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Biden, Joe Biden

Tuesday Jun 9, 2009

Given the success of my presidential wristwatch article I’m going to do a whole series of them. Let’s start with Joe Biden. He wears an Omega Seamaster 300m watch– it’s the Bond Watch. It features:


Pretty bad ass watch Joe.

You Can Be My Wingman Any Time: G-Shock Gravity Defier (GW-2500)

Tuesday Jun 9, 2009

It’s not an automatic, but it’s pretty darn cool. It’s a pilot’s watch. Correction– It’s a bad-ass pilot’s watch. Next time you are subject to strong gravitational forces, like in the cockpit of your F-16, you better be wearing G-SHOCK’s GW-2500 Gravity Defier. This baby will withstand the shock of your sonic boom. Plus it’s easy to read when you are about to black out in a cool upside down barrel roll. It’s got big buttons for frozen high altitude fingers to work easily. It’s water proof to 200m so when you bailout and land in the middle of the North Atlantic your watch will still work. It’s solar powered and auto back-light. It can display 3 times at once, plus it’s got a stopwatch, countdown timer, five alarms and world time. Punching out Maverick.

James Bond’s Cool New Watch

Wednesday Feb 4, 2009

Want to be like James Bond? If you buy an $300,000 Aston Martin DBS this year, then for a modest additional $35,000 you add a Jaeger LeCoultre wristwatch that can do everything the key fob on your hyundai can can do. Sarcasm aside it’s a sweet looking watch and the version that Bond has can shoot missles and other cool stuff.

A Swatch Automatic??

Thursday Dec 18, 2008

When I was in the seventh grade way back in the early 80’s I got this really cool, entirely plastic, black watch with no markings. It screamed style to me. Actually it looked quite a bit like a plastic version of the famous Movado Museum watch. I subsequently traded it for a white one with a checkerboard pattern which got swapped for a clear one which was lost a some point during my teen years. Cheap, plastic, awesomeness sums up the original swatch for me. The original plastic Swatches waned in popularity–although swatch group is a massive watch conglomerate that owns a whole bunch of really cool luxury brands like Glashutte, Rado and Omega–but they have always had a place in my heart so imagine how excited I was when I heard that they make an automatic. Apparently these have been knockin’ around for a while, but they just came to my attention this week. This is the Swatch Irony Body and Soul. It does not look like it is really easy to tell the time with, but that’s what cell phones are for.

Making of an Orient Watch

Wednesday Dec 17, 2008

I really like Orient Company’s automatic wrist watches–so much that I got my wife and Orient Star for her birthday. I intend to review her watch soon, but in the meantime here is a cool video on how the watches are made:

Seiko 5: A line of quality, super inexpensive automatics

Sunday Dec 14, 2008

If you don’t spend your time cruising watch forums or are new to automatic wrist watches you might not know about the awesome Seiko 5 line. They offer a bunch of unique styles including divers, military, dress and sport. They “5” in Seiko 5 stands for the five attributes of the watches.

1. Diaflex (unbreakable mainspring)
2. Diashock (shock resistance)
3. Automatic winding
4. Date/date indication
5. Water resistant

They can often be purchased for less than $100. A worthy addition to any collection of automatic watches.

Top Five Affordable Automatics

Wednesday Dec 10, 2008

New to collecting automatic time pieces? Here are five great ones to kick off your collection with.

5) Vostok Amphibia: Get behind the iron curtain with this hefty chunk of Russian steel. These great collectible watches can be had for as little as $50. Vostok (means East in Russian) is a Russian watch company founded in 1942 to supply defense parts to the government. They started producing automatic wrist watches in the 1950’s and In the 1960’s the VOSTOK brand name was created and used to market mechanical wrist watches. The Vostok Amphiba was first released in 1968. It is a diving watch designed to resist 2000 meters of water, but I’m not sure I’d test it.

The Amphibia is a thick and inelegant watch, but it exudes a ruggedness that you won’t find in it’s more delicate counterparts. This is a man’s watch, meant to be worn on a thick wrist that has just slapped the vodka bottle back on the table.

4) Seiko Samurai: Another cool Seiko (they are all pretty cool) not so dissimilar in features to the Seiko Monster that I reviewed below, but certainly distinct in it’s styling. This watch is a large, heavy, diver available in stainless or titanium. These retail for about $250, but have become harder to get since collectors like this one. Like all Seiko’s the fit and finish of this watch is superb, rivaling watches that cost three times as much. It has a fine Rolex-style bracelet. It’s powered by a variation of the same great movement as the Monster so you can be assured of having an accurate time keeper. This one will be a fabulous addition to any collection.

3) Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic: Hamilton Khaki is a fairly large product line, and some of the watches are nicer than others. It is a mixed offering of automatic wrist watches and quartz watches. The watch shown (the Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic H70455733) is a great pilot-style watch with a simple distinct face. Hamilton never seems to be a favorite among watch collectors, but I’ve always felt that they had some really distinctive and elegant designs. There is also a chronograph version of this watch that cost substantially more, but adds a bunch of features. Personally I prefer the clean look of this one and at around $250 it is a great addition to any collection.

2) Seiko Spirit: This is a Japanese market watch so you will have to buy it from Ebay or from on of the Japanese retailers that will ship to the US like Seiyajapan. Available for $330 , the spirit is a study in understated elegance and quality. It has the looks and quality of the Grand Seiko line without the price tag. It features a real sapphire glass face, a display back with hardlex glass, and 100m water resistance. With the leather strap is a gentleman’s watch, made to be worn to a business meeting or a night on the town. Get the stainless bracelet and this watch takes on a more sporty personality. The 6R15B 23 movement is hacking and hand winding- basically unheard of features in this price range. If you can own one watch get this one– It versatile, beautiful and functional.

1) Orient Star: Orient Watch Company is the third largest watch company in Japan. It is not well known in the US, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make some fantastic watches. Orient Star is the high end product line of Orient Watch Company. I’m not recommending a specific model. You should check out all of them. Like Seiko–who partially owns them now–Orient manufactures it’s own movements, and man are they good at it. The watch shown features a power reserve complication which lets you know how much power is left in the main spring. This is a feature you usually don’s see in watches costing less than $3000, but this one is about $300. You’ll need to do some internet shopping or head to ebay, because theses watches are made for the Japanese market and not as readily available in the US.

What are automatic wrist watches?

Tuesday Dec 9, 2008

A tiny machine on your wrist, no battery, no solar panel, no LED’s, powered by the motion your body makes while you live your life. Intricate and precise, automatic wrist watches have a symbiotic relationship with you that no other time keeper has. What? Your cell phone keeps perfect time? I don’t want to hear it. The weight and heartbeat of a good automatic wrist watch has the power to make the wearer happy. A mechanical Breitling chronometer makes whirring, clicking, clunking and ticking noises that sooth my soul and relax my mind. It brings you back to a time when craftsmanship was what mattered and the things we bought were not disposable. I personally have trashed at least five cell phones, but I have every automatic watch I ever bought (and a couple of quartz watches as well–don’t tell anyone).

Automatic wrist watches, also known as self-winding watches are watches with a winding mechanism that is powered by the movement of your arm. This does away with the need to wind the watch. They have a small weighted rotor in the shape of a half-circle that spins on a center pivot. Wearing the watch causes the rotor to spin. This motion is translated into power through a series of gears that wind the mainspring. A clutch keeps the watch from becoming over wound. For serious detail on how this works check out this article on wikipedia.

Obama’s Watch

Sunday Dec 7, 2008

President Elect Barak Obama is the epitome of cool–at least as far as presidents go–so it’s not surprising that there has been much speculation about his couture. Front and center in that speculation has been “What the heck is that cool black chrono he’s wearing?” Tag Carrera? Panerai? Could it be that this POTUS with the populist bent has a watch that costs $12,000???


It turns out that true to his democratic roots the president’s watch is a gift from his secret service detail. An inexpensive, but nice looking watch from the secret service store branded with the secret service logo.

The watch is the Jorg Gray JGC 6500 and is available from logomark but yours will not have the cool secret service logo on it.

Love My Monster

Sunday Dec 7, 2008

Yeah, I know you already found forty reviews of this watch, and that you are probably convinced to buy it already, but I’m going to add my two cents. The Seiko Black Monster SK799 is one fantastic piece of watch, and given the current state of the economy it’s a much better buy than say a Breitling Super Ocean. For those of you out there who still think of Seikos as drug store watches I need to inform you that they are one of the best watch manufactures in the world. Their high end watches like the Grand Seiko line stand up in comparison to Omega, Breitling, Hamilton, Ball and any other quality watch company you can think of. The Seiko Spirit is probably on of the best values in a watch available today. It has an understated elegance matched by few watches.

Weighing in at 175g it’s a hefty watch. Not for the faint of heart or the skinny of wrist. The case is 43mm in diameter and 12mm thick. There is an another Seiko watch nicknamed the “tuna can”, but this would be a pretty good contender for that moniker. The bezel has a nice fluted design which is vaguely reminiscent of manga drawings. I’m not sure if the name refers to the size of the watch or the design. Japanese culture has that obsession with monsters–Mothra, Godzilla etc. and I think it must be related to this. The fluting makes the bezel easy to grip and it ratchets smoothly. I roast my own coffee and I use the bezel to time the coffee roasting process. Love it!

The lume is super bright. Seiko calls it Lumebrite which is their trademark name for Super-Luminova. The first night I had it sitting next to the bed and my wife, startled by the brightness, looked over after a shut the light and said “what the heck is that”. The bracelet is a solid link affair with a clasp that requires you to squeeze two buttons on the side to open it. It is a real stainless steel watch bracelet, not some tin toy, and it feels hefty on your wrist. The buttons work great and have stood up to repeated use without any obvious signs of wear. The crystal is Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex which is better than glass, but not as good as sapphire. The crystal is slightly domed which apparently makes it less reflective in a diving situation. I’ve been knocking the watch around pretty hard for about a year and it still looks pretty clear.

The face of the watch has a nice raised edge which gives it a sculptural feel. The markers are large which contributes to the super bright lume that I mentioned earlier. Mine is black like the one pictured above, but it is also available in a sweet orange face which could provide added visibility for real divers. They also put out limited editions in yellow, blue, and red.

I’m not a diver, but the 660 ft water resistance has been great when I give my dog a bath or wash the car. The crown screws down smoothly and operates well. The crown is at a unique position off the four oclock marker. It’s a nice feature as is makes wearing a watch this large more comfortable. The watch is not hacking, but for the price that would be expecting a lot. A hacking mechanism allows a watch to stop the second hand when the crown is pulled out in order to be able to sync the watch with a reference like an atomic clock. It’s an over rated feature in automatic watches because most gain or loose a few seconds a day anyway, but most more expensive automatics have it. The lack of it has in no way detracted from my ownership experience with the monster. I should also note that this watch cannot be hand wound so you need to either shake it up when you first start it or just wear it for a while then adjust the time. Once again this is really a non-issue as far as I’m concerned.

Here is a picture of the movement. The Seiko S726 which is an entry level movement for the company, but a quality piece of machine nonetheless. A great thing about Seiko is they manufacture their own movements, something that many so-called premium watch companies don’t do. This one is a beauty. It keeps much better time than my Breitling chronograph which is based on the 17 jewel valjoux movement. I’ll discuss that watch in detail in a latter post. The most important thing about this movement– it keeps great time. My version loses 3 seconds per 24 hour period. It does not get better than that in the automatic watch world.

If you have not figured out the conclusion yet it is “For $150 you can’t go wrong with the Seiko Monster”

Here is the tale of the tape:

  • Movement Seiko 21-Jewel Automatic
  • Crystal Hardlex Crystal Mineral Glass. Domed Profile
  • Water Resistant This watch meets ISO standards and is suitable for scuba diving and tested up to 200m.
  • Case Stainless Steel
  • Dial Color Black
  • Bracelet Material Stainless Steel
  • Case Diameter 43mm (without crown) / 47mm
  • Case Thickness 12mm
  • Bezel Material Stainless Steel
  • Bezel Function One-way Rotating Bezel
  • Crown Screwed Down Crown
  • Backlight Lumibrite hands
  • Calendar English/Spanish day/date window