In these times of Covid-19, “lock-downs” and general restrictions on our daily lives, unfortunately it can cause people to become really down and depression is too easy to set in.

Minimalist Shengke, Ultra thin, 30m Water Resistant, Creative, Quartz.

For me, to cheer myself up and others in the family, I thought maybe a little gift would not go amiss. This particular watch is just that AND it’s not expensive and can easily be found via Amazon, so can be posted to you directly without any issues at all.

This is the Shengke Creative watch, described as a ladies model, though at 40 mm diameter is a decent uni-sex size.  Just 8.5 mm depth, it’s also very slim.  Note the 20 mm fine leather buckle strap may be a little short for some larger wrists, but it fits mine perfectly at 6.5 inches circumference.  Of course, being a standard style of watch lug, it will be easy to replace with a longer strap if required.
It is described as minimalist, which is fair comment as there are no frills on this neat timepiece.  The dial uses a black disc with a cut out segment for the hours in white contrast.  The minute hand is bright and easily seen in yellow, so about as minimalist as you’d want.  The watch is said to be 30 m water resistance, though it has a snap back, so maybe a little caution might be in order there, but it certainly fits snug with that nice “snap”.

Shengke Creative in Black

Shengke Creative in white

Shengke Creative in red

The model comes in a few other colours, Black, White and red.

Shengke sk variant

Their web site shows quite a few variants, with minimalism and simplicity being the theme running through the range.  And for the price, these are what I call extremely neat fashion style watches, which to my mind are just the thing for a gift to cheer someone up. 

Now OK, these may not be super high quality movements and pretty standard fare Quartz, but let’s face it, these days most Quartz movements are darned good, technology having advanced so well now – and at the prices asked are not a bad deal.  In fact the quality of build is surprisingly good, the cases are an alloy construction and the finish is neat and smooth to the touch – so what’s not to like.

Anyway, the one I picked (Yellow) certainly cheered me up a bit – cost very little and definitely lifted some of the Covid gloom – so that can’t be bad – can it?

Shengke watches can be seen at Amazon UK

Nightspeed by Swatch

Each year I tend to have a look around the offerings by the Swatch Group, but concentrating not on their high end portfolio, but rather on the Swatch in-house Brand .  This is the one started life back in 1989 with the introduction of 12 new models.  The start of a range of watches from Switzerland, produced to counter the mass influx of cheap quartz watches from Asia.  Termed Swatch to infer “second watch” at a low competitive price point, a Swiss movement and a true “Made in Switzerland” logo.  It was a successful ploy and they have produced millions of successfully selling watches ever since.


The Swatch Nightspeed blue black

Swatch introduce new models often and you can usually guarantee good quality, a good movement and an affordable price.  So this year I looked to see what would take my fancy and be my model for this year (it might not be a 2018 build, but one I maybe missed in the past).

This time I’ve gone for a black plastic cased, quartz powered model, called the Nightspeed.  I find it to be a very attractive dark toned blue dial within a black case with a black silicon buckle strap. Fitting to a conventional spring bar fitting on the case, this means you can swap out the strap for any standard one, if you prefer.  In the event I like this strap as it’s very flexible, has a nice mat black finish and corresponding buckle.


Quick change battery hatch – with battery type inscribed on back.

The dial numerals are in white with two different font sizes, the 12, 4 and 8 being larger. There are three sub-dials with running seconds at 6, and the two at 2 and 10 function as stop-watch counters.  There is also a date window at 6 with white against black and most of the dial features are luminous.  There is a black stop-watch seconds centre sweep hand and the semi skeleton hour and minute hands have white tipped pointers.
There is a finely marked dial bezel featuring a Km/h marker ring and there are two black pushers on the right, either side of the centre crown for timing functions and setting the watch.


Light weight plastic body – easy on the wrist.  Note the date window @6.

Whilst the color scheme is predominantly black and blue, the white features within the dial make this an easy watch to read.  Overall it is both understated and yet very attractive.

The dimensions are 42 mm diameter and just over 13 mm depth including the slightly domed crystal, so a nicely sized watch and being plastic cased is very light on the wrist.
According to the data on the Seller’s website, the Water Resistance is quoted as 30m, though with the Swatch quick change battery “hatch” as opposed to a full screw back, I’d be cautious it testing how good that may be!

One neat point to note is the battery type (394) is inscribed along-side the hatch, which is very useful.

The Swatch 4 jewel Quartz movements, I’ve found and certainly the ones I own are both accurate and reliable . . . . which when put together with the general attributes of this particular model, I am certain will be a great model to own and at around £80 represents a good buy.

Just a note – if you are looking for a watch to match colors with clothing, it is a fact that generally the Swatch range give you a great choice, as they do offer an extraordinary number of models in all sorts of color options.  Just a thought for Christmas. . . .

Novelty watches

With the increasing use of smartphones, a watch doesn’t seem to be an item the young have much time for (excuse the pun) – everything they need or seem to need is on the phone.  In fact when I was visiting a sports centre recently I doubt if I saw a proper watch on a wrist of any of the kids there – but they were instead virtually surgically attached to their smartphones and I wondered if they were unlucky enough to have an injured thumb – well I don’t know how they’d survive the day.  I mean if they’re not texting, like, they gotta be dead right?

Emoticon watch

Now I did see a few wrist accessories of some kind, but very few were watches as such, most being simple bracelets and wrist decoration of some kind.  Actually quite a few were strings, leather straps and thin ropes – quite ethnic really.

However on closer inspection I did find out that a few, a very few had watches after all.  Not that timekeeping was the core function of wearing them, because they were the simplest of quartz watches, costing perhaps at most a £10 note maybe.  These were basically for novelty value or perhaps promotional items and most with printed pictures on the dial.

Simple round cases and as said, a printed dial usually with hour, minute and seconds hand (I was surprised they had seconds ).  Usually the printed image or sign was something catchy – in other words what I call ‘novelty

Cat watch in red (also blue and a few other colors)

wrist wear’, that co-incidentally told the time, though I did find one that was made of wood with fixed painted hands – so time was not of the essence there!

Now this is not the preserve of the young and I too have a novelty watch, I wear sometimes just for fun.

Mine is a Wallace & Gromit watch, from the short animated films fame. Why? well I just love the films and I’ve even got a bow tie to match!  Silly I know but at my age, at the other end of the spectrum, I can get away with it.

So here’s a couple of these novelty watches I like the look of – purely as decorative items, but these ones do tell the time.

I particularly like the Mergic “Cat” watch, basically as it’s such a clear dial and with the high color straps really looks pretty cool – I understand that’s what the young set want – to look cool I mean.

As the norm mostly all these types of watch are produced in huge quantities in China, but what’s new – even the mainstream watches if not made completely in China tend to dominate the supply of quartz movements today, whatever the Brand of watch.

My Wallace & Gromit watch even comes in it’s own bespoke aluminium hinged box, made by WESCO of China for the BBC who license it and this model (there are several) is commemorating the animated film called “A Close Shave”.  It features a leather strap with the Wallace & Gromit text embossed on it, so this is original – I particularly like the blue stitching – hey this is a class act!  😉

Hours, minutes and seconds – what more is needed?

The cost? well around £10-£12, though I’ve seen one or two at auction for silly prices upwards of £40!  And no they are NOT worth that kind of money at all – not for simple novelty – but they are fun to wear if you like them.

Colour Swatch

Every so often I feel I want to brighten up my watch wardrobe, especially if I’m out for dinner and maybe even dressed for the occasion.  Something that maybe we don’t do often enough these days and certainly something I don’t do enough, being retired.  Years of going to the day job, dressed up, tends to make one “dress down” when in retirement and maybe even to forget the odd shave – very remiss.

What to wear?  Well this will do nicely ‘cos it’ll go with anything . . . .

But with age comes a certain freedom, where that silly old soul can wear an outrageous bow tie with a blazer or have an overly elaborate walking cane (never had one before, but what the heck!).  Maybe you can make some amazing, amusing or cutting comment that could well be in the category of – “You can’t say that!” – that’s awful . . . . !  And get away with it.

And so it is with the choice of watch on your wrist, which neatly brings me to this model – the Swatch “Rounds & Squares” SUON122.

Swatch “Rounds & Squares” model – for geeks.

An ultra modernist Quartz in silicon, plastic, with an abstract style with a blue case and multi-colour strap and an every colour dial.   The ultra lightweight case will manage a 3bar Water Resistance, so should withstand the odd glass of bubbly thrown at it, or even if the wearer might accidentally (or was he pushed?) fall in the pool.  Now OK the watch survivability might be around 50%, which oddly enough is probablyabout the same (or better) as the old wearer  . . .
It has a center seconds hand and a neat little screw (coin) hatch at the back to access the battery and the strap as seen here is just fab’ and amazingly flexible.
Did I just use the F word?  Goodness, is that sad or what . . . .  I mean I was old when they started using that!

Coin battery entry hatch – easy fit even for me!

Anyway as watches go it’s a pretty decent size at 41 mm diameter and commendably just under 10 mm thick, AND it’s plastic, but without the over size silly “ooh is that a watch then?” look, a style that frankly has lost it’s charm for me – but this is different AND it looks good!

Yes this Swiss offering actually looks great – it’s bright, it’s colourful and OK, perhaps a little OTT (did I mention the second hand is “pastel blue?) but despite all that unbelievably I can think of lots of old guy eccentric clothing to go with it.  I’ll look some out later . . . .

So being in a sort of dark mood the other day, I went and bought it, sad I know, but that’s what happens when faced with a hypnotic strap such as this.

How could you do it, I hear you ask?

Swatch that goes with – everything!

Well it was like this.  I spotted it when having lunch with a friend – a friend who is an Ex geek.  I know the ex idea seems bizarre but there he was, wearing believe it or not one of those ghastly Hawaii style Miami Vice era multi-colour, but long sleeved, shirts (the rest of his attire was no less incongruous – long shorts and hiking boots – and this is March in Scotland!).

Anyway it happened as my companion asked him the time and as a result I sort of did a double take, as my ex geek pal pulled up his shirt cuff and looked at this continuation of his – “shirt”?

But NO – he was actually looking at his nice new Swatch watch, which was virtually indistinguishable from his  riotously bright outfit, in almost every way!  And as I say – I was hooked . . . . . It was a lousy day, wet, dark and utterly miserable and there he was – a riot of colour, watch and all!

Well when I got home I looked it up, loved the colour, price OK and ordered one on the spot – and would you believe it – I was already starting to feel much brighter myself.

It came directly from Swatch in tick tock land, so took a couple of days.

Now perhaps it’s a cheap (relatively) and definitely cheerful watch of course, but it’s also absolutely a bit of fun to wear and it will do me nicely, oh yes, it’ll do me just fine.

Christofle dress watch

One thing I like about Design Houses is when they turn their hand to watches.  Mostly dress watches it has to be said, but these are often great looking pieces, produced not by watch trade people, but by designers of different products and what is their take on a watch to express their particular Company or philosophy.

Christofle Swiss 21 jewel Automatic

Christofle Swiss 21 jewel Automatic

This is a neat and rather stylish model from Christofle of Paris and a particularly handsome piece it is too – well to my mind it is, as I bought it just the other day at auction.  And at a VERY reasonable two digit price.  Now considering this model cost in 1999 approximately £1300 and it’s in perfect condition (box, papers etc) – I’m well pleased.

It is a decent specified model too with a 21 jewel Swiss ETA 2892-2 automatic movement, Sapphire Crystal and (possible) 18ct gold bezel on a rather elegant stainless steel case, plus articulated “fancy” lugs connecting to the Swiss original green colored Lizard leather strap with signed Christofle stainless buckle.

Readability for me is a basic buying principle and I do like the jet black polished color of the hour and minute hands, which gives excellent contrast against the textured inner dial.

The outer track is on a broad gold colored band with black Roman numerals.  The Date aperture is @3 with contrasting black date numbers against white. The sweep second hand is in gold.

Dial lettering features the Christofle logo and Paris and below shows Automatic with Swiss Made at the foot of the dial.

Note the fluted stainless steel case shaping - plus articulated lugs.

Note the fluted stainless steel case shaping – plus articulated lugs.

The stainless steel case is highly polished with a triple molding feature which pairs up with the strap lug ends.  The crown is @3 and part recessed. The Date is a quick set type and of standard ETA 2892-2 configuration.  The watch also manages a decent Water resistance of 30 m (100 ft) with it’s neat 4 screw stainless steel back

It sits very well on the wrist and at just 37 mm diameter and quite thin at 8.5 mm, it looks neat and the dial color combination with the green Lizard strap lends itself very well to the dress occasion.

As watches go it is a good mid range model, though for me I would balk at paying the new price, which reflects the design house premium.  But for the price I paid and as this watch is in perfect, as new, condition, it is a really good buy.  One of the reasons why Designer watches in general can be excellent pre-owned purchases, is that the new designer inflated price disappears in the second hand market.  And unlike previous times, today many of the designer outlets produce some very, very good watches indeed and well worth a look at Auction price.

Simple Date

Often with unisex watches that are not physically large, one of the problems if showing a date window is they are so small and therefore difficult to read.

Rolf Cremer Bogen Gent from Germany.  Double Date clarity.

Rolf Cremer Bogen Gent from Germany. Double Date clarity.

I found this model Rolf Cremer Bogen Gent 492801 Quartz watch recently that solves the problem neatly with the addition of a proper Double Date window set in it’s plain color dial.

Numerals and indices are omitted for clarity and the good contrasting red colored hour and minutes hands are complimented by the centre seconds hand with it’s black dot pointer.
The double date aperture is @12 and is designed as the main feature of the watch.
The crystal is mineral glass, the case in stainless steel and the wrist band is in complimentary red quality leather.  Dimensions of the watch are neat at 34.3 mm wide, 9.5 mm depth and 45.5 mm lug to lug and overall the watch has a superb modern clean line look, perfect for day or dress wear.

Another plus is the fact the watch is not expensive at around 139 Euros.

In my opinion this is a great example of good design and function.  Clear to read, elegant looks and deceptively simple in form, it’s one of those models that’s just perfect for those little occasions – not flash, not minimalistic silly – but rather elegant, modern and rather refined.

Brit design

Nick Munro studied engineering and design at Nottingham University, Imperial College of Science and Technology and The Royal College of Art, London and in 2011, Nick launched his first collection of fashion accessories – the 12:19 watches inspired by the precision and accuracy of the Tokyo railway system.

The 12:19 Nick Brown watch

The 12:19 Nick Munro watch

Found these neat models whilst looking at what was on offer from the “design” aspect of watches available and came across Nick Munro’s range.  Quite impressed with the simplicity and neatness of the range and the tidy range of color variations available. Red, Yellow, Green and Blue, with either mesh or leather bracelets.

The dials are simple with good clarity, black hands against the lighter dial background, black seconds hand and a small date aperture @3.  Ashampoo_Snap_2015.09.27_14h15m10s_003_A clear view Sapphire crystal, Japanese Quartz movement with date.

Not for night reading but simple a neat pleasing fashion watch for day use that has something rather pleasing about it.  Not mainstream, not overly designed, perhaps slightly quirky, but only just and will I’m sure get a few looks from your friends.Ashampoo_Snap_2015.09.27_14h39m03s_008_

The models shown here – are the Square Yellow (or Green, or Blue, or Red) braid Strap Watch series which were inspired by the accuracy and elegance of the Japanese station clock apparently.

Dimensions are 35 mm diameter, Water Resistance – 30 metres and finished in brushed Stainless Steel.

Priced at £125 in the UK they are not unreasonable and just that bit different.

The range can be seen HERE.



PXR-5 – Young at heart

British industrial designer Michael Young has relaunched the PXR-5  which if I recall correctly first appeared back in 2010.  I particularly like this model as whilst it cleverly espouses a fresh and modern ultra minimalist look, it manages to do so without that bland and featureless Scandinavian style, that always turns me off.

Michael Young BXR-5

Michael Young BXR-5 BR/NY – stainless/blue

The PXR-5 in contrast is a wonderfully understated design classic with a simple digital face and adjustable nylon Velcro strap.  It’s both today and casual fashion look rolled into one.  Basically and according to Michael Young himself he simply wanted it to tell the time, no more no less and also have the easy facility to change color to suit the occasion.  This very successfully manages by the use of a super simple velcro strap.  There are a couple or three little pushbuttons, the right side ones for changing the Time and the left side one for activating a back light.  The case, and there are optional finishes, is Water Resistant to 30 metres, so showers are no problem.

Designer simple - yet so neat and effective

Designer simple – yet so neat and effective

The version shown here is of the PXR-5 BR/NY with a silver brushed stainless steel face and navy blue strap.

Like all good designs, this is simple and yet incredibly effective and will suit the wearer in virtually any situation.  And why has it appeared again.  Well again according to Michael, the phone has never stopped ringing from folks wanting to know where they can get one – simple as that!

Case shown in this version is 316 stainless steel, with a polyester and Velcro Strap.  The digital LCD display has a Blue/Green EL.  The Case length is  45 mm lug to lug,  36 mm wide and just 8 mm depth.  The battery is a 1.55v  V391 or equivalent and it comes with a Manufacturer’s warranty of 24 months.

Silver grey version

Silver and gray version

I understand it is available HERE and is around £80 (UK pricing).

There are in fact 4 versions – the two shown here plus a gold colored model with brown Velcro strap and a Black model with black strap.  Prices are the same for any model and if interested, experience tells me the shelves will be cleared pretty quickly . . . . so  . . . .


Originals (1)

This Post is the first of a series where I introduce Brands that are somewhat off mainstream, which might and often do show real flair and usually an individualism that can be sadly lacking in many of the better known brands.  It might be that they’re relatively new or just one that appeals to a select few and fly just under the radar.  Whatever the reason they are often on the short list by those looking for that elusive style or look that the mainstream can’t seem to provide.

One such maker is MARCH LA.B who produce the AM2.  They are a France-made luxury timepiece brand with headquarters in Los Angeles, California and Biarritz, France and brainchild of ALAIN MARHIC since 2008 and the AM2 model I feature here is a model I that typifies the individual look.

March AM2 in burgandy Automatic.  The individuals watch.

March AM2 in burgundy Automatic. The individuals watch.

And it is different, it’s what I personally call “heavy” retro and this model actually inspired apparently by those seventies Ford Mustangs with their plush seating interiors, aggressive, charismatic and above all – individual.

Certainly a different kind of presentation with the heavy polished 316L Stainless Steel case with that large heavily textured and logo’d crown bulging out from the case @4.  It certainly can’t be missed, that’s for sure.   First looks shows off the plush deep maroon/burgundy finish dial and domed anti-reflective Sapphire crystal.
The case is 38 mm square and the watch is powered by a Swiss ETA 2892-A automatic movement with self -winding ball bearing rotor system, Date corrector, Stop seconds device and ETACHRON regulator system.  It’s a pretty well specified model of that there is no doubt and at 28,800 vibrations/hr and 21 jewels should provide decent decent accuracy.

Customized ETA2892-A Swiss Automatic seen through amazing green crystal viewing post.

Customized ETA2892-A Swiss Automatic seen through that amazing green Sapphire crystal viewing post.

The Hour and Minute hands are treated with luminous material, a sweep seconds hand, silver markers plus a customized Date set @3 against the deep maroon/burgundy color dial background are quite striking.
The watch back is secured by 4 screws and the viewing window in amazing green is a Sapphire crystal, showing the customized movement inside.  Note the Crown is screw down and this model has a Water Resistance of 10 ATM /100 M.

The watch has a really plush sculpted (those Mustang seats!) perforated black “buffle” band with maroon/burgundy highlights and Alcantara lining and is pretty special in it’s own right.

So a true individualist model, the AM2 and I do like it, as it’s not only something different, but it’s both a quality piece and has an in your face retro style I find refreshing.  And bear in mind I’m not American, so inspirational items from the USA don’t usually influence me one way or another, but with the AM2 it’s got something I can identify with, and that’s the Mustang – I mean it’s a Classic and I’ve seen the pictures and indeed the movie . . . etc. and I can see the connection very clearly.

Price wise this is not unrealistic at around £750 perhaps and I’m pretty sure your next door neighbor or the guys at the Golf Club will not have one of these!  You might have to see about a change of vehicle of course and then price might become an issue!

And of course you guessed it – it’s now on my list!  and I’m trying so hard to cut back . . . 😉  and failing miserably!

World Time elegance

This elegant model is from Louis Vuitton and is the Heures du Monde which is apparently in honour of the company’s roots as a travel-trunk manufacturer.

Louis Vitton "Heures du Monde" Automatic

Louis Vuitton “Heures du Monde” Automatic

The case is in fine finished stainless steel at 44mm diameter, with interesting lug shapes.  It features a Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating under which lies the satin gray dial, which with the offset world map certainly has a different look.  24 City abbreviations/time zones are in yellow and white alternately around the globe and a GMT function allows the traveler to check time in two time zones simultaneously.
Note the two Date apertures – the one on the right of the standard Date window is actually a “jump” hour display which indicates the current hour in the tracked time zone and differentiating from day and night in white or gray.  Time zone selection is by use of the pusher @2 and a small corrector is located @4 for daylight-saying compensation.  Note too the small yellow zone indicator within the globe track index.
The analog hour and minute hands are infilled with Superluminova and the long yellow sweep center seconds hand adds good contrast.  There is also an exhibition back through which you can see the automatic movement and rotor, which of course is engraved with the LV logo.  The watch incidentally is also water Resistant to 50m.

Movement wise this model features a Swiss in-house Cal. LV101 21 jewel Automatic with a 40 hours power reserve.

Finally this model features a very stylish gray alligator and black calf leather bi-material strap with yellow stitching, which reflects the iconic Louis Vuitton luggage look.

So what price fashion ?

Whilst I’m quite taken with this model especially from a Fashion House rather than a traditional watch Brand, my concern has to be the Price which is around $9500.  I assume the high mark up is due to the position Louis Vuitton commands within the fashion world, but from a watch value viewpoint? 
It’s a nicely designed and finished watch, looks good, with decent quality features, sapphire crystal, reasonable movement (though no details), a neat World Time function, but no more than that.  It is without added value precious metal or jewellery decoration, so basically is a good mid range stainless steel watch, albeit with that stylish “fashion” design, but £6000?

It is a fact today that many of the Fashion Houses are coming up with excellent watches, both in terms of quality and technically and with good features, which often display an elegance that some of the mainstream Watch manufacturers are lacking, but the pricing for me is just too inflated.

However if you are a lover of and value “Fashion”and you’re prepared to pay for it, on the lookout for an elegant and dressy watch which has some practicality, then this one could easily be for you.

I’m admit to being tempted myself as I actually like it . . . but I have my eye on a pre-owned Vacheron Constantin and a vintage Rolex and I’m hoping to have change out of £6000 for the two – if successful, so I’ll pass . . .  😉