Watch Review Seiko SSB041

Been slacking on the watch reviews, but with my just passed birthday, I received two new watches, and I have had one in my watch box that deserves some attention. Interestingly, they are all Seiko movement chronographs, so I get to compare and contrast. This is article one of three.

brown_side_view

First off is a watch my lovely wife got for me, a brown Seiko chronograph, the SSB041. This is my first Seiko branded, quartz chronograph. I wanted a brown dialed watch, since I didn’t have any in that color, and I wanted a chronograph, with a 1/5 of a second feature, and a tachymeter scale. This watch fits the bill nicely.

brown_beauty_shot

The dial is a radial sunburst brown which shifts colors depending on illumination. The outer tachymeter chapter ring is in a matte finishing and compliments the dial. The watch has three sub dials. At the nine o’clock position minutes accumulator for the chronograph function. At the six o’clock position is the running seconds dial, and at the three o’clock position is a 24 hour dial. Each of the sub dials uses a simple, white painted stick hand which contrasts very well against the dial.  The hour and minute hands are dauphin style with a white stripe running down the center.  The 1/5 second chronograph hand is a simple stick with a large tail.  This tail is needed  for the fly-back mechanism.  The hour markers are simple, highly polished sticks.  The date window is at the 4:30 position.  Overall, the dial is relatively uncluttered for a chronograph and is well balanced. There is no luminous material.

The movement is a 1/5 of a second, 1 hour fly-back movement.   The upper pusher starts and stops the chronograph, and the lower pusher resets.  The hands fly back instantly to 0, and do not step back meaning it is done mechanically, not with stepper motors. When activated the chronograph hand advances in very even, 1/5 of a second steps, very closely resembling a mechanical chronograph.

The crystal is flat Hardlex, typical of Seiko and covers the tachymeter scale and is held down with a polished bezel.

brown_back_and_bracelet

The case is stainless steel, 40mm in diameter.  Brush on top with a high polish on the sides.  The case back is stainless and screw down and marked with the usual Seiko, 10ATM water resistance.  The quality is typical Seiko, very very good for the price point.  The crown in unsigned, but large and easy to use.  The pushers are polished and have a solid click when depressed.  The lugs are 20mm to make for easy bracelet to strap swaps.  The bracelet is a obviously inspired by Omega Speedmaster bracelets with a combination of polished and brushed links.  The bracelet tapers to 18mm at the clasp.  The bracelet is folded links, with a brushed finish on the sides.  A solid link bracelet would be nice, but as is typical, would not be found in a watch at this price point.  It does not grab hairs and is good quality with only minor squeaks.  The end links are hollow.

brown_clasp

The deployant clasp is a two push button design without a safety lock.  It is marked deeply with Seiko and has a brushed finish.  As you can see in photo above, you can see the alternating polished and brushed finish very reminiscent of Omega bracelets.  It has three micro adjustment holes, making for easy sizing.

Overall, this is a very easy watch to live with, and my first new Quartz watch in a long time.  Honestly, I only trust one brand of quartz watches, and that is Seiko.  The movement is made in Japan and so far is dead on accuracy wise.  The 1/5 of a second tic is a great way to get a mechanical look without the mechanical price.  Startlingly, the Seiko has a cleaner sweep chronograph than my Omega!  (Which tends to have some jitter, typical of 7750 based chronographs.)  The watch is well balanced and not terribly large.  If you have typical or smaller wrists, this watch will wear well.  I am looking forward to years of trouble free accuracy and reliability.  Again, thank you to my wife for another wonderful watch.

Features:
Case: 40mm diameter, stainless steel, 100m water resistance.
Back: Stainless Steel, screw down.
Crystal: Hardlex, flat.
Movement: Battery Operated Quartz, 6T62, Seiko in-house design. 1 hour, 1/5 second chronograph.
Complications:  Date, 1/5 second 1 hour chronograph, 24 hour indicator.
Other: 20mm folded link bracelet, stainless steel.

 

 

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Watch Review, Seiko SARY005

Seiko SARY005, Presage, Silver Dial

For our upcoming 10th wedding anniversary and Christmas 2012, my beautiful wife gave me this Seiko Automatic dress watch, the SARY005 aka SRP119J1.  It is a watch designed for the Japanese domestic market and, to be honest, the photos really don’t do it justice.  First, let’s start with the dial.

It is an extremely detailed dial, the center is intersecting circles.   Moving outward are concentric circles so fine they looks like the grooves in a compact disk or DVD.   They even produce rainbows when twisted in the light.  Finally, the minute chapter ring is separated by a precision ring and has a brushed finish.  There is a date window at the three O’clock position.

The hour markers are Roman numerals and applied.  They are the most clear cut markers I have seen on any watch, with laser sharp edges.  They have a mirror polish and stand out shockingly well against the dial.  The minute chapter ring uses Arabic numbers every five minutes and they are a subtle blue to match the hands.  Between the number markers are six tic marks between two printed rings.  These match exactly with the 1/6th of the second sweep of the second hand.

The hands are an iridescent blued steel, Seiko dauphine.  Seiko has their own version with the tail squared off.   The minute and seconds hand extend almost to the chapter ring, making it very easy to tell the time and are almost twice the length of the hour hand.  The seconds hand is stick with a very long tail.  The tail ends with a ring which perfectly bisects the transition between the inner and outer part of the dial and add a lot to character of the watch.  There is no luminescent material anywhere on this watch.

Next up we have the case, crystal, and crown.  The crystal is flat sapphire with what appears to be anti-reflective coating.  It is totally invisible at most angles.  It is held in place with a very unique bezel I have never seen before.  It is narrower at the top and flares out to the diameter of the case.  The case is 40mm in diameter, but wears surprisingly small with the very down turned lugs.  The lugs are 20mm and are drilled through, making band replacements much easier.  I like 39 to 40mm watches, just the right size for smaller wrists.  The crown is unsigned, but very easy to wind the watch with.  Oh yes, you can actually hand wind this watch. The case is stainless steel, 10 ATM water resistant.  The bezel and top  of the watch are polished , the sides are brushed from top to bottom.

Continuing to the back and bracelet, the case back is solid stainless steel, screw down, and simply marked SEIKO, Sapphire crystal, Made in Japan with the case number, serial number, and water resistance of 10 Bar.  It would of been nice to have a transparent back, but the simple steel keeps the watch thinner and has a timeless quality to it.  The bracelet is an elegant brushed and polished affair, with a signed two button clasp.   The bracelet also has solid end links, so no squeaks or wobbles there.  It is very flexible and comfortable to wear and is only second to my Omega in quality.

Beating at 21600BPH inside the case is a newer in-house Seiko movement, the 23 jewel 4R35.  This movement is a descendant of the 7S36, but adds the very important hand-winding and hacking functions.   This is an significant upgrade to compete against ETA and Miyota automatics, which can at least hand wind, and usually hack (second hand stop).  The accuracy rating is pretty low, but so far I am running a very consistent +9 seconds a day.  Power reserve is 41+ hours, same as the 7S series, but at least you can hand-wind it and don’t have to use the backwards pressure trick to stop the seconds hand.   I really hope Seiko converts all of their 5’s to this more practical design.

To sum it all up, this is a very elegant, high quality Seiko that moves from being a watch to a ‘timepiece.’  Side by side against my Omega, which costs more than 10 times as much, it looks just as good, or better made.  One thing is certain, it is much easier to read and more manageable on the wrist.  The styling is a pure, modern dress watch with a definite nod towards Cartier styling.  The size is  just right and I love wearing it.

Features:
Case: 39.5 mm diameter, 11mm thick, Stainless Steel.  10 Bar water resistance.
Back:  Solid Stainless Steel, screw down.
Crystal: Sapphire, flat, with anti-reflective coating.
Movement: SEIKO 4R35, 23 jewel automatic,  hand winds and hacks.
Complications: Date
Other:  On solid end link stainless bracelet.

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Watch Review, Rothco Vietnam Era Homage

Rothco Vietnam Era Hand-wound homage.

For my birthday I received a nice little gift, an homage to US Vietnam era mechanical watch, wrist.  The watch came in this simple tin, complete with military specification numbers.  I am sure it is all for show, since this watch was made in China.

Opening the tin revealed this:

 

A simple, clean, easy to read watch.  The dial has Arabic 1 through 12 markers in dark green and 13 through 24 in white.  The dial is black.  The hands are simple sticks with lume.  There are also lume pips at every hour mark.  There is no marking on the dial as to brand name, which is a nice touch.  Just Mechanical. 3ATM Water Resistant, and a small Made in China along the bottom of the dial.  There is a small date window at 3 O’clock.  The crystal is acrylic and lightly domed, consistent with a Vietnam era watch.

The case appears to be painted steel or base metal, with a stainless steel back.   It is a screw back, stainless steel.  Again, simply marked Mechanical Movement, Stainless Steel Back, 3ATM water resistance.  Never seen a watch with no branding whatsoever.    I have not looked at the movement, but my best guess would be a DG2833, which has all the features of this watch, hand-wound only, 21,600 BPH, Chinese made, 17 jewels,  and the font of the date window matches.  A nice featre is that is a hacking movement, so it the movement stops when you pull the crown.  This originated with military watches and is used to co-ordinate time among members of a platoon, etc.  The crown is unsigned and chrome plated.

The watch comes on a comfortable, wide weave nylon band.  The buckle is unsigned and is also chrome plated.  It is double thickness and should last for years.

Overall, this a great watch for the money.  It is easy to read and keeps extremely accurate time, less than +/-5 seconds a day when wound every morning.  Power reserve seems very good as well, I have not had it wind all the way down yet, but I know it is over 38 hours.  The luminous material is nothing to write home about, but the Omega and Seiko watches have spoiled me.  I have always loved the look of the Vietnam era wrist watch, but never wanted to pay the money commanded by the real deal.  This watch is a throwback to when watches were all mechanical and simpler.  No battery to change, no clutter on the dial, and you have to wind it every day.  It has spent a lot of time on my wrist over the past few weeks and it is a good addition to my collection.

Features:
Case: 35mm diameter, painted metal, 3ATM water resistance.
Back: Stainless Steel back, screw down.
Crystal: Acrylic, Lightly Domed.
Movement: Hand-Wound, DG2833, 21,600 BPH.
Complications: Date
Other: Luminous hands and markers.

 

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Watch Review: Vintage TIMEX 37319

TIMEX 37316 from 1979

 

Here is a rare item in my collection, an all Stainless Steel TIMEX automatic, from 1979.  This watch was made just before TIMEX started transitioning all of its watches to quartz in the early 1980’s.  It is a shame, really, TIMEX was very good at making reliable, accurate, and durable pin-lever automatics.  This particular watch is nice step up from a typical TIMEX, since it has an all stainless case, as opposed to plated base metal.

The dial is a pale blue with stick hands.  The second hand is jet black and stands out well against the dial.  The hour markers are applied, mirrored rectangles with a lume pip just inside the bezel.  The hands are also lumed, but, the lume is almost totally dead after 33 years.  The dial design is fairly clean, with just Timex Automatic and Water Resistant on the dial.  The watch also has a large day and date display, making it a very practical daily timepiece.  The crystal appears to be lightly domed acrylic, but it may be glass, since there are no scratches on it.

The case is a modern 40mm diameter with 20mm lugs.  The shape has some 70’s influence, but it is very modern looking for a 33 year old watch.   At the lugs, there is no need for end pieces, it was designed for strait ends or straps.  The sides of the case have a high polish and where the end pieces would be are brushed steel.  The tooling marks are very even and have a higher level of finish.  The crown is unsigned, but easy to use and hand-wind.  The case back is screw down, which is a nice touch.  The movement is probably typical TIMEX pin-lever, but I have not opened up the case to find out.  If it works and keeps good time, I leave well enough alone.

This particular watch is on the original TIMEX stainless steel folded metal bracelet.  It was pretty grimy when I got it, but it cleaned  up beautifully and has minimal band stretch.  I also really like the signed TIMEX clasp.  Speaking of the clasp,  it has eight micro adjustment holes!  This is great because I didn’t need to resize the bracelet by removing any links, just had to move it to the proper sizing hole.  The clasp works well and is very secure feeling, even without a flip safety clasp.

Overall, this is a solid, modern watch that keeps good time and stands out just enough, but doesn’t scream at you.  The watch has held up very well, even though it had signs of being a daily wear watch for a few years.  I don’t wear this one as often as I should, and writing the review has prompted me into getting this dependable timepiece into my normal rotation.

 

Case: 40mm, stainless steel, 20mm lugs.

Back: Stainless screw down, Marked Water Resistant, Automatic, Stainless Steel.

Crystal: Acrylic? with a light dome.

Movement: Automatic with hand winding, Timex no-jewel pin lever escapement. Caliber 32? 18000 BPH.

Complications: Day, Date.

Other: Currently on original stainless bracelet.

 

 

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Watch Review: Seiko SNZH40 Rose Gold Automatic

Seiko SNZH40 Rose Gold Automatic

At long last, here is my review of my Seiko SNZH40 Rose Gold dress watch.  I received this watch as a birthday gift (6 months ago!) but with health issues, I just have not found the time to do a proper review for this stunning watch.

As you can see, it is a bold, modern dress watch.  The case is rose gold plated stainless steel, 39mm across.  The plating is top notch and all the gold on the watch matches.  The dial is a radial sunburst black.  It is a true black, not charcoal or anything like that.  It has roman numerals markers at 12, 6, and 9.  The remaining markers are triangular.  The watch also has a chapter ring for minutes, in white, five minute intervals.  The hands are Dauphine style and are gold plated.  The minute hand is full length, and reaches all the way to the chapter ring, which is a nice touch.  The watch has day and date and minimal writing on the dial;  just SEIKO and Automatic.  The crystal is flat sapphire, my second watch with this material.  I wish they put some anti-reflective coating on there, but at least I never have to worry about scratching it.  It is a nice feature at the price point and a big step up from mineral glass. The crown is fluted and easy to use when  setting the watch.

Powering the watch is a a reliable 7S36B, 23 jewel automatic.  It is plainly finished, but is visible through the transparent caseback.  The caseback is mineral crystal, which is just fine.  No use making it sapphire where it can’t get scratched.  The movement is a pure automatic, no hand wind or hacking.  The watch, interestingly, is water resistant to 100 meters.  I did not expect that level of water resistance for a dress watch.

Finally, we have the band and buckle.  The leather is SEIKO genuine calf and very pliable.  It has a crocodile pattern embossed and is tanned to a patent leather shine.  It ends in an easy to replace 20mm.  The buckle is embossed with SEIKO and gold plated over stainless.

I really enjoy this watch, it is modern, with a diameter of 39mm, but unmistakably a dress watch.  It has no luminous marking, which would detract from what is supposed to be.  It has the look and most of the features of a watch that costs 20X more.  The sapphire crystal is a real bonus and puts this watch in the ‘SEIKO Superior’ line, instead of a 5.  The impressive water resistance adds confidence in wearing this watch daily, since rain will not bother it.  I have worn this watch quite a bit over the last six months, and it still looks brand new.

Features:
Case: 39 mm diameter, 12mm thick, Rose Gold over Stainless Steel.  100M water resistance.
Back:  Hardlex exhibition case back, screw down.
Crystal: Sapphire, flat, no anti-reflective coating.
Movement: SEIKO 7S36B, 23 jewel automatic, no hand wind or hacking.
Complications: Day and Date
Other:  On calfskin strap, crock pattern.

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Watch Review, Swatch YGS4000 PROMENADE

Watch Review, Swatch YGS4000 PROMENADE

Look at what I picked up at my favorite antique store.  I usually don’t go for quartz watches, but this one just spoke to me.  It is a Swatch YGS4000 PROMENADE, originally released for the Fall/Winter collection in 1995.

As you can see, it is a very unique looking watch.  The hour markers are all different fonts, colors, and randomly alternate between Arabic and Roman numerals.  The dial is a brushed silver motif, and I am sucker for silver dialed watches.  The hour and and minute hands are simple, black, sticks.  The second hand is a bold red. The bezel is a polished with Swatch repeating 4 times, with dots at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock.  The crown is tipped with a red, plastic cap, which matches the second hand and markers on the dial. The only complication is the date function.  I like the humorous day of the week indicator, Today.

The case is aluminum and very light weight.  I really like how easy it is to change the battery.  All you need is a coin to pop open the battery hatch.  The case is also a single piece construction, with the movement loading from the front of the dial.  A lot less leak paths and gaskets.  I believe all Swatch watches are 50m or better water resistance.  The case is bead blasted, except for the bezel, which is polished.

The band is a genuine Swatch leather, original, with lizard grain.  The buckle is also aluminum and signed with Swatch.  It is very pliable and comfortable to wear.

Overall, it is a very practical, stylish, and comfortable watch.  You barely notice it on your wrist, especially after some of the heavy automatics that I usually wear.  It is my first and only Swatch, but now I understand why they were and still are fairly popular.  The design is very unique and the build quality is very good, with an ETA quartz movement inside.  My only complaint is that the second hand is pretty far off the second markers.  It is a minor quibble, but I would of expected better.  My Seiko from 1990 hits the marks every time, but not this Swiss made quartz from 1995.  I am very happy with my purchase, and I am sure it will be worn just about every time I exercise, due to the super light weight.

Features:
Case: 36mm diameter, 10mm thick(with crystal), aluminum, 50m water resistance.
Back: monocoque case, solid, with quick battery change.
Crystal: Acrylic, lightly domed.
Movement: Quartz, ETA
Complications: Date
Other:  None.

 

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Watch Review, Valgine Pocket Watch

Valgine Pocket Watch


Overview:

I am not usually tempted by pocket watches, but recently I picked up a modern watch for my younger brother, so my interest was piqued.  So, on my last visit to my local antique store, I looked through the vintage bin.  When I opened up this little beauty of a watch, I was amazed at the condition.  I am not sure of the exact age, but, it is Swiss Made, Valgine, 17 jewels, Incabloc, and the dial is just flawless.


The front of the watch has a charming fisherman engraving  and is in very good condition.  The is no wear through visible on the plating and the embossing is deep and high quality.  The front cover pops open perfectly when the pendant is pressed.  If this watch was used, I don’t think was a daily wear watch. The inside of the front dial cover has a well executed tool pattern, a real one, not the stamped versions seen in modern, cheap pocket watches.  The dial is pure white with black roman numeral markers for 1 through 12 and small, red, Arabic markers for 13 through 24 hours.  The hands are very elegant and expertly cut.  The seconds hand is at the 6 o’clock position.  The crystal appears to be acrylic and has no scratches at all.


The rear of the watch has a floral pattern, and is expertly engraved as well.  Again, there is no wear through on the plating that is visible without a jeweler’s loupe.


The watch also came on a nice quality chain and traditional fob, not a belt clip.  A little dandy, but I am sure in a suit, you can pull it off.  The watch is about 44mm in diameter, so not too large, and smaller than what a lot of people wear on their wrists now!

The movement is a 17 jewel, Swiss made movement, shock protected, 18,000 bph,  and keeps excellent time.  The power reserve seems good as well, well over 32 hours.  I would guess that the watch was made in the 60, by how little wear there is.  I don’t think I will wear it much, but I am still glad I acquired this watch.  I have not been able to find out much about this brand, I assume they were one of the thousands of companies wiped out in the quartz revolution.

 

Case: 44mm diameter, gold plated.
Back: gold plated, snap back style.
Crystal: Acrylic, domed.
Movement: 17 jewel Swiss, Incabloc shock protection, 18,000 BPH.
Complications: Small seconds.
Other:   On 12″ watch chain, with fob.

 

 

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Watch Review, Seiko Bell-Matic, 1970.

Seiko 4006-6010T Bell-Matic.

Overview:  While looking through a coffee can full of watches at a local antique store, I pulled out this little gem.   First I saw the back, so I knew it was a Seiko, then I flipped it over and saw some magic words, Bell-Matic.  What is a Bell-Matic?  In the late sixties to mid seventies, Seiko created the first automatic alarm watch.  It was in really rough shape.  The crystal was badly scratched, and even worse, th dial was no longer attached to the main plate!  However, with a few gentle shakes, the second hand started instantly, so the movement itself was just fine.  I asked, he said $5.  I knew it was worth more than that, so I was sold.

Features:
Case: 37mm diameter, stainless steel, ‘waterproof’, 19mm lugs.
Back: Stainless, screw down, marked SEIKO Stainless Steel 4006 – 6010 Waterproof, Japan.
Crystal: Acrylic, lightly domed.
Movement: Automatic, 4006A, Seiko in-house design, 17 Jewels. Base movement is automatic only, alarm is hand wound.
Complications: Day of week, Date, mechanical alarm.
Other: Luminous hands and markers, Lumibrite, rotating chapter ring.

The watch is a fairly modern sized watch 37mm, and fairly thick at 13mm.  The case has a slight cushion effect, making it look larger than it is.  The hands are sword style, and very handsome, and a first for my collection.  The dial is a silver cloth weave pattern.  The markers are applied bright silver with luminous material, possibly rhodium plated.  The crown is unsigned, but over-sized and easy to use.   The reason behind this is obvious, it is how you adjust the alarm.  How you set the alarm is simple.  Pull the crown out to the first position and rotate counter clockwise until the red marker is pointing towards the time you want it to go off.  Press the crown in, wind, then pull the button at 2 O’clock.  When the hour hand points to the time, a little bell rings, much like an old fashioned alarm clock.

To repair this watch, I had to go much beyond just polishing the crystal and removing the DNA of ages.  I had to completely remove the movement, remove the hands, reattach the dial, and put everything back in place.  On top of that, I had to use the big guns and use a polishing wheel to fix the crystal as well.  Hand polishing just didn’t cut it.  In doing all this work, I am really impressed with the quality of Seiko movements of the early 70’s.  Everything was very well put together (other than the dial feet) and had the feel of a fine timepiece.  I did a little research, and this watch retailed for $105 in 1970!  Not a cheap watch in any way.

Overall, I am very happy with this watch.  It has a few small issues, like a worn chapter ring and ding in the edge of the crystal, but the wear gives it some character.  I know if I wanted to flip it, I would make my money back 10 to 20 fold.  The alarm works very well, and I find I am using this watch more than my Omega Speedmaster.  An alarm is handier than a chronograph.

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Watch Review: Vintage Timex Square Faced

Vintage Timex Square Faced

Last, but not least, is a watch I picked up a few weeks ago, and I have finally gotten a chance to review.  This is a squarish faced Timex, of unknown vintage.  I am sure if I opened up the case, I would see a manufacture date, but if a watch is running well, I don’t mess with them.

The dial is a rounded square with simple, chrome plated stick markers.  The case is base metal with a stainless steel back.  The hands are also simple sticks, and there is no luminous material.   The look is retro, yet modern.

The watch came on a truly horrible plastic strap, which I replaced with a metal band.  The movement is a new one for me.  It has a semi-quick set date, which I have not seen on a Timex yet.  The automatic movement also can be hand wound, but does not hack.  It looks like it has a Timex 32 movement, which puts it at the top end of the Timex pin lever movements.

Overall, I really like this watch.  It is simple, elegant, and even has a quick set date.  At $5, you really can’t go wrong.

Features:
Case: 34mm,  chrome plated base metal, square, water reistant.
Back: Stainless Steel, snap on, claims water resistant.
Crystal: Acrylic, flat.
Movement: Timex 32 18,000 BPH movement, pin lever.
Complications: Date, with quick set.
Other: Stainless after market bracelet.

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