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.

Walter Mitt Royal Marine Diver (BL-BR) review

If you buy a Walter Mitt watch you are not doing so because you want a well-know brand or a classic vintage piece that will impress your mates. You are buying a watch that is pretending to look like a vintage diver and to maybe scratch an itch that you have had for some time while you are saving up for your dream companion.

It isn’t like buying a homage watch or a fake because WMT is on the dial and the company is very open about what it is aiming to do. Indeed, you can age individual parts of the watch and choose from a huge variety of bezels, dials, straps etc to effectively create the vintage watch look that you have always wanted.

And while there is no attempt at fakery in these watches, it is clever how the brand displays the text and logo on the dials to mimic legendary typesetting on the most popular vintages watches of today. All in all you do end up with perhaps more than a vintage inspired timepiece, the initial reaction is that it looks and feels ‘exactly’ like a vintage watch.

Sizing is important in any watch, whether it wants to be faux vintage or not, and here we have near perfect dimensions. 39.5mm diameter, 47mm lug to lug, 12.5mm height and 20mm lug width. That is perfect isn’t it.

The crystal is mineral which is not ideal, but I guess it is preferable to going full vintage and offering a variation of plastic. The Miyota automatic movement is also not ideal. It does not hack, but it does appear to be hand winding and so far I have been more than surprised at the accuracy; 5 seconds in 2 full days is more than acceptable so far.

The bezel looks OK, but is maybe a little too new and shiny to fit the vintage dial. Also, it is absolutely horrible to use. It is bi-directional and has no click at all which is bizarre for what is classed as a diver watch. I don’t get that.

As it happens the bezel is the main downside for me and even that is not a huge problem because I have never gone diving in my life. Still, if a watch has a bezel you do expect a decent click mechanism.

On the wrist this is a charming piece and the sizing makes it feel perfect proportioned on my 7.25” wrist. The dial is the highlight, however, and everything from the faux vintage hour markers to the text in the centre work together perfectly. There is a hint of Tudor in the curved ‘Hand-Winding’ text and the mix of cream and white add the tiniest hint of variety to make it stand out, just a little.

The second and minute hands match the markers perfectly with the second hand tipped in red for a hint of visual expression. It is altogether consistent, interesting and strangely a realistic vintage aesthetic that works in almost every way.

This particular model came with a leather strap which matches the case so well, but it is quite stiff and will take some time to break in. I suspect that it will age well though and over time will actually become genuinely vintage if you give it long enough.

The watch cost £234, from Amazon, and for that money you are getting more than you may expect. The Miyota movement is not going to set the world alight in terms of specifications and craftsmanship, but it is arguably hardier and more accurate than you would get in any true vintage watch from decades ago. The case is well finished and every part works with everything else which is not always the case even with some much more expensive watches.

It has settled with me in a way that I did not expect and it has not left my wrist yet. I am hugely surprised by this as I have many much more expensive watches here, but the WMT really does have something.

I expected to look at this as a pretend vintage piece, but ended up liking it a LOT more than I expected.

You can make your own here.

Tech where you don’t expect it

It’s easy to presume that the Apple Watch is the king of wrist tech, but look a little deeper (and much cheaper) and the Casio G-Shock GW-M5610-1ER offers a great deal.

1/ Satellite time keeping makes for to the second accuracy at all times.

2/ The backlight will turn on when you lift your wrist (you can turn this auto setting off if you like).

3/ It’s solar powered so you never need to charge it, ever.

4/ The strap will not irritate and every detail has been considered to ensure comfort.

5/ It’s water resistant to 200 metres.

6/ Stopwatch, multiple alarms, day, date, AM/PM, 12/24hr etc etc

7/ You can run it over with your car and it will be absolutely fine.

8/ A true world timer which covers every possible timezone with ease.

And it’s £70.

Omega Geneve calibre 1012 (1974) review

I haven’t reviewed a new watch for a while so I though I would review an old one. A watch that is 45 years old in fact.

It was spotted in a vintage watch shop I know and I spent some time just staring at it because certain features caught my eye immediately. The quake case with the rounded square dial, the integrated and highly tapered bracelet and the consistency of the form grabbed me instantly, but not enough to consider the £500 asking price.

I left it over Christmas and then found it on eBay from the same seller. It was slightly cheaper and my interest was stirred again so I made a silly offer. When he came back with £330 I decided to take the plunge and it was mine.

A few days later it arrived and I was all set, or so I thought.

Resizing the bracelet was easy enough and it felt just so good on my wrist, but the 2 minutes slowness per day was a problem. As someone who does not mess around with the insides of watches too often this was a challenge, but as ever the forums came to my aid and with some trial and error I have managed to get it to within 20 seconds per day.

At some point it will be going for a service to a watchmaker I know, the calibre 1012 is a bit of a challenge I believe, but I have been struggling to let it go for even a few days. It just sits so perfectly on my 7.25” wrist which is a surprise when you consider the relatively small size.

The 36mm width sounds small, but when paired with the 46mm lug to lug length and the square shape it just works on my wrist. It is also slim which adds to the vintage feel which is cemented by the wonderful integrated bracelet.

The bracelet is one of the highlights without doubt with a serious taper that ensures the way it drops from the watch unit makes it feel completely like one flexible unit. Seriously, it is just so lovely to wear and to look at from any angle.

The crystal is far from sapphire of course and so is prone to easy scratches as the crystal is slightly raised, but it fits with the subtle dial that is silver throughout with the hands just visible enough to make it perfectly readable. I initially thought that this watch may be difficult to read, but it has proven to be practical enough to allow quick time checking, and the date window is also big enough to present the day without any major issues, another area that many manufacturers fail at.

I don’t have too much to say about this watch apart from the fact that it has captured me in a way that I did not expect. For the relatively low price you get a unique design, a high-end brand, vintage quality and practicality in almost every area. What’s not to like?

Final Garmin Venu thoughts

I have to say that after a week of use the Garmin Venu has proved itself to me and to the point that I would rate it above the Apple Watch, any Apple Watch to date.

Ignoring the cellular Apple Watch, the Venu offers the following advantages-

It is cheaper by 25%.

The battery life is 3-4 days with ease and this is with always on time and date displayed.

The screen seems to offer more at one time, especially in messages etc, even though it is circular.

The fitness tracking and presentation through the app is more customisable and more understandable.

You can use any 20mm watch strap which should save more money.

I tend to trust the tracking more than on the Apple Watch and things like Body Battery and Stress are genuinely useful.

There are tons of watch faces available for free of which some are, however, rip offs of other watch brands.

It can’t all be better though and the following is where the Apple Watch wins-

The apps on Apple Watch are better, but I never really installed any in past.

The Apple Watch looks better on the wrist whereas the Venu looks like a generic fitness watch with a flat screen.

You can respond to messages on the Apple Watch and also take calls.

I would argue that the better Apple Watch features tend to be the ‘smartwatch’ features and that the Venu is a more practical offering that really does do what it focuses on very well indeed. It has been a genuine surprise so far.

Reviewing the Vivoactive 4 as if it were an Apple device

For the past few days I have been playing with the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and have come to some early conclusions that I realised were based on the brand rather than the product itself. I wrote recently about how the Apple Watch is way ahead of the competition, and I stand by that, but I suspect that there are subconscious emotions swirling around that I don’t always notice.

The plain fact is that the Garmin is £200 cheaper than the Apple Watch series 5, it offers 4-5 days of battery per charge, the fitness tracking is arguably more accurate and complete, and the fitness side of the app is much more detailed and more precise than using three rings to offer a general guide to how active you are.

The bells and whistles that Apple offers do work for the majority of people and everything from the easily readable screen to the selection of third party apps make for excellent marketing material that draws the user in. On top of this there are many options to make it feel individual and of course the huge number of straps available takes this individuality even further. I should also mention that it is in fact a very good watch which devices like the Garmin feel just a step away from.

It feels more like a fitness tracker that just happens to tell the time whereas the Apple Watch is a watch that just happens to do many other things. It is easy not to notice this, but it is absolutely crucial in understanding why the Apple Watch is dominating this area. People still want watches.

So, the battery life of the Vivoactive is much much better than the series 5 Apple Watch which is easy to rave about, but interestingly Garmin is releasing the Venu with a full colour screen and a quick look at the specifications shows the following- Smartwatch mode: Up to 5 days. GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours. This is big compared to the Apple Watch and shows that it can be done which alone would make me consider it over an Apple Watch. With sleep tracking and the ability to wear it 24 hours a day, this are practical points that cannot be ignored.

The problem with reviewing the Garmin like an Apple device is that it is not an Apple device in any way. It is more of a practical proposition that does what you need it to very well indeed, but it does not offer emotional feedback or a sense that it is special in any way. The likes of Garmin and Fitbit need to work on that to compete with Apple.

The Hamilton Khaki King. Silence…

I have been on a journey, one that will be familiar to many of you. It started off with watches that were too big for me and which were far too flashy. This moved on to looking at more expensive pieces like the Oris Divers 65, which I regretted selling, and then on to the Tudor Black Bay Heritage which I recently let go because it was just too big and heavy for me.

I moved on to wanting a Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 which I cannot buy because they are so difficult to find and perhaps more importantly because I am not 100% sure that it would be perfect enough to merit the near £5,000 I would have to spend.

So, I have decided to wait and to buy a temporary watch to keep me going for a year while I decide what will be my one watch for the next decade or so. I am determined to be a one watch guy (is that even possible?) and to wear it most of the time alongside my Mondaine Stop2Go which my son bought me and which gets worn 2 to 3 days a week. He has just left home, but when the second hand reaches the top and pauses, and when I spot it happening, I think of him every time.

On a whim this temporary watch ended up being the Hamilton Khaki King. I had been vaguely interested in it and spotted it online for a very good price, and so made my move. I was not excited at all and viewed it for what it is; a budget(ish) watch with an automatic movement and a little bit of heritage. I didn’t want to spend close to £1,000 on a temporary watch because I want to save up for my eventual ‘perfect’ watch and so it made sense to spend much less than £500. This felt like a decent compromise.

Three days later the word compromise has not entered my thinking since and I will explain why.

The case

During a recent Hodinkee podcast a guest talked about men coming in to his store and asking for a powerful suit, and how they would usually aim for the widest pinstripes they could find. He explained that a powerful suit is a well cut garment which does not take anything away from the person wearing it, it merely emphasises the person underneath. He then explained that the same rule applies to watches and it made a lot of sense to me.

It made me think about all of those big watches I have owned in the past and how in my head I felt that they needed to be big, they needed to say something about me and to show other people what I was wearing, but of course I was wrong. There is nothing positive coming from wearing a flashy watch that you want others to see and if someone is impressed by such an object they are likely not worth impressing. What is more important (or not important at all to many people) is when your watch compliments you, when it looks stylish and when it becomes a part of you. It needs to fit you physically and emotionally, and few watches do that.

Anyway, the King arrived and I left it on the side as I had work to do which is unusual for me. Usually I would rip open the box in a minute, but as I said I was feeling the compromise and I was almost ready to return it the moment I looked at it. I opened it later though and rested it on my wrist. Silence…

On my 7.25” wrist the King sits just so perfectly. The 40mm case corresponds to the 11mm height and the drop of the lugs makes for a watch that hugs the wrist almost invisibly. At 48mm lug to lug it covers my wrist, but never dominates. I don’t notice it when wearing it until I need to check the time, but I do notice it when I look at it and spend a second longer than I normally would, just looking at it. My first impressions of this watch were perhaps heightened by the fact I had not bothered previously with the sweet spot size of watch for me, despite guessing that the Oyster Perpetual 39 would work.

The weight is also in the sweet spot at 150 grams and overall it feels just right for me which could be coincidence or it could be a brilliant design. I think it’s the latter given the reviews I have read by others.

The bracelet

Some people have criticised the bracelet and I can see why. It doesn’t feel luxury in any way, but it doesn’t feel cheap either.

It suits the King perfectly, is easy to adjust is at the level I would expect for a watch of this price. Only 2 micro adjustments is a little stingy though.

The dial

Another reason why I moved the Tudor on was the lack of a date window. Initially I loved the symmetry of the dial because it had no date window, but for some strange reason my mind needs to know the date on my watch even though it is readily available on my iPhone, my work computer, my Mac and in countless other places. It’s hard to explain, but if I have the date on my watch I know it, if it is not there I struggle to know the date. It’s quite odd really.

I don’t need a day view, no one does, but when it looks as good as it does on the King it becomes a positive part of the design and not just a useful complication. It brings more to the dial that would otherwise look like so many other field watches and I don’t even mind how it cuts off the 11 and 1 and completely removes the 12. The actual date window could be bigger, however, and is my only criticism of the dial overall. It isn’t so much the size as it happens, but the way it is cut out and the shadows that come from the cut out that can make the date hard to read. A slightly larger cut out would resolve this.

Everything else works so consistently that it takes me back again and again to wondering why other brands cannot do this on a regular basis. The hands are perfect for the dial and in particular the way the second hand reaches the edge. It’s a simple thing, but wonderful to look at. The 24 hour markers in the centre add some depth to go alongside the multi-faceted dial shading and the text also feels considered. HAMILTON at the top and KHAKI AUTOMATIC at the bottom is all you need really to emphasis that nothing about this dial is designed to stand out. We have black and white colouring, no red second hand tip and no colours anywhere which works better than you may expect. The minute track is strangely the highlight to me when I really stare at it because it brings everything together while surrounding it in a traditional way that just works. Seriously, the design of the dial is pretty wonderful and much more interesting that it appears to be at first glance.

The movement

The Swiss ETA Caliber 2834-2 automatic movement has been modified by Hamilton to offer an 80 hour power reserve. This is done by reducing the beat rate and in my view is a clever trade-off. The lack of a completely smooth sweep offers a sense of vintage in a way that faux vintage lume could never do. It is a physical thing that you witness which feels more real than a slap of beige lume or a deliberately aged dial.

In my case I am getting +3 to +4 seconds per day which is pretty good and more than acceptable at this price point. And it is the price that once again comes to mind. Oris use similar movements in their watches at +£1,000 and so do many other brands which makes this feel like absurd value when you consider that Hamilton is a well known brand with serious heritage.

A strap whore

As is standard for me I had to try out a different style strap on the King and so I did. And then I tried another and another and so on until I realised that this watch is a complete strap whore. From metal to leather to rubber to NATO, it all works really well and there is a considered amount of space between the case and the spring bar, not too much and not too little.

The competition

I have owned many watches from very low priced offerings to what some would consider luxury pieces and so I have a good idea of what you get, or in some cases do not get, by spending more.

The Khaki King kind of throws a lot of my think out the door, however, because it appears to compare with much more expensive watches with ease.

I considered an Omega Speedmaster pre-owned at approx £3,000, but that wold have been an expensive temporary option and one that only offers 30m of water resistance, no date and a debatable crystal. This feels much more desirable and in particular the extra £2,600 I have left for my one and only watch one day.

I was so close to returning to the Oris Divers 65 and even though the 200m water resistance and decent lume are enticing I struggle to consider an extra £1,000 after having owned this for a few days.

And then there was a handful of Orient offerings for £2-300 which didn’t quite do it for me and so they were returned. A couple of Citizen watches fell away and so did the new Seiko 5 when I got a few minutes with them, just a little too bulky.

The Oyster Perpetual 39? Obviously it could never be considered competition to the Khaki King, but seriously it has slightly change my view of the 39 and more particularly how I measure watch value.

Downsides

No watch is perfect and the lume here is disappointing. It does glow and I can almost see the time in the early hours of the morning on my bedside table, but for a field watch it is strangely poor. It falls into that category of features that annoy me in that I have to wonder why a feature is added if it isn’t done properly?

The 50m water resistance is also not ideal and I would expect that a screw-down crown would help a lot, but alas you will have to consider your usage from time to time.

There is no anti-reflective coating on the crystal which has been criticised in many different places, but I have to say that it doesn’t bother me at all. If anything it makes the dial even clearer in most lighting conditions and fits the overall aesthetic very closely. Maybe my mind will change in the summer, but until then I have no issues without it.

Conclusion

The Khaki Kind has surprised me a great deal and I find myself, after a few days, enjoying it a whole lot more than I expected. With a bunch of watches sat in a case that I wear to varying degrees not one of them has moved since the King arrived.

Watches are not about practicality, they are not about features and what they can do for you. They need to fit you and to let you enjoy checking the time when you need to. The King has blown me away and it could well be my temporary watch for a year until I move on, or it could last a lot longer that that.

The (Apple) Watch

For all of the nods to traditional watchmaking that Apple tries to add to the Apple Watch, it doesn’t really matter because those nods mean nothing to most people. The crown feels odd to those who are used to doing everything through a touch screen and the faces that are designed to mimic legendary watch dials are rarely connected to the aesthetics that inspired them… More here.

A quick article I wrote for Ten & Two.

Is the Citizen Excaliber (BN0100-51E) the best budget diver available today?

Yes it is, in my humble opinion.

The thing with this watch is that it ticks so many boxes at such a low price point that it makes me wonder why the rest cannot do this? Seiko, Bulova, Hamilton, Tissot, you name it and not one of them makes a watch that offers this much for less than £150. Even the likes of Orient may struggle because the following list is really quite remarkable-

Eco-drive movement which is deadly accurate- loses 3 seconds a month for me.

Amazing lume with sweet blue on the dial and a contrasting green on the bezel.

A bracelet that is ‘way’ ahead of much of the competition, even some at 10 times the price. The easily adjustable diver’s buckle is a big advantage and the overall quality is great all the way through. The only annoyance is the collar system for adjusting it, but once done you never need to touch it again thanks to the adjusting bracelet.

A solid bezel with does not move at all when in position, but I admit the actual action feels a little insubstantial.

The dial is lovely with big obvious hands (nice orange surrounds on the minute hand) and considered hour and minute markers. The Citizen logo and two lines of text below the centre are just enough to offer some interest without being too busy.

Finishing is also excellent with brushing everywhere apart from the edges of the case where one line of polish makes everything pop in a subtle way.

The case itself is shallow and shaped alongside the bracelet to ensure that it hugs the wrist all the way round.

It may just be my particular watch, but the second hand hits the mark every single time without fail.

Any downsides?

Yep. The date window is far too small and is difficult to read, to the point that I wonder why Citizen bothered to include one. The white window contrasts with the black (dark grey?) dial which removes some symmetry from the aesthetics. Personally, I would like to see a bigger window, but given the choice I would settle for none at all rather than what is currently here.

There are no more downsides. None for a watch that can be purchased in the UK for £149 at retail.

This is an astonishing watch at this price and in my view superior to many Longines watches I have tried at 5 times the price and others from Hamilton, Raymond Weil etc.

It is possibly the perfect beater watch and for many the ideal daily wear watch. Just superb!!!

Apple Watch series 5 thoughts

I linked to Marques’ review of the series 5 Apple Watch recently and I have to start by agreeing about the battery life. It is excellent when the display is set to not be always on, but noticeably shorter than the series 4 when this much hyped feature is enabled. The question is, does this feature life the series 5 to a new level or is the battery drain too much of a disadvantage to make it worthwhile?

The novelty part of my brain says that the always on feature is worth keeping enabled because it lifts the Apple Watch one step closer to working like a traditional watch while offering numerous advantages at the same time.

On a theoretical level the Apple Watch destroys any quartz or mechanical watch-

It is 100% accurate. You can use multiple watch faces and almost any complication you want. What traditional watch offers date, day, temperature, fitness stats, sunset sunrise times, multiple timezones, phone calling, voice assistant, heart rate monitoring, activity tracking etc etc? It takes a seconds to change the strap (no pin bars!) and the standard sports band is ultra comfortable, more so than almost any other strap in existence. Thousands of apps and complications to fit your bespoke needs. And a selection of other advantages such as wireless payments, less phone usage and even wrist-based navigation.

The downside, on a theoretical level, is the battery. Yes, back to that battery performance.

You will be charging the series 5 overnight if you keep always on enabled and if you are aiming for a high level of fitness you will need to charge during the day as well (see here for an example).

I must say that the always on feature alone lifts the Apple Watch on an emotional level to being a product that really does feel and act like a real watch and it has me wondering if this alone will lift it over the fence for even hardened watch enthusiasts. I don’t know if that is true at this time, but if we get to see 2-3 day battery performance in the future things could change rather quickly and I wouldn’t want to be Seiko, Citizen or any other budget to mid-range manufacturer at that time.

If Apple can sort the battery the entire watch industry could suffer to a level we could never have expected just a few years ago.