Chips with everything?

Smart News –

The latest news that every watch site is reporting is in a way confirmation of what I said in a recent Post, the idea that traditional Watch manufacturers are looking at incorporating Chips in their watches, has finally had the seal of approval from one of the masters of pilot watches – Breitling.  The Breitling B55 (connected) is on it’s way and to be in the marketplace later this year.

The Breitling B55 connected.

The Breitling B55 connected.  Note the Bluetooth icon will NOT be on the production models.

Yes this model connects to a Breitling Mobile App you can get for your iPhone (and I expect Android to follow) so that it can wirelessly communicate to your phone via Bluetooth – and the App looks set to be a winner too as it’s not just another “message notification one”.

This particular App allows you to change Time Zones, change the watch display, set alarms, show watch operated results and other watch data, just like the watch dial itself, though in a larger format – plus of course that phone data etc.

It also is noted that the battery life (chargeable) is considerably longer than the Apple Smart watch variety, but importantly you still have the very well specified watch functions whether charged or not – it is still an independent fully functioning Chronograph and all the rest of it.

The Breitling App - almost a monitor for the watch dial.

The Breitling App – virtually a control monitor for the watch dial.

I particularly like the comment made by Breitling with this slightly barbed reference:

“For Breitling, there was no question of turning a watch into an extension dependent on a phone and less high-performance than the latter.”

My sentiments exactly.

No doubt in my mind that this is the preferred way to go for the so called Smart WATCH – and perhaps not so much “look out Swiss Watch Industry, Apple’s on it’s way” – but “Look out Apple, the Swiss have woken up – again!”

Still whichever way it goes, now at least we have some serious competition from folks who know about watches – and you never know, maybe the big three quartz majors will get off their collective too – as there’s not a lot they don’t know about watches AND electronics – now that would be something!

 

Something different (3)

Well the Xeric Xeriscope is certainly different and on first impressions I like it.  Here you have a visible and unusual “Orbital” watch movement, which is available in various styles and has everything you need to see on the dial.

The Automatic Xeric Xericscope - dual time from Watchismo Brothers

The Automatic Xeric Xericscope – dual time from Watchismo Brothers

Reading this watch is easy, the main and orbiting Automatic movement has an Hour pointer attached, which precesses slowly around the Hour index at the edge of the viewing aperture and completing the full orbit every 12 hours,

The minute sub-dial is @12 and I find it rather unique as it uses a double ended pointer/hand of two different lengths, and as you follow the minutes round, the appropriate pointer indicates each minute on the segmented Minute index, which is really quite clever.

Whilst the dial shows the time easily it is clearly a different style display that manages to be simple and efficient with little dial clutter.  A Power Reserve indication is @10 and the Automatic movement gives around 50 hours when fully wound.  Being Automatic and mechanical it is powered by the wearer’s wrist movement using a conventional Automatic Rotor system.

So a neat and modern complication watch, but with the addition of a unique Orbiting mechanical movement, which if I understand it correctly, moves basically as the Hour hand would do in a conventional watch, but in a sort of Tourbillon-esque manner.  In the case of the Tourbillon however, the movement revolves 360º in 60 seconds as it precesses, and provides a fascinating “mobile” experience.
But I like the conceptual look of the Xeric and coupled with the tricky minute hand/indication, is rather different and refreshing.

The watch dimensions are 45 mm diameter x 13 mm height, a smooth edge top bezel and case in Stainless Steel.  There is a porthole case-back with a mineral crystal so the movement and rotor can be seen from the rear.  The crown is a large Onion style and is used to set both the main time and the dual time, the latter being set to whatever second time (hour) appropriate for your needs.

The watch has a Water Resistance of 5 ATM or 50 m and has a lug width of 22 mm for the leather strap.

Produced by Watchismo and sold direct by them on their web site – HERE.   The model comes in various colors and styles, though for me and as regards clarity I prefer the one I’ve featured here, but of course is personal choice.

Certainly a “something different” I would say and nice to see. . . .

 

Timex race colors

I’ve always had concerns about the Intelligent Quartz series from Timex owing to the general lack of dial clarity.  Silvered hands, reflective indices and so on just adds to what for me personally is often a cluttered and confusing mass of data.

The Timex Intelligent Yacht Racer - a color triumph!

The Timex Intelligent Yacht Racer – a color triumph!

However with the latest Intelligent Quartz Yacht Racer, Timex seem to have addressed that issue in spades.

At last the use of color and decent sized hands plus a bit of imagination regarding placement of everything and it looks like a winner – IF you’re into yachting of course, otherwise the delay chronograph starts of 1, 3 and 5 minutes doesn’t make much sense.

But the title of course does spell it out – and this is definitely what this model is all about.

There are quite a few hands to look at, so instructions are at first a must, though for the core purpose of Yacht racing it’s actually relatively simple.  This digital movement model also has a Perpetual “Perfect” Calendar Date function that needn’t be adjusted until 2060 – it’s always correct and indicated by the push of a button, then the big yellow hand indicates the Date as printed on the outer case bezel.  After a few seconds it returns to the 12 position.

The yacht racing bit is where the chronograph starts after a set countdown period, either 1, 3 or 5 minutes, by counting down to zero and then it starts the main chronograph function.  The 3 countdown time sectors can be seen on the sub-dial @3, where you have the different countdown time indications.

It’s certainly a big step up from the previous models, basically as I said, owing to the previous clarity issues and this looks on the face of it (sorry!) to be much improved.  However I would really have to see it in reality in my hand before being absolutely sure it’s as good as it looks, but I’m certainly very encouraged so far.

It is quite a large watch at 47 mm diameter x 14 mm thick and it has a Water Resistance of 100m, which is good.  As it’s so colorful it should I’m sure get a few admiring looks from those who don’t have one.  It’s also an interesting “on demand” Date concept, getting rid of the often overly small date window buried in amongst the hands and so on – and to just push a button, then indicate the Date clearly on the large bezel seems very sensible – and I like that.

So looking good and definitely worth a look – in person . . . . .

Here’s some Yacht race instructions – to get you in the mood.Ashampoo_Snap_2015.03.27_11h31m14s_002_

Ashampoo_Snap_2015.03.27_11h31m33s_003_

Ashampoo_Snap_2015.03.27_11h31m54s_004_

Ashampoo_Snap_2015.03.27_11h32m11s_005_Timex on the odd occasion do get things right and this may be one of those times.  The above instructions are part of the .pdf file available for the Intelligent Series and can be downloaded in their entirety from HERE.

Optimum Time Series 3 Jumbo Sailing Watch

Optimum Time Series 3 Jumbo Sailing Watch

Of course if you’re really into Yacht racing then maybe you prefer this bespoke Yacht Timer.  It’s big at 67 mm and it’s digital display which in this instance may be very clear and it has audible this and that, but for all that it looks just a little – boring?

And which do I prefer? – well it’s obvious – the Timex of course, just because of their effort and design – for me they’ve nailed it.

Swatch strap “do-it-yourself” (update)

So I got my first Swatch watch and I did say in my last but one Post review that the rubber strap was pretty comfortable – and so it is.   However that said, one of the issues with thickish rubber straps and large buckles (as the Irony Swatch watch here has) is the strap is a little bulky and the result is the watch doesn’t always lie as flat as one might like.

New strap - craft knife and a bit of care.

Do-it-yourself black non Swatch standard silicon deployment strap – a craft knife and a bit of care.

But what to do?  Especially as Swatch watches tend to have those non-standard case/strap fittings, which is all very fine but replacement straps have to be Swatch and in fact a nice after market earner for Swatch with third party ones short on the ground.  That said, Swatch are one of the few around that don’t charge silly prices for their replacement straps, but you might like I do here, want an alternative for your own reasons.  And with the Irony series the “dovetail” fittings are often tricky to replace if you go do off OEM.

However as I’ve just found out, it’s not impossible.  If you have reasonable do-it-yourself craft knife skills, you can make a standard, easily sourced strap fit OK.  And it’s not rocket science, believe me.

Original strap removed - simple push through pin

Original strap removed – simply push through pin

One measurement is required initially to determine the basic strap size and that’s to measure the overall width of the strap where it meets the Swatch case – or more accurately the outer edge of the lug to lug distance measurement is required initially to determine the basic strap size and that’s to measure the overall width of the strap where it meets the Swatch case – or more accurately the outer edge of the lug to lug distance.

Once you have checked it and in the case of this Irony model would you believe it – it’s just about 23 mm wide and not your average size.  So basically we’re either using 22mm or 24mm strap and in this case the 22 mm fits OK.  The larger size is too wide for the case/strap fitting and looks wrong.

To remove the original strap – simply push the pin inwards until it sticks out the other end.  Then grip the protruding end with pliers and pull the pin straight out.  The strap is now clear of the watch case as shown above.
Note that the Swatch strap end is quite thick with a rounded profile compared to normal straps, but fortunately the 22 mm Silicon deployment strap is thick enough to manage.  Taking note of the cut dovetails in the end of the Swatch strap and using a craft knife or similar with the original strap as a template, cut through the gaps to make a copy of the dovetail shape on the new strap.

Use the original strap as a template - cut through with craft knife

Use the original strap as a template – cut through with craft knife

This is THE most important and delicate part of the operation, so take care!   Be careful not to make the slots too long – otherwise when offered to the case there will be unsightly gaps.  Too short however and you won’t be able to push the new strap in far enough to locate the pin.  But err on the small side anyway – you can always cut more if required.

First trial - cut out a new green silicon strap as the original dovetail end

First trial – cut out a new green silicon strap as the original dovetail end

Once done, it should look pretty much like the original dovetail strap from Swatch, as shown.

Do the same for the other end of the strap and you are good to go.

Offer the new strap up to the case, hold it tight in against the case and once aligned, slip the pin in as far as it will go.  Then simply hold the watch towards a hard surface and push down gently, keeping the strap end well into the dovetail slots on the case – the pin slides in and you’re done.

IMPORTANT – although with rubber straps it’s easy as they are almost self-lubricating, other materials may be stiffer.   So when pushing the pin in and be gentle at first, then steadily push the pin STRAIGHT in till it’s just within the case hole.  If your watch case is steel or aluminum it’s easy, but take extra care if your case is plastic – they could split if forced.
However with some silicon deployment straps the hole is slightly larger than Swatch pin holes so it’ll easily slide in.  Also don’t worry about the pin falling out – you have a total of 7 aligned holes to slide the pin through, 4 rigid metal ones and 3 flexible silicon ones – the pin has to go though them all – friction alone holds it secure.

Decided on a 22 mm black standard silicon deployment strap from Ebay.

Decided on a 22 mm black standard silicon deployment strap from Ebay.

However the maxim in this operation is “take care” and if you do then it should really not be a problem.

Looks pretty good to me.

Looks pretty good to me.

So there you are – a little bit of do it yourself, with only a pair of pliers (to pull out the pin) a sharp craft knife (mine is an old Stanley) a standard 22 mm silicon deployment strap from Ebay and a Swatch replacement strap is certainly doable.

NoteMy first effort with the spare 24 mm green strap though pleased with my copy template idea, which worked, the strap was too wide for the watch.  My next attempt with the 22 mm black one is just about perfect and took me just 10 minutes from start to finish.  

A business opportunity?  Well maybe for somebody – but me – I’m retired!

OK here’s the update –

22 mm deployment strap from Ebay - cut to size for Swatch Irony.

22 mm deployment strap from Ebay – cut to size for Swatch Irony.

Got myself a new 22 mm silicon deployment strap on Ebay, removed my temporary Black deployment as I wanted to replicate the original color idea of this Swatch model, hence the “green” as it’s the nearest tone I could get.

Finished article - standard 22 mm silicon strap cut to fit - just DIY at the end of the day.

Finished article – standard 22 mm silicon strap cut to fit – just DIY at the end of the day.

Cut ii as before and slid the pins in and all went OK.  Have to admit the new green strap looks just great and compliments the dial color scheme as it should.

Matches the original color scheme nicely!

Matches the original color scheme nicely! Well as near as I can get it!

Rip Curl Atom – no frills value

Seems I get asked all sorts of question these days, regarding my opinion on what model will do this or that or will this one be suitable for whatever.  And I try my best to give a sensible opinion, but with the proviso, that it’s just my opinion, nothing more, nothing less.  The latest one yesterday was – “What digital watch can I get – not too expensive now, (he meant cheap – I know him well!) that isn’t a blasted Casio (his words, not mine) or a Timex or any of them things?”. (his grammar too! – he’s going to love me when he sees this Post! LOL).   And he added, “And it’s like you always say, I want to be able to read the damned thing!”

The Rip Curl Atom - Digital Watch A2701

The Rip Curl Atom – Digital Watch A2701

Not that easy then I thought as there are virtually lots and lots of cheap digitals out there that are indeed almost illegible and unreadable, or look silly and outlandish, then there’s the stealth look (you can’t see it let alone read it!) and so on and on . . . .

But against all the odds, I found this nice little Rip Curl Atom model that to my mind fits the bill perfectly.  It sports a neat digital look, slightly retro I suppose, and the case is a nice size at 42mm and constructed of a light weight high impact resistance ABS plastic, coupled to a soft polyurethane strap (OK in hot or cold climates).
The strap fitting is eminently sensible with standard spring bars, so that’s a plus in my book.   The digital readout is large and clear with Date/Time/Stopwatch/Countdown Timer/Dual Time/Alarm and back light and it’s depth rated Water Resistant up to 100m and that’s also very good.
Added to that is a Guarantee that is better than many with 5 years on the movement, 2 years on the Water Resistance and 1 year on the battery.

Rip Curl Atom Yellow

Rip Curl Atom Yellow

What I like most about this watch is the fact it has no distractions, no large obtrusive buttons, and no over-shrouding of them either (Casio take note), the strap can be as shown or black or almost anything, as you can so easily change it and there’s other colors including a Yellow cased version (add in the 100m Water Resistance and I can see snorkelers loving this for holidays). Not surprising really as Rip Curl also have GPS enabled surfing & positional models.

The dial/case is not over burdened with advertising or text for dummies in fancy colors either, which makes a welcome change from some of the stuff thats around.  In short; it’s super simple, quite well specified module wise and not a lot wrong with it at all, and if you want to steer clear of (and my friend certainly does) the ubiquitous mainstream big three styles, then I would think this is the one to get.

It’s also not expensive at around £50 here in the UK, so you can’t really go wrong and it certainly won’t break the bank.

Personally I find it’s rather refreshing to see a model that keeps things in perspective, has modern digital yet familiar lines, easy to read, no gimmicks and with a guarantee that seems pretty sensible to me.

And if I was looking myself for a straight forward digital watch, I might join my friend and put in a joint order – one for him and one for me!

Note – You might be forgiven for thinking that this non mainstream model might suffer from a lack of instructions, but you would be wrong.   They have quite a few files around showing their different displays and so on plus a reasonably good overview one, which shows a variety of version instructions.   The following images I think are for the Atom model shown here.  To enlarge just click on the image.

Instructions for Rip Curl Atom (1)

Instructions for Rip Curl Atom (1)

Rip Curl Atom instructions (2)

Instructions for Rip Curl Atom (2)

It does show one thing and that is to get yourself a decent no frills digital watch with good functions and looks, you don’t have to rely on the same old Casio or Timex formats.  These of course are the top dogs and the front runners driving investment in technology and so on, but their respective styles can sometimes once in a while seem, dare I say – boring.

A bit like that old car you’ve had for years and the same model replacement you always get – it’s sometimes nice to get a different dash to look at over the next few years and in fact you may be surprised.

As I was with this Atom watch – and at £50?  A nice surprise!

A Wink’s as good as a nod?

OK perhaps the title phrase should be the other way around, but whichever, this is my one and only Swatch Watch.  The Swatch Irony Green Wink model chronograph.

Swatch Green Wink YCS565 from the Irony series

Swatch Green Wink YCS565 from the Irony series

Now I never really got into the Swatch thing, though recognize it is a real phenomenon and incredibly popular.  In fact one of my friends is very in to it, as she loves and collects the Art Deco and high color models that have appeared over the years.

Born out of a fight back to the effects of the Quartz evolution, which caught out traditional Watch Making to such an extent their manufacturing base was decimated – in Switzerland from 1600 watchmakers in 1970, to some 600 remaining in 1983.  Swatch, the name of which is (apparently) a contraction of “second watch” pulled things together by developing a revolutionary cheap, disposable (second watch concept), plastic cased watch series having only 51 moving parts (usually 91 in mechanical models) and revolutionized the “analog” concept against the new digital.

Typical Swatch unisex - Clownfish watch - Red - SUOR102

Typical Swatch unisex – Clownfish watch – Red – SUOR102

The idea was to try and set a new trend targeted towards the entry level market, which was lost to digital, by producing a plastic trendy model not easily replicated initially by this new competition.  And it worked!

One of the new concepts was that the watch back was actually utilized as the base plate of the actual movement, resulting in the thinnest watch – the Delirium in 1979.  They also used a new automated production system, which drastically reduced costs – the result was very affordable to the user and found amazing popularity.  In less than 2 years this resulted in sales of over 2.5 million Swatches were sold.
With colored, printed dials with popular political and social trend images to catch the imagination, this made them THE watch to get for the new trendy age. Everyone who was anyone just had to have a Swatch Watch and the Swiss were on the move.

The Clownfish in Red shown above is typical, is a semi-skeletal format with different color highlight parts showing in the dial.  But at today’s best price of £47.00 whilst it looks OK it’s maybe a little on the high side and for me seems at odds with their “second watch”, throwaway concept – so whilst OK, yeah, yeah I get it, they are not for me.

So my first foray into the Swatch world is this year and I’ve at long last got myself the Swatch Irony Green Wink model (image at top of page) – and for three reasons.

1) I thought it time to have a Swatch watch in my collection and

2) it’s traditional but neat and quirky and I love the color, dial/hands design/layout and

3) I luckily found it heavily discounted – so in my book this was, and still is a bargain.  (£68.00 and possibly discontinued now but can still be found).

Now it’s not the Swatch original plastic case style of previous images, nor the minimal mechanical movement, because the Irony Green Wink is ETA Quartz, and it’s analog, but it’s a Swatch Watch that’s different!   In fact very much a Classic style watch, but with the Swatch touch.

Great colorway with the green Wink from Swatch

Great dial set with the Green Wink from Swatch

So here we have the Swatch Irony series Green Wink Chronograph Grey watch – YSC565.

The Green Wink dial design is outstanding and gets noticed.

The Green Wink dial design is outstanding and gets noticed.

Bit of a mouthful I know, but it is worth the saying.  It features a smooth sculpted grey brushed steel case (not plastic) of approximately 40 mm x 12 mm dimensions with a bright green 20 mm wide very soft rubber strap and brushed stainless steel double buckle, with 3 bar (30 m) Water Resistance.  The dial is something else with a silver/grey background and those super profile sculpted hands in black edging with white infill, a black well defined center Chronograph counter seconds hand, 3 x sub-dials (one in matching green is 60 minutes) right hand one is 1/10 intermediate times with white pointers, the one @6 is the counting seconds dial, and a Date Window @3, this is a very smart watch indeed. (instructions HERE)

On the wrist - sits well at 40mm x 12.5mm depth.  Lug to lug is just 45mm.

On the wrist – sits well at 40mm x 12.5mm depth. Lug to lug is just 45mm.

A deceptively simple but cleverly profiled acrylic crystal to look through and a Swiss quality 4 jewel ETA Quartz movement inside and with battery access coin slot hatch on the back, this is actually a very well made and specified watch in the best Swiss Swatch tradition.

Neat battery access hatch within this quality molded steel case.

Neat battery access hatch within this quality molded steel case.

The chronograph buttons I like as they are different, they have rounded tops and dial wise, the features are also different and quirky, from the color to the hand profiles – it looks interesting.

Eye catching strap in very soft and comfortable rubber - gives a neat fit.

Eye catching strap in very soft and comfortable rubber – gives a neat fit.

This particular model is from the 2012 Fall/Winter collection and was designed in 2011.  The battery is a 394 series, so easily sourced and the watch comes with a Swatch 2 year Guarantee.
It is also a comfortable watch to wear with that soft rubber compound strap.  Note the double buckle arrangement, means you can use it two different ways, either under the metal or over (shown here as under) it is actually more comfortable with the strap over the buckle and using the single keeper only.  As to the straps longevity – we’ll just have to see how it goes but first impressions are good, good, good!

Note the double buckle arrangement - does away with two keepers

Note the double buckle arrangement – does away with two keepers

Note – The dial background is slightly shiny (Internet images show it as almost matt) yet the crystal profile is such that it seems to defy any legibility issues.  Whether this is by accident or design I don’t know, but it doesn’t cause a problem at all amazingly.  I thought this was going to be my minor criticism, but in the event wasn’t and isn’t at all.

So my verdict on this model is – I absolutely love it!

Note – Now I have it and wearing it at every opportunity, I’ve looked more carefully at the current Swatch range (as I did last year) and I’m surprised to see quite a few models I like and even the Clownfish is growing on me!    Is it possible this Swatch revolution has started, albeit a bit late and I’ve at last got the bug?  ;-)  Wow!

Ralph see through

The last Ralph Lauren watch I featured here I liked very much and this year it seems that RL have produced yet another model that appeals to me, though at a price that doesn’t!  I hasten to add that I am not implying that it’s not worth it,  just that I can’t afford it!  :-(
Ralph Lauren Automotive Skeleton for gents

Ralph Lauren Automotive Skeleton for gents

But this RL Automotive Skeleton model is a beauty even though it costs around £23000.

With a rich Amboyna burl wood bezel and overall black colored background and super clarity, you would be forgiven in thinking this description could never apply to a skeleton watch and normally you would be right.  However RL have managed the impossible here and produced just that – a skeleton watch that you can read- easily!

Amboyna burl wood by the way (I know I’d never heard of it either) is apparently what was/is sometimes used in luxury motors.   The inspiration for this model is the famous 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe.

The Hands are black oxidised plus infill Super-luminova,  steel and brass inner elements, shot blasted stainless steel case and a specially worked RL1967 movement (their first skeleton) says quality from top to bottom.

RL cossetted in Amboyna wood, Superluminova and see though - and easily read!

RL cossetted in Amboyna wood, Superluminova, Skeletal and easily read!

Seems to me they’ll have to sell a few of these seeing as RL as of February this year had seen a slump in trading performance and disappointing forecasts.  Of course these things are relative and not being a high flier myself, I’m sure a few tweaks here and there, some sell offs etc. they’ll bounce back. (if only business was that easy!).

However IF you can afford one of these babies, then I doubt you would lose sleep on your investment as it is a great watch and I understand they intend producing 6 new models based on Old classic cars for 2015.  This is the first model in the series and I can’t wait for the others, ‘cos they’re going to be darned good to beat this one!

Maybe if I win the lottery I might just be tempted.

Note – Yes I know this is hardly the affordable watch I tend to feature, but Hey I can dream . . .