Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Schroeder Joailliers 1877 GMT Automatic Watch - An Elegant Piece Steeped In European History

In a small state of Luxembourg, there is a homegrown watchmaker called Schroeder Joailliers 1877. Founded in 1877, Maison Schroeder, suppliers of the Royal Family of Luxembourg, has a long family tradition. With two retail outlets in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, in the city centre and in the City Concorde shopping mall, Maison Schroeder also has a design studio in Paris. The company has created its own "Pas de Deux" brand of jewellery and leather goods, and its own "Schroeder Timepieces" watches. These "made in Luxembourg" collections are updated every season.

I happened to visit its Luxembourg outlet and after going through the collection, I was impressed. So impressed that I walked out of the shop with this one...

The Schroeder GMT Automatic. This is a stainless steel watch with automatic movement, second time zone, a date window, exposed mechanism (see-through back plate), silvered dial and leather strap.

Sapphire crystal glass covers the dial as well as the display case-back. Nevertheless, the sapphire crystals were not provided for anti-glare protection. The glass protrude slightly above the side walls of the watch case. Any grazing hit with hard objects could mean the crystal taking the brunt of the impact.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tissot Gents T-Classic Le Locle Automatic Watch Reference T41.1.483.53 - Uncomplicated And Classy

This is the watch that I got from Switzerland in February 2011. The Tissot Gents T-Classic Le Locle Automatic Watch has a nice classic look to it. It has a stainless steel case, grey-tone stainless steel bracelet with black dial with roman numerals.

Date calendar display at 3 o'clock position. Scratch resistant sapphire crystal covering the 39.3 mm case. The rounded edges gives it a very vintage feel to the watch. As you can see from the photo above, lume treatment is not provided.

This watch is also very thin at just 9.75 mm thick. Powered by the ETA 2824-2 automatic movement, this caliber allows winding as well and second-hand stop hacking capabilities. The main springs can last up to 40 hours on a full wind.

The crown is a simple pull-out version hence the water resistant of this watch is only rated to 30 meters. The letter "T" is embossed on the top of the crown.

This watch comes with a unique display case-back. A clip-on domed stainless steel cover with two semi-circle windows cut into it is what comes with this watch. On it, some interesting graphics are sand-blasted including information about the watch. The Tissot brand and the year are etched on it. The glass used is also sapphire crystal, similar to the front.

The lug width of this watch is 20 mm and the bracelet that comes standard is a tooth-linked type with a butterfly clasp at the end. The bracelet tapers from 20 mm at the lugs to just 16 mm at the clasp.

Overall weight of the watch is approximately 123 g.

The size of the watch is just nice for those with wrist size 7.5 inch in circumference like I do. It is light and looks well in an office as well as formal situations. It is uncomplicated and classy.

If only there's some lume provided and this watch could be deemed perfect. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea Reference M116660-0001 - A Technological Marvel And A Brute To Wear

The Rolex Deepsea was designed with the singular purpose; to enable extreme divers to make it their first choice watch for diving. Rolex incorporates the need for styling to cater for connoisseurs.

The Rolex Deepsea is water resistant to a depth of 3,900 metres (12,800 feet). The 44 mm case is made out of 904L stainless steel with thick 5 mm domed sapphire crystal and unidirectional rotatable bezel with a 60-minute graduated, scratch-resistant Cerachrom insert in ceramic, numerals and graduations coated in platinum.

Featuring the Rolex 3135 Automatic movement, this one undoubtedly a robust watch with a tough movement that already certified by COSC and featuring stop-second and quick date change. Its balance, that receives an accurate microstella screw setting, beats 28.000 alternations/hour and is now endowed with the Parachrom spiral. The rotor moves in both ways for a better winding.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Laco 1925 Squad Atacama “Ninja” Reference 861632 - A Black Ops Watch With Major Flaws

The company LACO (Lacher & Co.) was founded in 1925 by Frieda Lacher and Ludwig Hummel in Pforzheim. After Mr. Hummel left the company, Erich Lacher took over completely in 1936. The "Erich Lacher watch company" manufactured the legendary Pilot watches of the 1940's under the brand "LACO". The models were DIN certified and famous due to their precision and reliability.

I always admire companies and brands with strong historical past. As my first direct exposure to this brand, I decided to acquire their Squad Atacama “Ninja” model.

Laco’s Squad series are technical watches designed for the rigors of military service. Designed to be stealthy and capable for diving up to 500 meters, I was drawn to these specifications.

The Watch: The Laco Squad Atacama is a tactical style watch designed for military or law enforcement. Made in Germany and powered by a Swiss Made ETA 2824-2 automatic movement with approximately 42 hours of power reserve, the watch uses IP black casing with display screw down case-back. The dial is also black with Arabic numbers and markers.

SuperLuminova C3 is used to paint the Arabic numbers, markers, hour and minute hands to enable ease of reference in the dark. The bezel is unidirectional with a 60-click interval. There is a date complication at 6 o’clock and the crown of the watch is positioned at 12 o’clock. The crystal is sapphire and the rubber strap is 22mm wide. Overall width of the watch is 46mm with a thickness of 13mm. Dive watch compliant and capable up to a depth of 500m.

As a tactical watch, the use of an orange lume for the minute hand is generally accepted in the military and other law enforcement agencies as it gives a reference anchor at a glance. The three level dial provides three distinct orientations for tactical planning. The unidirectional bezel with the necessary lumed pip at the 12 o’clock position allows the watch to be used as a timer or a reference for a second time zone.

There is a bit of play with the bezel. Compared to other makes in my collection, the bezel play on this Laco is obvious. For a tactical watch, this is not acceptable as it could imply it’s easy to accidently turn the bezel if brushed against something relatively solid.

The shape of the watch as well as the lug design is unique. In the following set of photos, the design features of the watch are highlighted. The first thing you would notice is the shape of the watch case which looks like a cone, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. This design was chosen as it provides the necessary strength to sustain 500m of water pressure with the least amount of steel. Also, a narrower end meant a smaller surface area for the display case back crystal hence reducing the force on the crystal at maximum depth. The photos below also show the extension lugs which are required due to the unique shape of the watch case. Unfortunately, the lugs are not interchangeable due to the position of the crown. The top lug has a special notch built into it to allow the crown to easily pass through it. This arrangement is much appreciated as it meant owners can easily source generic after-market straps of the 22mm variety.

The second issue I have with the watch is the crown. Honestly, I love watches with their crown either at the 12 or 6 o’clock position as it makes the watch look symmetric. However, for the Laco Squad Atacama, a design flaw makes such arrangement problematic. It is all because of the need to have an extension lug.

In the picture below, you can plainly see how close the crown is to the edge of the special cut-out lug. One cannot have a good grip of the crown to manipulate it. You need to use one’s nail to manipulate the screw-down crown hence is very difficult to operate. This is a major design flaw which Laco needs to address.

Another flaw to take note of is the weight distribution of the watch. Due to the additional lug extensions, the watch is top heavy. I would suggest a bracelet be better suited for this watch to distribute the weight evenly. To enable wearers to adjust the bracelet size, a bracelet extension mechanism can be incorporated similar to what Seiko has on its Marinemaster or what Rolex has on its Deep-Sea Sea-Dweller.

As it is, wearers must be very cautious when putting it on one’s wrist or it may slip away from you.

The cone shape casing could also be an ultimate issue to some. Its shape makes it a natural hook and could easily snag on anything it brushes against. As such, wearing this watch in a formal setting is troublesome as it often snag on the cuffs. Although I have not served in the military, common sense states that such situation in not acceptable as it could jeopardize a mission especially if one needs to crawl through bushes silently in the dark. Laco should flip the cone shape upside down and this should eliminate the problem.

The watch needs to be worn tight to the wrist. Otherwise, it can start flopping around and this can become uncomfortable after a while.

Looking at the construction of the watch, it should be able to take the expected punishment if used in its attended environment.

However, there are a number of flaws which should be rectified. If I am in military procurement, I cannot accept this watch due to the very high likelihood of snagging caused by the cone-shape design.

Other issues I have highlighted earlier such as the accessibility of the crown, the looseness of the bezel and the ungainly weight distribution of the watch reduces the desirability of this watch as a “tactical watch”.

Nevertheless, this watch does have good things going for it if used on casual or non-professional sports settings. It does have wrist presence and the dial design makes it looks quite macho. The lume is bright.

Overall, I give it a 6 out of 10.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bell & Ross BR02-92 Pro Dial Diver Watch - A French Connection (Updated)

Recently, I got the chance to acquire a new Bell & Ross BR02-92 Pro Dial dive watch courtesy of a closing down sale at a high-end watch shop in Kuala Lumpur. It was damn good deal.

The shape of the BR02 is a mix between the iconic square case of the Aviation series and the traditional round case of the Vintage series. Coupled with an internal bezel instead of external like other typical dive watches, it is quite common for people to initially assume it to be a sports watch or even a dress watch before recognizing its true design role.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Victorinox Dive Master 500 Black Ice Mechanical - A Well Balanced Dive Watch Design

Victorinox is synonymous with its famous red pocket knife. This is a company over a century old. Not a lot of people know that the company also has a watch division established in 1989. For the last two decades, a number of notable watch designs were introduced. One model that got me interested in this brand is the Dive Master. In 2012, I got myself the 500m Black Ice Mechanical in blue.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lum-Tec 500M-2 Dive Watch - A Watch That Can Take On An Extreme Environment And Within The Means Of The Normal Joe

When it comes to watch brands, due to the prolific manufacturing capacity of original equipment manufacturers (or OEM) in China, many new brands are born every year. I tend to disregard these upstarts until they have proven themselves with a clever design that tickles my fancy. For me, one brand that fulfill my criteria at the moment is Lum-Tec. Established in 2008, this company is currently owned by the original founder, Mr Chris Wiegand - President. A USA based company, Lum-Tec has a watch making spirit that is seldom seen in many brands.

The model I have from from Lum-Tec is the 500M-2. This watch has a depth rating of 500 meters and come standard with rubber straps. Powered by a mechanical movement, casing made out of 316L stainless steel and with sapphire crystal to cover the dial.

When I got the piece, the package also included a personal letter from the Mr Wiegand expressing his thanks for the purchase. I felt honored by that gesture.

For more visit: http://www.lum-tec.com/about-lumtec.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

IWC Ingenieur Reference IW3236 - A Substantial Watch With Historical Ties to Great Names

I will focus and provide a hands-on opinion on IWC Ingenieur Reference IW3236 watch, commonly known as The Ingenieur Automatic Mission Earth i.e. the IW323604 version.

This watch is substantial. The case diameter is 46 mm (excluding crown) while its height is 15 mm. With such dimensions, you need to have a good size wrist to carry it confidently. In my case, my wrist is 7.5 inch in circumference and yet, the watch still looks sizeable.

The Gérald Genta design philosophy can still be seen in this particular example. The original Ingenieur designed by Genta (the SL1832 Ingenieur and its reproduction, the IW3227) was just 42.5 mm in diameter. This supersized version has two notable additions to make it pleasing to the eye. The first are the crown guards and the second is the lack of sharpness on the edges of the casing. The former makes this watch looks sporting while the second helps it from not getting easily snagged against cuffs etc.

In the picture below, the 15 mm height of the case is not that obvious because it is masked by the substantially thick stainless steel bracelet. Due to the smoother edges, it moves in and out of shirt cuffs easily.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Omega Speedmaster Automatic Chronograph Reference 3510.50 – Is Not a Reduced Speedmaster Professional But A Completely Different Watch Altogether

I have always wanted to get a Speedmaster in my collection. The original idea was to get a Speedmaster Professional “Moon” watch due to its romantic tie-in with the NASA moon landings. Although stories abound on how the Omega was chosen over other brands, the two important criteria, accuracy and the inability of the crystal to shatter and create dangerous floating debris in zero gravity makes the Omega the first choice. If this were the only two important factors for a “Moon” watch, I realized that Omega has another similar looking piece that fulfills the original scope set by NASA. After a lot of thought, I got a pre-owned piece.

The Omega Speedmaster Automatic Chronograph Reference 3510.50 or sometimes called the “Reduced” Speedmaster Moonwatch looks very similar to the Speedmaster Professional. The watch uses the Omega 3220 as a base movement with a Dubois-Debrois chronograph module mounted on top. The case is polished stainless steel, with brushed sides. The case width is 39 mm (versus 42 mm for the Professional). Its height is 11.7 mm (versus 14.4mm for the Professional). Meanwhile, the “Reduce” comes with a domed Hesalite crystal, which is made out of acrylic. The case back is solid and is a snap-on (for the Professional it is a solid case back but screw down).

Friday, October 4, 2013

Invicta 3045 Grand Diver Watch – A High End Piece from Invicta With Some Acceptable Shortcomings (Updated with corrections)

This 3045 Grand Diver is my second watch from the Invicta brand. I chose model 3045 because of the vivid blue colour. It’s bright and the colour really pops out.

Let’s gets the specification of the watch out of the way first. The watch is made out of 316L surgical stainless steel. The diameter is 47 mm minus the crown (adding the crown, the diameter of the watch jumps to 52 mm). Case thickness is 14 mm. Comes with easy to read blue dial with thick Tritnite 5-Minute Indexes and hands. The crystal is “Scratch Resistant Flame Fusion Crystal” (as advertised by Invicta but in reality it is just mineral glass with some chemicals spread over it). There is a date window at the 3 o’clock position and a magnifier is provided. It also has a display case back where you can see the NH35A Miyota 9105 movement in action. The Miyota 9105 movement is hackable with 24 Jewels and operates at 21,600 VPH 28,800 VPH (or 8 hertz). The heavy duty bezel is precise and clicks nicely (120 60-click gradation). The watch is water rated to 300 m.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer 39 mm Reference 214270 – An Improved Incarnation Of A Classic

Recently I acquired my third professional Rolex Oyster piece, the Explorer 39 mm Reference 214270. With this acquisition, I have 3 of possible 6 Cyclops-less Rolex professional models in my collection. For high-end watches, I go to an authorized dealer to get it. Although it would be cheaper to source it from other channels or even get a second-hand piece, I don’t mind paying the premium because that is also part of the experience of owning such a watch in my opinion.

Although the Explorer series have been in existence since the 1950s, the modern Explorer evolved in 1989 with the release of the 14270 that introduced Sapphire crystal, gloss dial with white gold surrounds to the markers, a redesigned 36 mm case and the 27 jewels Cal 3000 movement. The 114270 followed in 2001, upgraded with the 31 jeweled Cal 3130 and solid end links to the bracelet, but retaining the 36mm case and pressed clasp.

Another major upgrade to the Rolex Explorer range came in 2010 with the release of the 214270. The most obvious change being the increase of case diameter from 36 mm to 39 mm. The movement was also upgraded to the Cal 3132, along with changes to the dial, bracelet and clasp.

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