The Mecha-Quartz is an interesting breed. It combines the accuracy and battery reliance of a quartz movement with the tactile feel and robustness of a mechanical movement, all in a single hybrid package. The Nine Four Culture Chrono is a new contender in the market, aimed at classic chrono styling in a budget friendly form. Find the Culture Chrono directly from Nine Four Watches. It’s their first, and so far only, model.
Most notably, they Culture Chronograph uses the rather interesting Seiko VK63 Mecaquartz Movement. This movement has both quarts components to control time readout and timing in general, as well as a mechanical section that controls the chrono and button pushers – it’s an interesting movement, but unfortunately, I’m not a true fan – you’re still wearing a battery powered watch, and really besides the button push feeling, I’m not sure what else you’re getting by having that mechanical movement in there. More maintenance and complexity? Esoteric bragging rights? If it were up to me, I’d say stick with a really solid quartz movement with a long long life battery or solar module, and give those button presses the action they need in the pusher assembly.
The Culture Chrono comes packaged in a sort-of nifty rigid foam zipper case. Smooth vinyl on the outside, rigid foam core, and a fabric interior – much like what’d you expect a piece of outdoor gear like a gopro or brunton compass to be packaged in. The watch is held in place by another rigid foam insert, with requisite watch pillow in the center.
I certainly appreciate the desire to create a functional, durable case that could actually be taken around on trips – the zipper and materials lend themselves to this. However, to present the watch in its “strapped” state, curled around a pillow, instead of a flattened presentation make the little box a cube, a bit larger than a rubics cube. Ideally, I’d love to see this case reimplemented as a flat presentation case, easy to slip in and our of your luggage. (That being said, I know the attachment and style of the rubber strap doesn’t make this easy)
Out of the box, the watch looks fine – not an immediate head turner, but it’s just fine. It has an OK weight, and dial is easy enough to read.
Fit and Finish
First and foremost, I must mention the bezel insert ring with Tach markings. In the sample I received, the unfinished, raw and jagged metal edges of the ring stick up above both the edge scallopings as well as the raised ridges of the bezel. It looks like either not enough depth was engineered into the track for the insert into the crown, or there’s a fit or gluing problem. In any case, even for a relatively inexpensive watch like this, manufacturing defects on this scale are unacceptable. And for that defect, I can’t recommend this watch.
In other aspects, the watch is just fine – the rubber strap is pliable, and has nifty dimples on the wrist side which make it seem less muggy wearing it. The DLC coating is a nice deep black, and compliments the rest of the black colors on the watch just fine.
On the Wrist
Wearing the Culture Chronograph is easy. The rubber strap requires no break in, is immediately comfortable, and really there’s nothing to get used to. On some watches with stiff leather straps, a few weeks of wear to really conform the leather to your wrist is needed. On some metal bracelet watches, the weight takes getting used to. But this modestly sized, rubber strapped chrono is just easy.
The dial is a simple chrono, with an extra bit of interest at 12,3,6,and 9 – are written in Arabic. A nifty little bit of interest – but honestly I’m not sure what’s behind it – there’s not even an explanation of this brand’s heritage on their website.
In addition to the chrono dials, there’s also a 24hour dial – a complication I always feel is useless – I’d love to see this turned into a 2nd time zone.
The manufacturing defect with the bezel insert ring sticking up is a non-starter. Fix this issue first.
Should You Buy It?
Looking for a basic chrono with a tach ring, and a few interesting other features at a decent price? Then still keep looking. Because of the manufacturing defect, I’m afraid I really can’t recommend this one.
If I eventually saw a unit manufactured perfectly I’d say this could be a good choice if you’re particularly interested with the bit of arabic numeral interest on the face – but other than that, this hasn’t been the most exciting piece. It’s easy to wear, works basically well, but isn’t either an heirloom piece to pass down through generations, nor a quirky conversation piece to pass around to friends.
- Brand & Model: Nine Four Culture Chronograph
- Price: USD$200.00
- Who we think it might be for: This could be a good choice if you’re particularly interested with the bit of arabic numeral interest on the face and need a basic chronograph to knock around in.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Fix the manufacturing defect.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: I was excited about that mecha-quartz movement. Then the excitement quickly faded.
- Case Diameter: 42mm
- 10mm Thickness
- VK63 Mecaquartz Movement
- 20mm Band Width
- Genuine Leather Strap
- Modern Arabic Numerals
- Sapphire Crystal
- 316L Stainless Steel Case
- Stainless Steel Back
- Date Function
- Chronograph Function
- Luminous Hands & Dial Markers
- Water Resistant: 10 ATM / 100 Meters