Pulsar PT3035

Been slacking on the watch reviews, but with my distant 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 two of three.

 

pulsar_front

Above is my first Pulsar watch, the PT 3035.  Pulsar is one of Seiko’s watch brands.  The least expensive Seiko are Lorus, to compete with Timex price points ($20 to $50), next up is Pulsar, which are positioned against Fossil and many many other fashion watches ($40 to $150).  Seiko branded is the next tier up, with a huge price range point from $70 to $7,000, and finally Grand Seiko, which can go toe to toe with the finest Swiss watches, and can go into the hundreds of thousands of dollar price range!  This, however, is a simple Pulsar Chronograph, and for what it is, it is a very impressive watch with a much better bang for the buck than Fossil or similar fashion watches.

The dial is a radial is matte plastic, black with concentric rings. There are three sub-dials: 9 O’clock is the minute accumulator for the chronograph, 6 O’clock the second accumulator, and at 3 O’clock, a 24 hour indicator.  Being only a one second chronograph, the long seconds hand is not a chronograph hand, but the running seconds hand.  The chapter ring is a bright orange,  with markers for every minute.  The hour and minute hands are a unique, cut out design, which was unexpected.  They have a high polish.  The seconds hand is tipped in a matching orange and has a lumed tail. The hour and minute hands also have luminous tips.  The hour markers are bold and have a generous amount of  Lumibrite and last a good amount of time.  Not as good as a diver, but very respectable for the price point.  The bezel is fluted, but sadly, does not rotate.  I think it is the one area they really had to cut corners on.  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 second, 1 hour step back movement. The upper pusher starts and stops the chronograph, and the lower pusher resets. The hands have to wind all the way back to zero when the chronograph resets, which is a contrast to the fly-back on my Seiko and Omega chronographs.  Not a huge deal, but it does take some time to reset the chronograph.

pulsar_bracelet_back

The case is stainless steel, 44mm in diameter. Brushed on top with a high polish on the sides. The case back is stainless and screw down and marked with the Pulsar, 10ATM water resistance, with the cool two waves design.  I am very impressed with the overall fit and finish at this price, much better than a comparable Fossil.   The crown is pleasantly detailed and styled and easy to use.  The pushers are polished, but do not click when pressed.  They feel like a membrane push-button, which is what they probably are. The lugs are 22mm to make for easy bracelet to strap swaps. The bracelet is heavy and well made.  It is what I like to call pseudo solid link.  It is a folded link, but done in such a way it looks solid, with no exposed folded metal, also similar to Fossil and fashion watches. The end links are hollow.

pulsar_clasp

The deployant clasp is a two push button design without a safety lock. It is marked deeply with Pulsar and has a brushed finish and appears well made.  It has two micro adjustment holes, making sizing acceptable but not that .  It is comfortable to wear and easy to use.

This watch is a great value for the money, I believe it easily tops a Fossil or similar fashion watch in the same price point.  The movement is what sets it apart, since it is a genuine Seiko movement and is sure to last for years. The overall presentation of the watch is excellent, and the unique hands and dial are original and not an homage that I can find.   It is bold and an eye grabber.  Although there are some compromises due to cost savings, it does not feel cheap.  A great watch at a competitive price.

Features:
Case: 44mm diameter, stainless steel, 100m water resistance.
Back: Stainless Steel, screw down.
Crystal: Hardlex, flat.
Movement: Battery Operated Quartz, Seiko in-house design. 1 hour, 1 second chronograph.
Complications: Date, 1 second, 1 hour chronograph, 24 hour indicator.
Other: 20mm folded link bracelet, stainless steel.

 

 

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Waltham Vintage Black Dial

Vintage Waltham Black Dial.

black_waltham_front

What we have here is a classic, Swiss Made, Waltham watch from the late 50’s or early 60’s.  It features a clean, black dial, a hand-wound movement and classic look you have to pay big money for in a modern equivalent.

The dial is a charcoal black and has held up very well, with no discolorations.  The hour markers are applied rectangles, except for 12, 6, and 9 O’clock, which are a neat, blocky font.  The hour and minute hands are simple sticks, with lume.   The second hand has a red arrow tip, which really stands out against the dial and adds a lot of character to the watch.  An easy to read date window in located at 3:00.  The lume on the hands and dial are pretty much dead, which is to expected to a 50 year old tritium marked watch.  The dial is simply marked Waltham and Incabloc, 17 jewels.  t -Swiss -t, indicating a tritium lume.  The crystal is acrylic and lightly domed.  It was in pretty rough shape when I bought it, but I got most of the worst scratches out.

black_waltham_crown

The case is chrome plated base metal  The case back is stainless, screw down and marked Waltham, Base Metal Bezel, Stainless Steel back.  The crown is signed with a W and is easy to wind and set.  The movement is a 17 jewel Swiss, with incabloc.  The is some brassing on the crown, which is to expected.  The lugs are 17mm, which means you are squeeze in an 18mm leather band.  I have the watch on aged Fossil leather.  The movement keeps good time and seems to have at least 36 hours of reserve.  It tics at 18,000 beats per hour.  The date is semi quick-set, using alternating between 10:00 and midnight.

black_waltham_back

This is a classic looking watch, but may be a little small for modern tastes, at 34mm. Luckily, with my smaller wrists, it looks fine.  It has held up quite well, and looks good on the wrist.  It is one of the few Swiss made watches in my collection, and I enjoy wearing it in my rotation of watches.  It does get at least  one or two days of wear a month.  I have about four Walthams  in rotation in my collection, and I am happy with every one of them.

Features:
Case: 34mm,  chrome plated base metal.
Back: Stainless Steel, screw down
Crystal: Acrylic, domed.
Movement: Waltham 18,000 BPH movement, 7 jewels Swiss Made, hand wind.
Complications: Date.
Other: On Fossil leather band,  17 mm lugs.

 

 

 

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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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Flurries coming.

I have quite a few watches in queue to get reviews, so expect some fresh content soon!

What to expect:

Timex Stainless Steel automatic, Waltham hand-wind, Lucerne Digital Mechanical, Nike Sport Chronograph, and more!

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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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Since I’ve been gone…

In case you have been wondering why posts have been scarce, here is a repost from my main blog:

Three weeks ago, Tuesday, June 28, I collapsed on the way back from lunch at work.  I had just walked up an inclined ramp when my heart started pounding and I just could not catch my breath.  I clutched onto a parts cart, then I passed out.  According to my co-workers, I went to my knees, then just laid down on the ground.  I was out for about a minute.  The next thing I remember is I was looking up at my boss, Gene, and he was telling me I just collapsed.  Then another co-worker said they called 911 already, and I could already hear the sirens, since they are located across the train tracks from where I work.

I had Gene call my wife, then I was loaded onto a gurney.  Within moments they had an EKG hooked up…not a heart attack, but my pulse was about 150 to 160.  They also put an IV in.  If you have never had an IV, they do hurt a bit going in.  In about 4 minutes, I was at LaGrange Memorial hospital.  Once at the hospital, I was asked if I had been sitting a long time, on a long plane ride, etc.  No, nothing like that.  I had been feeling odd for about a week before then, loosing my breath going up stairs.  After a while, I remember my older brother was diagnosed with Factor V Leiden.  This is a genetic issue with involves how blood clots and un-clots. I had a pulmonary embolism, but they did not know how bad it was yet.

First test up was an echo-cardiogram.   This one is like a fancy ultrasound, but it was very hard to hold my breath.  Next up was a chest x-ray.  After the ER doc consulted with a couple of specialists, I was off to a CT scan of my lungs.  This, again, required holding my breath and pumping me up with some dye.  The results were back in about 20 minutes.  Pulmonary Embolism in both lungs, big ones, old ones.  They stopped counting when they reached 20.  I had been living with this for a while.  Most Pulmonary Embolisms are acute, mine is chronic.  They gave me two options, pump with clot breakers, which has a 3% mortality rate, or perform an angioplasty on my lungs and install ‘drip lines’ of low dose clot breakers, along with a filter for my vena cava.  The risk was much lower and had a better chance to work.

So, about 2 1/2 hours after I collapsed, I was wheeled into the Interventional Radiology room.  I was mostly awake and they inserted 2 catheters into my jugular vein.  First they checked the pressure in my heart, right side.  Very high.  The right side of your heart usually has very low pressure, since it only has to pump through your lungs.  In my case, my poor heart had been working against so long, the right side was very strong.   Pumping with about 4 times the normal pressure.  For those of you who have never had the joy of an angioplasty, here is what happens.  They move you onto a narrow table and kind of block you in.  Next, they cover your neck with this padded sticker and cover your whole head with a tent like arrangement.  Next up is a lidocane like shot for the skin on your neck.  This numbs it up and then they go in.  You can feel them moving stuff around your chest, it is very creepy.  No pain, since there are no pain receptors in there, but you defiantly feel it and remember it.   The whole procedure took about an hour and a half.  They did give me some Valium to take the edge off, but other than loosing track of time, I pretty much remember everything.   They also shaved part of my chest and put a holding block on there for the 4 tubes coming out of my neck.  Lots of tape, more on that later.

Next up was the Intensive Care Unit.  The drip lines in my lungs were getting a constant source of clot breaker.  They asked me the standard set of questions;  Where do am I?  LaGrange Memorial.  What time is it?  5:27 P.M.  The seconds hand of your clock is broken, so I can’t be more accurate than that.  The elicited a laugh from the nurse.  What is my birthday?  Etc.  I spent the night in the ICU.  During the night it got easier to breath.  Over every house I saw my pulse going down, my oxygen going up, and just plain feeling better.

At 8:00 A.M. The next day, they sent me back down to the CT scanner for another look at my lungs.  The results were back in about 20 minutes, all of the major clots were broken up, some minor ones remained, but those would break up over time.  Off to Interventional Radiology again.  This time, they rechecked the blood pressure on the right side of my heart, looked at the clots, and then got the okay to pull all the tubes from my neck.  That part was pretty painless.  What hurt (and the most painful part of the whole ordeal) was taking the tape off the right side of my check.  They had placed a block to hold down the six tubes from my neck overnight.  I’ll tell you one thing, removing tape from a nipple really, really hurts.  They tore a little skin as well, but it was out and I was back up to my room in the ICU.

Wednesday was a day of recovery after all the tubes were out.  I was feeling better already, but still not quite myself.  Very tired since I only got about 2 hours of bad sleep the night before.  Some visitors, but mostly rest.  Sleeping on the second night was much easier than the first.  They turned off some of the beeping monitors so I could sleep better.  I was only woken up by the blood pressure cuff and a really bad blood draw in the early hours of Thursday.  If you ever get a blood draw, never, ever, let them try to get it from your hand.  It hurts like someone is digging in your hand with a knife.  The next morning I learned I would be going to regular room later in the day.

On Thursday morning, before anything else, they had two “Code Blues” which are when a patient’s heart stops.  So the ICU nurses were pretty busy for the morning.  Talked to the doctor again, everything was looking pretty good.  I did have one really good accomplishment, my first bowel movement in the hospital.  You take for granted the simple things.  I also had my first solid food in 2 days, and they let me walk a little bit.  When I first stood up, I was really shocked how much better I felt.  Even though I had not stood in two days, it was so much better than it was in the weeks leading up to my collapse.  Around lunch time, Gene, my manager and the first person I saw when I woke up visited along with Diane, another person I went out to lunch with on the fateful day.  The remarked how much better I looked and sounded.  I really did feel better as well.  Later in the afternoon, I was off to my regular room on the fourth floor.

My regular room was very nice, with a couch, view of the heliport, a few chairs and even a built in desk.  It looked like a really plain hotel room.  It even had a real bathroom, not a curtain affair like my ICU room.  No more connected monitor, just a wireless telemeter for my vitals.  My only battle was to get off my ‘mechanical/soft’ diet.  I really don’t know how I got on there.  No one went down my throat, and all the food looked like cat food.  My little netbook really helped pass the time, since I am not a real TV watcher.  That night I slept pretty darn well, since I didn’t have a blood pressure cuff waking me up every hour, on the hour.  My parents, wife Tiffany, and son Glenn were all able to visit, since it was a normal room.

Friday was a pretty uneventful day.  I was able to wander the halls, as long as I didn’t try to leave the floor.  Finally got my diet changed to a normal one, and I really enjoyed non chopped up food for the first time in days.  At noon time, three more friends from work, including Dave and Jeremy visited.  It was nice to see that a lot of people cared about what happened to me.  Walking again really helped my spirits as well.  Saw the doctors again, they were all happy with my condition.  I was also cheered up by being able to wash up better.  After 3 days of no shower, you get really funky.

Just waiting for my INR levels to get higher.  It was creeping up slowly, so until it gets over 2.0, I have to be on Heparin.  Later in the day, when Tiffany was visiting, the primary care doctor  asked if I wanted to go home the next day, if I was willing to get Lovenox shots.  It was that, or stay in the hospital a week or more longer.  I decided I really wanted to go home and started on the shots that night.

On Saturday, Glenn’s birthday, Tiffany came in the morning to learn how to administer the shots.  They would be twice a day, until my INR was high enough.  The needle did not hurt, but the chemical burned for about 10 minutes afterwards, but it was worth it.  A little later, a social worker talked to us about the Lovenox shots, she thought I had no insurance, but that is not the case.  With her new-found information in hand, everything we set up for picking up my prescriptions.  About 11:00 or so I was released and picked up our other car at work.  I felt really good.  So much more aware than I have been in a long time.  I never knew how much I was suffering until I had a frame of reference.

I visited the parents’ after getting out and celebrated Glenn’s real birthday with a cake and a candle.  It was great to be out on his birthday and back in the real world.  The next day we celebrated with a full cookout with the whole family and friends in the backyard.  I was able to enjoy most of my vacation that week.  We were able to go to the beach, have a picnic, and appreciate life.

After everything that happened, I do feel like a new man.  I feel better now than I have in years.  I don’t loose my breath going upstairs.  I am not tired at 10:30 in the morning.  Now, all I have to do is take a pill, get weekly blood draws until they get me level, and stay away from knife fights.  You never think of pulmonary embolisms, but they are the second leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest.  I hope to enjoy life more.  My hands are steadier, my mind is sharper, and I can smell again.  I wish I didn’t scare my family so much, but at least I came back to tell this tale.  I still remember what one of the EMT guys said.  Passing out is like nature’s reset button.  When your body can’t deal with it anymore, it just stops everything for a minute, resets everything, and lets you know something went very wrong and you should see a doctor.

As a word of advice to anyone who has a family member with Factor V Leiden.  Please see your doctor about getting tested for it and what what can you do to prevent blood clots if you are positive for it.  You don’t want to end up on the ground, wondering what happened to you, like me.

Now, back to watches.  I received a beautiful Seiko a few months ago, and due to my fatigue/medical issues, I haven’t had the chance to review it.  I will rectify that shortly and get back into the groove of things.  Also on a watch related note, my hands are much steadier now, making watch repairs much easier now.

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