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?

Longines vintage

Another Longines vintage watch from the 1950’s.

Longines fancy lug 1950’s watch

This midsize 30mm diameter, manual wind 23ZS 17 jewel movement model with it’s amazing fancy lugs is one of my favourites.  The lugs are much more substantial than many of this type, being very solid.  The D&A watch case is nicely polished in 14K filled Gold, and the dial has a black face with an inset machined inner, the hour, minute and centre seconds hands in matching gold, as are the applied arrowhead markers.  A Gold filled snap back cover and a size 18 black lizard leather strap completes the item.

Longines Calibre 23ZS centre seconds sweep.

Quite an expensive watch of it’s day and the 23ZS movement one of their great calibres, with 18000 a/h and a Power Reserve of 44 hours, this model is ticking away, keeping very good time after 65 years.  A darned sight more efficiently than I am!

I note this model has a snap back/base which when removed still holds the movement within it. To remove the movement it entails further and careful prying apart from the case base. I have not removed the movement here as I don’t wish to disturb it, but I show a image from a web source.

Model entry in Shugarts Complete Price Guide Edition 38.

Note – This model was one of a series and this version is featured on page 918 of the “2018 Complete Price Guide to Watches” Edition 38 by Gilbert, Planes, Engle, Gilbert & Shugart.  The other model shown is the sub-seconds version, with diamond markers.

The watch is in very good condition, possibly refurbished to some extent over the period and the movement shows some tarnishing, but not enough to cause any issues.  It keeps pretty decent time showing perhaps a minute slow near the end of it’s power reserve of 44 hours.  The crown is a little stiff, but other than that, a very nice addition to my vintage Longines collection.

My “everyday” chalk & cheese?

For the last 21 years, since 1999 my “everyday watch” has been my old Quartz Titanium Breitling Aerospace, basically as it has the features I use most.  Very easy to read, owing to it’s overhung minute hand and dial layout, plus it’s remarkable luminous quality (especially with narrow hands), a very clear digital Day and Date display, extreme comfort, good water resistance and excellent time keeping with Auto calendar function.  It’s neat size is another bonus (unlike current models) and just 9mm thick.  So what’s not to like?  Plus it has other hidden functions, which I really never use and I’m very happy with it.  Battery life around 5 or 6 years.

Breitling Aerospace 1999 Great “Daily Beater”.

But I thought just for fun, I’d have a look again at what constitutes a true everyday watch , this time with a bias towards the ubiquitous “recreational”  or “diver like” models, because these mostly provide features I’d consider what an everyday watch should have, often as standard.

Most are tough built, easy to read and with a decent water resistance to a bit more than a few splashes from the kitchen sink.  Plus you can see the time at night – so good luminosity is a definite.  A model you can confidently strap on your wrist, whatever you’re doing and don’t look out of place even at dinner and know it will be just fine, whatever is thrown at it – and still look good.  A jack of all trades, if you will!

Now, from a personal viewpoint, I’m avoiding those larger and sometimes over-macho models, as I have a small to medium wrist and if it’s too big, then it can look silly, which makes me look the same.  Some of the recreational styles can be over-sized in the misconception that more features is good.  And for everyday wear, it really isn’t.  Think more of what you actually need and be honest.

Looking through my own collection of over 140 watches now, I didn’t have to look far as my “other” everyday model is one of my favourites – the very affordable Apeks 200m Diver Pro (at UNDER £100).  This was and still is offered by the Apeks Diving Company, known for their diving breathing apparatus mostly, but as a watch choice, have got it just about right.

On the wrist in standard strap – best fit I have and great “Daily” watch.

This is a Quartz model.  It is also very easy to read and the dial diameter and layout is good – giving the right separation of luminous markers on a matt background, which makes night reading really good, coupled with excellent luminous features.  It also has a Date AND Day, which is a useful everyday feature.  The watch is a neat size too, only 10.5mm thick, smooth stainless case, 44mm diameter incl’ crown, screw down protected crown and a superb polyurethane strap – flat on the inside against the wrist, so it VERY comfortable.  The watch back is also very flat. The uni-directional bezel has good knurl definition, so very easy to use.
In fact this is one of the few watches I’ve ever come across, that for me has no faults at all – nothing!

I found another “diver” style watch, an old favourite at the time – the very neat Citizen BN0000.04 Eco-Drive Promaster 300m Divers’ Watch, which I have owned for more years than I care to mention.  It differs from the Apeks, as it’s Eco-Drive, 300m Water Resistance, but it’s not in the same league for clarity – in that the solar sensor face is glossy, the hands and markers slightly too close for quick glance reading, especially at night (even though luminosity is good).  The Date window is a little small, the bezel ( an aluminium insert) is not as knurled as I would like and slopes away from the dial, so is not that easy to use (possibly gloves may give a better grip).

Citizen 300m Diver – decent “Daily Beater” too?

And, of course it’s Eco-Drive, so relies on solar energy (and why it resides near the window), which for me, to some extent is a drawback.  After all – I live in Scotland, where sun is in short supply and it’s always cold, which means the watch is almost exclusively UNDER my sleeve.  Now whilst Citizen say that once fully charged the watch should perform for 6 months, I’ve never chanced it.  But and I kid you not, it’s easy to forget how long it has NOT been in good light under normal wear, bearing in mind mostly under my sleeve.  But Hey!  It’s still a good everyday watch, though I’m sure there are better today. 

So I’ve come to the conclusion, for me, that battery Quartz (3 to 6 years), is OK as long as you accept if the battery dies, it’s bound to do it when you least expect it! But my personal preference, has to be the tried and tested mechanical Self-Winding Automatic, as it’s always ready and if worn, keeps going as long as you do!   😉

NEWS FLASH – I found in another display box, hidden under another etc. etc. a very smart blue Citizen Pro-Master NY0040-17E which does actually sport a mechanical Automatic movement and I intend to feature it very soon.  I thought? I had one of these, but unable to find it before this Post, was written . . . . So, more later . . . . .

Now I know someone will mention “kinetic”, but suffice to say, these are just not for me. (another story).

But, back to my quest.  Let’s look at what else is around today in that “recreational or Diver Style” that might fit as my everyday watch.

The first one I like the look of, for no other reason, that it has a very clean look, is the Szanto HLI Dive Watch.  A model I confess to never having heard of before.

Szanto HLI Dive Watch. Clear easy read 43mm Diameter.

Like the Apeks, it’s Quartz, also 200m Water Resistance, Date only (personally I prefer day and date), but a nice readable size.  Slightly larger case 43mm diameter (crown extra) and I believe a little thicker, so I’d really have to see one in the flesh as it were, as for me, size is very important (yes, I know, I’ve heard the jokes!!!)  It also has a uni-directional bezel, with K1 hardened Mineral Crystal and a tough stainless case.

But I like the look of it’s uncluttered face, should mean it’s an easy reader with it’s large markers.  I like the second hand lume DOT, which is always a nice touch.  The strap looks substantial without any over macho look.

However, in comparison with the Apeks it’s over double the price at around the £195 mark.

The next I’ve seen is the Orient FAA02003B9, again described as a Diver, though to me recreational is more acceptable and it is also 200m described.  This is the black version with a 22mm deployment bracelet.  The stainless steel case of 43mm diameter (ex crown) by 13mm thickness, so quite chunky.

Orient FAA0200 series 5D9 black 200m Diver

This watch, however is not quartz, but a self wind mechanical Automatic Japan F699 22 jewel movement and for me this is quite a good thing and perhaps even a plus.  It’s always ready for action (no battery requirement) and as long as you wear it, it runs.

I have heard reports that whilst it can be manually wound, some say it’s as good as it should be, but without first hand knowledge I can’t comment.  All I can say is that I have many automatic models with manual winding if required and I’ve never had any issues, ever.

It also has Day and Date, which I like, the window big enough to make reading easy and the dial is uncluttered too, again a good feature.  Big luminous hands and markers, so easy read.  Whether a bracelet is your thing or not, being a standard fit, an alternative strap or a Nato job is easy to source and fit.

I also note that, as with a number of Orient watches, whilst the movement is Japan made, the case is Chinese.  This seems to be an issue for some, though I’m perfectly fine with that and Orient themselves are quite open about it.  But let’s not get into the Chinese made component argument – find the completed product without an Asian reference is a tall order indeed, today.  (I even have an expensive vintage IWC watch and it’s case was made in Hungary!)
Anyway, the Orient is a nice watch and it can be purchased for around £180 on the Web and it just about fits the everyday watch requirement pretty well.

So, just two or three recreational Diver style models available at reasonable prices – that might meet the everyday description and there are plenty more.

The trick is to get one that’s not too big, it’s easy to read, day or night, has no gimmicky functions, can be used for the odd swim, tells you the time at a glance and for me, the date AND the Day is very useful and looks good (when you’re retired you never remember what darned day it is).  😉

Personally I like the Apeks, as it provides me personally with all I need and at a really good price.  It also has original replacement straps available, should I ever need one, but it’s nice to see.

What does seem amazing to me though, is that the two watches I wear most, may indeed be “chalk & Cheese”, but both provide my everyday requirements fully and yet are poles apart, price-wise!  But as always, it’s rarely price that determines your wrist companion, but whether it meets your personal requirement – and in this case, both manage exactly that function.
Differently, yes, but perfectly too.

I also reckon I’m pretty fortunate to have my old 1999 Aerospace, as today Breitling models are too big, too brash, and too expensive.  And the Apeks is it’s perfect companion and that suits me.  I don’t think that how much I trawl current offerings, I’ll not be changing any time soon!

The Smart age – Huawei

Once again I’ve tentatively decided to check out the Smart brigade – those ‘wearables’ (I hate that word!) that you see lots of folk sporting on their wrists today.

Huawei Smart Watch

Looked at two, though I’ll really only talk a bit about the one I show here – The Huawei GT 2 (42mm).  And surprisingly, being no lover of this so called smart revolution – I like it.

This model is from Huawei, certainly more mainstream, being the World’s 3rd largest producer of Cell Phones and at under £150 was a surprise.  What it has done. for me, is to produce a watch – yes a watch, conventionally shaped round stainless case, beautifully made, I have to say and with a conventional strap (not integrated, which is a huge plus).  It actually comes with two straps – the one shown is a black soft silicon and very comfortable and the other a tan leather one.  Both come with quick release spring bars, so changing straps for any conventional watch strap is easy.

This watch with it’s Kirin A1 Self-developed Chip, shows the time, very clearly on it’s 1.2 inch AMOLED colour screen, is coupled with a 3D glass screen.  It has excellent resolution 454 x 454, PPI 326 – and it is VERY clear. Plus the watch face is VERY easy to swipe, with a highly accurate touch response, unlike some.  As I said, it shows the time and the previous image shows my daily beater (Time, Day, Date) one I like for every day and the following images show the other main time related options –

Digital time, Pulse plus two other functions

Time, Day, Date

Now I’m not a Smart Watch person – far from it.  I am also NOT a fitness fanatic – certainly not at my age.  Well OK, I was in a gymnastics team once upon a time and travelled the world, but we’re talking in the 1960’s!

I say this, as I cannot vouch for the usefulness or quality of any fitness functions, workouts and the like.  I can however, check out the Alarm, time functions, Blood Pressure measurements, Sleep monitoring, Weather, World time etc etc. plus the build quality, the screen display, how easy it is to read and use.  And that’s about it.  But it should give some idea –

Oh! and I almost forgot the App, for your phone, which is essential to any of them.

And lastly, for me at any rate, it has to work with an iPhone (can’t get to grips with that Android stuff at all). This model works with either though, so covers everything.

The graphics on this watch are quite outstanding and everything is easily readable.

Snazzy but practical

The watch is a sensible size too at 42 mm diameter (some so called Smart watches are just too big and thick ) and will fit smaller wrists just fine and it is really thin at just about 9 mm.  The case is stainless steel and it sports 2 x side buttons. Top right button is the menu function button and the scroll/swipe menu system is intuitive and as said, VERY clear.  Charging is via a small magnetic unit – sit the watch on it and any USB socket will do. Takes about 2 hours to fully charge and the watch can run for around 4 or 5 days, depending on activities.

There are 8 Time displays (as shown here) and these can be viewed with a turn of the wrist or displayed permanently in certain circumstances.

Chrono style plus Weather, Steps & Pulse

There is a scrolling menu (top right button) and you can select Weather, Fitness modes, Workouts (15), GPS enabled, Activity, Sleep data, Stress, Rower, Breathing exercises, Music, Air Pressure, Notifications, Stopwatch, Timer, Alarm, Flashlight, Find my Phone, and Settings.

So it has a very comprehensive activities list and the graphics are very, very good.

When I checked this function set against some other smart watches, although many had similar, the clarity, set up and user intuitiveness of this was frankly, streets ahead of most of them.

Many of the cheaper offerings and some that were more expensive, don’t really make the grade – a bit like the early 1970’s when the Asian digital quartz scene was born.

If digits are your thing . . .

Time options galore

Then, only the bigger names managed to survive and as then, some of the cheaper models are produced that emulate the big boys – but often unfortunately, with inferior components, such as – unapproved batteries can be used, for example, though cosmetically very similar.  Then there are the displays – Very obviously inferior in many cases  The cheaper they are, the worse the display.

And often the basic, ‘what you see every day’ clock display, is so cluttered as to the point of being virtually unreadable.  Also, they tend to overdo any digital time display, in silly shapes, or packed with too many other functions displayed all at once.  In the world of small digital displays – overkill with data = clutter.

Sleek time

And most importantly, as in the past, the cheaper models often eschew such niceties as Quality Control – instead placing reliance for that function on you – the buyer.

“If no good – send back please!”
Some customers are lucky, but many others are not.

Digits plus everything?

So, somewhere in the middle there should, hopefully, be a middle ground, where quality and function are reasonable and just maybe at a reasonable price too?
And of course the problem for the buyer is as always – finding that Smart buy.

I did look at one, which has a lot of marketing around it, from e-Watch which can be got from silly offers up to maybe £59.00 and whilst it looked OK, there were certain things straight off that didn’t do it for me.  First the strap was integrated (in other words, you can’t change it, if it’s damaged for example) and it was VERY awkward to actually fit to your wrist – I mean what’s wrong with a simple buckle?
Also, it charged using a USB to mini USB cable which connected to the side of the watch with a small rubber covered mini USB socket.  It’s only a matter of time when the little rubber cover breaks off and you have a socket open to the elements.

The Apps or functions on the cheaper eWatch were basically as all the others, walking steps, sleep patterns, Blood Pressure monitor, Running, calculator, even can take pictures via your phone and so on, and on.  But I personally found many of these to be clunky (is that a word?) and the App for the phone, I found very difficult to set up and/or pair with my old iPhone. Also the choice of watch faces just didn’t do it for me at all.

The Huawei Heath App I found synchronised fine with my watch and whilst it may not be super, duper, seems to manage the functions pretty well.  For me with the few functions I use (mostly Blood Pressure at my age) it is nothing short of brilliant.  By the way, the watch buzzes when I’ve been sitting too long doing nothing, and reminds me by way of a small graphic, to get off my butt and do some exercise!  And that’s a good thing.

There are obviously other function displays on this watch, but suffice to say there are as clear and as intuitive as the ones for time I’ve shown here – they are good and this watch, if Mr Trump is reading this, doesn’t seem to have any bearing on 5G and security – 😉

So, this is my one and only Smart Watch and probably the only one I’ll ever have – it does what I want just nicely, I can read it and I can understand it.  It works just dandy with my old iPhone 5.  I understand it gets notifications from my iPhone (I’ve seen them!) and it maybe can remotely operate my iPhone if I could figure that out too.  But as I’m not into messaging, or Facebook or Twitter of any of the many Social Media sites around – Hell I don’t even read texts?  This little watch is about as perfect for me as it can be.

I reckon I’ve made a pretty “Smart” choice and I’m happy.  Huawei!

Addendum –

I have some images of the App showing the Sleep Monitor – on my old iPhone 5.

Sleep monitor for 1 night. With comments and further analysis on scroll down.

Horizontal scroll gives Daily, weekly monthly data as required..

 

Awkward strap with tail UNDER and against the wrist?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did note, however, that the latest Apple Watch series 5 had the same awkward strap arrangement as the budget eWatch.  The fact that the tail of the strap has to be pushed under the existing strap, in other words, forced under the existing strap and against the wrist, is really, really awkward.  And when you consider any Smart Watch with Health functions has to be really snug against the wrist for those functions to operate correctly, it certainly doesn’t seem “Smart” to me!

If someone finds it easy, then good luck to them, but life’s too short for me to fiddle around with it every time I take it off then on after charging.

IWC Da Vinci SL

My first Post of 2020 features a neat IWC Da Vinci SL model.

IWC Da Vinci SL Automatic

Calibre 37524 based on the ETA 2892.A2 is a 21 jewel, high quality Automatic rotor mechanical movement.  Specifically adjusted for IWC to an accuracy of 0/+7 seconds per day.  It runs at 28,800 bph and has a 42 hour reserve, with Sapphire crystal, stainless Steel case and back, with a central sweep seconds hand and date window @3.
The crown is a screw down type and WR is 50m.  The case is approximately 37 mm in diameter and features articulated bar lugs, so is ideal for the smaller wrist and the strap (deployment) is a fine rubber material. (newer models have conventional 4 lug styles, but I prefer the neater bar arrangement).

IWC Da Vinci with signed deployment & articulated lug arrangement – year 2000

The silver dial features numerals and luminous makers and the hour and minute hands are also infilled with lume, though as with many dress watches, this luminosity is not like a diver’s model for example.  This particular model was produced from 1988 to 2002 and this one is from around 2000, so 20 years old and in perfect, as new, pristine condition.

The strap is an IWC original rubberised material with a stainless deployment action and signed buckle.

This is one of my more recent acquisitions, when recently in Lucerne in Switzerland.  A great place for watches of course, but also not so well known is the fact it is also a great source of high quality pre-owned models, complete with full servicing and guarantees.  Unlike auctions, where buyer beware is still the watchword.

My Camaro 7743

Thought I’d show off my old Heuer Camaro 7743, a 1960’s classic if there ever was. Totally as bought, with it’s original and completely unscratched and un-stretched stainless bracelet fitting to the odd sized 19 mm lugs.  Pleased about that, as so often these bracelets scratch up badly – this one however, is pristine.

Classic of the Sixties, Cushion cased Stainless Heuer Camaro 7743.

In fact the entire watch, which is the Camaro 30, 2 register chronometer version, with running seconds and 30 minute sub-dials is in pretty decent condition.  The stainless 37 mm diameter cushion case shows off it’s sunburst upper surface, which is still well detailed.  It is of course a manual wind model with the Cal Valjoux 7733 movement (one of the nicer movements out there even today) and a Plexiglass crystal.  The applied index markers with lumed batons are in perfect condition, as are the main luminescent infill hour and minute hands.  A nicely configured black seconds chrono hand completes the dial assembly.  The sub-dials are especially neat as they incorporate a circular background pattern. In short, this is a real classic watch dial set up and looks rather better balanced that many watches today.

Heuer Camaro 30 7743 classic timepiece from the sixties. Great on the wrist!

The pushers are the castellated version, so slightly later in production, which only lasted 4 years. The centre crown winder manages on full wind around 45 hours power reserve, which is very impressive.  The stainless steel screw back is plain with no markings, the model number being engraved on the case side between the lugs.

The solid cushion case, even at 37mm, which is perhaps considered small today, looks great on any wrist and sits so well, it is a delight to wear.

I have never removed the back, so the water resistance is unlikely to have been compromised and unless the watch has a movement problem, I’ll probably never break in to it, but I show here a stock image of a typical 7733 movement, though I fancy my one might look even better.

Valjoux 7733 Chrono movement – 
Image from Chrono24

It is a fact that there are not many of these models around in really good condition, which surprises me, though sometimes with Plexiglass crystals, that particular material never seems to stand the test of time.  Mine has not completely escaped glass damage either, as there are two particular scratches on the glass, but neither retract from the beauty of this watch.

I love it when a 50 year old watch gets my attention once again and springs to life from my display cabinet. This one is I think destined for my wrist for the rest of the year and long overdue.  It’s great to wear, great to look at and it functions today as well as it did all those years ago.  And it’s proved a decent investment too – not always the case when it comes to watches.

It is also the ONLY Heuer I own (a bit like my Rolex collection which comprises just 1 vintage model).  OK, I admit it – I’m picky!

Digital delights

There’s something about early digital watches that really attracts me, mostly because they can look so interesting.  Often full of complications and with amazing dial designs, which for me is possibly the most important aspect of these creations.  How to display the most relevant information or data to the user, without causing confusion – and still make the function of it, or the “user interface” as they say today, both easy to read, understand and also intuitive to use.

Not an easy task.

Here are a few that for me manage that task pretty well.

Early Citizen D060 Winsurfer, Timex (later) T49976 Expedition, Early Citizen D100 Promaster Windsurfer

And yes they are all quartz, battery powered and every so often you have to change the battery – it can be daunting, though once you get the hang of the user logic, these ones are actually easy to manage.  Sometimes there are printed highlight notes on the module reminding you to short out this or that, or push all buttons prior to setting up and so on, though that’s basically to clear memory ans rarely affects the basic time function.
Any time a battery needs changing – it’s – clear the desk workspace – take care and concentrate.  But seeing the display come to life again and then scrolling through the various functions and reminding yourself just what these modules can do, is always a pleasure.

Casio 931 – BGP-20 Multi-Planner,
Casio 928 DW-7200 Pentagraph Referee Timer

Casio vintage Alarm Chrono, had tough times but still good!

With a reasonable collection of digitals from the late 1970’s onwards, you can see the dial contrast improvements and the creation of more intuitive commands, to manage this or that function, though I’m still bowled over by some of the early ones and realize just how good they are.

I’m not going to go through the functions and so on, but rather just show here a small photo gallery of some of the ones I’ve collected over the years.  The dials say it all really and there are many more, many covering all sorts of sports and pastimes, but increasingly difficult to find these in really good condition.  They are not expensive and as a result tend to get worn “hard”, often not surviving.  Often as not, if the module goes, so does the watch – into the trash, which is a pity as they are a testament to the ingenuity of the first Quartz sports watch pioneers.

Many are Japan made and although there are many, many lookalike digitals around from China, none of them have the pedigree of these or indeed the quality of the Japanese modules and displays, which in their day, were truly science fiction, and particularly in the actual design.

Rare watches today as they represent a time of change and great innovation and ridiculously accurate for their time too, which is a real bonus.  Usually wherever I go when wearing one of these, people comment and mostly they are rather impressed.  Not bad after some 40+ years of plastic/resin molding, early display technology and large battery styles – I take my hat off to them – great!

Note – I have probably featured these somewhere in the web site at some time as a Post. For more information, just use search.

Is it just me?

I often trawl through the weird and wonderful watches that appear from time to time, where the old analog idea of hour and minute hand is sort of forgotten about.
And we have the sometimes preposterous methods for showing, telling or indicating the passage of time, which at first glance (and you’ll need a few glances I can tell you), it is nigh impossible to read the time.
You also get some rather ingenious ways too, but mostly the common denominator is the fact – it’s haystack time! and you’ve got to find the needle!  The needle being the time!

To the young it may be fashionable and I’m sure a topic of conversation (do the young actually converse face to face any more?), a talking point, as all your friends gather round to see if they can make out what time it is.  However to my old peepers, I would be better squinting at a kaleidoscope via an illegal substance overdose!

Now what time is it?

Xeric Trappist Monk Moonphase – and tells the time I think.

(1) Apparently the Trappist Monk here tells you the time with the window @6 showing the Hours and the planets or stars somehow showing the Minutes.  I haven’t managed to see it myself yet, but I’m sure if I had time, I might figure it out.  Love the colors and the sky design and all that – but . . . .
Seems ironic for me that the watch dial is really large and OK it looks intriguing, but the time telling bits are so small in comparison, it ends up with such a small set of indicators, you certainly can’t just glance at this to get the time.  If you can get it at all!

(2) The next guy is the Last Laugh Tattoo by Mr Jones,

LastLaughTattoo

Mr Jones – Last Laugh Tattoo

which though colorful and has lots of symbolism tattoo stuff, to me seems to be an exercise in how to hide, not show, the time.

Once you have your glasses on you can just make out the Hours on the top set of teeth and the Minutes on the lower set.
But again we have the repeating theme of a large dial area with only a tiny fraction used as the time indicator, so really good eyesight required for this one.

Always remember here, before designers get carried away, that the prerequisite for a watch is first and foremost – to tell the time.  So to my mind these first two have not really managed to meet the brief.

Now I’m all for trying to indicate time in a different way, just for a change if nothing else, but making the time indicators either too small or hidden in some way doesn’t seem the right way to go about it.

(3) Next is the Xeric Soloscope, which is a tricky one and it also requires very good eyesight indeed to read.  On this model and on the face of it, the Hours should be relatively easy to spot, being circled by that single hand BUT it’s only actually effective when directly over the Hour numeral as shown here (7).  When it’s between Hours, say 15 minutes past the hour – Ah, then it’s very tricky indeed!  Because the circle itself partly obscures the very thin index you’re trying to see and there’s no numeral to see.  Each line of the index denotes 5 minutes by the way.

Soloscope – a tricky read indeed.

So basically this is an overly fancy single hand watch – and I’ve had them before, bought for the novelty, but which unfortunately I’ve always found in practice soon wears off – and I’ve sold every one of them on to some other novelty seeker.
I suppose if you’re OK with a vague approximation of the time, when someone asks – you’re answer is “Oh it’s after 7 sometime” – which maybe sounds OK, but if the inquirer is catching a plane – not so clever.

(4) Now this one is a little different.  Not easy to see at first, but none of them are, but this one has purpose, as it caters for the visually impaired, so seeing it, is somewhat irrelevant.

Bradleys Classic Black Mesh

This is the Eone Bradley Classic Black Mesh with it’s inside, outside “silver balls” that you can feel with your fingers.  The outer one on the edge of the case, indicates the Hour and the inner one, the Minutes (assuming a 12 hour clock dial).  The dial is matte black and has raised markers and an strongly embossed diamond at 12, so it has a Braille touch style, which really does assist those with impaired vision.  Obviously there is no glass/crystal here as the fingers can feel the raised numeral markers and the ball on the dial.

So this is a model that has genuine purpose in reading time in a different and very useful manner.

(5) OK this is the last one is probably the best one for me, because it’s relatively readable and is an older idea seen on quite a few vintage watches.

This is the
Klokers Klok 01-D1 Yellow Matte Black Leather – which is an update of the old disc watch, where Hour, Minute and Seconds discs move round a large dial and pass underneath a vertical fixed pointer which highlights the time.

Just read down vertically from the top – this one looks to me to be about 10.20 and almost 30 seconds, so can give quite an accurate time.  Mind you to pick out the seconds it really has to be read.  Personally I’d prefer the numbers to be in a heavier font with more contrast – but that might just be me.

A quick glance, however, should give you the 10:20 bit, which is probably accurate enough for most of us.

Also this watch is a “mobile” – which is evident as the discs rotate, but unlike hands, these rotate anti-clockwise, which is a bit odd when first seen.  Also each disc rotates at a different speed!

So, OK, I accept it can be a little tricky at first to get your head round these odd movements, but once on board you suddenly get the picture.  It’s also a decent full dial size at 44 mm diameter, which helps.

Personally this one has an attraction for me.  And maybe I like it because it shows time actually passing, which can be quite fascinating.  And this is because, as I said, the disks constantly revolve and at different speeds – as I say – fascinating.

Disc watches truly involve you in the process of time itself, and if you like mobiles it’s very much cheaper than a Tourbillon!

The only downside I’ve found with the odd disc watch I’ve owned is their timekeeping. The discs have to revolve smoothly and without touching an adjacent disk and depending on the quality of manufacture, play is sometimes unavoidable, so accuracy can suffer a little.
But if it’s a quartz model it has at least a good basis to start with, the mechanics are minimal and should still be accurate enough for most of us – just check it every fortnight, if the mechanics are not quite to the same standard.

So there we are, just a selection of unconventional watch dials, guaranteed to confuse the elderly   😉

Of course I jest.  These are unusual watches and inject a bit of interest and sometimes humor into what can be a tedious procession of clocks and watches that can be quite boring at times.

And as I haven’t had a disc watch for many years, I could be tempted by the Klok – just for fun.

And it’s also sobering that if you can see time actually moving – you’re still here!

 

Timex Ironman Transit

Odd name for a watch I know and not being in the know these days, unfathomable to me, but those folks at Timex marketing have come up with it and it sounds good. . . . For me it differentiates it a little from the Expedition series, one of which I already own.  And as my Expedition is one of my very favorite watches, from anybody, I thought that a look at this one in this “Transit” guise would be worth a look.

The Timex Ironman Transit

Here they’ve removed the tough looking macho “shock” exterior and replaced it with the running, fitness orientated modern man look that seems to be the thing today (the only thing I run now is a bath and this website!).  I have to admit I like it’s clean looks and easy to read dial with large digits on a very clear display, something that I feel Timex leads the way over all others.  The contrast is good and the displayed information gives the Day, the Date and the Year, plus the time – what more do you need on a quick glance.

And that’s something you can do with this watch – a quick glance is all you need and bingo – no squinting at it, trying to make out poor digits against a poor background.  This is for me the way to go in digital displays.  And once the daylight fades you can use the Timex patented Indiglo dial lighting system, which I have to admit is brilliant on their digital watches (not so good on their analog ones though – see my views at the foot of this Post).

I also like the operation of this Indiglo function.  If in a dark place during the day for example, a press of the center colored button and the dial lights up for 3 seconds.  But later in the day you can activate the system fully by pressing the center Indiglo button for 4 seconds and what this means is that pressing any button on the watch will light the dial.  So no fumbling around looking for that one button – any of ’em will do – the dial light again will illuminate for 3 seconds at a time.  The Indiglo system will stay activated (as a system) for the next 8 hours or until you switch it off (4 seconds press of the center button again).

I quite like this degree of control, which my old Expedition one lacks (or I haven’t noticed it!)  😦

Functions on the watch are useful, such as a Countdown Timer and a Stopwatch (sports) with a 10 lap memory, a few Alarms and the watch also has a 100 m Water Resistance which is pretty good.  Not a diving watch, but it’s OK to shower with it or swim in the local pool or even on the beach.  If beach swimming just remember the salt water doesn’t do anything much good (apart from aching feet), so a rinse in fresh water is a good idea afterwards.

A little chunky perhaps (added to by the under body fast wrap strap), but at 40mm very comfortable.

The watch dimensions are just 40 mm diameter which is a little neater than some of the older models and it comes with one of those very useful “Fast Wrap” straps.  When I first saw these I didn’t know whether I’d like them, but I do.  They are quick and comfortable and usually better than a strap and buckle arrangement, unless they fray, which has been known.

So this is a practical watch from Timex and it’s easy to wear, very easy to see, day or night.  Has enough useful features and functions on it, a decent Water Resistance and at a price of under £50 has to be a really good daily beater in any language.

Note –

I mentioned the Indiglo system of dial illumination and I said it was great on this model and most other Timex digital dial watches.  But as I said I’ve always found it to be a great disappointment on any of the non-digital analog models. 

The reason is that the standard analog watch tends to have hour and minute hands, either colored steel , skeletal or a combination of both PLUS a luminous looking tip or pointer.  The numerals and markers are similar and if it is a Date watch with Date window – forget trying to read the Date at night.

Indiglo lights up the background dial surface in a sort of fluorescent green and shows everything on the dial as black silhouette and I have to say, not that easy to see. The hands, numerals and markers are simply not at a decent enough contrast to this greenish background (makes my eyes go funny) and forget about any so called luminous tips to the hands – these are also dark.
And the date is virtually black and unreadable.

On this watch, which is digital, it is brilliant, as is my Expedition, which is a joy to use at night.  So a case of technology where it’s needed basically and my maxim is simple – for Digital display Indiglo is OK, but for analog display, good luminous coating or Tritium is the best.

Just my opinion and you take it or leave it, but one thing I can’t abide – is not being able to read the time day or night – and I’ve had a few models over the years that manage that feat.  I don’t have them now!

But as to the Ironman Transit – it has to be great value and you don’t look as it you’re in the Army . . . . You’ve just joined the fitness people!

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.

IMG_1606

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.

IMG_1609

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.

IMG_1610

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.
IMG_1607

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. . . .