Visiting the Casio G-Shock Watch Headquarters

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If you have any interest in the watches of Casio, this article from A Blog To Watch will make for a compelling read. Amazing how much work goes into a mainstream product.

The brilliance of G-Shock wasn’t apparent at the time when it was first released, as it was radically tech-themed and nerdy in a time when most Japanese business professionals still adhered to the classic dress watch look so deeply engrained in the hierarchical business structure of the society. Brands like Seiko and Citizen had elaborate dress watch collections with specific models intended for people to get in steps as they went up the corporate ladder. Sport watches were for, well… sports. And it wasn’t easy to adapt the society’s way of thinking from preferring a more traditional metal dress watch to something black and plastic.

The Richard Mille RM 50-01 G-Sensor Tourbillon Chronograph

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You can look at a watch like the Richard Mille RM 50-01 G-Sensor Tourbillon Chronograph and be in awe of the technical specifications, the materials used to create it and the fact that it is a mechanical watch that can cope with Formula One racing, which is an amazing achievement by the way.

Of, you can look again at the gaudiness of the design, the $888,000 price tag and the fact that it is f*cking ugly in every respect and come to your senses. To me, watches like these  damage the reputation of the whole industry for everyone else, even if they are quite magnificent in a strange kind of way.

RJ X POKÉMON: a $20,000 Pokemon-themed watch


Wow! I get that some watches are very expensive and for very good reason, but I can’t help thinking that the boat already sailed on the theme of this one. More here.

To honor 20 years of Pokémon, RJ-Romain Jerome has partnered with The Pokémon Company

International to release a limited edition of 20 pieces featuring Pikachu.

With a first reference to 21st century pop culture, the brand pays tribute not only to an icon but to a social phenomenon which has become a global force over the last 20 years.

The Doxa SUB 200 T-Graph Searambler

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Jason Heaton is at the top of his game. He co-hosts the superb The Grey Nato podcast, he has written many, many excellent watch-related articles and also goes on many adventures overground and underwater.

His latest effort at Hodinkee takes a detailed look at the Doxa SUB 200 T-Graph Searambler and in the article he explains why he simply had to buy it. It is a stunning watch in every way and I totally get why he feels the way he does.

Perhaps fittingly, I learned of this particular watch while on a dive trip in the Caribbean. On a surface interval between dives, an e-mail arrived from a vintage watch dealer in Chicago who knows my penchant for vintage underwater watches. I think I committed to buying it before even stripping off my wetsuit; vintage Doxas in good condition are rare, but a vintage T-Graph is a horological Loch Ness monster. This wasn’t a chance to be missed. Though I was diving with another watch on my wrist, all I could think about was that old Doxa waiting for me back home.

KLOK-01-KLINK-01

 

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For €399,00, the KLOK-01-KLINK-01 is quite an achievement. It may be a quartz based watch, but the ingenuity in the way the face works and the clever strap attachment is like nothing else in the entire watch industry.

KLOK-01 is inspired by the circular slide rule, a once ubiquitous calculating instrument. A slide rule is a mechanical analog computer usually comprising three scales, one of which slides between the other two. In a similar way, the dial of KLOK-01 is composed of three circular disks — one each for the hours, minutes and seconds — which rotate at different speeds to slide past each other. The beauty of this temporal object is in its elegant display of time and its counter-clockwise movement.

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Smart watches: A Highway To High-End Watches? No…

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This is a very good article with some unusual thoughts regarding the future of the watch industry. Smart watches are considered unstoppable by the author, which I kind of agree with, but there are some points that don’t seem right to me.

Look at today’s “craftsmanship culture,” where relatively well-off urbanites like to have “nicer” versions of the types of items everyone uses. Everyone has to wear clothes, so well-off people get noticed if their clothing is a bit better-made or fancier. Many people drive cars and at least most people travel in them regularly. That means a classier more sophisticated (or faster) ride gets noticed on roads. It’s positive attention that says someone has had the success to play around. It might not be why people got the fast car. They probably like to drive fast, which is a totally legitimate thing to like. With that said, no matter what your reason for getting a fast car, you still send a message by driving it around, and this kind of communication is an important thing to consider in understanding human behavior.

Not convinced by this at all. Rich people buy really expensive cars because they can and because they are better than mainstream cars. Rich people use iPhones or high-end Androids because they are better than the rest. They don’t use old Nokias with diamonds all over them unless to preserve security. I’m not convinced that phones are seen as an expression of luxury any more and believe that Apple has done an extremely good job of making the iPhone appear to be the best for anyone, regardless of income (to an extent of course).

Rich people will wear very expensive watches because they are very expensive and believe that they show wealth and taste, but what happens when the general perception is that smart watches are more functional and necessary. That last word is huge because there could come a point where the smart watch is something everyone will own, like smartphones today, and at that point the mechanical masterpiece suddenly looks less functional and outdated.

Today, watches are more or less worn by only three types of people – consider, again, that all types of people use smartphones. These three types of people who tend to wear watches are: first, and most obviously, the people who need them at work, ranging from nurses to Navy SEALs; then, you have collectors like me who are fascinated by ultra well-made timepieces and are willing to pay a premium for carefully made goods; and finally, you have status seekers who use watches as a means of gaining attention or sending a message. It is not often spoken about, but the hands are a part of the body used to convey certain messages and a huge amount of nonverbal communication.

Really? Only three types of people and not a 4th group who make up the vast majority of the watch industry- people who simply wear watches to tell the time?

These are the people who will gladly move to a smart watch when they are functionally worth moving to and that is why I am not convinced in the premise of the article which sees smart watches as a highway to high-end watches. Smartphones are not a highway to traditional mobile phones that only make calls. If the functionality is flexible and works well, watches that just tell the time could be seriously hit.

Best smart analogue watches 2016

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A smart analogue watch blurs traditional watch designs with contemporary fitness tracking and notification tech. You won’t see full touchscreen displays like you get on Android Wear watches or the Apple Watch. You certainly won’t have to deal with a couple of days of battery life, that’s for sure. Those smarts are added in a more discreet and elegant way.

A decent round-up from Wareable which highlights how hard watchmakers are trying to blend watches and smarts in equal measure. It’s not easy…

Apple Watch left wrist / Jawbone right wrist

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On the left is a screenshot of the Health app showing my steps at 12:57pm yesterday with the Apple Watch as the only source. 1,915 steps.

On the right is a screenshot from my Jawbone UP 2 taken at the same time. 1,486 steps.

That is a huge difference for two trackers that have both been worn at exactly the same time and by the same person (ignore the fact the Health app shows ‘week’- I have only worn it from Thursday morning). I may take this further tomorrow and swap wrists, and then go mad and manually count my steps one day, but something tells me that this whole step tracking thing is nonsense and only good for tracking trends and improvements over long periods of time.

The trend carried on throughout the day and so I was suddenly left bemused as to what to trust. I have used a few Fitbits and they have been terrible for step accuracy in my experience which leaves me wondering just how well engineered step tracking is on any device.

At some point the madness will take over and I will experiment with manual step counting, a Garmin, a Jawbone, a Fitbit and an Apple Watch to see what happens. I suspect that the end result will be a variety of data that effectively proves that these expensive devices are not really doing what they say they should be.

So how about you? What is your experience with fitness bands and smart watches for fitness and step tracking, and do you think it is better not to delve too deeply and to just try to improve on your results every day?

My grail watch: a Bulova Accutron Snorkel 666 feet

My father died on 18th September and so I felt the time was right to re-publish an article I wrote some time back. It’s about a humble watch which has become the most important material possession I will likely ever own.

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A grail watch is considered to be the one that an individual desires for many years and I have almost got mine now. There is a reason why it is ‘almost’ my grail watch, but it is not quite because I cannot get the model I really want.

When I was a child, my father used to wear a Bulova Accutron Snorkel 666 feet which I was always fascinated by. He treasured it a lot and I remember watching him staring at it for much longer than he needed to when he was checking the time. It was there when we played in the garden and when he helped me with my homework. It was there when he played football in the park with me and when we did everything else together, including letting me put it to my ear to listen to the familiar electronic buzz of the movement. This watch is such a distinct reminder of my father that it became my grail watch a long time ago, but there is a problem.

For a father to pass down a watch to his son that is a big thing, but unfortunately my mother cannot find the watch. My father is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s and many possessions have sadly gone missing, along with his oh so brilliant mind, and so we continue to search for the one thing I would like to be handed down to me. It is the perfect memory of my father and one which I dearly hope to retrieve when he passes, which is expected to happen soon. Maybe I am grasping anything to remember him by, a small trinket to keep him alive, but the reality is that his personality died long ago and so we are left with the shell of a man who we watch decline month after month.

If I could find that particular watch, and I mean the actual watched he wore during my childhood, it would mean so much more than a keepsake or a memory. It, to me, is him because it was there during my formative years and I want that exact watch on my wrist, and I want my son to feel the same way about it when I pass it on to him. Only a watch can do that for me purely because he was not a man who wore jewellery and so it is the only object that would mean so much.

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Until that time I will have to live with a shell of the watch I really want, but it is a fantastic piece of technology which marries the best of old and new in a form which is delightful to look at from any angle. The Bulova Accutron II Snorkel is a clever recreation of the original and as you can see below, it most certainly follows the lines and form of the 666 feet well.

The internal rotating bezel remains, as does the instinctively 1960’s design, but inside is the latest Accutron movement from Bulova which is accurate to +/- 10 seconds per year. There is no day indicator, but in every other respect it is the original, if you don’t look too closely, just with a slightly modernised face.

I could buy an original for £350 in very poor condition, roughly the same price as the one above, but it has to be the one my father wore to make me wear it every day and to cope with lesser accuracy. Sadly the latest Accutron is a shell of the original, just like my father is of himself today, but if you want style, functionality and something that is a little different, this is the watch to buy at the moment…

…and then my mother called to say that she had found the watch in the loft. It had somehow come out of a box of ‘stuff’ and was nestling in the corner in the dark, alone and in poor condition. I really did not care because all I wanted was the watch and to see it again.

It arrived and I spent an age just staring at it, playing with the crowns that both struggled to even move and looking at it from every angle. You can look at this watch from any angle and always see something new, something clever and an original aesthetic which is rare in modern watches no matter how expensive they are. A look inside proved to be disheartening because it looked dire, rusty, nothing moved and so I imagined it would just sit on a shelf as a keepsake from the man who is still somehow hanging in there.

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I searched for someone to repair it and found Paul from Electric Watches (Welcome to Electric Watches! – Electric Watches). I emailed him and duly sent the watch to be looked at. Paul was quick to respond and had all of the parts it needed to come back to life, and the quote was much better than I expected.

Two day’s ago I received the Snorkel back and it is humming nicely, it is deadly accurate and it is in near perfect condition. All that is missing is an original strap, which is not easy to find, and that’s it. The watch retains a sense of age in places which is an advantage and really does feel like the one I used to admire so much.

This is it for me. I can think of no other watch I want to wear every day. I wanted this watch when I was 5 year’s old and I still love it today at the age of 45. My father bought this watch to celebrate my birth just after I was born and he always wore it, and I shall do the same. It brings home to me that a watch for many people is often much more than a beautiful device used to tell the time. It can be everything.