Archive | Reviews

TokyoFlash Gets Less Cryptic

Posted on 25 June 2014 by Matt Himmelstein

Tokyo Flash Rogue 01

TokyoFlash has made a name for themselves creating digital watches that can be… a wee bit tough to read.  With one of their latest designs, the Kisai Rogue Touch Silicon, they have bucked their own trend a bit, and created a watch with two time zones that is actually readable at a glance, with a minimal amount of training.
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The Lew & Huey Acionna, Take III

Posted on 23 June 2014 by Matt Himmelstein

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If you think you have seen the Acionna by Lew & Huey on our pages already, you would be correct.  I wrote up the Kickstarter project for the site back when I was still a “friend of the site,”  and Patrick had a chance to spend a little time with a prototype.  Now that they are in production, the company sent over a pair of watches for a final hands-on review. Continue Reading

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The Shinola Runwell Contrast Chrono Review

Posted on 13 June 2014 by Patrick Kansa

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Quick, how many watch brands are there producing products in Detroit? Two that I know of, actually (we wrote about the lesser-known one here). The most well-known one, of course, is Shinola. We’ve reviewed their watches before, and I continue to have a soft spot for the brand given my ties to the area. Today, we’ll be taking a look at a more complicated version of one of their most popular models, the Shinola Runwell Contrast Chrono.

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As you can tell from the images (and my reference to complication up above), we were sent over a Runwell Contrast Chronograph for review. This particular one carries the Contrast appellation due to, well, the high-contrast dial. In this case, it’s primarily grey, with white showing up on the subdials and chapter ring, and some bits of orange accent. Paired up with the grey leather NATO strap as it is, you might be tempted to call the monochromatic fellow boring.

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Perhaps it’s just my own personality and preferences, but I found it anything but. Rather, I saw it as a well-sorted (at least in terms of styling) outing, doing what they set out to do (making a not-quite-high contrast dial) in a slick way. Oh, and as long as we’re talking about the dial, I just want to touch on the one and only numeral on the dial.

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That number, of course, is eight. If you’re at all familiar with the Detroit area, you know that 8 Mile Road is one of the boundaries of the city of Detroit (yes, the same one that Eminem popularized). So, I dug into this a bit with the brand, and oddly enough, it wasn’t actually an intentional reference to the road. Rather, it was just a styling decision to try and balance out the dial (against the date window). Be that as it may, I’m surprised they didn’t jump for the 8 Mile reference, as it makes for a much better story associating the brand with Detroit.

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That’s probably enough of my editorializing on the styling, let’s have closer look at the watch. As with many in their lineup, the Runwell Chrono is no petite watch – it’s polished stainless steel case measures in at a hefty 47mm. Surprisingly enough for that, paired to the leather strap, it only weighs in at 120g. Some of that surprisingly low weight can certainly be attributed to the quartz movement inside the case, this time being an Argonite 5030 (assembled in Detroit, of course).

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Also surprising? How well the large case actually fit to my wrist – both literally and visually. For the former, I attribute that to the curvature of the wire lugs, paired with the flexibility of the 24mm leather NATO (made by Hadley Roma). As to the latter, well, that comes back to the styling again. The curved sides of the case drop off pretty quickly from the dial, and the wire lugs really reduce the visual “bulk” of things (as compared to what standard lugs would look like). In short, this is one of the most compact “big” watches I’ve reviewed as of late.

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This all went a long way to comfort in daily wear as well. The watch performed just as you’d expect a new quartz to (flawlessly), and the grey contrast palette worked well, whether it was in the office or a more casual setting. In the end, I was surprised I liked this watch as much as I did. While it was a bit larger than I personally prefer, the overall fit paired with the color scheme really won me over. If we have the Runwell show up in a more compact size (which I’m told is on the way, and we’ll review when available), it will be a very tempting option, I think. For now, though, the Runwell Chrono – coming in at $775 – is what it is – a stylish (and relatively compact) big watch from Detroit.   shinola.com

Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: Shinola Runwell Contrast Chronograph
  • Price: $775
  • Who’s it for?: This is for the guy who’s been admiring the Shinola style, but has been waiting for something in a different colorway
  • Would I wear it?: Yes – but perhaps not as much as I would if it were sub-44mm
  • What I’d change: How about something even more different – let’s toss some lume into those subdials!
  • The best thing about it: For me, it was the overall use of grey in the watch, with the strap coming in as a close second

Backgrounds courtesy of Gustin and Renaissance Art

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Romaine Jerome Gets Colorful

Posted on 06 June 2014 by Matt Himmelstein

Romain Jerome Steampunk 03

Romaine Jerome is one of those far out there watch brands that somehow keeps creating crazy watches that I like.  I can’t pinpoint exactly what I like about them, since some of the designs are pretty silly, but I like them none the less.  Just launched is the Steampunk Auto Colours variations, a take on the previous steampunk watch done up in, you guessed it, bright colors. Continue Reading

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Bertucci Field Watches Review

Posted on 05 June 2014 by Patrick Kansa

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When it comes to watches that you strap on before heading off into the great outdoors, you’ve got no shortage of choice. Then again, when there are a class of watches known as field watches, well, that seems like an appropriately named device. While most brands might have one or two models in their lineup that could be called a field watch, Bertucci actually opts to keep their whole lineup conforming to that mold. As you’ll see in our review, however, they do manage to mix things up a bit within that singular design idea.

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The first watch we’ll take a look at (of the two we were sent) is one of their “retro” models, the A4-T Vintage 44 (ref. 13401). In our particular configuration, we had the black dial paired with their “vintage brown” band. Before we get to that, though, it’s probably worthwhile to discuss the case of the watch. For starters, it’s made of titanium (something most, if not all, of their lineup has in common). This is a handy material to use for two reasons – it’s strong, and it’s lightweight (in the case of the A4-T, we had a weight of 70g on the strap).

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They further carry along the idea of toughness by making the lug bars (also titanium) integrated to the case. In other words, you don’t take any spring pins or posts out to change the strap (because you can’t). This explains why we see the large screw heads on the strap. These are functional – not just decorative – and would be utilized if you wanted to swap the strap out. So, let’s get back to that band. The lighter brown color certainly goes give an more vintage feel to this particular watch. Quality-wise, I’d call it middle-of-the-road.

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It’s by no means a cheap, plasticky feeling (or smelling) strap, nor is it the most luxurious leather (I tend to judge this based on feel and smell) I’ve run across. It’s perhaps a tad stiffer than you’d hope to have out of the box, especially for one that isn’t particularly thick, but the waterproof top grain leather should break in and conform to your wrist in the long run. For my test period, I just had a bit more of a on my wrist than I’d prefer, which was due to two factors – the squared-off lug geometry and the stiffness of the leather. Then again, this particular watch (with it’s 44mm case and 1″ (~25.4mm) band width) is aimed at larger wrists (mine comes in at 7.25″).

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On the dial front, they carry forth the vintage feel with what they label as an “authentic” WWII dial. I’m not intimately familiar with the watches of the era, so I can’t speak to that. I can say that it’s a cleanly-styled dial, and one that’s rather easy to read at a glance. This is due in large part to the contrast of white on black, the lack of anything too extraneous, and the luminous diamond handset spinning around. There’s not much more I can say about this dial. Covered up by the scratch-resistant mineral crystal, it’s a dial that just plain works.

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All in all, this is a watch that should stand up to whatever abuse you might throw at it in the outdoors, keeping accurate time (courtesy of the Swiss quartz movement) while it’s 5-year battery keeps things running. Should you not be a fan of the somewhat military-inspired look, but like the idea of a titanium cased field watch, then you just need to cast your eye around the rest of the Bertucci catalog. To that end, we were also sent over a model from their Super Sport lineup.

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While the A4-T presented as a no-nonsense watch in it’s brushed finish, the A2-T Super Sport (ref. 12065) brings a lot of color to the table (in this case, blue; the others in the line offer brown or the aforementioned brushed finish). As we saw before, the case is made of titanium, has integrated titanium lug bars and a titanium screw-down crown. The case size has dropped to 40mm, and the band is 7/8″ wide (~22mm), which makes for a more compact watch, better equipped for smaller wrists. Swapping in the nylon band for leather also helps to cut some weight; our sample measured in at a paltry 62g.

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Of course, when it comes to nylon B10-style straps, you can introduce a lot of color to a watch as well. In the Super Sport lineup, Bertucci goes with a color pallete that matches what you see in the dial, as well as creating a racing stripe pattern that continues from the strap on to the dial. This is something I’ve not seen very often, and I find it to be well-executed here. They even went so far as to re-orient the numerals at the 12 o’clock position to keep the line clean, which is a nice design touch.

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We also have a change of handset on the watch. While I do wish the hour hand was a tad longer, the tower-style hands complement the overall design of the watch, and I suppose follow the 60s inspiration they were going with here. Of the two watches we had in, I found the Super Sport to be the more comfortable of the two. I think this was in large part due to the smaller case size, combined with the overall flexibility you have from a nylon strap. That’s of note here, since we have the same squared-off lug geometry seen on the Vintage. For my wrist, the nylon just helped the fit be that much better.

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In daily wear, both watches performed quite nicely. With their light weight, you can practically forget that you have a watch on until you need to check the time. When you add the 100m WR rating and 5-year battery to the weight, you’ve got a watch that’s truly set it and forget it, because it’s just going to keep running. The Vintage model is definitely the bulkier of the two, but I was still able to slip it under a cuff easily enough. It’s also the model that I’d say is the most likely to work if you’re wanting a watch for both the office and the weekend – it’s overall styling is subtle enough to work for a business casual setting.

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That said, I think the Super Sport was my favorite of the two. This is primarily due to the overall styling and use of color – with warmer weather on the way, many (myself included, it seems) will be looking to brighten things up a bit, and a bright watch is certainly one way to do that. It was also helpful that the smaller size of the A2-T and it’s nylon strap just plain fit my wrist better. Of course, should you prefer the larger and more sedate A4-T, you can opt for one of their nylon straps (or pick up a spare) instead of the leather. At the affordable prices Bertucci is asking ($229 for the A4-T Vintage, $199 for the A2-T Super Sport), these are a good choice, I’d think, for a watch to take you into the summer – lightweight, and ready to head out on whatever ventures lay in store. bertucciwatches.com

Review Summary
  • Brand & Model: Bertucci A4-T Vintage and A2-T Super Sport
  • Price: $199 (A2-T), $229 (A4-T)
  • Who’s it for?: This is for the guy looking for a tough and lightweight watch, either in a military-inspired style or with some bold coloration
  • Would I wear it?:  The Super Sport would definitely see wrist time; I’m not quite as certain about the A4-T Vintage
  • What I’d change: For the A4-T, a smaller diameter would be nice.  On the Super Sport, some adjustments to the handset seem to be in order
  • The best thing about it: First and foremost, the lightweight; secondarily the toughness of the titanium and fixed lug bars.

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The CT Scuderia Dashboard: It’s a Car, It’s a Plane, It’s a Watch!

Posted on 02 June 2014 by Matt Himmelstein

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OK, maybe not a car or plane per se, but the Dashboard Series of watches from the Italian brand CT Scuderia it is bit of mash up between the ground transport styling that defines the brand and the iconic styling of the Flieger B-style, all in an attractive and very masculine watch.  CT Scuderia was nice enough to loan me one of their watches for a bit, and I really did not want to send it back to them.  I opted for what I thought was a bolder look, the black IP case with the black and white dial.

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A Dive Watch for the Office

Posted on 29 May 2014 by Matt Himmelstein

Christopher Ward C65 01

Both Patrick and I are fans of Christopher Ward.  And we both like dive watches.  But as a diver, I see the days of needing a dive watch as long gone.  But the ruggedness of a dive watch, that is something which should stick around.  And if you take that ruggedness, and tone it down so it works as a true business watch, then you have a nice product for the real world.  Which brings me to the Christopher Ward C65 Trident Classic, available as a pre-order right now. Continue Reading

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James McCabe Master Review

Posted on 28 May 2014 by Patrick Kansa

 

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Today, we’ll be taking a look at the second James McCabe model that was sent over for review. While the first one we reviewed was a bit of a mixed bag for me, today’s model I found to be a better option – at least for my tastes and wrist size. As we saw before, James McCabe doesn’t go in for fancy names on their lineup. This watch line is known simply as the Master; our specific reference for the review is the JM-1011-03.

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This watch is another dress piece, there’s no doubt about that. You’ve got a polished case (this time in a rose gold tone; 43mm x 12mm), croc-embossed strap, polished numerals and indices, and the sword-style handset. Fortunately for my wrist, they went for a more conventional lug design and geometry, so this one fit on my wrist a great deal better – so we were definitely off to a better start. As with the Lurgan, we do have a cutout on the dial exposing the balance wheel, which is partially obscured again. In this implementation, though, it wasn’t as big of a deal in my eyes.

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That’s because you can actually see vast portions of the Sea Gull TY 2809 movement (customized a bit for the brand) through the translucent dial (in this case, in a shade of brown). This is one of the more intriguing, and readable, methods that I’ve seen for implementing a skeleton watch. On one hand, you can see a majority of the movement through the dial, and on the other, you’ve got a dial that’s very easy to read at a glance – no searching for the handset (which can sometimes be hard to pick out on a skeleton watch, as I’m sure you’ve seen).

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This just made for a rather interesting look – giving you some great visual interest when you want in, and an otherwise mostly brown-toned (the outer ring is black) dress watch for when you didn’t. Flipping the watch over, you see a good-sized exhibition window, which further exposes the skeletonized bits of the movement (and the rotor). Unlike the Lurgan, the Master also seems appropriately sized for the movement that it contains.

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Wearing the watch was without an issue. The sizing was spot on for me (though, it does have a generously long strap, so it should fit larger wrists), and slipped easily under a cuff. With the overall color scheme, it seems pretty much aimed at the office environment, though it would easily work with a suit or sport coat, should the need arise.

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If you couldn’t tell, this was definitely my favorite of the two watches James McCabe sent over. There’s no word on what the movement is, precisely – but since it’s not called out, my guess is that it’s of Chinese origin. Not that that’s a bad thing in my book, it’s just an educated guess. When it comes to affordable skeletonized movements, China is where the brands seem to go.

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In the end, this is another affordable option from the folks at James McCabe. Should you not like the earthy color palette used in this example, they do have a few other options (you can see them here(http://mccabewatches.com/products/jm-1011-03)). Coming in at a price of around $333, direct from James McCabe, this is a rather unique implementation of a skeleton watch that would probably be one of my top recommendations for someone looking for this style of watch. companyurl
Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: James McCabe Master (JM-1011-03)
  • Price: ~ $333
  • Who’s it for?: The guy looking for an easy-to-read skeleton watch that’s ready for the office
  • Would I wear it?: I’m not sure how much time it would get in the rotation, but I could definitely see wearing this one now and again
  • What I’d change: Well, let’s get clever here. How about a polarized layer that you could rotate to slide between completely obscuring and fully displaying the movement?
  • The best thing about it: The slick implementation of displaying a skeletonized movement

 

Backgrounds courtesy of Gustin

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