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.

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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.

September’s rotation

I often go through phases where I wear, in rotation, maybe three different watches over a one month period and on the 1st of the next month I select another three models and wear them, again in rotation.  Perhaps in daytime or night or perhaps depending on what I’m doing at any particular time.
This month (September 14) I have this trio and basically as of now and the next few weeks I’m doing all sorts of outdoor things,  so this selection reflects this.  It’s also an excuse to Post some pictures of some of my watches, which otherwise will just be between me and – well me . . . .

An outdoor selection from Casio and Timex.

An outdoor selection from Casio and Timex.

These three are coincidentally all digital, which is just the way it turned out and from left to right they are –

The Casio SE-1200WH is a neat, flat (just over 12mm) model with enough features on it to suit me.  For once the buckle resin strap is flexible and comfortable and the model functions are pretty standard Casio fare.  In saying that, this model has a 10 year battery life and World Time, plus a small digital dial at top left mimicking an analogue clock face with hours, minutes and seconds.  Back lit with a VERY simple and effective light it is ideal for night use.  I like the fact that the dial in normal view gives a lot of information – Time including seconds, the Day, the Month and the Date and it shows the world time/normal time selected on the little world map, just as a reminder of where you are!  It’s neat, it’s light weight and it has never put a foot or wrong in the years I’ve owned it and if I remember it was very inexpensive too.
Notethe strap shown has 2 x keepers not one as standard which I added some time ago as a personal preference.

The Casio PRW-3000T is next up and one of my very favorite models from this maker.  This one came direct from Japan as soon as it appeared, so impressed I was with it.  For me it is a true improvement of many of the ones preceding it as it has taken advantage of the smaller v3 Sensor set and actually reduced the watch size as a result.   So a full ABC watch at sensible dimensions and a joy to wear, plus being all Titanium (case and bracelet) is amazingly light weight and as  many of you know Ti is also incredibly comfortable to wear as it very quickly adapts to your temperature.  The bracelet is VERY high quality Ti and really well finished and the digital display could not be bettered in my opinion.  Terrific function set as you would expect from this model and the normal dial view is as shown.  The Day and Date (press top left pusher and it alternates to Month and Date) the time in h/m and seconds, am and pm indicator, the battery state at the foot, confirmation of the Radio signal (yes this is Radio Controlled AND Solar powered) .  A 2nd push of the top left pusher shows the Barometric trend.  So the top display area can show three different situations by selection – I like it as shown as at my age it’s nice to know what day it is!  The back light illuminates the entire face and one of the best I’ve seen, so absolutely ideal for night use again.
Barometric Pressure, a full 3d Digital Compass (using Barometric pressure) and Altimeter, plus the usual chronograph, Timer and Alarms etc make this a very comprehensive model indeed, great for outdoors and very unobtrusive too.

The Timex Expedition  T49976 Shock is a real all rounder with an ideal display showing the Day of the week, Date and Month and Time in h/m and seconds, am/pm indicator plus a seconds running dial.  Excellent Indiglo back light means it’s great at night and it’s easy to find, being the only pusher on the front of the case.  Incidentally the pushers are large and textured and perhaps the best I’ve used, bar none, even shrouded as they effectively are.  Super simple Mode and Adjust function changes as usual with Timex (superior in my opinion to Casio).  The Chronograph features over large digits which are a delight to read and there is Timer plus a good few Alarms and all in this is a MOST practical watch.  Water Resistant to 100m and battery powered.  Fitted here is a Zuludiver black IP stainless steel fittings Camouflage Nato strap, which suits it perfectly (no complaints re. the Timex standard strap though, this is just my preference here).  This Timex and the Casio SE-1200 are very similar in overall function and in practicality, which is why I like them I guess – not overdone and very affordable.

So this is my September trio and actually if I didn’t have collectors mania, I could manage fine with these and no others.  But a pretty neat bunch for starters as I hope to feature my “rotation Trio” each month as a new Post topic. and OK these guys were featured not that long ago, but these are really what was to hand, so there we are.

Amazing, inventive & cheap?

It never fails to amaze me, the wonderfully inventive, military and sports style watches that appear each year from the Far East and mostly at incredibly cheap prices.

The Infantry Chrono @ £14.99

The Infantry Chrono @ £14.99

The fact that digital module prices are so low today means that with some plastics molding equipment, a bit of imagination and flair in design, almost anything is possible.  Whether they’ll last of course is another matter entirely, though that said, the basic digital movement could well outlast you!  Though any complications outwith the basics could well be another matter entirely.

But one thing is certain – they look amazing! and if you don’t take the hype to heart and don’t take them too seriously, probably a bit of fun too.

Take the INFANTRY Mens LCD Date Day Black Dial Combo Digital Quartz Watch for example.  I mean it looks pretty good and has a fair bit of functionality with Day and Date, Alarm and Stopwatch displays.  It cites multi-time zone, though doesn’t specify details).  I do like the fact it doesn’t depend entirely on display,s as it features conventional analogue Hour, Minute and Seconds hands too.  Another plus is that it takes a conventional fitting rubber strap (nothing molded here) and has a Japanese quartz movement.  Mineral anti-scratch glass is quoted and there is also a dial light.  Case dimensions are about normal for this type of watch at 47mm x 16mm, at 115gms weight, so quite large but without being totally silly.
Then there’s the price – here in the UK via Amazon it’s quoted currently at £14.99.  Amazing!

Here’s another interesting non mainstream watch, this time from LAD WEATHER, the GPS Navigator model.

LAD WEATHER GPS Navigator

LAD WEATHER GPS Navigator

Seems to to pack a lot into a wrist worn piece and according to the advertising, this is just what it does.  I have copied the data – as there’s too much for me to just note –

■Functions
・USB charge (With dedicated cable)
・100 meters waterproof
・GPS(Auto acquisition date and time/ Acquisition and recording of the root and the current position)
・PC connection
・Root confirmation in Google earth
・Measurement(Distance/ Lap time/ Average pace/ Movement time/ Heart rate/ Calories)
・Alarm
・Countdown timer
・Pacemaker
・Digital compass
・Continuous use time:about 12hours (GPS on)/ about 1year (GPS off)
・Charge:about 500 times
・Charge time:about 3hours

■Size
・Case size:about 47x47x20mm (height, width, depth)
・Band length:about 140~200mm
・Weight:about 62g

■Attachment
・Watch box
・Instruction Manual(English)
・CD-ROM
・USB cable
・Heart rate measurement sensor
・cleaning brush
・6-months warranty

This model comes in 6 different colors, some looking quite smart I have to say, though this is a big watch at 47mm x 47mm and a depth of 20mm and it’s at a higher cost too at some £92.00 UK priced.  The advertising alludes to a retail of much higher at £350 and certainly for what this model apparently offers, that could well be right.

A little expensive for me just to try it for fun, unlike the first watch shown here, but I have heard variable comments about LAD watches, some good some not so.  This model may have sensors from Germany, maybe assembled there too, though presumably the highest percentage of parts will be Asian I would guess – the origins and details are sketchy to say the least.  They also have ABC models without GPS mode, which seem to fare pretty well against Suunto watches (and somewhat cheaper!) to such an extent I would not be surprised if the movement modules were from the same source.  There is a comparison on You Tube which is quite interesting.
However the features appear pretty comprehensive and the addition of a GPS with track functions, brings it into the same ball park as the Garmin Forerunner, or perhaps even the Fenix.  Then the price doesn’t look too bad after all – it all depends on how the watch performs and there’s only one way to find that out.  Buy one!

LAD WEATHER GPS watch

LAD WEATHER GPS watch

But with anything out of the mainstream Brands it’s always worth taking each model as it comes, make decisions on the good and bad of each, consider the manufacturing quality and possible after sales/Warranties etc. should they go wrong.  Do your homework, check You Tube, check comments, reviews and user experiences and make you own judgements.  If really cheap like the first model shown here, then it’s often worth having a  punt at it – you never know – and if a dud, then bin it and move one . . . . no worries.

At nearly £100 for this GPS model – I’d have to give it some serious thought – but for new ideas and some great and designs, there are lots of these guys around and they can be fun.

I’ve also seen if I’m not mistaken some Pyle models which are possibly the same generic watch, so it’s quite possible it could appear in another cosmetic guise and the price could well fluctuate considerably up or down – mostly down I would imagine.

I have to admit here I’m tempted, though it would have to easily readable – and you know what some digital displays can be like – but it might be worth taking the chance.

Something completely different (2)

Another one of these fashion watch styles that is a little different from the mainstream – this is from the BillyTheTree Cloister range – model ESM33.

The Cloister ESM33 from BillyTheTree.com

The Cloister ESM33 from BillyTheTree.com

Handmade and painted dial with distressed copper, sterling silver and various metal alloys with a solid nickel free brass one-piece (single block) case.  Limited editions of 1000 each, so unlikely that your friends across the way will have one of these.  The quartz movement is unstated, though I would guess Asian generic, which in this style of accessory is probably incidental – as long as it works reasonably well – as indeed most quartz movements do these days anyway.

Very unique in that being a hand painted dial face they are all slightly different and this one I particularly like as the hands are infilled white which give added clarity.

My only gripe perhaps is the cost ( £254) which to me seems perhaps a little over what I might consider, especially as it would have to be imported from the USA to the UK with the added costs associated with such a move (VAT and Customs charges).

But for something “fashion” different this certainly is just that – and I quite like it.

They’re not going away . . .

Smart watches I mean, even although the take up has not been awe inspiring from the public.  For example the new Pebble in Singapore only managed 1400 sales in the first 3 months of this year, so public demand or indeed even interest seems weak to say the least.  Perhaps the concept of having on your wrist a gadget that can link to the smartphone in your pocket isn’t appealing or even seen as any great deal.  An additional tool that just maybe isn’t required in the first place.

Span Smart watch from Box Clever.

Span Smart watch from Box Clever.

So speaking of concepts, this one is more a watch that’s smart, than a fully blown smart watch – and there is a difference.  It’s the Span Smart watch concept designed and thought up by these clever folks at Box Clever of San Francisco and I don’t know about you but I rather like the whole look of it.   It seems to me to be more sensible with realistic limitations, but managed in a very “cool” manner indeed!

"smart" alerts can be shown cross the display and controlled by the bezel.

“smart” alerts can be shown cross the display and controlled by the bezel.

It sort of combines and integrates an analogue style digital watch movement/face with a “jump” hour movement with the hours indicated on the upper half of the dial and the minutes on the lower half.  The Date is sneakingly located as a Date aperture at what would have normally been the old 10 o’clock position.

The real clever bit is the odd mesh “bridge” across and above the dial, which is a perforated metal grill which back lights as an OLED screen for notifications.  The controls for it;s use are incorporated into the rotation bezel – as a jog dial – isn’t that smart?  The screen can also show the digital Time, reminders, alerts, call details and all that “smart” stuff and there’s also a push button to confirm any actions.  The watch can be recharged with the micro USB port on the base of the watch.

Of course the main issue with this super cool watch is that it is just a concept and has not yet been put into production, which would be a tantalizing prospect if it did – for me it makes the Moto 360 look perhaps a little pedestrian and much more exciting to even contemplate wearing.

This is the video of it showing the conceptual idea working.

For me this demonstrates a much “smarter” approach to the idea of smart watch technology as it’s innovative and clever and involves the actual watch rather than some plastic screen like cell phone extension pretending to still be a watch, though it isn’t at all.  This on the other hand IS a watch with smart ideas built in and what’s more – it looks modern yet stylish and techy too but most of all it looks really really cool!

ABC – ups and downs

It’s a funny old business – height and the measurement thereof.   I mention this in passing only as the ABC model watches that are around at the moment all feature an Altimeter.   Though in actual fact they are to all intents and purposes Barometers which are used to indicate height.   The question of course has to be – are they any good?  Are they as good for example as my car Garmin GPS?   Which begs another question – is the car GPS any good ?

Well I played around with both items this weekend and found some odd little quirks.

First I decided to calibrate my Casio ABC watch here at home.  I duly checked the Barometer which was 995mb this morning as indicated by the Casio.   I then had to find out the height above sea level of my house and I checked Google maps and found it was 116m, so I used this as my datum point.   I then duly set the watch to read 116m at 995mb – so far so good.

Casio showing 995mb Barometric pressure.  Note the graph showed better weather yesterday but over the last 20hrs or so no change history.  Also note the trend icon @3 which also shows no change.

Casio showing 995mb Barometric pressure. Note the graph showed better weather yesterday but over the last 20hrs or so no change history. Also note the trend icon @3 which also shows no change.  Each dot indicates 2hr intervals and 1mb up/down values

But when I checked my car GPS it told me the altitude here at my house was 108m – now that’s 8m difference or around 26ft and yet just 35m down the road (not up, you notice) it read 114m.

It seems that GPS altitude is maybe not as accurate as I thought for all sorts of reasons and boy are they complicated!   Now I’ll not go in to Ellipsoid Earth calculations or altitude measurements that actually indicate height above WGS84 as opposed to barometric above sea level indications, or quality vertical measurement, because frankly I don’t understand it all either!  BUT suffice to say that in general a GPS car unit requires at least 3 preferably 4 satellites and a clear sky above to get a meaningful altitude reading and even more preferably including connection to a satellite that’s “under” you – which you won’t get as the earth is blocking it from you.

Anyway playing around further I drove a route that swung by a particular crossroads and it was interesting to check the reading at the crossroads, but driving in from two different directions.   On the first run the crossroads altitude was indicated as 70m by the car GPS, but on the second run when I approached it from another road it now indicated 96m – quite a discrepancy.  Since reading up a bit I now know that the GPS was not managing to get the required signal reception, as there was a little tree cover on the second road.   Hence the difference.

In contrast my Casio ABC watch on both runs indicated the crossing was 72m above sea level.   My Casio also indicated the barometric pressure was now 998mb, so both figures had changed from my house location.  This was fine as the crossroads are definitely lower than my home, so as expected, lower altitude meant higher pressure and vice versa.   The weather hadn’t changed in the 10 minute drive.   Indeed when I returned to my home location the pressure was 995mb again and the altitude was as before 116m.

Note – In town today I stopped at local supermarket and both car GPS and Casio indicated 28m.  It was wall to wall clear sky so the GPS managed it’s maximum efficiency and nice to see they both agreed with one another.

But practically the Casio barometric Altitude versus the car GPS altitude is the clear winner, which I have to say did surprise and please me no end!    I also note that the better hand held GPS units also use Barometric Altimeters, so GPS direct read is not the favored system and remember the aviation industry still use pressure Atmospheric/Barometric systems and for quite a few good reasons.

The fascination of the Barometric system of course (as far as Altitude is concerned) is that also changes with the weather.  For example had I gone off in the car and a nasty weather front blown in, the atmospheric pressure will have dropped.   When I got to those crossroads my Casio Altitude reading could easily be incorrect by 40m and indicating an Altitude of something like 115m or higher!   So basically as long as the barometric (atmospheric) pressure remains fairly constant, then your Altitude readings will be reasonably accurate.   If not then you really need a decent map with height indications on it, so you can recalibrate your ABC watch with the correct height at that pressure.   You see?

There are lots of things you can do with the ABC watch if you are a hiker or climber of course, with recording of ascent/descent altitudes and so on and it can get pretty involved, but always remember weather change means pressure change so calibration is the key – so if doing these pursuits my advice for what it’s worth – TAKE A MAP (with co-ordinates/height indications and all the rest of the data).

As far as the Casio PRW3000T is concerned it is proving to be quite brilliant, Altimeter, Compass and Barometric Pressure being uncommonly accurate.   It is VERY clear to read (makes Suunto, Garmin and some others look poor in comparison – the display is streets ahead of them all, it’s light to wear, not too big at all and I’ve yet to take it off.   However I do at night so it can receive it’s Radio signal (though I forgot one night and it received without any problem at all).   Power save is interesting when it’s dark – after a time the display goes off and even when receiving a signal the dial is blank.   Any light at all comes near and it’s instantly on again – fascinating!

So my older compass watches are relegated to the drawer, though the odd one is a reminder of technological progress so will be in my display cabinet – the rest will be on their way to auction no doubt.

Ah the ups and downs of the watch collector!  😉

Size matters

Whilst I have recently featured Casio G Shock models and of course applaud them for all sorts of reasons, not least the “tough” movement protection and functionality, I still have one main concern and that is “SIZE”.
For me and many others they are just that little bit too big.

GW9400-1 Triple Sensor G Shock

GW9400-1 Triple Sensor G Shock – 55.2 x 53.5 x 18.2mm – oversize

And this is right across the range of over 190 Casio styles.  Even the more basic function set models are somewhere in the order of 50mm across and basically the reason for the size has to be the additional outer protection resin profiling.
I also have to accept with the ABC models and Triple Sensor technology the older Sensor module sizes dictated the overall dimensions.   However, that said I’m really pleased to note this has been addressed recently, albeit on a non G Shock Pro-Trek model.   I would add that even some of the non G Shock models with this kind of functionality have also been very much on the large side.
So perhaps a start of a size reduction trend? and interesting to note that Casio now admit watch size was and is an issue.   Their own sales blurb on the Pro-Trek 3000 series says as much, so I’m hopeful with the new and smaller 3rd generation Sensor modules coming in, perhaps size reduction is now seen as a good thing.

The model shown above is the Casio Rangeman GW9400-1 which is a Triple Sensor ABC model G Shock, with a very comprehensive function set including Tough Solar, World Time, Radio Control (6 receivers), shock and mud resistant, 200m Water Resistance, plus Sunrise and Sunset indications and the ABC features of Altimeter, Barometer/Thermometer and Digital Compass – so is about as full featured as you can get.   I mean this has the lot – BUT – it is big!
Now don’t get me wrong here, it is big, but not impossibly huge like some silly watches that are out there, but for the world average size 165mm circumference wrist – it is just too big for comfort.
I’ve always been of the opinion that Casio tend to get away with this large size basically because they have very light weight case designs, so the watch never feels heavy on the wrist. (the model shown for example is only 93g).

Another model which is possibly more relevant here is the Protrek PRG270-1 – this has a less protected design that the G Shock, though still has a dimension of 50mm across, which is still substantial.   It does however have my preferred dial as does the following model I have picked as my best Casio yet.

Casio PRG270-1

Casio PRG270-1

Casio PRW3000 series

Casio PRW3000 series – reduced case dimensions

So OK all that said, I also said they do have a model now that is smaller with all the bells and whistles – though not G Shock – and as shown on the last image – this is the Casio Protrek PRW3000 series. (introduced in 2013).

Again without the G Shock characteristics and following on from the PRG271, this model does have a case size that should fit anybody and a dial that’s much cleaner and uncluttered than G Shock, so clarity is much improved, especially when considering compass bearings and so on.   Note the main digital numerals are also larger.   Another point is that on most G Shocks with combination digital and analogue displays, the clarity is never great, as the dials are just too cluttered and with too much information jostling for position.

Dimensions wise the width of this PRW3000 is reduced down to 47mm and only 12.3mm thick, so sits snugly on just about any size of wrist with ease.   The top of the range model (as shown) has what’s called an aluminum toned resin case plus a full Titanium bracelet and weighs just 100g .  The reduced size is even more remarkable when you consider this model is also Radio Controlled.

Each model shown here share the same upgraded v3 sensor set, so I have to assume that the extra case protection of the G Shock model still prevents any size reduction – which is a pity.

So it seems when considering any G Shock model you may have to accept that size is always going to be an issue – in this case a width increase of 6mm or 0.5″ extra.   So unfortunately a trade off at the moment, though with Casio acknowledging that size is an issue, it would not surprise me if they suddenly introduced a smaller G Shock with everything on it too.

And as to supply – a problem is that many new models or variants never see the UK shores and if you want to keep up, then a frequent check on the domestic Japanese market is the route to go.   And on that subject there are now luckily a few Japanese Internet traders (genuine Japan based retailers with physical shop locations) where you can buy with confidence.   Just remember you may have Customs and Tax liabilities to consider before you take the plunge.

I personally recently purchased the Casio PRW3000T model – it’s sort of taken top spot in my Casio collection at the moment, so I hope to feature it in some depth in a future Post.  I personally think this model is a small milestone as it features the smaller and more efficient updated Sensor modules and a reduced overall size.

There is no doubt these Casio models are really terrific watches and a testament to their progress over the years, from what were once regarded as digital gimmicks by some, to the wonderful, innovative technical icons we have today.   And even though having a watch collection and being around watches for many years, I find myself on a monthly Casio watch now – in anticipation of what new masterpieces they come up with . . . Oh yes!

Just a note – It is of course fact that there is competition in the world of Triple Sensor and the Swiss Tissot T Touch Expert Solar model is announced and on it’s way – it is stylish, sleek and with a 45mm width case could be the one that beats them all . . .

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Buying from Japan

So how easy is it to buy that latest watch model from Japan?

Rather than talk about what should or should not happen, the following is an account of my own experience just recently and over a UK Monday Bank holiday as it happens.

Not being able to get the watch I wanted in the UK – the Casio PRW3000T-7  Titanium bracelet version, I decided to purchase from one of my preferred Japaneses sources – http://www.shoppinginjapan.net   The main reason I like this company is that they have a good stock of the latest Japanese domestic models, often not available elsewhere – and if they indicate on their web sites they have stock – they do!  (How often have some said they do when they patently don’t!).

They are not only online being on Ebay and also have a direct internet site, but also are physically located beside the Bay Side Marina Shopping Arcade (open 10-4 Monday/Friday) in Yokohama and have a direct phone contact so you can talk to a live person.   The web site is good and they have a large stock not only of the latest watch models, but all sorts of electronics, cameras  and so on.  They can also be found on Facebook where they display many photographs of the watches they sell.

Prices are quoted in most currencies and they have a currency calculator link onsite, so it’s easy and delivery is FREE worldwide.

The buying process couldn’t be easier as they use Paypal and delivery is via EMS who hook up with Parcelforce here in the UK.

So in my case things went as follows –

26th April – Went online (used Ebay entry) and bought with Paypal.
26th April – Received email confirmation of the purchase via Ebay and Paypal.
26th April – Received Email from the shop confirming payment and advising they would post item the following day.  They noted delivery times were usually around 8 working days to the UK.
28th April – Received Email update from Ebay confirming item sent.
May 1st – Email from shop advising Tracking number and confirmed posting on 28th.   This included an EMS tracing report – showing item posted 28th April – and already in UK Customs on the 30th April.
7th May – Using the tracing tracking number – item was shown as moved from Customs to Delivery at Parcelforce Post Office UK and HELD – pending Customs charge.
8th May – Having the advantage of knowing the item was being HELD – I phoned Parcelforce, was advised the charge and paid over the phone.
9th May (Friday) – Received letter from Parcelforce advising item HELD and payment required etc – – however I’d already done this and advised it would be released and posted Monday 12th may.

12th May – Watch arrived via Parcelforce at lunchtime.   All OK and in perfect order.

So bearing in mind this clashed with a UK Monday Bank holiday this was pretty good.

So what payments are we talking about?
Basically this is 17% UK VAT plus a Clearance Fee from Parcelforce for sending out letters, processing of payment to them and subsequently transferring to Customs , which was £13.50.

So a perfect transaction with shoppinginjapan and a pleasure to do business with and in a pretty quick delivery – only being held a few days at UK Customs until import charge paid.   The charges can be paid either online or phone and if you use your tracking info, once you see it is held – simply phone them up and pay – saves you waiting for their letter.  The watch is released the same day.   So pretty efficient even at this UK end.

And this is the watch in question –

Casio from Japan via www.shoppinginjapan.net website - excellent service.

Casio from Japan via http://www.shoppinginjapan.net website – excellent service.

Yes this is it – wearing it already and changed the Home City to the UK very easily (it was set to Tokyo) then set it to Receive and the Radio Control picked up the signal from the UK transmitter at full strength (I’m in Scotland) and the time changed immediately to UK time (auto-adjusted for British Summer Time DST).   I’ve also already tried out the Digital Compass without calibrating it and it’s spot on – Wow! that was a surprise.

So highly delighted with this watch and so glad to see that the size reduction is perfect for me – once I adjusted the bracelet links (removed 4 all together) remembering the small split collar holders within the links, which took me about 10 minutes max.   No doubt this is one of the best Casio’s yet and my Japan transaction one of the easiest.

Ultimate or “old hat”?

The problem with your “ultimate” watch is that it could be just an illusion, for technology inexorably marches ever onwards at a frightening pace, so today’s “ultimate” can very quickly become tomorrow’s “old hat”!

Of course you have to define “ultimate” as it’s not the same thing to each of us.

Casio PRW3000t-7

Casio PRW3000t-7 – today’s ultimate ABC watch?

And do we want to wear our “ultimate” watch or do we wear a “daily beater” everyday watch that meets our basic needs and keep that “ultimate” model for special quiet times, like quality time with the family.   And we all have our favorite wants in a watch, features that suit our lifestyle and that we then feel really comfortable wearing.

The model that spends most of it’s time on my wrist I suppose is one that’s around 15 years old now and set simply to show me, in one glance, the time (analog), the day and the date (digital), it’s titanium, has a single crown, good lume, good water resistance and is a neat size.   The fact that it also has hidden functionality such as an Alarm, a chronograph, countdown timer and a dual time is nice, though in all honesty I rarely use them.

Breitling02

Been wearing this for 15 years – and difficult to beat!

In fact this model has been part of me for so long now that perhaps this is my “ultimate” watch – a daily beater and an ultimate watch – now that would be something.    And in truth I reckon this is probably the truth of it, but being a “watch” person, there’s always something new and exciting coming along that’s bound to tempt me – perhaps functions or looks, whatever – just something that has that “ultimate” appeal.

So what’s my ultimate model today? – silly question I know, but rather apt as it happens and today my ultimate I suppose is the watch model that manages to really interest me enough to buy one – get in on the wrist – and soon!

I did a list of what features I’d consider on this ultimate model and here it is –

Radio Control – not absolutely essential but does ensure correct, time, day etc.
World Time – great for traveling so I know the time zone is correct.
Auto calendar – goes without saying. and covered by RC anyway.
Solar – no battery to ever worry about.
Water Resistant – to at least 100m, so swimming is OK.
Timer/countdown – useful for parking, cooking etc.
Alarm – very useful – if you can hear it.
(chronograph) – not a necessity for me – never use them.
Sensible size – I do NOT want a silly oversize watch – period!
Back light – if digital a necessity.
luminous hands – if analog or ana/digi – essential
Extras –
Digital Compass – yes – could be really useful, especially on holiday.
Barometer – yes – useful again on walks etc.
Altimeter – yes – useful on walks etc.
Thermometer – no – not a requirement for me.

That’s my list and it certainly narrows the field down, especially when you consider I want this lot in a sensible sized watch, not an oversize one.  In fact it narrows the choice down to just 2 models.   One from Switzerland and not actually available today, but later this year, the other from Japan.   One ana/digi, the other digital only.

The first model on my wish list and shown at the tops of the page, has to be the Casio Pro-trek PRW3000T-7ER an ABC model which is Solar and Radio Controlled, which makes it a rather special thing altogether, especially with the new v3 sensor ABC technology efficiency which allows amongst other things, a considerable reduction in the case dimensions (long overdue in my opinion).
I particularly like this Titanium bracelet version (there is a rubber strap and a textured strap version too).  This one has the positive digital display, rather than less clear negative one.    I suppose for me the lack of analog hands makes me slightly uncomfortable as I’m so used to traditionally glancing at hands to read time, but I have to admit this digital layout is actually very clear.  There’s no doubt that Casio have got these displays down to a fine art – Suunto, Garmin and others take note.

So a very clever watch this with the new upgraded sensors and quicker refresh/sampling and better accuracy.   From what I’ve seen already the ABC functions are very lively and the case is not as bulky or cluttered AND of course substantially smaller and thinner than previous models.

My second choice is the wonderful Tissot T Touch Expert Solar ABC model recently announced and not before time, having been asked for by so many for so long and a true competitor to Casio and Suunto.  It’s certainly the nicest looking of all of them in my opinion, though the price I suspect will reflect it’s Swiss heritage.

Tissot T Touch Expert Pro Solar.

Tissot T Touch Expert Pro Solar. Serious competition to Casio ABC.

The uncluttered exterior design of this model cleverly cloaks the incredible functionality of the interior (some 25 functions) and is the sort of watch you can wear in any situation from everyday to dress occasions, which is no mean feat.  The amazing speed of response and clarity from the “touch” face is quite incredible and has to be experienced to believe it, as the multi-function hands immediately and very rapidly speed round to indicate the selected function.

As to availability – both watches UK wise are not directly available as yet, though the Casio can be picked up in Europe and the Far East obviously.  My own Caso came from JP watches in Japan and I’d also recommend Seiya too (if they have them).   The Tissot I don’t believe is available just yet, but anytime soon I hope.

Both these watches however show real advances on previous stuff, which to me seemed to be marking time for a few years.  At last we have (almost) two models that if bought now will certainly NOT be out of date for a bit and will hopefully serve you very well – IF you can get one”!