There’s Rolex and there’s . . .

. . . Rolex!

I suppose I must be in the minority, as for me Rolex watches are just not my favourite watch, though perhaps I should qualify this by saying “modern” Rolex models.

Modern but not for me!

Modern maybe, but not for me!

The older model such as the 1981 Rolex 1006 or perhaps the 1979 Submariner 5513 for example, or models that were basically around until the mid 1990’s I’d say, were and are still are the best of the bunch for me personally.  In fact the earlier vintages are much better in all cases for me.

Since then nothing has really appealed.  From then till now a sort of “sameness” seems to have occurred and no amount of tinkering with the models has altered my perception.  That said maybe the Cellini models are a step in the right direction, reflecting as they do some of those early models, but today’s mainstream models do nothing for me and especially the Sub this and the Mariner that range.

1950's Rolex two tone thunderbird bezel classic

1950’s Rolex two tone thunderbird bezel classic

It’s also true to say in my opinion anyway that maybe back in those pre-1990 days there wasn’t the same overbearing hype surrounding the Brand and folks who owned these Rolex models, actually appreciated the watch for what it was and not for the silly “I’ve got a Rolex” status symbol.

And in the early vintage days there were so many wonderful variants and styles that you were spoiled for choice and certainly to get one today will set you back a fair amount of cash, so perhaps I’ve created a rod for my own back, as these vintages are indeed the only models that attract me – and attract me they do!

1940 steel red centre sweep seconds - luminous hands

1940 steel red centre sweep seconds – luminous hands

Seems to me these days too many wearers seem far more interested in being seen with the big shiny “Rolex ” on their wrist, than in the attributes or otherwise of the particular model.
They value the status over the product – in other words the Brand, dare I say it, has gone too far and become synonymous with Bling.  And yes I accept – expensive Bling at that!

A bit like the UK expression “Oh my other car’s a Mercedes” when someone queried your 4 year old Volvo.  It’s the status aspect that assumes importance and the interest and not actually the car at all.

And that is surely a real shame as Rolex are a very good Brand indeed, but I see at Auction, people who obviously wouldn’t know a Rolex from a plastic kitchen clock, buying by description.  They just have to buy one – because they believe incredibly if they own one, they’ve made it!  They are now one of the elite – yes one of the “I’ve got a Rolex” brigade.

The sheer number of Rolex watches that come up for sale and offered on the market from Pawnbroker stocks, is staggering.  Usually dumped by those same folks who bought the watch as a status symbol in the first place and one of the first items to go, when financial reality comes home to roost.

There are so many of them, Rolex’s I mean – the market is awash with them and there are also thousands of fakes sloshing around.  Some Replicas these days look as good as the real thing.  Now that says to me, either the fakes are getting very much better or the Rolex itself is becoming old hat and boring – and I’m not really sure which.

So I’ll stick to my classic Vacheron Constantins, Pateks, Jaegers and yes to my true “vintage” Rolex models if I may.

1928 Rolex rectangular exploded numerals with sub seconds.

1928 Rolex rectangular exploded numerals with sub seconds.

Now they certainly don’t have the over-hyped status appeal of the big shiny modern Rolex, but do have a certain old “Classic” sophistication and that’s fine by me.  They are sleek, comfortable and discrete and with a subtle elegance and charm that usually goes un-noticed on my wrist.

And furthermore I have to say I’m actually rather pleased in the knowledge of ownership and when confronted with the Rolex bling – and it happens so, so often – I just smile to myself – quietly . . . . . .

However recently on a river cruise in Europe, I was at dinner and one of my companions who was wearing the biggest shiniest Rolex I’ve ever seen, did actually notice my watch which was just visible at my cuff.  In fact he always seemed to make a point of trying to see the watches of his fellow travellers.

‘You didn’t buy that on board did you?’ he commented.  ‘It looks real neat’.

‘It’s an old Rolex’, I said.

‘Rolex! Well it sure doesn’t look like one’, he said.

‘Ah well’, I replied, ‘there’s Rolex and there’s Rolex’.

NoteThe images of the vintage Rolex are from and are featured on www.vintagewatchcompany.com web site and are currently available for sale.  The vintagewatchcompany have the widest range of pre-owned Rolex and well worth a look.  Who knows you may be tempted!

“Keep it forever” watch?

So what’s your “keep it forever” watch?  Do you have one?  Are you even lucky enough to have one?

Mine is a no brainer – it’s my old 1999 Breitling Aerospace Titanium – and for me there’s nothing to touch it.  Some of my other models come close, true, but nothing beats it.

Breitling Aerospace Minute Repeater 1998 vintage

Breitling Aerospace Minute Repeater 1999 vintage

For me it has one of the best dial layouts you will ever see.  Easy to read analog with that so clever overhang minute hand, but also superb clarity of digital (and not many watches manage both I can tell you).  Still after 16 years a decent luminous analog even with such narrow and fine hands and on wrist is both light and slim (later models are larger and thicker).  And I can’t agree with those that say Titanium doesn’t last or it scratches badly, as this watch shows today as good as it was when I bought it.  It IS smooth I admit so there is obviously some wear there, but it’s simply smoothed those brand new edges and has mellowed with wrist/clothing wear and time.  Like that old penknife that’s worn smooth in your hand, but always with you.

I love the fact that under that extreme anti-reflective Sapphire crystal and clear window, sits that highly unusual LCD screen with it’s a polarization-sensitive dichroic filter.  This allows the LCDs to display in “inverted mode”, which in turn gives that wonderfully clear and bright “gold” text on the dark background – so good in any light.  And as quartz movements go this Breitling customized ETA module is very accurate.

The solid link Ti bracelet still operates perfectly even after 16 years and is so smooth to wear it’s the most comfortable watch I own.  Whether used as a dress watch or a practical outdoor watch it fits the bill every time and looks good!

OK It’s not Solar, but to change the battery every 5 or 7 years is no big deal and with a small amount of lubricant on the rubber seal, during the change, the 100 m Water Resistance remains intact.

This is absolutely my No.1 “keep forever” watch.

Of course we all have different ideas on what features a watch should have, though many folks go for the latest, or the most complicated function wise, regardless of the basic requirements that perhaps more honestly we actually might use.

A good tip (I think so anyway) is that for a “keep it forever” watch you would be well advised to look at Diver’s models, as these can easily be the most practical watches you will ever buy AND at reasonable cost.

Lot's of Divers - all super clear, Water Resistant, Tough, luminous and difficult to beat.

Lot’s of Divers – all super clear, Water Resistant, Tough, luminous and difficult to beat.

I have over a dozen models and quite a few meet not only my personal criteria (Easy to read, good Water Resistance, Luminous, Tough), but could well be that “once in a lifetime” model that never leaves your wrist.  These can be mechanical or quartz, Solar or not, some with Date and Day and some you could knock nails in with!

My Breitlng Areospace - taken today where it usually is - on my wrist.

My vintage 1999 Breitlng Areospace – image taken today where it usually is – on my wrist.

Now just to sort out you doubters about the condition of my old Breitling – just to be clear – this image above was taken 2 minutes ago on my wrist and as I Post.  Still looking good and probably if being entirely honest with myself and considering I collect watches (why do I do it?), maybe and truly this is the only watch I should have.  It suits me and does everything I need (and more actually), and does it all subtly and without fuss and fits my wrist size perfectly – What more can you ask?

Analog value

For pure value there’s not much to touch the digital range from Casio, but of course they also make Analog watches too – or had we forgotten.

Casio MRW200H-BVEF 100m Water Resistance Day and Date with lume - pretty good!

Casio MRW200H-BVEF 100m Water Resistance Day and Date with lume – pretty good!

And here they offer quite incredible value AND a reliability that probably no other Brand can achieve at this price point.  Here’s one that caught my eye – the MRW-200H-1BVEF,  basically as it is a Day AND date display watch AND it features luminous hands (another feature that so many of the cheap alternatives out their can’t seem to offer).

Casio have a few different color/style options of the same basic watch (MRW-200HC-4BVEF etc), so can just about match anyones preferences, which has to be good marketing.

Same again but with Red Resin strap.  Also available in black/green combination.

Same again but with Red Resin strap. Also available in black/green combination.

This model also manages a decent 100 m Water Resistance, which reinforces their very sound resin case, seal and metal back set up, which is both simple and effective.

And at these prices it’s difficult (I’d say impossible actually) to see what if anything offers better value.

These are presently on offer for around the £15.00 mark!

Now be honest – that’s just incredible value for a watch that is NOT a junior effort, but a decent 44.6 mm diameter with a rather neat 11.6 mm thickness – should look great on any wrist.

Vector – It’s about time.

Smart watches are becoming the “must” item to wear and the technology is sweeping forward despite the severe battery limitations, which have sadly not yet been resolved.

Vector Luna - the discrete Smart watch

Vector Luna – the discreet Smart watch

However a different approach has been championed by the Vector smart watch brand as in the case of the Luna model shown here.  Sticking with limited functions and a monochrome display, no touch screen and conventional “watch” pushers, this model manages 30 days easily.

It also displays the Time permanently, so is a proper watch, a discreet Smart watch if you will and that’s a concept that appeals to me.  I also love the fact it looks like a watch, behaves like a watch and doesn’t need charged every few days.  The fact that within the top (the CEO no less) management of the company is ex Timex, explains much of the “this is a watch” concept and means a watch at 42 mm diameter by 11 mm depth should fit most wrists.  A hardened mineral crystal and 50 metres Water Resistance also adds confidence on the model’s longevity.

Vector Luna - bracelet or strap versions

Vector Luna – bracelet or strap versions

Smart applications include Notifications from your Smart Phone, be it iPhone, Android or indeed Windows and such a choice is highly commendable in comparison to others.  A few different alternative watch faces, calendar reminders, basic activity tracking and basic alarms and so on are available and can be customized to a certain extend by the Vector App which resides on your phone.  In short it manages to provide you with features that you might actually use and not a silly mass of images and functionality that you  a) don’t really need and  b) drain your battery.

Vector App stream for Phone - easy to use and operate.

Vector App stream for Phone – easy to use and operate.

A refreshing change I’d say and shows us a Company with a clear vision of what they want from their product, unlike some, who throw in the kitchen sink regardless of practicality or battery usage concerns.

It’s also early days with Vector and I’m sure that subsequent versions will refine the functionality, features and display capability, hopefully without endangering the usability of the watch.

I like it.

Prices range from around £200 to £340, which seems to me to be pretty competitive – and there’s nothing to touch it out there for battery life – so Hey! it’s not a bad deal!

Note – As you will no doubt have figured out, I’ve not been a great advocate of the so called “Smart” watches and in particular at the stage these seems to be at.  I’ve always been of the opinion that we the buyer are financing development costs for products that are still at the “work in progress” stage.  However with the Vector some sense has prevailed and this is a watch which manages to give the wearer firstly a watch, then some sensible connectivity to most cell Phone systems with functions that we might actually use.

But as ever technology marches on and in the case of Smart technology the march has turned into a rush – so what next?  Tomorrow, next week . . . . . Time will tell.