Why did I get that?

Often in my collecting life I’ve wondered that title question – Why did I get that?

What on earth possessed me to go out and buy that specific watch?  Was it because I just liked the look of it, or perhaps I wanted an example of that type of model.  Maybe it had a feature or function I was particularly interested in or could it be it was one of those milestone watches.  Or one of those models that defines and stretches the technology of the day.

Casio GA1000-1AER-53 Big watch

Casio GA1000-1AER-53
Big watch

So many reasons I suppose and many with some merit I’m sure too, but this one I’ve featured here has to be just a one off, an aberration perhaps.  One of those instances where I just lost it for a minute and did that “no no”, the impulse buy!

Because this watch is quite frankly and on my relatively average wrist – and as we say in the UK – this is one big sod!

Quite overly big in every way, mostly unnecessary too as the function set, whilst OK is nothing particularity spectacular.  Digital Compass, World Time, Stopwatch, Chronograph, Timer, Alarms plus good night lighting it has to be said.  But no Solar and no Radio Control.  Lots of physical protection, though this increases the dimensions so much that the protection is in itself an attractor of damage.  It gets in the way.

One big mother 0 compared to my Breitling!

One big mother compared to my old Breitling!

But that said the watch is amazingly comfortable to wear – it doesn’t feel big as it is so light on the wrist and I like wearing it.

It’s also quite easy to read as the analog is clear, the numerals are large and actually the small digital windows are OK and I can make out the Day, Date, Month without much trouble.  And it’s got a great strap, light and flexible with a twin hasp buckle fitting, though some might find it a little short.  Is that ironic or what on that is after all a big guys watch!

Compared to my old Citizen D060 Windsurfer

Compared to old Citizen D060 Windsurfer

So I took it out of the display box the other day, as I was considering moving a few models, selling them on, to make way to finance a new watch genre for me.
But funny how these things work out, once I had it in my hand then on my wrist, I realized that for some unaccountable reason, I really quite liked it.

In fact that was three days ago and it’s still here on my wrist as I write, so what on earth is this all about?

It’s back to that question – Why did I get that?  Why indeed you may say and with good reason.

It is the very first reason I mentioned at the start of this little blog – I just liked the look of it. Size had nothing whatsoever to do with it, because it just look really good!

What can I say?  A big mother it is, but do I want to move it on?

Mmmm – I’ll have to think on that just a bit longer . . . . . . . and in the meantime I’ll dig out a few of my lesser models and pack them up ready for auction somewhere, though the one I’ve just packed is actually a smart looking watch and you know it looks really good on my wrist . . . . . mmmmm . . . . . .

Note – For anyone interested the manual for this model is – Casio GA1000-1AER-5302(1)

Setting Day, Date, Months

I was asked the other day for advice on setting a friends mechanical automatic winding watch – specifically on when to set the days, dates and months as he found it sometimes tricky and difficult to get these parameters to move properly.

My own ideas on changing the complications have worked for me pretty well, with no mechanical issues resulting so I have to assume I’m doing it right – I passed this information to him and he suggested that maybe I should Post it on the web site – so here it is.

Take care adjusting complications - when NOT to do it!

Take care adjusting complications – when NOT to do it!

DO NOT change the Date between – 8.30pm and 02.00am.

DO NOT change the Day between – 11.30pm and 04.00am.

DO NOT change the Month between – 10.30pm and 00.00 (midnight).

This range of times to avoid should apply to most types of mechanical movements and even though this varies with movement Brands, hopefully I’ve allowed enough leeway to avoid any problems.

I tend to use the same no-go times for quartz triple date models too – get it wrong and sometimes they can be more problematic than mechanical!

“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?


I had a real fixation a while ago about “compass” watches and I got myself quite a few at the time, though after my fad wore off, I got rid of most of them, except for a couple of favorites.  But it certainly got me thinking of just how many weird and wonderful “compass” creations are out there – and this time I feature analog only models and there are lots of ’em . . . . .

Columbia CA002001 Waypoint "Singletrak" Compass Watch

Columbia CA002001 Waypoint “Singletrak” Compass Watch

It’s also fair to say that most of them don’t have much to do with accuracy, except in the loosest sense that is, which is why the old schoolboy technique using an analog faced watch is probably as good as any for getting the basic direction.

Oulm Outdoor Sport Compass quartz @ $8.99

Oulm Outdoor Sport Compass quartz @ $8.99

Anyway here’s a selection of the weird and the wonderful – mostly in the lower price bracket (except for the Porsche!) – of course I like it!

I hasten to add that I do not vouch for any of the models featured here (except the last one, which I own) as I suspect the really cheap ones have all sorts of issues, but looks are something else.  I have even found some where the compass doesn’t do anything but “look” like a compass – Wow! – and I thought those days were long gone!Ashampoo_Snap_2015.05.21_17h54m06s_009_

And there’s something about the old schoolboy or often called “spy school” method of finding North and South on your average analog handed watch.  Some watches even call themselves “compass watches” because they have a movable bezel with the cardinal points and degrees marked around the perimeter.

Cheating perhaps - but so is the watch in this case - a lookalike Swiss Army from China.

Cheating perhaps – but so is the watch in this case – a lookalike Swiss Army from China.

A bit of a cheat perhaps, but if you know your sundial method, then these can be as “accurate” as some digital compass models I’ve seen and at considerably more expenditure.  I kid you not!

I particularly like the old method of using a small button liquid filled compass and have it attached to your watch strap – I mean what could be easier than that.  The beauty of that of course is that you can stick it on any watch you care to be wearing at the time – easy peasy!

Porsche Design - P'6520 in Titanium

Porsche Design – P6520 in Titanium

The Porsche Design P’6520 Heritage Compass model above is the modern and much more expensive take on the Chinese job in the previous image.  Separate compass yes, but a high quality liquid filled

Real "Mans" stuff this Retrowerk R002

Real “Mans” stuff this Retrowerk R002

full graduation one at that, semi built in and hidden away until required.

I like the watch, but not the price at around 5000 Euros!  Still you get a Titanium cased and beautifully built piece of kit with a Sellita SW300 automatic movement, lots of definition and dial clarity and more James Bond than Bond himself!

Old favorite today Timex

Old favorite today Timex

The Retowerk features a disk rotor display coupled to an ETA 2824 Automatic Swiss movement, with 45mm diameter and a 200m Water Resistance, though the compass is a little low tech perched on the top.  Interesting concept though and the more I see it, the more I quite like it.

Smith & Bradley AR15

Smith & Bradley AR15

The Timex of course is a bit of an old favourite today, IF you can read it, which I always found to be the issue (goes to prove – NEVER believe the online images).  The clarity of the dial figuring always to me at least seems to disappear into the background clutter and so much of the indices and so on were reflective.  However I understand the later models are improved? but function wise the hands lining up as a pointer is certainly a classic compass idea – but as I say – IF you can read ’em!

My last featured one on this is the  Kickstarter promotion job, which I featured once before – The Smith & Bradley AR15 which features digital displays and analog compass set up.  Here in compass mode the Minute Hand points to true North and the Hour hand shows your current heading – which to my mind is a really useful compass function and maybe even actually practical!

Compass mode - Hands become True North pointer.  The digital display indicates angle in degrees between the 12 o'clock and the True North pointer. Declination can be set in menu.

Compass mode – Hands become True North pointer. The digital display indicates angle in degrees between the 12 o’clock and the True North pointer. Declination can be set in menu.

Personally though, at the moment at any rate, I’m sticking to my wonderful Tissot Solar Touch Compass (Altimeter, Timer, Meteo, Alarm & and everything else it seems), a model I’ve always wanted and bought myself as a present to me, some time ago.  It doesn’t disappoint and I’ve also just noticed looking at it that the weather (Meteo) is taking a turn for the BETTER! (this Tissot is great!).

So brilliant! – it looks like the golf course beckons – so I know which direction I’m going in within the next couple of hours!

Way to go . . .

Ashampoo_Snap_2015.04.20_11h54m32s_009_Been looking at the latest World Timer range of watches from affordable to the less so and after embroiling myself in what they can do and how tricky or easy it is to do what they do, I realized that maybe I don’t need ‘em at all!
Now this is possibly a surprising admission for me, as I am and always have been a frequent and inveterate traveller.
OK some are easier to use than others and I already have one that is super simple and absolutely meets my requirements (my Citizen Eco-Drive A-T CB0020-09E and pictured at the end) so I don’t need another one – and some of the newer offerings I would advise you to carry an instruction booklet with you at all times – and that’s no good at all.Ashampoo_Snap_2015.04.20_11h51m18s_006_

So that now understood, I will not be buying any World Timer watches in the foreseeable future – no I won’t.

In most cases I’m happy with a digital traveller watch that has perhaps a couple of local times built in (who needs more?) and these might be programmed as T2 and T3 for example (such as the Timex) and  set with a simple -“mode, select” – job done!
I don’t think I need to know the time in 40 zones, as frequent flyer that I am, I have never in one trip managed that sort of route – well not unless I’ve mixed up my meds  anyway!Ashampoo_Snap_2015.04.20_11h53m07s_008_

In fact this leads on I suppose to the question of just how many complications do we need in a watch on the wrist?  The more you have the more you have to remember – which pushers to push or crown to turn, which sequence, how, what and so on and why is this watch so darned big – and where’s the damned booklet?
And during this mental anguish sitting on the plane, your wife has quietly clicked out her watch crown and in 4 seconds has moved Mickey’s arms with the big white gloved hands on them an hour forward  to Destination time on her dinky one jewel Disney.  I mean it’s downright embarrassing!Ashampoo_Snap_2015.04.20_11h52m09s_007_

I’ll not go into other complications other than to say that I did use my Chronometer the other day while boiling my breakfast eggs – 4 minutes.   It was still going the following day as I’d completely forgotten about it.  And as to the eggs?   Well I happened to glance at the old kitchen clock when I was cooking them and thought that’s about right and that was it.  I’d totally forgotten about the watch or even that I’d set it in the first place!
OK so part of that example was maybe old age or brain cells winking out, but really – what relevance does a chronometer model have for me these days?

Not a lot.

Easiest travel watch with world times included. Pull crown, turn - done!

Easiest travel watch with world times included. Pull crown, turn – done!  As simple as it gets!

There are other features too, of course there are (there are so many today) but suffice to say my tolerance for such functions appears to have affected my watch collection.  It’s becoming simpler and I’m slowly finding I have more watch models that are easy to read the Time and tend to have a clear Day and a Date window – so nice and simple and I suppose more or less what I would consider IN the present, as indeed I try to be.  In other words, take each day as it comes, one at a time.

What Time is it?  It’s 2.45 in the afternoon, it’s Monday and it’s the 20th and looking out the window, it’s sunny!

Way to go . . . . .

Note – My two favorite travel watches can be seen HERE

All change

These days I seem to have more straps, bracelets (bands) and deployment fittings than watch models, possibly fueled by this notion I have to every so often “change” the look of my collection. Despite what the original strap or bracelet looked like, I find it fun to change them every so often.

Retro divers infinity adjustment  solid mesh with locking clasp

Retro divers infinity adjustment solid mesh with locking clasp (on a dress watch?) – it looks good.

Inclusive twin pushbutton release silicon/steel fold over deployment with lock

Inclusive twin pushbutton release silicon/steel fold over deployment with lock

In fact it’s true to say that sometimes after a change from an original strap to one of your own choosing with perhaps different metal or color or style, whatever, you realize that for you the original was never a good idea in the first place.  How the designer came up with it to start with is sometimes a mystery!

Twin push button butterfly deployment to strap fixing

Twin push button butterfly deployment to strap fixing – steel or gold – could be either.

Single flip over deployment to strap fititing

Single flip over deployment to strap fitting

Now whilst I do manage to change many of the watch strap/case combinations from time to time, I always retain the original just in case I get fed up with the watch, or maybe never wear it and sell it on to someone else.

Inclusive twin pushbutton silicon steel deployment to Swatch fitting with lock

Inclusive twin pushbutton silicon steel deployment to Swatch fitting with lock

So there are a few I’ve changed recently and no I’ll not show the originals – but they actually look pretty good to me in their new garb.  Until I decide one day to change them again, maybe to the originals or maybe a new color or whatever.  And that’s the fun with an eclectic collection, like a little boy you can play with them to your hearts content!

Upright from Lanco

Last Post showed my Bulova Golden Clipper and this time features my latest Lanco 1970 vertical Day-Date model from the Langendorf Watch Co. of Switzerland.

Lanco vertical read Day/Date with quick set calendar

Lanco – Swiss vertical read Day/Date with quick set calendar

Note the cherry red dial background with white/chrome batons and a clear and contrasting Day/Date window indication @6, chromed hour and minute hands with a center sweep seconds hand. There are luminous dot markers and infill to the main hands, but no longer active today.  The surprisingly large and heavy solid Stainless Steel case is not perhaps the finest machining you’ll see, but the top surface is satin finished and the curved case sides are at least chamfered (the lower edges towards the integral solid steel bracelet are sharp edged).

Large 107gms Stainless Steel case with integral bracelet.  Lanco New old Stock

Large 107gms Stainless Steel case with integral bracelet. Lanco New old Stock

As said this case is large for the period at 42 mm x 36 mm x 12 mm and with the original integral stainless bracelet, which because of it’s fitting stands out a little proud from the case means the top to bottom dimension is more around 52 mm, so for the smaller wrist please note.

Marked Anton Schild (AS) 2066 automatic with 46 hrs power reserve.

Marked Anton Schild (AS) 2066 automatic with 46 hrs power reserve.

Complete with the excellent and clearly marked AS 2066 (Anton Schild) 25 jewel mechanical Automatic movement which features a Crown quick set calendar for both Day and Date and a 46 hr power reserve, so no slouch in the quality stakes.

Wears quite big on the wrist, this Lanco, but looks great!

Wears quite big on the wrist, this Lanco, but looks great!

I also note the bracelet comes with a removable 20 mm extension to the deployment feature, of a style I’ve not seen before and simply fitted with a small spring bar.

So two vertical Day/Date features 1970’s brands and yet so different as models.  The Bulova from my last Post is a more refined watch overall with rounded elegant case fitting in comparison, though both look great on the wrist and of course both are starring in my new “odd features” box with the unusual vertical read Day and Date feature window @6, a style that can also be found in limited numbers from Rado, Hamilton, Enicar, Jules Jurgenson and even West End Watch Co.

As styles go this is a relatively rare find these days, especially in such good condition.  With different Brands it’s also fascinating to see which movements are used, especially with the use of vertical set Day/Date wheels.  Quite a number used quality AS movements and a nice compliment to what were often radically different 1970’s watch designs, and such a step change from the more traditional styles of the 1950/60’s.

In the case of this particular Lanco Brand, the Langendorf Company who started in 1880 and known at one time as the largest clock manufactury in the world, progressing, if that’s the right word to the abbreviated Lanco company name from 1960, which in 1970/1 merged with the Omega/Tissot Group as a quality equal, though that said watch production under the Lanco brand finally ended just a few years later in 1973.   So as an example of a Brand that won’t see the light of day again, perhaps ghosting through Omega/Tissot models today, may be one thing, but to have a Langendorf original does give me a little thrill.

The collecting game – could this be a new phase?

Isn’t it funny how your collection ideas can alter over the years.  There was that time when you thought that Swatch was the thing, then all the variants of Timex or Casio then the true vintage models of 1920 – 1949, then the rectangular models, Day and Date models, Radio Controlled ones and so on and on . . . basically morphing as it goes along.

And in my own case my stuff has always been a bit eclectic (even eccentric, some would say) and I tend to buy and collect mostly what I like, with little regard whether a “collectors” item or not – I basically don’t care about that aspect of watch collecting.  Though I have to say that as my “proper” vintage watches go I have to admit over recent years refining these to more “collectible” ones, that I like, that is . . .

Needless to say this has begun to match other collectors ideas of what collectibles are all about, though I hasten to add, quite a few of the so called favorites are not represented (Rolex for example) – simply as I don’t like them very much, so why would I buy one.   Odd that may be, but does show I’ve not completely joined the ranks of convention – well not quite yet.

However, recently I’ve shifted towards more retro and in particular the wonderful 1970’s period.   In this new collection my preference is for automatic mechanical models and often models that have a theme, such as dial shape or odd features.  You have to remember that the 1970s was a pretty amazing time and one that I lived through – and I mean lived . .  . so has a personal and evocative nostalgia.

I suppose much of my love of the 70’s kick started just a few months before – in Bethel, New York on the 15th to the 18th August 1969 when I was long haired (oldish) hippy style with harmonica and guitar – and gone in the cloud (yes we had them in those days) with that fantastic experience – Woodstock!  If you don’t know what that was, then look it up.  But you had to be there – oh yeah – man . . .

So in that crazy free and forward looking time, when lots of serious grown up problems were on us  – not that we understood them anyway, because we had a Microwave! and crazy piled up hair (and this is the men) Peace man and Ban the Bomb, the end of the Vietnam War and the discovery of “Black holes” and the new wave riot of color – everywhere, and Discos and bean bags, space hoppers, and all in the face of rampant 30% inflation, Star Wars and even the Hostess trolley (came with that Microwave!) and all that – what also appeared was a wave of new style avant-garde watches, where the Swiss plus some others burst on to the scene with wonderful new designs and shapes in amazing styles – indeed creations of form that vibrantly portrayed the people freedom of the 1970’s perfectly.
Squares, triangles, ovals, geometrics and goodness knows what, automatics, manual winds, Tuning Forks movements, new “jump” ideas and fantastic dial configurations, shapes, colors and so on – as I say a fascinating period.

So it’s this era that’s got me not only interested (the phrase “light my fire” comes to mind) but actually excited once again and the great thing about 1968 – 1979 is that these great gone for ever models are still affordable.  In twenty years these could be the true vintage models and my present vintage collection will be antique, or certainly more specialist perhaps and maybe, just maybe, dare I say – rather dull . . . .

So this year it looks like I’m into the 70’s and already off to a flying start, such is the excitement of my collecting once again.  In fact quite a few of my eclectic “modern” and vintage models might have to go to make room for my new ideas collection.