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.

Quartz favorites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Favorites in Quartz

Favorites in Quartz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s so good it’s a Sinn!

As the title says – it’s a Sinn to have a Divers watch this good.  This description applies of course to the Sinn SU1 and one from my “private” selection.

Sinn U1 Divers watch

Sinn U1 Divers watch

This is from a selected range of models I have being held in a solid rosewood display box, and where basically my “never to be sold on” watches reside.  It’s all too easy to sell on something you’ve maybe had for years for that new special model that you’ve just seen recently and have to have.  Such as the Autodromo Stradale I’ve just featured in the last Post.
But my “private” box is sacrosanct!  Indeed I have exactly 20 watches in this category, from dress, vintage, divers, military and antique – the true collectors bit shall we say and whilst not often too expensive, there is the odd exception and these ones could be viewed as investments too.

But the Sinn U1 is just one of those watches that’s ” just right” and whether it’s the form of the whole, or the balance of the hands to dial markers, that wonderful seconds hand or the general “look” of the watch – it is a superb piece of design work.

High quality goes without saying, what with “submarine” bead blasted non magnetic steel case, double anti-reflection coated sapphire crystal and fabulous luminous dial indices and hands in low light/darkness.  It is powered by the Sellita SW200-1 automatic 26 jewel hacking movement which is shock and magnetic resistant and with a 100bar (1000m) Water Resistance rating.  44mm x 14.3mm depth makes for a neat Divers watch compared to many.  The waterproofed leather strap on this model has double thick lug protector ends and a very high quality deployment buckle system with divers extension.

Not much in the way of negatives with the U1 – with the exception perhaps of the Date window @3 is a little small even with decent contrast, but everything else for me is just right and I’ve said it before, it’s often about “balance” and this watch has it in spades.

Funnily enough another model I like and for basically the same reasons is the Momentum Format 4 and although perhaps not in the same league, it also has that balance between appearance and fitness for purpose that I find so attractive.  But it’s the Sinn U1 that lives in my “selection” box.

At just over £1000 not a cheap model by any means, but it’s definitely one of those watches that once you own it – you keep it.