Ladies Sorna Jump watch

Here’s a neat Ladies Sorna model from the 1970’s – the Sorna Jump.  Another Watch Company long gone and not too much known of them.  Swiss of course and originally from Grenchen, they used to manufacture watches under the brand names of Sorna, Sorina, Sornana and a few others with similar sounding names.  From what I can find out they disappeared in 1994, though a new Sorna in Germany today also make Trias watches.  Whether they bought the name I could not say.

Sorna ladies “Jump” watch – described as “digital” though not as we know it today.

Suffice to say, this particular model was born at the same time as the Hudsons as an attempt to stem the flow of cheaper Quartz watches from the East.  By using mechanical movements as before they hoped to tempt the buyer with a digital look but using conventional components.  Once again using Ebauche movements with hour and minute disc as opposed to hands, the hour either “jumped” into view at the last minute of the hour ended or slowly slid into view, depending on the mechanism employed.  Thus providing a “digital” watch, though not as we would know it today.

Note the high contrast numerals – easy to see on a small watch.

I like this particular model as it has the Hour highlighted in white against black.  This makes it stand out better than most especially as it is a smaller sized watch.  Note this is a reasonable manual wind movement too with 17 jewels.  Many other “jump” style watches often featured simple 1 jewel movements – so this is quite a decent watch.

Neat Sorna signed Swiss 17 jewel movement in perfect as new condition.

I have another high gloss, high colour leather strap for this watch and as my Wife is as fickle as I am regarding straps and bracelets, I won’t know until I change this bracelet to see which one will get her approval.  I can see her choosing the alternative matching blue conventional leather buckle strap – but it would be dangerous to second guess her!

Well I was right NOT to second guess, so I’ll not even show the strap –  suffice to say she picked the bracelet!

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The Hudson Instalite (by Itraco)

A few of these NOS (new old stock) models are appearing today and for a collector like me are almost a certain buy.  Watches like this from the 1970’s are slap bang in the middle of the worst period for Swiss watches as the cheap, accurate Quartz revolution from Asia hit them hard.  Often the smaller Company or suppliers could move and adapt to not only compete with this new threat but importantly still manage to utilize their existing mechanical movements.

The Hudson Instalite (by Itraco) – 17 jewel pin lever “Jump” watch.

Hence the birth of the mechanical “digital”, Digit Wheel or “Jump” watch, which managed the appearance of a Quartz digital watch, but with a more or less conventional mechanical movement.

Some were true “Jump” designs where the Hour digit only moved or “jumped” forward at the last second of the Minute Counter digit.  Others sort of gradually slid into position as the changing of the Hour approached, though these often caused a little confusion when not fully changed, being sort of stuck in no-man’s land between hours. This model falls into this category – at the hour and 55 seconds, it’s sometimes tricky to tell which hour it actually is!

Quite a few different Brands appeared at this time such as Gigandet, Damas, Lanco, Lasser and others.

The Hudson Instalite “Jump” hour – actually minimalist in construction, but very 1970’s.

The model featured here was sold for retail by Hudson for the US market, though the Brand was actually manufactured by Itraco of Zurich (Itraco, Samba & Hudson) and features the Ebauches Bettlach EB8461 17 jewel pin lever mechanical wheel digit movement with a pretty decent 40hr reserve .

The Hudson Watch Co. was registered by Antoine Castelberg of Chaux-de-Fonds and New York in 1884.  Other names were marketed via Hudson in the early 1970’s, such as Adelphi, Carlton, Gisa, Globe, J Godat Geneve and others.  In fact the list of “lost” names and Brands is extensive and to be certain of who made what, or who sold what and under what name and where and at that time is a near impossible task.

Suffice to say, this model is the Hudson logo’d Instalite model, which I consider one of the better ones.  I have also seen the same watch with “Fashion-Time” and “Secory” and apart from slight cosmetic changes are obviously the same model.  I understand that one of those variations did alter the movement to give that true “jump” hour and I have a feeling the movement was also an EB movement but calibre 8481 series.

The battery access for the “Instalite” accessed via this left sliding hatch. Access to the movement requires the back removed. The “slots” are simply grips to assist in sliding.

The term “Instalite” is in reference to the battery powered dial light which illuminates the dial digits rather well in this case and operated via the push button @1 above the central crown.  The battery is easily accessible via the dark colored plastic sliding rear cover, which is separate from the movement, which itself can be seen only with the entire 2 piece metal “snap” back removed.
Various movements from Ebauches Bettlach were used in this model depending on the year, but all are similar in operation.  It’s fair to say Bettlach E after amalgamating many of the independent Swiss makers as a defence against the Quartz revolution, were focused more on the lower end.  Historically Ebauches Bettlach SA was formed in 1926 and ended in 1980 as it finally merged into the Swatch Group under ETA, which aligned pretty much with Bettlach’s core aim from it’s inception. ( for details see under – https://www.watch-wiki.net/index.php?title=Ebauches_SA ).

Fits the wrist pretty well and very readable too. I have fitted a complimentary leather strap.

I have a few of these “jump” models, as for me they represent an important yet too easily forgotten milestone in the Swiss watch history – and many are rather unique and cleverly innovative for the time.  They really provided a stopgap rescue for much of the Industry at a time where the Swiss Watch industry as a whole was under serious threat.

I hope the images show to best advantage, these intriguing watches which by the way are a delight to wear.  The size is ideal and they sit well on the wrist, even an average one such as mine (6.5″).
This watch came with an after market steel mesh bracelet, but if you read this site regularly you will know I just love changing straps and bracelets to see the effect.  It can sometimes make or break the wear-ability and often is surprising, which is half the fun!  As shown I have fitted a brown leather strap which softens the look and for me is more comfortable.

The Tressa Lux Crystal Auto

Another 1970’s variation from Switzerland is the Tressa watch.  This is a nice NOS model which as you would expect is in absolutely pristine condition, never having been worn in it’s entire life.
Powered by an AS 5206 (A Schild) Automatic mechanical movement with Day and Date, this is perfectly at home today as a day or dress watch.
Nicely finished in highly polished stainless steel case with a gold plated bezel surrounding a mineral crystal.  Lovely electric blue geometric dial decoration with quick set date via a push pin @4 and a clear Day/Date window @3.

Tressa 1970’s Lux Crystal 21J Automatic

As with many of th 1970’s watches, the watch actually came with a Tressa stainless steel bracelet, but I’ve changed it.  You may ask why and the answer is that so often mid range Brands from that period seemed to struggle sourcing decent straps and bands.  The original one whilst also NOS and infinitely adjustable, is simply NOT comfortable as it catches my wrist hairs!  So I paired it with a complimentary color leather buckle strap, as shown.

I would note that rough bracelets are not confined just to cheaper Brands, as I have a Cartier model that is just as bad (worse actually) so it’s in good company!

Stunning electric blue geometric dial decoration, makes this version noticed.

AS movements have been around an awful long time and in fact were the largest movement maker in Switzerland by 1920, though in the 1970’s after the Asian onslaught, they merged into ETA in 1979.  They were and still are very well regarded as a reliable movement with Brand customers almost from A to Z and derivatives are still used today.
Tressa on the other hand have been around for a shorter period, coming to reasonable prominence from their base in Bienne Switzerland in the mid 1960’s and over the next 20 years till 1987 sold mostly to the Eastern market.  During that time they almost exclusively used AS movements.

Bankrupt in 1987, I understand Rado took over their remaining assets though some years later (vague details only exist) under the umbrella of Zeon Watch of Basel between 2000 and 2005 old stocks of AS520x movements and watches were finally cleared from their inventory.  The main competition in their heyday prior to then was from the likes of Sicura and Orient who served the same market with similar styles (I understand the CEO of Sicura was involved in the early days of Tressa).

In my Tressa the crown/hand adjustment is a quite stiff and whilst could be a characteristic it’s more likely a lack of lubrication after some 40+ years in a box!  but it operates just fine.  The Date is changed with a pin under the crown @4 and the dial design is rather smart (reminds me of the first solar powered, but of course isn’t).  The broad Hour and Minute hands are easily seen and the sweep seconds Hand has a red marker tip.

Looks good on the wrist and already has drawn comments.
It fits my 6.5″ wrist perfectly.

I also think it has some presence and it looks good on the wrist and features a great color combination that works very well.
The Tressa Lux Crystal is quite a neat size at just 42 mm lug to lug, 36 mm across (x crown) and only 12.9 mm depth, also comes with a few different dial colours and designs and in today’s world works very well as a fashion piece.  Depending on the color you choose it can be, as they say, mixed and matched, with shirts and ties in most colours, which is a plus.  I’ve seen one in a superb green dial center which I particularly like – and seeing I’m in my 1970’s thing at the moment, I’m sorely tempted.  These are still available NOS, which is amazing after all this time and at reasonable prices too.

So it might well be worth it to seek them out as they have an individuality that’s sadly lacking with modern watches.  Of course that’s the 1970’s for you – it was a time of not only technical revolution, but also real social invention and this Tressa model was born out of that time.

The wonder of Citizen

There’s something about the classic “slide rule” and “Hawk” style Citizen watch that brings out the pilot (hangar) in me.  The Navihawk was first produced nearly 25 years ago and publicly available since 1993 and is still going today with many different variants.

The inclusion of the slide-rule element around the dial was a touch of genius, even if only used by a tiny fraction of buyers.  It was rather the “look” of this model that gained such a popularity then and now, that has managed to keep it looking as good today as the day it first appeared.

The Citizen Red Arrow AT World timer.

This example is the red Arrows AT World Timer, where the slide-rule has been replaced with the possibly more relevant World Time indication within the dial.

This is in keeping with the new models, where the data displayed now is located IN the dial and not around the bezel, as the originals. Basically this model is a Chronograph with analog date (no digital windows here), Eco Drive Solar movement.

This model is positioned at an affordable price point (£200 ish) for most folks and is a great “wearing” watch – in other words – it looks brilliant on the wrist.

However certain versions can reach much higher prices, such as the Limited Edition Skyhawk A-T model shown here – at around £1200.  Note this model includes digital displays, which here are used for the World Time feature with and the inner dial bezels for the rotating slide-rule data.

Citizen Limited Edition Skyhawk A-T

The overall Hawk series look is self evident and as such can be recognized the world over as a Citizen.

There are as I say, many variations of these (I have 2 myself) and they always impress when worn and whilst they are dial “heavy”, Citizen have somehow managed to allow maximum clarity without much clutter, which is a trick few Brands can match.  It’s fair to say they’ve managed to create a “cult” following, a market if you will where there may well not have been before – indeed a marketing triumph.

And when it comes to the slide rule data.  I wonder how many customers actually have a clue as to how it works, let alone use it?  Maybe we’re all “hangar” pilots at heart, Biggles or Dan Dares (that’s showing my age!) – but who cares if all you manage is to tell the time.

Don’t they look just great!

 

It looks the part!

I said I’d Post on some new watches just the other day, but didn’t really expect to feature another one of these!

This is the Infantry Chrono-Pilot and I have to admit it looks way above it’s price point.  Does that make sense?
To clarify – it looks great! It really does and on the wrist is pretty awesome, which is surprising for a watch that measures across about 46 mm (without the crown) and pretty thick at 16 mm.
But Infantry have done it again and have fitted a very soft flexible silicon band to standardish 24 mm  spring bars.  The result – it fits very snuggly even to my average wrist and at the same time looks rather impressive.

Infantry Chrono-Pilot with soft Silicon buckle strap

On the dial, which is nicely arranged, there is a lower digital window showing the Time, Day and Month (selectable).  Using the pushers you can also dial up Stopwatch and Alarm.  The Day of the week is shown all the time on the small sub dial between 10 & 11 using digital segmented markers, with Sunday in red at the top, going round to Saturday at about 11 on the small dial.
The dial also features a standard analog Hour hand, Minute hand and a running Seconds hand (in orange) AND I’m glad to report that Infantry have at last featured some luminosity, albeit just to the main Hour and Minute hands.

Infantry Chrono-Pilot on the wrist

There is also another digital window opposite the 2, which has a mobile segmental style counter of sorts – I say of sorts as I have to discover exactly what it represents.  The square segment markers don’t seem to run in any identifiable order, though I suspect they should count 10 seconds in sequence, but they don’t – maybe a glitch just on this particular watch.  However, it makes no difference to me as I never use these anyway.  Note this could be an inherent weakness of the module used.  After all this is a brand new watch and something I have never, ever experienced on a Casio, Timex or Citizen model – unless long past it’s prime and very vintage.  This digital display also shows AM/PM and Alarm ON/OFF and it might also have a Chime indication.  Unfortunately it’s hard to know as these indications are almost unreadable, as they’re too small and lack contrast or clarity to be of much use – a design error perhaps that those mainstream Brands mentioned would simply not do.

However the main bits are fine – at a glance I can see the Time, both analog and digital, the Day of the week and without pressing any buttons or pushers – so that’s good.  The watch overall is pretty easy to see and read, the dial remarkably uncluttered, the outer 60 marked bezel clicks one way and is still a handy basic time indication, say for a parking meter (sometimes simple is good).

So after all that, what does it cost?  Well it’s around £20 and if it goes as well as the old square Infantry model I got as a gift a couple of years ago, it’s not at all bad.  It also has a decent build quality, nice materials and excellent finish.

If you ask me if it matches up to the likes of the Casio or Timex low price point models, then my answer is – probably not.  But let’s be clear – we are looking at a watch that costs no more than your average snack for two during your lunch break. . . . .

At the end of the day it is what it is and there’s no question that it really does look the part – and would I wear it?

Re-straped using my favorite silicon deployment type – easier on the wrist.

Well I got it just the other day and it’s still on my wrist – so Yes is the answer.  And if you ask – Did I change the strap for a silicon deployment type – you know me too well!

Ps – The segment issue – Do I bother to send it back to Amazon?- it is new and it has a Guarantee.  If it was DOA then I certainly would, but as the main functions are just fine, £20 is not a problem – I’ll stand it. . . . . .

Swatches

Every so often I like to trawl the swatch world, just to see what low price models take my fancy.  I like Swatch as the quality is invariably at a decent level as to ensure a good and reliable timepiece. Their quartz models in my opinion are almost always good value and more often that not, great fun to wear.  Slightly funky colour-ways mean that if you are even a tiny bit dress conscious , then these can make a rather neat and subtle statement that you ain’t finished yet!

Unisex Colour the Sky Swatch model Quartz.

This is the GS124 or the Swatch Unisex “Colour my Sky” quartz model – available for anywhere between £30 and £40 and OK is a basic 3 hand model without Day or Date, but has got lots of colour, both dial and strap. Dimensions just 34 mm x 8.75 mm depth, this is a very neat watch and will fit anyone. (and don’t be thinking this is too small – some of the best Patek’s are 34 mm!).

It is what it is and that of course defines the ever so quirky Swatch range.  The back has the usual coin screw battery access and the case is sort of see-through plastic and the dial layout works pretty well with the slight odd hands set up. In fact this one has a touch of the old “railway” clock look about it and is pretty easy to read.

I like it.

My next Swatch pick is the oddly named “Lonely Desert” (Day & Date) model (SUOB721) which is I suppose more gents that Unisex, though that said, is not a large watch either at 41 mm diameter by 9.85 mm depth, so still a neat wearing model.  Price wise not a lot more than the first watch featured, but has the advantage of the Day and Date window.

Swatch Gents “Lonely Desert” Quartz.

I like this one as it features a leather strap in a really neat shade of “leather brown” that works well with the dark case. The dial is silvered and the Day and Date window stands out really well with white letters against a black background.  This is a slightly more serious watch model than the colour sky idea and looks really good either in casual or in a formal setting.

The usual coin battery access at the back –

Typical Swatch coin battery access.

Here’s a pic of the typical Swatch battery hatch system.

So just a couple of models from the huge Swatch range that caught my eye, both very affordable, Quartz powered and yet quite different.

I have to admit to a liking for quite a few of the Swatch Day and Date watches as they really do represent great value for money, especially when coupled to a quality standard that seems to stand up proudly on it’s own merit.

I have a few friends who collect Swatches (sad I know . . .) and I reckon most of us know someone who probably has more than one and I suppose it must be gratifying to Swatch themselves as the “S” or second “Watch” idea (Swatch) has turned out to be such a success story.

I’ll probably feature a few more of the ones that I like – and you never know, you might like the odd one too.

 

Get it – forget it ?

When buying and ultimately collecting watches over the years, sometimes you get yourself a model that you think will be the one.  You know a “perhaps this is it” moment when the watch you’ve just strapped on your wrist is, for you, as good as it gets.  That’s it, settle back and in the realization that you’ve just got your personal modern holy grail, start the process of slowly selling off the lesser models and call it a day.

Maybe just keep those very few, “landmark” models, that have particular significance for you.

Well that moment may just have been reached, at least for modern watches.  And here I have to quantify what is modern to me, which I suppose it’s from the day I bought my Breitling Aerospace, which was 1999 and funnily enough that was my grail watch back then.

But as I collect both modern and vintage model, this may not really be the end of the day, but it could be the last “modern” watch purchase I make.

If I consider todays technology with new and amazing complications as “modern”, then it’s probably true that this Citizen cc etc etc will be the last one.  Maybe as I can’t see anything really being much better, certainly from my personal requirements.  And let’s be clear, this watch gives the correct and always accurate Time, Day and Date, anywhere, anytime – period!  It’s easy to read day or night and is super simple to use.  As the definition of what a watch does – it’s about as good as it gets.
You simply get it and forget it. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Citizen cc3005-85E on silicon deployment strap – the ultimate? (more info see HERE)

I have to admit that Citizen have done an amazing job with this model – it’s not cluttered to look at, and thats’s a feat in itself (check out other satellite models around), it’s easy to tell the time (anywhere), it’s not too big and what more do you need or want for that matter.

But that might just be the point and certainly as a silly old eclectic (and perhaps eccentric) collector and it makes me start to question why I collect watches in the first place.

For once you’ve got the watch that does it all – what’s next?

Well for me it’s maybe time to slowly sell off some of my older “modern” models – this will clear some of the clutter, both collection wise and in my mind plus (and this is a very big plus) AND help me finance any new purchases too, which has to be helpful!

So many watch models were a product of their time and the limits of technical possibility I suppose and that’s one of the attractions.  They have limitations which can be quirky and interesting and maybe that’s the beauty of collecting.

Yes maybe that is just the point – it’s all a question of TIME.

OK, so here’s the deal – My true vintage watch collecting will carry on absulutely, especially in regard to watches from the early 1900’s to perhaps the early 1950’s.
And I’m still very interested in those zany Digital watches from the Golden period 1970’s to mid 1990’s, as it was such an interesting period in watch experimentation.
And as for modern, whilst I will cut back a bit, I’ll always check out any classic models that come along that simply take my fancy, but mostly can show some elegance and style as my guide.

Buy Hey! I’ve said all this BS before and who am I kidding – it’ll never happen! because if I see it and like it, I might just go and buy it!   😉