Best value Diver?

Seeing it’s just before Christmas I thought I’d have one last look to find a “best value Diver” watch, that was as good as the mainstream boys and hopefully considerably cheaper.  After a little bit of investigation I did manage to find one and it impressed me so much – I bought it!   It is the Apeks 200 AP0406 Mens Professional Diver, named and sold by the Apeks Diving Company and one of their best sellers – and if first impressions turn out to be true, I can see why!

Apeks AP0406 Mens 200m Professional Dive Watch

Apeks AP0406 Mens 200m Professional Dive Watch

For a Divers model straight out of the box it seems on first looks to tick all the boxes –

Easy to read analogue dial, large luminous markers and hands.
Tested to 200 metres Water Resistance.
Tough compact Stainless steel case with Screw Down bezel.
Large uni-directional bezel for dive timing.
Very reliable Seiko/Epson Quartz movement.
A readable day and date window @3 (not a requirement but nice if you have it).
Polyurethane PU strap fitted to standard lug strap fittings.

Sounds good doesn’t it AND available for under £70!  Too good to be true?

Solid case, uni-directional bezel and Screw Down Crown. Quality build.

Solid case, uni-directional bezel and Screw Down Crown. Quality build.

Well I have it here in my hands and first impressions are not only good – they are very good!

It is very well made with an excellent stainless steel case. The case finish is brushed on the top and shiny sides and nicely shaped too. The size is about perfect at 41mm diameter according to my micrometer and 44mm including the crown. Lug to lug is 47mm and only 10.8mm deep, so this is a very neatly made case.  Good crown protection and the well knurled crown is Screw Down and performs very well – no hint of any cross threading here. In short a very well made exterior. The crystal I believe to be mineral glass appears flat. (only on a dive will you tell if this causes a mirror effect).

41mm diameter x 13.8mm depth - makes for a compact fit.

41mm diameter x 10.8mm depth – makes for a compact fit.

The well defined uni-directional bezel has 60 clicks, which are smooth and definite and the large minute markers at 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 including the zero align exactly with the internal dial minute track.  Another indicator of the quality of this watch.  And as to the question “Can I operate the bezel with gloves?” – the answer is yes. Oh there is also an effective luminous dot at Zero on the bezel.

The back has a stainless steel screw back with model details, model Number, 200m Water Resistance  etc.

Stainless Steel screw back and standard strap pins.

Stainless Steel screw back and standard strap pins.

The watch has a nice weight at 78gms, which is lighter than the Citizen at 88gms and the Seiko Monster at 113gms, so not heavy on the wrist at all.

The dial is matte black with large luminous markers. The broad hour and minute hands are good length and have luminous infills.  The centre seconds hand has a luminous arrow tip and also lines up accurately with the minute perimeter track.  In addition this model has an outlined day and date window @3, which is well proportioned and easy to read with a decent contrast and font.

The luminous quality is every bit as good as Seiko and betters my Citizen Diver and I can easily read the time after 6 hours in the dark.  The shape of and layout of the markers and hands makes for easy reading.  This is much better than I’d hoped even against models over 8 times the price and easily matches the Citizen Diver I featured earlier.

In summary this watch surpasses all my expectations by a considerable way – not only does it look good, it IS good, darned good. 🙂
The only question I have is “Why did it take me so long to find it!”

Good dial layout, broad decent length hands and good lume.

Good dial layout, broad decent length hands and good lume.

Forgive the repetition, but this is one good looking watch and it’s a delight to wear, even with it’s standard Polyurethane PU strap (and that’s unusual in my experience).   I was going to change it for one of my silicon deployment ones, but as I’d run out of them I wore it, as is, straight out of the box – and it’s very comfortable!  Probably the most comfortable of my three Divers. (update – I discovered why it was more comfortable.  Diver straps invariably have that “wave” in the rubber, three or four heavy “ripples” near the watch body.  Well this one has those as well BUT are flat on the wrist side, making for a very comfortable strap).

On the wrist in standard strap - best fit I have.

On the wrist in standard strap – best fit I have.

So a surprisingly good watch and terrific value in my opinion – and just what I was looking for.   In fact this is my Xmas present to me!

One point – the sales information by the seller states it’s a Seiko/Epson VX42 movement, that generic version is a date only @6.  This model has the day and the date @3 and this movement is actually the Epson VX43E
And as I’ve found in the past, it’s as smooth as silk and appears so far to keep very good time indeed.  I would also note that the font used on the Epson VX Date and Day wheel is one of the better ones I’ve come across – other brands should take note!

Note –

One small point is that whilst it comes well packed in a nice box – it doesn’t come with instructions.  Now a day, date quartz model isn’t rocket science I know, but if you don’t know watches too well – they would be handy.

The crown @3 of course sets everything on this watch – Unscrew the crown from it’s screw down position, let it pop out free, then pull out to first position, turn left or right to adjust the day or the date, pull out to position 2 to adjust the hands. This is a hacking movement, so the second hand stops when you adjust the hands, which is so useful for accurate setting.

Remember even with quartz watches if they’re analogue, it’s best when setting the day or the date, to first move the time to anywhere between 0300 and 0900.  You do this as setting the day and date within the change over period (roughly 2200 to 0200 +/-) it could cause damage to the mechanism.  So to make sure, you should move the hour to a time where no changeover occurs – as above.  The best and easiest way is to set the day and the date for yesterday’s date (this is important) – and once done you can in crown position 2, advance the hands until the day and the date change to today’s date – (the date will probably change first at around midnight to 01.30 ish, followed sometime later up to around 02.00 by the date).  Then set (advance) to your present time with the crown at position 2 (if a morning time, you won’t pass the 12, if an afternoon time make sure you pass the 12).
Sounds complicated (and maybe I’ve confused you) but it’s really quite easy really.

My friends at Watchuseek.com explain it far better than I and you can find analogue watch settings information HERE.

And finally – Here is an image of my three Divers – and for the money I believe they are about as good as you’ll get today – but this Apeks is really something – at under £70?  Brilliant and I wished I’d found it sooner.  Certainly on first acquaintance I have to recommend it.  And I note that it is available in a Ladies version – Model AP0406-2 Ladies 200m Professional Diver.

My Divers - value for money and great quality.

My Divers – value for money and great quality.

These watches and others can be seen HERE.

So that question again – Which do I like the best – now?  Well, I like them all and that’s the truth.  I love the “Monster” because it’s got that “something” and I like the Citizen, as it’s 300m and very compact and now very comfortable in it’s silicon strap and then there’s this amazing non mainstream gem, the Apeks at under £70.00 – I mean what’s not to like!

Lume wise – the Seiko and the Apeks are both excellent and better than the Citizen which doesn’t last as long in the dark  it’s OK but not as good as the others.

From a practical point of view I’m leaning towards the Apeks I have to admit – I mean it’s just so good and at an amazing price.  I think Christmas is here already!

Have a nice one everybody!

Note – When it comes to getting yourself a watch for everyday use, it’s worth considering a “divers” watch.  Not the huge professional style ones, but ones similar to those featured here.  You may not need one of those large ribbed straps and even if the watch you like has one, more often than not they are easily changed to a simpler silicon deployment strap or even a leather one.  But there’s no doubt that you can get yourself a VERY good watch at a VERY good price when looking at the Divers.  Great strength, very easy to read and they usually look great.

Have fun.

Divers-ity

As one of my previous posts recently showed, there are many choices when it comes to “Divers” models, especially when considering major brands.  There are also other models from Casio, Invicta and Momentum to name just a few.  There are also others that advertise as Divers, but for me I only consider “dive rated” models at 200m or better.  Plus basic features such as good dial legibility under water, large hands and numerals, good luminous qualities, a screw down crown and a uni-directional bezel.

I highlight here some that caught my attention, starting with the classic Seiko “Monster” Divers SKX781K, Automatic in Orange and black versions – one that I particularly like.

Seiko "Monster" Divers

Seiko “Monster” Divers

This is an absolute classic Divers watch and very popular with good reason.  Solid chunky watch in Stainless Steel watch with high visibility dial and contrasting hands and markers, rated at 200m Water Resistance and with a large uni-directional bezel that is a delight to use.  The bezel markings are sharp and clear with the conventional 15, 30 and 45 minute graduations in large high contrast figuring with a luminous dot marker at Zero.  The orange dial also features a Day and Date in a nicely outlined window @3 again with good contrast luminous figures and large enough not to require any magnifier bubble.  The luminous system used is Seiko Lumibrite, which for me has one of the best luminous properties of any (I don’t include Tritium light source technology).  The large screw down crown is very well protected by the projecting case profile on one side and the cleverly extended solid case lug on the other.  The mechanical automatic movement is the dependable 7S26 which has reasonable accuracy at around +/- 25 secs/day – not quite in the quartz bracket, but good for a mechanical model.  The crystal is the Seiko in-house “Hardlex” which is a good combination of scratch and shatter resistance.

Seiko "Monster" in black

Seiko “Monster” in black

These models are available from around $120 to $160 depending on discounts etc. and represent superb value when you consider these are from a major Manufacturer with good guarantees and service back up.

I have not included Citizen this time as featured some in the previous post on Divers, so this time I’m looking at other brands that offer a similar capability, such as Momentum from the St Moritz Watch Company of Canada.  They have quite a neat range of 200m Water Resistance “Divers”, though I find it difficult to know what’s current and what’s discontinued.  Of several Diver models I have opted for and particularly like the Shadow 11 model (IM-DV86B0), which is a good sized black IP coated stainless steel version at 41mm x 12mm case size.  It has a quartz movement with Day/Date window @3, luminous hands and markers with a second hand with arrow tip.  The uni-directional bezel is well defined, though as others in the Brand, they use slightly unconventional 20, 30, 40 and 50 minute markers (another model uses, 5, 15, 25, 35, 45 and 55, which I find confusing).  There is also an offset semi-protected screw down crown.

Momentum Shadow 11

Momentum Shadow 11

This model version has black IP 316L steel case and bracelet, though my next featured watch has the more usual stainless finish.  The Momentum Storm 11 model, which I find more compact looking in case a dial set up, perhaps as I’m more used to the Seiko and Citizen models, but certainly worth considering.

Momentum Storm 11

Momentum Storm 11

The dial on both models appear quite Seiko looking with the round markers and so on which I find very pleasing.  The prices of both watches seem to be in the same bracket as the more popular models and certainly shows there are no shortage of models in this Divers category.
Another brand at the low end of this price bracket is the Invicta Watch Group, a US Company trading on the original Swiss Invicta Watch Company name since 1991 and they feature a few Diver category models in their range.

Invicta ProDiver 8926 Automatic

Invicta Pro Diver 8926 Automatic

A more Rolex Submariner looking watch you’re unlikely to see, which can be got for around $80 or £65+ in the UK (may be subject to VAT and customs here in the UK).  Good looking 200m Water Resistance model with uni-directional 120 click bezel with good markings and that luminous Dot at Zero.  It uses a Miyota 21j automatic mechanical movement and has a mineral crystal.  The movement from memory does not have the best power reserve, so unless you are pretty active it could be an issue.  The later model 9937 the  features a 23j movement, where the power reserve is improved, a sapphire crystal and better magnifier date window.  Though the date is actually OK for me on this model.  A screw down protected crown @3  and watch dimensions are 40 x 12mm, so is a really neat sized Divers watch which will suit the smaller wrist.  Rolex style dial with luminous hands and markers, plus center sweep seconds hand, sets off a rather handsome watch.
As long as you don’t expect Rolex quality, this watch should manage quite well, but time will tell in the long run.

So a few more Divers to consider and I hope to have a more in depth look at the Seiko “Monster” and the Citizen BN models in the near future, which should be fun as I’m hoping to replace some of my older Divers and move them on.

That’s diversity for you.