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.

Chips with everything?

Smart News –

The latest news that every watch site is reporting is in a way confirmation of what I said in a recent Post, the idea that traditional Watch manufacturers are looking at incorporating Chips in their watches, has finally had the seal of approval from one of the masters of pilot watches – Breitling.  The Breitling B55 (connected) is on it’s way and to be in the marketplace later this year.

The Breitling B55 connected.

The Breitling B55 connected.  Note the Bluetooth icon will NOT be on the production models.

Yes this model connects to a Breitling Mobile App you can get for your iPhone (and I expect Android to follow) so that it can wirelessly communicate to your phone via Bluetooth – and the App looks set to be a winner too as it’s not just another “message notification one”.

This particular App allows you to change Time Zones, change the watch display, set alarms, show watch operated results and other watch data, just like the watch dial itself, though in a larger format – plus of course that phone data etc.

It also is noted that the battery life (chargeable) is considerably longer than the Apple Smart watch variety, but importantly you still have the very well specified watch functions whether charged or not – it is still an independent fully functioning Chronograph and all the rest of it.

The Breitling App - almost a monitor for the watch dial.

The Breitling App – virtually a control monitor for the watch dial.

I particularly like the comment made by Breitling with this slightly barbed reference:

“For Breitling, there was no question of turning a watch into an extension dependent on a phone and less high-performance than the latter.”

My sentiments exactly.

No doubt in my mind that this is the preferred way to go for the so called Smart WATCH – and perhaps not so much “look out Swiss Watch Industry, Apple’s on it’s way” – but “Look out Apple, the Swiss have woken up – again!”

Still whichever way it goes, now at least we have some serious competition from folks who know about watches – and you never know, maybe the big three quartz majors will get off their collective too – as there’s not a lot they don’t know about watches AND electronics – now that would be something!


An Apple a day?

Well it’s here (almost) at last – the Apple Smart Watch, so why am I not jumping for joy.  Probably as for me, not having an iPhone 5 or later, the Smart Phone won’t work.  And if I had and it did, I still can’t access the Apple Pay idea and use touch-less payment, not here in the UK anyway – and don’t hold your breath.
And that’s not all, I also can’t have the touted GPS function, receive phone calls or transmit messages, though sticking my hand (on the end of my wrist – so pretty close) in my pocket, I can do all of these with my present non iPhone, phone.

Apple Smart Watch - in 38 versions!

Apple Smart Watch – in 38 versions!

So not being too impressed with one Apple Smart, how do I feel with, wait for it – 38 versions!  Yes there are . . . .

And as with all so called “Smart” watches, not just Apple, the battery life is still a big disappointment.  They quote supposedly 18 hours with a 2.5 hr charge time, so at best it might manage a day, but utterly depending on how many Apps (there’s going to be dozens of these!) and messages you fritter away your time with – assuming you’re an iPhone 5 or better user.

Apps for everyone - but only if you've also got an iPhone 5 or later!

Apps for everyone – but only if you’ve also got an iPhone 5 or later!

It’s said that if you switch OFF all other functions then the watch will still display the Time for up to 72 hours.  Well Hello!  My old Casio can do that for 10 years without a battery change and my oldest mechanical Automatic can manage it for – ever?  Well as near as damn it.  So the Apple Watch Time for 72 hours seems irrelevant to me.

Also the prices in my opinion are just too high – I mean just think what I can buy, watch wise, with the starting price of the Apple – £479 in the UK or next model at £949 – Wow I can think of a few!

The trouble with this Smart stuff is that whatever the App on your wrist,  just a foot away in your pocket is your phone, which does the same, does it better AND the battery lasts longer.

What’s the difference that I can call up a Uber Taxi from my wrist or from my Phone?  I can’t see any time benefit, physical benefit or cost benefit  – and in the case of the latter, quite the reverse!

So Smart watches, Apple or not are gong to have to be an awful lot better than this to attract an old geezer like me.  And when I visited a nearby college just the other day, most of the young pupils there don’t and have little intention of wearing even a basic watch – it’s not cool! – so they tell me! 😉

Case study

Over the years I’ve been collecting watches, how I display and store them has always been a sort of mix and match conglomeration of mismatching boxes, cabinets and goodness knows what else.  Some are lovely wooden glass topped boxes for 12 or more, others are 2 tier leatherette boxes with acrylic tops, some small wooden cabinets with drawers and no display, except the top drawer and so on.

Neat storage cases for watch collection. Great space savers and can easily be moved around.

Neat storage cases for watch collection. Great space savers and can easily be moved around.

In short my stuff is all over the place and getting more disorganized every day – a bit like my life at the moment!  Perhaps it’s a reflection of my state of mind and a danger sign that I need to cool it, sort things out and get organized in every way.  I would ask my Doctor for his advice, but being a watch collector himself and I’ve been in his house – well it’s like the pot calling the kettle black! (and for those of you puzzling over that old expression – it means – The notion of a criticism a person is making of another could equally well apply to themselves or vice versa).

So what to do?

Well I’ve decided on a strategy – wow, this is new!  I have decided to replace all my boxes, cabinets, wood, leatherette, cardboard, drawers and assorted enclosures, with cases.  Yes cases and with handles – no grabbing boxes by the sides and hugging them to your chest whilst moving them around, but neat sized aluminum cases with handles and clear display tops.  I opted for one standard size – that’s one level of 12 watches capacity with cushions in compartments.

Bookcase style storage is a useful alternative.

Bookcase style storage is a useful alternative.

I bought one to check it out and satisfied I bought a pile of them.  Whilst waiting for them to arrive gave me time to assess and sort out my collection, see what I’ve actually got, decide if to keep any particular model or to move it on, tidy things up, segregate styles or types and so on.  In other words take some control of my watches and by association – my life!

These are the cases I’ve decided on.  Neat, clean and compact, with handles and locks and easily carried, clear topped for both display and any Solar models and so on.  Even the look of them calms me down – this is like therapy!  Wow I’m feeling calmer already and I might even go on a diet – boy this is good!
I’ve got myself some small stick-on silicon buffer feet which attach to the bottom corner of each case, so I can stack them without them falling off or scratching each other.
I also have foam cut outs for the interior and place these on top of the watches if moving them around (we’ve got handles remember) which prevents the watches banging against the clear top.

Most of my watch collection are normal sized and the cases compartments for the bulk of them are just fine.   In fact most of my larger diameter watches are still OK and only two or three out of the hundreds that require more space, so I simply leave a space.  However if I was besotted with collecting the modern and larger Casio G-Shocks (which I’m not) then I’d probably think again and ensure storage wider individual compartments.

And as to the old storage ideas, well some are really nice pieces of furniture and they’ll still be there for those special display occasions, when a few of my collection buddies are over.

Note – I do have a colleague in London who also uses cases, though his are larger than mine.  He stacks them vertically like books in a library (as my little image above) and he has over 60 of them! However as his cases are “leather”, they almost look like rare limited edition books and yes they are in his library (he has one of those) – well where else is he going to keep his collection of at the last count some 6 x Pateks, numerous Vacherons and IWC’s and whatever else he’s got these days.

Ah well I can only aspire . . . . (lovely word – aspire . . . .)   😉

Decided now to stack my cases as I don’t need to use the clear tops for display, unless I need to, though I have the top one at the moment stocked with my Solar models.  In the end a very neat solution to my storage problem and well pleased.
The image shows a section of my watch collection – well you didn’t think that was it did you?  Silly boy!

Vertical stacking - I think I prefer as it takes up little space.

Vertical stacking – I think I prefer as it takes up little space.



Traveling 2015

A friend asked me on Friday (I’m asked this every year) seeing I’d just returned from Europe, what was my recommendation as a traveling watch.  One that you’d take with you on a trip to another country and why.  In the event not a hard question for me to answer.

My first word of advice is to leave the World Time Patek at home.  Cheaper is good and you don’t want a watch that’s too complicated  – you don’t want to refer to instructions all the time.

Do you want/need extra functions, Chrono, Stopwatch or Alarm?   What about changing times? because let’s be honest, a plain Day /Date analog watch is difficult to beat in practice, as you simply pull out the Crown, move the hands – job done.   If it’s digital, can you remember how to set it and if it has a Word Time function, is that easy to remember and set?  If it is – great, but if not, leave it at home.
Crossing rivers? beach combing or swimming? – remember if you’re on your own taking the watch OFF at poolside, could be an easy way to lose it.  So good Water Resistance is a must.

So for me – Ease of use, readability in the dark and good Water Resistance (swimming, bathing, showers, heavy rains, whatever).

Best travel watch

Best travel watch – does everything required – easily and well

First choice is the Citizen Eco-Drive A-T CB0020-09E, which is quartz analog, with Date window, a built in World Time Perpetual Calendar module and step motor hands hidden away inside the watch workings.  I love this watch as it’s understated and unobtrusive, yet packs serious functionality.  For time changing it’s the best there is – To change to a Destination Time Zone, simply pull out the Crown, turn to another City Time Zone.  The seconds hand instantly indicates that City on the dial index, push in the Crown and the analogue hands move around to the new time.   It could not be easier.
It’s also Water Resistant to 200m, has great luminous qualities, very accurate as its Radio Controlled and being Eco-Drive you can forget about batteries.

This has to be my favorite and 1st choice for travel.

My second choice is my “active” travel, third world, other places in the world watch.  In this case I always take the Timex Expedition T49976.

Best "active" travel watch - also best Military model

Best “active” travel watch – also for me it’s the best “Military” model

This is a Digital only model with Shock protection, Water Resistant to 100m.  It has the best night/dark viewing of any digital watch I know (see image), shows at a glance the Day, Date, Month, Hour, Minute, Second and AM/PM indication.  It has added functions such as Alarms (5), Stopwatch and Timer.  It’s also not too big.
And for travel destination times – it has Dual Time or one extra Time Zone which you can set either when on the way or pre-set before you go.  And it’s super simple to set.   Press and hold the Set button (upper left – says Set on it) the Time flashes, press the opposite button and it gives you the option to set the dual time.  Follow the on screen stuff and before you know it, it’s done.  This is one of the few models I know that actually shows what to do within the digital screen.  No instruction book required!

The watch is also as tough as old boots and the battery life is around 5 years – so no worries.  And by the way you can have almost any strap you like on this watch, from NATO, to Textile, to Leather, to Velcro fast wrap – take your pick.
The other important benefit, is the fact it only cost me around £40 new and I’ve got two, so depending where I’m going I sometimes take them both.

Probably the best all round practical travel watch I know.

However if you can’t be bothered with all this travel functionality stuff – I find that Divers models are a great travel watch, especially analog.  They’re inherently tough, have great Water Resistance and being heavily luminous are very easy to read day or night.  Rush job overseas? – chuck on my favorite Diver and off to the airport and for time changes, just move the hands . . . no brainer – it’s that easy. (I take my Apecks 200m).

But for bespoke “travel” models I pick out the Citizen and Timex above, as I’ve traveled with both of them for many years and being an inveterate traveler, from jungles to deserts, Arctic to Antarctic, hot to cold, and with the odd war zone chucked in, they certainly work for me and have never let me down.

Bezel calculations & migraine

So you’ve got yourself that great looking watch with an equally great and complicated looking bezel – you know the one with all those tiny text figures on it,  that 9 out or 10 folks have not a clue as to what they mean, let alone use them!  And having quite a few of those models myself, I thought I’d shed some light (or not) on some of the things you can calculate with them and basically because my Skyhawk provides this data in the instructions.

However not all bezel markings are the same.  There is the simple Divers Count Up bezel marked 0 to 60, then the Count Down bezel marked 60 to 0 (useful for that parking meter), or the Speedmaster style Tachymeter scale for measuring units per time increments such as your speed in miles per hour etc, then there is the Pulsometer, used to check your heart rate and maybe incorporated with an Asthmometer to calculate your respiratory rate.  Not so often you also find the Telemeter bezel where you can determine the distance you are from a sound, such as thunder in a storm for example and of course there’s the GMT bezel with its 24 hr graduations and useful as a Dual Time indicator, then there’s the Compass bezel which is not a compass, but makes rough bearings possible – and lastly there’s the Slide Rule bezel, such as the one on my Skyhawk, which typical for Citizen, seems to have every one of ’em!

But before it gets too complicated here’s a “Hint” – I love this, that one of the watch brands gives as a helpful piece of information to the potential watch Slide Rule user –

Nothing to it Really!

This is a hint?  Well thanks for that! (Courtesy of Seiko)

So there, that explains everything doesn’t it?  Or like me you got lost when the n-th bit and the 10 to the little y came along!  But no worries if you’ve got your iPhone with you then forget the watch!  Ha Ha!
And I’m being serious here as unless your eyesight is A+++ then trying to work out anything on these watch bezels is nigh impossible.  I tried it on my Skyhawk and with a magnifying glass, a bright light plus the instructions booklet to hand and accompanied by an inordinate amount of cursing, all I got was a serious migraine!

Citizen Skyhawk - home at last.

Bezel Slide Rule with movable, Outer Rule, fixed Inner rule and in-dial fixed Index – allows many calculations.

Now OK the lesser bezels such as the 0-60 and 60-0, compass, GMT and so on, these are useful and no problem (they’re also bigger textually), but the old Slide Rule is a killer, basically for me because the text is too darned small.  In fact I pulled out my old Slide Rule (yes I do have one from the dark ages when engineer and eyesight were not diametrically opposed) and would you believe it the text was almost the same darned size!

Suffice to say I struggled to even read it – so for me I’m happy to have my pilot/engineer/macho bezel watch, but I’ll use it, thank you very much, to tell the time!

However for those of you with decent eyesight and perhaps owning a pre-owned Slide Rule bezel watch with no instructions – then this next bit is for you – maybe!


© Citizen


© Citizen


© Citizen


© Citizen


© Citizen


© Citizen


© Citizen


© Citizen


© Citizen


© Citizen


© Citizen

That covers some of the calculations possible with the circular Slide Rule, certainly on the Citizen Skyhawk and I suppose (eyesight permitting) if you use some of these calculations (especially the Navigation ones) then in the absence of other electronic aids, it could well be a useful item on your wrist.  However many folks like myself now will but this type of watch for the looks and the aesthetics rather than any technical calculation functionality, though it’s nice to know that there are some calculations that are not too difficult to manage should the need arise.

Other bezel styles such as the Telemeter basically indicates the distance from your location to an object that emits both light and sound, such as when thunder and lightening occurs. basically the difference between the Speed of Light (almost immediately) and the Speed of Sound (0.33km/second).

Courtesy of Seiko Watch Co.

Image © Seiko Watch Co. – Note other models may have a different stopwatch sequence.

I’ve more or less just scratched the surface here on circular Slide Rule and bezel indexes as the calculations possible are many.  Multiplication, Division, Ratios, Volume unit conversion, Weight unit conversion, Distance conversion, Fuel conversion, Distance conversion, Time to Distance, Calculation of Speed, Driving distance, Fuel consumption (rate & amount), Driving times, Wind direction for yachting for example and similar calculations for flying etc.  the list is pretty long.
In fact the E6B flight computer or the “whiz wheel” as sometimes called, is a form of circular slide rule used in aviation, though maybe now mostly used in training, as today electronic Flight Computers have taken over.  But these slide rule computers (for that’s essentially what they are) may be used in flight planning prior to take off for calculating fuel use, wind direction, flight times, ground speed, estimated arrival times and so on and I well remember seeing Pilots with the slide rule sticking up out of their Flight bag walking to the aircraft.

So on the main Brands of pilot watch and other models featuring Slide Rules, the function is not just a gimmick as you might think, because in essence they do work – IF you know how . . .
However for me, what with the eyesight and brain limitation today, I’ll just have to wear my Slide Rule bezel models with all the confidence I can muster.

And as for using the calculation bit, well I don’t really think I have the patience these days nor indeed the Time to learn!

But my Skyhawk is a great watch – so there!

However – I hope some of you out there found the above useful and all I can say is – have fun!

The elegant watch (9)

Another elegant watch, this time from Czechoslovakia – the PRIM Elegant 39C – Silver dial Date Watch.

The Prim Elegant 39C - Silver Dial Date Watch

The Prim Elegant 39C – Silver Dial Date Watch

This has the Automatic Prim Calibre 98.01 22 jewel movement with a 46 hrs Power Reserve with Stainless Steel polished case, Date window @4 and a Sapphire Crystal.  It also features a 50m Water Resistance.  The name is apparently is an acronym derived from Precision, Reliability, Individuality – all Matchless according to their web site which seems a little simplistic, however the models do seem to be pretty decent nevertheless.

PRIM have their headquarters in the Czech Republic and manufacturing since 1949 and have created unique, custom-made watches ever since.  They have a range of models and are also interested in customization for customers to create a unique model personal to the customer.  The 98-01 movement has a stated accuracy of -6 to +24 s/day.

PRIM 22 jewel 98.01 self winding movement

PRIM 22 jewel 98.01 self winding movement

For me this model which has been around since 2009 has the classic retro look of the 1960’s and 1970’s and OK perhaps nothing out of the ordinary, but I think I can call this one, especially as it’s name suggests it – an “elegant” watch and it does seem well constructed.  And there’s something about those classic shaped models that just does it for me – maybe I’m old fashioned at heart, who knows, but I like this one.

This model is quoted at around $4500 price so they have plenty of competition at this price point.