Archive | July, 2008

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Bathys releases two new watches

Posted on 22 July 2008 by John Biggs

Bathys watches are some of my favorites. Created by a young man named John Patterson who lives in Hawai’i, they’re aimed at surfers and outdoorsy types who don’t want to look like Captain Digitalpants while wearing a big, wonky wrist computer.

He just announced two new models, the Ti-Quartz Benthic (top) and the Lunar Wahine (above). The Ti-Quartz has a Ronda 7003.N movement with large date and retrograde day. It has a timing bezel and should cost about $950. The Lunar Wahine has a moon phase complication and is a bit smaller – 36mm – for the ladies. It costs $795.
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The Seah Zodiac has… OH GOD NO! MY EYES, MY EYES!!!

Posted on 16 July 2008 by John Biggs

How can they do this to an innocent Swiss chronograph movement? A chaste mechanism dressed like this and forced to walk the streets. I might not wear it myself, but I can understand a lady, a metro, or some other individual who enjoys a watch with gold finish, or a few diamond chips, or a little bit of color. But gold and lots of diamond chips and a lot of color… This is an offense against aesthetics, and sadly noone can prosecute.

I need to get a lot of eye-bleach and spend the next fortnight in silent meditation on a Panerai.

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Baume & Mercier Classima Alarm/GMT; An excellent tool for the modern world.

Posted on 16 July 2008 by John Biggs

In a time when the “power watch” has a half dozen functions that most buyers won’t bother with (if they understand them) it is refreshing to see only two functions beyond the basics and both routinely useful for many. The second time zone, the GMT display, is of great value to a rock like me who can’t remember the difference for distant places I routinely work with. And on this watch it is right there in the window at the six o’clock position. The other function above the minimum is the alarm; fairly rare on a mechanical. Whether it is used as a reminder for appointments or meds, or for naps, it could be used daily. And all this in an environmentally-sensitive package; an automatic that doesn’t defecate hazmat in the form of used batteries.

The execution of every detail of this modestly sized (39mm-ish) watch is exquisite. Whether the markings and ornamentation on the dial, or the movement visible through the exhibition back, with its beautiful jewelling, every aspect of this time piece speaks of attention to detail and passion for elegance and classic style. This watch is as simple as it can be without losing the classic flavor, as richly ornamented as it can be without becoming over-done. Simply magnificent.

As a functional timepiece and piece of jewelry, this watch is without peer. Modestly sized, handsome and tasteful, it would be appropriate for any formal environment. My only regret is that I don’t spend enough time in environments like that to justify the price. Now if this movement came in a 100m water resistant package, with more austere styling, I’d take a contract with Blackwater to pay it off.

And special thanks to the staff of Tivol Jewelry, especially Tammy from Briarcliffe, MO, and Dan from the Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, MO stores for their help, patience with my ridiculous questions, the tour of their in-house watchmakers shop, and for allowing me to handle so many exquisite timepieces. (www.tivol.com).

Van

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What real service members wear.

Posted on 10 July 2008 by John Biggs


Not too long ago, we shared a video review of a Marathon watch. Although not that particular model, Marathon routinely boasts that it is the current U.S. military issue wristwatch. And this is true, so it should be odd that out of the thousands of service members I have had contact with over the past two decades, I’ve only ever seen less than half a dozen service members wearing Marathon watches.

So what do people in the U.S. Military really wear? Overwhelmingly, Casio G-Shocks of every stripe, followed by Timex Ironman series and electronic compass models. Pilots seem to like Citizen and Seiko chronographs with the sliderule. Young Special Forces guys often go with Omegas, while the older guys lean towards Rolex. But lately, the cool kids in the Army have been sporting Suunto Vectors.

The Suunto Vector has an electronic compass, barometer, altimeter, and thermometer, as well as all the usual digital functions like timer, alarm, stopwatch, etc. It’s a little on the bulky side, but in the ACUs, the camouflage uniform, especially with all the kit soldiers have to carry in the field, this is trivial. A nice feature is that it is designed to be user maintained, and Suunto’s battery replacement kit includes a fresh o-ring. I’m indifferent to the thermometer and altimeter. The thermometer is not accurate while worn as the sensor is too close to the skin, and the altimeter has to be calibrated daily to be accurate. The barometer is not relevant to my needs, as my arthritis tells me when storms are coming but is accurate and kind of neat. The compass is accurate, and has a bubble to help the user level it for use, and can be calibrated for declination (either you understand and appreciate the utility of this last point, or you don’t need to worry about it). Best of all, the alarm is way loud for a watch, and makes up for everything else. (You may be a soldier if… You sleep through thunder storms, but wake up for a wristwatch alarm.)

Overall, the Suunto Vector is kind of bulky, but well suited to what a soldier needs. One caveat; a Suunto Vector with ‘business casual’ is as much a dead giveaway as the khaki trousers and blue blazer. If a soldier (or retired soldier) has to dress like a civilian, invest in an appropriate watch; a ninety dollar mens’ dress Seiko will prevent a loss of face.

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B&R: Shark jumpers?

Posted on 02 July 2008 by John Biggs


If you know me you know I love me some watches. I especially like Bell & Ross, the aviation-themed, pie-plate-sized watches that gave new meaning to “Wow, that’s a big watch.” Now, however, B&R has added a ring of beautiful jewels around the rim and made these things out of ceramic, officially tugging the brand out of the realm of “cool and utilitarian” into the world of “my Chihuahua ate my Hermes watch so no I need something big and flirty.”

Sure, B&R can’t ride this design forever but for them to put this bling into their line is a clear indication that these watches have just about ridden their wave. Here’s hoping they bring out something cooler than the Instrument series because I can honestly say that of all the brands B&R has been my favorite thus far.

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