Auction vintage Gruen

Managed to get to a watch auction the other day and purchased this nice 1929 vintage Ladies Gruen model in 14ct white filled Gold.

Ladies 1929 vintage Gruen 14ct White Gold Filled - Auction find.

Ladies 1929 vintage Gruen 14ct White Gold Filled – Auction find.

Gruen02True Art Deco example with excellent condition enamel and engraved case by Wadsworth (14ct with reinforced extra Gold).  A signed 15 jewel movement with 4 adjustments with Gruen Guild Switzerland markings. The dial is in good condition and the movement keeps very good time indeed.

Original strap and slide clasp.

Original strap and slide clasp.

15 Jewels 4 adjustments (Serial No. obscured for this image)

15 Jewels 4 adjustments
(Serial No. obscured for this image)

No signs of corrosion within the movement.  The original ribbon strap and slide/clip clasp was too short for my Wife, so I replaced the strap with a high quality German leather 11 mm wide taper spring open/end strap which is ideal.  I have of course kept the original fittings as I hope to obtain a ribbon replacement soon. However the practicality of the new replacement strap will probably suit my Wife’s needs better at this time.

I always get a real kick out of finding very old watches that are still in amazing condition, with movements working just as efficiently as they did when first manufactured.  It is a true testament to the wonders of the clockwork watch movement, which will probably outlast any of the quartz or digital efforts around today.

Original 1929 set.

Original 1929 set.

This Gruen watch does keep amazing time and note the adjuster is still in it’s central position which is quite unusual I have to say after all this time.

I like the fact this watch was looked after properly and bears the signatures marks of quite a few Servicings – always a bonus when considering watches of this age.  So there’s no reason to doubt that it will keep going long after we’ve gone ( morbid I know), but what can you get these days for such a small outlay that can give you such service?

Not a lot – I can tell you – not a lot.

Pro Trek Triple & neater

The new range of updated Casio Pro Trek Triple Sensor v3 are around now in a whole pile of colors, which is nice, but for me the best bit of news is that these models are just that little bit smaller than the older ones, or certainly neater.

Casio Pro Trek PRG-300-1A2 series ABC models in eye catching colros.

Casio Pro Trek PRG-300-1A2 series ABC models in eye catching colors.

Personally I don’t get carried away by the optional colors, as like cars, certain colors suit, others don’t.  In the case of the models here I find that some colors, certainly in close up just make the watch look “plasticky” whilst others look great.  A personal choice I know, but care should be taken of the overall look and the different display characteristics, positive/negative and so on regarding clarity.

PRG-300-1A2 in black//blue with great display (best one imo)

PRG-300-1A2 in black//blue with great display (best one imo).

Neat case at 47mm width with smoother control/sensors

Neat case at 47 mm width with smoother control/sensors.

Neat control buttons.

Neat control buttons.

As with so many of these Casio multi-function models however the strap is resin (note that the entire case appears to be resin now as opposed to a resin shroud).  And the strap has these (blue here) plastic extenders, that annoy me intensely.  The overall case at 56 mm lug to lug, the watch is still quite wide for average wrists and imo these don’t help that situation at all.

Not much in the way of changes to the technical specification (how easy it is to say that now . . . ), but that’s a fact- so just cosmetic alterations, little case changes and so on, but nevertheless resulting in a smoother, slightly neater watch overall – and for me that’s a good thing.

They say change is a good thing – NOT a sentiment I take lightly here in the UK (or what’s left of it) since today we awoke to realize we’d chucked out the EU concept.  Got fed up with unelected and in power Brussels EU bureaucrats saying what we could or could not do as a Country (and getting worse), who have a different agenda to our National one . . . .

I mean when the outgoing President of a protectionist nation has the temerity to TELL us what we should do, followed by a whole gaggle of other egocentric and self interested nonentities (often paid by the EU) – it sort of gets your back up – the result was never in doubt – What can I say?

So we’re going it alone –

Wow!

(Sorry about that, but Hey – sometimes you’ve just got to say . . . . .)

Worth waiting for . . .

At last a watch (two actually) that’s worth waiting for – and that’s unusual in my experience, as today it seems there’s too many “same” models around.  And as I’ve always had a soft spot for Junghans watches from Germany, I don’t mind waiting a few months for the new Meister Driver Handaufzug (manual wind) which is also one of the most elegant models I’ve seen in a long time.

Junghans Meister Driver Hand winding

Junghans Meister Driver hand winding – from Germany.

This is a stainless steel cased model with dimensions of just 37.7 mm diameter (such a sensible size) and a height of just 7.3 mm, so a very sleek and elegant model indeed.

The crystal is made from slightly domed plexiglass with a SICRALAN coating, a screwed back with a mineral crystal exhibition window to the rear.  The dial is a rather beautiful polished lacquer with a sunburst effect finish and the dial markings and hands are in environmentally friendly Super Luminova material, to give excellent night vision.

The movement is the J815.1 hand-winding version, based on the Calibre ETA 7001 from Peseux, which should have a Power Reserve of around 44 hours.

Peseux Calibre 7701

Junghans J815.1 – Peseux Calibre 7701

A sub-dial @6 shows running Seconds and to complete the tonal match of dial, the strap is calfskin with stainless steel buckle and the overall watch has a water Resistance of 3 bar.

In all a most elegant watch and I love the fact that the dial contrast is really good and night reading has not been forgotten (so often dress models omit this feature).

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The second “worth waiting for” model I feature is also a Meister Driver – the Chronoscope.  This features the Automatic Calibre J880.3 with chronograph complication and is also cased in stainless steel, though with slightly larger dimensions at 40.8 mm Diameter and 12.6 mm height.  Chronograph functions are operated by two pushers either side of the main crown.  However by today’s standards a neat and elegant watch size.

Junghans Meister Chronoscope Automatic

This model features a sand coloured two tone lacquer dial, 2 x centre-line horizontal chrono’ sub-dials and a centre seconds sweep hand.  Once again numerals and hands feature Super-luminova coatings for optimum clarity at night and dial contrast is excellent.  A brown leather strap and buckle and 30 m Water Resistance complete the ensemble.

Here in the UK both models are still on pre-order basis with availability sometime in September 2016 and are for me a breath of fresh air in this market at the moment, which seem to comprise so many models that are perhaps short on looks.  The Junghans Meister series certainly buck the trend and the latest ones featured here, very much so and as I say worth waiting for.

Price-wise the hand-winding model is to be around £1000 mark and the Automatic a little more expensive at around £1700.  For such classic and elegant models this seems not too big a price I have to say and I’m sure will generate a lot of interest.

Which one?  For me I think the Meister Driver Handaufzug I think is my preference, simply because it is so elegantly simple.  I’m not really a chronograph person and the smaller diameter and height gives it a sleekness on the wrist that I’m sure will suit me and my style.

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Monster!

The other day I was visiting a friend and happened to be wearing my Seiko Monster, as I often do as I like it, so I wear it.  He noticed it and said that it rather paled into insignificance against his latest purchase.  I was intrigued and also somewhat blown away too, as he slipped back his sleeve and I got my first sight of his amazing Vostok-Europe Lunokhod 2.  Wow!

6205205 Vostok-Europe Lunokhod II LE with Tritium

6205205 Vostok-Europe Lunokhod II LE with Tritium

Well I had to agree with his claim as it out “monstered” my monster by a fair margin!  Very large and very impressive, especially as he’d gone for the bright yellow version plus the yellow silicon strap.  He bought it he tells me, just because he loved the look of it and I can understand that, as I’ve done it myself on many occasions.

Now whether he’ll keep it is another story, but I have to admit it is an impressive piece of kit.  Comes with 2 straps, one leather and one silicon ( I have seen it advertised with 3) and a fancy snap closure carrying case, so lots of goodies, but what’s the watch really like and is it any good?

Striking model in yellow with leather strap alternative (supplied)

Striking model in yellow with leather strap alternative (supplied)

Initial observations for me are firstly is the size at 49 mm diameter and approx 17 mm thickness, because not everyone will be able to wear it and look good and also I note the Day indicator (a segmented sub-dial @12), is small and could cause problems reading it (but that’s maybe just me).  Perhaps of more concern is the Seconds indicator, a sub-dial segment @6, as it features a 60 secs fly-back hand, so I have to wonder about longevity.
However dial visibility seems pretty good despite the configuration, and the use of embedded Tritium Light Tubes on the main hands and Tube markers is commendable, and whilst I’m not totally convinced by the vertical positioning of the markers (upright “candle holders” I’ve heard them called), though it’s suggested there’s more light spread across the dial.

6205205 Tritium Light Source - view in darkness.

6205205 Tritium Light Source – view in darkness.

The rest of the specification is pretty decent – solid 316L Stainless Steel case, 3.5 mm thick Hardened K1 mineral crystal, the Swiss made bespoke Soprod TM36.03VE quartz-movement, that 31 day Chronograph, Dual time zone, Countdown Timer from 12 hrs and from 31 day, Retrograde Perpetual Calendar, Quick set Date, 300M Water Resistance, automatic Helium Release Valve and a 3 year Guarantee.

Very impressive though and my friend was right and he’s delighted, as he should be with his new purchase.  Do I want one?  Well I would normally say not for me as it’s really too big and I’ve never been a fan of fly-back anythings.  And the price by the way is somewhere around 750 Euros I understand, so quite expensive and I would have to compare that against some of the Casio offerings, so . . . .

However it is a refreshing change to the Casios of this world and Vostok-Europe have a few other models that might interest me.

Take the Vostok-Europe model 6204212  Lunokhod II Grand Chronograph.

Vostok-Europe Lunokhod II Grand Chronograph

Vostok-Europe Lunokhod II Grand Chronograph

for example.  Now this is a more conventional Quartz model but with all the standard Lunokhod features – such as the 30ATM Water Resistance, solid SS case (black PVD) plus an Anti-Reflective coated K1 crystal and a 1/20th Second Chronograph function.  The pushers however on this model are more familiar to me as they are on the right side of the case, not the left.  A decent size Date window @4 and a centre sweep Seconds hand (which I find more useful than fly-back).

Grand Chronograph with Tritium Light Source illumination.

Grand Chronograph with Tritium Light Source illumination.

This is also a very impressive affair and maybe more to my taste (well that’s what I thought when I started this Post, but now maybe not so sure!) – but there again it’s still big – but is it a purchase stopper?   Well – for any one the quite extensive range I might be tempted . . . . . and this one priced at around 665 Euros is getting closer.

But whatever you might think price and feature wise, these are pretty good efforts from Vostok-Europe and will definitely be on any future check list. And if you’re often in wet situations (I think of 6 months in Scotland!) then the 300M Water Resistance must be an attractive feature if nothing else.

I really quite like them, but for now I’ll strap on my Seiko “not such a monster after all” – in fact it’s quite elegant when I think about it – it really is . . . .

Seiko "Orange Monster"

Seiko “Orange Monster”

One for the Ladies

Every so often I come across a watch that makes me sit up and notice.  And this is especially true of late as this time my interest is piqued by a Ladies watch – a subject so often neglected on watch web sites.  Indeed I featured a Ladies watch not long ago, which I confess I was quite tempted to wear myself – but this one is smaller, very much a ladies size and affordable.
Nevertheless it caught my interest for two reasons.  First it is a rather elegant and colorful model and it features a mechanical movement, not quartz.  It also comes from Japan Seiko and
whilst many tend to lump Seiko in with the rest of the quartz revolution Brands, this is rather unfair as they manufacture a wide range of excellent mechanical watches.

Seiko Lukia ladies Automatic - with Swarovski elements

Seiko Lukia ladies Automatic – with Swarovski elements

This is the Seiko Lukia (Ladies) Automatic (with Swarovski elements) model – SSVM018.

A smart lugged Gold plated two tone case of 34.3 mm diameter and just 11 mm depth surrounds a dial set up that is both colorful and elegant.  I particularly like the different colors for the fancy numerals used and the excellent contrast, which ensures good visibility.  A Date window @3 is clear and highlighted cleverly by the gold colored surround and white background.  The Swarovsky colored crystal highlights are additional and between the 5 minute markers.

Excellent Lumi Bright hands and markers

Excellent Lumi Bright hands and markers

Note the dot markers are coated in Lumi Bright and the elegant shaped hands are in-filled with the same luminous material, which is highly effective at night.  This in itself is unusual for what is after all a Ladies dress watch, but very welcome in my opinion.  There is also a center seconds hand – another feature often missed on Ladies models.

The crystal is Sapphire, so no need to worry about scratches and there is also a mineral see though glass on the back to view the movement.  The movement is the Seiko 4R35, 24 jewel Automatic with both hand winding and a hack function.  Power Reserve is 41 hours.

Elegant, colorful and affordable - the Seiko Lukia

Elegant, colorful and affordable – the Seiko Lukia SSVM018

The watch also has a decent 10 ATM or 100 m Water Resistance.

The matching two tone deployment bracelet has a maximum wrist capacity of 170 mm, so careful note of that fact is important (my Wife would manage that – just) and the watch retails for approximately $340, so as I said, it is affordable and for what you get I think it pretty decent value.

So another Ladies watch to feature here – this could be a regular occurrence if they keep producing models like this – and that’s refreshing in that Ladies are not being forgotten about after all.

We could see more . . . . .

A closer look

This week features the LCW-170M-1AER Solar, Radio Control model from Casio.  This is a very classy mid-range model from the Lineage series and one I’d call dress watch style.  Quite elegant and neatly sized at 39 mm wide by just 9 mm depth, this is a watch that caters for all wrists, from large to small.

LCW-170M-1AER - classy Solar & Radio Control from Casio

LCW-170M-1AER – classy Solar & Radio Control from Casio

This model features a Titanium case and bracelet so is light weight, the Titanium mostly has a brushed finish plus a polished bezel.   It’s also a quietly understated model even though it features Solar Power and Radio Control.

Note the quality brushed finish of the Titanium case sides

Note the quality brushed finish of the Titanium case sides

The watch is easily set up out of the box and here in the UK, I set my Home Time Zone to LON (London) then moving towards my south facing window, I used pushbutton C to receive a signal.  This was during the day at around 2pm and it managed to get the lock required and set the correct time, including our UK Summer Time adjustment in around 3 minutes.  This was very easy to manage.
The watch time out of the box was set to UTC, so when I synchronized it was nice to see it receive the signal and move the hands automatically 1 hour forward to the correct UK time.  Note you can easily check to see when it successfully received a signal, which is useful.

Note this model, which is still current, has World Times for 29 Time Zones so whilst for most of us should be fine, my new Citizen model has 40 Time Zones.

This model has 5 Alarms, Hourly Time Signal (selectable), World Time programmed to 2099, a Radio Time Signal check 6 times/day usually overnight (once signal success all other time checks are canceled), 60 minutes Stop Watch, Countdown Timer (1 minute to 100 minutes in 1 second intervals), LED night lighting, Battery Power indicator (full charge battery duration approx. 4 months). Power Save function after 60-70 minutes in the dark (second hand parks @12 – display is blank  – after 6 or 7 days all hands park @12 and most other functions such as Auto Receive stop, except for internal clock).

The watch has a Sapphire Crystal but no anti-reflection coating.  The rather finely detailed dial is off white in colour, the Hour and Minute hands are luminous, as is the infill rear overhang end of the centre seconds hand, but the dial markers are not.  However the luminous hands stand out clearly and are good for all night and in addition if you really need it this model features dial illumination by LED, which is very bright indeed, lighting the entire dial – so everything (maybe even the bedtime book!) is easily seen in the dark.

Decent luminous quality hands - Note the end of the Seconds hand.

Luminous hands – includes short end of Seconds hand (markers are not luminous).

The slightly sloping case sides have a quality brush finish from front to back under a narrow polished bezel.   This model has just 3 round push buttons.   As usual with Casio the lower left (B) pusher is the Mode, lower right (C) is what I call the “do something” pusher and the top right (A) pusher operates the light mainly, though does have additional functions.  As per usual for me I set the default view in the digital display to show Day and Date – this can be toggled using the (C) pusher.

The watch dimensions are really neat at just 39 mm diameter and a very slim 9 mm deep.  The bracelet like the case is Titanium, adjustable and full size is plenty big enough for large wrists.  With 20 mm Standard spring-bar fixings it also means that changing the bracelet for any reason is easy, sensible and affordable.  Bespoke Casio bands are not required.

Both have Module 5161, but the 170 is very slim and is all Titanium (no resin).

Similar function set, but the 170 is very slim in comparison to the WVA-470 and all Titanium, not resin hybrid.

The case back has a 4 screw flat back affair and the Water Resistance is stated as 5 Bar.

So overall this is a rather good watch and whilst it has Solar and Radio Control features, it’s also conservative yet dressy and can be worn anywhere.  The sensible size also means anyone can wear this and look good.

I show here the watch firstly in comparison to another similar function model from Casio and later against other current Solar and Radio Controlled watches and as you see it is very compact.

Neat case size & bracelet fitting - easily fits my 165/70 cm wrist.

Neat case size & bracelet fitting – easily fits my 165/70 cm wrist.

Note – My wrist size is around 165/170 mm so I had to reduce the bracelet size (5 links removed) which can be done using that simple blue plastic pin pusher gadget from Ebay, that I’ve had for years .   A word of advice – The secret to this type of bracelet is to remember that within each link there is a tiny split collar or collet, through which the link pin passes – don’t lose it!   It is very important as this split collar grips the pin and the link securely in the bracelet.  Remember for every pin there is a tiny split collar and as they’re only maybe 2 or 3 mm long – easy to lose!

To remove a link – (if you are right handed) lay the bracelet into the receiving area of the pin pusher then (make sure you line it up properly) turn the screw handle clockwise with your right hand to push the pin out of the link in the direction of the marked arrow, as far as the pusher will allow.  Then keeping a firm (left hand) grip on the bracelet with finger and thumb over the area of the pin, use pliers (right hand) and pull the pin all the way out – note it will be stiff and that’s because you have to overcome that little split collar which is gripping the pin.   Still holding the bracelet firmly and once the pin is removed, lay the pin safely down and lower the bracelet to the table and gently ease the link apart.  The small collar will probably (or it might stay) drop to the table.  It’s usually retained by the lower part of the link in your left hand and part of the pin hole which is enlarged to take it.

Don’t lose it!

For without the collars the link pins will simply fall through the bracelet, not retained and the bracelet links wont link.

Basic tools for bracelet reduction - had the old Ebay pin pusher (blue) for years without issue.

Basic tools for bracelet reduction – the old Ebay pin pusher (blue) has been a great performer for years.

To put the pin/link in again – replace the collar into its enlarged hole, bring the bracelet links together, locate the pin to the hole (with the arrow as before) and tap gently with a small hammer, making sure the two link parts are pressed together to ensure a straight continuous hole for the pin to go into.

I have resized literally hundreds of bracelets using this method and with this same cheapo tool and never had an issue.   I have never lost a Casio split collar yet, though I admit the first time I did it, it was a close thing and I was lucky to spot it.  Once you know – it’s easy, but as always take care . . . .

I would also warn you that many Watch Retailers/High Street repairers have NOT a clue how to manage this and know nothing of any collar – you have been warned!
I have an older Post which gives some idea of what to do, with images – HERE.  There is also a Video on You Tube I have seen which might be helpful.

As I have said before – standard spring bar bracelet/strap fixings mean you can use alternatives.  I have a 20 mm wide silicon deployment strap which I fit as an alternative depending on my mood.  In fact I have a collection of 20 mm width deployments in various colours, which can totally change the look of the watch and I do find it useful at times to do just that.

So that’s the Casio LCW-170 – 1.  It looks much better in real life than those insipid images on most retailer web sites and in comparison to similar function models, it does look a class act and well worth the relatively modest price.

Addendum – update.

Decided to try an alternative strap to the supplied bracelet.  Used a 20 mm silicon strap, but without the locking deployment that comes with the silicon strap.  Instead I replaced it with the original Casio deployment from the original bracelet, so I still have the signed Casio logo on the finished ensemble.  As usual I personally find the silicon arrangement more comfortable than the supplied original bracelet. But so nice to see that it’s possible without much work. – images follow.

Silicon strap replacement using original Casio deployment buckle

Silicon strap replacement using original Casio deployment buckle

Casio logo original deployment on silicon strap replacement.

Casio logo original deployment on silicon strap replacement.

Replacement silicon strap on the wrist - is very neat

Replacement silicon strap on the wrist – is neat and very comfortable.

Radio Times

A small collection of Solar and Radio Control models all featuring similar functions with the exception of the far left Citizen Satellite model.  Whilst it receives a Radio signal too, it’s from a satellite orbiting the Earth and not a ground based transmitter.  I just love a Radio group photo as they all show the exact same time!

And the time is - the same on every darned one!

And the time is – the same on every darned one – Exactly!

Forgotten the prices now, without looking them up when I got them, but I know the dearest is on the far left and the cheapest in on the far right.  But they all have pretty much the same accuracy. The Citizen Satellite model however has the most accurate quartz movement, out of the box, without any synchronization, but give them light (yes they are all Solar Powered) and automatically pick up a signal every day – they all read the same time – precisely.

In fact you could set your watch by them!  :-)

Note the smallest watch in the group is the light dial Casio LCW-170 at just over 39 mm diameter.  It is also the slimmest at around 9 mm depth.

Don’t ask which one I prefer because I like them all.  They each do exactly what they’re supposed to do and do it very well.  I have no issues with any of them and they are proudly what I call – my Estate models – that is they will be here long after I’ve gone and no doubt someone else will have the pleasure of owning and wearing them.

But just not yet!