WristWatchReview.com https://www.wristwatchreview.com Watch Reviews Since 2004 Sun, 25 Sep 2016 12:00:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i0.wp.com/www.wristwatchreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/wwr-logo-square.jpg?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 WristWatchReview.com https://www.wristwatchreview.com 32 32 30538804 Watch Video Rewind for September 25, 2016 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/25/watch-video-rewind-for-september-25-2016/ https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/25/watch-video-rewind-for-september-25-2016/#respond Sun, 25 Sep 2016 12:00:50 +0000 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/?p=119072 It is Sunday, and that means it is time for Watch Video Rewind, our chance to highlight watch (and time) related video we find interesting.  This week, I thought I would highlight some of crazy home and office clock designs that are out there, the idea coming from the press I have been seeing about the MB&F Balthazar Robot which was recently released.

Of course you want a 17 pound mechanical robot clock with two faces and a 35 day power reserve.  Who wouldn’t want that sitting on their desk when the staff comes in looking for a raise.  Just change which face looks out to your staff to indicate their chances to get hat bump in pay.

TheWatches.tv alludes to a video regarding L’Epee, the high end clock maker in Switzerland with whom MB&F partners for the clockworks.  As much as I love the idea of a time mechanical machine working precisely to drive the movement in a watch, liberating the movement from the constraints of a wearable case allows for incredible complexity and creativity in design.

Not far off from the idea of a clock is the concept of the music box, and MB&F kills those as well.  The Music Machine 3, whose design is inspired by the look of a Star Ward Tie Fighter, plays a couple of very recognizable theme songs.

Of course, I don’t have the bucks to pick up one the very expensive and limited edition MB&F clocks.  But by freeing the movement from the wrist, other interesting materials can now be employed, like wood, which brings clockmaking down to the home hobbyist.  I have not tried it, but the Nonus design from Woodentimes is fairly reasonable and quite lovely.  I am sure some of you have dabbled in making a design like this; I would love to hear about your experience.

This project is an awesome little hybrid design, a digital Nixie tube display, driven by a mechanical device, under power.  So an electric motor turns a shutter mechanism which allows light to hit a photo receptor, which signals a series of stepper relays to advance the display.  Very cool and oh so overly complicated.

And with that, I’ll wrap up this week’s edition of Watch Video Rewind.  If you stumble across any interesting watch (or time) related videos out there, or if you make your own Watch Story, drop us a line. If we end up using in the watch video rewind from your suggestion, we’ll be sure to tip our hats (electronically, if not literally) in your general direction.

 

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Watching the Web for September 24, 2016 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/24/watching-the-web-for-september-24-2016/ https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/24/watching-the-web-for-september-24-2016/#respond Sat, 24 Sep 2016 12:00:41 +0000 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/?p=119064 Welcome and thanks for stopping by to check out our weekly feature, Watching the Web, where we highlight interesting watch related articles from other sites, and pick out what were our most popular articles from the last week or so.  From the net, we have Magrette Waterman, Nomos Club II and the launch of a new brand.  From our own site we have the Pegasus Nettuno and Mercurio diver, a musing on homage watches in general, and the Hamilton Khaki Automatic.

photo-jul-12-6-32-42-pm-1024x768Magrette is a favorite brand around here, and a favorite brand of mine.  I was a little late to the party, as the cushion case had to grow on me a bit, but I am a full convert.  I like the  size, but there are those that want something a tad smaller, and Magrette heard these folks with their 42mm cases.  You can check out the Waterman, an automatic diver with a thick retro sapphire crystal at Watch Report

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Nomos is another brand that I love, though the watches tend to be a bit smaller than I care for.  If you like a near-40mm watch, and want to stay in the mid-price range (by Nomos standards), the Club II might be for you.    Worn & Wound has a hands on review of the watch.

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Finally, ABTW takes a look at the new automatic watches by Farer.  When I saw the descriptors: British designed, Swiss made, affordable, I was already bringing up Christopher Ward as a point of comparison.  But looking at the watches, especially the color scheme above, Bremont is the brand that leaps to mind, though with a price point of just north of $1,000, they are much less expensive.

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John brings up the top post of the week with the crowd funded Pegasus Nettuno and Mercurio.  Sure, you could complain that it is just another Rolex homage, but it is a sharp-looking watch with an automatic movement, an optional Milaese strap, and a price tag hovering around $400.

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Speaking of homage watches, Victor penned an interesting article about homage watches and some of the lengths folks go to recreate designs.  He does not really take a side, just talks about the give and take required to want something unreachable, for whatever reasons, and then get something close enough.

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Lastly, we have an older article by Ken regarding a watch he bought, the Hamilton Khaki Automatic.  You can call this an homage from the same brand whose watch he wanted from the 60s.

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Did you know that John Biggs’ book, Marie Antionette’s Watch, is free to read with Kindle Unlimited, or you can buy a paperback from Amazon. Oh, and even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can always read via their free apps or their cloud reader (check those out here). The book is also now on Wattpad. You can even check out a snippet of the book.

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Want to be more than just a visitor to our little corner of the internet? How about pledging some support for us over on Patreon. There are some compelling funding levels (including site redesigns and removing ads, and getting a copy of the Marie Antoinette book), but really, we just want to ensure we keep this lean ship running and the lights on. You can check out John’s latest post right here. This is a fun thing we get to do on the side, and we want to keep bringing you the content that you have come to rely on from us, and work to make it even better.

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September is very nearly gone,  that leaves you a few days to enter our monthly give-away.  This time out, the winner picks up the CJR Airspeed, a cool regulator watch that should get more than a few second glances when you wear it.  In order to win it, you have to follow our 2 step process, so head over to the contest page and get your entry started.

Wrist ShotWe also want to put the call out for wrist shots of our reader’s favorite (or at least favorite of the moment) watches. Put together an email of your wrist shot and tell us a little about the watch and why you love it. If you happened to be introduced to it through our site (or won it through a give-away), even better. Just make sure the image is a JPEG and at least 800 pixels wide. And as always, if there’s something you think we should be covering, feel free to drop us a line. If you bring something up that we end up writing about, we’ll be sure to tip our hats (electronically, if not literally) in your general direction

 

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Alpina adds to the Alpiner 4 Collection https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/23/alpina-adds-to-the-alpiner-4-collection/ https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/23/alpina-adds-to-the-alpiner-4-collection/#respond Fri, 23 Sep 2016 13:00:05 +0000 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/?p=119009

It has often been said (by yours truly, and others), that Frederique Constant offers affordable, well-built Swiss watches.  Those tend to the more conservative, or dressy style; if you are in want of something sportier, then you need to look to stablemate Alpina.  They just recently released two new watches in their Alpiner 4 collection, and both are sharp.

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The first one is the Alpiner 4 Automatic (of note, the 4 refers to four essential features:  anti-magnetic, anti-shock, water resistant, and stainless steel).  As you might imagine, this is a “simple” automatic watch, a clean three-hander with date and a sunray dial set into a 44mm case.  When you look at it, it has a solid look to it, albeit not one so overbuilt that you’d feel out of place wearing it to the office or with a suit.  No, the Alpiner 4 Automatic is what I’ll call the “gentleman’s” sport watch.  The handset looks to be reasonably sized, and stands out in contrast against the darker dials.

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On the lighter, silver dial, they did opt for darker-filled indices.  Surprisingly, though, the handset does not take that same tactic, so I’m a little concerned about readability.  Past that, though, the Alpiner 4 Automatic looks like it’s built to take on most anything.  It’s got shock and magnetism resistance built in (generally a good thing for mechanical movements), as well as 100m WR, all keeping that AL-525 caliber safe during it’s wearing time (or not, as it has a 38-hour power reserve as well).

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If you like the road the Alpiner 4 Automatic is taking, but find yourself jetting across timezones, then you may want to consider the Alpiner 4 Business Timer instead.  The Business Timer (for when you’re getting down to the business of business) features the same case and resistances that the Automatic offers.  Via it’s movement, it brings a GMT complication into the mix, and the bi-directional bezel is swapped from a 60-minute (on the automatic) to this 360-degree one (useful as a compass).  Perhaps not quite as useful (in daily wear) as another 24-hour scale, but it still has utility.

alpina-alpiner-4-gmt-4 Speaking of 24-hour scales, the Alpiner Business Timer does bring some Pepsi to the party, albeit not in the spot you’d expect it (i.e., not on the external bezel).  Instead, it shows up around the dial, for the inner GMT indication.  This follows the same sort of day/night indication that most two-tone bezels would bring, but with a twist.  Rather than a hard demarcation for 12-hour splits, this instead is indicating the normal business hours (well, more like bankers hours, as it’s 9-5) in red, white bands on either side of the work day (to encompass the hours that most work) and then blue to indicate non-work hours.  Perhaps this is a good watch for those workaholics who could use a reminder of when they should go home?

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I do rather like both of these new Alpiner 4 watches.  They are sportier while still retaining some elegance, and seem to be fairly robust designs.  Both are currently available, with the Alpiner 4 Automatic coming in at $1,395 and the Alpine 4 GMT Business Timer commanding a price of $1,995, still quite within the realm of affordable Swiss watches.  We are working to get the Automatic in for review; in the meantime, let us know in the comments what you think about these new additions.  alpina-watches.com 
Watch Overview
  • Brand & Model:  Alpina Alpiner 4 Automatic & Business Timer
  • Price: $1,395 (Automatic), $1,995 (GMT)
  • Who we think it might be for: You’re looking for an affordable Swiss watch, yet want something a bit sportier
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Probably, but I’d be torn as to which model
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Test out that galvanic blue dial on the GMT, and take a look at darkening the hands on the silver-dialed Automatic
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: Dial designs aside, I really like the shape and compact feel of those 44mm cases
 Tech Specs from Alpina
  • 44mm stainless steel case
  • Sapphire crystal
  • Bi-directional bezel (60 minute on the automatic; compass on the GMT)
  • 100m WR
  • Anti-magnetic (ISO764)
  • Anti-shock
  • Sunray dial
  • Movement:  AL-525 (Automatic), AL-550 (GMT)
alpina-alpiner-4-automatic-1 alpina-alpiner4-featured alpina-alpiner-4-gmt-4 alpina-alpiner-4-gmt-3 alpina-alpiner-4-gmt-2 alpina-alpiner-4-gmt-1 alpina-alpiner-4-automatic-6 alpina-alpiner-4-automatic-5 alpina-alpiner-4-automatic-4 alpina-alpiner-4-automatic-3 alpina-alpiner-4-automatic-2 ]]>
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SaStek takes your wrist to Mach 3 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/22/sastek-takes-your-wrist-to-mach-3/ https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/22/sastek-takes-your-wrist-to-mach-3/#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 15:37:01 +0000 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/?p=119054 Of all the cool Kickstarter designs I’ve seen this year, SaStek seems to take the proverbial cake. Their watch, the Time Speed Indicator, is a clever amalgam of mystery dial complication with a clever aeronautical theme.

Based on an airspeed indicator for a jet airplane, the watch has an arrow around the edge that shows the hour and a middle window for the minute. I runs a standard Miyota 9015 automatic movement and the numerals and hour hand are nicely lumed for night viewing. There are multiple styles including the orange and PVD ARANCIO and the yellow and black GIALLO. All of them come on leather bands.
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The designers plan to ship in January and the pieces cost $347 for early birds. I’m surprisingly pleased by the design and idea behind the case and face and would love to see this puppy in real life.

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Working up a sweat with the Polar A300 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/22/working-up-a-sweat-with-the-polar-a300/ https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/22/working-up-a-sweat-with-the-polar-a300/#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 13:49:07 +0000 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/?p=118993 When it comes to watches (and other devices) that are available to help you get fitter (or at least give you some metrics), you have a wide range of options out there.  At the simpler end, you have things like my trusty Fitbit One; going to more complex, you have the full-on smart watches that incorporate some form of tracking (some with heart rate measurement as well).  While I have previously reviewed one that was a bit short of a true smart watch (the Garmin 920XT, which would give notifications from the phone), we have not looked at many that are purely fitness devices.  Well, today we expand that coverage a bit more with the Polar A300.

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Prior to this review, I knew of Polar, based on recommendations I was getting for a bluetooth heart rate strap to use in conjunction with my Fitbit.  Well, the Garmin became the workout partner of choice so that search was abandoned.  I became re-aware of the brand with the release of their M600, and was intrigued.  Just starting out with the brand, though, we decided to have a look at something that is a good deal more affordable – even with a heart rate strap.  This is how I came to spend a lot more time with the Polar A300 these past few weeks.

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As I’ve used it, I have come to actually prefer the Polar A300 over the Garmin in many ways.  For starters, it pairs up to my phone, and syncs data, much more quickly and reliably than the Garmin does (this is a common complaint about the Garmin Connect app across the ‘net, actually).  I also like the fact that it has a ton of different profiles for various exercises that you can record.  You like taking group classes?  There’s a profile for that.  Weight lifting?  Yup, a profile.  Basically, if there’s an activity, you can find a specific profile for it.

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That, I think, belies who the target consumer for the Polar A300 is.  While the Garmin 920XT can really get into specific metrics to help you train up for things like triathlons, the Polar A300 is actually better suited for someone like me, who is hitting the gym regularly, but it is more for general fitness than training for a specific event.  This gives me some insight into how hard I’m working (or working out), breaking heart rate ranges into five bands, and calculating what percentages of the calories burnt are fat calories.  In other words, the type of information a regular guy (or gal) would be looking for to get more fit.  That all said, the Polar Flow app will allow you to setup training programs for things like a triathlon, if you are so inclined.

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Now, if you are a hardcore runner (or training for a race), something like the Polar A300 is likely not for you, as it does not have a GPS radio in it, so it cannot tell how far you’ve run – you’ll need to know that yourself, either via going known, fixed distances, or by utilizing a track or equipment (treadmill or elliptical, perhaps) that will tell you how far you went.  Again, for someone who is not training for a specific event, that is a-ok.  Another shift for the Polar A300 is how it tracks your goals for the day.

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With the Fitbit – or even the Garmin, for that matter, it seems to be all step-count based.  The Polar A300 seems to take a more holistic view of what is going on, and calculates how active you’ve been (out of a 100% measure) based on the training you’ve done, as well as the walking.  Want reminders to get moving?  It can buzz your wrist if you’ve been inactive too long (and it will record those inactivity notifications in the Polar Flow app as well, so you have that history).  Want a basic alarm?  You can have that too.

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That was one feature I was very interested in with the Polar A300.  The silent alarms on my Fitbit One are all but indispensable for me, as they are how I get out of bed in the morning (and have been for about three years or so).  The Polar A300 alarm worked to wake me as well, and gives the additional nicety of allowing you to “snooze” the alarm.  If you wait too long to snooze or dismiss it, however, it changes from a silent alarm to digital chirps.  Not the end of the world, but not something I needed going off if I was slow on the uptake, and having it wake my wife up as well.

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With that silent alarm functionality, it becomes quickly obvious that the 46g Polar A300 is intended to be on your wrist (of your non-dominant hand) all day, every day.  While I was testing it out, that is precisely what I did.  If you are the sort who likes to mix colors in (and really, most watch folks like changing straps out), there are a variety of different colors of the silicone strap (which itself makes up 26g of the total weight), and these are a cinch to change out.  For as flimsy as the straps feel when the A300 puck is not in it, it’s surprising how sturdy the whole assembly feels.

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This is partly due to some reinforcement in the strap itself, and the fact that the USB connector on the A300 extends into the strap, off of the lower portion of the watch.  This was another win for me over the Garmin 920XT – rather than a proprietary connector and cable, you can plug the Polar A300 into any standard USB port to charge and sync the data (if you did not already sync it on your phone).  This sort of simplicity just works, and it works well.  Then again, you probably will not be plugging it in all that much – battery life is estimated to be about a month with regular training usage, and I found it syncing to my phone pretty easily.

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That’s done via bluetooth (which will allow it to display phone notifications if you are so inclined), of course, and it is also how the Polar A300 talks with the Polar H7 chest strap.  Unlike other, more proprietary, methods of connecting devices to heart rate monitors, the bluetooth usage is a bit more open.  So, while I did not go trying it out, one would presume you could sync this strap into some other device, or even a different app running on your phone.  If you are using it with the Polar A300, there’s another neat feature hiding in it.  When the watch is in a training profile,  you cannot see the current time.  To get that bit of info, simply bring the watch up to the chest strap puck, and it will display the current time for a few seconds.  Handy, no?

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For my money, there is certainly a lot to like about the Polar A300.  It’s pretty darn affordable ($140 with the included chest strap), works simply and easily, and has crazy battery life.  I would not have minded the ability to actually turn the watch off (handy for storing in the gym bag between sessions), and being able to track my distance during a run would be nice as well (then again, there are models higher up the Polar food chain that bring that to the party).

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The main question you have to ask yourself with devices like the Polar A300 is whether or not you want to wear it all day, and what your goals are.  If it’s simple movement tracking, something like this could be overkill, and you have to commit to wearing it all day to get a complete picture.  If you are going into a hardcore training cycle, you might be looking for more features or capabilities.  And for those that fall somewhere in-between – looking for a workout partner to get a more complete picture of what your workouts are doing – then something like the Polar A300 would definitely be in order.  We’ll see if we can’t get some hands-on time with other Polar models; in the meantime, sound off below (or drop us a line) on what your favorite watch-based gym partner is.  polar.com

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Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: Polar A300
  • Price: $140 ($100 w/out the HR chest strap)
  • Who’s it for?: You find yourself a regular gym-goer who wants more detailed information about your workouts, without a steep learning curve on the device doing the tracking
  • Would I wear it?: At the gym, indeed.  Outside of the gym, it requires double-wristing, so I’m not seeing that being a long-lasting trend for me
  • What I’d change: A way to enable pocket carry (without damaging the USB connector) would be a nice add
  • The best thing about it: The absolute simplicity of use was perfect for my gym routine

Tech Specs from Polar

  • Thickness: 12.7mm
  • Water resistant (30 m)
  • Rechargeable battery (Battery life up to 4 weeks)
  • Memory capacity up to 60 days (with daily activity tracking and 1 hour of daily training)
  • Connectivity
    • Easy wireless sync via Polar Flow app with Bluetooth® Smart
    • Custom USB connector for charging and data sync with PC or Mac via Polar FlowSync
  • Polar Flow web service compatibility with Mac OS X 10.6 or later and PC Windows XP, 7, 8
  • Updatable software
  • UI languages in Polar Flow: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, German, Italian, Finnish, Polish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese

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Votum claws itself out of the history books with new models https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/21/votum-claws-itself-out-of-the-history-books-with-new-models/ https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/21/votum-claws-itself-out-of-the-history-books-with-new-models/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 21:55:30 +0000 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/?p=118996 There are a lot of vintage brands out there that have lain unused. Here’s what happens when they come out of cryogenic sleep.

Votum used to make watches in the heyday of Swiss watchmaking, from 1962 up until the 70s. They were fairly short-lived, but did make some nice pieces. This year, two Swiss designers are reviving the brand and putting their own modern spin on it.

The quintessential Votum

The quintessential Votum

What they’ve done right is use an ETA 2824-2 or a Sellita SW221 or 260 depending on the watch model. There’s no doubt these are Swiss made. They’re lumed with SuperLuminova and vary between 41.5 and 42mm in diameter, with a sapphire crystal covering the dial. All in all, they’re nicely specced and well worth a look. But I’m a little concerned.

Here’s where it goes a bit wrong for me: they have a Heritage model which is meant to pay homage to one of the original Votum watches. I wish they’d made a more sincere homage. The original Votum logotype is excellent. The new Votum “V” symbol looks out of place to me. The original had lines bisecting the dial at 11, 10, 8, and 7 o’clock, with applied indices at the four cardinal directions. It was a simple, tasteful look that I’d happily wear today. The new Heritage has the lines at 1, 3, and 5, with a minute track and lume dots instead of markers at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12. On the new Heritage, they sign the dial twice, once below the 12 position with the “V” and again above the 6 position with “VOTUM”. It’s a lot more busy, and a lot less interesting to me.

A reenvisioning of the quintessential Votum

A reenvisioning of the quintessential Votum

The other watches continue along this theme. The Mechanical Date watch has similar woes. The watch has a rotating bezel marked 1 through 31, that you rotate to indicate the date. Votum desribe this as a “…shear[sic] wonder of imagination. A new intricate feature never imagined and never used before. The Mechanical Date is a true innovation in terms of usability and unicity with is rotating date bezel.”

A vintage Votum Divimat

A vintage Votum Divimat

“The Mechanical Date bezel allows you to quickly adjust the date without the use of the crown. You can manually swipe from the 30th day of the month directly to the first day of the new month.” First of all, you don’t swipe to adjust the date, you rotate the bezel. Second, a rotating bezel is not a sheer wonder of imagination, whether it’s indicating minutes on a diver, degrees of a compass, or days of a month. The Mechanical Date has a faux-GMT-style date hand which changes position once a day to point at the bezel. If you need to adjust the date for a month like February, you can rotate the bezel from 28 to March 1 without needing to use the crown.  Votum writes that the Mechanical Date watch is inspired by the Votum Divimat from the 60s. I can hardly believe it, because these things look nothing alike. They could have used the wide metal indices, could have used the beautiful blue sunray finished dial or could have made reference to any of the parts of the old model. It’s hard to see where the old models inspired the new at all.

Rotate that date bezel... daily!

Rotate that date bezel… daily!

The New Classic has a date window that shows three dates, a modern trend of sorts. It has concentric circles inside the hour markers, completing the arc that the date window begins. These circles appear from time to time on other watches, as does the larger date window. The stick markers are on the odd numbers, and evens get arabic numerals. Here too, the dial is signed twice, with the “V” and “VOTUM” text.votum-watches-new-classic

There’s a model named Elegance, which has a seconds subdial at the 6 position. It, too, is signed twice on the dial, V at the 12 and VOTUM at 9 o’clock. The seconds subial is labeled “sec.” If I’m honest, it seems like it’s over-labeled, and doesn’t appear nearly as elegant as it could.

The watches themselves are well appointed, with stainless steel cases, stainless bracelets or leather, sapphire crystals, and Swiss movements. It’s just a shame that the hands aren’t quite long enough, the vintage models aren’t well enough represented in the modern watches they inspire, and the dials apparently need to be signed multiple times. If I had to summarize, I’d say, in our rush to adopt the new, we should be mindful of that which we’re giving up.

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Votum Heritage
  • Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $510 (550 for steel)
  • Who we think it might be for: You like a modern take on a vintage look that was firmly suited for its time.
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Not at this point – I like the look of the originals better than the modern result
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Be a little more faithful to the original inspiration
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: Quality of materials and manufacture.

Tech Specs from Votum

  • Case size: 41.5mm (48.5mm lug-to-lug)
  • Case material: steel
  • Crystal: flat, sapphire
  • Strap: leather, alligator, pin buckle clasp, or stainless bracelet
  • Movement: Swiss-made ETA 2824-2

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Votum New Classic
  • Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $707 (766 on steel)
  • Who we think it might be for: You like a watch with the large 3 day date window, and arabic numerals
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: No. The leather strap is nice, but the dial doesn’t resonate with me.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Make the hands longer, please.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: Swiss movement, and a genuine leather strap.

Tech Specs from Votum

  • Case size: 41.5mm (48.5mm lug-to-lug)
  • Case material: steel
  • Crystal: flat, sapphire
  • Strap: leather, pin buckle clasp, or stainless bracelet
  • Movement: Swiss-made ETA 2824-2

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Votum Elegance
  • Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $911 (970 for steel)
  • Who we think it might be for: You like to change things about on your watch, but haven’t quite gotten to be a full-blown customizer
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Not at this point – once the platform expands, then perhaps
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Anything that can be done to slim it down
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: The promise of modularity

Tech Specs from Votum

  • Case size: 41.5mm (48.5mm lug-to-lug)
  • Case material: steel
  • Crystal: flat, sapphire
  • Strap: leather, pin buckle clasp, or stainless bracelet
  • Movement: Swiss-made Sellita SW260

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Votum Mechanical Date
  • Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $849 (908 on steel)
  • Who we think it might be for: You like a GMT-like look, but have no need for a second time zone – setting date watches annoys you.
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Not especially.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: consider hour indices like the older models.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: there’s a gray dial option.

Tech Specs from Votum

  • Case size: 42mm (48.5mm lug-to-lug)
  • Case material: steel
  • Crystal: flat, sapphire
  • Strap: leather, pin buckle clasp, steel
  • Movement: Swiss-made Sellita SW221
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Visiting Shinola in Detroit https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/21/visiting-shinola-in-detroit/ https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/21/visiting-shinola-in-detroit/#respond Wed, 21 Sep 2016 13:00:47 +0000 http://www.wristwatchreview.com/?p=118807 As any longtime reader of my writing will know, I have a soft spot in my heart when it comes to Shinola. I am originally from outside of Detroit, and had been intimately familiar with manufacturing and automotive, and the impact the downturn has had on those industries, and the people involved in them. Will one single brand setting up shop in Detroit revitalize things on its own? No, it won’t – but they can certainly lead the charge to a revitalized – and skilled – manufacturing base in the city.

Shinola-Tour-01

On the day we went to visit the Shinola Factory, it was actually a pretty quiet day. There was an extensive training going on, so most of the floor was actually pretty quiet. Where we started, however, was quite bustling with activity. That was with the leatherwork part of the operation. You do not hear a lot about this part of their operations, but as I learned, it’s no small bit of what they do.

Shinola-Tour-03

The first thing we saw being made were straps, from the raw blanks up through things being sewn together and edge finishing being done. The exact number escapes my memory at the moment, but there were an astonishing number of steps involved in creating a “simple” leather strap. They were also producing a variety of other leather goods (including a passport wallet that was being released not long after our visit).

Shinola-Tour-07

As it turns out, Shinola is making the vast majority of their leather products there in the Detroit factory. The baseball gloves are the exception, but it sounds like everything else made from leather (by the way, that part of the operation smelled as amazing as you might guess), is made there. To facilitate that, they have a master craftsman coming in regularly to train the employees in the skills they need, and there is a separate R&D portion that allows them to explore new designs. For me, the leatherwork was the surprise of the visit, because we hear so little about it in the watch world.

Shinola-Tour-19

Speaking of the watch world, we did visit the assembly floor for the watches (complete with getting garbed up to keep from contaminating the process). While things were quiet, we did still get to see watches put together, and saw pieces of movements staged and ready to be built. This part of the operation has gotten a lot of attention, especially as of late with the ruling around the usage of the “American Made” label. In talking with our guide, this has become mostly a marketing issue, and changing the language we use.

Shinola-Tour-18

In the watch press, I think it is easy to jump all over the brand for the use (or mis-use, if you fall in that camp) of the American-made, Made-in-Detroit labels. In the midst of all that, it is all-to-easy for one to forget that it is not some faceless, automated, corporate entity that are making these products. There are men and women putting these movements and watches together, and from what I saw, doing it with a smile, willingly explaining to my oldest daughter what was going on. And while I myself am no watch maker, the finesse (and speed) that they were working with is something I could certainly not replicate any time soon.

Shinola-Tour-17

Is the parent company of Shinola trading on the history of the brand? Sure, they are, and they have also capitalized on the Detroit story. Those are all marketing angles, though. When you get down to seeing these products being designed and built, they’re regular folks doing a job, just like you and me. Evaluating watches from afar is something that separates us from that work, and being cognizant of what goes on.

Shinola-Tour-10

I know I have my own preferences for seeing things made (due to my own manufacturing background), but I think tours like these are invaluable. Sure, the Shinola visit may not be a technological wonder like some of the Swiss factory tours may be, but there is still value in seeing how a thing is made, even if it’s “just” a quartz movement. There is a skill involved here, whether it’s building a movement, assembling the watch, or creating some really nice leatherwork. A skill that many of us could only hope to replicate in our own home workshops.

Shinola-Tour-13

 

While I had originally intended this to just be a writeup of what we saw and did on the tour, it looks like things have taken a turn here – sometimes the writing process will do that to you. Specifically to the Shinola tour, if you find yourself near Detroit and have the time, try to get in there and see what they are doing. It may not change your mind about Shinola products, but you can at least appreciate what they are doing, and can put a smiling face behind that lightning bolt logo.

Shinola-Tour-16

More generally, being aware of these manufacturing process is of benefit to us all. If you cannot get out to a tour, check out videos, and look for other manufacture write-ups. They can help you put this all in to context. While there are certainly some smaller, independent brands that I would say are creating things more artistically, a vast majority of what we all see is something of a more industrial style, be it large- or small-scale. Whether art or manufacturing, these visits (or videos and writeups) help us keep the end product in the context it was produced, and I think can help us be a bit more even-keeled about when we hear about some of the marketing-driven stuff (positive and negative) coming up.  shinola.com

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The Nettuno and Mercurio are perfect for sitting in the trattoria while sipping a Negroni https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/18/the-nettuno-and-mercurio-are-perfect-for-sitting-in-the-trattoria-while-sipping-a-negroni/ https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/18/the-nettuno-and-mercurio-are-perfect-for-sitting-in-the-trattoria-while-sipping-a-negroni/#comments Sun, 18 Sep 2016 19:01:45 +0000 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/?p=118970 The sun sets over the coliseum. The sky turns pink. Your perfectly cuffed pants slide up over your bare ankles to expose a tanned shin. Your Pegasus Mercurio glints in the lamplight. You’re at peace.

Why? It’s not because you’re in Rome. in fact, it’s because you’re wearing an “Italian Aged” and Italian-designed watch from Pegasus. The two models, the Nettuno and the Mercurio, have a certain look about them that is obviously familiar but all of the detailing – from the aged straps to the handsome faces – are unique to Pegasus.

These automatic pieces cost $369 for early birds and come on multiple strap styles including a beautiful Milanese band for about $40 extra. They’ve already surpassed their goal of $22,000 and they ship in April 2017.
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A watch like this one isn’t a very hard sell. It has classic lines, a beautiful face, and the price is right. The most interesting thing, however, is that these things are “Aged in Italy.” But what does “Aged In Italy” mean?

We are launching the first “Aged in Italy” watch, 100% handcrafted by skilled artisans with absolute accuracy for every detail according to the traditional features of the twentieth century. We aim to manufacture brand new watches that look aged from the dial details to the packaging. The aging process requires great skill and is made possible by the experience of the best Italian craftsmen. Our mission is to revolutionize the market for vintage watches by offering a completely new product, more reliable and affordable than old watches. Sounds interesting? So keep reading

That’s right: this is a new watch that looks old. The hands have taken on that tan look of a classic watch made in the 1960s and worn with care and case and band harken back to long travels and rough weather. You’re basically going to look like a grizzled old NAVY Seal on shore leave if you strap this on.

Obviously “new old” isn’t for everyone but luckily the pieces aren’t distressed much more than their coloration. Both models are approximately the same but the Mercurio has a bicolor bezel. Both have exhibition backs with “aged sapphire” crystals.

So sop up the last of your ragu with a piece of delicious bread and drink the last of that delicious table wine. Then check the time on your Pegasus and hop on your Vespa because baby you got things to do and people to see. Italy waits for no man.

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Interview with a watchmaker: Paul Tanner’s Freedom To Exist https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/16/interview-with-a-watchmaker-paul-tanners-freedom-to-exist/ https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/16/interview-with-a-watchmaker-paul-tanners-freedom-to-exist/#respond Fri, 16 Sep 2016 22:25:52 +0000 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/?p=118955 Kirsty  had trouble finding a watch that she liked that would fit her. They tended to spin on her wrist or slide up her arm. As a designer, she and her husband Paul Tanner worked to create a new watch to solve the problem. With that said, let’s get into the latest installment of our series, “Interview with a Watch Maker.”  Today, we’re talking with Paul Tanner of Freedom To Exist.

 

WristWatchReview (WWR): What is your history with wristwatches?

Paul Tanner:  We are a new watch brand, so how history is short as we launched in November 2015, but our aesthetic and ethos is timeless and classic.

We believe freedom is the freedom to choose, to fall in love, to wear what you want, how you want to. It’s the Freedom To Exist.

That’s what inspired a group of design-lovers to create their own watch brand – because we wanted to create timepieces free from fast fashion and trend. We create products that honour the classic detailing that makes vintage watches truly timeless. Finally, we wanted a little space away from the noise of branding and technology too. That’s why, when you wear an fte watch, we let the design speak for itself and keep our name hidden where only you can see it.

WristWatchReview (WWR): Why is now the right time to become a watchmaker?

Paul Tanner:  Customers are becoming much more design savvy, and are looking for unique products that help show of their personality and style.

Weve also seen a trend with people wishing to be less branded. The recent Scandi trend is all about minimal and being as pared back as possible. We have applied this to our watch, by making sure it isn’t over branded and covered in dials and diamantes.

 

WristWatchReview (WWR): Before you became a watchmaker, what was your intended career path in life? How did you come to watch making?

Paul Tanner:  We have always had a passion for watches and design.

Between the founders we have nearly 30 years’ experience in the design and retail industry.  We all met while working in furniture and homeware design, and has a common interest in time pieces, but we couldn’t find the perfect one. So decided to do it ourselves.

WristWatchReview (WWR): Why this watch?

Paul Tanner:  It couldn’t be anything else. The Edition One for Freedom To Exist has evolved and developed from so many design elements we love. Its has been distilled into the final piece. Minimal , functional and affordable. We designed the watches to be the best they can be and every design element has been considered. From the domed crystal, to the alignment of the hands and dial markings.

 

WristWatchReview (WWR): Where do you think the industry is moving?

Paul Tanner:  People are discovering a love for watches and accessories again. With so many young stylists, bloggers and Instagrammers out there finding the product that represents you had become important. Customers are investing in more than one watch for different outfits and occasions. Its always pleasing when your watch strap matches your shoes and accessories!

WristWatchReview (WWR): Where do you fit within that future?

Paul Tanner:  Our designs are free from fast fashion. Our aim is that our watch design will remain classic, we don’t follow seasonal launches, that as the company grows we can expand the range & colours, but the aesthetic remains the same. We hope that because our Edition One is as a great price point we can introduce new & loyal customers to our brand; which already seems to be happening; just check out our Instagram!

 

WristWatchReview (WWR): How do online communities play a part in that?

Paul Tanner:  The online community is absolutely vital, as it gives small start-ups like us an international platform. We can reach customers all over the world immediately and as we have free international shipping there is no discrimination. You can receive one of our watches anywhere! In the past it would have taken years to source retailers to amass an international customer base.

Blogs are also a great online resource, for reviews but also for styling. Looking at how one blogger wears the same watch to another is a great source for inspiration for us and our customers.

WristWatchReview (WWR): What are you doing to develop a strong community feedback loop? How does that community feedback change the watch business?

Paul Tanner:  We achieved quick success with Instagram – with success being defined as followers.

Having people like our images, tell their friends, comment on our images. I think social media as a whole can help capture immediate customer feedback.

The reason we ran a Kickstarter for our 40 Edition was because we had so many followers ask for it, they really love the 30 Edition, and wanted a larger size either for themselves or their partner. As we grow as a brand and are able to provide more options, design details such as colour, metals, finishes and mechanism could be something we get feedback on before mass production.

 

WristWatchReview (WWR): How do you define your ideal consumer? Who is it, in your mind, that wears your brand’s watch?

Paul Tanner:  That’s a tough one, we don’t like to pigeon hole our customers. We’re keen to show that people of all ages and backgrounds can style our watches to suit them. That’s why the design is pared back, so it complements the outfit, rather than screaming “look at me”.

WristWatchReview (WWR): What is it that defines your watch? What characteristics are identifiably “YOUR BRAND”?

Paul Tanner:  The fact that we’re covertly branded. It’s the design that speaks first; then when its admired the wearer can say its Freedom To Exist.

We’ve considered a lot of elements. From the lozenge profile, stitched strap and easy to read dial.

 

WristWatchReview (WWR): Along that line of questioning, What are your guiding principles when making design choices?

Paul Tanner:  Honest – We don’t dress things up or hide behind pretty words and design jargon. We let our design speak for itself.

Considered – A piece is only finished when it’s been tried, tested, tweaked, changed and we’ve fallen in love with it. If it doesn’t have design details we’re proud of, then we’re not done.

Affordable – Our prices are fair, for design lovers of every walk of life.

 

WristWatchReview (WWR): How do you think about design and its role in your life?

Paul Tanner:  Design enhances everyone’s everyday life, even if they aren’t aware of it.

Good design is what make us tick. No pun intended.

 

WristWatchReview (WWR): What would the crowning lifetime achievement be for you and your brand as a company?

Paul Tanner:  The most rewarding thing is seeing someone wearing one of our pieces and that warm feeling of pride and achievement, which acts as a reward for all that hard work. Its not so much a crowning achievement, more an ongoing motivation that drives us forwards. http://Freedomtoexist.com

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Introducing the Valachio Avantiam https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/15/introducing-the-valechio-avantium/ https://www.wristwatchreview.com/2016/09/15/introducing-the-valechio-avantium/#respond Thu, 15 Sep 2016 13:00:27 +0000 https://www.wristwatchreview.com/?p=118929 Valachio is launching their first automatic watch, the Avantiam, with the tag line, ‘classic meets modern.’ So let’s talk a little about what’s classic here.

What do you get if you back the Valachio Avantiam on Kickstarter? For starters, it’s an automatic with a double-domed sapphire crystal. We’re already off to a good start. Suppose you like to look at the movement? Enjoy nothing more in life than the simple pleasure of seeing a rotor spin, storing up energy in a mainspring? The Miyota 90S5 is safely guarded behind a sapphire exhibition case back. All of this for a project with early bird pricing that begins at $380 CAD, or about $290 USD.

valachio-avantiam-finals-4-of-18That’s a decent value for money, so let’s talk about what you’ll be looking at on your wrist. The dial and hands are an interesting design, with the hands, dial, and dial font all being heavily influenced by circles. The minute and hour hand are a classic shaped Breguet style, with circles in their teardrop shaped hands set back from their tips. The second hand is a straight stick, with a circle as the counterbalance. The hands are properly long, with the minute hand reaching the dots on the minute track, and the second hand doing the same.4-v2

The dial uses a modern sans-serif font, with numerals counting the even numbers and circles at the odd hour marks. Dots form the minute track and are numbered every ten minutes apart, with the count starting at 5. Colors appear to be a blue hand/marker option for the black dialed watch in a silver case, with a red-second hand/markers-on-white-dial option housed in a PVD gold case. This is Bauhaus, but with a little fun. It also reminds me a little of some of George Nelson’s clocks. It doesn’t have the geometric elements they do, but it’s sort of a muted playful watch in spirit.valachio-avantiam-finals-8-of-18

In all cases, the lugs are wire-like, using springbars. The crown has diamond-shaped knurling on it, and is signed with a V on the end. Because the watch uses the 90S5, the dial is an ‘open-heart’ type, with the balance wheel showing through. I know Patrick is a little worn out on open heart movements, but one of the reasons to wear a mechanical watch is to feel a connection, a sense of wonder, with the mechanism. Straps are brown or light gray in suede, or black or brown in alligator grain leather.

valachio-avantiam-product-photos-1-of-2This a fun watch. It’s not the usual thing we see when people set out to make a classic or minimalist watch. It’s got a modern font, but it doesn’t look out of place; it looks like it’s right at home in the atomic age, and I like it. It will be limited to 500 watches, available for pre-order now. Avantiam on Kickstarter

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Valachio Avantiam
  • Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $291 USD
  • Who we think it might be for: You like a classic watch, but also are a fan of Charles and Ray Eames, or George Nelson wall clocks.
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I have to admit, I like the black dial combination, and the white dial isn’t bad, either.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Increase WR. I wish there were something non-sport watch that could take a little water.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: The mid-century modern character of the dial, meeting the classic hands.

Tech Specs from Valachio

  • Case size: 37.5mm, 43.5m lug to lug, 10.5mm height
  • Case material: steel (polished or gold PVD available)
  • Crystal: double domed sapphire
  • Strap: suede and leather, pin buckle clasp
  • Movement: Miyota 90S5
  • WR: 50 M
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