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 . . . .

Boccia Chrono

Sometimes you come across a watch or in this case a complete range of watches that for some reason strikes a chord.  And as I am quite a collector of Titanium watches it was of considerable interest that I chanced upon the Boccia range (pronounced Boschia).

Boccia Titanium Chronograph Cal.05.11

I don’t know about you but I have found that many of these “designer” watches often use too much chrome in their dials, with numerals and hands not being the easiest to read – too much ” bling” I suppose, a fashion I personally dislike.  In the Boccia range there are indeed some like that but fortunately not all.

For in amongst this range I spotted the B3777-02 Chronograph model which definitely bucks the trend of their other watches.

First off I like this one as it has that nicely sculpted dark Titanium colored case with matching chronograph buttons and a rather neat and clear dial arrangement.  The numeral/markers are both large and very white applied and the hands are similarly done, which contrasts well against the dark dial face.  The hour and minute hands are also well proportioned and broad which aids clarity.  The chronograph sub-dials are positioned vertically between 12 and 6 and are colored in a medium gray, which is OK and doesn’t detract – a little different from the normal white or silver.  A center seconds stopwatch hand in white, plus a contrasting date window @3 and an inner seconds chapter index completes the dial set up.

Clear hands and numerals makes for clarity

Luminous infill hands and painted numerals, large as they are I would only class adequate in the dark.

Overall however and looks wise this watch from my perspective has a lot going for it.

The crystal is a flat mineral glass and coupled with a narrow top case profile on the wide case, the watch appears larger than it actually is – though not a small watch at 47mm diameter including the protected crown (without crown is around 43mm)and is quite clear to read even without an anti-reflect coating which I usually prefer on this watch type.  The overall dial design and colorway has a great deal to do with this clarity which in this case is good design and to be recommended.  Depth of the watch is very neat at 10mm.

Titanium screw down back with watch data

The movement appears to be a Japanese Citizen Miyota Cal. OS 11 Quartz Chronograph (60 minutes) and it functions well and is accurate to around +/-20secs month so is quite acceptable.   There is also a chronograph reset function used if the 1/1 second hand doesn’t return to the O position after the chronograph has been reset or after a battery change.

The watch power is a Silver Oxide SR9 27W battery or equivalent.
The watch is marked on the screw down Titanium back as 10bar (100ft) water resistance.  I understand all Boccia Chronographs are 10bar.

Build quality appears excellent, the all Titanium case is well finished and the rubber strap is of good quality – Note this watch can also take a standard leather strap as an alternative as the case features standard lugs and pins.  A point I’ve made before and I’m really pleased to see it here.  In fact thinking further on this, a good Nato strap would suit this model very well if rubber is not your thing.  I’ll post an update when I fit one later this month for comparison. (see addendum below)

So what do we know about Boccia watches?

It is marketed from the United States importers Universal Watch Company (NOT to be confused with the UWC of Geneve fame) who have their headquarters in Las Vegas.  Watches are said to have either good quality Japanese or sometimes Swiss movements in their range of products and I’m assuming this one is Japanese with the Cal. OS11 description.  I’ve not unscrewed the back as I’ve no wish to compromise the water resistance – I’ll check it out when it eventually needs a battery.  With no data that I can find as to manufacture location I would surmise the watches are built and produced in the Orient somewhere and nothing wrong with that, though I note that their design team is actually European.

  • Marina Sechi from Italy
  • Minuca Casadavell from Spain
  • Michael Qvortrup from Denmark

I quote the above data from one of their outlets and I can see certainly see the European  influence in the finished designs.

So a marriage of European and Orient – and hopefully taking the best from both.  If this is an example of  East West collaboration then I’ll certainly look out for more of them and especially if this model is a precursor of things to come.  They are also reasonably priced for what appears to me to be a decent mid range quality product.

So overall a nice Chronograph in Titanium for a fair bit under £200 and complete with a 2 year International Guarantee and instruction booklet which includes a list of Wordwide Service Centers.

Not much to complain about though perhaps the luminous quality could be improved if I was being picky.

But nevertheless the Boccia Titanium’s are now on my watch list . . . . .

Addendum – I mentioned that I thought this watch might suit a Nato strap – Well I was wrong – it doesn’t.
The reason is that as this watch is quite large lug to lug the Nato strap quite doesn’t sit the watch snug against my smallish wrist (170mm).  Regarding the supplied strap which for a buckle version is really very good, I confess with rubber straps a preference to a deployment or fold-over clasp to buckle, so as an alternative I’m in the process of buying a third party 22mm silicon rubber strap with a fold-over clasp and I’ll let you know on an update feature once it arrives and I try it out.
Actually as I write I’m wearing it with the supplied buckle strap and whilst ii is comfortable it has a pronounced curve just at the lugs and if being picky it can’t quite sit against my smallish wrist perhaps as I would like, so the alternative one should be an interesting trial.

See Bocca Addendum – post dated 18th February 2011

Slimline Botta Argos

The Botta International Award winning design – the Argos Quartz Titanium watch is one of my favorites. A German Manufactured Klaus Botta design with a gold plated Swiss Ronda movement.

Botta Argos Titanium

Botta Argos Titanium

With a slightly darker than usual ultra light weight slim Titanium case and matching bracelet, allied to the RONDA Slimtech 1005 Swiss movement, this is a seriously smart high end Quartz model.

It’s a good 39mm in diameter but with a height of only 5.9mm is one very neat watch. It weighs just 55g and must be one of the lightest bracelet watches around. The strapped version only weighs an amazing 28g! – you simply don’t realize you’re wearing it!
Clean black & white contrasting features of the modern slightly minimalist dial face makes it outstandingly easy to read. The crystal is Sapphire and pretty much scratch resistant and also being a flat plane is virtually reflection free.
The black center seconds hand is sized carefully to suit the numerals and minute graduations, thus making it not only easy to see, but a very precise read.
The same principle is used on their Single Hand “Uno” and “Solus” models to very good effect.

Dial detail

Dial detail

The case and bracelet fit very neatly together, the bracelet being easily adjustable with the usual pin set up and has a push button closure.
Water Resistance is 30m or 3 ATM.

So are there any negatives regarding this super little watch?

Well yes, I have three issues – firstly the crown. It is very small and crucially – it’s smooth! It is not knurled or figured in any way and as a result is extremely difficult to operate – Maybe acceptable if the watch did not have a date change, but this one does!
I’ve found the only way is to wear a pair of surgical gloves and even then it’s difficult.
I now keep a pair handy in my watch box and must admit that they’re actually quite a useful item to have. They give that little bit extra grip which is so useful when dealing with small screws or bracelet pin spring collars etc. And secondly the bracelet whilst smooth and comfortable does not have a micro adjustment (usually on the clasp) so in other words it is dependent on link removal only for fit – an omission in my opinion. And thirdly the hands and dial markers are not luminous, so for night outside use, forget it. (I note by the way that the more modern Botta models do have lume now – pity they missed out in these early days)

But all things being equal the Botta is one of those true “design” watches that simply shouts quality and is equally at home during the day or as a sophisticated dress watch for evening wear. Incidentally with this ultra slim configuration it suits ladies or gents equally.

On the wrist

On the wrist

I’ve had this watch for over a year now and it still looks as it did that first day I opened the box. Like many a watch collection, watch models are on display in glass topped watch boxes and cabinets. Every so often it’s “wear time”, when you select a watch for that day or evening and I have to say it gets quite a bit of wrist time!

And almost every time I do it’s fair to say that it’s a watch that often draws comment wherever I go.

I’m quietly rather pleased at that. So Barman? – I’ll have another Gin to go with my slimline, if you please!!