco Quartz “Squad” model 86 2014 after 3 years.

Looks as good as the day I got it I have to say and is one that does get a fair bit of wrist time as it’s so comfortable on it’s third party Silicon deployment band.

Laco tend to make more Automatic models than quartz, but bang for buck their quartz models really take some beating.  One of the reasons and their are a few, that I like Laco, is their good quality build and choice of movements, quartz or otherwise.  This neat 40mm x 9mm Squad variety has the excellent Swiss Quartz ETA F06.111, tucked away nicely in the very well made and solid brushed stainless steel case with it’s slightly oversize anti-clockwise unidirectional and beautifully milled bezel.  An excellent AR coated mineral crystal makes the dial clarity something special as the matt black is in high contrast to the highly luminous hour markers and Superluminova C3 hands.

Laco Superluminov C3 - simply the best at night.

Laco Superluminov C3 – simply the best at night.

This in fact one of the best luminous watches I own and assisted by the rather long minute hand which makes reading the time at night so easy.  (Breitling managed the same trick by instead extending the minute hand past the pivot point).  The second hand luminous DOT as you see in the image also shows very clearly in total darkness as does the Divers bezel DOT.

The case design is also slightly different in that it features a “bullhead” style, with the screw down crown @12 and cleverly protected by the great articulated lugs, which in turn make this watch easily worn on the smallest wrists amongst us.  I wish others would use this idea as it is so simple and effective.  The Date window @6 is small yet the choice of font and size plus the excellent contrast is surprisingly easy to see.

Water resistance is very good at 200 metres, assisted by the screw down crown.  A luminous dot on the bezel is another typical divers touch.  Though as said I did change the band as the Divers style one wasn’t for me – being too aggressive on the wrist – fine for a neoprene suit but against my old wrist, not so great.  The alternative silicon deployment one is perfect and having standard lug/strap fitting was a simple replacement.

Laco with articulated lugs on the wrist.

Laco with articulated lugs on the wrist.

Laco make fine watches and have done so since 1925 (hence the Logo) and tend more specialist in Pilot style models.  Others do copy, such as the Aeromatic brand but take it from me, not in the same league.  You can find Laco easily with a simple Google search and they have a pretty decent range of models, though to find a quartz one is not quite so easy and as a price to quality ratio they are in my opinion pretty hard to beat.

I suppose this is a testament to the fact that on the whole I do look after my watches, unlike a few friends of mine it has to be said, who sometimes show me their older models and I have to suspect they kept them in a toolbox full of nails!  and shook them around every day! such is the state of them.  Fortunately I never trade with any of them!  😉



The elegant watch (8)

Once again I’ve chosen a watch model that represents not only a traditional elegance but also a masterpiece of Swiss watchmaking, the Laurent Ferrier Geneve Galet Traveller.  This first appeared back in 2013 but as so often the case with true elegance models, is still as relevant today as it will be in 100 years.

Laurent Ferrier Geneve Galet Traveller classic

Laurent Ferrier – Geneve – Galet Traveller classic

This particular model is quite unique in it’s approach to dual or world time and use an interesting complication which at the same time is very simple to use.  A single press using one of the two oblong push buttons on the left side of the case move the central hand forwards + or backwards -.  At the same time the Date @3 automatically changes at midnight, to reflect your new setting, and the subtle 24hr Date @9 shows your true Home Time day and position.

The case is either white or red gold and the solid silver dial is in midnight blue with those elegant hour and minute hands plus a sub dial seconds @6. Note the centre of the dial is vertically brushed compared to the circular brushed minute ring, such is the attention to detail.A self winding automatic calibre with an offset micro rotor which encompasses the dual time functionality took over 2 years to fully develop, such is the technical challenge of this movement.  Accuracy is exceptional and is certified Chronometer by Besancon Observatory.Each year another masterpiece appears from this excellent maker, though if you have to ask the cost, then you are unlikely to be able to afford it.  But when you consider such a timepiece with many of today’s resin cased quartz complication watches – well there’s simply no comparison at all, for this watch is timeless perfection and as a collector – wow!  (just checked my Stocks – and things are not looking good!)  😦

Power play . . .

Had posted this in my “Commentary” section but got so hooked into it, I just had to Post it here as a leader and prompted by the silly hype being generated by that latest smartwatch from Apple.

14th October 2014 (reprinted from Commentary)

Just saw an article, one of many actually, that boasts that the introduction of the Apple Smart Watch will threaten the Swiss watch industry.  It seems to base this premise on what exactly? that in comparison to the new Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert model which as they say, has a Compass, Altimeter, Barometric Pressure, Timers, Chronograph and tells you the time – the Apple does all sorts of super things like “open your hotel room door” and pay for goods and services.  The inference being that the Apple watch is better?

Well for me that just about says it all.  The Apple Watch and all the other smart watches appear do all sorts of “stupid” things and just a few OK ones besides – I mean I tend to use a key or key card issued by the hotel to open the door . . . . though I can see why this fact might be important as you will certainly have to get to a power point in less than a day to charge your so called “Smart” Watch.

And this is the HUGE problem with these things.  Power or the lack of it and especially with all the wonderful “things” you can do with it.  And as to payment for everything with a watch?  If I remember correctly some time ago Apple came out with this Passbook system, which was an e-ticketing/coupon sort of payment idea, which here in the UK was a total disaster.  In fact the poor take up figures already show we don’t even like using that horrible “Proximity Card” idea for paying for your shopping in the supermarket, as they are both insecure and unreliable as many cases prove and the new Apple smart payment idea appears to be very similar.

However when you get down to it, the “smart” watch actually does very little, if anything, on it’s own.  It has to connect to a compatible phone or perhaps “smart” phone, which also incidentally needs to be charged virtually every day as well, so you can check messages or Emails or whatever else the modern guy seems to imagine he has to have.  I personally call it all a bit of a con!  Is it to much trouble just to check your phone in your pocket? and then you can properly answer without severe eye strain.

Perpetuated by Apple and the rest of the “smart hand communicator” makers, each bombarding you with an deluge of sales litter, just to get you to buy their products but also to then rely on them.  Plus trying very hard to make sure their devices only talk to their own brand and then have to charge them with their bespoke charger connector (each new model = different connector) just to make you buy a new one every darned time.

As I say a very big con!  And cynic that I am it appears the cost of all this a pretty blatant and deliberate ploy to get you to pay their development costs for what are let’s face it, less than complete products.  In fact until they can provide Solar “smart” watches in my view they are wasting your and their money.

Meanwhile with my Tissot Solar Swiss Watch I’m still able to tell the time and the date and use my compass the next day or next week or next month and for many, many years!  As the title piece said in this article and I repeated here, my wrist watch is “solar” – no battery worries and even if left in a dark drawer, it will still be working a year later and never miss a beat.  Now I don’t know about you, but I call that SMART . . .! Very smart.

Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert Swiss Watch.  Also a "Smart" watch!

Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert Swiss Watch. Also a “Smart” watch!

Interestingly as I look at the back of my own Tissot Solar Expert Swiss watch it actually states “Smart Watch” (see image – click to enlarge) which says to me – the Swiss know a thing or two about wrist watches.  I have a feeling that a good watch, mechanical hand wind, automatic, spring drive, Quartz Eco-drive or plain Solar will still be around long after the so called “smart” watch has corroded away to Lithium dust, which won’t do you much good either!



Swatch choices

As everyone knows the Swatch watch is a bit of a collectors buzz.  Watches that have color and whacky design features but that never stray off the fact that these are – watches.  Their almost always easy to read, easy to ear and easy on the pocket.  Some folks of course wouldn’t wear those cheap looking plastic things on their wrists if you paid them – but conversely will wear the latest G-Shock which if course if made from – you guessed it – plastic resin.  However one of the good things about Swatch models is that invariably they do actually feature decent Swiss made quartz modules and some are surprisingly good.  I am not going to talk about their new System 51 Automatic mechanical range, which I will touch on in a later Post.

Swatch xxSpeed model Chronograph Date watch.

Swatch xxSpeed model Chronograph Date watch.

Now I’m not a collector of Swatch (not their branded watches anyway, though I have Brands that are part of the Swatch group, though really feel I should be, being eclectic in my choices, so perhaps I’ll look at these a bit closer and maybe get one or two, just for fun.

I’ve picked out three I like the look of and here they are –

First is the Swatch xxSpeed Chronograph & Date model which is the largest one I’ve selected at 42mm width x 14mm depth.  It features as expected a Plastic case, Silicon strap and plastic clasp and buckle and a Swiss Quartz movement.  It also in the price range of under £100 at around £70 online, so is pretty decent value for money.  I feel when considering sub £100 models that each should be more than just a watch telling the time.  I like it to be as practical as possible, so tend to specify a Date function as a minimum requirement and this one has a bonus with the Chronograph.

Swatch "Once Again" model with White on Black.

Swatch “Once Again” model with White on Black.

Swatch SUOB709 Date Date

Swatch SUOB709 Date Date

Second is the Swatch “Once Again” White dial on black strap model GB743 and this is a very neat watch at just 33mm x 10mm depth, so is very much Unisex I suppose, but is a really clear reader AND has not just the Date but also the Day – AND magnified too, which is a good feature on a small watch.  It has Luminous hands and once again a plastic case and silicon strap, 30m Water Resistance and weighs in at a featherweight 18 gms and is quite striking on the wrist with the stark white/black contrast.  Swiss Quartz movement of course and costs around £32 online.

SUOB709 showing Battery hatch on rear.

SUOB709 showing Battery hatch on rear.

The third and final model in this selection is the Swatch AUOB709 Day and Date and is the medium sized one here, also a Day and Date unmagnified this time, but very clear with it’s contrasting colorway and luminous hands.  41mm x 10mm depth it is quite slim so will fit the wrist rather well. even if small.

So decent Swiss quartz and all for just £47 it is as the others and pretty decent value and all three I think look pretty half decent on the wrist and regardless of what you are doing – out and about or dressed to kill and off to dinner in the old Tux!  And because they are liberally spread about in the celebrity world and used by so many these days, they are always in fashion.

And that’s always a good trick if you can do it . . . .

Note – The original Swatch Watch concept came into it’s own in 1983 and started a revolution in the Swiss Watch Industry when they used just 51 parts system in quartz models and a fully automated assembly line production process.  This resulted in an amazing and very affordable range of models.



Thirty years later Swatch have expanded that idea and produced another breakthrough by introducing  the Sistem51, which applies to not to quartz models but to mechanical movement watches.  This is an Automatic (self winding – no batteries) movement with just 51 parts – total!  Comprising 5 separate modules which are welded into a single unit and centered on a single screw. When you consider that conventional mechanical movements have at least twice that number of components and some 500 or 600, it is again a revolution in watchmaking.  This series of watches and the customers also benefit from being possibly the first fully automated assembly process in the World.

Like most automatics the movement is wound by the movement of your wrist, but unconventionally the watch is also now hermetically sealed and is anti-magnetic too with the use of copper, zinc alloy and nickel AND the watch never needs serviced AND it has a huge 90-hour Power Reserve!

This of course sounds great, though personally I’m disappointed by the first range of the Sistem51 models which dial wise I find difficult to read owing to too much dial clutter.  This is a pity as this has nothing to do with the amazing movement concept at all, but rather a careless and poor design of dial features and colors etc.

Hopefully this will change with new models coming out as I write and I hope to feature a few in a future Post.

Note – All watches featured in this Post are Quartz and NOT Sistem51 which are automatic mechanical watches and which I hope to feature in a future Post.

And here’s some more Quartz Swatch models –

Swatch "Summer Socks" SUON110 quartz

Swatch “Summer Socks” SUON110 quartz – Approx £45 online.

Swatch "Generation 31" with Date indicator. Model SUOW400

Swatch “Generation 31” with Date indicator. Model SUOW400 – Approx £47 online

Swatch "Dr Swatson" Chrono and Date model in Aluminium. Model: YCM006AG

Swatch “Dr Swatson” Chrono and Date model in Aluminium. Model: YCM006AG – Approx £115 online.

Quartz favorites

As an eclectic collector of watches the subject of favorites is always somewhat fluid, simply because my collection changes.  Some models are sold on, others bought and so my “favorites” might change over the years, though I confess that over the last few years my two favorite Quartz models have remained unchanged.  However with my latest addition of the Tissot Expert T-Touch Solar, I might have to make it three favorites, though it will still be on probation as it were.  It takes time for any watch model to gain this exalted position and I’ll see how it fares in 6 months time.  I know my two firm favorites will still be there, but will the Tissot?

Anyway here are my two established favorites and with the reasons (to me) of why they are my favorites.

My Quartz favorites - The Breitling Aerospace and the Citizen AT World Time

My Quartz favorites – The Breitling Aerospace and the Citizen AT World Time

The first, on the left, is my Breitling Aerospace model that I bought about 15 years ago and effectively my daily beater ever since.  It’s well traveled, having been around the world a few times and often in places that you wouldn’t send your dog.  A fitting testament to the longevity of a Titanium case and solid bracelet is that it still looks great!  It has one bezel screw missing I note and I’m pretty sure that was when I had it in for a service some years ago, though I never noticed until about 6 months ago.  The sapphire crystal is unmarked with not even the tiniest scratch on it and the casing and bracelet seem almost as new.  I do note the bezel has a smoothness to it which has to be cuff wear (if you could call that wear) and that’s about the only thing that says it’s not showroom.
Why I bought it in the first place was that this was a multi-function model with only a single crown (I don’t like much the conventional chronograph pushers) and the dial clarity stood out even in the shop window.  The fact that the deceptively exterior hides a really good digital function set and a high quality movement was of course the true bonus.  In fact I’d set this against any of today’s quartz models.
It’s over a year since I last adjusted this which was during the Winter to Summer Time change and instead of just moving the Hour, I corrected the time as well and checking it today, it’s running just 32 seconds fast – and that’s impressive.

Breitling Aerospace Quartz - one of the clearest dials you'll ever see.

Breitling Aerospace Quartz – one of the clearest dials you’ll ever see.

However back to the watch – First the standard dial view shows the Time in analog and I have it set to show the Day and Date on the highly visible Fluorescent digital display.  Using the center crown you can show the Seconds plus Date, the Time in Hours, Minutes and Seconds, Alarm Time, Chronograph, Dual Time or T2 in Hrs/Mins/Secs, and Timer.  When setting the Time, this is done via the crown which has both turn and push functions and the analog hands follow as required.  Each function is accompanied by an icon/text on the upper digital display to confirm your selection and all functions are selected and controlled by that single Crown.
For night use the hands, indices and numerals are coated in excellent and effective luminous material, though there is no back light so there is no digital vision in the dark.  However I only ever want to see the time at night so no worries for me.
The Breitling is also a very neat size at 40mm diameter and with only 9mm depth is sleek to say the least in comparison with more modern watches, even Breitling.  The Sapphire crystal with anti-reflect coatings plus the dial layout with no inner reflections make this one of the clearest watches you will ever see and the minute hand with it’s pivot overhang gives a subtle clarity when reading the time.

Probably if honest this is my absolute favorite and it certainly gets the most wrist time of all my watches.


Favorites in Quartz

Favorites in Quartz

My second “favorite” is this quartz Citizen Eco-Drive World Calendar A-T CB0020-09E and in my opinion one of the best models ever produced (and still produced) by Citizen.  It is 45mm diameter including the crown but only 11mm in depth and at 49mm lug to lug and whilst it appears larger is actually an easy fit even on small wrists.  Stainless Steel case and 200m Water Resistance with screw down crown, Radio Controlled (5 receivers) and Solar Powered (Eco-Drive) it’s a true wear and forget watch.  No battery worries, always accurate to the second and has a superb World Time analog function that’s simply unbeatable in operation.

Good luminous hands and indices, a Date aperture @3, which features a Perpetual Calendar plus a quick indicator of the Radio Control state.  It will receive a signal starting at 2am and with this particular watch even worn continuously it manages to pick up the signal every time (no need for standing on a window ledge overnight), despite a considerable distance from the nearest transmitter in Germany ( I live in Scotland).  This is a point I have noticed before when checking Casio and Citizen – the Citizens appear to have greater sensitivity.  The signal can be verified using the pusher @4, one push and the Second hand acts as a pointer and indicates on the option window @9 (yes or no) and of course there is a manual option which is – push and hold.  Summer and Winter Time adjustments are Automatic, but have an ON/Off option and if you pull the crown to position 2 it will indicate if this is selected on the small window between 4 and 5.

The Citizen AT World Time - the very best for traveling.

The Citizen AT World Time – the very best for traveling.

For travel it’s simplicity itself.  Simply pull out the center crown to position 1.  The Second hand will instantly point to your Home Time Zone (in the UK it’s London) which is noted around the fixed bezel.  The Time Zones are also marked on the outer ring within the dial.  To change the Time Zone, simply turn the crown and the seconds hand will point to the City Time Code you wish, then push in the Crown.  The analog hands will immediately move to the correct time for that Zone – and that’s it – done!  Possibly the easiest travel time setting you’ll ever meet – I love it.

Now - does the Tissot T-touch warrant a "favorite" title - well maybe time will tell . . .

Now – does the Tissot T-touch warrant a “favorite” title – well maybe time will tell . . .

My model has a very flexible Citizen rubber/silicon deployment band with a twin button release and is very comfortable and I almost forgot, IF you need to change the Date (though you should never have to as it’s Automatic and Perpetual anyway) it can be adjusted with a small pin push just above the crown.
I’ve had this watch now for 5 years and it’s never missed a beat and is as good as new – what can I say?  In fact if honest I rarely use the many functions that are available on watches these days and the Citizen does what I want.  And as I do travel a bit to various Countries even today, the Time Zone change function is perfect for me.

So for a good few years now those two have been my wearable “favorite” quartz models and I’m toying with the idea of adding the Tissot Solar T-Touch Expert – though that’s a still a “maybe” for at least the next 6 months.   But one thing I do know – the two models featured above will still be there as my quartz favorites whatever the outcome of any new acquisition and that’s a fact . . . .

Winners and Losers . . .

Well it might look the part, but does this Aeromatic Cubic Chrongraph 310A measure up to that look?  Is it a winner?

Aeromatic Cubic Chrono 310A  Quartz

Aeromatic Cubic Chrono 310A Quartz

Something that always disappoints is when I see a model with a design that’s pretty reasonable and where, as in this case, it looks quite interesting with it’s square shape, dial layout and color scheme.

I’m hoping and expecting it should be a good buy.

But unfortunately in this particular case not so in my opinion, basically as under the bonnet or hood as you guys in the West say, it seems to have been rather let down.  A Cal. VD57 Quartz movement from Hattori (Seiko) that’s available for around $25 was not what I was expecting at all.  Not even a jewel to soften the blow in this what I consider a low quality run of the mill date job with a chrono complication added on.  I have seen this in Lorus a couple of times and it just doesn’t do it for me.  In fact I expected better from Aeromatic.

And that’s a shame as the rest of the case, dial layout and overall look is really quite promising and with rather decent dimensions too, but that’s perhaps the problem with this Brand.  Some you win and some you lose as some models are definitely better than others and I speak from some experience, as I’ve had a few Aeromatics over the years.

In fact I still have one even now which has never put a foot wrong and I like it, though not a complication model apart from the date, it ticks along fine and has been accurate enough for me over quite a number of years.  And OK it might be a bit reflective in the dial, but overall it was very good value for money.

But this much newer Cubic effort seems to have jumped up to another price point entirely being much more expensive at around $390-$400 which is too expensive for me and considering what’s inside, difficult to justify.  Pity too as the specification on the face of it seems pretty OK too especially with the neat dimensions of 42mm x 42mm x 13mm, screw down crown and 10 atm Water Resistance.  Hardened Mineral Glass and screw back plus the chrono 1/10 seconds plus 60 min stop watch etc. and a 2 yr Warranty.

But it’s not for me I’m afraid and NOT a winner, which is a shame as I’ve always had a soft spot for Aeromatic, with their classic and pilot looks, but this one – just doesn’t do them any favors at all.  😦

Talking of winners and losers – I have to refer you to the Infantry model (ana/digi) that I reviewed a short time ago (Military Style – August 17th).  When you consider it cost UNDER $10, and even as big as it is – in comparison to this one – it is a winner.

Infantry £10 watch - an Analog/digital Winner and great value for money!

Infantry £10 watch – an Analog/digital Winner and great value for money!