Citizen PRT AW7031-54A review

Now and again I see a watch that stands out to me in a shop window and I’m not quite sure why. I saw the PRT in a local jewellers a couple of months ago and saw it again yesterday which was a bit of a surprise. This time, however, it was 30% off and with some haggling I walked out with it for less than £130 which felt like good value to me.

There were a few facets that drew me to the watch; the layered white dial, the date window bubble, the hands and the sheer matte case and bracelet. In short, the entire watch just looked right to me.

So, I paid my money and took it home and the positive vibes continue through to the wearing experience. The watch is very light considering its size and it does hug the wrist very well, which is something my Tudor Black Bay fails to do most of the time.

It’s not small at 42mm, but it isn’t too deep which helps a lot and the lugs drop just enough to follow the flow of the wrist when worn. It sits well on my 7.25” wrist and is deceptively comfortable.

It is hard to fathom that the case and bracelet are made from stainless steel because of the way they are finished and the general lightness. I had to double check on the Citizen site and it is definitely stainless steel which makes for a confusing if very positive experience.

There are few downsides to this watch, but of course nothing is perfect. The date bubble is set too high and so you need to look at the watch directly from about to see the date. It does magnify, but most of the time it distorts which is a slight annoyance. It would make more sense in this watch to simply make the date window larger. The cartoony 6, 9 and 12 alongside the power reserve indicator could be a little more serious to fit the style of the casing, but that really is about it. The hour markers are applied and offer good depth, the 100m water resistance is enough for almost everyone, even if a screw down crown would be preferable, and the subtly striped dial is a joy to look at.

Being a Citizen quartz it is naturally deadly accurate, very well made and is sure to last for many years of use, but of course I am a watch guy who has gone through the Citizen level of watches and who (stupidly) is now looking up at Rolex.

It does, however, offer a lot for the price and ticks most of the boxes I want ticked in a watch; comfortable, accurate, great (blue) lume which is sharper than my Black Bay, has presence and is from a recognised brand. There is a lot to like in this watch, a lot indeed.

The Q Timex: some good, more bad

I wanted a Q Timex from the first moment I saw it and truth be told I wasn’t sure why.

I own a Tudor Black Bay which I love so I am used to having a decent watch on my wrist, and with that comes a certain lack of respect for the likes of Timex. Now, before you shout at your screen I don’t mean that how it sounds. What I mean is that there are few things you notice, and feel, when you wear a good quality watch and those things tend to be absent in lower priced offerings.

The Q Timex is priced fairly low in the wider watch world at £159, but some would say that it is priced high for a Timex. After wearing it for a day I am leaning towards the latter sentiment.

It feels like a Timex on the wrist and does lack any substantial presence which is noticeable if you own a few watches. And you don’t need to own luxury watches to feel this lack of presence because I own Seikos, vintage watches and even Citizens that offer a more substantial sense when worn. The shape, the weight and the dimensions tend to almost fall into the wrist which should be a positive, but in this case it almost feels like a cheap piece of plastic.

To round off the bad I have to say that the bracelet is awful. It looks good and stands out on this particular watch, but the taper is too extreme and the long talked about hair grabbing of the mesh is hard to ignore. I do not have hairy arms, but when the bracelet grabs it hurts so you have to wear it fairly tight to avoid this.

On to the good.

You already know the good. The colour combination, the shape, the history and the fact that quartz is presented as a positive here. It all works together and there is something special about the square case shape, but again it feels a little too shallow for my personal tastes. While I feel that my Black Bay is too deep, I feel that the Q is too shallow and something in between would likely work better for me. This is of course a personal preference and I am curious as to what you guys think, but for me it really is a case of good and bad with the bad sadly winning the race.

The hour markers look great, but the lume is not great at all. The hands don’t seem to suit the watch itself, especially the hour hand, and the date window is surprisingly hard to read despite its larger than average printing.

Even then I couldn’t stick to the good for long for which I apologies, but for me the Q Timex is not quite the watch I had hoped for and the hype does seem to outweigh the end experience. I realise that this is at odds with the vast majority of reviewers, but for some reason the Q Timex is not ticking the boxes I expected it to.

Why the Mondaine stop2go is so cool

Marketing summary: The fascinating execution of stop2go, like on the original clock, features the famous red second hand that turns full circle in 58 seconds and then waits at 12 o’clock for the black minute hand to move on, before jumping one marker forwards, starting its next rotation. Two seconds which sometimes can change our life?

I should start by stating that my son bought me this watch because he is going to university next month after 19 years at home. It was his way of saying thanks and my wife also received a Mondaine for her troubles, which have been considerably more effort than mine. This means that I already have a huge soft spot for this watch because he means the world to me and the fact that this came from him makes it a little part of him I can carry around with me.

I think about watches this way, it happens when you are deeply into watches, and to me they carry the memories of times you have spent with them and the things you have done while they are on your wrist. My Tudor Black Bay reminds me of a recent trip to Belgium, our last wedding anniversary when I received it from my wife and the countless other moments, big and small, that have passed while it keeps me on time each day.

My son knew I had a fascination with the stop2go, and you will see why if you read on, even though at first glance it appears expensive for what it is at £500. To most people the design looks almost childlike and arguably quite cheap and I can understand this in a world where Rolex and others stand out for the majority. I know too many people who would rather wear a fake Rolex than a decent Seiko, and who do not understand that fundamentally they are doing it for a reason that doesn’t exist. They want to show their status to others and believe that wearing a Rolex somehow makes them more impressive to others, but I would counter with the following arguments-

1/ Literally nobody ever sees what watch anyone else is wearing unless it is hideously designed, too colourful or too big

2/ 99 out of 100 people do not know what a good watch is. I know people who believe that ’TAGs are the best watches in the world!’ Well, they are not and those who understand watches would argue that a £1,000 TAG is a lesser watch than a £200 Seiko, and they would be factually correct.

3/ Why would you want to impress strangers? This is actually a big question and one that I could write a series of articles about, but it does appear that ‘impressing strangers’ is a big business, possibly the biggest of all. From Range Rovers with personalised number plates (it’s amazing how many of these cars have personalised number plates) to designer handbags to expensive fashion watches and so on. The business of showing off to people you do not know is huge and so is the appetite to gain fake confidence from such material possessions.

4/ So, someone is impressed by your watch- great! Actually it isn’t great because if someone is impressed by a watch for the wrong reasons they are likely as shallow as the person who wants to impress others. Then again, I guess this would make them a good match. Seriously, buy a watch because you like it and because it gives you a tiny bit of pleasure when you check the time. It could be the dial, understanding the movement behind the dial or the case design. It doesn’t matter, buy it because a) you like it b) it is good value (avoid TAG and any other fashion brand) and c) because it suits you. A watch should say something about you and the best way to do this to others is to wear a watch that is you, that is your personality and that is your taste. That works 100% of the time.

Anyway, I digress. The stop2go has quite a lineage and one that many other brands and individual watch models will struggle to match. Here is a snippet from Wikipedia

The clock owes its technology to the particular requirements of operating a railway. First, railway timetables do not list seconds; trains in Switzerland always leave the station on the full minute. Secondly, all the clocks at a railway station have to run synchronously in order to show reliable time for both passengers and railway personnel anywhere on or around the station.

The station clocks in Switzerland are synchronized by receiving an electrical impulse from a central master clock at each full minute, advancing the minute hand by one minute. The second hand is driven by an electrical motor independent of the master clock. It requires only about 58.5 seconds to circle the face, then the hand pauses briefly at the top of the clock. It starts a new rotation as soon as it receives the next minute impulse from the master clock. This movement is emulated in some of the licensed timepieces made by Mondaine.

It was in Belgium earlier this year that I got to witness one of these clocks in real life and my wife and I spent some considerable time just staring at them as they passed the 60 second marker. It is such a simple visual treat and one that never gets old. This is the video I took at the time-

You would think that a simple pause at the top of the minute is easy, but that is far from the truth. Mondaine explain how it was created here and below is a small snippet of what the movement actually is-

A regular quartz watch runs with one motor to gear the hour, minute and seconds hand. The Mondaine SBB stop2go movement needs 2 motors: one to turn the seconds hand and the 2nd motor drives the hour hand and inducts the minutes hand jump. An important hallmark of the Swiss station clock is the smooth drive of the red seconds hand; to convert this to quartz watch a special trick was needed. Instead of moving each second one step forward the seconds hand moves in 4 little paces every second. This makes the impression of a continuous gliding like seen on the Original on each Swiss Station.

And all of that sits in a watch, a reasonably sized one at that. I love mechanical watches and in particular the sheer quality of models from the likes of Tudor, Omega and Rolex, but this quartz movement is a special achievement and one that is unique to this watch. Is that £500 starting to sound a little more reasonable now?

The strange repeated motion of checking the time and then waiting for the second hand to pause at the top may leave me soon, but I suspect it will remain an occasional visual treat that I experience now and then.

I should add that it is deadly accurate, as you would expect from an expensive quartz movement, so you should rarely need to reset the time, which is kind of a shame because this process is also a joy.

Time setting-

Pull the switch element to position 1
The seconds hand moves to 12 o’clock and stands still
Turn the switch element in the wished direction (clockwise or anti clockwise) and keep it in this position until the hands are showing the correct time.
For fine tuning rotate in single pulses on the switch (clockwise or anti clockwise), the minute hand will move step by step.
Push the switch element back to position zero once time setting is completed.

The instructions above are from Mondaine and as you can see we again have a unique feature in this watch. No winding of the crown, no fiddling with different positions, just twisting and letting the movement do the work for you. I especially like the way the second hand jumps to 0 and the design of the crown which is unlike any other I have seen to date.

So, we have a unique movement with a unique time display and a unique crown design and time settings function. There is, however, one more piece of uniqueness in the stop2go, the lume.

Yes indeed, the lume is painted underneath the hands which produces a look that is unlike anything else. As you can see in the image below the end result is lovely, but there is another advantage because it means that the hands never look any different in daylight. The clean look stays consistent throughout the day which can only be a good thing.

And it is this clean look that makes the stop2go, or indeed most Mondaine watches, what they are. The current time is always obvious, always immediate and always clean. There are few visual distractions to get in the way and even the hour and second markers merely add some personality rather than something that would cause you to look away from the time.

With an ultra comfortable leather strap that is of very good quality and a flat sapphire crystal this closes out what is a highly practical watch that ticks every box, apart from the 60th box where it gracefully pauses and then starts again after the minute hand has jumped forwards.

Would I change anything? 30 metre water resistance is not the best and maybe a date window would work well on this watch, but that’s about it. I love this watch because my son gave it to me, but truth be told I would love it anyway. It truly is unique in the watch world and highlights how not all technical innovation has to come through mobile or laptop screens.

Specifications-
Model number A512.30358.16SBB
Function stop2go
Movement (manufacture. Ref.) MONDAINE stop2go cal. 58-02
Movement (type) Quartz
Case size/diameter (mm) 41.00
Case material Stainless Steel brushed
Case back Caseback with Screws
Crown Regular Gasket
Crystal/Glass material Sapphire anti-reflective coated
Water resistance (m/ft/atm) 30 / 100 / 3
Strap/Bracelet material Genuine Leather
Strap/Bracelet finishing Brushed
Strap width at lug (mm) 20.00
Origin Swiss Made

Orient Ray II initial thoughts

This is a watch that I have pondered for some time now and I’m not sure why. The Orient brand is well known in the watch collector community and to some it represents the absolute best value of all automatic brands.

The fact that Orient sits with Seiko is good and bad because it can cause people to expect much more from a brand that is so heavily affiliated with one of the biggest brands in the world. On the other hand, it can lead those of us that know more than most about watches to immediately see the aspects that come from cost cutting, those parts that are usually found on the cheapest of Seiko offerings.

So, on that subject I will list my initial good and bad thoughts on the Orient Ray II.

Good-

The dial is lovely! The way the light plays with the blue is impressive and, but at no point do the subtle lighting movements get in the way.

The date window, and in particular the surround, is one of the most impressive I have seen in any watch. It takes a lot to not overdo surrounds and to still make the day and date legible, but Orient has done a superb job here.

Love the lume. It is not overpowering, but it lasts through the whole night and I would say that it is actually better than my Tudor Black Bay in this regard- even the bezel lume marker keeps shining which is unusual. To contrast, the Black Bay can get fuzzy after a few hours whereas the Orient does not.

It is running at approx -5 seconds per day which is decent at this price point.

And I have to mention the £128 price that I paid for it from Amazon. You get a lot for your money here.

It is a highly wearable watch which sits on my 7.25” wrist very well. The height is not too high at all, but it does look a little fat on occasions, however.

The finishing is decent and arguably better than could be expected in this price range.

Everything feels consistent. From the bezel to the hands to the hour markers, it is not original by any means, but it is well thought out.

Bad-

The crown is too small and sits too close to the crown guards. Even if you rarely need to mess with the time and date it can be fiddly to use to say the least.

The rotor is a little noisy. For this particular watch it isn’t too bad, maybe my hearing is not so good these days, but it does appear to be a common complaint among Orient owners.

The bracelet is not good at all and I removed it within 2 minutes. This is where the Seiko knowledge kicks in because it really does look and feel like a hollow end-linked budget offering from Orient’s big brother.

And one final minor niggle, the red on the day window (for Sundays only) is very light and a bit too vibrant when contrasted to the red of the second hand. It leads to an inconsistency on that day alone which is no big deal, but you know what us watch people are like.

Initial conclusion

This is a really nice watch, it really is. Initially I felt that it had the potential to look very cheap, almost Lorus like, but as time has passed I am starting to appreciate it. For the money it is harder to find a better looking or more interesting watch, and it makes for the perfect beater for when you don’t want to worry about knocks or unexpected damage.

Orient Bambino (RA-AP0002S10B) watch review

Orient is a brand that will skirt around the edges of your consciousness if you are at all into watches. The connection to Seiko, the prices and the designs are obvious lures and so I decided to take a look for myself.

The specifications for the price stand out instantly. The in-house F6222 movement looks good on paper, 40.5mm is not a bad size (2mm less would be perfect), 12mm thickness works, the 21mm lug width does not work and for some the 30m water resistance will be a barrier to entry.

This is, however, a dress watch and as such we should not expect the kind of toughness you get with a G-Shock or any 200m dive watch. The crystal alone evidences this because it is highly domed and on the face of it prone to easy damage. There is no protection for the crystal at all and it kind of plays on my mind that it will get damaged at some time. I say again, dress watch.

Anyway, I spent a lot of time inspecting the watch to check where my £150 had gone and I was mildly impressed by what I saw. The finish is decent and offers somewhat of a tool-like appearance despite the dressy intentions. It’s smooth and shiny as you would expect, but so simple that there is no doubting what this is supposed to be. Is it designed to look like a standard 1960’s watch or is it aiming to be something more. I really do not know, but it appears to be incredibly unpretentious and that is of course a good thing.

The hands are non-lumed and are extremely simple in their design. They almost flow together when pointing the opposite way and are not overly stark against the dial. This is a good thing in a way, but at times it does require a second or two more to capture the correct time. Throw in sub-seconds which again offers a delicate backdrop to an otherwise sparse dial, aside from the minimal branding, and you end up with a watch that just is. No, I did not miss out a word there- it really is just a watch, with a dial that is classic, usable and at times quite beautiful.

I’m not so keen on the date window which is situated to the left of the ‘3’ marker- I always prefer one of the other when a date window is place and I really would like it to be larger. It follows the Citizen habit of including a date window and then making it so small as to be hard to even read. A shame.

I quite like the display case back, but am not so keen on the actual look of the movement. It looks like a workhorse, it acts like a workhorse and it really is not for presenting.

On the subject of the movement I have been genuinely shocked by the accuracy. This could just be luck, but I lost 2 seconds in the first 3 days of use. That is chronometer standard! And it has carried on in this manner so I’m happy so far.

The leather strap is stiff and not so comfortable, and while it may soften over time I found myself removing it and then trying to hack a jubilee bracelet. I had to hack because Orient chose to add a 21mm lug width. AAAAAAAAGH!!! That is such a pain, 20 or 22 please!

What I can say though is that this watch has genuinely surprised me. It looks great, it is a near perfect size and weight, and it is highly accurate. I have long considered Orient, but now that I finally have one I can understand the positivity that is out there for the brand. For the money it is astonishingly good.

BERSIGAR Submariner Homage Watch Review

The actual listing for this watch is as follows, hold your breath- Men’s Waterproof Automatic Analog Watch- BERSIGAR Luxury Stainless Steel Bracelet Self Winding Watch with Transparent Case Back and 360° Ceramic Rotating Bezel.

Now, I wrote recently about homage watches and couldn’t think of any advantages-

“Even Rotary makes homage watches as do so many other brands and it’s all rather annoying and pointless if you ask me. Maybe I am going a bit over the top, but there is just something about homage watches that tick not one box I want ticked and which I believe will almost certainly always lead to disappointment for the buyer.”

And then a friend showed me his BERSIGAR watch and I was quite surprised. It is big at 43mm, but the depth of 13mm takes this away somewhat to leave a watch that sits around the wrist rather than atop it, like my Black Bay does.

It is of course hard to find more specific information about this watch due to its presumably Chinese origin, but it is automatic without hacking or hand winding and as such the movement is a bit of a mystery. It has 100m of water resistance which I have tested (in the shower and a swimming pool!) and so far no problems in this area.

The accuracy has not been too bad and without a timegrapher or hacking it is hard to judge, but this one has been running at between 5 and 7 seconds ahead of time per day which is OK for a watch that sells for south of £100.

Surprisingly, the lume glows all night in a subtle way that offers just what you need to check the time if you are of a certain age and wake up in the night. This is quite an important feature for me and very few budget watches succeed in this area.

The dial is clean and an obvious Submariner copy, but it is legible and easy to read in all conditions. The Hardlex crystal does not appear to have any AR coating which is a shame, but again I have not suffered any readability problems to date. Also, the bezel action is superb with literally no movement when set and it does look good being ceramic.

The only area that needs work is the date bubble which does magnify the small window, but it also distorts the view of the date most of the time which rather negates the idea of the bubble in the first place.

It is a comfortable watch which does not feel too heavy thanks to its larger diameter and substantial bracelet, but the clasp is very tight on this one and will take time to loosen up I suspect. Overall, however, it suits the watch and is more than comfortable.

If I ignore the homage nature of this watch I find it to be actually quite impressive. It’s big, it’s flat and it wears very well. It’s water resistant to the level you will need and the lume is great. That’s a lot of goodness for less than £100. Available here.

Avia Swissonic quick review

I bought this watch a few years ago and at only £50 it has proved to be more of a bargain than I could ever have imagined. This one, which I believe to be an ESA 9154, offers a sweet blue dial and a beautiful cushion style case that feels bigger on the wrist than it actually is.

While it is quoted as a 40mm case it does feel quite small in the hand due to the curved case sidings sweep from top to bottom. Strap it on the wrist, however, and it has immediate presence thanks to the depth and the crystal which pops up from the casing in the most retro of ways. In short, it is a symbol of the electric watches of the time, but one which does not necessarily follow the traditions of the Bulova and Omega offerings from the early 1970s.

The date window site unobtrusively at 3 o’clock with a sloping surround that adds a little bit of depth and the hands just about manage to elevate themselves for attention above the rather large dial markers. It is, however, the markings in-between the hour markers that add personality to the dial and which bring every design aspect together in a cohesive way.

The movement is fairly accurate and I have been measuring +7-9 seconds per day which is impressive for a watch that is close to 50 years old. The sweep is typically electric and there is a sweet marriage of simplicity in the dial set above what was a complex piece of engineering at the time. The only problem will be servicing because the number of people who can deal with these movements is diminishing quickly (there are two that I know of in the UK) and so this watch potentially has limited longevity.

Finally, the bracelet is simply superb. It works so well on many of my watches and has that sci-fi appeal that we love to this day from the early 1970’s. It is light, comfortable and tapered in a way that gives even more prominence to the watch itself.

I love this watch and indeed, I love almost everything about it. It stands out to the wearer, but not to anyone else. It is fun to look at and has many design tweaks that make it unique in a hugely crowded field of early 70’s designed watches, a design ethos that is still so prominent in watches released today. It is a classic in my eyes and one that can be bought very cheaply on the second-hand market today.

The Timex Weekender – the most watchy watch

The Timex Weekender is unique because it is so completely derivative. If you think of a basic watch, the Weekender likely comes to mind and this is what makes it so unbelievably cool. When you wear a Weekender, you are saying “I just need a watch and I don’t care what others think of me.” That’s cool.

Of all the watches I own, the Weekender is the most obvious at displaying the time. The pure face is decorated with a 24 hour arabic presentation, the red second hand stands out just a little and the hands are as clean as you could wish for. Within the case, it all comes together to produce the most minimalist of watches which retains a form which really is hard to match.

At only 38mm wide and 9mm deep, it does feel small when compared to most watches today, but it just about works on my 7.5 inch wrists. Unisex appeal is obvious here and in particular because Timex pushes a range of straps to be worn with it, and the simplicity of the design means that the entire look is changed in an instant.

Such simplicity makes the Weekender hard to criticise because it is an icon, but I wish that Timex would work on the loudness of the tick. No watch ticks as loudly as a Timex and my first conclusion can only be that the materials are cheap and are thus letting sound through, but much cheaper watches I have owned don’t tick anywhere near as loudly as the Weekender.

That really is my only complaint because the watch has worked perfectly over an extended period of time, and of course the INDIGLO® night-light makes it useful 24 hours a day. I could be picky and say that the light is very bright, which can cause you to wake up further than you may want too in the early hours, but that really would be being picky.

An icon that does everything it needs to well without ever daring to be exceptional. Then again, if it tried too hard, it wouldn’t be what it is.

The Black Bay Red – it’s the little things that matter

When I first became interested in watches there was a watch that seemed like a distant dream. It was an unobtainable watch from an unattainable brand to me and so it sat in the back of my mind for the past seven years. As it happens, the original Black Bay Heritage was released in the same year my watch fascination started to germinate and it has been quite a journey since that time, a journey that many of you will likely recognise.

Through a selection of Bulovas, Seikos, Citizens, vintage Accutrons and moving up through Longines and a couple of Oris divers I eventually spotted a Black Bay 58 in the window of a local jewellers.

I was aware of how difficult it was to get and within a few days I had purchased it, but alas it was a touch too small for me. When I say a touch I really mean that because the depth was perfect and it truly is a stunning timepiece, but it never felt quite right on my wrist. Lon story short, my 18 year old son now owns the 58, he actually paid for it himself, and so it remains in the family.

Anyway, my Tudor senses had been stirred and so I emailed the jeweller to enquire about a pre-owned Black Bay Black that they had in stock. We negotiated a price and he happened to mention that he had just received a Black Bay GMT that morning. OMG! (As my son would say). At that moment the GMT was even harder to get than the 58 and the videos I had seen impressed me greatly. I said yes without thinking.

Two days later I was sat in the jewellers with the GMT on my wrist and I contemplated the wonderful new watch that stared back at me. It truly was a wonderful watch, but it truly can be the little things that matter the most as the title of this article suggests. Something was nagging me and it took time to realise that there were multiple things that I would change with the GMT before I was happy, and the cost of the watch meant that I had to be truly happy in every way.

As an aside, people collect watches because there is no such thing as a perfect timepiece and so they keep collecting, but of course many also like having a collection because every watch is different in some way. We look at the smallest of details and we appreciate the little touches that come together to create the entirety of a watch, and this is why the GMT was not doing it for me.

The date window started the process. It looks like a date window and that’s it. Don’t get me wrong, I realise that there isn’t much you can do with a date window, but in this case it is small and cut in such a way with no linings around the square. The same design would fit a Citizen watch and not look out of place at all.

And then there is the red GMT hand. I know this is a GMT watch and I realise that there will be an extra hand, I mean I could see this with my very own eyes before I bought it, but over time the snowflakes on the hour hand, second hand and GMT hand crowded the dial slightly in my mind.

The Pepsi bezel also didn’t work for me and I found it a little too flashy for my tastes. The colours are muted and work brilliantly together, but it dawned on me that my deep preference is for something in between the blandness of standard Submariner colours and the Pepsi of the GMT.

Finally, it all felt a little cold to me. The white hands and markers fit the GMT aesthetic perfectly, but it would appear that the Black Bay 58 was playing on my mind and the fact it was still in the house did not help. It was the gold.

The gold hands and markers felt warm and offered depth to the watch that was not present in the GMT. Now, don’t get me wrong here. The Black Bay GMT is a stunning watch and I fully understand why people love it so much, it just transpired that it did not tick every box for me and that there was another watch that justified such a high cost, and it was the one I lusted after so much when I first got into watches.

So, long story short I sold the GMT for roughly the price I bought it for and then spent a few weeks wandering around with an Oris on my wrist. My wife and I discussed watches a few times, a subject she naturally hates, and one day she surprised me by taking me back to the same jewellers.

I sat at the desk and a Black Bay Red was presented to me. OMG! (As my son still says) The feeling I had when it was on my wrist was surprisingly calmed by the presence of it. I did not marvel at the look, the bezel colouring or the watch itself, I just stared at the gold hands and markers, and the way they played in the light against the red bezel and deep chocolate dial (at least it looked chocolate in that lighting).

This feeling has remained over the past month and for the first time in my life a watch has grown on me over time. I have a terrible habit of losing the novelty of a new watch quickly and then viewing it less positively as time passes, but not so here. It just works for me and in a way that I cannot quite explain, but I suspect that there are multiple factors at play that have come together to make me feel this way.

It could be a mixture of it being my first grail watch or the fact that it solves the majority of my perceived issues with the 58 and GMT, or just maybe it is by far the watch that suits my personal tastes more than any other to date. It is deadly accurate, less than 1 second loss per day, the lume is great, no date window and that dial and bezel are perfect to me.

Any problems? Only one really and I am able to live with it. I am not a fan of the slab sides and the depth because it is a touch high and too angled on the edges when compared with the dial and overall form. This is not, however, something that bothers me much at all, to the point that my wife engraved the watch so that it will never be sold, and for the first time in my life I am sure my current watch will not be passed on to anyone else.

All of those little things have come together to create a magical product for me and I could not be happier with the Black Bay Red.

Henry London Chancery review

Introducing Henry London’s Chancery 41mm mesh bracelet wristwatch with a crimson red chronograph dial. The watch case is made of stainless steel and is completed with a double domed acrylic lens. The watch bracelet is made from stainless steel Milanese mesh. This Chancery model features the traditional hour, minute and second hands as well as a calendar window at 6 o’clock. The three sub-dial instruments each perform different chronograph functions: a 60 second stop watch dial at 6 o’clock, the 9 o’clock dial offers a 30 minute timer whilst the third indicates the time in 24 hour format.

It all sounds good doesn’t it and the current asking price of £60 (normally £150) sits very positively against the aesthetics in the marketing images.

Specifications are somewhat vague with Japanese Quartz quoted for the movement which could technically mean anything. The high double dome crystal feels very plastic to me and when tapped offers no ring at all so I suspect it is indeed pure plastic. This is a bit of a shame because elsewhere it looks and feels pretty decent and is one area where the margin could be squeezed to complete what is otherwise a pleasing offering for those who care about the visuals more than anything else. My main concern is damage which can happen very easily with a watch crystal and one small scratch can ruin the entire the experience, but I guess time will tell.

Some investigation showed that Henry London is owned by the Peers Hardy Group which also offers watches under the brands of Radley London, Cluse, Jigsaw, Kahuna, Tikkers and Disney (yes, Disney). These watches are very much in the budget range, but my experience of Kahuna and Radley London has been quite positive given the prices they are asking for their various models.

We are dealing with a budget watch here in the Chancery, of that there is little doubt, but it has something that many watches costing upwards of £2,000 do not.

Just look at it. It is a beautiful design and captures the essence of 1950’s watch elegance more than almost any other watch I have seen. When I say almost there are countless examples of watches trying to capture the 1960’s with very few jumping back a further 10 years-

Longines Conquest Heritage Mens 35mm – a classic 1950’s style watch at £810 with an automatic movement and a style all of its own.

Rado Watch HyperChrome Captain Cook – a beautiful watch, but at £1,830 it is an ask and it has a sense of modernity running through it.

Tissot Visodate – a brilliant watch and one that offers just enough classic styling to keep you enjoying it every single day. Still, it is not obviously vintage from more than a foot away.

These are just three examples of what is out there, but still the Chancery is obviously more 1950’s than any of them. More than this, every single facet works with everything else to produce this look which is noticeable, consistent and one that looks way more expensive than the asking price would suggest. This does not matter though because it is all about the design here and if you forget about the vague quartz movement, the dodgy crystal material and possible limited lifespan you are in for a treat.

The dial is beautifully coloured with a subtle change of tone running to the centre. Alongside the applied hour markers and the ’12’ at the top it all looks right to my eye. The three dials also add some interest thanks to two of them being dark and one applied, but there is a lot more to like here. The date window is well positioned and finished as it should be, there is nothing worse than a harshly cut out window, and the hands (they are lumed by the way) are the length they should be within a case of 41mm. Even the Henry London logo is perfectly sized and with the right font for a 1950’s design to top off what is the most 1950’s dial I have seen in a modern watch.

The sense of age continues with the mesh strap that looks almost plastic from the outside and a smaller than average crown that is flanked by the chronograph buttons, which I would personally like to see a little smaller. Overall, however, the design and consistency is of a level that may seem obvious if you are looking to build a 1950’s homage watch, but which also seems to be close to impossible for other brands to succeed at.

Henry London has taken the idea of a 1950’s homage and taken it to the extreme with no worries about what watch people will think. And the end result is surprisingly impressive and even more so considering the price.

Think of this as an occasional wear novelty and you will have something completely different to wear when the mood strikes you. Because of this I ended up liking the Chancery much more than I expected to.