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Watch Investing: Five Watch Brands Best Avoided

We all know that flipping a Rolex is a no-brainer. If you can get a new Rolex Sub, Daytona or Sea-Dweller then you can sell it a few months later and probably make between 5K and 20K profit.

That’s why some Rolex dealers have three year waiting lists, they are the world’s safest investment this side of a detached property in Surrey. Not the Milgauss or the Air-King obviously, nobody really likes those.

But some watch brands not only fail to rise in value, they can lose you a fortune too, sometimes over 50% of the retail price in under two years. Depends on the model naturally, but here are some tips on which supposed `prestige’ brands are often a poor investment.

FAVRE LEUBA

Titan/Tata the car maker thought they would revive an old Swiss brand and yes, they produced some nice watches. The Favre-Leuba Raider for example is a nice Valjoux 7753 powered chronograph. But is it worth over two grand? Not really.

Titan are scaling down Favre-Leuba watch production this year and cutting their losses. The sorry episode shows you need more than an 18th century heritage to sell watches. If you’re tempted to buy an Favre-Leuba in the closing down sale our advice is don’t, you’ll never live long enough to see a return on that investment.

ETERNA

Once the byword for Swiss movement quality, the old Eterna name morphed into ETA, which still powers many watches today – made in Singapore, Swizerland or the UK.

Now Eterna produces Sellita powered automatics which are OK, albeit slightly dated in terms of style. That wouldn’t matter if they were charging Rotary or Seiko Tuna money RRP, but at £1700 or more an Eterna is a really huge waste of money. Look hard enough online and you can find some of them at £400.

Don’t buy the Eterna Kon-Tiki at £1600 thinking you will make money. With just 200m of depth resistance and a Sellita SW200 inside it Eterna are really taking the pi** frankly. There are better watches in the Christopher Ward range for £700.

HAMILTON

Ask 100 random watch browsers in a shop where they think Hamilton watches are made and I guarantee that at least 10 of them will say the USA. Still, after decades of being part of the Swatch Group, people still believe Hamilton is a US watch brand.

Try selling a Hamilton Jazzmaster (WTH is that name all about?), Khaki or even a Ventura at a watch shop or pawnbrokers and you will be shocked at the low offer.  Typically under £200 with box n papers. The problem is that many collectors have twigged that Hamilton use the same Powermatic 80 movement as the entry level Tissot models, which is a perfectly OK movement, but still.

The Intra-Matic looks nice but inside you’ll find the ancient Valjoux 7753 engine, adapted and tweaked. For £1600 that’s not a great deal.

You can buy lots of vintage Valjoux 7753 powered watches online for £600-£900 and you might actually make some cash. Need we go on? Buy a vintage Hamilton instead.

MONTBLANC

Looks like an IWC. Just buy an IWC. Better bet.

I once had a Montblanc foutain pen, lovely thing. That’s the trouble, many collectors still think this is a pen and accessory brand, not a watch brand.

Owned by Richemont, the Montblanc factory produces some amazing limited editions but their bread n butter range is seen gathering dust in many High Street jewellers shops. Unloved and viewed with some suspicion.

BREMONT

Controversial eh? Much as I like to support watchmaking in the UK,  after working 18 months in a pawnbrokers shop I had ONE, yes one, enquiry to see and try on a Bremont watch which languished in the window. The pre-owned Breitlings, TAGs, Rolex, Omega and other fast-moving models all had collectors asking to view on a daily basis.

These are beautifully made watches, very heavy too, so you feel like you’re getting lots of watch for the money. But four grand retail for the MBII or ALT P2? You will need an ejector seat when your wife finds out you spent 4K on a watch she’s never heard of. Fact.

 

 

 

Reviewed: Paulareis Omega Planet Ocean Look-a-Likey

There are lots of Chinese watches on Ali Express that bear an uncanny resemblence to famous models from Switzerland, like this Paulareis blue and orange number. It retails for just under £20 including postage, which is super cheap – but is it any good?

GOOD STUFF

This is a big watch at some 44mm across, it has a fairly thick case too at 16.5mm, with a slightly domed and an AR coated crystal. It adds something having that blue tint when you move the watch dial across the light.

With a basic auto movement, it needs a  little winding action, plus a fair bit of shaking to get going. Unlike some DG movement watches NWC has bought for review, this one doesn’t have a nice spinny-spinny rotor to build up some reserve. The rotor slowly tips from one side to the other, meaning you have to work harder to get some power in the mainspring. You get some gold effect on the rotor, which is visible via the see-thru caseback.

Handy little date window too.

The strap is silicone and the blue/orange colour theme continues. There’s a unidirectional click-stop bezel, which is a little bit stiff,  but works OK. All round, it really does look and feel like a solid dive style watch, even though it isn’t. So far, so good.

BAD STUFF

The watch arrived from the Timerunner store with a smashed caseback crystal, which had left dozens of fragments inside the movement. Not good.

I emailed and they sent three new screw down casebacks. Which is good, except it means I had to remove the movement from the watch and try to clean out the caseback crystal pieces to make the watch work.

That took two baths in petroleum ether and a poke about near the stem/crown access hole, with tweezers. Delicate job, as one wrong move and the keyless works would move out of alignment and then the movement needs stripping.

Some lubricant inside the movement was washed out during this rescue mission, which left an oily patch inside the crystal, but that cleaned off.

DUMMY RELEASE VALVE

Second crown is for show, does not do anything exciting.

The second crown at 10pm is a dummy – it doesn’t move a chapter ring and it certainly doesn’t release helium. What do you want to 20 notes? But other cost-cutting measures were revealed on this watch as I continued to repair it.

As it was washed in ether, a little glue was seeping out from the back of the dial plate. Yes glue.

It was then clear that the movement did NOT have dial feet inside the movement, secured by dial screws – as most watch movements do. In fact, the dial pins are clearly visible on the outside of the movement.

There were still glass fragments under the rotor, stopping it from moving around and charging the mainspring. So off it came, which meant the dial plate was pretty wobbly. On the upside, that allowed me to clean glass from under the dial plate without removing the hands.

Luckily when everything was re-assembled and the rotor screwed back on, the watch worked – and continues to do so. But let’s move onto the next problem.

Vandalised by angry customs staff? This was not a good sight to see when unboxing.

SHALLOW LUG PIN HOLES

Trying to re-fit the silicone strap proved to be a frustrating experience. One pin end in, then gently press the spring-loaded pin at the other end..and ping. Off it goes into the workshop somewhere.

New set of pins, and I used the crimper tool to give the pins a chance of sliding into the lub holes each side. Still no joy, and the thin paint also began to scratch off as I fought with the thing.

Finally I gave up and put a blue leather strap on instead. It is too narrow, but at least it went on. The reason for the pin problem is simple; the holes aren’t deep enough, so the slightest touch releases the pin.

VERDICT;

There is a limit to what you get for twenty quid, so bear that in mInd when choosing Ali Express bargains. Sometimes you win and get a lovely watch that just works spot-on and looks very nice, like the Paulareis turquiose dial watch I reviewed last week, also twenty pounds and it’s been no trouble at all, same retailer on Ali Express too.

This one would probably be fine for a while if it arrived undamaged, but that pesky pin problem will come back one day, as you put on/take off the watch, and twist the strap slightly. Then the pin will ping out and your fun half hour begins…

Ali Express Watch Reviews: Paulareis Automatic

Seiko and Citizen know it to be true; a turquoise dial watch is actually very cool, the choice of those who dare to be different. You can still buy a Seiko 5 or Presage today with a mix of blue and green on the dial and we are big fans at NWC magazine.

But can you get the same joy from an Ali Express budget automatic from Paulareis, at just £19.15? Well, yes and no.

GOOD STUFF

Let’s start with the positives on this one, which was bought from Timerunner store. There were some random polystyrene protectors in there, but the watch was packed inside a basic plastic sleeve – no box.

To be fair, this is bargain basement level watch buying, so no fancy box is fine.

The steel case and bracelet feels good, nicely polished, no sharp edges. The clasp has a foldover strap and presses down with a satisfying click. Feels secure. I took out one link and moved the clasp in along for a perfect fit. This watch is 40mm across which most enthusiasts agree is the ideal size.

The dial colour is stunning, it really stands out. There is a touch of lume on the quarter hour markers as well. Solid caseback, with a Rolex style splined backing plate. pretty certain our old friend the Chinese DG movement is inside there.#

Pull out the crown to position one and you can wind the watch. It ran for 27 hours left alone on the workbench. Wearing it all day, even mainly deskbound, put enough extra in the balance spring to power it through the night a day later.

Feels like a mineral crystal, which sits a little bit high by the way. Not sure if that’s a good thing or whether it might be vulnerable to little nicks and scratches.

The bezel is almost the same as a Seiko SNK series watch, it has that chamfered smoothness that’s just good to touch. Plain n simple, classic design.

BAD BITS

The crown is difficult to align on the tube when pressing in, before screwing it down. It doesn’t realy want to screw all the way on the thread. On the upside, it’s a fairly small crown so it doesn’t dig into the back of your hand like some watches do.

Most irritating was the condition of the watch. It was dirty underneath the protective stickers, especially inside the clasp. I took it apart to clean up properly as I adjusted the clasp, but still, not a good indicator as regards quality control at the Timerunner outlet.

It sits a bit high on the wrist at around 14mm, but I don’t really mind – it isn’t a huge lump of a thing like the 43mm Pulsar quartz chronograph I bought last year.

VERDICT;

You cannot complain too much for the money. Yes, a turquiose Seiko 5 is a far superior timepiece in terms of build quality, resale value and you get all that lovely box, paperwork n guarantee. But it’s also £250. This thing is under twenty quid – you know, a chippy tea price for the family on Friday.

I’m amazed that the factory in China is making any money and even more impressed that overall, this Paulareis offers everyday automatic timekeeping for a car boot sale price.

Cheap Watches: What’s Your Price Limit?

By that we mean how little will you spend for an everyday quartz watch that tells the time and looks half decent?

We say about £20. There are some basic Casio models that retail for around £15 and of course Amazon and Ali Express are packed with 15 quid watches with oddball names and basic packaging.

But Time Products in the UK, who sell Accurist and Sekonda, have an even cheaper brand called Limit in their portfolio. It’s an old Swiss brand, famously the maker of good automatics and mechanical models back in the 50s and 60s, but then like many Swiss brands, the quartz attack from Japan in the 80s finished them off.

We love this Limit digital with its Wire Guard logo and chunky design. Yep, it’s £30 but watch out for regular Limit deals and offers online.  Nice digital display plus a backlight button for checking the time if you wake up in the night.

Let’s be honest a water resistance of 100m at this price level is pretty fair. Most fashion watches have just 50m, some less. The orange digital model at the top of ther page has a reasonable spec and we think it looks kinda sporty too.

You can’t really fault this red digital, with an alarm, stop watch and a plastic strap. So yeah you can swim in it. £25 is alright we think and although we aren’t saying disposable watches are a good thing, you ain’t gonna shed a tear when the strap splits and that’s the end of the watch.

It’s easy to get snobby about watches, but if you work in a rough job and your watch gets damaged, or you want to buy a teenager a watch and you just know they will hammer it to destruction, then brands like Limit offer the working person a chance to buy something with a guarantee that looks modern, and tells the time, for the sort of money that MPs spend on coffee n a vegan snack bar.

Limit watches start at about £20 RRP. More here.

Can Hamilton Re-Invent Itself as a Gamer’s Watch Brand?

Hamilton has a problem within watch retail. It’s seen as a budget brand, with nice models, but a lack of true collector appeal and you could say, a lack of defining, unique models within the brand line-up.

The quirky Ventura IS different, but it needs a modern brand ambassador – you can’t sell watches using Elvis now, he’s been dead for four decades.

The Khaki struggles to win cult admirers in the same way a Seiko Alpinist does. The Intra-Matic is very cool chronograph but it shares its movement with budget Hamilton models and retails at nearly two grand. Really, the Intra-Matic should have something like a micro-rotor movement with a see-thru caseback to set it apart in terms of tech.

Just ideas, we all have them. But Hamilton have decided to capitalise on the craze for online gaming with a Far Cry model.

Here”s the video trailer;

So what’s the deal here? Well the Khaki watch will feature gameplay benefits and functions. Hamilton say that the Khaki Field Titanium Automatic is gifted to game players following the completion of a dangerous mission.

That is you win a virtual watch, not a real one. You have to buy that.

But will gamers decide that the Khaki is cool enough to wear, or just collect, in the real world? It’s a difficult question and Hamilton faces tricky decisions in the future if it is to save itself from oblivion. Fact is, Swiss watches under £1000 struggle to sell because buyers see them as low status, not impressive enough to command bragging rights down at the gym, classic car meet etc.

We are seeing the collapse of the middle market in watches, cars, clothing and so much more. People want an impressive brand name, or something cheap n cheerful that ticks the right boxes at Aldi or Lidl. That’s why Debenhams is dead. That’s why M&S is heading the same way.

 

LIV Watches Price Hike Due Soon

We are fans of the LIV watch brand here at NWC mag. They offer great value, build quality and vibrant styling too. Especially if you prefer bigger 43mm sized watches. Bad news though, prices are going up on June 1st, so here’s the word from LIV.

Since 2017, we have not had a price increase on any of our watches. Today I am announcing a modest increase in both the GX-AC and the P-51 collections. This increase is due to material and production costs going up.

The GX-AC will go up by $100:

  • $990 to $1090
  • $1050 To $1150 (for the TJ)
  • $1070 to $1170 (Rose Gold)

The P-51 will go up by $100:

  • $1370 to $1470
  • $1490 to $1590 (Fifth Anniversary Special)
If you have been eying one of these watches, now is the time to take advantage and pull the trigger.

Vintage Quartz Watches, Yea or No Way?

There are some early quartz watches that fetch incredible prices. If you have an original Bulova Accurton, a Seiko Astron from the late 60s or a Casio calculator watch from the early 80s, then you’ll be happy to know that values are rising.

Of course these are ground-breaking watches of their time, and deserve respect from collectors. Seiko, more than any brand, revolutionised watch sales with their cheaper quartz watches. They were still expensive mond you, I recall buying a basic black Casio digital for £20 back in the early 80s – which was almost half a week’s wages – because the Seiko digital was too fancy at £29.99.

Naturally, that Casio went to the bin decades ago, just like all the digital watches I bought in the 1980s and the quartz watches I bought in the 1990s too. But recently I have bought a few old quartz models, generally the Lanco, Timex and Seiko SQ models, plus a brand new, big 43mm Pulsar I liked just because it had a groovy teal coloured chronograph.

Apart from Seiko SQ50/100 models, I always suggest people avoid the older quartz watches because they aren’t so reliable, or so easy to revive from their comatose state when people leave them in drawers and the batteries split open, then leak that green oxide shit all over the place.

I did buy a running Lanco from the early 70s, which has the Tissot 7067 movement in it, last year. This actually went OK after a little clean of the contacts and a new Renata 301 battery inside. But the time-setting malarkey on this watch is franly a bit silly.

You pull the crown out and it moves the hour hand, like many older Omega quartz watches by the way. But there is no second pull-out position to move the minute hand.

I googled the problem and found that you have to hold the crown down for 5 seconds, then release, then tap it again to make the minute hand twirl around.

Nope. No joy. The most likely cause is that the stepper  motor isn’t engaging with the gear wheel to make that magic happen, but considering the Lanco is probably worth under £75 at auction, I cannot be bothered taking it apart.

SPARES PROBLEMS

Another annoyance with this Lance is the usual Tissot/Omega/Lanco tension ring holding the crytal in, and it is a front-loader diassembly routine. So crystal off, hands off, crown n stem out etc and then release the movement. I will be blunt, I hate that obtuse thinking by the Tissot/Lanco group. Timex did the same thing for decades.

Basically it was a ploy to create work for their authorised repair network by making life difficult for the amateur watch fettler. The more you mess with old crystals held in by thin rings of metal, the more likely you are to scratch dials or break the tension rings or hands.

So yep, messing with old quartz watches is a good way to end up hunting for rare spare crystals, hands and tension rings too. All these delicate parts often rust into position after 50 years, or simply get brittle and begin to crumble away.

My solution to the hand-setting problem was to disconnect the battery and wait until exactly 2.41pm to re-fit and slide the connector tab across it, since that was where the minute hand had stopped at.

So I have a running Lanco quartz, kinda nice looking, new battery in place and a neat sort of Tiger’s Eye effect on the dial as well. Like many old watches, it isn’t perfect and it will probably never be worth more than £100 even if I live to be 90. By that time everyone will have a chip inserted in their arm that tells the time, reads your bad thoughts and automatically emails the Solyent Green factory when your fridge is out of vegan ping meals.

Enjoy your watches I say, it’s later than you think.

Kickstarter: Pacific Explorer Has That Indie Edge

The Coast Watch company has a Kickstarter project happening now, which has already passed its target and it is easy to see why. The Pacific Explorer is a classic tool watch, with three different bezel options, the proven Sellita SW200 movement inside, steel case, sapphire crystal and a 39mm case diameter, which is spot-on for most wrists. It’s also good for 200m of depth underwater.

The best combo is perhaps the bronze bezel variant, with a fume tobacco brown dial, just because well…bronze.

Based in Denmark, you do have some import duty to pay if you’re in the UK, but the prices are very reasonable considering the high quality spec of this watch. Definitely worth a look and there are a few early bird deals still on the site. Prices start at about £410, that includes a leather travel pouch. Delivery expected in July.

More here. 

Is Green The New Blue? No, And It Never Will Be

There are lots of green watches this year. For example JLC has launched a green Reverso, which retails at £7200 and has a green strap option too. Then there’s that weird Rolex palm tree thing. Hmmm, let’s move on.

Thing is, the green Reverso works well because this is a physically small watch, designed back in the days when gents wore little 32mm case things because you stood a good chance of being hit by a fascist/communist goon, industrial machinery etc so it made sense to keep an expensive Swiss watch up your sleeve. That is how wristwatches became popular, because getting a pocket watch out in the trenches of WW1 was a bad move.

So yes, we love the Reverso in its green colours. But it looks handsome in blue as well – and blue is THE most popular dial colour in gents watches.

Other green dial watches lauched recently include the 18ct gold Tudor Black Bay 58, the Patek Nautilus in olive green, plus three AP Royal Oak variants all featuring green. The tourbillon Royal Oak is actually very 1960S Time Tunnel, with its strange, almost psydelic swirling green pattern. Crazy ass watch as about $180,000 so we expect to see Floyd Maywether sporting this one very soon.

It’s no Submariner Hulk, is it?

But when you look at the Tudor 58 in green, it’s kinda in-your-face and although the Rolex Sub Hulk is a very collectable watch, we cannot think of another all-green wristwatch that carries the same cred when it comes to watch collecting, pre-owned shops and pawnbrokers. Seriously, when was the last time you stuck your nose onto a jewellers shop window and lusted after a green watch?

Yes, we can sympathise with fans of the IWC Big Pilot 43, because the 2021 model with green dial looks the part, no question. It’s probably fair to say that the blue version looks equally stunning but we bet you £50 that when it is time to sell you will get about £500 less for the green dial version, maybe £1000 less. They just don’t sell and as I worked in a pawnbrokers for two years and a jewellers for five years, I know what sells.

It’s this in a nutshell; blue dial gents watches, followed by black dials, and then maybe a white dial if the lume/hands/numbers combo is sharp and clean. Cheap Accurist or expensive Omega. Blue dials win, all day long.