Christofle dress watch

One thing I like about Design Houses is when they turn their hand to watches.  Mostly dress watches it has to be said, but these are often great looking pieces, produced not by watch trade people, but by designers of different products and what is their take on a watch to express their particular Company or philosophy.

Christofle Swiss 21 jewel Automatic

Christofle Swiss 21 jewel Automatic

This is a neat and rather stylish model from Christofle of Paris and a particularly handsome piece it is too – well to my mind it is, as I bought it just the other day at auction.  And at a VERY reasonable two digit price.  Now considering this model cost in 1999 approximately £1300 and it’s in perfect condition (box, papers etc) – I’m well pleased.

It is a decent specified model too with a 21 jewel Swiss ETA 2892-2 automatic movement, Sapphire Crystal and (possible) 18ct gold bezel on a rather elegant stainless steel case, plus articulated “fancy” lugs connecting to the Swiss original green colored Lizard leather strap with signed Christofle stainless buckle.

Readability for me is a basic buying principle and I do like the jet black polished color of the hour and minute hands, which gives excellent contrast against the textured inner dial.

The outer track is on a broad gold colored band with black Roman numerals.  The Date aperture is @3 with contrasting black date numbers against white. The sweep second hand is in gold.

Dial lettering features the Christofle logo and Paris and below shows Automatic with Swiss Made at the foot of the dial.

Note the fluted stainless steel case shaping - plus articulated lugs.

Note the fluted stainless steel case shaping – plus articulated lugs.

The stainless steel case is highly polished with a triple molding feature which pairs up with the strap lug ends.  The crown is @3 and part recessed. The Date is a quick set type and of standard ETA 2892-2 configuration.  The watch also manages a decent Water resistance of 30 m (100 ft) with it’s neat 4 screw stainless steel back

It sits very well on the wrist and at just 37 mm diameter and quite thin at 8.5 mm, it looks neat and the dial color combination with the green Lizard strap lends itself very well to the dress occasion.

As watches go it is a good mid range model, though for me I would balk at paying the new price, which reflects the design house premium.  But for the price I paid and as this watch is in perfect, as new, condition, it is a really good buy.  One of the reasons why Designer watches in general can be excellent pre-owned purchases, is that the new designer inflated price disappears in the second hand market.  And unlike previous times, today many of the designer outlets produce some very, very good watches indeed and well worth a look at Auction price.

GPS Golf Bushnell

Decided to upgrade and renew my old Garmin GPS Golf watch as I felt like a change.  Not that there was anything wrong with my old Garmin, but just because I fancied a change and perhaps take advantage of any improvements in technology gained over the last few years.  I didn’t get another Garmin as the replacement models seemed a little expensive for my needs.  I mean I don’t need a swing improvement meter (to check my back swing against my downswing) and all that stuff as I’m playing golf, not standing about wasting time checking my wrist all the time.  A bit like the Professional Golfers these days who spend far, far too much time discussing with their caddies the wind characteristics, or which club to hit (what ever happened to “feel”?), deciding what spin to impart, blah, blah and blah!  Then as a result playing a rather mediocre shot as a result more often than not.

The Bushnell Neo Ion GPS Golf Watch.

The Bushnell Neo Ion GPS Golf Watch.

Basically all I like is the distance I have left to the hole, the distance to the odd hazard between me and the green, so I can lay-up or fly over that bunker or stream and so on.  It’s also a fact that amateur golfers are more often short on approach shots to the green, usually as they tend to over-estimate the distance they hit each club.
The GPS watch solves that as you can measure each shot’s distance and find out just how far you actually do hit each club.  Not surprisingly many golfers who used to boast 270 yards off the tee with the driver, end up with a serious reality check, as the GPS measures their drive at around the 200 yard mark!

Oh yes!

I used to play of a very low handicap myself and my drive here in the UK was around the 260 yards mark, which was pretty good considering the equipment at that time (1960 – 1986), was actually about UK Pro standard.  Today being a very senior golfer with today’s new equipment I can sometimes manage a drive over 220 yards, but mostly around the 200 yards and my new GPS Bushnell Neo Ion watch confirms it as such.

The Bushnell on the wrist, chunky but very comfortable.

The Bushnell on the wrist, chunky but very comfortable.

The watch is not the smallest around though it’s quite an acceptable size at just a shade under 45 mm diameter with a clear good contrast rectangular digital display.  Quite chunky though at 15.5 mm thick it does however sit very well on the wrist owing to the very flexible silicon strap and buckle set up, which incidentally is VERY comfortable.  I got the Charcoal color version with the Orange under/charcoal strap.  The watch is also very light at a fraction under 50 gms, so you hardly know it’s there.  It is VERY easy to use even though it has 5 push buttons to play with.  Lower left is the Menu button which gives you scroll options such as Pedometer, Odometer, Stopwatch,Timer, Alarm,Battery and Settings.  The right hand 3 buttons are upper right – move up, lower – move down and the center button is the Select function button.

Flat back with recessed charge terminals allows easy connector fit for charging.

Flat back with recessed charge terminals allows easy connector fit for charging.

To start a golf round push the upper left and select Play Golf on the display – it will then seek a signal (about 3 minutes or so depending on location) and it finds the courses near you.  Select the one you are on – it will then load the course data and you are good to go.

The Bushnell also has a tricky feature that I find rather useful called Tee time.  You select the day and the time (within 7 days) of your next game.  7 Minutes prior to your Tee Off time, it switches itself to Golf Mode, seeks the signal, sets your course and basically as you step on to the tee, it displays the correct course and the 1st hole yardage is there ready for you.  If it’s a shotgun start competition, the GPS function will track your position on the course, indicate the hole you are on with the data you need.  It works very well and is a really nice feature and far more useful than some swing analysis function that I simply don’t need.

Very flexible silicon strap with orange underside. This is the Charcoal color version.

Very flexible silicon strap with contrasting orange underside. This is the Charcoal color version.

The hazard indication of each hole I suppose could be better served with the symbol idea of the Tom Tom watches, as the Bushnell simply describes the hazards as abbreviations, which whilst you’ll soon get to know them, took me a few guesses to get right the first few times I tried it.  The yardages to and over the hazards is however as accurate as any and very useful, especially as now with your GPS watch you will now how far you hit the ball any of your clubs!  (assuming you DO hit the ball of course!).  Oh yes I forgot to mention you can, with a simple push of a button, measure your shot distance.

Main menu gives scroll options - the right upper and lower buttons control the scroll.

Main menu gives scroll options – the right upper and lower buttons control the scroll.

The watch manages around 3 rounds of golf and if not playing golf/using the GPS function it will act as a watch for around a year which is rather better than most others..  It is easily charged with it’s supplied charge cable (USB ended) and connects to the watch with a clip on back plate, which fits over the back and connects to the terminals on the watch back.

This fitting is not as fiddly as either the Garmin or the Tom Tom and simple to use.  It only takes a few hours and the watch is charged ready to go.
I have to say I’m pretty pleased with it so far, certainly in use and practicality.  Also the price is more affordable in comparison to most of the opposition I’ve seen.  It’s also nicely unobtrusive and understated on the wrist and though hardly noticeable it does the job very well.

So is it a good buy?

Yes – for me it has been – I like it, it works well, I can easily see it and it’s simple and easy to use.

And has my golf improved?  Well that’s more tricky to answer, though I’m now certain my drives are 200 yards not 260 yards and the fact I know how far I hit my new irons is a bit of a revelation – so I’m optimistic that the golf will improve – in fact I’m sure it will and surely that’s got to be good!

 

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 . . . . .