Soapbox (23rd November 14)

23rd November 2014

Screwed and strapped (or not) for Cash!

It had to happen of course once again I find a digital watch model that is a good decent specification, reasonable size at around 41mm diameter, an uncluttered dial that also has the bonus of being simple and intuitive to use.  BUT and here is the but again – this resin/rubber/plasticky excuse for a bracelet or strap or whatever else you can call it, is a silly integral part of the darned case.  In this particular instance it IS actually held on to the case with spring bars, which is a novelty today I can tell you, as usually they’re not, BUT and here’s the other but, the bracelet thingy is 22mm wide and the spring bars are 14mm wide!  So even if you try to replace the thing with a sensible watch strap you will end up with a silly 14mm strap on a 41mm diameter watch (and it does look stupid) or you will end up doing a lot of cutting and faffing about to get anything to fit.  Except of course a replacement plasticky original replacement thingy that costs around 1/2 or more actually than the price of the silly watch!

Springbars OK - BUT - very small - standard strap not possible

Springbars OK – BUT – very small – so standard strap not possible

Don’t you just love the “added value” so called “after Sales” market?

Of course if you did wear it for a year and then decided to get another strap thingy, then guess what – they aren’t available any more ‘cos the watch model is long gone, obsolete, old hat, yesterday’s news or in other words – tough!

The message is clear – Get another watch!

Also have you noticed that all these integral silly strap arrangements mean you always have to lie the watch sideways, when off the wrist or on a table (say your bedside table) which is bad enough with analog hands, but with a possibly, rather faint at any distance, digital display – no chance to read that at night then!

One piece integrated case & strap so if it breaks?  Tough!

One piece integrated case & strap so if it breaks? Tough!

For goodness sake – What is wrong with a standard leather or resin or rubber or textile or fast wrap or velcro strap or bracelet that fits to STANDARD springbars?  Then you can change or replace the crap or worn or broken one in a few seconds – hey presto – job done – AND at a sensible price too . . .

It’s amazing to think of how many watches in my various collections actually have the original straps still on the watches.   And I can tell you – very few!   I still have them of course as if I want to sell the watches on, they’ll be as original as possible even if they are awful!  Goodness I hate to think of the man hours I’ve spent changing the stupid things . . . .

With Casio and all the rest for example I can imagine there are literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of bespoke plastic excuses for straps and bracelets, totally tied to that particular watch model, when basically one leather or silicon rubber strap for example, in just a few basic sizes, could do the same job – easily.

Another aspect that drives me crazy now is the little step on the back of the strap thingy fitting at the watch, that holds the strap straight out from the case.  What on earth is that for?   well one thing I do know is that it effectively makes the watch lug to lug measurement even larger – thus screwing up those of us who have normal size wrists!  And this so often on the likes of G-Shocks which are with few exceptions – big oversize watches anyway!

Seems it’s like everything today – take Inkjet printers for example: these are relatively cheap considering the technology, but they don’t work too well without ink – do they?  Well just look at the price of the brand name bespoke ink for that printer and it won’t take long to pay for their development costs and then some.   And in the process you’ll deplete your bank balance!  And they try very hard to stop you buying alternatives with “not recognized” or “unbranded product” and “cannot process” or such such rubbish.

And what about “chargers” – Oh yes!  That’s another one!  Why don’t you check how many different chargers you have in your house for that iPhone or Smart Phone or Camera, Video or Razor or Music Player and so on and on and on . . . . Can you even remember which is for what?  Well you might but I bet your Wife hasn’t a clue!

And furthermore as you get older and I’m past 70 – it’s tricky to remember how to work any of these gadgets – that is if you can remember where you put them.  For example I have one of these things that you stick on your item, such as your keys – then click the little gizmo and your keys “beep” – great!  Now if I could hear the damned beep and even just find the gizmo . . . .

You see where I’m coming from?  😉

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21st April 2014

Efficiency maybe means NOT having a Smart Watch!

My latest Post on Smart watches is called “Smart – or not so smart” and it has that title for good reason.  I’m just not convinced that this Smart Watch idea is actually needed at all, despite all the hype and undue haste with which these gadgets are appearing.   It seems to me to be just a stepping stone along the way to something else, an exercise in technological tinkering and experimentation, or a phase in the development of newer science, which the developers are hoping will trigger an avalanche of buying from those who have to have the latest “thing”.  Hoping of course to recoup these development costs, which must be quite astronomical I suppose considering the sheer numbers of the little blighters that are appearing.

Why anyone would want a gadget that your wear on your wrist, to talk to, as a link, to another gadget, the Smart Phone which is already in your pocket, barely a foot away!   It simply doesn’t equate.   Not just as a link anyway though maybe as a replacement for the Phone could have at least some semblance of justification, but the majority of them are just that – an unnecessary link.

The watch however on the wrist is very handy to tell the time, plus maybe the Day and Date, the odd alarm or stopwatch etc. and perhaps a few other functions that may or may not be useful.   But it at least is completely independent of anything else.   No signal tower or WiFi link is required for this watch to function and provide it’s prime purpose and that’s perhaps one of the wonderful advantages of the humble “watch”.   If mechanical it is also totally self contained and can run for years and years without issues and if quartz solar might last pretty much indefinitely or if not solar could well last for 5 to 10 years without changing a battery.   Now that to me is real technology, independent, green and a really useful miniature wonder.

Smart watches in my opinion at the moment are quite the opposite.  Power hungry, reliant on constant recharging, totally dependent on radio linking to another source to actually duplicate something else or even to do anything.

In fact when you stop and think for a minute, it’s actually far more efficient NOT to have a Smart Watch linking to your Smart Phone – as you can do away with this odd gadget middleman and deal direct with the Phone – which as we already know is in your pocket and has been for a number of years.

There’s also talk of “wearable” gadgets which to my mind is another dubious idea – because, yes you’ve guessed it – we have wrists! which are the most “handy” appendages there are, so why not use them, BUT only if the gadget is of meaningful benefit of course.

So I think this technological “phase” probably has to be worked through for some years yet before any real benefit breakthrough comes along.   Perhaps implant technology, where the wrist itself become obsolete as a wearing platform and the new gadgets can be “in” body and with you all the time.   Perhaps as trackers, ID data transmitters, Communicators (Radio, Bluetooth concepts, Internet), HUD visual displays and controllers – micro computers in other words that work in tandem with the brain and so on and on . . .

Now that’s when true “Smart” technology will really take off – but in the meantime I’ll stick to my lovely and incredibly efficient vintage mechanical timepiece or my neat World Time Solar Casio and look with interest daily at the weird and wonderful and probably utterly useless gadgets that come and go along the way. 😉

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15th February 2014

My watch! Tough watch? Tough folks!  Pull the other one!

Well I have to say I’ve heard some real rubbish over the years from an awful lot of guys on their “tough” watches and/or the fact they simply “destroy” anything other than what they trumpet as “the” model for guys!  Such as I go camping or trekking or mountaineering, sailing, potholing, rock climbing, I’m in the “military”, I work in dust and crap and water and so on and on and on . . . . Really I’ve heard it all and most of it is so much puff I tend to fill up even hearing about it these days.

Of course there’s the G, the Shock and the Tough, the Ironman, the “military” and the “Stealth” (I’ll maybe allow Iron-man as it’s a competitive race, not a buzz word), then there’s the “Tactical” and the “Navy Seal” and “Commando”, the “Sentry” and the “Recon”, “Special Ops” and the “Warrior”, the “whatever”? . . . . . .  – each one a masterful example of great marketing.  The Art of making the uninitiated believe “they” need this particular “gear” as it so “describes” how they are themselves (or wannabe’s as I call them).   Now that’s a neat watch description – I introduce the “Wannabe” from the Baloney series.

See why I call this the * Soapbox!

As I say, it is in reality a fantastic marketing success story that creates an equally fantastic fantasy (odd phrase, brilliant concept).   The greatest part of all this is that so many believe that the fantasy IS reality.  But to me, now I’m older and I hope wiser, I look back and think on what was on my wrist, when I was “action man”.   Oh yes I was indeed, not that you’d think it now of course.  😉

Now what was I wearing when I jumped from the old “Dak” at how many thousand feet was it?  Yes I do recall I wore a manual wind “Tatton” Watches of Switzerland gold cased dress watch (no date) just the time and a centre sweep seconds hand (Tatton was a Jeweller in Edinburgh who badged their own range of WoS models – it was actually a Swiss Roamer).  And at 38mm diameter it is a neat watch that does not get in the way.

Roamer 17j Manual (non-luminous)

Roamer 17j Manual (non-luminous)

My model was luminous (unlike the image above, though this is very close to the model I had) so I could see the time in the dark and not bad it was either.  And it’s functions were in fact all I needed – the ability to read the time quickly in any light and time to the second when I needed it – very handy if not essential when setting things (that go bang). . . . .
And OK my watch had a few scratches on it and the strap was a bit dirty, but it all worked pretty well.
Funnily enough it didn’t have bold text on the front proclaiming it was “Shock” or “Tough” and I didn’t have to press anything to tell the time in low light.   Note the Casio DW6900MS-1 I checked out recently is almost unreadable in any light let along poor light – “Stealth?” – I’m sorry – that’s a joke, right?  Also a point to highlight is these latest “tough” models are so big! at around 50mm width and more these would have definitely caused me “snagging” problems,  something I could well do without.

It was just my watch.

And it worked and when I landed, none too gently I might add, on the edge of a river bank, in the mud,  I never gave it a thought.  Incidentally it never seemed to bother if it was suddenly subjected to protracted periods of “recoil” or when climbing rock, which I did later that day – OK the strap and the glass took a bit of a scraping here and there, but it was still there and still readable.

And I also remember when I and my watch were subjected to lots of sand – fine, fine blown sand that simply got everywhere.  In fact we were caught in a sand storm (and if you’ve never experienced one, there’s nothing quite like it) and my team were literally sand blasted – any exposed skin was red, then raw, you couldn’t breath and when it passed after about 15 minutes, our Land Rover was fully buried to the top of the windscreen with us in it plus sand!  I knew it was about 15 minutes in passing as I looked at my finely sand blasted watch – it said so!

Now I don’t know if a watch with pushers or buttons would have survived – maybe they would but that’s not the point!  The point is, my fairly standard gold Swiss dress watch managed not just months, but some years worth of active pursuits plus a close encounter with a 9mm.  Goodness I’ve just remembered that.  Now that did annoy me as it left a mark on the top surface just at the top left lug, though at the time I never noticed, as I was very, very busy.  Later I managed to polish most of the gouge away with some “duraglit” metal polish and as long as you didn’t look to closely – it was as good as new.   I polished the glass at the same time – amazing how clear everything became.

However all that is way back in the past and today we have these wonderful all singing and dancing watches – and they are fantasy really, but I’ve no gripe with that – not at all.  I suppose the main difference between then and now is that the descriptions are maybe back to front – they should really have applied to the wearer, not the watch!

But hey! I’m just an old guy who did a few things in my day – and did I say – I’m retired now . . . . . . . . . .!  😉

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9th February 2014

Oddities (1)

My first “oddity” is this model from Fossil – Seen in many variations around, it generates interest owing firstly to it’s looks and secondly to what Fossil call the “twist”, though looking at reviews many folks are confused as to whether it’s automatic (mechanical) or quartz.  Primarily the Townsman series of Multifunction Watches are quartz analogue, BUT . . . . apparently also have a mini rotor mechanical automatic movement, which for the life of me I can’t imagine why?

Fossil

Fossil Townsman ME1124

Quoting from Fossil they state  – “Our classic Townsman twist watches have the look and feel of an automatic but the timekeeping accuracy of quartz.  With an exposed dial and polished steel, this multifunction is battery operated— so winding will never be on the agenda.”

So not called the Townsman “twist” watch for nothing then.  But forgive me for missing something here, as I can’t imagine why I’d want a Seconds dial operated by an automatic rotor, when my clock is battery quartz?
And it’s certainly not helped by Fossil failing to give proper details on their web site regarding this odd combination.

One owner observed, “I don’t understand it.  If I take out the battery, the watch stops.  But if I shake it about a bit, this little seconds disc thing runs, but my watch is still stopped.  What’s the point of that?”.  I’m guessing he thought he’d bought a Kinetic watch, which he hadn’t of course.

Maybe it was faulty, who knows, but apparently and not surprisingly it was returned for a refund.

It seems a shame that with so much confusion it’s further compounded by reports suggesting reliability issues – and it also may be discontinued now.

The image shows the Townsman ME1124 which appears to have a great dial layout.  Appears to have good definition (if not too shiny?) and each sub-dial is well defined without distractions and as dials go – the “balance” is pretty good.  With this layout it allows the “open heart” movement (balance wheel and mainspring?) view to be seen and being mobile, gives that something extra to the watch, without it being cluttered.

BUT note the seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock on the watch face.  Now is this operated by the quartz movement or by this odd automatic rotor?  and if the latter – why?  I confess I haven’t a clue – and apparently no-one else does either!

So I think it a good first item for my “oddities” Post, in that I don’t understand how this model works as it does, or why the designers thought it a good idea.  And this is a shame as I have two Fossil watches, both of which are excellent, well designed, well made and faultless in operation and I would in all probability have bought again.

But this doesn’t help – at all!

Well – I emailed Fossil which seemed the only recourse to set things straight – I await a response . . . . . . sent a week ago and so far. . . . . .?

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