Eco or Auto Diver?

I picked up this Promaster model some time ago, basically as an alternative to my older Seiko Orange Monster and as a mechanical automatic option to my Older Citizen Ec-Drive Diver.  However, whatever the good or bad points in reference to whichever power system is used, the power system, the most important bit for me is Clarity – ie – is the thing easy to read.  So, being very happy in that regard, with my “cheap” Apeks Diver, I decided to compare them – to see how this Promaster stacked up against it.

This is the Citizen Promaster Automatic 200m Diver NY0400-17LE in blue.  A slightly unusual model as the crown is positioned to the 8 o’clock position.  Quite what the logic of this is, rather escapes me.  I could understand it a little, if the crown was a pusher, like a stop-watch start button. Then the right thumb could be used assuming the watch was worn on the left wrist  but this isn’t a pusher – it’s a crown.  In fact it’s a standard screw down, hands, day and date set crown, so the rationale for this position escapes me.  But it looks different and it doesn’t stick into the wrist – (often the excuse for the crown at the 4 o’clock position) but not that that’s ever been an issue on any watch I’ve owned.

Citizen Mechanical Automatic (no solar, no battery – just you)

Anyway, this model despite the crown etc. appears to be a solid performer, looks good, very solid and very well made.  It features good large hands/markers and a decent contrast face with a centre seconds, under a Hardlex Crystal , heavy well knurled uni-directional, screw down crown and back, 200m Water Resistance and a blue silicon strap.

So, why does it have a list of silly little niggles I don’t like.

Nothing to do with legibility of course, but of course that crown position seems wrong, for me at least.  Would it suit the left handed? – maybe, but I ain’t.  And for me, I end up holding the watch upside down to adjust anything.  Which is awkward.  Case-wise it looks great, well constructed and finished to a high standard as you’d expect from Citizen.

But here legibility comes into question.

Comparison – Left – Citizen and right – Apeks (note the clarity of the Apeks date)

The dial, appears more heavily recessed in reality to the Apeks (though in fact it isn’t) and shows dark under normal light.  And yes, I know the sales picture seems fine (above).
But the actual photo image here on my desk, shows different – in fact we have some dial shadow.  This is caused by the inner seconds ring sloping up against the dial wall, whereas the Apeks ring (also black) is flat on the dial itself, then with a reflective side wall as it were, which supports the crystal.  The result in the daylight is, the Apeks is much clearer.

The dial background of the Citizen on the left is also reminiscent of a solar cell, which it isn’t.  If you turn the watch to the light, you see the setting “sun glare” reflection from centre to edge – the image doesn’t show it too clearly here, though if you look carefully you can just see the “sun across the sea flare” between the 9 and 10, spreading out from the centre.  In some lighting, it is very noticeable and makes the watch tricky to read quickly.

If I now look at the markers, the Citizen has metalised edges, which in the dark doesn’t affect the luminousity (which is brilliant), but in the daylight, these being reflective, definitely hinder legibility.  I much prefer the matt contrast markers, without any edges.  Seems like over embellishment to me.

And finally, the Citizen Day and Date window uses a rather thin white font against a black background – when it’s a fact that this combination is not as easy to read as black on white!

And the final ignominy, for me and nothing to do with reading the time – is the strap.  The Citizen original blue one, has the “waves” on both sides and OK I accept it’s supposed to be a Diver’s watch and whilst it may be fine for gripping a wet suit, but for recreational bare skin snorkelling, it’s really not as comfortable as the Apeks, which has flattened waves on the inner surface against the wrist.
Note – In the second image showing both watches, I have changed it for a black modified cut down Apeks and for me it’s better for comfort and proportion.
Of course I’m just reflecting what many Divers do when using a watch of this type – they modify them, but as always, don’t get me wrong – it’s still a lovely watch, but for me, personally it’s not my best choice.

What this does show, though is that whichever power sourced watch you prefer and have decided to get, it is often really quite difficult to tick all the boxes in one model.  You invariably have to compromise, which is just how it is.

And what about Eco or Auto? – and maybe the true reason for my Post.

Quartz battery, Eco-Drive solar, hybrid Kinetic and so on, despite being modern technological ideas, in comparison to the old bumper mechanical “self wind” technology, actually seem somewhat lacking in practical terms.

And in fact, the one redeeming and great feature about this Citizen and the real reason for buying it, is the sensible, tough and solid performance of the Mechanical Automatic movement, which at the end of the day is VERY difficult to beat!

No reliance on electronics (modules, step motors and the like) no outside influences required, no chargers or batteries!  All it needs is basically is – YOU!

Simply take it out of the drawer, shake it a couple of times, stick it on your wrist and you’re in business – period.  You can wear it in the day time or at night, nice luminous hands and markers means you can actually read the thing at any time.  If it has good water resistance, then don’t worry about water and don’t worry about a few knocks, as in the case of the Diver or Recreational model – these are very well built.

It has to be said again – that fact that only “outside” or “exterior” energy source required – is you.  Just you.  Isn’t that ridiculously clever?

In fact, to be honest, I have many Automatics in my collection I have display cases full of them, vintage automatics going back many more years than I care to remember – and every darned one of them works almost instantly, as you pick them up.  As I say – difficult to beat!

So, nothing new, I hear you say and whilst I agree – it is factually surprisingly, that the old self-winding mechanical Automatic is often quite unknown among the young of today.

They are so in tune with iPhones and iPads and Android this and that – and all being accepted, would you believe, even with pathetic battery life.  Of course this is the new world of easy power on tap, instant communications and availability of knowledge and the all pervading Internet and so on – but all of it, however, requiring external power sourcing. . . . and maybe frightening too in this world of AI, not actually reliant on you – at all . . . . and that seems a little scary?

And what happens when the power is not there?

Doesn’t bear thinking about and kids, and most youngsters today don’t – think about it – at all.

Anyway, enough of my little rant – I’m not going to go into that subject anymore, except in the context of watches.  Independent power, or energy produced by my wrist movement seems an idea that will continue for a long time yet.  Maybe we should power other devices from the wrist or legs – true kinetics perhaps.  Not charging batteries or accumulators though – as for me, these are a fundamental weakness in comparison to what can be almost friction less mechanical devices.

Anyway, back to my nice Citizen Day AND Date Diver – It’s a Mechanical Automatic – did I mention that?  It features the Calibre 8203 Japan movement to be precise and it’s a nice 40mm diameter, so not a large watch.  It’s 200m rated. so fine for scuba diving or swimming and most other recreational water activities.

So, just another Diver style watch?  Well maybe so, but this is a mechanical Automatic and it works for you and because of you –

and today, that’s a good thing, right?

Edox bargain

The very reliable Pesseux 7001 mechanical movement used occasionally by the likes of Blancpain and others, was so well regarded that it wasn’t long before the ETA 7001 appeared (bought by ETA).  Started off life in 1971 with 17 jewels, 21,600 vph, non hacking, with a 42 hour reserve and very thin, was a great favourite with all sorts of Brands and Edox liked them for some of their Les Bemonts models.

Edox 2008 Les Bemonts manual wind Dress watch.

This is the unusual rectangular Les Bemonts model circa 2008 from Edox.

A well sized model at 34 mm wide and nearly 45 mm lug to lug and only 7.9 mm depth, shows just how thin this ETA7001 hand wind movement allows neat case design.  The crystal is flat Sapphire, the dial features a sub seconds dial and gold and white background with gold hands, Edox “hourglass” logo and Swiss Made at the foot.

The case is stainless steel, gold plated with an exhibition back with part cutout to view the 7001 movement.  The watch is Water Resistant to 5Bar.  The 22 mm lug measured strap is high quality leather fitted to an Edox deployment (with extensions) mechanism, which is one of the most comfortable I’ve worn as it lies very flat on the wrist.

Great on the wrist Edox with excellent Edox deployment strap.

This particular watch was purchased in 2008 in Holland and according to the retail slip was €899 (Euros) and it the recent Auction I managed to get it for just £130.

Exhibition stainless back showing the ETA 7001 movement.

Now considering this watch has obviously not been worn, comes with box, attached watch protection stickers, instruction booklet, plus being in absolute pristine condition, no marks scuffs or anything other than showroom condition, I reckon this is indeed a bargain – so I’m well pleased.

Do I need what is after all a relatively modern watch like this? – well yes I do actually as I’ve found a new niche in collecting and that’s great “dress” watches that I can wear – and this is certainly one of them.
A great price for  what is a pretty decent hi-grade ETA movement, Sapphire crystal, elegant design case and dial, plus a great fit on the wrist, for just over £100 – I think that’s a good deal.
Probably one the good reasons for visiting Auctions and especially IF you can manage at a fair price for you.  It can offset the quite extortionate “fees” that Auction Houses are applying these days – one of my gripes I know, but I’m going to keep going on about it.

Let’s face it many Auction houses would be in severe decline if it were not for the Internet – as it draws in a huge number of potential buyers – maybe they need to recognize this and give Internet bidders a discount for taking the trouble to visit their auction and bid, rather than try to screw more cash out of us all.

You never know it could be a winning idea, for the Auction house as well as the web punter.

Pro Trek Triple & neater

The new range of updated Casio Pro Trek Triple Sensor v3 are around now in a whole pile of colors, which is nice, but for me the best bit of news is that these models are just that little bit smaller than the older ones, or certainly neater.

Casio Pro Trek PRG-300-1A2 series ABC models in eye catching colros.

Casio Pro Trek PRG-300-1A2 series ABC models in eye catching colors.

Personally I don’t get carried away by the optional colors, as like cars, certain colors suit, others don’t.  In the case of the models here I find that some colors, certainly in close up just make the watch look “plasticky” whilst others look great.  A personal choice I know, but care should be taken of the overall look and the different display characteristics, positive/negative and so on regarding clarity.

PRG-300-1A2 in black//blue with great display (best one imo)

PRG-300-1A2 in black//blue with great display (best one imo).

Neat case at 47mm width with smoother control/sensors

Neat case at 47 mm width with smoother control/sensors.

Neat control buttons.

Neat control buttons.

As with so many of these Casio multi-function models however the strap is resin (note that the entire case appears to be resin now as opposed to a resin shroud).  And the strap has these (blue here) plastic extenders, that annoy me intensely.  The overall case at 56 mm lug to lug, the watch is still quite wide for average wrists and imo these don’t help that situation at all.

Not much in the way of changes to the technical specification (how easy it is to say that now . . . ), but that’s a fact- so just cosmetic alterations, little case changes and so on, but nevertheless resulting in a smoother, slightly neater watch overall – and for me that’s a good thing.

They say change is a good thing – NOT a sentiment I take lightly here in the UK (or what’s left of it) since today we awoke to realize we’d chucked out the EU concept.  Got fed up with unelected and in power Brussels EU bureaucrats saying what we could or could not do as a Country (and getting worse), who have a different agenda to our National one . . . .

I mean when the outgoing President of a protectionist nation has the temerity to TELL us what we should do, followed by a whole gaggle of other egocentric and self interested nonentities (often paid by the EU) – it sort of gets your back up – the result was never in doubt – What can I say?

So we’re going it alone –

Wow!

(Sorry about that, but Hey – sometimes you’ve just got to say . . . . .)

You can’t be serious?

Yes, just looking at what’s supposed to be available this year in the Smart watches category and as before I’m still very disappointed.  I decided not to get lots of images of the latest offerings as they all look much the same to me and certainly don’t inspire me to want to even contemplate buying one.

But it’s the same old battery life issue that stops this so called “smart” revolution dead in it’s tracks.  Some of them are boasting “superb” battery life at just 3 days, maybe even a week with mono display models.  LG for example use one of the largest batteries yet at 410mAh and it struggles at 2½ days if you want to use the screen for anything.  The Pebble Time boasts a week – maybe and when I saw one the other day, I thought at first it was an old LED model as he wore it blank faced all day and probably hoped nobody would ask him the time.

I mean – really?

I feel a John McEnroe coming on – “You can’t be serious!”

Ashampoo_Snap_2016.03.19_15h01m06s_002_

Asus ZenWatch – BUT let down with very poor battery life – shame as it looks OK.

Ashampoo_Snap_2016.03.19_14h56m50s_001_

LG smart watches

Unfortunately I am and this is the real issue and not one that will be solved readily.  Even using the very latest new fangled processor technology you’re only talking of hours improvement at best.

OK I have included 2 images of smart watches after all, basically as they don’t look too bad, but I include them here for that fact alone and absolutely nothing to do with whether they are any good or actually of any use.   I also note that many of these watches are already suffering from AMOLED screen burn where the bright displays are causing screen problems – like my old PC used to have a screen saver to try and prevent.  The Asus Zen is particularly prone to this and as a consequence moves pixels around to try and compensate – but this in turn causes screen clarity issues.

As I’ve said many times before, this whole Smart Watch technology is basically a work in progress and under development.  And I would further suggest it will be a considerable time before these quite major issues are resolved – battery life being the big one.   I also question the entire idea and necessity for an intermediate device between your wrist and your pocket, where your smart phone resides and which incidentally has a far better battery life than the so called “smart” watch and it has all the software required to actually do something with it.

At this moment in time I just don’t see the point.

But if battery life was suddenly increased to a couple of years or even just one, then who knows.  But to have all this expense just so my wrist can tell me I have an email or a message, when my phone in my pocket has already buzzed to let me know anyway?  Come  on . . . . .

There’s Rolex and there’s . . .

. . . Rolex!

I suppose I must be in the minority, as for me Rolex watches are just not my favourite watch, though perhaps I should qualify this by saying “modern” Rolex models.

Modern but not for me!

Modern maybe, but not for me!

The older model such as the 1981 Rolex 1006 or perhaps the 1979 Submariner 5513 for example, or models that were basically around until the mid 1990’s I’d say, were and are still are the best of the bunch for me personally.  In fact the earlier vintages are much better in all cases for me.

Since then nothing has really appealed.  From then till now a sort of “sameness” seems to have occurred and no amount of tinkering with the models has altered my perception.  That said maybe the Cellini models are a step in the right direction, reflecting as they do some of those early models, but today’s mainstream models do nothing for me and especially the Sub this and the Mariner that range.

1950's Rolex two tone thunderbird bezel classic

1950’s Rolex two tone thunderbird bezel classic

It’s also true to say in my opinion anyway that maybe back in those pre-1990 days there wasn’t the same overbearing hype surrounding the Brand and folks who owned these Rolex models, actually appreciated the watch for what it was and not for the silly “I’ve got a Rolex” status symbol.

And in the early vintage days there were so many wonderful variants and styles that you were spoiled for choice and certainly to get one today will set you back a fair amount of cash, so perhaps I’ve created a rod for my own back, as these vintages are indeed the only models that attract me – and attract me they do!

1940 steel red centre sweep seconds - luminous hands

1940 steel red centre sweep seconds – luminous hands

Seems to me these days too many wearers seem far more interested in being seen with the big shiny “Rolex ” on their wrist, than in the attributes or otherwise of the particular model.
They value the status over the product – in other words the Brand, dare I say it, has gone too far and become synonymous with Bling.  And yes I accept – expensive Bling at that!

A bit like the UK expression “Oh my other car’s a Mercedes” when someone queried your 4 year old Volvo.  It’s the status aspect that assumes importance and the interest and not actually the car at all.

And that is surely a real shame as Rolex are a very good Brand indeed, but I see at Auction, people who obviously wouldn’t know a Rolex from a plastic kitchen clock, buying by description.  They just have to buy one – because they believe incredibly if they own one, they’ve made it!  They are now one of the elite – yes one of the “I’ve got a Rolex” brigade.

The sheer number of Rolex watches that come up for sale and offered on the market from Pawnbroker stocks, is staggering.  Usually dumped by those same folks who bought the watch as a status symbol in the first place and one of the first items to go, when financial reality comes home to roost.

There are so many of them, Rolex’s I mean – the market is awash with them and there are also thousands of fakes sloshing around.  Some Replicas these days look as good as the real thing.  Now that says to me, either the fakes are getting very much better or the Rolex itself is becoming old hat and boring – and I’m not really sure which.

So I’ll stick to my classic Vacheron Constantins, Pateks, Jaegers and yes to my true “vintage” Rolex models if I may.

1928 Rolex rectangular exploded numerals with sub seconds.

1928 Rolex rectangular exploded numerals with sub seconds.

Now they certainly don’t have the over-hyped status appeal of the big shiny modern Rolex, but do have a certain old “Classic” sophistication and that’s fine by me.  They are sleek, comfortable and discrete and with a subtle elegance and charm that usually goes un-noticed on my wrist.

And furthermore I have to say I’m actually rather pleased in the knowledge of ownership and when confronted with the Rolex bling – and it happens so, so often – I just smile to myself – quietly . . . . . .

However recently on a river cruise in Europe, I was at dinner and one of my companions who was wearing the biggest shiniest Rolex I’ve ever seen, did actually notice my watch which was just visible at my cuff.  In fact he always seemed to make a point of trying to see the watches of his fellow travellers.

‘You didn’t buy that on board did you?’ he commented.  ‘It looks real neat’.

‘It’s an old Rolex’, I said.

‘Rolex! Well it sure doesn’t look like one’, he said.

‘Ah well’, I replied, ‘there’s Rolex and there’s Rolex’.

NoteThe images of the vintage Rolex are from and are featured on www.vintagewatchcompany.com web site and are currently available for sale.  The vintagewatchcompany have the widest range of pre-owned Rolex and well worth a look.  Who knows you may be tempted!

Sky Hawk – upgrade?

Not so long ago I invested in a replacement for my old Navitimer (which I sold on in a fit of insanity!) with a Sky Hawk JYooo5-50E, and I have to say I’m really pleased with it.  But as these things do, the latest incarnation (Japanese Domestic market) is the new Citizen Promaster PMV65-2272

Is it me?  Or have the internal bezels ruined that Classic look?

Is it me? Or have the internal bezels ruined that Classic look?

and for me at least the jury is out as to whether this is an improvement or not.

This is the latest one and you can spot the difference immediately.  The outer slide-rule bezel has disappeared to materialize inside the watch and adjusted by the use of a turn screw crown on the outside of the case.  The case is black colored Titanium, which I do like, but the rest of the dial set up is more or less the same as it’s always been – and for that I am truly happy – why change a design classic?
The functions are more or less the same I understand, Chronograph, Radio Control, Eco-Drive etc etc.  The lighting is as was, so is about as good as it gets and that appears to be it.

Slide rule inside not outside.  So it looks slightly different and funnily enough I’m the kind of guy that’s never been overly fond of multi-data bezels, so I should like it.

Skyhawk JY0005-50E - Looks sleek and Classic!

Skyhawk JY0005-50E – Looks sleek and Classic!

But NOT SO – as in the case of the older Citizen Navitimer and Sky Hawk models – these bezels have always just been SO good and so much part of the design concept – I love them.

So unfortunately the outside to inside bezel change just doesn’t do it for me – and is it me or has the new version suddenly become a little lumpier exterior wise?  And not nearly as sleek with that extra (and large) crown on the left side and the existing ones looking larger and more aggressive?

Now OK I accept that the Slide-rule element bezels are now closer together so should work better together as a slide-rule and that’s as may be – BUT –

Conclusion – Can’t see any reason for this so called upgrade, as my older model is still available and at a much cheaper price and looks better in my opinion.

What can I say?

Power play . . .

Had posted this in my “Commentary” section but got so hooked into it, I just had to Post it here as a leader and prompted by the silly hype being generated by that latest smartwatch from Apple.

14th October 2014 (reprinted from Commentary)

Just saw an article, one of many actually, that boasts that the introduction of the Apple Smart Watch will threaten the Swiss watch industry.  It seems to base this premise on what exactly? that in comparison to the new Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert model which as they say, has a Compass, Altimeter, Barometric Pressure, Timers, Chronograph and tells you the time – the Apple does all sorts of super things like “open your hotel room door” and pay for goods and services.  The inference being that the Apple watch is better?

Well for me that just about says it all.  The Apple Watch and all the other smart watches appear do all sorts of “stupid” things and just a few OK ones besides – I mean I tend to use a key or key card issued by the hotel to open the door . . . . though I can see why this fact might be important as you will certainly have to get to a power point in less than a day to charge your so called “Smart” Watch.

And this is the HUGE problem with these things.  Power or the lack of it and especially with all the wonderful “things” you can do with it.  And as to payment for everything with a watch?  If I remember correctly some time ago Apple came out with this Passbook system, which was an e-ticketing/coupon sort of payment idea, which here in the UK was a total disaster.  In fact the poor take up figures already show we don’t even like using that horrible “Proximity Card” idea for paying for your shopping in the supermarket, as they are both insecure and unreliable as many cases prove and the new Apple smart payment idea appears to be very similar.

However when you get down to it, the “smart” watch actually does very little, if anything, on it’s own.  It has to connect to a compatible phone or perhaps “smart” phone, which also incidentally needs to be charged virtually every day as well, so you can check messages or Emails or whatever else the modern guy seems to imagine he has to have.  I personally call it all a bit of a con!  Is it to much trouble just to check your phone in your pocket? and then you can properly answer without severe eye strain.

Perpetuated by Apple and the rest of the “smart hand communicator” makers, each bombarding you with an deluge of sales litter, just to get you to buy their products but also to then rely on them.  Plus trying very hard to make sure their devices only talk to their own brand and then have to charge them with their bespoke charger connector (each new model = different connector) just to make you buy a new one every darned time.

As I say a very big con!  And cynic that I am it appears the cost of all this a pretty blatant and deliberate ploy to get you to pay their development costs for what are let’s face it, less than complete products.  In fact until they can provide Solar “smart” watches in my view they are wasting your and their money.

Meanwhile with my Tissot Solar Swiss Watch I’m still able to tell the time and the date and use my compass the next day or next week or next month and for many, many years!  As the title piece said in this article and I repeated here, my wrist watch is “solar” – no battery worries and even if left in a dark drawer, it will still be working a year later and never miss a beat.  Now I don’t know about you, but I call that SMART . . .! Very smart.

Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert Swiss Watch.  Also a "Smart" watch!

Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert Swiss Watch. Also a “Smart” watch!

Interestingly as I look at the back of my own Tissot Solar Expert Swiss watch it actually states “Smart Watch” (see image – click to enlarge) which says to me – the Swiss know a thing or two about wrist watches.  I have a feeling that a good watch, mechanical hand wind, automatic, spring drive, Quartz Eco-drive or plain Solar will still be around long after the so called “smart” watch has corroded away to Lithium dust, which won’t do you much good either!

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