Get it – forget it ?

When buying and ultimately collecting watches over the years, sometimes you get yourself a model that you think will be the one.  You know a “perhaps this is it” moment when the watch you’ve just strapped on your wrist is, for you, as good as it gets.  That’s it, settle back and in the realization that you’ve just got your personal modern holy grail, start the process of slowly selling off the lesser models and call it a day.

Maybe just keep those very few, “landmark” models, that have particular significance for you.

Well that moment may just have been reached, at least for modern watches.  And here I have to quantify what is modern to me, which I suppose it’s from the day I bought my Breitling Aerospace, which was 1999 and funnily enough that was my grail watch back then.

But as I collect both modern and vintage model, this may not really be the end of the day, but it could be the last “modern” watch purchase I make.

If I consider todays technology with new and amazing complications as “modern”, then it’s probably true that this Citizen cc etc etc will be the last one.  Maybe as I can’t see anything really being much better, certainly from my personal requirements.  And let’s be clear, this watch gives the correct and always accurate Time, Day and Date, anywhere, anytime – period!  It’s easy to read day or night and is super simple to use.  As the definition of what a watch does – it’s about as good as it gets.
You simply get it and forget it. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Citizen cc3005-85E on silicon deployment strap – the ultimate? (more info see HERE)

I have to admit that Citizen have done an amazing job with this model – it’s not cluttered to look at, and thats’s a feat in itself (check out other satellite models around), it’s easy to tell the time (anywhere), it’s not too big and what more do you need or want for that matter.

But that might just be the point and certainly as a silly old eclectic (and perhaps eccentric) collector and it makes me start to question why I collect watches in the first place.

For once you’ve got the watch that does it all – what’s next?

Well for me it’s maybe time to slowly sell off some of my older “modern” models – this will clear some of the clutter, both collection wise and in my mind plus (and this is a very big plus) AND help me finance any new purchases too, which has to be helpful!

So many watch models were a product of their time and the limits of technical possibility I suppose and that’s one of the attractions.  They have limitations which can be quirky and interesting and maybe that’s the beauty of collecting.

Yes maybe that is just the point – it’s all a question of TIME.

OK, so here’s the deal – My true vintage watch collecting will carry on absulutely, especially in regard to watches from the early 1900’s to perhaps the early 1950’s.
And I’m still very interested in those zany Digital watches from the Golden period 1970’s to mid 1990’s, as it was such an interesting period in watch experimentation.
And as for modern, whilst I will cut back a bit, I’ll always check out any classic models that come along that simply take my fancy, but mostly can show some elegance and style as my guide.

Buy Hey! I’ve said all this BS before and who am I kidding – it’ll never happen! because if I see it and like it, I might just go and buy it!   😉

Day Date survivors?

One of the most popular watch styles is the Day Date and yet it is hardly ever marketed with any great fanfare.  But it’s no accident that many of the very best Makers have Day Dates in their range as they know that to so many people, it is the perfect wrist assistant.

They tell you the Time, the Date and the Day, the three most pertinent and popular functions of the wristwatch.   They also are available at very affordable prices.  There are Solar, Kinetic and Quartz, Manual wind mechanicals of all sorts of shapes and sizes, but for me the old classic mechanical Automatic is still around, is in good supply and still fun to own.  That feeling of cogs and wheels and springs and things – ticking along on your wrist – no electronics, no touch screen, no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi and no Internet – but self contained and still a true mechanical technical marvel.

It’s really difficult to beat – no battery, no light requirement and with mechanics that can easily with the movement of your wrist, outlast you.  Mind you if you suddenly “snuff” it, your watch, after a decent interval, perhaps out of respect will also stop!  But it only sleeps – waiting till the next live person comes along and suddenly it’s ticking away – recording time as it was made to do – something a bit science fiction about that and maybe even a bit surreal!  In fact if you think about it – you are simply the custodian of the mechanical watch . . . .

Citizen Eco-Drive Day Date watch - 100m Water Resistance too.

Citizen Eco-Drive Day Date watch – 100m Water Resistance too.

Anyway I feature a few different models here – The first is one of the relatively few Solar powered ones around – from Citizen.

It’s good as it too never needs a battery, it shows the Time, the Date and the Day.  Those three can be adjusted very easily using the crown as it has traditional geared analog hands display.  It will however need to see a decent light source sometimes as with any Solar model, but basically it’s a set and forget watch and it’s very affordable.

The next images feature a few of the Day and Date Automatic models I’ve found and these can be from Dress styles to Divers and all have a common feature – very easy to use.  And of course being automatic, they require nothing from you, except for you to wear them.

Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 Auto Day date

Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 Auto Day date

A great feature of the Automatic (and I’ve already mentioned it) is that it doesn’t have a battery,  it doesn’t require a light source and setting Time Zones or Summer Times is so very uncomplicated (so many specialist watches make a real song and dance about it).
Here it’s just a case of, crown out, move hands, crown in – job done.   No instruction booklets or prodigious memory required for what can often be a hugely over-complicated push button sequence.

Maybe this is a more apt description of an ABC watch!  Because it’s as simple as A, B, C!

Tissot DS1 Auto Day Date

Tissot DS1 Auto Day Date

Certina DS1 Auto Day Date

Certina DS1 Auto Day Date

There are other watches of course that can show the Time, Day and Date plus many other functions, but frankly these are often complicated should you wish to use these functions, such as, as I said changing Time Zones.  But that said there are a few today that overcome some of these limitations. Radio Controlled and GPS models can, used correctly, show the correct Time and Zones and the latest models have tried hard to reduce required command functions should changes be required.

Victorinox Officers Day Date Auto

Victorinox Officers Day Date Auto

But for me the mechanical Automatic is still on top in the practicality and no-brainer stakes, so easy to use and will last many lifetimes.

As an Undertaker (watch collector) acquaintance said to me once – “Basically my friend as long as you are ticking, so will your watch and if not – call me or at least leave a note.  Maybe I can do a deal!”

So the basic data provision of Time, Day and Date as an instant view really hasn’t changed much over the years.  It is still one of the true prerequisites for any watch that somehow manages to sell year after year after year, with little change.

And in keeping with this theme, there are of course some modern watches that manage to display the same data and as a default view.  These include digital and ana/digi models and some even manage an easy to remember pushbutton sequence to access more complicated functions.

These models appear in most price ranges, but for me I tend to look at the affordable ones first.

Two of the better affordable models are the Cssio LCW-M180D-1AER

Casio LCW-M180D-1AER Radio Control, Solar, Day and Date view model.

Casio LCW-M180D-1AER Radio Control, Solar, Day and Date view model.

and the Casio Tough Solar Model WVA-470 Wave-Ceptor

Casio WVA-470 Wave Ceptor - default Day date view

Casio WVA-470 Wave Ceptor – default Day date view

– both of which are well specified models offering many functions such as Radio Control, Solar Power, Stopwatch, Alarms etc.

However they both manage to show the Time in analog and the Day and Date in a digital display as the default view, so meeting those three “must have” indications.  The former model is part of Casio’s Lineage series and as close as you’ll get to “get and forget” models today and represent great value and are relatively inexpensive.

Diver Day Date Quartz - simple and effective.

Diver Day Date Quartz – simple and effective.

There are also a few Diver’s watches around featuring the Day and Date window plus Diver capabilities that offer extreme good value for money and well worth a look.

Once again though it is no surprise that today Casio models feature quite prominently especially in the quest for watches that people “want” to wear.  Models that offer the basics properly (so important) and now of course coupled with a higher technological level that hitherto was just not possible.

Take the Casio LCW Lineage series for example – these manage not only to give the wearer the essentials – of Time, Day and Date as the default view, but also “get & forget” features such as Radio Control and Solar Power.  And Casio with these analog and digital hybrids offer in addition highly effective intuitive ease of use.  I also like the fact they have “come of age” in comparison to the older Casio WVA-470 and don’t advertise on the dial the advanced technology within – they are nicely understated and rather refined in my view.

I have the WVA-470 myself and I like it a lot, but the newer LCW-M180 is much more elegant and in fact a real class act (I’m tempted again just writing this!).

So as to the question of Day and Date watches, I have to admit the Casio LCW (my review soon) is probably the successor to the older mechanical Day date Automatics and a worthy one at that. Though that said, don’t write off the Automatics just yet, I have a feeling they will be around for a long time yet.

Who knows they may be the true survivors – and only Time will tell . . . . . . .

Expectations?

Expectations?  – odd title but prompted by a friend who asked my view on a Patek Philippe model which was on sale for around £5000+ and quartz powered!  Now I don’t know about you but when I think of the Patek Philippe brand I’m thinking absolute quality.

I’m thinking beautifully sculpted and finished mechanical movements and clever fashionable designs – and like the advert – so refined and just so good that it passes down the generations, time after time.  The buyer pays for the privilege of wearing such a powerful statement, often hidden by an understated refinement it simply speaks class.  You’re someone who’s “made it” so to speak and with an implied old money elegance and sophistication in comparison to the ubiquitous and often ostentatious Rolex.

Expecting this?

Expecting this? (Nautilus calibre)

Now you know perfectly well that a quartz model won’t quite be the same as their classics, but that said, perhaps you’re also not quite expecting the plastic/metal module, a few gears, a couple of coils and a battery – right?  And being a Patek Philppe you’d expect that battery to last a lifetime and probably your son’s too, seeing you passed it down to him when you finally quit the rat race.

But it doesn’t and the image here with the back removed shows a typical PP quartz sporting what’s probably a good old Renata SR371SW costing under £2.00.

A quartz watch Patek style

But got this! (Quartz calibre) with battery removed.

So it’s hardly surprising that when I see a not so old vintage “quartz” Patek for over £5000+ – I really struggle to see the value, especially when I open up the back and see a few soldered joints and that common old battery sitting there.  Nice bit of fret work on the battery holder I agree, but for me it doesn’t feel like a whole lot of money.

It’s like retrofitting a Mini engine into a Rolls – it just doesn’t seem right.

That’s not to say it isn’t good, because Patek Philippe is good but is it really value?

And of course that’s another matter completely – value – because the very top brands simply rise above the common concept of “value” as such and enter a different world with both a monetary and status value entirely of their own making.

One of the plus points regarding quartz watches is that you can pop off the back yourself and swap out the battery – it doesn’t take a great deal of skill and it’s usually done in minutes.  But how many owners of Pateks ever take the back off their prized model and to gaze on that wonderful calibre, or in this case that rather common looking quartz movement.  And unless they have an exhibition back in most cases the internals will never ever be seen.

And regarding the quartz version – well you could look at it in another way – it’s just a change of power source.  Everything is the same, it’s a power source thing and instead of that mainspring, hairspring, regulators and associated gears and stuff you’ve got a battery.  Not an 18ct gold one but a £1.50 one and the whole shooting match is really accurate.

OK?  Well no it doesn’t work for me either.

However the top brands, if quartz, are sometimes not like the plastic digital modules and basic mechanics of lesser brands and some feature pretty smart metal work inside and that’s maybe as it should be considering the brand, but it’s still a quartz job whatever you say.

Always amazed that such a simple change – battery instead of spring can make such a vast difference.  Perception is everything.

But for me though as I like quartz watches (let’s face it, they keep better time than mechanical ones) it has to be a question of price, of value, which maybe shows my class or maybe lack of it, because to me price matters.  Perhaps I’m not cut out to be a true Patek Philippe owner.  After all as a collector I don’t even have a Rolex!

Though in saying that, if a classic mechanical automatic Patek Philippe came along, at a quiet little auction somewhere and at a good price I would probably be very tempted.

But there again I do have Breguet and Vacheron and a few others in the same league, so maybe it’s just a question of preference and I hasten to add none of them are quartz.

However there are other quality brands offering Quartz versions, allegedly to suit the Ladies market – one of the reasons apparently is that ladies don’t want the tiresome business of winding their watch every so often and automatics are just so expensive.
PP seemingly offer them partly as a recognition of the historical significance of quartz too and of course for the “ladies” and an odd few for gents.  Though get one of those and it usually is not that easy to sell on, let alone leave it to your offspring!

It could be “that” heirloom that gets passed around!   Friends are likely to say – “Oh I know he’s got a Patek, but it’s quartz would you believe!”  Almost into the realm of fakes dare I say!

Cartier Solo quartz at around £1200

Cartier Solo quartz at around £1200

But as I said, there are others, such as Cartier, who produce quartz versions very successfully and with somewhat more conviction.  The Gents Cartier Solo model is one.  And yes this is one of a few “brand” quartz models I do own and personally I love it.   Firstly as it is so well priced (around £1200 new) and secondly as it has a flat tank profile as opposed to the rounder tank case – and definitely I prefer the former.  It’s neater and it sits better on the wrist.

And I can live with the fact that the battery only costs around £1.50 and I can change it myself in minutes when required.  It’s probably got a jewel or two added in but basically it’s a quartz module like any other.  It is what it is . . . .

Cartier Quartz

Cartier Quartz

But what it isn’t is £5000+!

And maybe that’s the point for me.  The fact that if the wonderfully intricate mechanics of the mechanical movement have been replaced with a modern day quartz mass produced drop-in battery timer, then I’d want a really big price reduction to compensate for that loss.
And in that regard Cartier have got it just about right.  And at the end of the day it has to be about price.

Isn’t everything!

However if I was paying that “I’ve made it status” asking price for that top brand, I’d want to see it at it’s best.   The best workmanship, the best mechanics, the best style.

And for the privilege of owning such a timepiece I’m perfectly happy (if a manual model) to wind it up every day or two, just to remind me its there.

And I suppose that’s one of the reasons I got into watch collecting in the first place.  The fact that once you take the back off a watch you are suddenly into another world.  The reflections off the finished plates and the beating heart of the miniature mechanics, ticking away virtually silently – alive – as time measures it’s way onwards . . . . Wow!

You can’t be serious?

Yes, just looking at what’s supposed to be available this year in the Smart watches category and as before I’m still very disappointed.  I decided not to get lots of images of the latest offerings as they all look much the same to me and certainly don’t inspire me to want to even contemplate buying one.

But it’s the same old battery life issue that stops this so called “smart” revolution dead in it’s tracks.  Some of them are boasting “superb” battery life at just 3 days, maybe even a week with mono display models.  LG for example use one of the largest batteries yet at 410mAh and it struggles at 2½ days if you want to use the screen for anything.  The Pebble Time boasts a week – maybe and when I saw one the other day, I thought at first it was an old LED model as he wore it blank faced all day and probably hoped nobody would ask him the time.

I mean – really?

I feel a John McEnroe coming on – “You can’t be serious!”

Ashampoo_Snap_2016.03.19_15h01m06s_002_

Asus ZenWatch – BUT let down with very poor battery life – shame as it looks OK.

Ashampoo_Snap_2016.03.19_14h56m50s_001_

LG smart watches

Unfortunately I am and this is the real issue and not one that will be solved readily.  Even using the very latest new fangled processor technology you’re only talking of hours improvement at best.

OK I have included 2 images of smart watches after all, basically as they don’t look too bad, but I include them here for that fact alone and absolutely nothing to do with whether they are any good or actually of any use.   I also note that many of these watches are already suffering from AMOLED screen burn where the bright displays are causing screen problems – like my old PC used to have a screen saver to try and prevent.  The Asus Zen is particularly prone to this and as a consequence moves pixels around to try and compensate – but this in turn causes screen clarity issues.

As I’ve said many times before, this whole Smart Watch technology is basically a work in progress and under development.  And I would further suggest it will be a considerable time before these quite major issues are resolved – battery life being the big one.   I also question the entire idea and necessity for an intermediate device between your wrist and your pocket, where your smart phone resides and which incidentally has a far better battery life than the so called “smart” watch and it has all the software required to actually do something with it.

At this moment in time I just don’t see the point.

But if battery life was suddenly increased to a couple of years or even just one, then who knows.  But to have all this expense just so my wrist can tell me I have an email or a message, when my phone in my pocket has already buzzed to let me know anyway?  Come  on . . . . .

Why did I get that?

Often in my collecting life I’ve wondered that title question – Why did I get that?

What on earth possessed me to go out and buy that specific watch?  Was it because I just liked the look of it, or perhaps I wanted an example of that type of model.  Maybe it had a feature or function I was particularly interested in or could it be it was one of those milestone watches.  Or one of those models that defines and stretches the technology of the day.

Casio GA1000-1AER-53 Big watch

Casio GA1000-1AER-53
Big watch

So many reasons I suppose and many with some merit I’m sure too, but this one I’ve featured here has to be just a one off, an aberration perhaps.  One of those instances where I just lost it for a minute and did that “no no”, the impulse buy!

Because this watch is quite frankly and on my relatively average wrist – and as we say in the UK – this is one big sod!

Quite overly big in every way, mostly unnecessary too as the function set, whilst OK is nothing particularity spectacular.  Digital Compass, World Time, Stopwatch, Chronograph, Timer, Alarms plus good night lighting it has to be said.  But no Solar and no Radio Control.  Lots of physical protection, though this increases the dimensions so much that the protection is in itself an attractor of damage.  It gets in the way.

One big mother 0 compared to my Breitling!

One big mother compared to my old Breitling!

But that said the watch is amazingly comfortable to wear – it doesn’t feel big as it is so light on the wrist and I like wearing it.

It’s also quite easy to read as the analog is clear, the numerals are large and actually the small digital windows are OK and I can make out the Day, Date, Month without much trouble.  And it’s got a great strap, light and flexible with a twin hasp buckle fitting, though some might find it a little short.  Is that ironic or what on that is after all a big guys watch!

Compared to my old Citizen D060 Windsurfer

Compared to old Citizen D060 Windsurfer

So I took it out of the display box the other day, as I was considering moving a few models, selling them on, to make way to finance a new watch genre for me.
But funny how these things work out, once I had it in my hand then on my wrist, I realized that for some unaccountable reason, I really quite liked it.

In fact that was three days ago and it’s still here on my wrist as I write, so what on earth is this all about?

It’s back to that question – Why did I get that?  Why indeed you may say and with good reason.

It is the very first reason I mentioned at the start of this little blog – I just liked the look of it. Size had nothing whatsoever to do with it, because it just look really good!

What can I say?  A big mother it is, but do I want to move it on?

Mmmm – I’ll have to think on that just a bit longer . . . . . . . and in the meantime I’ll dig out a few of my lesser models and pack them up ready for auction somewhere, though the one I’ve just packed is actually a smart looking watch and you know it looks really good on my wrist . . . . . mmmmm . . . . . .

Note – For anyone interested the manual for this model is – Casio GA1000-1AER-5302(1)

Setting Day, Date, Months

I was asked the other day for advice on setting a friends mechanical automatic winding watch – specifically on when to set the days, dates and months as he found it sometimes tricky and difficult to get these parameters to move properly.

My own ideas on changing the complications have worked for me pretty well, with no mechanical issues resulting so I have to assume I’m doing it right – I passed this information to him and he suggested that maybe I should Post it on the web site – so here it is.

Take care adjusting complications - when NOT to do it!

Take care adjusting complications – when NOT to do it!

DO NOT change the Date between – 8.30pm and 02.00am.

DO NOT change the Day between – 11.30pm and 04.00am.

DO NOT change the Month between – 10.30pm and 00.00 (midnight).

This range of times to avoid should apply to most types of mechanical movements and even though this varies with movement Brands, hopefully I’ve allowed enough leeway to avoid any problems.

I tend to use the same no-go times for quartz triple date models too – get it wrong and sometimes they can be more problematic than mechanical!

“Keep it forever” watch?

So what’s your “keep it forever” watch?  Do you have one?  Are you even lucky enough to have one?

Mine is a no brainer – it’s my old 1999 Breitling Aerospace Titanium – and for me there’s nothing to touch it.  Some of my other models come close, true, but nothing beats it.

Breitling Aerospace Minute Repeater 1998 vintage

Breitling Aerospace Minute Repeater 1999 vintage

For me it has one of the best dial layouts you will ever see.  Easy to read analog with that so clever overhang minute hand, but also superb clarity of digital (and not many watches manage both I can tell you).  Still after 16 years a decent luminous analog even with such narrow and fine hands and on wrist is both light and slim (later models are larger and thicker).  And I can’t agree with those that say Titanium doesn’t last or it scratches badly, as this watch shows today as good as it was when I bought it.  It IS smooth I admit so there is obviously some wear there, but it’s simply smoothed those brand new edges and has mellowed with wrist/clothing wear and time.  Like that old penknife that’s worn smooth in your hand, but always with you.

I love the fact that under that extreme anti-reflective Sapphire crystal and clear window, sits that highly unusual LCD screen with it’s a polarization-sensitive dichroic filter.  This allows the LCDs to display in “inverted mode”, which in turn gives that wonderfully clear and bright “gold” text on the dark background – so good in any light.  And as quartz movements go this Breitling customized ETA module is very accurate.

The solid link Ti bracelet still operates perfectly even after 16 years and is so smooth to wear it’s the most comfortable watch I own.  Whether used as a dress watch or a practical outdoor watch it fits the bill every time and looks good!

OK It’s not Solar, but to change the battery every 5 or 7 years is no big deal and with a small amount of lubricant on the rubber seal, during the change, the 100 m Water Resistance remains intact.

This is absolutely my No.1 “keep forever” watch.

Of course we all have different ideas on what features a watch should have, though many folks go for the latest, or the most complicated function wise, regardless of the basic requirements that perhaps more honestly we actually might use.

A good tip (I think so anyway) is that for a “keep it forever” watch you would be well advised to look at Diver’s models, as these can easily be the most practical watches you will ever buy AND at reasonable cost.

Lot's of Divers - all super clear, Water Resistant, Tough, luminous and difficult to beat.

Lot’s of Divers – all super clear, Water Resistant, Tough, luminous and difficult to beat.

I have over a dozen models and quite a few meet not only my personal criteria (Easy to read, good Water Resistance, Luminous, Tough), but could well be that “once in a lifetime” model that never leaves your wrist.  These can be mechanical or quartz, Solar or not, some with Date and Day and some you could knock nails in with!

My Breitlng Areospace - taken today where it usually is - on my wrist.

My vintage 1999 Breitlng Areospace – image taken today where it usually is – on my wrist.

Now just to sort out you doubters about the condition of my old Breitling – just to be clear – this image above was taken 2 minutes ago on my wrist and as I Post.  Still looking good and probably if being entirely honest with myself and considering I collect watches (why do I do it?), maybe and truly this is the only watch I should have.  It suits me and does everything I need (and more actually), and does it all subtly and without fuss and fits my wrist size perfectly – What more can you ask?