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Watch Reviews: A Dive Style Watch For a Tenner?

Northern Watch Co magazine misses the old days when you could sit in a pub debating all kinds of things, such as why do  most Lib Dem candidates all have dreadful hair?

Another Alan Partridge topic is that only rubbish watches like Bench, Henleys and similar car boot dross can be had £10 or so. You have to pay about £25 to get a simple timekeeper that will last you a couple of years.

So in spite of pubs now pretending to be field hospitals that serve alcohol and chicken wraps as a sideline, we took up that challenge last week.

The winner of our ebay search was a near-mint Casio dive style quartz, which cost £10 exactly, plus £2.99 postage. This MRW 200 model is available online from as little as £14.99 at Argos, although other outlets are trying to get over 30 quid for it.

You can’t blame them because it’s a decent watch for the money, with 100m water resistance, a moveable bezel, some OK lume on the hands and markers, plus a resin strap and day/date feature.

Unpacking the watch I was surprised at how clean this used watch was – hardly a mark on it and set to the right time, date and ticking away. It even had the original docs in the groovy 1990s style see-thru box.

On the wrist it feels super light and not too big, with a 42mm case diameter. The caseback screws down and the only way water can sneak in is via the crown, which has little protector lugs next to it. The white dial lets the markers stand out and after holding the watch under a kitchen light for a few minutes, the lume was bright for around 20 mins. Not bad at this price.

No, you would not scuba dive in this watch, and the docs state that quite clearly. But a little dip in a hotel pool should be fine.

Like every Casio, this one feels well made and durable. The black paint on the case will probably withstand a few knocks better than most budget watches and the painted on white numerals on the bezel looks nice and thick under a loupe.

The clasp even has  a Casio logo indented into it, which is a neat touch on a low cost watch. Most are unsigned.

This is a sharp looking everyday watch that you can wear when giving your vintage stuff a rest inside its case, or winder. You could lose it and not worry too much because at this price it’s cheaper than a gastro pub meal with a couple of drinks.

There is a difference between cheap, and great value. Any Casio offers that value, plus a little bit of respect from watch collectors and the general public alike. People see it and say `It’s a Casio so they last for years.’

When you buy that kind of brand rep for a tenner, you’re winning.

 

Zelos Hammerhead V3 on Pre-Order Deals

You can pre-order the new Zelos Hammerhead V3 model in a couple of days, and we reckon the teal dial and emerald green dial are the pick of the range. With a slimmer profile at 13mm, the 44mm Hammerhead remains a serious dive watch, but is now something that can be worn slightly more comfortably every day. Sapphire crystal naturally, screw down crown, steel case, Seiko NH35 movement and 300m depth rating. You also get a date window for that practical wear-it-on-dry-land vibe too.

Chunky dive watches with sunburst/fume dials are not everyone’s cup of tea, but we love the sheer value that Zelos offers. Reliable Seiko power with real dive ability at just $349 plus import taxes etc is a bargain compared to a typical Swiss 300m dive watch. I mean an Oris Sixty-Five is about £1300 and can only handle 100m, the entry level Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba is another 100m watch, although it can be found for about £400. For a 300m Swiss made dive watch you need to look at spending over £2000, or £4000 if you want a prestige brand name like Omega,

The offer on this new Hammerhead is good until the end of May, and you can see the entire range; orange, brown, white dials etc here. 

Accurist Retro Racer is a Winner

Ladies n gentlemen, can we have a tip of the hat to Accurist who have launched a pretty decent 1970s chronograph for under £130. In fact we saw one example at £109 on Ideal World today.

The Retro Racer has a qaurtz movement, the usual chrono functions and a Milanese mesh bracelet option too. It only has a 50m depth rating so don’t go swimming while wearing it, but this is an everyday watch that captures 70s motorsport style with a selection of dial colours. We love the blue best, but the silver is cool and the black option with red second hand gives you that older 60s vibe. The brown leather strap has the Paddy Hopkirk perforated look as well.

The thing we like about this is that the case has those rounded angles on its old fashioned TV dial look. Accurist has been making round case chronographs for ages, but since they dropped the Sekonda Monaco homage, they haven’t really produced anything a bit different from most of the budget fashion quartz watches out there. (Yes, Sekonda, Limit and Accurist are owned by the same company)

This new Accurist watch could pass for one of the many Indie brand VK64 models out there on Kickstarter right now and yep, that’s a good thing.

Why? Well, Accurist has become the Honda Jazz of watches, it’s an old person watch brand, so if it’s going to survive then they need some punchy, sharp designs – and they need to make much more of their 1960s Old England heritage. Spaceman cases, steering wheel watches, Twiggy Union Jack revival…the opportunity is there, get busy.

Accurist has produced a sort of Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance video for the Retro Racer, which is worth a look;

 

 

Best Mens Automatic Deals On Amazon

We thought it would be a good time to have a look on Amazon for the best deals on gents automatic watches. Not that we aren’t fans of old school watch shops, especially those that sell pre-loved watches. But there is no denying that for new watches, it is hard to beat the low overhead, store-your-stock-in-a-warehouse approach, then ship it from Bratislava when the sale goes through online.

SEIKO 5

OK this is an old Seiko 5 model, nothing special in terms of movement and you have to shake it, it does not wind up like the later Seiko 5 or Presage models. But for £99 if you sign up for a Mastercard deal, or £119 without the credit card, you cannot grumble. It’s got a guarantee, the box, paperwork and you can always sell it for about £70-£80 on eBay a few years down the line if you liek to churn your collection. Yep, we did say churn it like butter.

ROTARY SUPER 7

Not as cool as a Party Seven giant can of ale from the 1970s of course, but the Rotary Super 7 has that Rolex Submariner Pepsi look nailed down, and it claims to be waterproof down to 1000 feet, yes 300 metres. That a 300m dive watch for under £230. Great daubings of superlume on the dial too. Hard to fault on tech specs, this steel case, sapphire crystal watch is NOT made in Switzerland, but arguably has a few Swiss level quality features for the money. On Amazon, supplied by Watchnation based in Chester, Cheshire.

ORIENT MAKO II

Yes, like the Seiko 5 this is another end of line watch, but the blue dial Orient has an elegant look, an ideal case diameter at 42mm and a 200m depth rating. So yes, swim or dive in it – it’s made by Seiko so it’ll cope. Steel case, steel bracelet, although you can get a NATO strip for an extra tenner on the Amazon deal we spotted. The Orient brand is NOT officially imported into the UK so many examples you see are from overseas sellers in Germany, USA, Singapore, HK etc. That means import duty and VAT on top, so paying £119.50 on Amazon solves that paperwork problem.

BENYAR MILGAUSS

Yes, you could buy a convincing Rolex fake from somewhere in China for £400-£500, but frankly this Milgauss homage, or shall we say blatant copy, is just £55 and yours from Amazon delivered in a day or two. It has an automatic movement inside, plus see-thru caseback, so you can appreciate the rough casting finish on the rotor and the appalling bridgework. We say buy this as a gift for the bloke in the family that you don’t like, Uncle Nobhead basically. He’ll have it round to Cash Converters quicker than you can say `I’m too sexy for my TJ Hughes Shirt.’

That’s an automatic watch for £55 though, you cannot even buy a fashion quartz from Michael Coarse, sorry, Kors, for that money.

BULOVA MARINE STAR

Orange is nice to have in your collection, just for those sporty days, or a trip to the beach in summer when you want a watch that handles some seawater. The Bulova brand is owned by Citizen, so you are getting a reliable Miyota auto movement inside, plus a mineral crystal, 200m of depth rating and a big 45mm case width too. The white dial is quite rare on Bulova models, so it’s a left field choice. Good value for someone with a bigger wrist, especially at £269.

 

Love The AP Royal Oak Camo? Check Out This Auction

We like the AP Royal Oak of course, who wouldn’t? Classic design and it rivals the Rolex GMT II in terms of collector/investor appeal, especially a model like this with its camo style strap. Gives the watch a younger, fresher feel we reckon. Bidding is already over 10K by the way. Yeah. Better investment than Bitcoin some might say..here’s the word from the Watch Collecting auction site;

Introduced in 2019, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 44mm Camouflage Collection reveals the historic watchmaker in playful mode. Produced in brown, green, and blue camo patterns, the blue is the most vibrant and has proved the most popular with collectors. Keeping the classic Mega Tapisserie chequerboard guilloche dial, in the same cobalt blue as the ceramic bezel, the hands are given a lift with red to the 6 and 9 o’clock and to the tip of the chronograph seconds. Crown and pushers are also colour coded in ceramic.

Inside is the cal. 3126/3840, which is AP’s in-house automatic cal. 3120 topped with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module. It has a 50-hour power reserve. The strap is closed with a substantial steel pin buckle and for days when a more consistent colour scheme is required, a plain blue rubber strap is also included. Bought in its launch year of 2019, the watch is still covered by its purchase warranty which can be extended by a further three years via the Audemars Piguet website. The box, papers and additional strap are complete and in immaculate condition.

Tissot’s PRX Shows That Imitation Can Be Cool

Consider Tissot for a minute; once a prestige watch brand, that commanded a high price, it’s now an entry level name in the Swatch empire, with the great value Powermatic 80 and models like this PRX quartz re-issue. Well, not strictly a replica of the old 1970s PR100 or Seastar quartz models of course, although the bracelet on the modern one has the same graduated links, which smoothly shrink to a narrow point at the clasp.

It’s a very elegant watch and bears a passing resemblance to the AP Royal Oak, although it hasn’t got the angular case design of the Oak. But for £295 this classic everyday gents watch has a perfect balance between case size at 40mm, functional quartz movement (Ronda) and that slimline, 70s style that is arguably one of the best things about the entire decade. While Casio, Seiko and others were making digital watches that looked like baby computers, Tissot made quartz watches that looked exactly like an automatic model, but had the new tech inside.

Original 80s Tissot, with a definite AP vibe.

The original Tissot quartz  watches had a sort of hybrid movement in them, with mechanical gear wheels driven by a quartz engine. Lanco shared the movements, and I seem to recall fitting huge 301 size batteries inside them to get them going again. This modern PRX has a durable ETA 115 series quartz, which features three jewels and takes the 371 battery, very slim and easy to fit yourself. Assuming you have the right case knife and a steady hand of course. One thing worth noting with Tissot watches is that they often have a very slim, red plastic seal ring inside the caseback. This sits in a groove and if damaged, the caseback will not go on properly, no matter how many times you screw down the case press.

There are lots of quartz watches around the 300 quid mark but the Tissot name still has a little bit of kudos compared to some micro brands, or fashionista watches like Armani, Boss or Kors. Also better built than stuff like Boss or Armani which often have mediocre Miyota movements inside. Currently, the Tissot PRX is sold out, which just goes to prove that if you make something that looks like a Royal Oak for under £500 you cannot go wrong in 2021. Just saying.

Latest Ball GMT Has Quickset Tech

The latest twist on the Ball Roadmaster GMT features quickset buttons, to make international travel that bit easier. Now that lockdown is ending this could be the year for a GMT watch. Here’s the word from Ball;

As a testimonial to our commitment to excellence, the new Roadmaster Pilot GMT is equipped with two remarkable timekeeping functions that soar to new levels of convenience. When travelling, simply push the quick-set buttons to jump the local 12-hour hand to its desired position without stopping the second hand. Then easily turn the crown to jump the date correctly into position, eliminating the need to circle the dial with the hour hand. Complete with a virtually-scratchproof ceramic bezel, amazingly bright micro gas lights and chronometer-grade precision, the Pilot GMT is an ingenious everyday watch for the modern explorer.

Limited to 1,000 pieces each. Now available for pre-order until 14 April 2021 at an exclusive price.

Best Of The UK Watch Sales

If you haven’t got the watch you wanted for Christmas, or just fancy picking up a bargain, then there are plenty of Sale wristwatches around right now. In fact many brands started their online sales early because of the endless lockdowns, but here are some interesting offers we spotted online today. For the sake of clarity, we aren’t covering Michael Kors, Armani, Hugo Boss, Daniel Wellington or a ton of other fashion brands – why? Because they mostly they aren’t really collectable.

So what did we spot?

CW Sellors are a specialist watch retailer and their Sale has some interesting items amongst stuff like Bell + Ross, Maurice Lacroix, Montblanc, Bremont and Raymond Weil. Now you can buy any of those brands if you love the watch and they are beautifully built of course. But if you’re looking to get more than about 25% of the retail price back when it’s trade-in time, then think again. You can love a RW Freelancer, or a Bell + Ross BR diver but you will see many of thse watches gathering dust in watch dealerships or pawnbroker’s windows. So buy it because you want to wear it every day and the retailer has knocked a grand off the RRP!

TAG HEUER Formula 1 Automatic

Only a £150 discount on this automatic Calibre 6 powered TAG but it’s solid value at £1350. You get a decent 38 hour power reserve, date window, superlume and of course a sapphire crystal. It isn’t cutting edge, but neither is this a watch that you have to apologise for, or explain who the brand is to your mates – everyone knows TAG. That also means that if you look after it then you can PX it at 100s of outlets in five years time. Handy.

TUTIMA SAXON ONE M

It’s a leftfield choice and you may end up losing a bundle on the Tutima name, as not many people know about it – or that it’s been revived. Using movements made in-house at Glashutte, the modern Tutima watches are really back home where they were being manufactured before the Cold War happened and the Iron Curtain came down. So it’s a quality, well built automatic, with a 38 hour reserve, day/date dial and available in a maroon dial option, which is something different. With a over 500 quid off the RRP this is worth considering at £1190 because we are now into entry level Swiss watch territory. At that money, this Tutima is worth the gamble.

BREITLING AVIATOR CHRONOGRAPH

How does almost two grand off the price of a Breitling grab you? Yeah, that made you spray your coffee all over that back issue of QP magazine didn’t it? This is another great deal at CW Sellors site and it’s a Breitling with a dial that isn’t too busy with 200 numbers, plus has those classic 70s style chrono pushers. This one is £4361, which compares to a £6200 price tag at Mappin & Webb.

BULOVA GENTS STEEL AUTOMATIC

This classic gents Bulova automatic is everyday value. Owned by Citizen the Bulova brand obviously shares some movement tech and that’s no bad thing we say. This one looks like a run-out model, basically last year’s stock but you’re getting a watch that retailed for £400-£500 new for £185. Not bad at all. This deal is at H Samuel by the way and the Archive Oceanographer retro 70s model is also available for £249.

IWC PORTUGIESIER YACHT CLUB

Goldsmiths have reductions on some TAG, Omega and IWC models, and those brands DO have some re-sale kudos. OK, you may not want the words Yacht Club on your watch dial, it is a bit Sleeping With The Enemy we admit, but this beefy, 44mm case chrono has a bold, striking style that’s obviously IWC, which is a good thing. It also has an in-house movement, (see-thru caseback) which almost justifies the 10K price tag. But with a price of £8063 it looks a bit more tempting if you’re still on the Rolex waiting list and want something right now, that is genuinely prestige. The IWC Pilot’s Top Gun model is £7570 on the Goldsmiths site too by the way.

 

Kingsbury Diplomat Is Good Old 70s Value

Those collectors who like vintage Omega watches from the 70s will recognise this type of design immediately, The square shaped, cushion type case was a standard look for many de Ville watches back in the day. Still looks good today and with a fume coloured dial, Canada based Kingsbury are offering a sharp dress watch, for not a lot of money.

With a 40mm case diameter, the Diplomat is the right size. It’s also slim, at just 11mm high, so it will slide beneath a shirt sleeve if required. A sapphire crystal and superlume hands and hour markers on the dial are nice touches. Equally, the steel bracelet with K logo clasp, plus a free leather strap and tool to tease the pins out of the lugs, is another bonus.

Inside there’s a Seiko Epson YN55A automatic movement, so you are getting a reliable engine, which many keen Japanese watch fans will recognise from older Orient watches. The caseback is solid so you don’t see that Orient movement, but that’s OK, it isn’t that handsome imho.

All told, it’s a very nicely equipped dress watch for $180 on the early bird offer price. Many Kickstarter quartz models cost more and lack sapphire crystals too, so we reckon this is decent value.

More at Kingsbury Watches site here.