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A Moment In Time: Nomos Club 38 Campus Nacht
Great dial contrast
Perfect watch strap pairing
Back in business Ivy Time faithful! After a serious hiatus I am back and I have great news to share from my friends in Germany. It is very apt that I am turning to Nomos for my first watch review in over a year. Back at Baselworld 2017, Nomos announced the launch of the Club Campus series. The Club Campus is a more youthful and affordable take on the immensely popular Club model. The new series features three models the Club Campus, Club 38 Campus and Club 38 Campus Nacht, the focus of this review will be the Club 38 Campus Nacht.
Before I jump right into the review of the watch I want to provide some additional background on Nomos and the origins of the new Campus series. It is no secret that I am a major fan of this German brand. From their minimalist and thoughtful design to their high quality craftsmanship and proprietary movements, Nomos checks all of the boxes for brand creating value the right way. Can I add that they were founded in 1990?
While there has been a recent trend for big brands to court the entry-level market (i.e. Tag Heuer and Omega to name a few), often times those products are diluted, making them vastly different from the flagship models people have come to love and collect. Nomos has not followed that trend and for that they deserve your attention.
The Club Campus series as mentioned before follows in the footsteps of the Club model (offered in three variations as well). The Club is a great introduction to the Nomos brand, while cheaper than the rest of the lineup, there is no sacrifice in quality. As we all know pricing has been a sore spot for the industry as of late, Nomos recalibrated and introduced an even more price aware offering with the introduction of the Club Campus series. Starting at $1500 USD, the Club Campus series feature the in-house Alpha movement which is also used in the Club model. Let’s take a deeper look at the Club 38 Campus Nacht (my favorite new Club Campus model) and why I enjoyed the week I spent with it on my wrist.
Dial- I had high expectations for the dial given Nomos’ previous attempt with a darker dial on the Club Dunkel. The dial did not disappoint. As expected, the dial is perhaps the most captivating element of the watch. Intended to mimic the night sky hence the German name “nacht,” the dial is a smoky grey. Overlaid with white Roman and Arabic numerals that are outlined in blue, the dial in its entirety is truly an expert display of balance that is capped off with great watch hands. I tried to capture images of the dial as best I could but I recommend seeing the dial in-person before making a judgement on this piece.
Hands- The sword hour and minute hands are rhodium plated and coated with superluminova. What stands out most is the seconds hands which is neon orange, helping to add to the overall contrast of the dial. I have a lot of positive things to say about this watch but overall for me the hands and respective dial indices were somewhat of a disappointment. Visible during the day, at night the dial was essentially rendered useless. I tried direct sunlight as well as artificial light but I could not get the blue luminescence that Nomos brags about. While this wasn’t a deal breaker on what is a stunning watch at a great price, I was bothered by this.
**As a disclaimer to my comments on lume, my dial wear is the Tudor Black Bay Blue which has excellent lume.
Case: The case on the Club 38 Campus Nacht comes in at 38.5mm which felt a little small for me given the slim case height of 8.45mm. Compact but not overly small is how I would characterize the watch. The lug proportioning gives this watch some additional “stance” that I believe is well needed and the caseback is stainless steel. In terms of design quality, I almost overlooked this because everything that comes from Nomos is held to the highest standards in manufacturing and for me to consistently point it out seems duplicative.
Crown: The crown is well sized and functional although I did find myself having to change the time during the course of the week because the crown was moved out of position. Rookie move on my part but something to be aware of, keep the crown screwed in as tight as possible.
Lugs: As pointed out before, the lugs help give the watch some stance. Visually they look a little long and I know this has been a gripe with many collectors but I feel that on the wrist the lugs help give the watch some size which is needed.
Strap: Outside of the dial, the most impressive element of the watch is the strap. The strap is a velour leather that is absolutely perfect for this watch. The texturing of the velour strap helps give the watch depth and completes the entire neutral aesthetic. The quality of this strap should come as no surprise to me as I fell in love with the textile strap on the Ahoi but the quality did surprise me. I recommend that you keep the watch on this strap, the pairing is perfect with the only exception being if you plan to swim with this watch (I wouldn’t run the risk of messing up the velour).
I thoroughly enjoyed wearing the new Nomos Club 38 Campus Nacht. This watch is the very ethos of what my blog hopes to capture, affordable timepieces that don’t sacrifice on quality. Coming in at $1650 USD the Campus Nacht is absolutely a steal. You are getting an in-house Nomos movement backed by the overall impeccable quality of the brand. This is the very definition of a “value piece.” Despite my serious praise of this watch I did find some fault, mainly with the lume quality. The lume quality fell short and while I don’t think of Nomos as a “tool watch” brand I do believe that making sure the lume shines in the dark if advertised it should shine. Outside of lume, the size of the watch at 38.55mm was a little smaller than I would have liked on my wrist but this is simply my personal preference. I think 41mm might just be the sweet spot for a watch this thin. In all, Nomos did a great job with the Club Campus series and in particular the Campus Nacht. The Campus Nacht deserves the attention of the market as an affordable watch from a great brand
For more details on the Campus Nacht visit Nomos directly.
Full photo gallery coming soon
A Moment In Time: The Martenero Marquis
This review was a long time in the making and I am glad to say that it is finally complete. American brands are making a resurgence and I am proud to be apart of the movement to bring more attention to the brands that are making it happen on the ground level. I didn’t have to look far to find a great American brand, NYC based Martenero is the brand in question and the watch is the Marquis (38mm).
I have covered Martenero here on Ivy Time before but for those that need a recap, Martenero is an American brand that makes high-customizable automatic watches that don’t break the bank and I mean that (sub- $600 USD). Before I dive head first into my thoughts on the Marquis, I want to provide some background information on the watch and where it fits in the larger Martenero product family. Tracing its roots to dress watches of the past, the DNA of the Marquis is more elegant than its three siblings- the Ace, Founder and Ascent. The dress watch DNA is so apparent when the watch is on the wrist and in my eyes makes this watch truly stand out from a lot of the other automatics at this price-point. If you are interested in the other members of the Martenero family I encourage you to see the rest of their lineup here. I don’t know if that was enough backstory but I am anxious to jump right into my thoughts on every element of this beautiful piece.
Dial- The dial represents an ode to classical watch design. Available in three varieties- white, black and silver, and featuring a combination of Roman numerals and minute indices, the dial is truly understated. Did I mention the dial has a raised index ring? The minute indices are on an inserted ring whereas the Roman numerals sit directly on the dial. Visually this is a super subtle detail but I think it shows how much detail Martenero puts into all of their products. At the end of the day, a dial needs to be legible and I think this particular combination (black dial with orange hands) makes legibility a breeze. One minor criticism of the dial are the two quadrant lines (North-South and East-West), visually I found them to be unnecessary on what I considered to be a great modern take on a dress design.
Hands- I briefly alluded to the hands before but they are truly make or break on a smaller watch such as the 38mm variant of the Marquis. At first take, I think the minute and hour hands are really well done in terms of both size and shape. The dauphine styling goes a long way and pays homage to a bygone era of watch design. The seconds hand on the Marquis is equally as impressive. On the Marquis that I reviewed, the seconds hand was orange but it is also available in dark blue, medium blue and black. I can’t see the other available colors working well with the black dial, but on this particular model the contrast between the black and the orange really sold me.
Case- The 38mm Marquis is just perfect on the wrist. I disclose my bias towards watches in 38mm-42mm range every review but I think with this particular piece 38mm is the right size. Think about for a minute, the Marquis is a hybrid between an everyday wear and a dress watch. Traditionally dress watches are sub 40mm so it makes sense for the Marquis to come in 38mm. While this piece is also available in 42mm honestly, I think a larger case would take away some of the appeal if it was competing for time on my wrist. At 38mm the Marquis is a refined but fully capable and that’s all it needs to be. In regards to case construction, Martenero did a great job as expected. Like most small brands Martenero focuses on the details and they execute them well.
Caseback- The Miyota 9015 is the engine behind the Marquis and Martenero made it visible through a transparent caseback. The transparent caseback is a nice final touch for the Marquis and rounds out a very strong offering. For the detail-oriented among you, take a look at the engraving Martenero did on the movement--- a great added touch!
Crown- The crown on the Marquis is very tactile which benefits the wearer without question. Outside of the general tactile design of the crown, it features the signature Martenero “M.”
Lugs- The lugs blend very well into the overall case which means that on the wrist the Marquis is a pleasure to wear. On a smaller watch, the lugs make a difference. The fact that Martenero didn’t over-engineer this aspect of the watch shows their understanding of functionality and their general tendency for restraint within design. I can appreciate that and I think more importantly, wearers benefit from that when they put the Marquis on the wrist.
Strap- The final variable in the equation is the strap offering. There are so many leather strap options that it wouldn’t even be fair to speak in generalities however, I will say that the standard black leather strap was great. The leather was soft on the wrist and formed to my wrist in a matter of days. A lot could have gone wrong here, the strap could have been too thick or too glossy but Martenero struck the right balance yet again.
Overview- The Marquis is a prime example of how balance can come alive in design. Not too big not too small, not too dressy not too casual. I can’t really think of anything negative to say about this piece in part because the color combinations chosen for this particular watch were spot on. There was just enough of color and flare to each element of this watch that the overall package kept my attention without being distracting. On the wrist, I couldn’t have asked for a more comfortable wear which says a lot. I place the Marquis up there next to the Stowa Antea KS in terms of comfortability, sizing definitely played a role. The 38mm case with well-proportioned lugs and the signature leather strap make the Marquis palatable enough for every appetite. As a minor point of criticism for the Marquis, the lines of the longitude and latitude lines in the center of the dial could be tossed. Otherwise, the Marquis that I reviewed was great. I could truly see myself adding this exact watch to my collection. Ironically enough, that is my hope when I review every watch but sadly oftentimes it isn’t the case. If you haven’t already, give Martenero a look and in particular spend some time with the Marquis--you won’t be disappointed by this modern take on dress design!
See the Marquis here.
Martenero Marquis Watch Specifications
Case- 316L Stainless Steel
Case Dimensions- Variable (38mm as reviewed available in 42mm)
Crystal- Sapphire (Front & Back)
Dial- Roman Numerals and Other Indices
Features- Hour, minute, seconds, date
Movement- Miyota 9015
Watch Strap- Variable Leather Straps (Black Leather as reviewed)
Watch Resistance- 50m
Retail- $595 USD
Martenero Marquis Gallery- Coming Soon!
A Moment In Time: Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Squelette
The year has gotten off to a feverish start. With SIHH still in our short-term memory and Baselworld right around the corner, lots of watch enthusiasts are excited about what 2016 has to offer. Of the many brands that I covered in 2015, one brand in particular got a lot of my attention- Tissot. The Swatch Group brand has become a fan-favorite in part because of their accessibility, affordable prices and and quality designs. Combine their strong offerings with a massive marketing campaign that solidified a number of key partnerships including the NBA, the Rugby World Cup and most recently the Tour de France. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that consumers are reacting positively to these new partnerships. Last year Tissot launched a pretty impressive watch that flew under the radar of many, the Chemin Des Tourelles Squelette. While a few blogs (including Ivy Time) covered the launch of the piece, in-depth reviews of this skeleton automatic have been sparse. At the direct request of a follower I wanted to sink my teeth into this watch and spend a week with it on the wrist.
Before I get underway with my thoughts on this wrist companion, let me provide a quick history on the name. The entire Chemin Des Tourelles collection is named after the street in Le Locle, Switzerland where the original manufacturer was established over 100 years ago and remains to this day. The name alone excites me. It may sound like a stretch but I know that any watch with obvious references to a brand’s history is bound to receive extra attention during the design and manufacturing process, maybe you follow my logic. With this in mind, Tissot set out to blend both classic and contemporary styling into one attractive package and they accomplished just that. At a glance, the Chemin Des Tourelles Squelette is simply mesmerizing mainly because of the skeletonized movement (more about that later). Let’s dive straight in and talk about the dial.
Dial- The biggest selling point of the watch is without a doubt the dial, I would be unwise to say differently. Tissot really put time and thought into the appearance of this dial. What would traditionally be a pretty mundane design with Roman Numeral indices, is completely transformed via the visible ETA 6497-1 movement. You can truly see everything from the center wheel to the winding stem, all of the internals are visible and come to life when the watch is in action. Before reviewing the Chemin Des Tourelles Squelette I generally shied away from skeletonized watches because I didn’t appreciate the design. I felt that skeletonized pieces ultimately sacrificed one of my major selling points on a watch, legibility. While at first I questioned the legibility of the watch because of the visual gravity of the movement, I found the watch to be pretty legible because of the dial size and hands. Outside of the visible movement, blue Roman Numerals and white minute indices round out the dial.
Hands- As mentioned before, the legibility of Chemin Des Tourelles Squelette is a lot better than I had initially expected mainly because of the hands. The hands both hour and minute are large blue swords. I don’t have the exact specs on their size but I found them to be perfect for this 42mm watch. A lot could have gone wrong here, the wrong size, color or shape of the hands could have obstructed the view of the movement. Kudos to Tissot for striking the right balance of size, shape and color on this one.
Case- At 42mm, the watch was a great fit on the wrist despite riding a little bit high on my wrist which I attribute to the brand new leather strap. For a watch that is 42mm it definitely didn’t feel like it on the wrist. I did mention the slight rise caused by the brand new leather band which was my fault for not creasing all the way but after all it was a loaner watch. The main reason why I say the watch didn’t feel like 42mm on the wrist was because of the case thickness which is a mere 11mm. Outside of the high-end luxury world of watches, thin automatic watches are hard to come by and reasonably priced automatics at 11mm are even tougher (definitely not saying they don’t exist). In all, the proportions seemed to be just right on the wrist moreover, I think that if Tissot went any smaller with the case given the skeletonized design things would have been cluttered.
Caseback- Just as beautiful as the dial, the transparent caseback gives the wearer access to the inspiring world of watch manufacturing. The decorated ETA movement was expertly detailed by Tissot to capture the focus of the eye. From the perlage to the visible balance wheel, the details made all the difference of this watch. Truth is, some movements aren’t sexy enough to be visible but Tissot saw an opportunity to make the ETA 6497-1 something that can be appreciated by all collectors.
Crown- Nothing extraordinary here. The crown features the engraved “T” that adorns all Tissot pieces. Sometimes from an aesthetics and functional perspective the crown can be a make or break element. Too small and you run the risk of not being functional, too big and you run the risk of being aesthetically incongruent. Last point on the crown, watching the winding stem turn is out of this world! If you can get your hands on this watch I encourage you to pay action to this action, you will definitely have a greater appreciation for the intricacy of this everyday task.
Bezel- The bezel is very thin and unobtrusive, nothing else to say here.
Lugs- The lugs hug the case tightly and allow for a seamless transition between the case and leather strap. In truth, I really think Tissot envisioned this watch as a modern dress piece to a certain extent. The little details (dial layout, lug size and strap options) make an argument for a modern gent’s dress piece. I know some of you may argue that a skeletonized watch cannot be considered a dress piece not to mention one with a 42mm diameter case but I would ask that you see the watch in person and try it on your wrist before you rush to judgement.
Strap- On this particular model of the Chemin Des Tourelles Squelette, the watch came with a black leather strap. The strap was high quality in usual Tissot fashion with a deployment clasp that is pretty standard for most their automatic offerings (think Visodate). I did find that despite its relatively slim dimensions, the watch sat a little high on the wrist simply because of the stiffness of the leather. Reviewers don’t often include these small details but I didn’t want to crease the leather right off the bat which is why the watch wasn’t totally flush on my wrist. I would suspect that most new owners would probably feel the same way, breaking in a leather strap takes some time and not all leather is created equally.
Overview- The Chemin Des Tourelles Squelette was a visual marvel. Tissot decided to go the route of a skeletonized design and it paid off. While many would initially think the legibility on a skeletonized dial is compromised, I think Tissot got this design right. There is an innate synergy between the hands and indices that allowed the eye to be drawn to the movement without sacrificing complete legibility. Outside of the aesthetic, on the wrist I enjoyed wearing the Chemin Des Tourelles Squelette. I wouldn’t place this as an everyday wear for me because of the dial design but all things considered if you really loved this piece you could make it an everyday wear given the dimensions. The 42mm case feels rather mild on the wrist mainly because of the case thickness of 11mm. Easy on the wrist and easy on the eyes is how I would describe this watch. If there is one negative thing about this watch, the obvious is that the skeleton design isn’t for everyone but I want to share this final anecdote. A friend of mine who is a Rolex Submariner junkie asked me about this piece, tried it on and ultimately liked it. In comparison to the Submariner thickness he was pleasantly shocked to find out that this watch was 42mm. He initially thought the watch had to be around 40mm. This isn’t an apples to apples comparison but I include this story to encourage anyone that is on the fence about this watch to check it out in person because ultimately whatever feels right on your wrist is what belongs there.
Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Squelette Specifications
Case- 316L Stainless Steel
Case Dimensions- 42mm diameter/ 11mm thick
Dial- Skeletonized ETA 6497-1 with Roman Numerals and minute indices with small seconds sub-register
Features- Hour, minute and small seconds
Movement- ETA 6497-1
Watch Strap- Black Leather strap with butterfly deployment clasp
Watch Resistance- 50m
Retail- $2,050 US
A Moment In Time: Reverie Sea-Spirit Anchor Black
Ivy Time loyal I am back at it with another review. As you all know, I have mused at length about the cyclical nature of the watch industry and how reviewing new products during the latter months of the year is a hard task. Fortunately for me I got a chance to spend some time with a pretty handsome watch from a microbrand out of Singapore. The brand in question is Reverie and the watch is the newly launched Sea-Spirit (Anchor Black).
Reverie is the brainchild of Samuel Tay, a seasoned watch collector and entrepreneur. Mr. Tay set out to create a brand that produces “beautiful mechanical watches at fair prices.” This mission has been recited by of hundreds of brands in the past and most certainly will be the same driving force for many brands to come. I say this not as a knock on the work that Mr. Tay is doing with Reverie but rather as as a general observation on the lack of creativity and originality currently on the market. As evidenced time and time again, the relatively low barriers to raising capital has brought a number of brands to market that just don’t belong but what I found with the Sea-Spirit gave me some hope! I won’t continue with my soapbox speech about the current state of the watch market instead, I will be frank about spending some quality wrist time with a brand that is a few month’s old.
The Sea-Spirit is the first collection launched by Reverie and hopefully it won’t be the last. Nautically inspired, the Sea-Spirit has a refined aesthetic that can be appreciated at first glance. The cushion case, sharp typography, small-seconds register and date window come together in a synergistic manner. Noticeable left out of that list was one of the most marketable aspects of the watch, the gillouché dial which brings me to my first point.
Dial- Unfortunately I found the dial to be the biggest point of conflict on the Sea-Spirit. The clean presentation of the typography, shape of the hands and sub-dial (small seconds register) really give off a vintage Panerai look and feel which I can appreciate. All of that simple and refined aesthetic is dampened a bit by the gillouché dial, at least after prolonged time on the wrist. The gillouché design is supposed to mimic the spiralling of waves on the high seas which in theory I can understand. I would have loved to have seen that same pattern on the movement of the watch but not on the dial. The spiraling on the dial takes on a different presentation at every angle that light hits it. At first, I thought this extra step was appealing and made the dial stand out however, after more and more time on the wrist I found it a bit visually distracting. At this price point the dial could be make or break the watch but I ask that you keep reading to see what else the Sea-Spirit has to offer.
Hands- I really enjoyed the hands on the Sea-Spirit. The sword design of both the hour and minute hand are sporty believe it or not. Moreover, the small-seconds hand does its’ job and keeps in line with the broader classic aesthetic of the watch. I would like to point out that the minute and hour hands are lumed which was a nice surprise.
Case- The cushion case makes the Sea-Spirit easy to wear on the wrist. I mentioned vintage Panerai as a reference point but also the Tag Heuer Monza is another contemporary reference point for this case design. At 41mm with a lug-to-lug length of 47mm I found the Sea-Spirit to wear very comfortably on the wrist which I appreciated. The contrast of polished and brushed finishing adds yet another layer of visual detail.
Caseback- More and more brands (that produce automatics) at this price point are considering the transparent caseback as an option. The Miyota 8218 is a good-looking movement that Reverie captures through a transparent caseback. I personally know of a few collectors that won’t buy a watch unless they can see the movement, Reverie checks this box. Last point to mention about the caseback is the inscription “Soli Deo Gloria” which translates to “Glory to God alone”. I found this inscription to be yet another sign that you are getting a high quality piece from a small brand. Can you imagine seeing that kind of detail on a watch from a big name brand?
Crown- The crown on any watch is usually considered a minor detail but from my experience this detail can truly make or break a watch. Reverie exercised some restraint here and produced a crown that matches the watch perfectly. The engraved “R” on the crown and the general size make the crown functional and visually inviting--a great balance to strike.
Bezel- The bezel is the perfect compliment for the dial. The sun-ray brushing draws your eye and adds to the overall classic/dressy presentation of the Sea-Spirit.
Lugs- The lugs of the Sea-Spirit were unobtrusive and well proportioned. There isn’t much else I can say here.
Strap- Mr. Tay put some serious thought into the strap design on the Sea-Spirit and it will pay dividends once the word gets out. Most traditional straps require a tool to release a spring bar which puts tension on lugs and holds the watch strap in place. Reverie took a totally different approach, no tool is needed. Instead the spring bar comes with a release notch that is visible on the underbelly of the strap. Simply apply pressure to the notch and the strap comes loose. This design makes changing straps very convenient. For starters, the Sea-Spirit comes on a black leather strap with white threading and a high grade deployment clasp (engraved). Each of these details are welcomed additions for a watch that is striving for a classic high-end aesthetic. The Sea-Spirit also comes with a black cloth strap that provides a more casual option.
Despite my quips with the gillouché dial I enjoyed having the Sea-Spirit on the wrist. As a nascent brand, Reverie is going the extra mile with the little details and I respect that. From the engraving on the caseback to the deployment clasp and strap changing mechanism you are getting a lot of watch. Not to mention a quality Miyota movement and a refined case designed. For the first watch in the Reverie collection I think Mr. Tay is off to a great start. The watch has unmistakable quality that is seen in brands much more expensive and that is where I think small brands have leverage. Producing higher quality watches than their peers. In all, I was able to put my personal taste aside and appreciate everything that was done right on this watch which is a lot. For $420 USD you are getting a lot of value from a microbrand that is extremely detail-oriented. One detail that I missed earlier is the exclusivity of the Sea-Spirit Anchor Black, only 125 pieces were made (keep that in mind if you like what you see). The Sea-Spirit is one of those pieces you have to see in person to fully appreciate, I don’t know if my pictures will do it justice.
Reverie Sea-Spirit Anchor Black Specifications
Case- 316L stainless steel with polished and brushed finishing
Case Dimensions- 41mm diameter/ 22mm lug width/ 47mm lug-to-lug length
Crystal- Sapphire crystal on dial,
Dial- Gillouché dial with small seconds sub-register
Features- Date, hour, minute and smalls second hands
Movement- Miyota 8218 (transparent caseback)
Watch Strap- Leather with deployment clasp also includes a cloth strap
Water Resistance- 10 ATM
Retail- $420 USD
A Moment In Time: Stowa Aviator TO2
Coming off my most successful review ever- the Nomos Ahoi, I am back at it with another great watch from Germany. This brand makes one of my favorite watches, the Antea KS and I had the pleasure of spending some moments on the wrist with the latest edition to the Stowa family, the Aviator TO2. As most of you know, Germany was the nucleus for pilot watch design and manufacturing during the last century. Naturally the war effort fueled the growth of industry which propelled Stowa to fame. Founded in 1927, Stowa has a legacy that is inextricably tied to the development of the pilot’s watch and it is only fitting that they continue to make these watches in the present. I am tempted to dive into another history lesson but I will spare you that pain.
Off the bat, I was pretty excited when this watch came in. Stowa spent some serious time designing this robust and functional companion that combines past and present. Given their lineage, Stowa knows how to make a pilot’s watch but a lot can go wrong when striving for minimalism. There is a fine line between simplicity and emptiness, thankfully Stowa exercised some great judgement with the TO2 and it shows. The TO2 is a contemporary take on the legendary Flieger design so let’s get down to business.
Dial- There is one word for the dial- contrast. Featuring a matte black lacquered face with pronounced white indices, the dial commands attention. Stowa intentionally reduced the pilot’s watch to its simplest form and the result is a watch that excels in the legibility department. While I found the hands to be my favorite element of the dial, the white indices are a close second.
Hands- I already spoiled the surprise, I really like the hands on the TO2. Hour, minute and second hands are all sword shaped but a restrained non-traditional sword shape. For the astute observer, the hands on the TO2 are the same as the Classic Flieger. Minus the color difference, the hands appeared to be identical to me. Outside of the shape, the overall presentation of the hands give the dial a clean appearance which helps with legibility. I keep referencing legibility in this review but this principle lays at the heart of any pilot’s watch. In previous reviews, I have covered the importance of legibility when it comes to pilot’s watches. If the watch is illegible, the functional use for a pilot is null and void. Stowa did a great job blending the functional with the contemporary and the hands on the TO2 show how exactly how these elements come together.
Case- The brushed stainless steel case of the TO2 exudes the inherent quality of German watchmaking. Quality construction and machining take this watch case to the next level. On the wrist, the case sits flush because its round shape and dimensions. Coming in at relatively subdued 12.3mm in height, the case maintains a slim profile on the wrist and wears well shy of the 43mm case diameter. The watch wears slightly smaller than expected for a 43mm but the watch has meat on its bones that gives the T02 a hefty weight.
Caseback- The caseback is simply fantastic. The flat sapphire crystal exposes a very attractive movement, the ETA 2824-2. This movement has 25 jewels and an industry standard power reserve of 40 hours. I won’t go on for days about the caseback or the movement, but rest assured that Stowa went the extra mile (check out the photos below).
Crown- The crown is rather large for the overall size of the watch. On the wrist as I said before, the watch wore sub-43mm but with a crown this large you can’t help but do a double take. The beveled design of the crown is capped off literally with an engraving of the Stowa logo. Functionally, the crown gets the job down with ease however aesthetically, it appeared a little oversized to me. Overall, TO2 maintains a muted presentation with the exception of the crown size. I think a smaller crown could get the job done while maintaining functionality.
Bezel- The bezel features a very noticeable sloping design. I enjoyed the natural fluidity of the bezel as well as the seamless transition between the bezel and the case. Since the bezel is purely aesthetic rather than functional, there isn’t much else to say without being repetitive yet again.
Lugs- The curved design gives the appearance that the lugs are shorter than they actually are but they fit with the contemporary ethos of the TO2. Curving like a crescent moon, each lug tucks back into the case without fanfare. If I didn’t take a moment to exam them, I would have easily glanced over this impressive feat of engineering.
Strap- The last element of the TO2 is the really strong rubber strap offering. From the material itself to the high quality adjustable deployment clasp, everything about the strap was spot on. I would easily say that this strap should be on a dive watch of greater value. The strap is textured on the inside and smooth on the outside making for a pretty cool visual contrast. Deployment clasps vary just as much as straps they are attached too, but this clasp is different. Taking cues from dive watches instead of fellow aviators, the TO2 clasp is stainless steel and features a sturdy folding mechanism that will ensure the watch stays on the wrist even during the most extreme activities.
The TO2 is a pilot-dive watch hybrid that was enjoyable to wear on the wrist. A restrained melding of contemporary and traditional styling made the TO2 very attractive and most importantly, leigible. Personally, I fell in love with the dial. The muted design tickled my bias towards minimalism. By all accounts this watch is a functional and rugged companion. The 2824-2 movement running the TO2 is a trustworthy engine that won’t fail you. Couple that movement with water resistance of 20 ATM and you have a pilot’s watch that can desk dive and open water dive. The T02 is listed at 43mm but I found the piece to wear a little smaller but heavier than expected. My only gripe with this watch is the crown. Oddly sized, I found the crown to be aesthetically incongruent with the other design elements of this refined piece but alas, there is no right and wrong in matters of taste.
Here is the link to the watch- https://www.stowa.de/Flieger+TO2,i5.htm
Stowa Aviator TO2 Specifications
Case- Stainless steel
Case Dimensions- 43mm diameter/ 12.33mm height
Crystal- Sapphire crystal on dial and caseback
Dial- Black matte lacquered with Superluminova (BWG9) white indices
Features- Hour, minute and second hands
Movement- ETA 2824-2
Watch Strap- Rubber
Water Resistance- 20 ATM
Retail- $1448 USD
A Moment In Time: Dietrich OT-4
Back at it with another review, this time I had a chance to spend time with the OT-4 from Dietrich. The brainchild of designer Emmanuel Dietrich, this brand has quickly become known for bold design and fine craftsmanship. I can say this without hesitation, Emmanuel Dietrich is nothing short of a visionary. His projects span nearly two decades and have taken various forms including knives, furniture and fine jewelry. But today we aren’t here to talk about his body of work instead we are taking a look at his latest horological creation, the OT-4.
The OT-4 otherwise known as the Organic Time 4 is the latest release from Dietrich. Catching the attention of the watch world at Baselworld 2015, I had to see what the hype was for myself. Thankfully, Dietrich was kind enough to let me be among a select few to review the OT-4 before release.
At first glance, the OT-4 looks like a technical masterpiece. The combination of colors, gears and floating indices make the OT-4 very attractive and uniquely Dietrich by design. Over the past few years, I have noticed that Dietrich similar to brand SEVENFRIDAY, has gained a massive following particularly among younger watch enthusiasts and for good reason. Nothing on the current watch market is doing what Dietrich is doing when it comes to styling, craftsmanship and affordability.
Building off the popular design of the OT-1, OT-2 and OT-3, the OT-4 is the latest iteration of Dietrich’s vision. Pictures of the OT-4 dial simply don’t do it justice. The visual depth of the dial cannot be adequately conveyed through a picture and I advise anyone who might purchase the OT-4, to check it out in person (you will be surprised). Let’s be honest here, I am spending a lot of time on aesthetics because that is the main reason why Dietrich products caught our attention but after wearing the OT-4, I realized this watch has more than just handsome looks.
On the wrist, the OT-4 wore comfortably albeit a little bit top heavy at times (more about that later). Without any further delay, let’s take a look at the OT-4 from Dietrich.
Dial- I will lead off with perhaps the most exciting part of the watch-the dial. To start, the OT-4 features a unique four layer design. The first and third layers are sun brushed black while second and fourth layers are brushed dark grey. I keep on going back to the term depth because this is the only term I can think of that captures the essence of this dial in its totality. Hour, minute, small second and 24 hour hands also adorn this dial in a combination of colors that draws the attention of the eye. Other features on the dial side include the visible escapement of the modified Miyota 82-S-7 as well as two sets of minute and hour indices that adorn top and bottom layers. Completing the dial is a custom shaped sapphire glass which contributes to the overall aesthetic.
Hands- All hands on the OT-4 are blued with a skeletonized design. Hour and minute hands also feature classic Tritec C5 Super Luminova. Overall the presentation and design of the hands echo the same industrial innovation as the rest of the OT-4. In particular, the lume on this watch is outstanding.
Case- Outside of the dial, the case has to be the most impressive element of the OT-4 despite its 48mm size which may be offputting to some. Both case and frame are micro-bead blasted ( a huge bonus) 316L stainless steel and coated with grey PVD. The overall color and design of the case are very unique to say the least. Dietrich went to great lengths to make sure the 48mm case of the OT-4 is not only sturdy but also stylish. Also, the case height is 13.7mm which is pretty thin compared to other watches of the same size. Tangentially, I was expecting the OT-4 to mimic the trend of impractical haute-horology that is saturating the watch market in the present. There are a number of new timepieces out there that feature innovative design but lack practical wearability however, the OT-4 isn’t one of them. I found the OT-4 to be just the opposite, the insane amount of detail that Dietrich put into the case gives it a sturdy feel while not tipping the scale. This isn’t just a wrist masterpiece, the watch is actually functional so wear it with confidence.
Caseback- Some quality engraving but the movement isn’t visible from the caseback.
Crown- The crown is double O-Ring sealed and the watch features a 5 ATM water resistance. Additionally, in the aesthetics department the crown echoes the same industrial grey coloring of the case which I liked. My main gripe with the crown is that while it is colored the same, the crown doesn’t embody the same Dietrich craftsmanship as the rest of the case. The beveling and the finish could have been more exaggerated so that grasping the crown was a little easier. A slippery crown makes changing the time a minor task.
Bezel- The carbon forged bezel features stainless steel hex screws that add to the overall industrial flare of the watch. Hex screws are a pretty cool feature that can be seen on watches ten times the sticker price of the OT-4.
Lugs- Dietrich takes a very unique approach to lugs. Formally speaking, there are no lugs on the OT-4, instead the case was designed so a strap can slide through the back and be attached. This design is pretty clever and helps reduce the overall size of the OT-4 on the wrist.
Strap- There are a number of different strap options for the OT-4. The strap I tested was a rubber strap that wore very comfortably on the wrist. Lots can go wrong with a strap especially on a bigger watch. Dietrich put some thought into the rubber strap. They could have easily gone with a very hefty and thick strap to match the overall size of the case. I could also see the OT-4 with a very small strap to balance out the larger case size. Instead, the rubber strap provides a nice middle ground. Not flimsy in the slightest but also not overly stiff.
If you can’t tell by now, I really enjoyed the OT-4 so much so that I would consider buying one for myself. Dietrich design is second to none while maintaining a truly functional disposition. On my wrist 7.5in wrist, I found the OT-4 to be noticeable for sure but not overbearing. A moments the watch felt a little top heavy but it wasn’t nearly as noticeable as a lopsided piece like the Bomberg Bolt 68. Overall the OT-4 was comfortable to wear and I think a lot of that comfort is linked to the amount of detail put into the case construction from its size to the materials used. Outside of the crown I really couldn’t find much I didn’t like about the watch. Admittedly, the OT-4 is not for everyone for a number of reasons mainly size and design. I prefer watches in 38-42mm range with a few exceptions but the OT-4 really charmed me. From the depth of the dial to the construction of the case- everything was well executed. For a 48mm, the weight is great and the absence of lugs make the watch wearable for even smaller wrists. For anyone with an appreciation of design and technological innovation, the OT-4 is flush with a number of conversation starting features. If I do end up purchasing the OT-4, it wouldn’t be my daily wear to the office but I could easily see it as the perfect weekend piece in a casual environment. A minor sidenote, I visited a Tourneau boutique in NYC and everyone was in starstruck. No one had even heard of Dietrich! I enjoy moments like that when you stump some of the most connected watch enthusiasts in the business. As for my thoughts on Tourneau that is for another piece, in the meantime check out the OT-4- Dietrich has a hit with this one.
Last thought, take a look at the packaging. Dietrich pulled out the red carpet treatment and it deserves some recognition. Take a look at the box and what’s inside. SPOILER ALERT!
Dietrich OT-4 Watch Specifications
Case- Micro-bead blasted 316L stainless steel coated with grey PVD
Case Dimensions- 48mm length / 46mm width / 13.7mm height
Crystal- Custom shaped sapphire glass
Dial- Four layered: first and third layers sun brushed black; second and fourth layers vertical brushed dark grey.
Features- Minute, hour, small seconds and 24- hour counter
Movement- Miyota 82-S-7 with visible escapement on dial
Watch Strap- Black rubber strap
Water Resistance- 5ATM
Retail- 1,850 CHF without taxes
*Will be delivered in September.
A Moment In Time: Archimede Pilot 39 H Automatic B-Watch
Happy Independence Day! I have been working all week to churn out this review just in time for those of you that have a couple minutes to spare during the weekend festivities. Let me preface this review by saying that I have always been fascinated with pilot’s watches but have never taken time to demystify the legend and lore surrounding them.
Pilot’s watches date back to the first days of aviation over a century ago. It all started with the Cartier Santos which has the distinction of being the first watch specifically designed for pilots. Let that sink in for a moment, most of you would probably associate Breitling, IWC, Rolex, or even Omega with having that distinction but in fact Cartier was the first. Introduced in 1904 the Santos was a namesake for one of Louis Cartier’s beloved friends, aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. Alberto complained to Cartier about the difficulty of using a pocket watch mid-flight and thus Cartier developed a wristwatch to meet his needs. During his era, Alberto’s larger than life persona drew a frenzy of media attention similar of that to an aviator Howard Hughes who would gain fame decades later. Because of the attention Alberto received, his non-traditional wristwatch was thrust into the international spotlight as well, thus the pilot’s watch was born.
Over the following decades, the pilot’s watch would move away from its stylish roots and would become a more functional tool for aviators worldwide. Features such as luminous hands, and rotating bezel would be added years later making the pilot’s watch a highly coveted timepiece. As someone with a degree in history you have to indulge me when I take time to consider the historical elements of any topic I am writing about. Now that you know a little more about the origin of these watches, I won’t bore you with another history lesson so let’s dive straight into the review.
For this segment of “A Moment In Time” I spent some great on-wrist time with my first pilot’s watch, the Archimede Pilot 39 H Automatic B-Watch. Archimede is a German brand followers of the blog should be familiar with. In the past I reviewed the Sporttaucher 60 from Archimede which was a fan favorite. This time around I am taking a look at another staple of their brand, a member of the pilot watch collection and in this case a very stylish yet understated one.
At first glance the Archimede Pilot 39 H Automatic B-Watch embodies the design of pilot’s watches from WWII and that isn’t coincidental. The name of this watch gives away a few clues that deserve some consideration. This particular model is a direct descendent of the historic B-Uhr pilots' watches that gained fame during the WWII era. These watches accompanied German bombers on their infamous "Blitz" of 1940-1941. The B-Uhr styling has influenced an untold number of pilot watch designs.
Echoing that same tone, this watch is a simple three hand design without the bells and superfluous whistles that cluster the dials of its modern counterparts. In watch circles it is commonly held that the hardest design to pull off is in fact the simplest watch design. A watch with a round case featuring two or three hands. Believe it or not, because these watches tend to fall on the minimalist end of the spectrum the design elements that are present have to be flawlessly executed. Personally, I wanted the watch as bare-bones as possible which is why I opted for the dial without the Archimede logo. For the true pilot watch enthusiast, (correct me if I am wrong) but the most important features are legibility, reliability and accuracy in no particular order. After spending some quality time with this piece I think it has those critical elements.
Dial- The dial was done with considerable attention to detail and function. What good is a pilot’s watch if the pilot cannot tell time? From the arabic numerals to the other indices that adorn the dial, the proportions are spot on and extremely legible.The strikingly simple execution of the dial makes the Pilot 39 a handsome watch to say the least. While I don’t want to get caught up purely in aesthetics, but the aesthetics of the watch give contribute to its functionality.
Hands- As previously mentioned the watch is understated through and through, the hands are no exception. Hour, minute and second hands are all blue with white luminous inserts that shine bright as can be. In terms of legibility in low light conditions, the lume is exactly what I expected for a very functional pilot’s watch thanks to Superluminova C3. Look out for some low light lume shots posted over the next few days.
Case- Coming in at a svelte 39mm the case is a brushed stainless steel instead of polished which fits in with the era. It is worth noting that the watch comes in a number of other case sizes- 36mm, 42mm and 45mm. I would be remiss if I did not mention that Archimede has gained international attention for bronze case models in 39mm and 42mm. Per my expectations, the case construction was taken very seriously by Ickler and this watch embodies that craftsmanship. On another note, I found the watch to wear a bit smaller (my wrist is 7.5in) than 39mm through a combination of weight, lug length and case thickness. On the topic of case thickness the watch comes in a compact 9.9mm. For some of you that may be perfect for me the 42mm would probably be just right.
Caseback- The caseback is transparent but nothing terribly special here (a solid caseback option is available). Powering the watch is the ETA 2824-2 movement which is known for its reliability and use across the industry. This particular ETA movement is used by brands from Hamilton to Kobold.
Crown- Fitting in with the B-Uhr styling, the crown has a lot to offer in the way of function and historical accuracy. The crown is an union shape with tactile metaling that makes adjusting the time and winding the watch very easy. Archimede could have easily botched this watch with an oversized crown but they aired on the side of caution and the watch is all the better for it.
Bezel- The bezel is raised from the rest of the case and slightly tapered. Altogether the machining of the bezel was done with the same astute attention detail present in other elements of the watch.
Lugs- The lugs are incredibly understated on this watch. Overall lug-to-lug length is 45mm which is pretty compact by most standards. The lugs are unobtrusive and hold tight to the wrist which once again add to the overall compactness of the piece.
Strap- Outside of the general smaller feel, my other concern was the leather strap. Aesthetically, the strap gets the job done. White threading and a Archimede labeled clasp give the strap a quality feel however, in terms of function I desired a little bit more. The leather sides of the strap began to fray slightly after one of two uses which was surprising. For me the strap didn't make or break the watch by any means but I would recommend something a little more robust if you want to make this an everyday wear.
The Archimede Pilot 39 H Automatic B-Watch is well-executed homage to a bygone era in aviation. The B-Uhr styling is readily apparent from the first glance to the moment it touches your wrist. On the wrist, the watch wears smaller than 39mm which is something to note. Going into this review, I thought 39-40mm was the perfect size for my 7.5in wrist but it truly depends on the other dimensions of the watch such as lug length and case thickness. Compact on the wrist, the watch accomplishes its three major tasks- legibility, reliability and accuracy. The ETA 2824-2 movement is known industry wide for being reliable and accurate. Combine this movement with the very simple/legible design of the dial, and you have a great package. I really appreciated the lengths Archimede went to make this piece historically accurate. Despite my gripes with the leather strap, I would recommend this watch to anyone looking for a very affordable B-Uhr style pilot's watch. This watch gets the job done while remaining true to its historical roots.
Here is a direct link to the watch- http://www.archimede-watches.com/watches/pilot/automatic-39h.html
For those of you that want some more info on the history of pilot’s watches check this extensive article written by Monochrome- http://monochrome-watches.com/the-history-of-the-pilot-watch-part-five-b-uhr/
Archimede Pilot 39 H Automatic B-Watch Specifications
Case- Stainless steel, brushed finish
Case Size- 39mm
Lug-to-lug Length- 45mm
Case Thickness- 9.9mm
Crystal- Sapphire crystal
Dial- Black, with luminous numerals and indexes. Blue hands with white luminous Superluminova C3.
Movement- ETA 2824-2
Watch Strap- Black leather strap with rivets
Water Resistance- 5ATM
Retail- $650 USD
A Moment In Time: Shinola Rambler 44mm
I am beginning to sense a trend here, American watchmaking is making a comeback.
Recently I had the pleasure of doing a brand spotlight on NYC brand Martenero, in the past I have also covered the Weiss Watch Co. and this time I am back for another look at Shinola. For those of you who follow the blog and the watch industry at large the name Shinola is not new to you. Shinola is a Detroit based manufacturer of leather goods, bicycles, and watches, the latter of which is our primary concern today.
For this edition of “A Moment In Time” I had the pleasure of reviewing the Shinola Rambler. Admittedly, I am not a stranger to the brand and bring a certain level of bias both positive and negative that I have to admit right off the bat. The Shinola Runwell Sport 42mm was the first watch I reviewed for the blog way back in September. In addition to doing a review of the Runwell Sport I also owned a Shinola Runwell 40mm for a few months. While I found myself an early adopter of the brand being attracted to the American brand image however, I just didn’t find the Runwell 40mm to be a practical everyday wear for my active lifestyle. It was the perfect size, but just a tad too delicate for my liking. I preface my review with these remarks to acknowledge my bias but also to say that my thoughts on the Rambler are candid. Some of the other pieces I have reviewed in the past have the distinction of being my first impression of the brand and with Shinola this is simply not the case. Hopefully through this minor digression, you can tell that I want to be as fair and honest with this review as possible.
Let me begin by saying that the newly released Rambler surpassed my expectations. After my lukewarm response to the whimsical Runwell Sport 42mm, my hopes weren’t set very high for this latest edition to the Shinola family. Fortunately, the watch proved me wrong and I am happy to admit that. Before I even unboxed this watch I was expecting a 44mm behemoth that was both heavy and oversized. I was expecting this piece to swallow my wrist and look unsightly to say the least. Despite all of my preconceived notions of how this watch would actually wear, I was excited at the possibility of reviewing my first watch with a GMT complication. Not to mention Shinola’s new 515.24 Argonite movement.
The Rambler is Shinola’s first attempt at a GMT complication. The origins of the GMT complication date back to the 1950’s and little company named Rolex (some of you may know them). This complication allows wearers to tell time in two distinct time zones. In the present, the GMT complication is seen throughout the industry from ultra-luxury to entry-level. Personally, outside of the chronograph complication I find the GMT complication to be the most useful of all complications on an everyday wear. With this being said, I was happy to see Shinola take this next step and introduce a new complication. The Rambler collection as it stands now is available in five different varieties. I spent some wrist time with the Shinola Rambler 44mm in black. Without any further ado, here is a review of this latest Shinola timepiece.
Dial- Shinola definitely put some thought into the design of the dial. The black face of the dial coupled with the Super-LumiNova hands and indices makes the time easy to read in all conditions. My one big critique of the dial is the magnified date window. The dial is black, the date window is black however, the date indicator is white. I found the date hard to read from certain angles and in certain indirect lighting conditions. This issue isn’t endemic to all models but on this particular model it was noticeable enough to call my attention. A date window can make or break a watch especially a tool watch such with a GMT complication. Ideally Shinola go with a white date window keeping all other variables the same. This contrast would make the date indicator more legible and therefore functional. All in all, the dial is very strong minus the date window.
Hands- Adding to the overall appeal of the dial are the hands of the watch- second, minute, hour and GMT. The second hand is the traditional Shinola orange while the hour and minute hands are silver swords with lume inserts. Of all the hands on the watch the GMT hand is the most appealing and deserves the most attention. The GMT hand is capped off with a triangle in Shinola orange. This hand is not only distinguishable but also the width of the hand itself makes telling time (second time zone) a breeze. A lot could have gone wrong here with the GMT hand but Shinola exercised a bit of restrain and the Rambler is all the better for it.
Case- Maintaining the brand image of Shinola, the Rambler is a well-made watch featuring high quality stainless steel. The Rambler case is barrel shaped which helps the watch wear comfortably. On the model I reviewed (Rambler 44mm in black) the case was polished however, on other Rambler models the cases are brushed. Overall, the case on the Rambler exudes Shinola craftsmanship and comfortability. The barrel shape case hugs the wrist and reduces the distance between the case and the strap making for an enjoyable on wrist experience.
Caseback- Nothing fancy on the caseback. The usual Shinola markings with the serial number and other relevant information such as water resistance. Using quartz movements Shinola (to my knowledge) has yet to use transparent casebacks. Not really a surprise there.
Crown- For a GMT complication the crown is vitally important as this is how the complications operates. Outside of the aesthetics which feature the hallmark Shinola lightning bolt, the crown is worth mentioning. The crown works on a two position system. The first position if the crown is rotated clockwise, the date changes. If rotated counterclockwise in the first position the GMT hand moves. The GMT hand is painted in the iconic Shinola orange on all Rambler models which is a nice added touch. For the second position, the primary hour and minute hands are activated. Overall, the way Shinola treated this crown especially on a GMT complication was on point.
Bezel- The bezel is a 24-hour bezel which is standard for a watch with a GMT complication. Additional features include a luminescent insert at the 24 hour mark and a bi-directional design. One important aspect to note about the bezel is the stiffness of the rotation. Rotating the bezel in either direction was a task so much so that initially I thought the bezel was fixed.
Lugs- As mentioned before, the Rambler case is barrel shaped with curved lugs that caress the wrist. The integration of the lugs and the case is truly seamless. Often lugs are looked over when reviewing a watch but on a watch of this size the lugs and general wearability of the watch are paramount. On the wrist the curved lugs helped reduce the overall bulk of the watch, a pleasant surprise.
Strap- Possibly the highlight of the Rambler was the 22mm black rubber strap. The strap was amazing on the wrist, and by far one of the best rubber straps I have worn. Shinola in conjunction with Stern Rubber Company out of Minnesota came up with a unique rubber formula that is hand mixed and hand molded. Normally, I wouldn’t spend any time looking at the origins of a given strap or bracelet but in this case Shinola went out of their way to create a quality product with another American manufacturer. Manufacturing aside, the product stands on its own and I highly encourage everyone to check out these rubber straps for themselves. In terms of durability and comfortability I haven’t seen a rubber strap offering come close to this product in the sub-$1000 USD price range.
What admittedly I thought would be a clunker on the wrist turned out to be a very capable and wearable tool watch from Shinola. The Rambler stands at a large 44mm but you would never know this by how the watch wears. Shinola went to great lengths to make sure this watch was just right. From the tonneau (barrel) shaped case to curved lugs and high-quality rubber strap, Shinola hit all the right spots. Outside of a poorly executed magnifying window on this particular model, the Rambler could easily be a stalwart travel companion for even the most discerning watch enthusiast. While a few may scoff at the price-point, I can't think of another GMT complication from an American watch company for less than $1000 USD. Give this watch a look, many of you will be surprised.
Here is a direct link to the specific model I reviewed http://www.shinola.com/shop/new-arrivals/black-rambler-44mm-157.html
The Rambler 44mm Specifications
Case- Stainless steel, polished finish
Case Size- 44mm
Crystal- Sapphire crystal
Dial- Black with Super-LumiNova hands and indices
Movement- Shinola Detroit-built Argonite 515.24H quartz movement
Watch Strap- Custom rubber strap made by Stern Manufacturing in Staples, MN
Band Width- 22mm
Depth Rating- 10ATM
Retail- $750 USD
A Moment In Time: Christopher Ward Harrison C9 5-Day Automatic
Reviewing watches is an iterative process that I am just beginning to get used to. I often get the question, what do I look for when reviewing a watch. This question is not as simple as it may seem. Usually I take a step back to answer. My answer recounts the standard industry-wide metrics - wearability, design, function, etc. but also I consider what drew me to a particular watch. If a given piece has a new outstanding in-house movement, I naturally focus on the movement. The example of an in-house movement was not by happenstance, for this edition of “A Moment In Time” I have the pleasure of showcasing the Harrison C9 5 Day Automatic by Christopher Ward (CW).
I recently covered the launch of a CW boutique here in the states and figured that I would follow up that article with a review of a watch that has gotten a lot of attention recently, the Harrison C9 5 Day Automatic featuring the in-house SH21 movement. As some of you may know, CW is a relatively new presence in the world of watches. Originally created in 2004, by Peter Ellis, Mike France, and Chris Ward, the brand has managed to hit some major milestones in a short period of time. I won’t bore you with details about their history and founding mission but I will say that the brand is pretty unique and they deserve some credit for what they are trying to accomplish. If you are interested in learning more about the brand check out their website-
Admittedly, I am definitely not an expert on watches or watch movements, I am forever a pupil. The study of horology is an outgoing process and my relationship with watches is pretty new to say the least. With this in mind, I believe my insight when it comes to reviews lacks the frills and formality of other reviewers and titans in the industry. I say all of this as a disclaimer that my knowledge of watch calibres is pretty limited so forgive me now. Instead of doing some comparative analysis of the SH21 movement and another in-house movement, I plan to look at the elements of the watch that appealed to me.
Because of this pioneering technology, I feel a need to say at least a few words about the SH21. The brainchild of Johannes Jahnke, the SH21 is an amalgam of 164 different parts. This innovative piece of modern horology has a 120-hour power reserve and most importantly for our purposes the movement is priced under €1500. Let me repeat that, a 5 day power reserve, for under €1500.
While many of you may not be caught up in the “in-house” movement of the watch, CW is offering a ton of value for the price- let’s explore. The Harrison C9 5 Day Automatic is an elegant dress watch offered in a number of dial and strap options. Dial colors ranging from blue to white and charcoal as well as straps both leather and stainless steel, as a whole the C9 5 Day Automatic collection features a piece for even the most discerning palate. For this review, I was able to spend time with the white dial model on a black leather strap.
After unboxing the watch my initial impression was shock both positive and negative. I loved contrast between the white dial and blue hands, the combination is stunning to see in person. Understated for sure but very well-done. On the other hand, I was really surprised at the size of this watch. I don’t want to lend my voice to the ongoing conversation about watch size and whether bigger or smaller is better. I will simply say that for a dress watch, the C9 5 Day Automatic is slightly larger than most dress watches coming in at 43mm. With this in mind, the dial size was not a problem but the thickness of the watch- 13.45mm, proved to be a little clunky for my wrist.
Without any further ado let’s take a look at the various elements of the Harrison C9 5 Day Automatic.
Dial- For me, the biggest sell on this watch is the dial. CW managed to blend simplicity with function while also providing a visual contrast with a great combination of colors. Roman numerals at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock as well as a date-window at 3 o’clock accent the subdued dial in just the right way.
Hands- The hour, minute, and second hands are all thin needle shaped. Hour and minute hands are both a pearlescent blue while the second hand is silver. The hands on the C9 are suited for functionality. Because the C9 is a COSC certified chronometer, precision is of the utmost importance. Hand sizing and color make legibility a breeze.
Case- Altogether the case features the showcases the same quality craftsmanship that is evident in all elements of the watch. The hand finished 316L stainless steel maintains the general simplicity that CW aspires to. A high level of detail is apparent in the case, as well as the visible caseback. While as a whole the case is well-done, I did have a problem with the thickness of the case. The case of the C9 comes in at 13.45mm, as a point of comparison the Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar is 13mm thick. For a dress watch, I would expect CW to consider the depth of the case a little more in the design and production of this movement. The case certainly fits under a cuff but the watch rides high on the wrist, an unlikely characteristic of dress watches. By far the thickness of the case was the biggest turn-off for me despite my general enthusiasm for this offering.
Caseback- As previously mentioned, the caseback is visible. CW made sure that wearers got to see their first in-house movement, the SH21. Aesthetically, the SH21 is relatively subdued. The movement is adorned with 31 jewels however, only a few jewels are visible from the outside. In this regard, CW could have done a bit more to make the movement more visually appealing.
Bezel- The polished stainless steel bezel flows with the overall design of the case. Nothing truly outstanding to note here.
Lugs- The C9 is a pretty hefty watch so the lugs are naturally proportional. The lugs are angular without being too blocky however, they did not prevent the watch from riding high on the wrist.
Strap/Buckle- Outside of the case thickness, the strap was my only pain point with the C9. The strap itself is great, the genuine alligator leather from Louisiana deserves some serious praise. My problem with the strap is the adjustment mechanism. To adjust the size of the strap, you have to pinch the leather on both sides to clear it from under triangular stops on either side. I noticed this caused the bracelet to crease easily and after a few adjustments, the strap showed signs of wear. Obviously not everyone will have to make multiple adjustments to size the strap correctly but at this price point I have to consider the potential use cases of my readers.
CW did a great job with the production of their first in-house movement. Johannes Jahnke and the rest of the CW managed to pull off the unthinkable, an in-house movement on a COSC certified chronometer all for under $2000 USD. The C9 is a beautiful piece that I could definitely see as a unique buy for someone seeking a bigger dress watch with a great story behind it. While the thickness of the case as well as the adjustment mechanism for the strap were drawbacks for me, I can see this watch appealing to the masses. At the sub- $2000 USD price point there is a lot of competition however, I don’t know of many brands producing COSC certified chronometers with in-house movements at that price. In many ways, this watch stretches the upper bound of the price point I usually cover but because of the innovative SH21 movement, CW deserves our attention. Overall the watch is a strong offering from a relatively new brand that managed to accomplished a monumental feat in the world of watches within a very short period of time.
Here is a direct link to the C9 model I reviewed-
Harrison C9 5 Day Automatic Specifications
Case- Hand finished 316L stainless steel
Case Size- 43mm
Case Thickness- 13.45mm
Crystal- Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
Dial Color- White
Function- Hours, minutes, and date
Movement- SH21 (in-house movement)
Strap- Genuine Louisiana Alligator Leather
A Moment In Time: Archimede Sporttaucher 60
The review process is pretty iterative but I am working on streamlining things so I can deliver valuable content faster. Hopefully through these reviews, I am not only showcasing quality products but also providing an informal introduction to some really strong brands. For this review I have returned once again to Germany. Germany has added a distinct flavor to the narrative of watchmaking and it is worth note. ICKLER the brand in focus today, has been in the business of making watch cases for nearly 90 years. ICKLER deserves some more attention so let’s take a look at on great watch from Archimede, a brand under the Ickler umbrella.
Admittedly, my first experience with the Archimede was through Worn&Wound. The blog has covered a number of products from Archimede with great success. After looking through their offerings, I was taken by the design of one specific watch. Ickler was extremely responsive to my request to review one of their signature dive watches so here we are today.
The Sporttaucher 60 is a dive watch offered in a number of bezel, dial and strap variations (as well as a GMT function). I got a chance to spend some wrist time with the Sporttaucher 60, featuring a stainless steel case and 60 min bezel display. For those of you interested in a boutique dive watch this may be the one.
My first impression of the watch was that it reminded me of the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean. The bezel, dial, case, and crown all are very reminiscent of the much more expensive legendary dive watch from Omega. Although I haven’t spent any time with the Seamaster Planet Ocean it is easy to note the aesthetic similarities. Because I am not a professional diver, my fascination with divers is purely design-based rather than functional. Without any further ado, here is my review of the Archimede Sporttaucher 60.
Dial- There is a lot to like about the watch but the dial is design is a mixed bag. While features like strong lume and appealing typography are big pluses, the date window falls short of expectations by a long shot. The date window is placed at 4 o’clock which is pretty uncommon for dive watches. Visually the date window just appears to be out of place and creates further imbalance on the dial. While the other indices and Arabic numerals flow well with the overall presentation of the dial, the oddly placed date window is the biggest hurdle to get over with the watch as a whole.
Hands- The hour and minute hand are both sword shaped (traditional for dive watches). Additionally, the lume on the hour and minute hands is very bright in low light conditions. I would expect this from a tool watch but I think they went above and beyond. Lastly, the Sporttaucher 60 features a red sweeping seconds hand which nicely compliments the color layout of the dial.
Case- Probably the strongest component of the watch is the case design. As previously stated this is my first ICKLER watch and I was very impressed by the craftsmanship of the case. Brushed stainless steel was definitely the way to go with this particular watch. With a diameter of 41.5mm and a thickness of 12mm the watch is definitely robust but not to a fault.
Caseback- While the watch is powered by the Swiss made SW 200-1, the caseback is stainless steel preventing any view of the movement.
Bezel- The bezel on the Sporttaucher 60 is one of its strongest features. Featuring a 60-min scale, the bezel insert is simple yet sporty. Additionally, etched ridges adorn the bezel making rotating quick and easy. Overall, there is a lot to like about the bezel, it happens to be one feature on the watch where you can see the level of detail this brand strives for.
Lugs- Lugs are unobtrusive and pretty small given the overall shape of the case.
Crown- The positioning of the crown is a little unorthodox but it is not a hazard. The crown functions as expected and is very solid. Once again, the ridges that adorn the bezel are present on the crown which make setting the time/date a pleasurable experience. Some crowns lack the tactile nature or girth of the Sporttaucher 60 which makes adjusting the watch a task. Fortunately, these folks got it right.
Strap- Probably my favorite feature of the watch is the strap. Job well-done. The Sporttaucher 60 features a leather strap with a rubberized backside that felt amazing on the wrist. Oftentimes, brands skimp out on the strap offering and rely solely on the craftsmanship of the watch to really capture a buyer. The aftermarket strap industry is booming and wearers have a number of options at their disposable. Among key features of straps are comfort, and design. Not every strap or bracelet is meant for every occasion, that goes without saying. With all of this in mind, as a dive watch this strap option is really spot on. In both categories, style and comfort, Archimede excels. Because of the comfort of the strap, I found myself wearing the Sporttaucher 60 everywhere. The black leather with white stitching is very attractive but the rubberized backside seals the deal in the comfort department.
ICKLER has been producing quality watch cases for over 90 years. The Sporttaucher 60 is a strong example of ICKLER quality and German design. For those looking for a very comfortable and reliable dive watch, the Sporttaucher 60 may be the watch for you. While the placement of the date window could be a deal breaker for many, there is a lot to like with the overall package. Vibrant lume, and functional design (bezel, and crown), coupled with a very comfortable strap offering make this watch a serious contender for a daily wear. Once again, I am impressed with another product from Germany. Definitely consider the Sporttaucher 60 if you are in the market for a boutique dive watch, you are confidently buying a great watch with lots of history.
Here is a look at the whole Sporttaucher 60 lineup- http://www.archimede-watches.com/watches/automatic-sporttaucher/60.html
Archimede Sporttaucher 60 Specifications
Case- Brushed Stainless Steel
Case Size- 41.5mm
Crystal- Sapphire with double sided anti-reflective coating
Dial Color- Black with red and white indices/arabic numerals
Functions- Hour, minute, second, and date
Movement- SW 200-1
Strap- Black leather with rubberized backside and stainless steel buckle
Retail- $823 USD shipped to U.S. *Price varies based on shipping location.
Archimede Sporttaucher 60 Gallery
A Moment in Time: Bomberg Bolt-68 Chronograph
I’m back and very excited to have more time to devote to the blog over the next few weeks. As promised, tons of new content is on the way ranging from general watch news, reviews, and beyond. My hope is to offer some great insight into the world of watches for those looking to buy a watch as the perfect holiday gift.
For this review, I had the pleasure of spending a few days with a relatively new brand- Bomberg. Bomberg is a very new company chaired by industry veteran and watch enthusiast, Rick De La Croix. Rick has spent a considerable amount of time working in various roles across the watch industry. Currently, in addition to his role as Chairman of Bomberg, Mr. De La Croix is President of Hublot Latin America. I could write ten articles about Hublot and their recent rise to fame but I will spare you, instead I provide this background information so you can understand the DNA of this brand. Bomberg is a hyper masculine brand that is catering to young men with a little extra money to spend. As of earlier this year, Bomberg launched its second watch the Bolt-68 collection.
The Bolt-68 collection features a bullhead design very similar to the Omega Seamaster Bullhead’s of the 1970’s. In addition to the bullhead design, the Bolt-68 also doubles as a pocket watch complete with chain and medallion. Originally, what attracted me to this brand was their heavy marketing campaign. Everywhere I turned I saw Bomberg ads and that sparked my interest. After having the watch on my wrist for a few days I can see why the masses love these pieces.
As I have made apparently clear by now, I am a fan of minimalist watches that are usually smaller than 42mm. The Bolt-68 by all metrics is a behemoth watch coming in at 45mm. The case diameter coupled with a striking dial design make this piece an instant eye-catcher.
Dial- I opted for the all black dial with grey indices. The dial has a lot going on. For some this could be great for others this could be a deal breaker. At first glance, I thought the dial was a little cluttered but then again, I realized this watch is meant to be a true chronograph. Dial features include a scrolling date window, 1/10th sub-dial, 60-second sub-dial, and a 30-minute sub-dial. Outside of true chronographs such as the Rolex Daytona, most chronos on the market have overlapping sub-dials and this is the case with the Bolt-68. The dial is highly legible and adds to the overall utilitarian function of the watch. As a whole, the presentation of the dial isn’t too bad considering the larger than life aesthetic of the brand, it could benefit from smaller Arabic numerals and smaller sub-dials.
Crystal- This is my first time noting the crystal of a watch and I am doing so because Bomberg did something the right way. Bomberg uses a K1- mineral crystal instead of a sapphire (I plan to write an article about the differences in crystal materials). However, Bomberg gives the mineral crystal a sapphire coating to improve resistence. More impressively, they applied 1 layer of non-reflecting treatment which reduces any potential glare.
Hands- The hands are a bit large however, their size makes the hour and minute legibility very consistent given the other functions on the dial. Adding to the design of the hands, is a Bomberg counterweight that adores the second hand. One of the more appreciated features of the watch is the lume on the hands/dial. Both the hands and a number of the dial indices are adorned with a white lume that glows green in low light conditions. The green lume is by far one of the most unique hues I have seen on a watch.
Case- Without a doubt, the case is the most important design element of this watch and it deserves serious examination. To begin, as previously mentioned the Bolt-68 functions as both a wristwatch and an independent pocket watch. The stainless steel 316L case features an uncommon knurled finish. This style of finishing adds to the overall industrial feel of the piece and gives the case heft. Outside of the finishing, the case features two large pushers and a crown at the 12 o'clock position. Each of the pushers is conveniently labeled “start/stop” and “reset” respectively. The placement and size of the crown make adjusting the time a chore. Ideally, the crown makes adjusting time easy but the nubby crown of the Bolt-68 appeared to be a design afterthought. Outside of the crown, the case is the strongest element of the Bolt-68.
Bezel- The polished bezel offers a striking contrast against the knurled case. It is a small but welcomed feature that speaks to the craftsmanship of the Bomberg products.
Lugs- The lugs were essentially non-existent. As a whole the watch is very heavy but still balanced on the wrist.
Strap- The genuine leather strap looks great but it just didn’t cut it for me. My general feeling was that the strap was bulky and stiff. Nonetheless, it serves a function and secures the Bolt-68 to your wrist. There is a lot of weight behind the watch and your average Horween leather strap would probably fall short of getting the job done. That being said, I believe a better balance could have been struck between functionality, and size.
Additional Features- Along with the watch itself, the Bolt-68 comes with a chain and medallion to convert the wristwatch into a pocket watch. I didn’t use this functionality for whatever reason but for some this could be a nice added touch.
The Bomberg Bolt-68 is a quartz powered (Ronda 3540D) beast. Appealing to male audiences worldwide, the Bolt-68 simply wasn’t for me. Having said that, there is a lot Bomberg offers here- if you can get over the quartz problem. Featuring a number of great chronograph features, the watch is a robust timer (on the wrist or in the pocket). The knurled case adds to the industrial design, while the bullhead styling gives the watch an old-school feel. Without a doubt, the Bolt-68 is most eye-catching watch I have reviewed to date. Although the watch was not for me, I can truly appreciate what Bomberg is trying to do with its craftsmanship and marketing efforts. Bomberg is offering great of craftsmanship and a design that is second to none in the haute horology space. For a price that is sub-1000 USD depending on the model, watch lovers would be hard-pressed to find a more affordable competitor with the same functionality and styling.
Bomberg Bolt-68 Chronograph Specifications
Case- Stainless Steel 316L (polished)
Case Size- 45mm
Dial Color- Black with nickel colored indices
Dial- Arabic numerals, date window, 1/10th sub-dial, 60-second sub-dial, and a 30-minute sub-dial
Functions- Hour, minute, chronograph, date,
Movement- Ronda 3540D (Quartz)
Strap- Black Genuine Leather with stainless steel buckle
Band With- 22mm
Retail Price-$795- $3995 USD depending on model
Bomberg Bolt-68 Chronograph Gallery
A Moment In Time: Stowa Antea KS (Kleine Sekunde)
Recently, my schedule has been a bit hectic so I have been pretty slow adding new content. Fortunately, a diverse group of brands are interested in the blog and have sent me some great new pieces. In the days and weeks to come expect a number of really exciting reviews and watch news just in time for the Holidays. For this edition of “A Moment In Time” I got a chance to review a watch from the German manufacturer, Stowa.
Stowa was founded in 1927 by Walter Stroz. For those of you unfamiliar with German watchmaking hopefully this is your first introduction into a great legacy of craftsmanship and minimalist design. Brands such as Junghans, A. Lange & Sohne, and the newcomer Nomos come to mind when thinking about Germany and horology. For over 80 years, Stowa has consistently produced affordable products with outstanding quality. Admittedly, Stowa and for that matter most German brands occupy a very boutique status in the minds of American watch enthusiasts. Hopefully, this review will help demystify the brand and attract more loyal followers into the fold.
The Stowa Antea KS (Kleine Sekunde) is Bauhaus an archetype. Mentioned in my other article on German brand Junghans, the Bauhaus School of Design was a fine arts school in Germany from 1919-1930. The iconic minimalism that emerged from this school permeates various aspects of contemporary art and material design. Stowa’s manufacturing of the Antea KS emanates this design aesthetic in the best ways possible.
My first impression of the watch was seeing this the Antea KS on the Stowa website. Although my wrists are on the smaller end of the spectrum, I shy away from watches smaller than 38mm. Admittedly, I am not a fan of smaller watches partially because of legibility partially because of their weight on wrist. Good weight, albeit a very intangible factor to standardize in the watch buying process, is something I look for as a symbol of quality craftsmanship. Upon arrival, this watch became an instant favorite not only because of its’ design but also because of wearability.
Dial- I opted for the black dial Antea KS. The overall presentation of the dial is second to none. Simple arabic numerals (white) and sharp minute indices (white) accompany a tastefully placed seconds sub-dial (white). Without a date window, the black dial remains uncluttered and very legible. Honestly, the dial is probably the strongest point of the piece. One minor concern was the lack of visibility in low light conditions, there is no lume anywhere on the dial. This point might be a little nit-picky especially for a manually wound watch at this price point but it is something to note. Outside of this minor concern, the dial has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.
Hands- Falling in line with the rest of the dial, the three hands on the Antea KS are very understated. The hour, minute, and second hands are rounded swords that are a pearlescent white. For both the main dial and the sub-dial, the white hands on the black dial certainly complement the overall Bauhaus design.
Case- The case features 316L stainless steel. Showcasing minimalist design once again, the case is very strong with straight lines and level angles. Coming in at just 35.5 mm, the case actually wears more like a 38mm.
Caseback- Behind the Antea KS is a great manually wound movement- the ETA 7001. For the price, Stowa is offering a lot of value. The caseback gives watch enthusiasts an in-depth look at a highly reliable manual movement. Aesthetically, the movement is inscribed with “Stowa” and adorned with a number of tastefully placed jewels. This amount of value hovering around the $1000 USD price point is extremely rare, and I am pleased to see Stowa set the standard.
Bezel- Minimalist bezel that is level with the sapphire crystal.
Lugs- Stowa was very aware of creating a functional/wearable timepiece with the Antea KS. Great attention went into the shape and size of the lugs. The angled baton style lugs are responsible for the overall feel of the watch being a bit larger than 35.5mm. A number German watchmakers use lugs to make the watch wear a bit larger, thus creating an awkward gap between the case and strap, Stowa hit the jackpot with this one. The gap between the strap and case is barely noticeable and in fact adds to that larger feel on the wrist.
Crown- The crown on manually wound watches makes all the difference. Fine bevelling allow the crown to be gripped and wound very smoothly. Comfort is a big concern especially with crowns on smaller watches. Although the crown extends slightly beyond the bottom of the case, it is certainly not obtrusive. Once again Stowa is going for simplicity and functionality, and the crown of the Antea KS certainly embodies that philosophy.
Strap- Stowa finishes off the Antea KS with an average leather strap offering. For the black dial variation, the strap is a polished black leather. The silver dial variant is offered on a brown leather strap. The strap itself is a bit flimsy and could be redone. I would most likely add an aftermarket black leather strap with a bit more thickness. All things considered, the strap is probably the weakest part of a very strong offering by Stowa.
Stowa hit a walkoff home run with the Antea KS. This piece embodies the most successful elements of German watchmaking. On the wrist, the Antea KS is simply perfect and easy to wear. Not too small not too big. I noticed that because of how the watch sits on the wrist, you are less likely to ding it on various objects throughout the day. The watch sits flush on the wrist and easily fits under a cuff. As a manually wound watch, this offering corners the entry level market. Stowa has a superb history spanning over 80 years. Every now and then, I have the chance to form strong relationships with the brands I review. At all times I remain objective but I think especially in the entry-level market, the brand you are buying is just as important as the watch itself. While getting your hands on a Stowa here in the U.S. may be a challenge, Stowa’s customer service is truly outstanding. Timely correspondence, and friendly staff add to the overall watch buying/owning experience. Clearly, Stowa put some thought into making sure that customer service was a strong point of their brand. Lastly and on a more unrelated note is the packaging of the watch. The packaging is great, the silver watch box that accompanies the watch is industrial without being overbearing. I highly commend Stowa for taking the extra steps to make the Antea KS a watch that belongs in literally any collection. Priced at $1080 USD, there is a lot of competition in the automatic market but little to none in the hand wound space. There is something totally unique and compelling about having to wind a watch daily. Undoubtedly, the Stowa Antea KS is the best watch I have reviewed to date. Outside of the flimsy strap that could easily be replaced, Stowa has produced a timeless watch combining simplicity and functionality. What more could you ask for?
Give the Stowa Antea KS a better look-
Stowa Antea KS Watch Specifications
Case- 316L Stainless Steel (polished)
Case Size- 35.5mm
Dial Color- Black
Dial- Arabic numerals, 24-hour dial, 60-second sub-dial
Functions- Hour, minute, second
Movement- ETA-7001 (hand wound movement)
Strap- Black Genuine Leather with stainless steel buckle
Band Width- NA
Retail Price- $1083 USD
Stowa Antea KS Gallery
A Moment In Time: Magrette Mona Pacific Professional Vintage
Dive watches are the quintessential piece in any watch collection. Names such as Rolex, Tag Heuer, Omega, Blancpain, and IWC come to mind when thinking about this category. While the luxury dive watch market offers a plethora of brands to choose from, the entry-level market falls short. For the unseasoned watch collector, Seiko is where the conversation starts and ends regarding affordable dive watches. Although Seiko has undoubtedly carved a niche for itself, it is not the only quality manufacturer of affordable dive watches.
For this review, I am looking at a piece from a boutique dive brand out of New Zealand- Magrette. Magrette is the creation of Dion McAsey, a creative genius and veteran of the watch industry. Dion’s love for watches, nautical history, and the culture of New Zealand can be seen in all of Magrette’s products. The story of this brand spoke to me in a way that many American brands have and for that reason, I decided to take a closer look.
Magrette simply offers a different product from the other dive watch brands on the market. From packaging to design, the unwavering commitment to craftsmanship and consumer satisfaction is unsurpassed by other brands at this price point. The limited quantity of watches that Magrette produces, allow them to take extra steps where other brands simply cannot afford to. Evidence of this can first be seen in the packaging of their timepieces. Magrette’s signature Maori logo appears on the outer box, the leather watch case, and inside the case itself. Small details like this truly give value the overall product. Looking at the watch, the Mona Pacific Professional Vintage is truly impressive.
The weight of this watch stands out immediately. I desperately have to get a scale but just off my initial impression, this watch weighed about same as my Montblanc XL Profile. Definitely a noticeable watch on the wrist. As an aside, I will reach out to Magrette about overall weight and case thickness. Outside of the weight of the watch, the dial color is striking to say the least. The earthy brown of the center dial is uncommon for dive watches but adds to the vintage allure of the piece. Various hues of brown adorn the inner bezel of the watch which is marked with white indices for increased legibility. A red second hand (white tip) gives the exact amount of functionality contrasted with the brown face. Additionally, the hour and minute hands are just perfect. Bronze casings give both hands the necessary pop to be read in normal light conditions. To add to the watch, old radium is used on the dial and hands creating a high quality lume.
With reviews, I try to be as objective as possible but I must admit that the dial is not for everyone. After getting over the idea of a brown faced dive watch, wearers will find a functional diver with an astute attention to detail. Other mentionables related to the matte PVD case include a functional pressure escape value and unidirectional bezel.
Desk diving and the occasional swim are as close as this watch would get to being functional while on my wrist. Granted most wearers will not test the watch at 500m, the functional pressure escape valve is an important feature for “dive enthusiasts.” This same feature is found on other notable dive watches such as the Rolex Sea-Dweller. The pressure valve is not flush with the case but rather it protrudes a bit past the bezel ( this may or may not be an issue for you). The bezel of a dive watch can make or break the entire piece. In the case of the Mona Pacific Vintage, the unidirectional bezel does its’ job. Some dive watches feature a bidirectional bezel for ease of use underwater but Magrette stuck with a counterclockwise unidirectional function and it works. The lume on the bezel and the dial are superb. As mentioned before, old radium is used on the dial and hands which helps create a very legible watch in the darkest of conditions.
The last major aesthetic component of the watch is the strap. Magrette truly invested some time and effort into creating the perfect strap for this watch. The rubber strap with “Magrette” inscribed logos and an adjustable deployment buckle are the strongest points of the watch. This strap could easily be placed on a more expensive dive watch such as a Breitling or Omega. To the touch, the rubber strap is reminiscent of the Luminox Colormark. Additionally, the watch comes with a separate brown leather strap which offers more versatility for daily wearers. Enjoy the hard work Magrette put into making the strap just right.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the movement behind this watch. The Miyota 9015 with hacking seconds runs smoothly and offers a little over 40 hours of accurate running time. Magrette is using the 9015 for the first time in the Mona Pacific Vintage which makes this watch special. Historically, they have relied on the 8215 but this slight departure should be noted especially with a watch is limited to 500 pieces.
Magrette is producing quality and functional dive watches the right way. With a great attention to detail and craftsmanship, their lineup stands out amongst the entry-level market. The brown dial attempts to evoke a vintage dive watch nostalgia but can be off putting to some. Once you get past the color of the dial of the Mona Pacific Professional Vintage, there is a fully functional dive watch with a great movement underneath. The workhouse Miyota 9015 with hacking seconds is the perfect fit for this watch. Wearers can expect to get more than what they paid for with all of Magrette’s products but specifically with this watch. Limited to 500 pieces, the Mona Pacific is not your traditional dive watch but can be an important member of any collection.
If you are interested in Magrette watches visit their website here- http://www.magrette.com/
Magrette Mona Pacific Vintage Watch Specifications
Case- PVD Matte Finish
Case Size- 44mm
Dial Color- Brown
Crystal- Sapphire (double domed)
Bezel- Black Ceramic Matte Finish
Dial- Hour and minute indices
Function- Hour, minute
Movement- 9015 Miyota with hacking seconds
Strap- Black PU rubber with customized deployment buckle. Other strap option is brown leather.
Retail- $575 USD plus $30.00 USD shipping worldwide
Magrette Mona Pacific Vintage Gallery
A Moment In Time: Daniel Wellington Classic Glasgow
Lately it seems like my attention has been drawn to foreign watch brands. There is a certain allure that comes with foreign brands especially those from countries that have a very specific design aesthetic. In my latest “A Watch to Watch” segment, I covered the Max Bill Collection by Junghans from Germany. German watchmaking exemplifies the highest standards in craftsmanship as well as design. For this review, I had the chance to spend some quality time with an up and coming star in the entry-level market -- Daniel Wellington. Admittedly, this segment of the market is very saturated however, Daniel Wellington has managed to do something unique that deserves attention.
Daniel Wellington is a U.K. based brand that sets out to create timeless and fashionable timepieces for any occasion. Originally launched in 2011, the brand has become synonymous with the “prepster” lifestyle. My first experience with the brand was seeing some of their watches at Kenjo in New York City. For those of you who don’t know, Kenjo is a luxury watch boutique that carries brands ranging from Bell Ross to Omega. I was intrigued that the Daniel Wellington lineup was right alongside some of the most well known watch brands in the business. I had to see what the hype was for myself so I reached out to Daniel Wellington and they graciously sent me the Classic Glasgow in rose gold.
The Classic Glasgow is a 40mm quartz watch with a flare for simplicity. After unboxing the watch and having it on the wrist, I began to understand what makes these watches special. In the quartz space there is a lot of product dilution. Watches with similar designs, poor craftsmanship, and general lack of functionality populate the entry-level market. Daniel Wellington realizes their niche and produces that suits their audience. The sheer beauty of the dial catches the wearer by surprise. A symmetrical dial, polished bezel, slim design, and a small crown make this watch incredibly appealing on the wrist. Their Men's Collection features a couple variations in dial layout, case material ( rose gold or silver), and general case diameter (36mm or 40mm). The most noticeable feature outside of the dial is in fact the case. Case thickness is typically a big concern of mine because I have smaller wrists however, all of Daniel Wellington's models maintain a very slim profile with a case depth of merely 6mm. Thin enough to slip under a shirt cuff, or sweater, the case depth offers a ton of functionality for wearers. Where I think this brand captures the market is not only in the design of the watch but also in its’ functionality. On their website, Daniel Wellington touts that “ with interchangeable straps you will have a watch for every day of the week.” As some of you may know there has been a big shift in the watch market. Consumers over the past few years have been really fascinated with strap variation whether NATO straps, mesh bracelets, or exotic leathers. This push for greater variation has caused brands to offer more standard strap options. I applaud Daniel Wellington for reacting to the market with an affordable and fashionable watch that can be worn with literally anything.
At the price of $195 USD, the Classic Glasgow has broad appeal. You are getting a simple watch that can be adjusted to fit any occasion for under $200 USD. Although Daniel Wellington has done a great job with this watch as a whole, I do have one concern. With a water resistance of only 3 ATM this watch should avoid all contact with water. This isn’t the biggest deal but it should be considered given that washing your hands may result in losing this gem. In the same vein, the slim profile of the watch makes it fragile. By no means is this prepster accessory going for a serious hike or even a day of sailing. If stay you on land and limit your physical activity you should be fine.
Probably most at home at the country club, the Classic Glasgow is the ultimate daily wear watch under $300 USD. Refined looks coupled with functionality make this watch and the entire Men's Collection, a good choice for any first time buyer. The obvious shortcomings in water resistance don’t break the deal but should be strongly considered if you live an active lifestyle.
Other NATO straps can be purchased directly from their site for around $35 USD.
The discount code "ivytimewatches" gives you 15% off of all products at danielwellington.com for the month of November.
For more information on the Daniel Wellington Classic Glasgow visit their website-
Daniel Wellington Glasgow Watch Specifications-
Case- Rose Gold
Case Size- 40mm
Dial Color- White
Dial- Hour and minute indices
Function- Hour and minute
Movement- Japanese Quartz
Strap- Blue/White NATO
Band Width- 20mm
Retail Price- $195 USD
Additional strap price- $35-$65 USD
Daniel Wellington Classic Glasgow Gallery
A Moment In Time: AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane (4015-01)
AVI-8 is an aviation inspired brand that offers great value at affordable prices. Until a recent review of the AVI-8 Flyboy by Ariel Adams, the brand remained in relative obscurity. With that being said, after taking a better look at the Limited Edition Hawker Hurricane (AV-4015-01), I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.
The current AVI-8 lineup features eight different collections. Each collection is an homage to a particular era in aviation history. I applaud AVI-8 for committing to design aviation watches at the $100-$500 USD price point. For those unfamiliar with the aviation/pilot- inspired watch category, offerings tend to be north of a few thousand dollars. Bell & Ross, Breitling SA, and Bremont are a few of the high-end players in this category that garner a lot of media attention. Not only does the price point of AVI-8 make their brand unique but also, their diverse collection stands out from the rest.
Before taking a closer look at model I reviewed, I want to examine the Hawker Hurricane Collection as a whole. The collection itself is named after “The Hurricane” -- a WWII plane produced by Hawker Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force. This single-seat fighter plane was the unsung hero of the Allied Forces arsenal. In a similar fashion, the Hawker Hurricane is the overlooked gem of the AVI-8 lineup.
The Hawker Hurricane (AV-4015-01) is simply a beautiful watch. After unboxing the watch, here are a few things that caught my attention. At first glance, the dial immediately jumped out at me.
Dial- The dial is stunning to say the least. For a watch at this price point, the dial adds tremendous value to the overall presentation of the piece. With two sub-dials (24-hour, and 60-minute) as well as a date-window, the watch is a true chronograph. Raised hour indices from 2-4 and 8-10 add another layer of complexity that is rarely seen in entry-level aviation watches. My only minor concern with the dial is the small date-window. A date-window is a necessary feature for any chronograph let alone an aviation-inspired chronograph however, AVI-8 missed the mark on this one. The display itself is a little small which makes the date hard to read at first glance. Outside of this minor blemish, the dial is by far the most impressive part of the watch.
Hands- Traditionally, hands are often overlooked in watch reviews especially with watches on the more affordable end of the spectrum. AVI-8 did a great job with the detailing of the hands on the Hawker Hurricane. With chronographs in general the size, shape, color, and length of the watch hands can often make or break the watch. The minute and hour hands are black with white cut-outs while the second hand is black with a red tip. For timing purposes, the red tip is a great addition and makes timing very easy against the white face of the watch.
Case- The case has a good size to at 42mm. Aviation watches tend to be on the larger side for legibility purposes but the overall size was not cumbersome on the wrist.
Bezel- This watch features an internal bezel that is marked in five minute increments. No external bezel is present on the watch
Lugs- The lugs appear to be a little big and bulky but they posed no problem during daily wear.
Crown and Pushers- An onion shaped crown adorns the Hawker Hurricane with the signature blue and red circles that have become synonymous with the brand (an homage to logos found on the side of WWII planes). Additionally, the pushers were unobtrusive but functioned a bit stiff during my tests of the chronograph function. At this price point, the stiff performance of the pushers is almost expected but it is definitely something to note if you plan on using the chronograph function consistently.
Band- The geniune leather strap proved to be hardy and comfortable on the wrist. Classic black threaded stitching helps the overall appearance of the watch. Lastly, the buckle is adorned with the hallmark “AVI-8” lettering which is an added bonus not typically found on watches at this price. Outside of the dial, the leather band was my second favorite part of the watch.
AVI-8 is doing a great job at constructing well-made aviation watches in the $200-$500 USD price point. After spending some quality time with the Hawker Hurricane, I found a sturdy watch that could easily be turned into a daily wear. With the tremendous amount of detail spent on the dial, wearers are getting a lot of value for the money. A geniune leather strap is yet another highlight of this piece. My only real points of concern are the functioning chronograph and the date-window. Both could use some revision. The date-window is rounded but not the most legible while the chronograph pushers performed stiffly during my tests. All in all, AVI-8 is a steal for the money at $490 USD. My guess is that the watch could easily be purchased for under $300 USD if you factor in a sale. A lot of value in a small package from a relatively low-key brand -- just don’t wager on the performance of the chronograph.
Take a look at the full Hawker Hurricane Collection here-
Hawker Hurricane (AV-4015-01) Watch Specifications
Case- Stainless steel (polished)
Case Size- 42mm
Dial Color- White
Dial- Arabic numerals, 24-hour sub-dial, 60-minute sub-dial
Functions- Hour, minute, second, chronograph, date indicator
Movement- Japanese Quartz
Strap- Black Genuine Leather with stainless steel buckle
Band Width- 20mm
Retail Price- $490 USD
Hawker Hurricane Gallery
A Moment In Time: Shinola Runwell Sport 42mm
Detroit- based Shinola recently entered the watch market and has managed to shake up the entry-level market. Shinola, traditionally known for producing stylish yet affordable dress-casual timepieces, decided to step into new territory with the Runwell Sport Collection. This collection marks Shinola’s second move in the “sport watch” category. After the successful launch of the Runwell, Runwell Chronograph, and Brakeman collection, the Runwell Sport is a refreshing edition to Shinola’s lineup.
I had the opportunity to spend a few intimate days with the Shinola Runwell Sport 42mm. Offered in three different case sizes-- 48mm, 42mm, 36mm, the Runwell Sport is designed to cater to both men and women.
At first glance, the Runwell Sport is undoubtedly an eye-catcher. Opting for the mid-sized offering at 42mm, I was surprised at how the watch wore on the wrist. The watch felt a little large considering my daily wear ranges anywhere from 36mm-40mm. With this being said after I put on the watch, there were a few things I noticed immediately.
Case- The case of the Runwell Sport has a great weight to it however, the depth of the case could be a turnoff for some. It was noticeably deeper than expected. This was not an inconvenience while wearing the watch but it is something to note. In the future, I will both weigh and measure the case to provide more accurate reviews.
Crown- Perhaps the biggest concern I had with this watch was the size of the crown. My wrist is on the smaller end of the spectrum so any large crowns or pushers can turn me away. The crown is rather large but, at no point was it uncomfortable. For someone concerned with size (smaller wrist) and design aesthetic, the large crown can appear to be out of place.
Bezel- The beautiful coloring of the bezel stands out immediately. Reminiscent of the orange bezel on the Omega Planet Ocean XL, Shinola did a great job picking the perfect hue of orange to complement the rest of the watch ( Shinola’s logo is an orange thunderbolt). Outside of the sheer aesthetic beauty of the bezel, I was a little surprised that it was not fully functional. Naturally, most sport watches at this price point have a fully functioning bezel--bi-directional, or uni-directional. Considering the depth rating of 10 ATM, this omission is striking. For hard-core watch enthusiasts as well as practical watch wearers, this could definitely be a point of contention.
Bracelet- Shinola did a decent job with the bracelet on the Runwell Sport. Sturdy design and great attention to detail make this bracelet stand out from other watches in the $800-$1000 price point. While this bracelet is not the same caliber as a high-end dive watch bracelet, it is functional and a nice added touch. One thing to note, although the bracelet had good weight and an easy-to-use deployment clasp, the polish made the bracelet a scratch magnet. To make this piece a viable daily wear, I would recommend replacing the bracelet.
After the newness of the piece wore off, I was able to give this watch an honest and objective review. I think Shinola definitely has a niche in the watch market, and the Runwell Sport occupies a unique space as well. Multiple size, dial, and bracelet offerings give this collection broad ranging appeal. Specifically, the 42mm Runwell Sport has a lot going for it but at the same time there are a few things missing. The non-functioning bezel would have been a nice added touch but it isn’t a dealbreaker. In the same vein, the stainless steel bracelet could use a slight upgrade. At this price range $800-$1000 USD, it is hard to find the perfect combination of craftsmanship, and functionality. For brand loyalists, the Runwell Sport is a much needed edition to the Shinola umbrella. Newcomers will find a high-quality sport watch that has signature American flare. With each watch Shinola is selling more than the physical hardware, they are selling a brand identity. A lifetime warranty on all watches, coupled with fantastic presentation can persuade even the most seasoned watch enthusiasts to at least consider this quartz beauty. Kudos, to Shinola.
Disclaimer: I own a Shinola Runwell 40mm that I love.
Check out the full Runwell Sport Collection here-
Shinola Runwell 42mm Watch Specifications
Case- Stainless steel (polished), sapphire crystal
Case Size- 42mm
Dial Color Detail- White
Dial- Super-LumiNova hands, Arabic numerals, and hour markers
Functions- Hour, minute, second, date indicator
Movement- Shinola Detroit-built 705 quartz movement
Strap- Stainless Steel
Band Width- 20mm
Depth Rating- 10 ATM
Limited Lifetime Warranty
Retail Price- $825 USD
Assembly of the movement takes place in Detroit. 4-dozen Swiss-made parts.