The Rolex Submariner (2020) vs the Bersigar BG-1651

You can buy the 2020 Rolex Submariner for £7,300 if you are looking for a lifetime wrist companion. OK, you can’t really buy one because they are so hard to come by, but some people give up their souls to sit on waiting lists for years on end and so the choice is yours if you have the money.

You can buy the 2020 Bersigar BG-1651 for £79.99 and you do not have to sit on a waiting list forever because Amazon will deliver it to you the next day.

So, we have a watch that is 91 times more expensive than the other and yet for many people (those strange people who do not obsess over watches) they will look largely similar.

In fact there is an argument that the Bersigar looks more relevant than the Submariner, a watch which has barely changed over the decades. It used to be that people viewed a Rolex as a Granddad watch and to some this perception remains, and I don’t think Rolex helps that by making so few aesthetic changes to their most popular models.

The tool watch vibe of many of their watches has been lost in favour of decoration and for many, myself included, the GMT Master and Submariner are now a little too flash to be palatable. The Bersigar looks like a tool watch throughout.

So, for many people they look similar and for most (98%?) that is all that matters. £79 vs £7,300 is a no brainer.

And I must say that the Bersigar has impressed me greatly which I really did not expect at all. Indeed, it is proving to be superior to many watches that have cost £500 and upwards to me.

Some of the specifications are dubious. Synthetic Sapphire is not sapphire, the movement (I think) is from Miyota and it has hacking and hand-winding. Remarkably it is running at approximately 3 seconds fast a day which is really impressive and not far out from your average Rolex.

The actual look of the watch is way beyond what could be expected in a homage watch and there are few reasons for this. While it is definitely a homage watch, some of the design aspects do not site with each other and that is a good thing. The bezel has a Rolex Yacht Master feel to it while the rest of the watch is Submariner all of the way through. I included the measurements in the main image because the size and weight are perfectly Submariner and anyone who knows Rolex, and watches, will know that this specific collection of measurements wears incredibly well on most wrist sizes. The Bersigar obviously wears just as well due to the mimicry at play here.

If there is one area that needs improving it is the bezel which has a wide margin of movement when static. You literally can move it left or right at least two clicks.

This is annoying because the actual feel of the bezel is superb and I would argue to be almost equivalent to the Tudor Black Bay. It is also not very legible so this cannot be classed as a true dive watch. Then again, £79.99.

It is hard to write much more about this watch. We know what it is; a watch that copies Rolex, which is made in China and which has no chance of competing with the most powerful watch brand in the world. The problem is that it is really very good indeed and everything I have learned about watches over the past few years gets turned on its head by models like this.

When I look at watches from Tudor, Rolex, Oris, Omega and so many others at all price ranges a watch like this does not fit in. It sits outside of the value structure we expect to see and on build quality and technical performance alone there is an argument that it should be in the £3-400 sector at a minimum. Fix that bezel and it could sit higher.

We know that facts do not dictate the price of a watch. That little ‘Rolex’ word on the dial is worth the extra £7,220 to some people and I am almost ashamed to say that I kind of feel the same way. For everyone else, this is a fabulous watch for the price. Just fabulous.

The BG-1651 comes on a decent metal bracelet with screw links and solid lugs. I used my own strap for most of the photos.

The Dietrich Perception Watch

When Emmanuel Dietrich designed the Perception, his goal was not only to explore his interest in “biomorphic” industrial design, but also to more specifically play with how time is displayed. It is worth noting that one of the highest callings in the arena of watch design is to create a novel, or at least useful, way of indicating the time. The standard two or three central-hand dial is the industry norm, which some particularly esteemed designers like to eschew for the purpose of being different, and ideally being beautiful. The Perception doesn’t break new ground, per se, but it does incorporate two uncommon ways of indicating the time in one complete package, which ends up being as much “wow & wonderful” as it is “wild & weird.” More here.

A bizarre, but amazing watch. However, look at the brand’s tag line. Uurgh!

Oris Divers Sixty Five 733 7720 4054MB review (part three)

I have owned the Sixty Five for just over two days now and so far I am feeling positive about it, a feeling that is not uncommon while in the honeymoon period. This, however, feels different because of how much time I spent choosing the exact model for my needs.

I was helped by the fact that I owned a Sixty Five 42mm (in blue) a few years back and so I had some familiarity with the main design aspects of functionality of this model. The problem is that a lot of watches have come since and so my experiences have changed a lot. Some smaller, none larger, some quartz, some more expensive and some cheaper.

As time has passed and my tastes have refined I have tended to look at slimmer watches in recent times and now have an aversion to large and bulky timepieces. There simply is no need to wear a large watch on your wrist unless you are trying to project something to complete strangers.

So I will now look at each part of the Sixty Five Sixty Five 733 7720 4054MB in turn-

How does it wear?

It’s bigger than I remember. The 42mm diameter and near 50mm lug to lug are noticeable on my 7.25” wrist. It is arguably a little too big, but only by a tiny bit which makes me believe that the 42mm was the right choice and that the 40mm may have felt small. This is a tricky area and Oris offers much variety (36mm, 40mm and 42mm) so I am not complaining at all and I do appreciate the relatively slim bezel which makes for a decent sized dial.

To me, the most positive part of the wearing experience comes from the side. This is not a slim watch at 13mm, but the design is just superb. When you view it from the side you get a domed crystal, a super slim bezel and curved sides that make the Tudor Black Bays look more slabby than ever. It is hard to describe, but take a look at the image and you may understand what I mean. Oris appears to understand the visual tricks needed to make something relatively deep feel completely the opposite.

It is also not too heavy, but has just enough weight to make me know it is on my wrist. I am undecided as to if this is a good thing or not, but it is most certainly not uncomfortable.

How practical is it?

In almost every respect the Sixty Five does an excellent job of telling the time. The hour markers stand out and the small minute track is there when you need it without ever getting in the way. Some have criticised the marked for being faux patina, but I would challenge this. They are cream in colour, but do not look like forced vintage to me. Indeed, they perfectly suit the overall design of the dial and add a touch of warmth that still feels modern. The hands are very clean, almost to the point of being boring, and the bezel markers give way to the boldness on the dial in a pleasing manner. There is consistency in every aspect of the design and yet it still remains interesting which is again a hard trick to perform.

The only visual aspect that I am not too keen on is the date window. I have no issue with the unusual shape or the white background which actually works well with the shorted 3 o’clock hour marker, but I would like the date font to be thicker. It is very thin indeed and can be difficult to read in most lighting conditions which is an oversight in my opinion. If you are going to include a date window that is a practical choice and so you may as well make it work on a practical level.

Finally, the bezel is decent enough. The 120-click mechanism has almost zero backplay and feels solid, but there is a somewhat metallic sound when it is turned. It also lines up perfectly which is a must for me because I never actually need to use a watch bezel for any purpose. Let’s be honest, none of us do.

The movement (value?)

This is an area of contention for a watch that costs £1,650 retail. I may have paid £1,320 for it, but it still contains an Oris 733 Automatic (Sellita SW200 base) movement which can be had in much lower priced watches. It can, however, be seen in more expensive models so gauging the value is difficult.

Oris does not regulate the movement as far as I know, but I am getting +4 seconds a day which is not too bad. I had very similar performance on my previous Oris so I suspect some checking is happening before it leaves the factory.

I am perhaps less inclined to be worried about a movement unless it is inaccurate and my experience of the SW200 has been pretty good to date so I can live with it. However, it is the only part of the watch that nags at me when I consider the price.

The bracelet?

Now this is a case of very good and somewhat strange. The bracelet feels fantastic when worn and I really do appreciate the slimness of the links and the fairly aggressive taper which both suit the design of the watch itself. The clasp is also well made with a full five micro-adjustment positions. Add to this half-links either side and you should have no problem sizing it to fit you perfectly.

Resizing the bracelet is not easy at all, however, thanks to the pin and collar system. The collar is quite long and sits in the middle of the link, and the trick is to use some force to get the pin out. A normal link opener does not have a long enough pin to do this so I had to resort to pushing it half way out and then using another tool with my watch hammer to go through the process. Eventually I got there, however, and it now fits perfectly.

My final point on the bracelet is the very odd change between the links with rivets in them (oh how I don’t like unnecessary rivets) and the non-rivets links below them. There is a noticeable difference in width (about half a millimetre either side) which feels lazy to me. While it may not make any difference and is almost impossible to notice in normal use it is an unnecessary quirk.

Conclusion

Overall I am very impressed with this particular Sixty Five and am certain I made the right choice. The black dial and cream markers are why I chose this reference in place of the blue which didn’t quick work for me.

It’s accurate, it’s a subtle and stylish timepiece and most important of all it ticks the boxes that other watches have only managed in specific areas. Some will look down on what they perceive to be budget luxury, but that to me is yet another advantage of this watch. I just hope I can grow to enjoy it over a longer period than I have with so many other watches.

Oris Divers Sixty Five 733 7720 4054MB (part two: justification (again))

So, I wrote about some of my justification for buying this Oris yesterday, but there is a lot more to the story and it involves more thinking than someone who does not love watches could possibly understand.

The overriding motivation for buying this watch was the fact that I wanted something that would fit in terms of pricing. I can afford an Oyster Perpetual 39 in white, if I could find one, but I just know that I would feel uncomfortable wearing it. It isn’t so much the thought of someone trying to steal it from me, but the sense that I am wearing +£4,000 on my wrist. On what planet does that make sense?

Now, before you jump up and shout ‘you don’t understand watches!’ I do understand why they can often cost so much and a big part of me loves the idea of wearing a genuine luxury piece every day. The problem is that my perception of luxury is firmly sat in reality and so £1,320 still feels like a lot of money to spend on a watch, but it ticks a few boxes without causing too much strain in my head.

I am getting a very nice watch that looks great on the wrist and that does exactly what it needs to. It will not cost a fortune to service, it is accurate for an automatic and it is likely that others will not even know who Oris is. Also, it does not stand out in a flashy way, but to me it still has a sense of quality about the way it looks.

In short, it just reaches a level of luxury for me that I am comfortable with and without any guilt or sense that I am wasting my money. Also, I have reached the watch snobbery level that wearing a Seiko or a Citizen does not fulfil me in an emotional sense anymore.

I really do appreciate the sheer consistency of Citizen and the practicality the brand’s watches offer, and I would argue that Citizen is underrated in a big way by far too many people. I also appreciate the myriad of Seiko offerings, but the poor quality control irks me somewhat and in my view lessens the brand a little. I mean the chapter cannot be that difficult to align can it!?!

Anyway, back to Oris. So as I sit here wearing the Oris I feel comfortable with it; the watch fills my need for a slightly vintage looking timepiece that does not feel contrived, it is very well made and it does the job it is supposed to. It has a date window, for some reason I really need a date window, and it still offers that luxurious feel that I want as a person who genuinely enjoys watches and all that comes with them.

I will properly review the Oris tomorrow, but for now it is doing what I expected it to and in this case that is to not overload my emotions, but to tweak them just enough to offer a sense of satisfaction. The mind is a funny thing, it really is.

Oris Divers Sixty Five 733 7720 4054MB (part 1: justification)

Justifying a watch is something that has perplexed me for some time and now that I have a choice I still don’t 100% know how I came to it.

I have owned a Tudor Black Bay Red, a Black Bay GMT and a Black Bay 58, but none of them stayed with me. The Red felt too big after I lost a lot of weight, the GMT felt too cold thanks to the white markings and general styling, and the 58 felt too small and was snapped up by my son within a day of my purchasing it.

I have also owned an Oris Aquis, again felt too big after some time, and the blue Divers Sixty Five (01 733 7720 4055-07 8 21 18) which I sold due to moving to Tudor. As it happens, the Sixty Five was the biggest regret of all of my watch flipping and I have quietly hankered for one again. The 733 7720 4054MB is, in my opinion, a preferable choice purely because of the colours and the way it shines when on the wrist.

Anyway, I also struggled a little bit with the Tudors because I had a sense that they were too expensive for me and that I was somehow undeserving of such a thing. This may sound silly, and I am considered by most people I know to be over confident if anything, but I couldn’t shake the sense of who I believe myself to be and at what level I should be spending money on something that is technically unnecessary.

Also, that small fear of wearing an expensive watch stayed with me and while it is not a Rolex I do presume that some will know what Tudor is. This would never stop me from buying a watch on its own, but it would stop me wearing an expensive and obvious Rolex in certain situations.

The subject of watches and their value is a deep one should you choose to dive in, a good start would be by watching the video from IDGuy below-

I have struggled with the perceived value of some luxury watches and even though I fully respect the craftsmanship and understand that product pricing is rarely made up of just the components (research, design, marketing, customer service, distribution, brand protection, resource, buildings etc etc) there is a strong sense with many brands that the value is simply not there on any level to me.

From the likes of MVMT and Daniel Wellington who make, lets be honest here, utter crap to TAG and Gucci who rely very heavily on their names to charge +£1,000 for average quartz pieces that cannot possibly justify such costings on a material level. I should clarify that Gucci in particular make pieces that are shocking for the money and that TAG are better, but I am one of those who feel that TAG is more flannel and bluster than anything else.

When I look higher up to Rolex and beyond I really do struggle. I love the Oyster Perpetual 39 in white and believe that just over £4,000 somehow feels reasonable, but could I bring myself to justify such a purchase? Maybe one day.

At this time £1,000 – £1,500 feels OK for me and this is one reason why I chose this particular model. There are, however, many other considerings which I will try to explain in part two.

The Bulova A-15 Pilot Watch (a good Bulova)

The case dimensions of the Bulova A-15 Pilot are deceptive. By the numbers, this stainless steel case measures in at 42mm, but the extremely narrow bezel leads to an “all dial” appearance that reads visually more like a 44mm case. While there’s no doubt the watch takes up a lot of visual real estate, it’s far from unmanageable thanks to short, sharply curving lugs. Also helping matters is the mirror-polished bezel, which adds a handsome bit of visual contrast to the brushing of the main case along with effectively masking the 14mm height of the case on the wrist. It’s a form that wears low, flat, and wide, with a fitting vintage military feel to it. What immediately draws attention about this case, of course, are the three crowns at 2, 3, and 4 o’clock. The A-15 has not one, but two rotating internal bezels, one each for both hours and minutes, and if the case were any smaller this could run the risk of feeling crowded. The other minor downside to the A-15 Pilot’s case is a water resistance of only 30 meters… More here.

Looks like a decent Bulova and this is one of the issues the brand has. Within the extremely wide range Bulova makes some awful watches and this, to me, makes the entire brand feel less than it should be. With the history it has this can easily be lost when the range runs from middle to high-end autos to cheap and not so cheerful rubbish.

The Rotary Heritage Titanium Automatic GS05249/04

To commemorate the occasion, Rotary has released a few limited-edition watches that are as decent to look at as they are to wear on the wrist. The sportiest of them (as of early 2020) is this Rotary Limited-Edition Heritage Titanium Automatic reference GS05249/04. While I generally like this watch, I find the name to be a bit misleading in using the term “Heritage.” Certainly the term isn’t a promise, but it does seem to imply that this is a remake of a historic timepiece — which isn’t exactly true, to my understanding. Rather, Rotary made a modern watch with a dial that takes inspiration from vintage military designs.” I do believe that, in the past, Rotary was a supplier of watches to the British military… More here.

Nice design, good price, but it’s a Rotary which puts me right off.

The Bulova A-15 Pilot Watch

The original A-15 is one of the watches that could have been a horological hero. All the ingredients were there: a robust hacking movement, luminous markers, and an avant-garde system of two internal bezels that measured elapsed time, solving a very important problem for pilots at the time. The original watch was meant to make dead reckoning, an early form of navigation, easier. Measuring elapsed time in a more user-friendly fashion meant that pilots and navigators – and radio operators, even – could concentrate on other important tasks, like making sure ordnance is delivered where it needs to be or rescuing downed pilots. It also helped streamline the visual sweep of the flight instruments, ensuring pilots didn’t have to mark down time… More here.

It is not often that Bulova makes a watch that looks subtle, classy and authentic, but it has here.

The Milus Snow Star

Drawing inspiration from vintage features, this retro remake of the Milus Snow Star channels the spirit of the original one. To start with the basics, the Snow Star has a well-proportioned 39mm case gleaming with its polished finish. It is fashioned out of 904L stainless steel – a higher-end stainless steel grade, mostly used by Rolex, that takes a higher polish than other grades of steel and provides greater corrosion resistance, but that is also harder to machine. This reflects on the case of this Milus, with its beautiful finish and lustre. The caseback is screwed and the water-resistance of 10 ATM or 100m… More here.

Beautiful, just beautiful.

The Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton

Like previous versions, the Loving Butterfly is housed in a 43mm 18k red gold case with a height of 16.63mm. The case is polished and the trigger mechanism for the automaton is discreetly located in the crown. The warmth of red gold is highlighted with the warm colour of the petrified wood background. The delightful scenery on the dial is entirely carved in red gold by Jaquet Droz’s master craftsmen. You can see the cherub on his chariot holding the reins of the butterfly as he rides through the gold woods. The inspiration of this particular scene was taken from a 1774 sketch performed by The Draughtsman, one of Jaquet Droz atelier’s most famous humanoid automata. A metaphor for the labours of love, the chariot symbolises victory and the cherub represents Cupid… More here.

You will never own it, you know it is silly, but you love it anyway. I do.