Aktiv Skagen

This is the Titanium Aktiv Skagen Mesh SKW6007 Gents model.

The question has to be – Will it suit my purpose and is the quality good enough not to give me problems (or someone else if you “flip” it) over the next 5 years or so?  However when you consider that the average guy might change or buy a new watch anywhere from weekly to maybe a current “grail” one in 10 years, the issue of longevity is somewhat irrelevant.  OK if you spend thousands or indeed many thousands then the issue, question and answer will take care of itself!

Anyway this is about finding a modern thin dress watch at low/mid price, so choice wise almost inevitably quartz ( there are vintage mechanical ones around of course ).  So I looked and surprise, surprise, I did find a Skagen model that I like the look of and I feature it here.

Skagen Aktiv Titanium Day/Date Watch SKW6007

Skagen Aktiv Titanium Day/Date Watch SKW6007

I’ve seen them advertised of course and there are a few stockists around which is not too surprising as they’ve been about since 1989, marketing thin quartz watches in their “Denmark” style design, though in the past I’ve never taken to this rather thin minimalist look.  I tended to find the dials were rather bland and often too reflective for my personal taste, but if thin is what you want, then certainly they’re worth checking out.  Mid price models and the quality is average/good I’d say, though whilst I have no information on the Quartz movement in this model, I understand they feature within the range some Swiss movements and assemble them in the US.  However misinformation abounds, as I’ve also heard they use Asian movements and Far East assembly, so in short I really don’t know.  Interesting to me is the fact that Fossil have taken over Skagen Designs and already owning two Fossil watches myself, which I like and where the quality is just fine – this is encouraging.

Neat 2 screw fit bracelet. Note the small smooth crown.

Neat 2 screw per lug fit bracelet. Note the small and unfortunately smooth crown.

Nice size at 40mm diameter and only 7mm depth, so is certainly thin and sits flat on the wrist.  The case as described is Titanium, though when you fist pick it up you realize the mesh bracelet is Stainless Steel and a substantial one at that.  It is fully and easily adjustable and appears good quality.  The case design is rather neat with a faceted top bezel in alternate shiny and mat finish, the full width lugs are mat finish and the bracelet/band fits via two countersunk screws on each lug.  The watch is described as 50m Water Resistant and comes with hardened Mineral Glass.

Fits flat to the wrist

Fits flat to the wrist

The dial is a slightly brown grey color and reasonably mat and the outer minute index baton markers are applied luminous material with black outlines, including the numerals 12 and 6  – these are on a raised ring within the dial.  The inner part of the dial features another index ring as a narrow 1mm band in Orange background with black numbers as 05, 10, 15 and so on minute markers.  It’s actually quite a neat and clear feature.  The hour and minute hands are of thin straight chrome with luminous indents on each.  The center seconds hand is also chrome but with a 2mm long Orange tip and there is a Day and Date window @3 with black lettering against white.  The watch setting crown is also @3 inset into the watch case.  It is quite small I note and has no knurling so can be a little fiddly to turn, but manageable.  This model sets like most of this type – pull out to the first click and depending on which way you turn , moves the Day or the Date.  Pull out to the second position to set the hands.  So Instructions are hardly necessary.  However in saying that, Skagen have included an Instruction booklet, International Guarantee card with a Lifetime (limited) Warranty, Service Center location booklet and nice box and watch display pillow, so is rather better catered for than Fossil, who take a minimalist approach to information, rather than product!   I mention Fossil as they own Skagen Designs now.  Fossil take note.

Full compliment of booklets, Warranty Card and box

Full compliment of booklets, Warranty Card and box

I took a few images of this model which highlight the fact that build quality appears reasonable, though whether I’ll personally adapt to a mesh strap is unknown – The last mesh I had was not a success comfort wise, so time will tell with this one.  Further on the “Lifetime Warranty” – I note this does not cover the glass or the bracelet, nor the battery.

Neat dress watch at 40mm x 8mm

Neat dress watch at 40mm x 8mm

Any downsides?

I suppose the fact the bracelet is NOT Titanium is a pity as I expected the whole thing to be Ti and lightweight. (my Breitling Aerospace has a Titanium case and bracelet and for for 15 years the bracelet’s become smoother over time and is simply the most comfortable one I have).

Mesh Stainless Steel bracelet and easy adjust clasp with fold-over lock.

Mesh Stainless Steel bracelet and easy adjust clasp with fold-over lock.

Good quality locking clasp - full adjustable.

Good quality locking clasp – full adjustable.

Of course time will tell if this is a good purchase, but it seems to look the part and has not disappointed in the flesh as it were.  I did spot another model that might be of interest, but thinking on it further, for me anyway – I just have this feeling that maybe one Skagen is enough.  Don’t get me wrong, I like it but this minimalist Danish inspired design still doesn’t really do it for me and maybe this is a fault of their success – the models are all very “similar” and have this unmistakable family look – and well I’m not so sure.  Maybe variety is needed somewhere along the way – but that’s such a personal thing, it’s probably just me.

But for me, one Skagen in the stable – this is fine and I’m sure I’ll be pleased with it, as a dress watch – on occasion.

UPDATE – 1st May 2013

Been wearing the watch for a few weeks now and have to say I am surprisingly delighted with it.  It IS comfortable to wear and it does look good.  Perhaps the dial also has something to say about that.  It is a little unusual I suppose when compared with other Skagen models in that it has a neat and clear color scheme, is not reflective and to my surprise the luminous hands can be seen at night.  Many of these models with very thin hands and commensurately narrow luminous paint, fall down in this respect.  So I’m very happy with my eventual choice.

I just might consider another Skagen, but I’ll take the same care over selection as I did on this one as it’s all too easy to get a thin handed, reflective dialed, low contrast model with very poor legibility – but avoid those negatives and you could be very surprised and pleased.    I know I am . . . .

True elegance

Whilst over the years I’ve liked the multifunction models, it’s a fact that my favorite style is probably still the conventional “Dress” watch.  The one overriding word that says it all for me is “elegance” and my choice would always be for a slim cased model that can in turn show off a truly “elegance” with simplicity of dial and case, in fact an “ensemble” of complimentary features that simply work.  And I do not mean “minimalist” even thought this seems to be the modern way of expressing this, I tend to find those offerings both bland and unexciting, certainly not elegant.

Frederique Constant Automatic Slim case

Frederique Constant Automatic Slim case

So having had a look round at the currently available slim and elegant models this is the first of a few that caught my eye.  The Frederique Constant of Geneve Automatic slim cased model above.  A nice sized 40mm diameter case at only 9mm thick, with a sapphire crystal, 30m Water Resistance, FC-306 25 jewel Automatic movement, in a Yellow Gold plated case.  I think this dial face though simple also has an elegance (note it is slightly bowed, not flat), nice gold applied stick hour markers, beautifully shaped gold hands and a neat sized date window @3.  The onion crown is a nice touch and perfectly sized and overall a classic dress watch I’d say and mid priced too for this class of watch.

As you can see for a dress function there is absolutely no need for an overly “busy” face with sub-dials and extraneous features.  It’s about elegance.

It’s also interesting to note that to find a Quartz watch that can be described as truly elegant is not easy.  I show the same maker here as an example – this is the Frederique Constant Quartz version of an almost but not quite similar model.

Frederique Constant Quartz slim Gents.

Frederique Constant Quartz slim Gents.

Now it looks fine of course, but that “elegance” of the previous version is, for me at any rate, just not there.  This model is slightly smaller at 37mm diameter and is actually thinner, being an ultra-thin 5mm with a sunray silver dial, stick hands, and sapphire crystal.  The case has that double stepped bezel top that for me doesn’t have the style of the first.  The gold hands are not “quite” as well shaped and the marker @3 is chopped almost in half, plus that “bowed” look to the dial just isn’t the same.  All that said of course, it is still a very nice watch (and perhaps the image does it an injustice) but the first one is my personal and more expensive choice (£1750 to £750 for the quartz).
However an interesting point about models without seconds hands, is that it’s not easy to see at a glance if the watch is mechanical or quartz.  So if you are with friends that are mechanical nuts, then you might just get away with it. 😉

Rotary Originals Quartz

Rotary Originals Quartz

Another quartz offering is this model from The Originals collection from Rotary – and not a bad looking watch it is too.  PVD Gold plated case is very slim at 5.7mm and a diameter of 43mm including crown and a nicely patterned champagne dial face plus neat contrasting black stick hands and printed numerals.  Crystal is Sapphirite (a sapphire coated mineral glass).  Simple case design with the “bar” lugs from another age and a quality leather strap.  A pretty good dress watch and at a low/mid price of around £150 – £220.  I understand the “Originals” series feature Swiss Quartz movements.  Overall it seems a pretty decent dress watch for the money.

For me the above Rotary whilst a nice dress watch loses out on the elegance stakes for various reasons.  The black stick hands in this context are just that, pointers, and the printed numeral here are rather bland.  The whole comes across as more plain than elegant, though in reality as opposed to the image, it does look a class watch.  At the price of course it has to be worth a look.

Stuhrling Original Ascot Quartz

Stuhrling Original Ascot Quartz

Another stick hands dress watch comes from the Stuhrling stable.  The Stuhrling Original Ascot Quartz, which is an even lower priced model than the Rotary at around £56.00.  This is 38mm diameter and only 5,5mm depth, so is a very thin watch indeed, with a Krysterna Crystal, white face, printed hour batons, 10M Water Resistance and a Swiss movement, represents very good value.  However in looks it comes across as just simple or even minimalist and with no hint of any elegance at all, so falls short as a dress watch for me personally.  Nice enough watch, but not for me.

Skagen UltraSlim 858xlgld

Skagen UltraSlim 858xlgld

I mentioned minimalist at the start and this is such a model.  The Skagen 858xlgld – whilst a dress watch I suppose it has this Danish design minimal look which frankly does absolutely nothing for me.  Flat gold hands are positively inelegant and the flat featureless dial and printed hour batons just add to that barren look.  The case at 39mm diameter and only 5mm depth is fine, but I find this a non starter in the elegance stakes, though for a cheap dress watch at £50 – can’t be bad.

Dugena Classic

Dugena Classic

This watch from Dugena Classic range is a better affair than the above and even though it has stick hands, it does have a certain elegance about it overall.  It has a two tiered dial face and applied gold numeral batons, nicely shaped gold case at 38mm diameter and just 6mm depth, so is slim too.  Mineral glass crystal.  It also has a very good quality quartz movement of Swiss/German origin and a price point well below it’s quality (around £70.00).  An excellent dress watch and with a touch of elegance perhaps.

Piaget Alto Plano

Piaget Alto Plano

Well here’s a watch that’s close to home for me as I actually own two of this maker.  One vintage and one modern.  And now we have to be talking elegance.  This is the Piaget Alto Plano ultra slim model (current) and although this model has a sub dial for seconds @10 (mine is at@4) it is one of the few dress watches with a seconds feature that looks both different and yet retains a certain elegance too.  Stick hands here don’t look wrong in this setting and neither do the printed baton markers.  They blend together very well indeed as I mentioned at the start – the “ensemble” or combination of elements is superb.  Again you have, as the Frederique Constant Auto mode,l this slightly bowed dial face that just looks right. This particular model is 38mm diameter and just 4.1mm depth is incredibly thin, an 18ct pink gold and subtly shaped elegant case (even the automatic is only 5.25mm depth), though as you can guess this is not a cheap model but pretty expensive at around $13,00o.  You better believe it, this sort of elegance costs!

Of course there are many, many more dress style watches out there and if I look long enough I’d probably find quite a few more, that would suit my own particular requirements and opinion.  But suffice to say, there are literally dozens around.  And this is very encouraging, especially in this modern day obsession for big, sometimes clumsy, over featured, extravagant models that seem to proliferate now.  The fact that the “classic” dress watch is still available, says to me that with a bit of luck others may enjoy the feeling of wearing such wonderful watches, well into the future – and that has to be good.

But a word of caution – I’ve found over the years and confirmed it yet again – that true elegance = expensive!

Isn’t that the way of it . .

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