Smith & Bradley Ambush

Compass watches are always of interest to me, whether current or as in this case a Kickstarter project – which I understand is already fully funded and November this year should be available.  Smith & Bradley are a fairly new US Company run by watch enthusiasts who decided that there was a niche in the market for a seriously practical model that might well be suited to the Law Enforcement profession or indeed any outdoor enthusiast too.

Smith & Bradley "Ambush" watch

Smith & Bradley “Ambush” watch

This is the “Ambush” analog/digital model (I have a love of combi’s I admit) and this one appears to be pretty well specified.   It uses a Swiss Quartz movement a digital display not unlike a Breitling Aerospace and a compass step motor function not unlike the Tissot T-Touch (though without the touch display).  On first looks I rather like it.  The 316 Stainless Steel 44mm diameter case (ex crown) is black PVD coated and the crystal is a coated Anti-reflection Sapphire.  The case back is stainless steel and screw fit.  Function wise it features Alarm, Digital Compass using the analog hands as pointers, Dual Time  and Chronograph.

Great night vision - Superluminova analog and digital back light.

Great night vision – Superluminova analog and digital back light.

It also caters for night use by having SuperLuminova analog hands and also a selectable blue digital back light which seems pretty good.  Battery life is around 39 months (Renata) and there is a low battery indicator.  The Compass mode uses the Minute hand to point to True North (there are declination settings you can set) and interestingly the Hour hand with the red dot shows your heading in compass mode.  The digital display will show all data for direction and heading in degrees.

I also like the fact (as in the night image) when the digital function is being used the analog hands will move out of the way to a default 10 -2 position, thus not obscuring the displays ( a feature of the Tissot T=touch also).

So an interesting watch on many levels for me in that they are non mainstream and yet have put a lot of thought into their watch.  They have used a solid Swiss ana/digi movement and planned out the features very carefully and avoided the pitfall of many larger Brands – dial clutter.  This dial in comparison is neat, functional and very legible – and they have my congratulations. Another feature is they use standard lug strap arrangements so NATO and other standard alternative straps can be easily used.  Again well done!

This model also feature a 10Bar (100m) Water Resistance.

Sadly I never spotted this watch or indeed the Kickstarter promotion when it first appeared, so am very late to the table, but I’m sure once it appears and hopefully (or eventually) available to the general public – I’ll be there!

LandMaster Spring Drive

Haven’t mentioned Seiko for some time and here is one of their new models – the Landmaster SBDB005 Spring Drive,

Seiko Landmaster Spring Drive

Seiko Landmaster SBDB005 Spring Drive

which owing to the slightly unusual shape of the case looks pretty impressive size even at 45.0 mm wide and 14.2 depth and also maybe overly impressive in price at around £1800 to the UK.  Not sure if the concept of Spring Drive sits well with me or not, though at this price I have to say it doesn’t make me want to rush out and buy one.

Now OK it’s a nice watch with it’s excellent (so I’m told) 30 jewel Spring Drive 5R67 movement, good clear dial (clarity is a real plus with this model) with separate 24 hr hand, which is actually not intrusive being skeleton.  Power Reserve indicator shows that it’s pretty good at 72 hrs and the black dial and white Lumibrite hands a very decent combination and with excellent night use.  The crystal is Sapphire and has anti-reflection coating too and a decent size Date aperture @3.  It also has a 100m Water Resistance with a screw back.  I note the crown does stick out proud from the wrist once you strap it on, which is a consequence of the short lug arrangement, so it’s easily got hold of if nothing else.

Interestingly being a Bullhead style with the crown @12 you would be forgiven if you thought his might be overly large from lug to lug – well it’s not and coupled with the shortened lug profile at 12 it’s actually only 46.8mm lug to lug, so will fit most wrists, even if it looks big and it is one of those models that does look bigger than it is.  I confess I have a preference for models that even if they’re large, manage to look small on the wrist – this is something that this model does not do – but perhaps this is just me . . . . see video HERE.

However one of the plus points is it’s solid Titanium so should at least be reasonably light and I’ve seen 140gms mentioned, so not too bad including the Ti bracelet with fold over clasp etc.

Whilst the idea of Spring Drive first appeared way back it’s only since 1999 it’s been commercial and basically today that it’s reached the required performance currently demanded.  Personally I would first consider a conventional automatic mechanical movement until I fully understood and see the actual benefits of SD.  However at this moment in time I can get very good mechanical models for the same or less money, using tried and tested technology that’s also been around a long, long time.

Interesting and quite impressive Seiko this may be, but I feel it’s looking too large on the wrist for me.

The elegant watch (9)

Another elegant watch, this time from Czechoslovakia – the PRIM Elegant 39C – Silver dial Date Watch.

The Prim Elegant 39C - Silver Dial Date Watch

The Prim Elegant 39C – Silver Dial Date Watch

This has the Automatic Prim Calibre 98.01 22 jewel movement with a 46 hrs Power Reserve with Stainless Steel polished case, Date window @4 and a Sapphire Crystal.  It also features a 50m Water Resistance.  The name is apparently is an acronym derived from Precision, Reliability, Individuality – all Matchless according to their web site which seems a little simplistic, however the models do seem to be pretty decent nevertheless.

PRIM have their headquarters in the Czech Republic and manufacturing since 1949 and have created unique, custom-made watches ever since.  They have a range of models and are also interested in customization for customers to create a unique model personal to the customer.  The 98-01 movement has a stated accuracy of -6 to +24 s/day.

PRIM 22 jewel 98.01 self winding movement

PRIM 22 jewel 98.01 self winding movement

For me this model which has been around since 2009 has the classic retro look of the 1960’s and 1970’s and OK perhaps nothing out of the ordinary, but I think I can call this one, especially as it’s name suggests it – an “elegant” watch and it does seem well constructed.  And there’s something about those classic shaped models that just does it for me – maybe I’m old fashioned at heart, who knows, but I like this one.

This model is quoted at around $4500 price so they have plenty of competition at this price point.

Mondia Grande

Always on the lookout for different models and brands from what I consider non-mainstream and here is one I particularly like – the Mondia Grande Montre Automatic Chronograph.

Mondia Grande Montre Auto Chrono - Gents

Mondia Grande Montre Auto Chrono – Gents

This model like many in the Mondia range has a touch of Italian style which I’ve usually found to be rather attractive and yes – stylish.  The watch has a 25 jewel Swiss Valjoux 7750 automatic movement with a 30 minute elapsed time sub-dial @12 and a 12 hour elapsed time sub-dial @6 plus a Date aperture also @6 within the sub-dial.

The case is 316L Stainless Steel with 5ATM Water Resistance plus an Anti-scratch resistant mineral crystal.  The dimensions are 40mm wide, 45mm lug to lug and 13mm depth.  The black outlined hands are luminous infilled, there is a black centre seconds sweep hand and the dial has neat blue markers, the combination of which gives the dial great clarity.  I also like the fact that the push buttons are oval and not those sticky out things that seem so old fashioned.

In essence it is a very stylish model, practical and yet dressy and one that I certainly would have no trouble wearing myself.  The price is maybe upper mid range for me but at around £795 UK it seems to give good value and being off mainstream, your friends might be that little bit envious.

“Squad” Lookin’ back (3yrs)

This is a bit of a reprise which I do every so often.  Taking one of my watch models after a few years of living with me (which is not easy – according to my better half) I have a look to see how it’s held up and the one in question today is my lovely German Laco 1924 “Squad” quartz model.

Laco Quartz "Squad" model after 3 years.

Laco Quartz “Squad” model after 3 years.

Looks as good as the day I got it I have to say and is one that does get a fair bit of wrist time as it’s so comfortable on it’s third party Silicon deployment band.

Laco tend to make more Automatic models than quartz, but bang for buck their quartz models really take some beating.  One of the reasons and their are a few, that I like Laco, is their good quality build and choice of movements, quartz or otherwise.  This neat 40mm x 9mm Squad variety has the excellent Swiss Quartz ETA F06.111, tucked away nicely in the very well made and solid brushed stainless steel case with it’s slightly oversize anti-clockwise unidirectional and beautifully milled bezel.  An excellent AR coated mineral crystal makes the dial clarity something special as the matt black is in high contrast to the highly luminous hour markers and Superluminova C3 hands.

Laco Superluminov C3 - simply the best at night.

Laco Superluminov C3 – simply the best at night.

This in fact one of the best luminous watches I own and assisted by the rather long minute hand which makes reading the time at night so easy.  (Breitling managed the same trick by instead extending the minute hand past the pivot point).  The second hand luminous DOT as you see in the image also shows very clearly in total darkness as does the Divers bezel DOT.

The case design is also slightly different in that it features a “bullhead” style, with the screw down crown @12 and cleverly protected by the great articulated lugs, which in turn make this watch easily worn on the smallest wrists amongst us.  I wish others would use this idea as it is so simple and effective.  The Date window @6 is small yet the choice of font and size plus the excellent contrast is surprisingly easy to see.

Water resistance is very good at 200 metres, assisted by the screw down crown.  A luminous dot on the bezel is another typical divers touch.  Though as said I did change the band as the Divers style one wasn’t for me – being too aggressive on the wrist – fine for a neoprene suit but against my old wrist, not so great.  The alternative silicon deployment one is perfect and having standard lug/strap fitting was a simple replacement.

Laco with articulated lugs on the wrist.

Laco with articulated lugs on the wrist.

Laco make fine watches and have done so since 1925 (hence the Logo) and tend more specialist in Pilot style models.  Others do copy, such as the Aeromatic brand but take it from me, not in the same league.  You can find Laco easily with a simple Google search and they have a pretty decent range of models, though to find a quartz one is not quite so easy and as a price to quality ratio they are in my opinion pretty hard to beat.

I suppose this is a testament to the fact that on the whole I do look after my watches, unlike a few friends of mine it has to be said, who sometimes show me their older models and I have to suspect they kept them in a toolbox full of nails!  and shook them around every day! such is the state of them.  Fortunately I never trade with any of them!  ;-)



The elegant watch (8)

Once again I’ve chosen a watch model that represents not only a traditional elegance but also a masterpiece of Swiss watchmaking, the Laurent Ferrier Geneve Galet Traveller.  This first appeared back in 2013 but as so often the case with true elegance models, is still as relevant today as it will be in 100 years.

Laurent Ferrier Geneve Galet Traveller classic

Laurent Ferrier – Geneve – Galet Traveller classic

This particular model is quite unique in it’s approach to dual or world time and use an interesting complication which at the same time is very simple to use.  A single press using one of the two oblong push buttons on the left side of the case move the central hand forwards + or backwards -.  At the same time the Date @3 automatically changes at midnight, to reflect your new setting, and the subtle 24hr Date @9 shows your true Home Time day and position.

The case is either white or red gold and the solid silver dial is in midnight blue with those elegant hour and minute hands plus a sub dial seconds @6. Note the centre of the dial is vertically brushed compared to the circular brushed minute ring, such is the attention to detail.A self winding automatic calibre with an offset micro rotor which encompasses the dual time functionality took over 2 years to fully develop, such is the technical challenge of this movement.  Accuracy is exceptional and is certified Chronometer by Besancon Observatory.Each year another masterpiece appears from this excellent maker, though if you have to ask the cost, then you are unlikely to be able to afford it.  But when you consider such a timepiece with many of today’s resin cased quartz complication watches – well there’s simply no comparison at all, for this watch is timeless perfection and as a collector – wow!  (just checked my Stocks – and things are not looking good!)  :-(

Power play . . .

Had posted this in my “Commentary” section but got so hooked into it, I just had to Post it here as a leader and prompted by the silly hype being generated by that latest smartwatch from Apple.

14th October 2014 (reprinted from Commentary)

Just saw an article, one of many actually, that boasts that the introduction of the Apple Smart Watch will threaten the Swiss watch industry.  It seems to base this premise on what exactly? that in comparison to the new Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert model which as they say, has a Compass, Altimeter, Barometric Pressure, Timers, Chronograph and tells you the time – the Apple does all sorts of super things like “open your hotel room door” and pay for goods and services.  The inference being that the Apple watch is better?

Well for me that just about says it all.  The Apple Watch and all the other smart watches appear do all sorts of “stupid” things and just a few OK ones besides – I mean I tend to use a key or key card issued by the hotel to open the door . . . . though I can see why this fact might be important as you will certainly have to get to a power point in less than a day to charge your so called “Smart” Watch.

And this is the HUGE problem with these things.  Power or the lack of it and especially with all the wonderful “things” you can do with it.  And as to payment for everything with a watch?  If I remember correctly some time ago Apple came out with this Passbook system, which was an e-ticketing/coupon sort of payment idea, which here in the UK was a total disaster.  In fact the poor take up figures already show we don’t even like using that horrible “Proximity Card” idea for paying for your shopping in the supermarket, as they are both insecure and unreliable as many cases prove and the new Apple smart payment idea appears to be very similar.

However when you get down to it, the “smart” watch actually does very little, if anything, on it’s own.  It has to connect to a compatible phone or perhaps “smart” phone, which also incidentally needs to be charged virtually every day as well, so you can check messages or Emails or whatever else the modern guy seems to imagine he has to have.  I personally call it all a bit of a con!  Is it to much trouble just to check your phone in your pocket? and then you can properly answer without severe eye strain.

Perpetuated by Apple and the rest of the “smart hand communicator” makers, each bombarding you with an deluge of sales litter, just to get you to buy their products but also to then rely on them.  Plus trying very hard to make sure their devices only talk to their own brand and then have to charge them with their bespoke charger connector (each new model = different connector) just to make you buy a new one every darned time.

As I say a very big con!  And cynic that I am it appears the cost of all this a pretty blatant and deliberate ploy to get you to pay their development costs for what are let’s face it, less than complete products.  In fact until they can provide Solar “smart” watches in my view they are wasting your and their money.

Meanwhile with my Tissot Solar Swiss Watch I’m still able to tell the time and the date and use my compass the next day or next week or next month and for many, many years!  As the title piece said in this article and I repeated here, my wrist watch is “solar” – no battery worries and even if left in a dark drawer, it will still be working a year later and never miss a beat.  Now I don’t know about you, but I call that SMART . . .! Very smart.

Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert Swiss Watch.  Also a "Smart" watch!

Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert Swiss Watch. Also a “Smart” watch!

Interestingly as I look at the back of my own Tissot Solar Expert Swiss watch it actually states “Smart Watch” (see image – click to enlarge) which says to me – the Swiss know a thing or two about wrist watches.  I have a feeling that a good watch, mechanical hand wind, automatic, spring drive, Quartz Eco-drive or plain Solar will still be around long after the so called “smart” watch has corroded away to Lithium dust, which won’t do you much good either!