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Friday, January 20, 2017

Stay tuned - upcoming Ball Fireman NECC review!



This is one of the most impressive Ball dive watches and not for the reasons you think...

Stay tuned, full review to come SOON!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The perfect “starter” trio!

The following three entry level watches are prime examples of what is possible, with a somewhat limited budget. All three are sub 2,000$, feature mechanical movements and fit perfectly together in a collection, as there is no overlap. You have the quintessential every day watch, the consummate sports watch and the intricate, yet subtle dress watch.


Introducing the Muhle Glashutte Terrasport Beobachter, the Anonimo Nautilo and the MeisterSinger Phanero. The Muhle represents a clean, easy to read, comfortable everyday watch. The Anonimo is obviously, a fun weekend / sports watch. Lastly, the MeisterSinger is a quirky, yet exquisite dress(ier) watch.

 

 

All thee feature stainless steel cases, with the Aninomo boasting a solid case back, which is screwed down, while the other two have display backs, which are held down my screws. The Anonimo features the greatest water resistance, with a rating of 200m. The Muhle is next with a rating of 50m water-resistance, while the svelte Meistersinger is rated to a “please don’t get me wet” 30m.

While both the Anonimo and Glashutte feature screw-down crowns, I would be quite hesitant to take the latter anywhere near a swimming pool or the beach. The Anonimo, on the other hand, could take anything you can throw at it. I know many will snarl at its meagre 200m rating, but I would easily trade 100m or more, to have a thinner watch on my wrist. As a result, despite its impressive girth, the Anonimo is comparatively slim and fits under cuffs with ease.

 

All three have extremely legible dials, with the Muhle being the easiest to read. Though lacking the date, which some will find annoying, most will praise. As a design aesthetic, a dial sans date window is considered much more symmetric and pleasing to the eye. Speaking of pleasing to the eye, how about those beautifully long, bold hands, combined with its creamy dial? This modern combination, provides a nice twist to the usually black dial pilot’s watch. With just a hint of red, in my opinion,  Muhle have hit it out of the park.

The Anonimo’s dial looks blue in most pictures due to the generous anti-reflective coating that is underneath its domed sapphire crystal.  It is in fact black, with circular texture and applied markers. You can see design elements from the old Anonimo, but its revival has brought with it refreshing design elements, that bring the Nautilo into the 21st century. It is big and daring, but still subtle enough not to draw to much attention to itself. More of a “hum... hey, that watch looks interesting, let me ask him what it is” and less “whoa that is a monster watch, I could never pull it off."  In keeping with design symmetry, this one features a date window at 6pm, which is my preferred position.

The diminutive MeisterSinger is no slouch in design symmetry. The dial is perfectly balanced and the blued steel applied hour numerals are exquisite. The latter paired with the LONE blued hand make this watch incredibly attractive and difficult to put down, partly because of to the learning curve of telling the time in such an unorthodox manner. Though the learning curve is somewhat steep, but once you get used to it, it is quite fun and a reminder that most daily time telling does not necessitate the knowledge of the seconds or even precise minutes. When I wear it and look down, I immediately feel less stressed.




Both the Muhle and Anonimo feature Sellita SW-200 movements (quality ETA clone), but Muhle adds a special woodpecker neck regulator system, a custom rotor, characteristic surface finishing and blued screws. The Anonimo does not feature a display back and my best guess is that the Sellita movement is pretty pedestrian looking inside. That said, both watches have been performing admirably and keep time within chronometer specks when worn.

Unlike the other two, the MeisterSinger features a manual wind Sellita SW-210 movement, which is very nicely decorated with Geneva waves and blued screws. Winding this one is pure joy, as the motion is ultra smooth and effortless. One of my biggest pet peeves over the years is seeing giant watches with exhibition case backs displaying tiny movements. At 35mm, this watch’s movement fits in there perfectly. Performance has been slightly better than the other two.




The Muhle is on a somewhat stiff buffalo strap, which did not take long to conform to my wrist, despite its thickness it has become extremely comfortable. I just wish the buckle would have been brushed stainless steel to match the rest of the watch.

The Anonimo is on a high-grade, great smelling, rubber strap, with equally impressive signature buckle. It is quite stiff and sharp and has yet to completely conformed to my wrist, but it still very wearable. The quality is remarkable and it feels extremely secure once strapped on. I would like Anonimo to eventually develop a stainless steel bracelet for this model, as I believe there would be a demand for it. I know I would certainly prefer it.

The MeisterSinger is on a dark brown suede strap, which is very supple and it conformed immediately to my wrist. It is thin and narrow, which compliments the watch very nicely and the buckle is polished, to match the entire design. This one would be fun to experiment with different straps. In fact, the MeisterSinger website has a tool to swap straps from alligator to stainless steel mesh and everything in between. Nice touch!

 

I have to admit, if I had to pick one favorite of the three, I would have a very hard time choosing. All three merit a place within a collection and just like I would not wear the Anonimo with a suit, I would not wear the MeisterSinger on a beach vacation. If you are looking at beginning a collection, I cannot see why these three would not make for a great start.

For more information on these models and others from these brands, click on the following links:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

NEW - DELTAt Umi Diver

I had been thinking about adding another sterile bezel diver to my collection for quite some time, but just could not put my finger on which one. I loved my Ennebbi diver, but they are currently out of my price range. I thought of the Heroic 18, but do not like all polished cases and I am not a big fan of bronze watches. Then, I noticed DELTAt was coming out with a new sterile bezel diver of their own and since I rally liked their Pilot watch offering, I just had to give this one a shot. I am so pleased I did!


Now I know what you are thinking. Why another blue watch? Well, why not? I have always loved blue dialed watches and this one is so very difference from my Hamilton Frogman. I also had the choice between a cut-out sandwich dial or applied markers, and I chose the latter. I find the reflections from the markers go ever so well with the gorgeous faceted hands.  That is right, the hands are faceted, which is a very nice touch that allows them to reflect at different angles. Unlike flat hands that can disappear at certain angles against a dark dial.

The dial, features a white date window display, which actually really works on this watch. If you know me, you know that I despise inverted date colors that do not match the dial color, but on this watch it is placed opposite a white hour marker at 9 o'clock and lends to its symmetry. Very nicely done. The bezel is sterile, but has twelve "teeth" to give purchase to your fingers for easy turning. They are also cut out as such an angle to make turning the in proper direction effortlessly, while at the same time giving it that buzz saw look. I really like this, as I have never seen it done quite like this before.

  

The case itself is 44mm in diameter and 15mm thick. Not too chunky, but thick enough to assert its 300m water-resistance. The crown screws down deeply and sits ever so slightly into the case, which help reassure you of its sturdiness. The case back is see-through displaying the rather pedestrian Seiko AH35A movement. I personally would have preferred a solid case back, with a neat engraving, like on my DELTAt pilot watch, but I can see how many like to see the inner workings of their time keeping micro-machines. 

The front sapphire crystal is domed and has anti-reflective coating on the inside. Kudos for not putting any on the outside. There is nothing more frustrating than keeping a crystal that is supposed to look like it is not there clean. What is the point if every little spec of dust, dirt, lint or anything for that matter, is magnified and obstructing the view. 

   


I spoke of the Seiko NH35A powering this watch earlier and while it is utilitarian in nature, it does serve its purpose well. So far time keeping has been satisfactory and there is something that I really like about these movements. When setting the hands, it is very, very easy to settle them on the hash-marks, as there is no play at all. You cannot say this about the ETA offerings, not that this one a superior movement. All I am saying is that for the anal-retentive collectors like me, that love it when the hands hit their mark bang-on at 0, these are easy to set and that makes me happy. 

The watch is supplied with 3 different 22mm straps. A neat rubber strap, a paracord strap with a multi-tool buckle, featuring a whistle (always useful under water... joke), as well as a nylon velcro strap. All 3 are of decent quality, but unfortunately, a tad too small for me, so when I received my DELTAt diver, I swapped them out for the DELTAt brown pilot strap, which looked amazing! That said, this is a diver. What says "dive watch" more than a shark-mesh bracelet? Nothing! So boom, on it went and it is a spectacular match. Of course, this is my opinion, and your mileage may vary, but I for one will be leaving it this way. 

   


The wrist presence is remarkable and super comfortable due to the curvature of the lugs and balance with the steel mesh strap. I am equally impressed with the lume on this one, as it glows quite bright, though the hands are ever so slightly dimmer than the markers and the pip on the bezel. And when I mean slightly, I mean barely perceptible, especially when the glow dies down a bit. 

At sub 500$ pricing, I am so pleased with this watch. It is exactly what I wanted... only problem now is... I think I may want ANOTHER, but the sandwich dial version, perhaps in black PVD finish... hum...  While I ponder this, here are some great Canadian fall pictures from Mont-Rigaud, Quebec for you to enjoy:

 

  

 

That river of rocks is actually granite and was placed their naturally by glaciers during the last ice age. Here are some cool details about it from Wikipedia:

 A lot of rock pieces scatter the woods all over the mountain. It is a moraine shaped by a glacier that, by moving, broke up from the bedrock of the Canadian Shield, fragments that it disaggregated and rounded by rolling over them, moving them and leaving them in this basin, some thousand years ago, at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation.

The mountain is also home to an unusual, natural rock garden known as the "champs de patates", so named because of the local legend that it was once a potato field, turned to stone by God because the farmer worked on Sunday

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Impulse purchase - Hamilton Khaki Frogman

It has been a long, long time since I purchased a watch on a whim. In fact, I am still quite surprised I did it. My normal modus operandi is to research the *poop* out of something, then look for a deal and then wait until one pops up gently used on the various fora.

Not this time! I had recently sold one of my watches and happened to be at the mall with my kids. I managed to convince them to let me visit my local Oris / Hamilton / Tissot pusher. Yes, my wife has trained them well; to steer me away from temptation and to discourage new watch purchases. That said, we are on vacation and we had already visited many of the stores they wanted to see. So it was my turn.

Low and behold, they had the new Hamilton Khaki Frogman watches. I had seen these on the internet, when introduced at Basel. I had liked them then and more so in person behind the glass case. I just had to see the blue one on bracelet. I should have never asked to see it. Too late, it was in my hands and the heft and solid feel just made me smile.

The watch I had previously just sold was not a dive watch and it was made of titanium. I missed the feeling of a solid steel dive watch on steel bracelet. Yes, I still had my cool Bulova Sea King, but it was on strap and despite having a sweep seconds hand, it was still a quartz watch. Not that there is anything wrong with that... I just needed a mechanical dive watch.

There it was... "the need". It was more than just "I want" this new watch, I needed it. it was calling my name right there in the store and before I started talking back to it, I told the sales person "I'll take it".  Now that I have had it for a couple of days,  here are some pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

The only thing I was worried about was the lack of micro adjustment for the bracelet. Yes, it has a built in slide diver's extension, but I absolutely despise using this feature to micro-adjust my bracelets. I had the same problem with my Perrelet Seacraft and just like that one, the Frogman was either too tight or too loose. I was bitterly disappointed...

This was not the first time this sort of thing has happened and surely will not be the last. So I did a little modifying and voila, THE PERFECT FIT! What did I do? I simply removed the divers extension components and used the extra holes left behind to micro size my bracelet. I needed to add a link and since I used the cut-outs for the extension's push buttons, I added an extra spring bar to keep the end of the bracelet from sliding back and forth. (see pic # 5)

Now that sizing was no longer an issue, I am thoroughly pleased. The new H-10 movement, which is a modified ETA 2824, with slowed down beat rate and increased power reserve (80 hrs), is keeping excellent time. I love all the applied markers, the gorgeous (long) hands and the stark white lume. This one hits so many check marks and the canteen crown gimmick is kind of fun and a cool take on an old design. it works for me.

I could have saved quite a bit by shopping online, but there was something quite gratifying by purchasing after I was able to hold it in my hands and examining it up close. All too many times I have regretted online trades / purchases because I acquired them site unseen. Also, I did get a decent discount and since it was from an authorized dealer, I need not worry about any warranty issues.

For the price, almost 1000$ (Canadian) less than an Oris Aquis on bracelet, which houses an unmodified Satilla S200, this watch is quite remarkable. Take it from someone who has owned many, many luxury dive watches, this one will impress.

Hamilton

Monday, August 15, 2016

DELTAt SoRa Type AS - Pictoral REVIEW

Have you heard of DELTAt before? Neither had I, up until a few weeks ago. Found them via an ad on WatchUseek.com and I am sure glad I clicked through. While they do have some wild creations and I have been told a contemporary diver is on the way, their pilot's watch line was the reason why I got excited.

It had been too long since I owned a pilot watch and frankly with my obsession firmly planted in the dive watch arena, I did not want to devote a lot of funds to a Pilot watch. Thankfully the DELTAt SoRa Type AS was very reasonably priced in the sub 500$ range. Styled after the great German Fliegeruhr of yesteryear, this one even has a tremendous crown, reminiscent of the contemporary Zenith models.

Its specs are quite simple, with a diameter of 44mm (not too big, not too small) and just under 12mm thick. Lug width is 22mm and comes with 3 straps. A thick new buck bund, a slick black pilots and a Zulu strap. The latter is in case you feel like testing it's 200m water-resistance. Also has a scratch resistant sapphire crystal and quick change spring bars.

Despite the above "standard" specs and its rather "pedestrian" Miyota 8215 movement, which incidentally has been keeping adequate time,  this watch is much, much more than the sum of its parts. Allow me to demonstrate:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I am not entirely sure what it is that makes this watch so appealing to me. Is it the proportions? The design of the case with the lugs? The fit on my wrist? The fact that this is SO MUCH watch for so little? Or all of the above? 

Thankfully, I received this one just prior to my vacation to the Canadian Maritime Provinces and because of this,the following should further demonstrate my reasons for liking this one so much:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needless to say, we had a wonderful vacation and it is one that I will fondly remember every time I look at my DELTAt watch. Is it not incredible how memories can be associated to objects, sounds and smells. Well, from now on my DELTAt will remind me of incredible lobster rolls, spectacular vistas and the wonderfully humble Canadians that inhabit this beautiful part of the world.

If you are looking for a pilot watch and do not wish to spend thousands on an IWC or Zenith, give DELTAt a look over. They just might have what you are looking for!


In case you would like to see some other incredible vacation pictures, have a look at these: