Sunday, 8 January 2017

My Most-Worn Wristwatches of 2016

Time for my third annual review of which wristwatches I wore the most throughout last year.
Looking back, it would appear that dive watches got the most wear. I can't say I was as adventurous throughout 2016 as I have been in past years. Having returned to work back in February, after a long hiatus, I think I found myself changing watches less and less as I spent my time getting back into a work routine and learning the ropes at the new job. There were days when changing my wristwatch felt like an unnecessary chore.
As for the overseas holiday back in September/October, I just took one watch with me, figuring that I would have plenty else to see and do during the trip, and sitting there deciding on what watch to wear was a minor headache that I didn't need. 
The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously, as General George S. Patton once said. Having only one wristwatch meant only one option. 

Once I tallied up the numbers, I was a little surprised by the results. I think 2016 flew by. Starting a new job and taking a major trip were the obvious main highlights of the year and I think my watches took somewhat of a back-seat to everything else that went on during the year. 
Still, they all performed as they should.
Anyway, here they are, in order of most-worn to least-worn. Please excuse the quality of the photos. It was an overcast day and the sunlight kept disappearing behind clouds.


 1- Omega Seamaster 300 - Model No 165.0024 
Calibre 552 from circa 1967 (WatchCo Build Edition)

I wore this classic Seamaster throughout 21 weeks of last year. I 'changed the shoes' on this watch a few times, alternating it between a black NATO strap, brown leather, and two different stainless steel bracelets. 
In the end, it stayed on a recently acquired Omega Speedmaster 1498 bracelet. On a very warm day recently, I noticed the fit of this bracelet was far tighter than I prefer. Your wrist can tend to swell up slightly in warmer climates. The trick is to find that half-way point between too loose and too tight. If Goldilocks wore a dive watch, it would drive her nuts. 
A couple of days ago, I sat down with the tools and had a shot at adding a half-link from another Omega bracelet, in an effort to get a looser fit. Half an hour of trial and error and it now has a more comfortable fit on the wrist. 

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4X8EF8cbQfE/WBQzHfNr9EI/AAAAAAAAIWQ/va1C2gu2YRIslaD_LKYZjTjvg9HZY7KfwCEw/s1600/PA272884.JPG
 Here's how it looked on a ten Euro leather strap with minimal stitch. These types of straps have been very popular over the last few years. Plain leather, with waxed cotton threading on the spring-bar ends that attach to the watch. This strap has raw edges rather than burnished ones, which means that it will age beautifully as time rolls by. It suited this watch nicely, I must add. The Seamaster 300 is one of the very few designs (in my humble opinion) that can accommodate any kind of strap or bracelet and still look sharp. The same can be said of the Rolex Submariner and the Omega Speedmaster Chronograph. 

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1oV6aSEZKl4/V7brCbFpVjI/AAAAAAAAIO8/MBSE2OmYHygvcUXOP0L7OzYu1h6LCqbCQCEw/s1600/P8131601.JPG
And here it is on a $25 no-name bracelet with straight end-links, to give the watch a vintage look. I wore it on this bracelet until the Omega one came along.

 2- Sinn 103 St Sa Chronograph 
Calibre Valjoux 7750, 2009 model

This next watch was worn throughout sixteen weeks of the year and it's what I brought to Europe for the holiday last September. I thought I'd wear something that was highly legible, robust and water-resistant. And slightly bad-ass. 
The Sinn 103 served me well. Easy to read, accurate, and with a little bit of heft on the wrist. Although in retrospect, I think I should have worn a simpler watch. Just something that told the time, since I didn't really have a need for a chronograph. Looking at wristwatches on the streets of Paris and Rome, I noticed a predominance of colored plastic Casio digital watches on the younger men. Quite a few of them also wore Daniel Wellington watches on colorful NATO straps. Not a fan of this brand. I find their designs rather uninspired, being lifted from other, more established brands. The older men tended to wear Rolex Submariners and DateJusts mainly. Always good to see. Every other guy who didn't wear a watch seemed to have an iPhone firmly clutched in his hand, ready to check the time at a moment's notice. Not cool.

3- Omega Speedmaster Professional - Model No. 3570.50.00 Calibre 1861, 2007 model

Fifteen weeks of the year saw me reach for this classic chronograph. The entire NASA/ moon landing/ astronaut association is so firmly and deeply woven into the history and mystique of this watch, but this has never been a draw-card for me. Nope, the Speedmaster Professional appeals to me simply because its just a beautiful example of mid-Sixties chronograph design. The kind that is no longer made.

TAG Heuer no longer makes the exquisite Carrera chronograph like this anymore. They have brought out a few re-editions in the last twenty years, and they were very close in look and dimensions to this 1960s Reference 2447 NT model here. Their current Carrera models, however, are Carreras in name only. This picture comes from the very well researched and beautifully photographed website; 


Universal Geneve made some incredible chronos back in the day, the Tri-Compax models being one of their most famous;

While you can see certain design similarities between this watch and the Omega Speedmaster, this UG chrono more than holds its own, and there are plenty of watch collectors out there to prove it, making these watches highly sought-after in recent years. 

More info can be seen on this You Tube video;




Rolex began production of their legendary Cosmograph models in around 1960. This particular Cosmograph Daytona on the left dates back to 1975.

Picture courtesy of;

A couple of years ago, I was given a similar model on loan for about a week. It was just a tad loose on my wrist, and I was nervous as hell when I wore it, but there was no way that I was going to mess with bracelet adjustment on this watch. Not at the prices that these things go for these days. 
It did have a certain something about it, though, and I could easily understand the mania that these older models create among Rolex aficionados. 
Here I am, being very, very careful with the 1970 Reference 6265/0;


Of course, Rolex still manufactures the Daytona chronograph these days, but in my view, it is far removed from the models on which it's based. It is also the most widely sought-after new watch on the luxury Swiss watch market. Somebody posted on a wristwatch forum recently that they were on a five year waiting list for a current model. 
Madness. Absolute madness.

 4- Rolex Submariner - Model No. 5513/0 
Calibre 1520, 1982 model
   
If you're a regular reader of this blog, then you may have read of my long, albeit passive, hunt for one of these watches;
The Rolex Submariner 5513 - A 40 Year Chase Comes To An End

The 1982 model 5513 was the last of the Submariners with plain white Tritium dots for the hour markers. Mine is very similar to the model that Roger Moore wore in his Bond debut, Live And Let Die in 1973.
Vintage Submariners will always be pricey, but this was perhaps the only watch that I've ever really wanted. It just took me four decades and numerous other watches (thus forming a collection) to get there. I only wore this watch throughout 11 weeks of the year, though. It is in dire need of servicing and I'm treating it with kid gloves until that happens.

I was swapping the bracelet over to a NATO strap on the watch one day when the crystal and bezel fell away from the case.
When I regained consciousness, I carefully put it all back together and put the watch back in my watch box. I've worn the watch gingerly at times, but only around the house. I would hate to wear this watch out and about and then glance at it only to find that the bezel or crystal have fallen off. I have already been to Rolex HQ to get a quote for a service. Obviously, the bezel insert and crystal will need to be replaced. The bezel itself is fine, but the aluminium insert - for the uninitiated, that's the black ring with the numbers on it- is an after-market part. Something that the seller didn't disclose to me prior to the sale. In fact, the photos that he sent me showed a genuine Rolex Submariner bezel on the watch. No matter. For what it's worth, I long ago sent him an e-mail outlining his underhandedness. I felt a little better afterwards. Besides, I'm too happy with the rest of the watch, anyway.

For me, the main criteria was that the hands and dial markers matched. Over time, the original white hue of the luminous Tritium compound on the hands and hour dot markers can fade to a shade of cream. If these are exposed to moisture, they take on a cheesy shade of pale yellow. 

Thankfully, the dial and hands on my watch have only faded to cream, and they match each other nicely. Previous owners of these watches would opt to have new hands fitted during servicing, in the interests of night-time legibility, but luckily, this one was kept original. As a result, it is in very nice, original condition. 
Once I get it serviced, I'll feel more confident in wearing it a little more often. 
Can't wait. 

5- Omega Railmaster Co-Axial - Model No. 2504.52.00 
Calibre 2403, 2009 model

 Image result
I'm getting lazy here. This is a photo from back in June.
The 36.2mm Raily was worn through ten weeks of the year. This watch is a personal favourite of mine. Simple, clear layout, 150m water-resistance- which is more than most folks need- and a perfect size for my 6.5 inch wrist.
The first Railmaster model was introduced back in 1957. There are rumours (or hopes) that Omega will unveil a 60th anniversary model at this year's BaselWorld Watch Fair in March.
Personally, I hope not. I think they got it right when they made this model and something tells me that, if they produce a new version, they'll jazz it up too much. Whereas this mid-Noughties re-issue stuck fairly close to the look of the 1950s original...

The dial markers and numerals are coated with SuperLuminova compound. It's also used on the cut-out sections of the hands. In the dark, this thing glows nicely. 


...there is speculation that Omega will use a faux aged lume on a sandwich dial* (to give it a vintage look) and that they'll use applied steel numerals instead of luminous ones. Basically, it might look like the current Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial, minus the rotating dive bezel;

To be sure, this here is a nice watch. If I didn't already have a couple of Omega dive watches, I'd have seriously considered one of these.



<-----*Oh yeah, a sandwich dial-
            Just quickly, the hour markers are cut out of the metal disc used for the dial. Then, another disc, coated with faux-aged SuperLuminova, is placed underneath it, sandwich-style. It gives the entire dial a three dimensional look. The use of applied steel (or possibly white gold) numerals further adds to this look. It definitely makes for an intricately put-together watch dial, and no doubt drives up the price. As I said, a smart looking watch, but I don't want to see a new iteration of the Railmaster borrow too heavily from another design.
Anyway, no matter. I got my one and I'm very happy with it.

6- Omega Seamaster AquaTerra Co-Axial - Model No. 2504.50.00
Calibre 2500, 2005 model

Another recycled photo. Sorry, folks. 
I was surprised to find that this watch made it into this year's list. I suppose that it's such an understated design that even I forgot that I'd worn it so much. 
This is a smart watch. Like the Railmaster, this watch measures 36.2mm in diameter and has the same level of water-resistance. It could actually work extremely well if you're a one-watch-guy. Sadly, I'm not. However, whenever I wear this watch, I'm reminded of how sharp it looks. The hands only have a thin strip of Luminova in them, which can make it tricky to read in the dark, but the hands are faceted, which means they do tend to catch the light from virtually any angle. 

If anything, it is perhaps hard to read sometimes if viewed front-on. This depends on the ambient lighting, of course, but I have found that the hands will sometimes disappear against the glossy black dial. It can be easier to read if tilted at an angle. Especially when I'm driving and I give the watch a quick glance for the time. 
Its glossy black dial contrasts wonderfully with the steel hands and markers. It does, though, bear enough design similarities (same case, crown, crystal and bracelet) to the Railmaster to almost make it redundant in my collection. I say almost because I took the bracelet off it not long ago and put a cheap calf leather strap on it which had a lizard-skin print embossed on it. This changed the entire look of the watch. 


Not a great photo, since it doesn't show the strap in its true light, but a glossy black strap does dress this watch up quite a bit. So, I think I'll hit eBay for a 19mm black lizard-skin strap at some point. 

7- Oris Diver Sixty-Five, Model No. 733 7707 4035
Calibre SW200-1, 2016 model

I am already formulating ideas for a proper review of this watch, so I'll keep it short here. The Oris Diver Sixty-Five was released at the BaselWorld Watch Fair in 2015 and it was one of the surprise sleeper hits of the year. Borrowing heavily from its archive, Oris created a modern version of one of its distinctive designs of the mid-1960s, beefing the size up to 40mm from what I assume would have been 36mm back in the day. This 2015 release had a glossy black dial which contrasted nicely with the sci-fi font of the numerals. The hands were a sober picket-fence style, and they placed a date window at the six o'clock edge of the dial. 




Later in 2015, Oris brought out another version with what they called a "Deauville Blue" dial (pic on left courtesy of Topper Jewellers). 
 It is of a lighter shade of blue than I am used to seeing on dive watches, with a soft, light grey disc at its centre. 



 Half-way through 2016 saw the release of another dial colour variation. This was done with not much fanfare from Oris. As soon as I saw this watch in the flesh (or 'in the metal', as watch collectors say), I was hooked. 


Glossy cyan blue outer edge, glossy black disc in the centre. Unlike any other dive watch I have. Forty millimetres in diameter (like my Submariner!), 100m of water-resistance, and a raised and curved sapphire crystal, which gives the watch even more of a vintage vibe. 
Truth be told, my tastes lean more towards vintage watches rather than modern. 
The bracelet design is borrowed/stolen from the riveted bracelet designs of 1950s Rolex models, and it perfectly suits this watch. I wore this Oris for seven straight weeks after I got it. Managed to prise it off my wrist on Christmas Day, to give some other watch a run. 
Oris is a tricky brand. Just when I think I've seen everything it has to offer, it surprises me with something like this watch.

And that's 2016's wristwatches. Others were worn to a lesser extent. My Seiko 7002 was my go-to watch whenever I picked up a screwdriver, paintbrush or mowed the lawns. 
The Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises got a bit of wear too, once I swapped it over to a nicer strap. Again, this is a watch that would look great with lizard-skin. 
I sold off my Oris Miles Tonneau automatic to a very grateful buyer, so at least that will get some wear. I had originally intended to give it to my son when he's older, but he seems to prefer dive watches. Besides, there's no shortage of dress watches for him to choose from. 
This year will have more to do with maintenance of some pieces. My Seamaster 300m was purchased in 1999 and has never been serviced. That's well overdue.
Firstly, the Submariner. Once that one's done, I'll review what needs to be attended to next. Although, I can see that there may be one or two watches still to shift along, since they don't get worn much at all. 
I'm trying to distill the collection down a little wherever possible. 
Because, if they're not being worn, then they're just taking up space. 

Thanks for reading!


 

2 comments:

  1. That is a very nice watch collection. I have never worn anything as nice as any one of those. Nice cameras too,

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very informative post. I read it first time at your blog, its really impressive. Keep up the good

    ReplyDelete