Wednesday 27 March 2024

Reading/Time No. 4 | September - December 2023 - The Book/s I Read, The Watches I Wore, and One Typewriter Leaves While Another One Arrives


Oh, one typewriter that I’m most likely gonna shift - I have an Olivetti Lettera 22 that has always been problematic, but seems to have gotten worse recently. The ribbon doesn't seem to advance any longer. Aside from that, the original problem was that the carriage locks up when it gets to the end of a line and the bell rings. So, rather than spend time, energy and money on getting it dealt with, I think I'd rather just get rid of it as a fixer-upper or parts machine for somebody else.

October 2023
I didn't read much throughout September. Our wonderful cat Dussy's health deteriorated rapidly in the first week of that month and we made the painful decision to put her to sleep. See my post from around that time, as my eyes are welling up a little as I write this. I spent a couple of listless weeks concentrating on work during the day and not much else once I got home. I may have gotten a little run-down too. Thought it was hayfever, then suspected it might be Covid. Did a test. It was Negative. Went to the doctor. Turns out it was a 'flu. My wife and I would be going to Vietnam a week later, so I took things easy. Felt back to normal a few days later.
Okay, the books I read. After finishing London Rules, I sped through two more of Mick Herron's books. These two aren't part of his Slough House series, but they do still take place in the corners of that world, with some guest appearances from characters and/or departments that are touched upon in previous novels.
Nobody Walks concerns Tom Bettany, an ex-MI5 operative now working at an abattoir in France. As far a cry from his former life as possible, when he gets a message telling him that his estranged son has died in London. He heads back to England and finds that more than a few people from his former life are interested to learn that he’s back in town. This book has a le Carre feel to it in terms of mood and plotting. I don’t normally look at what’s occurring between the lines when I read a book but this one had a strong theme of ‘closure’ permeating throughout the narrative.

The Omega Seamaster Professional 300m, which I purchased way back in November 1999. This watch hasn't seen much time on the wrist in recent years. Most likely due to the skeleton hands, which I've found tricky to read in low light as my eyes age, along with the rest of me. I do think there are aspects of this watch that have dated over the years, such as the aforementioned hands. I've also found the wave pattern of the dial to be another element of this watch which firmly plants it back to the late Nineties, although it doesn't tend to stand out as much now as it used to. Those hands, however, had been on my mind whenever I'd wear the watch, but I had a plan to do something about them. 
More about that later in this post - if it's a short one - or in the next post.
The next Herron book that I read was called Reconstruction, and it starts with a young man on the run who busts in on a kindergarten and takes a group of teachers and children hostage, demanding to speak to Ben Whistler, who works for the Accounts Department. The first few chapters establish each of the characters caught up in this hostage situation. Again, looking for a theme of the book, the phrase 'nobody is really who they seem to be' kept flittering through my head. With the exception of "Bad" Sam Chapman, Head of MI6's Internal Security Division, otherwise known as 'The Dogs'. He's a chain-smoking cynic and he remains so throughout this book and other Herron novels set at Slough House. 
I like Herron's writing style. He's hammered out 19 books since 2003, beginning with a mystery thriller called Down Cemetery Road. He wrote Reconstruction in 2008 and began his Slough House series in 2010, with Slow Horses. He has stated in recent interviews that he's given some thought to ending the Slough House books which, to me, would be a shame. Although, an author does run the risk of churning out crap if they start to feel a little burn-out regarding a long-running series. 
Once I'd finished these two Herron books, it was time to revisit a novel that I first read when The Wall was still up.


It would be fair and justified to say that le Carré's books should be viewed as literature as much as espionage fiction. Which is why so many of his works are considered classics.

In some ways, this book first appears as a 'small story' which concerns the efforts of CIA operative  Claire Saylor as she  attempts to meet with East German Stasi intelligence officer Emil Grimm so that she can convince him to  steal some of these decommissioned files before the Stasi destroys them. 
The story moves at a good pace and paints a good picture of Berlin in the post-Cold War months as East Germany begins to crumble. Fesperman is an accomplished espionage author with a prolific back catalogue of titles and his journalistic background lends a deft hand to his writing an research. 

After finishing the Fesperman book, I decided to read another book that I hadn't touched since the mid-Eighties. Aside from spy fiction, I was also heavily into hard-boiled crime fiction of the '30s and '40s. Reading through much of Dashiell Hammett's works eventually led me to his last full-length novel from 1934, The Thin Man.
The story concerns ex-private detective Nick Charles, who's married to railroad heiress Nora. Nick spends his days as an executive for this railroad company when he and Nora visit New York prior to Christmas. 
He bumps into the daughter of a former client and gets roped into looking for her father, who hasn't been seen or heard of for some time. 
It's a fun book in a lot of ways. Within the first ten or fifteen pages, I'd lost count of how many drinks the Charles couple partake of. 
Hollywood churned out six Thin Man movies throughout the '30s and early '40s, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora. It's fair to say that this book, and the subsequent films, cast a very long shadow, as their influence can be seen in TV shows of later decades, such as Hart To Hart and Moonlighting.
Re-reading it now that I'm much older, I found myself preferring the characters and dialogue rather than the story itself. It's a shame that Hammett never wrote a few more of these Nick and Nora books, as their lightness of tone was vastly different to his earlier detective stories. 
Finally, the Omega Seamaster Professional 300m that I mentioned earlier.
First introduced in 1993, it replaced the Omega model Seamaster 200, which had been in production since the mid-Eighties. This new version did respectable business upon its release, but it wasn't until it adorned Pierce Brosnan's wrist in his first OO7 outing Goldeneye in 1995 that sales began to soar. 
I began working in the wristwatch industry back in late 1999, a few weeks after I bought this watch and over the next decade, I saw just how popular this watch was. 
It's a well made and robust dive watch which walks that very fine line between dressy and sporty. No mean feat.

In recent years, though, I found the skeleton hands a little difficult to read in low light, given the sparse amount of luminous paint used on the hands. 
I knew that there were a few things I could do about this. One option, which I had seen done by other owners of this watch, was to use the hand-set of the other Seamaster model of the era, the 2254.50.00 model;

I gave this option some serious consideration, but found that this hand-set's hour hand appeared a little too short on the Bond model. Also, I wasn't a fan of the way the minute hand tapered down towards the middle of the dial.
I was about to give up when I read of another collector who used the older hand-set from the vintage Seamaster 300 model of the 1960s. I have one of these;
Notice that the minute hand on this model retains its width, like a picket-fence paling. 
Hmm, that might work very nicely indeed, I thought to myself. 
Next day, I discussed it with the watchmaker that I work with and he said he had a set of these hands lying around somewhere at home and would take a look for them. 
One thing though; while the hour hand's hole will slot right into position, the hole at the base of the minute hand needs to be 'breached' slightly in order to fit on the central pipe that the hand attaches to. Basically, it needs to be filed/reamed a little.
My watchmaker didn't see a problem with this. It's the sort of work that he's been doing since the early 1980s. 
And so, a few days later, he found the hands and I brought the watch in to work. 
No rush, I told him. He had it done by next day. He's a terribly nice guy. 
Anyway, the end result;

And we end up with a super-legible hand-set. Not only that, but this hand-set design harks back to the classic military Seamaster 300 and Rolex Submariner dive models that were issued to Royal Navy divers back in the 1970s.

In a further attempt to de-Bond the watch a little more, I may look at changing the bracelet. All of these changes are easily reversible, which was my main concern. 

Either way, I now have a watch that I can easily read again. Because that's what a watch is for.

I hope you've all been well.
Thanks for reading!

Sunday 7 January 2024

My Most-Worn Watches of 2023

Twenty/twenty-three was an interesting year in terms of my watch wearing habits. I was busy in my job, I spent most of the year recovering from the bunion surgery that I underwent in September of 2022, and I suffered a set-back in March when I fractured a metatarsal in my left foot, which has left me with daily pain when I walk. 
As such, I didn't cycle through my watches last year as often as I did in previous years. This was perhaps due to laziness more than anything else. It was sometimes easier to leave a watch on my wrist for several days at a time rather than swap them out daily. Which was fine by me, as I got a chance to spend more time with a certain watch.  
As a result, I settled into a preference for certain sizes and certain watches. This is something that I've been contemplating over recent years, as I began to see patterns in the sizes of watches that I tended to like. My collection comprises numerous watches of various types, but I tend to make a bee-line for certain pieces. I had a few new arrivals in 2023 and one departure. Some watches were well overdue for servicing and had therefore not gotten much time on the wrist, some watches needed other attention, and some watches were overshadowed by others.
I have found these yearly round-ups to be quite useful in showing how and where my tastes may have evolved or changed, and which pieces found their way onto my wrist more often than others.
Anyway, time to get this post underway. I will admit that some of the results were quite surprising to me.  
And so...
There's no shortage of Pilot's style watches out there. Just about every brand has produced one or two at some point throughout its history. The beauty of this type of watch lies in the clarity of the dial. They tend to offer at-a-glance readability with wonderful contrast between dial and hands.  
Similar to Military and Field watches, the dials comprise of Arabic numerals  all the way around, with plain picket-fence hands. Usually, the numerals and hands have a luminous coating for legibility in the dark or low-light conditions. A seconds hand ensures that the wearer knows that the watch is running, and these types of watches often had a hacking function, allowing one to synchronise the seconds hand, so that a squadron of pilots, for example, could set their watches to the exact time down to the second.   
I love the dial of this watch! So much detail and thought has gone into it. Each numeral is applied, as in attached rather than printed or painted on, and then filled in with a generous dollop of SuperLuminova. The glossy sunburst blue dial has a beautiful sheen to it and the numerals appear to gently sit on its surface. 
The red diamond-tipped seconds hand ticks along and passes over a white diamond marker that's recessed slightly in the chapter ring and positioned behind each numeral on the dial. The five stars on the dial has nothing to do with a Google Review. These stars were a symbol of Longines accuracy back in the days of their Admiral series of watches in the 1960s.
This Spirit model is COSC-rated and contains a silicon balance-spring, which means it is highly corrosion resistant and not affected by magnetic interference or extreme changes in temperature. 
For me, though, the niftiest aspect of this movement is the 72 hour power reserve. Take it off on Friday evening when you get home from work and this thing will still be ticking along when you pick it up again on Monday morning. I never used to think a long power reserve was a selling point for me. I always felt a 38 or 42 hour power reserve was sufficient, but these modern watches with an approximate 3-day power reserve is quite handy. Especially when alternated with other watches.
Oh, and this watch has 100m water-resistance. Not the first watch I'd think of for a dip in a pool or ocean, but still handy if you ever get thrown into a pool or ocean. Although, if you ever do find yourself in either of these scenarios, you may have a bigger problem than your watch's water- resistance. 
And, of course, as with most modern watches, it has a sapphire crystal. Not impossible, to scratch but it'll handle day-to-day scuffs. 
The sun was shining and it was a warm day, so I whipped up a Daiquiri for this last photo;
The Daiquiri #
60ml White Rum
30ml Lime juice 
20ml Simple Syrup*
Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake it up till it's ice-cold. 
Strain it into a cocktail glass. 
Garnish with a slice of lime. 

*Simple Syrup - two or three teaspoons of fine sugar. Castor Sugar is probably best, but I was out of it. 
Into a small glass and add a little bit of boiled water to create a thickish consistency, somewhere between that of water and honey, leaning more towards honey. If you make it and it looks too runny, just add more sugar till you get it right.

# Recipe taken from The Essential Cocktail Book / Edited by Megan Krigbaum  / Ten Speed Press, 2017 / 341p. 
As far as Expedition watches go, the Rolex Explorer and Omega Railmaster are my favourites, but I'll readily admit that I'm not a fan of every iteration of these two watches. 
With this version of the Explorer, Rolex returned to the classic 36mm case size and provided an upgrade to the dial by filling the 3, 6, 9 numerals with a thin layer of their proprietary Chromalight lume, which glows a pleasant shade of ice-blue. As much as I like the older models, my one pet-peeve was the lack of lume on the numerals at the cardinal points of the dial. This is why I love my Railmaster. The numerals glow in the dark. 
Either way, this current Explorer redresses this by providing markers and numerals that glow in the dark. 
This watch also has a long power reserve, similar to the Longines Spirit. The Rolex Calibre 3230 will run around 70 hours when fully wound. Again, this is something that I've come to like in a wristwatch in recent years. I don't consciously seek out watches with long power reserves, but it is a nice bonus when I find one.

I'll start off here by saying; My God, those lenses are filthy!
Okay, that's out of my system. Moving on.
In Live And Let Die (Jonathan Cape, 1954), Ian Fleming equipped Bond with a "Rolex Oyster Perpetual, with large phosphorous numerals, fitted on an expanding bracelet."
Fleming didn't add much to his description of OO7's wristwatch beyond that, despite the fact that he was a stickler for details. Something tells me that if the watch had said 'EXPLORER' on the dial, Fleming would have stated it. 
This watch was worn through 64 days of 2023. Beaten by the Longines Spirit by one day! Still, sixty-four days is a pretty good run, considering that I got this watch in mid-May. I knew I was going to get a lot of wear out of it. It's understated, clear, and it exudes a real 'urban guy's watch' vibe. 
Even just lying on its side in the photo above, it looks terribly masculine. 
And, like the Longines Spirit, this Explorer is also rated to 100m water-resistance. Again, not a first choice for a day at the beach, but nice to know that it'll handle any day-to-day immersion in water, whether you're reaching into a bucket of water while washing your car, or you get thrown into a swimming pool at a slightly out of control Christmas party. 
I've, uh, done both of those things.  

Apparently, there's a wristwatch in the photo above. Yes, I can't see it either. 
A slight digression - I had some Pommery Brut Royal Champagne left over from New Year's Eve so, time for a...
French 75#

30ml Gin
15ml Lemon juice
10ml Rich Simple syrup (see recipe up above and add more sugar so that it turns out syrupy)
Place these three ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake it for about ten seconds.
Strain into a Champagne flute and top up with Champagne. Garnish with a strip of lemon peel on the edge of the glass.
# Recipe taken from How To Make Better Cocktails / By Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge, Natalia Garcia Bourke and Andy Shannon  / Mitchell Beazley, 2023 / 224p.

Okay, the info relevant to this watch is lost in that first photo, so let me aim for a close-up;
Yeah, that's better.
I knew I was gonna love this watch when I first clipped it to my wrist back in mid-2018. 
I put my name down on one of those dreaded 'expressions of interest' lists and waited 18 months to hear back from the Assistant Manager of a store I'd previously never dealt with. I never did hear back from him and I strongly suspected that he never had any intention of contacting me, since I wasn't an already established customer of his with a purchase history from his store.
By the middle of 2020, I decided to cast my net out wider. I went to see the Manager of a store that was a Tudor stockist. This fellow was the brother of a co-worker of mine and I told him to put my name down on 'the list' and I'd be happy to wait. Six months later, I was informed that he'd received a BB58 on a leather strap.  
Was I interested?, he asked. 
Yes. Yes I was, I replied.
He placed it on hold for me and I asked him to order the steel bracelet for it. My plan was to sell the strap, since I knew I'd never wear it. Once I got the watch (on Boxing Day, 2020), I put it on a leather strap of my own while I waited a couple of weeks for the bracelet to arrive. 
Once it did, I fitted it to the watch, removed some links to fit my wrist and...just one problem;

A near-perfect fit, dammit. That clasp bridge section doesn't follow the curve of my school-girly 6.5 inch wrist. I could still wear the watch without any problem, but this clasp arrangement provided a 90% perfect fit. I wanted 100%.

Eventually, a few companies came up with varying solutions. I doubt they had me in mind, but there were a couple of intriguing options. One brand, called Steel Reef, had a foldable link solution that could be attached to the underside of the clasp. Not sure if this would work for me, and I didn't want to shell out 100GBP to find out if it would work. 
So, when Uncle Straps came up with a half-link, designed for the Black Bay 58, priced at around fifty AUD, I figured I should give it a try. 
End result was;
Okay, still not 100%, but pretty damn close. The clasp bridge now sits more in line with the second link on the right-hand side of the clasp, virtually eradicating that gap that's seen in the previous photo. Close enough, and it sits a little better on my wrist. 

Okay, finally, a half-decent photo. Taken a couple of years ago. This BB58 was worn throughout 54 days of last year. I probably would have worn it more, but the Longines and Rolex were new arrivals and they got their fair share of time in the spotlight in 2023. 
Having said that, this watch has nudged the almighty Submariner 5513 to a much lower spot on the totem pole of my collection. 
Don't get me wrong. I love the Submariner, but while it has old-school charm and cred that's through the roof, it also has old-school technology. The crystal is Plexiglas for one thing, and it doesn't suit my clumsy lifestyle. 
I knocked the watch against a door frame a few years ago and the bezel fell off. A year before that, I was removing the bracelet from the watch and when I tilted the watch to the side, the bezel and crystal fell away from the case. It's a beautiful watch, steeped in wristwatch history and photogenic as all hell. But I can't afford to get it repaired every time it gets knocked around. 
The BB58 is everything that a vintage Submariner isn't. There. I said it. Collectabillity, investment value/potential, social media flex. Pfft! These mean nothing to me. I just like wristwatches, which is why my 5513 shares room with a $38.00 Casio MRW-200H. 
Purists and snobs be damned. 
Danny Milton, my favourite writer at Hodinkee, owns both a Sub 5513 and this Tudor and he summed the BB58 up perfectly in ten short words; In many ways, Tudor is now what Rolex once was. 
It's a great article, with fantastic photos taken by his wife. Here's the link;
My collection will surely change as the years roll by. The Submariner may go, to be replaced by a more modern iteration.
The Tudor Black Bay 58, however, ain't going nowhere.


Seiko is often considered a gateway brand into mechanical watches and the SKX series was often a starting point for a lot of collectors. I have no shred of evidence or proof to support that statement, but I have read of a few watch collectors who have stated that this watch was their introduction to mechanical wristwatches.
Some collectors move on from this watch to Swiss-made, while others hold on to their SKXs as a reminder of where their watch collecting journey began. As for myself, I arrived at this watch around mid-2021. 
I always knew of its existence, but my collection was a little top-heavy with dive watches, so I kept putting this watch off, thinking that it would be around forever and I'd get around to getting one some day. It was inexpensive, considering. Around four hundred bucks AUD. 
The SKX series was discontinued in 2019 (I think) and prices of these models soon began to climb as supplies began to dwindle. I snapped one up in September 2021, while they were still able to be found brand new. By then the price had increased to $650.oo. 
Rather than go for a black dial, I opted for the blue because A) it breaks up my dive watch collection a little, and B) I liked the 20-minute red bezel insert, as it is such a part of Seiko dive watch design language. Also, the arrow-shaped minute hand - which was almost a deal-breaker - and the crown-at-4-position of the crown are quintessentially Seiko. Put these three elements together and you have a watch that cannot be mistaken for a Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster and, given the popularity of this watch since its inception in 1996, it deserves a place at the same table as the Submariner and Seamaster. 
This watch was worn over 22 days in 2023, a sharp drop compared to the Black Bay 58's 54-day dominance, but still, this Seiko came in very handy due to its day and date function. 
This model, with the 'K' designation in the model number, was assembled at Seiko's subsidiary factory in Malaysia. The Japanese-built model, the SKX009J, tended to sell for a higher price and the quickest way to tell the difference between the Japanese and Malaysian model is the dial text. The models made in Japan have '21 JEWELS' printed underneath the 'DIVERS 200m' text at the 6 o'clock edge of the dial. Also, the shade of blue on the Malaysian dial is slightly darker than the Japanese-built model. 
I like the heft of the case when the watch is on my wrist. I like how the hands and hour markers glow all night long, and I like the smooth click of the bezel when it's turned. It has an effortless feel to it, something that quite a few high-end Swiss brands don't seem to emulate. And despite its 42.5mm diameter, it sits quite nicely on my wrist, thanks to its short lug length.
This watch originally came with a rubber strap, but I already had a steel bracelet from another Seiko diver that I had and I quickly attached it to this watch. 
The Calibre 7S26 in this watch has been used throughout numerous Seiko Automatic watches over the years.  It is a dependable movement. Timekeeping-wise, it's meant to lose or gain anywhere between 15 to 30 seconds a day, but I must say that I've had two or three Seiko watches with this movement in it and the timekeeping was more reliable than that figure. 
The other thing with this movement is that it is automatic only, meaning that you can't wind it by hand. Still, a couple of quick flicks of the watch while it's in your hand and off it goes. Put it on your wrist and get your day underway and the internal rotor will do the rest, keeping the watch wound while you wear it.
The SKX range has since been replaced by the Seiko 5 Sport series, which shares probably 90% of the design elements of the SKX series, so if any of you missed out on the SKX when it was in production, you have a chance to get something very similar in the 5 Sport collection. 
Some watch collectors/enthusiasts don't look twice at the Seiko brand. 
Their loss. 
I cannot fault Seiko at all. One of the best bang-for-buck brands out there.

This watch can sometimes wear a little large on my wrist, but it's a small price to pay. It sits pretty low and this tends to balance out the diameter. 
This one was  a Grail piece for me. I spent around five years looking at water-damaged originals and Vietnam War-era fakes before deciding to pay a visit to WatchCo to have this watch assembled. WatchCo was an Omega parts distributor and they made a run of these watches, put together from period-correct movements from the 1960s and all new case parts. 
Purists will scoff.
Like I care.

At the time of writing this entry (Jan 6th), it was a sweltering day here in Melbourne, Australia. I did some light exercise in the morning, ran a couple of errands, and then my wife and I spent an hour or so trimming some bamboo trees along the side path and, by the time we were done, I figured it was time for a drink. 


45ml White Rum
15ml Lime juice (freshly squeezed)
1/2 to 1 tsp fine sugar
Mint leaves
Soda Water

Take a Collins glass and add the lemon juice and sugar. Mix it up. Add a few leaves of mint and press them against the sides of the glass with a bar spoon or muddler. This will break the leaves slightly to release their flavour. 
Fill the glass two-thirds with cracked ice.
Add the Rum.
Top up with soda water.
# Recipe taken from Esquire: Drink Like A Man / Edited by Ross McCammon and David Wondrich  / Chronicle Books, 2016 / 208p. 

I didn't miss the Nighthawk once it was gone. Sure, it's a cool looking watch, but it didn't really suit my tastes. 
And so, a month or so later, I began to think about getting some other solar-powered watch, something that I could use for travel, even though I don't travel all that much. I wanted a watch that would be dependable but not something that I would cry over if it got lost or extensively damaged. It needed to be water-resistant, it needed to be easy to read, and this time around, I'd go for something a little smaller in size. 
Enter the Seiko SNP585P. I went for the blue dial and bezel model, again this was done to break up the black dive watch collection a little. I saw this model at a chain-store jewellers at my nearby shopping centre and it was on sale. Seiko fans have humbly nicknamed this watch "The Sunmariner" due to its similar design elements to the Rolex Sub, and sure, the similarities are there, but it has plenty of Seiko DNA in it too. 
I actually stumbled across the black dial version in a wonderful article by Thomas Calara over on Worn & Wound;

Most likely, it was the great photography in that article that helped sway my decision towards this watch, and the blue version (SNE585P) doesn't disappoint. If I have one gripe about this watch, it would be the wideness of the lugs, but this is indeed a minor, minor quibble. The rest of the watch overshadows this. The bezel action has that smooth and effortless Seiko feel to it, the dial is wonderfully legible and glows nicely in the dark, 200 metres of water-resistance is way, way more than I'll ever need, and the watch has a nice sleek profile on the wrist. 
As a result, this watch got worn over 18 days of the year. It would make for a great travel watch and indeed it did when I took it to Vietnam in October for a quick week away in Ho Chi Minh City. I swapped out the steel bracelet for a rubber strap and the watch performed like a champion during the trip. 
The entire dial of the watch is a solar panel, which soaks up UV light and stores power. I've had the watch since around May last year and so far, it hasn't stopped ticking, so I think there's plenty in the tank on this thing. I'd probably have to leave it in a drawer for about a year for it to stop. 
My wife and I have booked to go back to Ho Chi Minh City in a few months and I'll again be taking this watch with me. Most likely, the bracelet will be replaced with the rubber strap and I'll maybe bring along a spare NATO or two-piece nylon strap to switch things up if I find the rubber strap too hot against the skin. 
All in all, it's a great watch. If somebody were to ask me to recommend them a dive watch without the care and feeding that's required with a mechanical watch, this would be what I'd recommend. 

And that's my Top Six Most Worn Watches of 2023 wrap-up.

But wait, there's more! 
I have two watches that hadn't gotten much wear in 2023. One of them is one of my earliest purchases, but I've come to find it difficult to read the time on it in recent years due to its skeleton hand-set. The other one is another favourite of mine, but I've never been a fan of the flimsy clasp on the bracelet. 
Anyway, here's what I did to get these watches to my liking again.
The Omega Seamaster Professional 300m (Reference No. 2531.80.00 / 1999)

This watch was first released in 1993 and it did respectable sales. However, once it was chosen as James Bond's wristwatch for Pierce Brosnan's first OO7 flick, Goldeneye, in 1995, sales started going skyward.
Okay, for the sake of accuracy, he actually wore the quartz version (Reference No. 2541.80.00) in that film and Omega soon realised that it could cash in on the more expensive automatic model, so the switch was made over to the mechanical version in 1997, for his next Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, and Bond has since worn an automatic Omega Seamaster in every movie after that. 
I wore this watch solid for the first six years that I had it, before my collection began to expand. I wore it when both of my kids were born. It's going nowhere. 
My main gripe about this watch, though, was the skeleton hands. They are part of its design and still used in the current version, but as my eyesight got older, along with the rest of me, I found these hands tricky to read when I'd wake up, for whatever reason, in the wee small hours.
Hence, this watch got a little less time on the wrist. Also, my collection had expanded over the years and I had other watches jostling for position, so to speak. But, I've always liked this watch. Its slim profile sits nicely on my wrist, the dial is a wonderful inky-blue shade, and this watch and I had a lot of history together. 
But those hands!
Sometime last year, I read on the Watchuseek Omega forums of a member who swapped out the skeleton hands on his Seamaster Pro for sword hands from the vintage Seamaster 300, like my WatchCo Edition up above. Interesting. 
And, as luck would have it, I mentioned this to the watchmaker I work with and he said he just may have a pair of these vintage sword hands lying around somewhere at home. 
Sho' nuff, he brought the hands in to work a couple of days later and the transformation was done. 
The watch now bears a closer resemblance to those cool military-issue Submariners and Seamasters of the 1960s and '70s. AND it's a damn sight easier to read in the dark, too!
Again, the purists are gonna hate on this kind of modification, but I've never purchased any watch in order to make other people happy. 
Life is too short. 
One other change I might make is with the bracelet. The non-tapered chain-link style bracelet is so strongly associated with this model, but for me, that is the problem. It's a great bracelet and suits the watch nicely, but I figured I'd just change it up a little. 
I'll most likely get something from Uncle Straps at some point, but for now, I have the watch on a single-pass Regimental blue nylon strap and it's very comfy during these Summer months here in Australia. Not that it's been a great Summer so far, but that would probably be another post. Although, I have no plans whatsoever to write a post about the weather. 
And, the other watch that didn't get much wear in 2023 was the...
Omega Railmaster Co-Axial 36.2mm (Reference No. 2504.52.00 / 2009)
Read my review from 2013!
If the day ever comes where I whittle the collection down to a literal handful of watches, this one will be a stayer. Simple as that. The one pet-peeve I have had with this watch is the clasp. It harkens back to the 1990s bracelet designs and I consider it a little too flimsy for my liking. I don't like the hidden clasp design of it and the fact that the bridge section of the clasp operates in a sliding motion and is held together by one very tiny screw. I have attempted to solve this issue by replacing the band entirely. First attempt was the Flat-link bracelet by Forstner. Very well made and it fit the watch like a glove, but I just felt that the links were a little too thin to suit the case of the watch. Fickle, aren't I?
Back to the drawing board. Here's my problem with the Omega clasp;

Aside from the tiny screw, the clasp section is thin and works in a sliding motion along that cut-out section in the other part of the clasp bridge. The only thing preventing the clasp from coming apart altogether is the small screw. I would prefer a more robust clasp on a watch. Tricky thing is that the Railmaster has a 19mm lug spacing, rather than the more common 18mm or 20mm space that you tend to find on a wider range of watches. 
So, my next attempt was a long-shot. The FOIS bracelet from Uncle This one has a standard and solid-looking push-button folding clasp and was designed for the Omega Speedmaster commemorative model called 'The First Omega in Space', hence the FOIS designation. That watch was only ever released on a leather strap, so it would seem that there was a market for a steel bracelet that would fit that watch. This bracelet would have 19mm end-links, which I thought would fit the 19mm lug space of the Railmaster.
So I bought this bracelet.
Once it arrived, I attempted to fit it to the watch and it seemed to fit correctly. Or rather, about 90% correctly. I quickly realised where my error lay; my Railmaster has a case diameter of 36.2mm. The Omega FOIS Speedmaster has a case diameter of 39.7mm. Therefore, the curvature of both cases will differ.
Despite both watches having a 19mm lug width, it was the curvature the end-link on the Uncle FOIS bracelet that didn't follow the curvature of the Railmaster's case. 
Okay, think, teeritz, think, dammit!
Alright, let's try something, I thought to myself. I got the Forstner Flat-link bracelet, took off the end-link and swapped it over to the Uncle FOIS bracelet. It fit, with a gap of a fraction of a millimetre visible. Fine by me. 

And better yet, the clasp is made of milled steel and has two push-buttons. It also has that old-school row of holes in the clasp to allow for quick adjustment. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

It works nicely. Now, the only thing I have to do is get the watch serviced at some point, as it's long overdue, which is perhaps the main reason why I didn't wear the watch much over the last couple of years. 
And there you have it, folks. Some scrappy watch photos, some links to other articles, and a couple of drink recipes thrown in for good measure. 
Like I said early on, these yearly posts are a good indicator of my changing tastes and preferences. If I'm gonna thin the collection down at some point, these posts will be a barometer to help me determine which watches get a lot of wear, which ones don't which ones will stay and which ones won't. 
That's the plan anyway. 
It'll be interesting to see what kind of results 2024 will yield. 
But that's about a year away. 
Thanks for reading!


NOTES: The typecasts throughout this post were written on a late 1950s Blue Bird, made in Western Germany and marketed through the United States as the Torpedo 18B. It has a wonderfully snappy action. The rubber feet have hardened over the decades and this can make the typewriter slide to the left slightly when being used, but it's no great disaster. I may get around to gluing some rubber sheeting to the feet at some point to prevent this from happening. And by the way, all typos are my own.                                              
And please excuse the quality of the photos. I ran out of steam early on, methinks.  

Thanks again!