Thursday, November 28, 2013

Deep Blue Pro Seadiver 1k Blue Dial - An Excellent Practical Sports Watch, A Review

This watch gave me my first experience of Deep Blue, a brand from America (Subsequently I got another Deep Blue. Click here to see a review on that model). I chance to see it on Amazon and the price quoted of approximately USD250+ got me interested to know more. Two specifications that stood out were the use of automatic movement in a casing that can withstand 1,000 meters of water pressure.

After making the decision to get it, I made my order and within a week it is on my table.

Let us get the main specification of the watch out of the way first. The watch case and bracelet are made from 316L stainless steel with solid links. Powering the watch is the 21 jewel 8205 Miyota movement. This caliber is automatic, hand windable but non-hacking. It has enough main springs to save energy for approximately 45 hours of reserve.

The case measures  46 mm across excluding the crown. Lug to lug measures 52.5 mm while the lug width is 25 mm. The height of the watch is 14 mm and weighs in at 220 gm. The case-back is solid and is a screw-down.

The glass covering the dial is a flat sapphire crystal. The main crown is a screw down triple o-ring positioned at 3 o'clock. There is a smaller crown that helps control the Helium-Escape-Valve situated at the 2 o'clock position. This watch has a water resistance rating of 100 ATM or 1,000 meters or 3,300 feet.

The bezel is uni-directional with 120 clicks. It measures a slightly smaller 43 mm with lume pip at zero/60 minute position.

The dial is plain blue. The minute hand has orange boarders. All the dial markings and the hands (for the second-hand, only the tip is painted) are covered with Lume Superluminous paint.

Complications are just the day and date indicators at the 3 o'clock position. You have an option of choosing either in English or Spanish. The clasp push button deployant comes with a pop-out diver's extension clasp. The bracelet has four removable links.

Despite the large dimensions on paper, the design of the watch is balanced. Using a wider bracelet helps mask the large watch case. It fact, it distribute the weight of the watch more evenly and hence makes the wearing experience to be more comfortable that one initial expected.

The edges are nicely rounded. There are no sharp angles to be seen on the watch. All scratched prone surfaces such as the crystal as well as the bezel face are just ever so slightly lower than the edge of the watch case. This gives a better level of protection from glancing blows.

The spaced out set of notches on the bezel is a rather nice design. The Arabic numbering on the bezel slotted into their respective nooks make it look sophisticated and very 'gear'-like. The movement of bezel moves with purpose with very little play and you can hear the audible clicking as you turn it.

The main crown has a significant looking (and bulging) protector. The crown itself is very simple. It has no engraving and the side of the crown has deep cut machined straight grooves which does appear to fit perfectly into the sets of grooves machined to the side of the bezel. This reinforces the 'gear'-like impression highlighted earlier. The grooving maximizes grip for winding or adjustment.

Unscrewing the crown is easily done and so is screwing it down. The screw thread in the watch case lines up very easily with screw thread in the crown. There are four positions for the crown, (1) screw-down and lock, (2) the unscrewed position which allow winding, (3) third position that allows it to adjust day (clockwise) and date (counterclockwise), (4) the fourth and final position allows adjustment for the time.

The crown for the helium escape valve is smaller and knurled than the primary crown. A 'must have' system if it wants to be taken seriously as a divers' watch. Deep Blue decided for a manual system instead of an automatic one. However, the location of the valve does require a re-think. A better location would be the opposite side of the watch case. The current location is too close to the main crown.

The face of this model is blue. I like the orange minute hand on this watch and it is very easy to read with great visibility. The second hand is quite slim and bare stainless steel piece with just a pip of lume on the triangle near the tip.

Meanwhile, the case back is domed and etched with a wavy graphic with all the important information regarding the watch.

The "Oris" inspired styling on the bracelet meant that there is really no “end-links”, but rather the center section of the last link simply fits into the narrow lug gap between the wide lugs. This means this watch would not easily fit most typical width straps for a quick change of look or feel.

Nevertheless, the links connection mechanism used in the bracelet is first class. Instead of the cheaper pin-and-collar method used in cheaper bracelets, Deep Blue went for the screw pins. This same method is also used on each lugs.

The clasp push button deployant has the Deep Blue logo and brand etched on it. A stamped piece, solid and well made. The secondary security sub-clasp snaps over rounded spring loaded nubs close to the push button. This small design feature tells me that Deep Blue understands what customers want. None conscientious designers will simply use a friction fit for this to keep cost of production low. However, it would introduce friction marks on the bracelet and to me, it defaces the watch.

Below is the divers' extension deployed. It gives an additional 2.5 cm of length to the bracelet.

The following photo shows how solid the construction of the watch. This watch deserves the 'tool' watch classification.

A lume shot taken in partial darkness. The liberal use of the lume paint is evident here. Bright and easy to refer too in the dark.

As highlighted earlier, the movement in this watch is the Miyota 8205 caliber automatic. A well known robust workhorse sort of movement used by many small brands. In my opinion, a model from one of three great movement manufacturers currently available today, ETA and Seiko being the other two.

This particular unit seems to be running about +3 seconds per day straight out of the box.

The option to hand wind this movement is good to have and the watch starts almost instantaneously once energy is being stored into the main spring.

Below is a video I took of the movement of the second-hand on the watch.

The tough construction on the watch provide the comfort to the wearer that it can be used in the most harshest of conditions. The price of the watch desensitized the user from being too 'over-protective' when wearing it. Both combination makes a good recipe for a tool watch.

I like the blue colour on the dial and it makes it more lively.

Overall, an excellent practical sports watch.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Buran Special Edition Soviet Space Shuttle Quartz - A Cheap Watch But A Workhorse Nonetheless

In 1988, the Soviet Union built its own version of the space shuttle called “Buran”. Launched in the same year, it was its first and last flight. To commemorate the event, a quartz watch was made with the figure and name of the spacecraft on the dial complete with the colour of the Soviet Union.

The dimensions of this watch is approximately 38 mm wide and 40 mm long (lug to lug). It has a tonneau shape which does make it look handsome. The leather strap is in red and matches perfectly with the colour of the dial. Lug width is 20 mm.

As the watch is relatively old, a nice patina has developed on the casing as well as the dial. From the photo above, it does appear that the hands are lumed but due to age the chemicals have lost their power to retain the light energy.

The buckle on the strap is simple and elegant.

The crown is a simple push-in crown.

The case-back is is a snap-on and painted on it is the brand as well as the type of movement used as well as the water rating which in this case is stated at 3 ATM or 30 meters.

Using a generic Japanese quartz movement, this watch lay dormant for more than a decade. However, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, a simple change of the battery breath back life into the watch. In all honesty, I didn’t expect it to move. This goes to show the quality of Japanese quartz movements.

The case looks rough but considering it’s 25 years old and no TLC given since it was manufactured, it looks good for its age. The strap looks frayed and I need to replace that. Otherwise, a functioning watch.


The first and only launch of the Buran space shuttle.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Deep Blue Depthmaster 3000m Green - A Monster From The Deep, A Review

Apart from my Rolex Deep Sea Sea Dweller which I reviewed earlier, I do own another extreme dive watch with a depth rating of 3,000 meters. From the brand Deep Blue, the Depthmaster 3000m Green is cheaper, bigger, heavier and more tool-like when compared to the Rolex DSSD.

This watch is designed with a singular purpose; to enable extreme divers make it their first choice watch for diving. Deep Blue went on to make its creation tool-like and affordable for the normal Joe.

The Deep Blue Depthmaster is water resistant to a depth of 3,000 metres (10,000 feet). The 49 mm case is made out of 316L stainless steel with thick domed sapphire crystal and unidirectional rotatable bezel with sapphire insert.

The dial is simple emerald green coloured surface with just a date window at the 3 o'clock position. The hands and simple markers are covered with luminous paint.

Covering the dial is a thick Sapphire crystal. The crystal is domed with 5 mm of thickness.

The domed bezel have Arabic numberings but not lumed. Made out of stainless steel, it is unidirectional with 120 clicks with Sapphire inserts. Shaped like a 'man-hole' cover, the grooves helps to manipulate the bezel when wearing thick gloves.

The crown, a triple o-ring screw down type is situated at 3 o'clock position while the manual Helium escape valve is located at the 10 o'clock position. The special crown at the 10 o’clock position needs to be manipulated manually if the user feels the pressure require equalization. Although this potentially puts the Depthmaster at risk if users forget to engage the valve when required, the assumption is that only professional divers will ever be in that position anyway and training will make them do the necessary to ensure all their equipment are protected.

The watch sits high on the wrist. With a height of 19.5 mm, it is not possible to hide this watch under the cuff of one's shirt. The size of the bracelet which is 26 mm with gives an illusion that the watch is 'normal' in size. However, it is substantial.

The solid deployant clasp has the Deep Blue brand and logo etched on it. Overall, the watch weighs in at 300 gm (10.5 oz).

Instead of stamped metal sheet as a bridge between the two halves of the bracelet, strong looking machined metal pieces are used instead. This gives a very good impression of 'class' to the watch.

This particular shot shows the sphere-like shape of the watch case and the thick bracelet links. The need to protect the mechanism from enormous pressure requires such a design.

Deep Blue is contented to use the typical one-size only extension mechanism in the clasp. Deep Blue provide a typical solid diver extension that extends to a additional 23 mm. In the picture below you can see the extension piece tucked into the clasp.

The case-back is solid and has nice etchings. It is a screw-down type with a double o-ring to protect from leakages.

Deep Blue chose the Miyota company to provide the engine for this watch. Under the Citizen group, Miyota has been producing their own movements for many brand. The particular movement of Miyota that Deep Blue chose is the Miyota 9015 Caliber. A 24 jewel unit operating at 28,800 v/h. It is automatic with hand winding and seconds hand hacking capabilities. The power reserve available in the springs is approximately 42 hours. There is a date complication with that caliber.

Accuracy of the Miyota movement is good. There is no obvious handicap in that department. For more information about the movement visit:

The wearing experience. This watch is a heavyweight and the weight is obvious to the wearer (if you do wear it often, it’ll become natural after a while). Like I mentioned earlier, this is a tool watch hence cannot be used in all occasions. Contrary to popular believe, the Depthmaster cannot be used properly if you are wearing tuxedos or suits. The height of the watch is too high and can never slip pass the cuffs (if you decide to use a wider cuff, it can disappear in it but then you won’t look good – style wise).

Interestingly, despite the extremely domed case-back for the Depthmaster, it does not drastically affect the ride of the watch on one’s wrist.

Below is a short video of the watch on my wrist.

In conclusion, if you are into big watches, wearing this watch gives you confidence. The size, the weight and the sheer wrist presence makes it a King-of-the-Deep. For practical reasons, the Depthmaster wins when it comes to value-for-money.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rolex Milgauss 116400GV - Solid And Youthful, A Watch Review

I have to declare upfront that I do not work as a scientist. Therefore, the likelihood that I will ever need a tool watch that could withstand intense magnetic fields is close to zero. Nevertheless, I am a techno geek and a watch nerd. The thought that it is possible to combine anti-magnetic properties into a watch intrigues me immensely (Anti-magnetic watches are defined as watches that can still operate in highly magnetized environment).

I got myself a Rolex Milgauss 116400GV where "GV" is glass verte or green sapphire glass. This model is under Rolex's professional series but is the only one dedicated to scientists.

The first Milgauss was introduced by Rolex back in 1954 to help scientists work in the highly magnetic charge research environment of CERN (it was postulate that it was CERN that requested Rolex to come out with the Milgauss but it has yet to be proven. For more on the earlier history of Milgauss visit:

By now you would realised the need to have such a watch. You also don't need to know much about the inner workings of a mechanical watch to realize that a magnetic field is one of its sworn enemies.  Mess with the hairspring or balance wheel by subjecting the watch to a strong magnetic field, you will end up with a watch that runs too fast or too slow. Therefore, in situations where the watch is exposed to a magnetic field, components of the watch can be magnetized and thus be disrupted. For scientist the inability to measure something to the correct time is unthinkable.

Nevertheless, the Milgauss which incidentally (from the French "mille" and Gauss, thus resistant to 1000 Gauss) is immune to magnetism only to a certain limit.  It is worth noting that current MRI systems start at 3000 Gauss and can go up to 50,000 Gauss, well above its capabilities. If in doubt, take off you watch. Otherwise have a de-magnetiser handy. 

The first innovation at the heart of the Milgauss' resistance to magnetic interference is the shield inside the Oyster case. Made of ferromagnetic alloys selected by Rolex, it surrounds and protects the movement. The basic innovation in the Rolex Milgauss is the use of a Faraday cage that encloses the movement.  A Faraday cage (ferromagnetic enclosure) around the movement will divert a current or magnetic field and shield and protect the entire movement, including the balance wheel and its hairspring. For complete safety, the whole movement must be enclosed in the cage shield. However, you need to allow a number of holes to be present, otherwise you cannot attached the watch hands or the crown that protrudes out of the cage shield. Unfortunately, this weakens the protection. Hence the lack of a date window for the Milgauss to reduce such weaknesses.

It is also worth noting that the Milgauss GV does not sport the laser etched coronet at 6 o'clock in the crystal. A lot of reviews on the GV version tends to report erroneously about this or not at all and this could cause misinformation. Below is the technical design on this aspect for reference. The other two Milgauss models (both named "116400", too, but without the GV nomenclature) both sport the laser etched coronet. The diagram below also shows the double case-back, one for the main case and the other for the inner Faraday case.


The Milgauss GV's dial is matte grey and have indices at 3, 6 and 9 that are orange coloured while the the other markers are white. The seconds hand is a "Lightning Bolt" design in orange. The lume of the Milgauss GV is quite special. The orange markers actually emit blue light in the dark while the white markers emit green light. There is no lume on the seconds hand.

The Milgauss, like all of Rolex's professional watches, is based on the famous oyster perpetual case.  Made using polished 904L steel with a polished smooth bezel. The case is 40 mm with lug to lug length of 48 mm. Due to the Faraday inner case cage, this watch is on the heavy side, around 157 gm.

The Milgauss watches come with the Oyster Bracelet ref. 72400 which is unique to the model and not shared with other Rolex watches. The bracelet is made out of similar steel with polished center links. The closing mechanism on the ref. 72400 bracelet has a freely sprung tip with a "lever" action to open the clasp. The tip is fixed with two spring bars; one in the tip itself and one in the main clasp. Meanwhile, the bracelet size can be slightly adjusted at anytime without the need of tools using the "Easy Link" mechanism. This mechanism allows the bracelet to grow or shrink by 5mm in a blink of an eye by simply opening the clasp and pulling on one end to release the Easy Link, or folding it to hide it.

Some way have an issue with the diameter of the watch but at 40 mm, I believe is a perfect size. I have a 7.5 inch wrist and it looks balanced on it.

Inside the Milgauss is the in-house Rolex 3131 movement, a unique movement that can be seen as an upgrade to the Cal. 3130, sporting the in-house developed amagnetic Parachrom Blue hairspring plus an escapement which is made of an anti-magnetic alloy.

The power reserve is 48 hours and the 3131 movement can also be wound manually by unscrewing the non-protected large but flat crown.

This watch can be worn in a laboratory or in a formal function very easily. The size and height of the watch makes it slip under shirt cuffs easily. I like the evergreen design of the oyster perpetual case as it does not overwhelm but compliment the wearer instead.

The green sapphire crystal and the "Lightning Bolt" plus the clever use of orange in the mix makes the watch feels lively.

Overall, the watch is very satisfying to wear. It has the weight to make it feel solid and it has the design to make it look youthful. A nice combination.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Zeppelin 7360-1 Features Series Flatline - Axis Watch Which Is Truly Value-For-Money

Back in 2011, after serving for 5 years with my company, I was rewarded with a service award in the form of a wrist watch. What I got is the Zeppelin 7360-1 Series Flatline watch. A made in Germany watch with a Japanese automatic movement and Italian leather strap.

The watch is an 'open-heart' design with the opening scene at the 7 o'clock position. You are able to the the balance wheel via this opening. On its right is a similar sized sub-dial that houses the second-hand.

The dial is white with anthracite digits / markers and 12 green luminous dots. However, the hands are not lumed.

The case is made out of stainless steel, designed for an extra slim look. Its dimensions of the watch casing are 40 mm wide (excluding the crown) and with a height of just 12 mm. Water resistant rating is approximately 5 atmosphere.

The dial is covered with a domed mineral crystal which gives it a vintage watch look. Coupled with the font used for the digits, it is easily be mistaken for a pre-WW2 model. Lug width is a standard 20 mm.

The watch comes with an exhibition case-back. Note that the back is also designed to be domed-like and has that strong reference to the round shape of Zeppelin airships. The rotor is also unique in that it is cut in the middle.

The movement for this watch is the Cal. 82S5, mechanical, self-winding movement by Citizen under the Miyota brand. It has winding and second-hand hacking capabilities.This movement operates in the 21,600 vibrations per hour range and comes with 21 jewels. The main power springs can save 40 hours worth of potential energy.

The accuracy has been rated at just -20 +40 seconds per day. For my particular piece, it has been operating well within the manufacturer's benchmark.

For more information about the Cal. 82S5, visit this link:

The side profile shows the sphere-like design of the watch. It also shows the domed glass for the dial.

The crown is a push-in crown and it has only two positions. The push-in position or rest position allows one to manually wind the watch whereas the pull-out position or position two allows one to adjust the time.

The leather strap that is provided is Italian. The design is simple.

The watch on my wrist. The size is just nice for my 7.5 inch wrist. Unfortunately, the lack of anti-reflective treatment on the mineral glass makes it act like a mirror sometimes.

The shape of the watch makes this a very wearable piece for formal events. It easily slips under cuffs and it has a sophisticated look to it. 

The simple buckle without any reference to the brand at all.

I called this my Axis watch due to the presence of Germanic, Japanese and Italian influences. For the price that my company paid for this watch, it was worth it. A true value-for-money watch. I would recommend friends to have at least one piece from this brand.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Aristo Flieger Automatic 3H114 Pilot Watch - German Construction Quality But Poor Paint Job Spoils An Otherwise Excellant Watch, A Review

The first "pilot" watch as well as my first German watch that I got was the Aristo Flieger Automatic 3H114. The design concept is similar to the vintage German flieger watch with clean dial with luminous markers and luminous sword hands.

The history behind this watch brand started in the early 20th century. In 1907, Julius Epple in Pforzheim, Germany, founded the company ARISTO. For three generations, the enterprise went under the name Julius Epple, ARISTO Uhren-und Uhrgehausefabrik. In the beginning of the 90's, Helmut Epple, the grandchild of Julius Epple managed more than 100 co-workers. Because none of the descendants of the family could further the business, he sold the company to the trust enterprise UTW Uhrentechnik Weimar. In 1998, Helmut Epple found a suitable successor, Hansjarg Vollmer, which acquired the trademark of ARISTO Watch GmbH.

The watch is 42 mm wide and made out of stainless steel. The surface of the case is sand blasted to give it the vintage looks. The short angled lugs aids in the wear comfort. What really sets this watch from the others is the large diamond shaped crown.

The large crown was a design standard in German Flieger watches as it allows the airman to manipulate the watch without needing to take off his gloves. The width of the watch including the crown is approximately 47 mm.

It has a black dial with Arabic numbering. The bezel is bead blasted and it has a hardened mineral crystal for the face. All the indexes as well as the numbers and hands are lumed generously. Meanwhile, it has a date at the 3 o'clock position.

The display case-back allows you to admire the Aristo signed movement at work. The engine that's powering the watch is the Swiss ETA 2824-2 caliber movement. Operating at 28,800 VPH, this 25 jewel Swiss workhorse has second-hand hacking and winding capabilities. The main springs is able to have on standby approximately 40 hours worth of energy. Meanwhile, the main rotor has been decorated with Aristo's brand name.

The watch comes with a brown padded leather strap. The buckle is simple without any decorations.

Due to the lack of a screw-down crown, the watch is only water rated to 50 meters. This is not unexpected considering its main purpose is to fly high up in the sky!

As mentioned earlier about how generous Aristo has been to the amount of luminous paint on the indexes as well as the numbers and hands, above is a set of pictures of the dial in the dark. The first was taken in partial darkness and the second was taken in complete darkness. The quality of the luminosity is just awesome.

Despite the expected quality of German engineering, after wearing the watch for a few days, I noticed a number of imperfections. The obvious problem was the quality of the painting of the lume on the dial. If you refer to the second photo in this posting, focus on the triangle index at 12 o'clock. You can easily see smudges at the edges of the paint.

If you now focus your attention on the same photo but at the Arabic numeral "3" you can clearly see that the "painter" could not even follow the guide print that must have been printed on the dial prior to adding the lume. See the missing the ends of the number "3" in the photo?

Mechanically, the quality of construction is sound but the paint job on the dial is relatively poor. Hopefully, Aristo has gotten this problem sorted out by now for the sake of its brand franchise.

Nevertheless, I will still recommend the watch. Anyway, my investment for this watch is RM1,212.71.

Friday, November 1, 2013

PierCarlo d'Alessio Quartz Dress Watch - Nothing Spectacular But Does Have Some Styling Cues; A Review

I only knew about the PierCarlo d'Alessio watch brand when I got this watch in my hand. Honestly, I didn't buy it - I wouldn't, there is nothing at all particularly intriguing about the watch. I got it as a gift when I renewed my Readers' Digest subscription.

I trolled the internet but after the third search page I couldn't be bothered anymore. If you are not on the first 3 pages of Google, you are nothing.

This watch is just a cheap quartz watch. Very simple dial with 3-hands. The case-back is the push-in kind. I doubt it is water proof tested. 

Nevertheless, at 42 mm wide and with a cheap leather strap, it does exudes some form of sophistication. In fact, I used it a few times at work and it looks good with a suit.

I have yet to open the case-back but I suspect the quartz movement is Chinese made. Nevertheless, I am impress with the accuracy, after many months, it still able to keep the time.

So, why would you ask would I list this watch under "My Western Watch Collection"? The listing is just because of the brand. If anyone could shed a light on the history of this company I would be most grateful.

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