Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Steinhart TRITON 1000 Titanium Titan - A Rugged Watch Spoiled by Quality Control Issues, A Review (with Video)

Recently I received an email from Gnomon Watches (http://www.gnomonwatches.com/) about a new watch released from Steinhart. A new diver under the Triton range of professional dive watches. I was smitten by the image shown on the email and after reading the specifications on the watch, I immediately decided to grab one. The factor that sealed the deal was the titanium material used and its water rating of 1000 meters.

After going through the customary purchasing process, I started to patiently wait for the watch to arrive from Singapore. Although there is a good chance it would be stopped by customs for GST payment, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was released and it arrived on my desk within four days after making the order; more about this later.

The Triton 1000 is the latest offering by Steinhart. This latest iteration has a new casing design, uses a new material for the casing; titanium, and incorporate an automatic HEV mechanism. As a complete package, this model can withstand 1000 meters of water pressure.

The watch is sizeable. The casing is 45 mm wide with a 24 mm lug width. Its height is 15 mm. Despite the impressive dimensions, the weight is just 144 gm due to the use of titanium. If you like big dive watches, the combination comes together nicely.



The Packaging

Gnomon Watches uses DHL as the courier of choice. Within the standard DHL packaging sit a rectangle white box with the Steinhart logo and brand printed prominently in silver. This box has the dimensions of 6 inches by 5.5 inches by 4 inches. It opens at the top revealing the main watch box made out of black artificial leather. The guarantee card is also revealed.



Looking closely to the guarantee card, apart from the standard 24 months guarantee from the manufacturer, Gnomon Watches added an additional 180 days to the guarantee.



The brand and logo of Steinhart in silver is prominently printed on the top of the main watch box. There is a silver tab in front of the watch box that keeps the top of the box latched to the bottom.



The watch sits on a cushion in the middle of the watch box. The inside of the watch box is all black with the top half filled with black foam. Apart from the watch and cushion, there is also a rectangular brand tag tied to the watch strap.



The Watch

The watch is a professional dive watch with impressive specifications. Nevertheless, Steinhart decided to pair the watch casing with a grey vintage leather strap instead of a typical rubber or silicone strap. I guess Steinhart have done their market survey of its potential clients and the results must have shown that a common buyer is more of a desktop ‘diver’ than anything else. Nevertheless, for completeness, it would have been great if Steinhart also gave a spare strap with the package that can cater for real divers.

The Dial

The dial is well designed with a dark rugged brooding image feel to it. All markings are located on the dial itself. The chapter ring is a vertical wall with a polished finishing. This provides a depth to the dial. To ensure clarity and readability, the watch incorporated a number of contrasting colours to make it visible. The use of bright orange, white and luminous paint makes it legible in most, if not all, conditions.

There are four distinct scales on the dial. From the outer rim o the center you will be able to see the following: (a) Orange line with breaks at every five minute intervals; (b) Minute markers in white; (c) Military style Arabic numbering in orange except for the four corners of the compass; and (d) Hour markers painted in white luminous paint.



After the hour markers, the dial surface depress down slightly about 0.5 mm. This creates a 3D effect on the dial.

At 6 o’clock, just after the hour marker is a small aperture for the date complication. Using a date wheel with a black background ensures it seamlessly blend with the dial surface.

Apart from the markers, there are six lines of text and images on the dial. The Steinhard logo and brand are located on the upper quadrant while the words “Triton”, “100 ATM”, “PROFESSIONAL” and “SWISS MADE” in different colours, font, sizes and styles are located on the bottom quadrant.

The hours and minutes hands are semi-skeleton with an overall Roman sword design. The front parts are painted with the SuperLuminova luminous paint, white for the hours hand and orange for the minutes hand. The seconds hand is also a semi-skeleton design but thinner. There is a solid ball with luminous paint a quarter-distance from the front, while a counter-balance ball loop can be seen at the end.

Protecting the dial is a thick flat piece of sapphire crystal with double anti-reflecting coatings on the interior. Bordering the glass is a 2 mm thick wall of brushed titanium. Beyond that is the titanium bezel.



The Bezel

The titanium bezel has a black DLC paint on it. The markers have a military-style design to it and the orange triangle with luminous paint is located at 12 o’clock. All the numbers and markers on the bezel are painted on with luminous paint. The bezel has a gear-tooth edge to facilitate grip.


The Casing

The watch casing is multi-faceted. Lug-to-lug is approximately 55 mm. The lugs sticks out straight from the casing and coupled with the watch’s already substantial dial width, the Triton 1000 may look awkward for wearers with smaller wrist. A curved lug design would be more useful in my view.

The lug holes are also wide which requires hex screwed lug rods to be used to attach straps to the watch. If you want to replace the current strap with after-market straps, you need to ensure the strap lug holes are large enough to accommodate the Triton 1000 larger lug rods. Unfortunately, no hex screwdriver came standard with the watch box to facilitate strap changes. Gnomon Watches noted this potential problem and decided to provide a free gift of a hex screwdriver to buyers.



At the 4 o’clock position is the crown and crown guard. The crown is a large piece with step surfaces on the side for grip and the Steinhart logo stamped on the top surface. The crown guard is a new design that incorporates seamlessly with the rest of the watch casing. With the crown in the screw-down position, it is well protected from knocks.



At the 2 o’clock position is the HEV (Helium Escape Valve) system. Circled with a metallic orange tube, the HEV will automatically engage when there is a build up helium inside the watch. I believe this is the first time such a system has been incorporated in a Steinhart Triton Series watch (it could also be the first for the brand overall – can anyone confirm?).



On the other side of the casing are the words “100 ATM” etched deep into the side of the casing.

Although the bezel and casing are made out of titanium, the slid screw-down case-back is made out of stainless steel. It also has the etching of Poseidon, the King of the Sea. I was also made to understand that this engraving is also new for the Triton series. Standard information about the watch is can be found around the outer edge of the case-back.



When I got the watch, I note of some deep scratches around the anchor points for the case-back. It would appear Steinhart did not put proper care when it comes to screwing down the case-back to the casing. This is a definitely poor quality control by Steinhart.



Below is the photo of the illumination generated by the SuperLuminova luminous paint. As you can see, the watch is properly lighted.

 


The Strap

Triton 1000 comes standard with a double-layered grey vintage leather strap with orange stitching. The strap is 24 mm wide at the lugs and 22 mm at the buckle. The Pre-V style buckle is also made of titanium, and it has the Steinhart brand etched on it.



Out of the box, the leather is stiff. It needs some time to be pliable. It so happens that I was going on a beach holiday and after wearing it for just 3 days (in the heat and sweat of a typical tropical beach environment) you can see the difference in stiffness.

Earlier I sort of implied that this strap may not be able to weather wet conditions as it was chosen primarily to cater for desk divers instead of real divers. However, I was pleasantly surprised to note that the leather strap handled sea water (or any other water) rather well. I suspect the leather has been given some sort of water proofing treatment.

The Engine

The engine that powers the Triton 1000 is the standard Swiss workhorse, the Swiss ETA 2824-2 Elaboré. This particular ETA 2824-2 has the Incabloc shock protection, nickel balance, Nivarox-2 hair spring, Nivaflex NO main springs and some decorations. It is adjusted in three positions with an average daily rate of +/- 7 seconds and maximum positional variation of 20 seconds. The isochronism between 0 and 24 hours is approximately +/- 15 seconds.

It is a reliable engine and easily serviceable by any competent clock-smiths.

The Wearing Experience

The watch is rugged and looks menacing on the wrist. The combination of the vintage leather strap with the watch casing makes it feel more like an extreme sport watch then as a professional dive watch. Either way, it looks awesome.



The light weight is a godsend. You don’t feel tired wearing the watch the whole day. The only thing you need to be mindful off is the size. The likelihood of accidental impact with other objects is higher. Although the watch should be able to take the impact, the casing may exhibit battle damage such as scratches and flaking paint. Titanium is light but susceptible to scratches.

Below is a video of the watch on my wrist.




Feedback

I do have a number of feedback that I would like to share. These are:

1. I would have preferred if Steinhart’s designers eliminate the metal barrier between the sapphire crystal and the bezel. Since the bezel is much thinner than other typical divers’, the dial surface would look even bigger than it is right now;

2. I would have preferred if the numbers and markers on the bezel are etched into the bezel instead of just being painted on. The chances of brushing it against abrasive surfaces are high which would cause the paint to flake off.

3. I would appreciate a domed sapphire crystal be used instead of a flat piece. Steinhart have used domed sapphire crystals before (see: Steinhart Ocean One) and it should not be difficult to add that into this design.

4. Steinhart needs to buck up on quality control. These are some things that can break the reputation and brand loyalty. Honestly I am rather disappointed that Steinhart allowed this particular watch to pass through the production process and on to customers. Would I send it back? I won’t as I don’t find it too distressing. However, another customer may not have the same attitude. So Steinhart, if you are reading this, please take note and do something about it.

5. Please provide an additional strap that is more dive friendly (rubber or silicone). By specifically use the term “PROFESSIONAL” on the dial, it is assumed that this watch can be used by professional saturation divers straight from the box. Currently, these divers will have to source for aftermarket straps to use it as intended. For completeness, please also provide the hex screwdriver as standard to facilitate strap changes.

6. Do try to keep every metal parts on the watch be made out of titanium. The promotional releases on the watch mentioned only titanium as the metal. However, on closer inspection, the case-back is made out of stainless steel. Steinhart should not hide this fact whether intentionally or otherwise. It is a reputational risk that can have serious repercussions to its franchise value. When I saw the words, “TITANIUM & STAINLESS STEEL” engraved on the case-back I felt a mix of emotions, surprised, shocked and angry at the same time. Below are screenshots of the advertising kit for the watch.

Source: http://www.gnomonwatches.com/watches/steinhart-watches/triton-1000-titanium; dated 2 May 2017
Source: http://www.gnomonwatches.com/watches/steinhart-watches/triton-1000-titanium; dated 2 May 2017


Freebies

Gnomon Watches gave a number of freebies with the purchase. Packed inside the packaging box is a sealable plastic bag with the shop’s brand dominantly printed on the side are a NATO strap, a hex precision screwdriver and a polishing cloth.



Custom Clearance

I read in detail the courier manifest that came with the parcel. I suspect the reason Customs released the package is because it was stated as a “Wrist Watch without Battery” worth just USD80 with an additional USD20 for DHL courier fees. Although I am happy with the outcome, the issue of under-declaring the value should not be dismissed lightly. What if there is a problem in the shipment such as lost or damage? Will DHL cover based on the true costs? Will Gnomon Watches ‘guarantee’ any shortfall in claims caused by the under-declaration? These are important questions to ask.

Specifications

Maker: Steinhart Germany & Swiss Made
Movement: Swiss ETA2824-2 Automatic Movement; Elaboré grade
Dial: Black with Arabic numbers and markers
Luminous: Arabic numbers, markers, hour and minute hands
Date: Quickset date 6 o’clock
Case: Titanium. Satin brushed; Automatic helium valve at 2 o'clock
Bezel: Black DLC; Unidirectional; 120 clicks.
Crown: Screw-down Steinhart signed crown
Case-back: Solid stainless steel screw-down
Crystal: Sapphire glass flat, with double anti-reflecting coatings on the interior
Luminous Paint: SuperLuminova
Strap: Vintage leather grey 24 mm x 22 mm with Titanium Pre-V style buckle
Water resistance: 1000 meters
Width: 45mm in diameter
Height: 15 mm thick
Lug: 24 mm
Lug-to-lug: ~55 mm
Weight: 144 grams
Power Reserve: ~40 hours


Overall Conclusion

Despite the various shortfalls identified, I still believe this watch is still fairly priced after taking into consideration the visual and unique value proposition of the Triton 1000. Solving the issues highlighted will only serve to justify the utility of this watch and eliminate any further brand value deterioration.

You may be wondering whether I will be sending the watch back to remedy the poor workmanship. I decided not to. The hassle is not worth it. I will keep this watch as a reminder on the effects to a brand's reputation when quality control is not done right.


Photo Gallery










1 comment:

  1. Quite a surprise that you encountered such issues in the purchase of this watch. Hence and unless it does not justify travel costs, I will prefer to inspect all watches by hand on location (e.g. in shop or boutique) to get the best feel. But it definitely alters my perception of Steinhart - and luckily my Ocean One is fine - quite a happy acquisition (though definitely a serious homage to The Sub).

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