Tag Archives: movement

Baltic Drops a Micro-Rotor Masterpiece

There is something fascinating about the micro-rotor movement. Watch fans seek them out today, even though the heyday of the micro-rotor was the 1960s.

You can still pick up a Dugena, Hamilton or Universal vintage micro-rotor watch, which all share the same movement by the way, although you will pay three times as much for the Universal. The reason it’s collectable is simple; it makes the watch slimmer, by doing away with the conventional rotor and the bearings set on top of the movement, squeezing them into a handy little pocket of space instead.

it is a triumph of engineering and convenience in miniature – which when you think about it, is how the wristwatch came about in the first place. Otherwise we would still  be checking pocket watches like railway station masters of the 1880s.

So the new Baltic MR-01 is something we love, especially at £541, which is a bargain for something this compact and understated.

It has a vintage brushed, sort of sanded parchment finish to the dial, with that offset sub-seconds dial. There’s a little extra numbers track around the dial edge, which is very 19th century pocket watch touch. Three dial colours; salmon, silver and blue.

The see-thru caseback lets you see the movement, which is adorned with blue screws, decent sized jewels and a gold-coloured rotor, stamped with the Baltic name.

The bridgework is finished like a Waltham Riverside model, just beautiful patterns and swirls.

It surprised us to learn that it’s made by Hangzhou of China, but we don’t have a problem with that because as everyone who buys watches on Ali Express knows, most Chinese made mechanical and automatics are now just as good as entry level Swiss movements.

It’s 36mm across and just 9.9mm high, so yes, you get that authentic 1950s gents watch vibe.

Verdict; People may mock the Chinese engine inside this watch, but if you love watchmaking then this is an affordable micro-rotor wristwatch that costs less than a classic 50 year old Hamilton Intra-Matic.

 

Audric Strider: Swiss Quality, Indie Price

Audric has sent us info on their Strider watch. No, not a homage to the character from Lord of The Rings, but a very reasonably priced ETA powered watch, that has a slight similarity to the famous AP Royal Oak, from some angles.

An anti-scratch coating on the case, 200m water resistance, plus a sapphire crystal see-thru caseback all add up to excellent value for the money we reckon.

Here’s the word from Audric;

The idea of STRIDER was conceptualized in 2019 with first prototype developed in 2020. In the last few months, we have been tirelessly working to improve our STRIDER in every possible way and we believe that we have created a master piece.
What makes the STRIDER different is the angular and sharp contours with its minimalist and legible dial design.

The STRIDER will be a Kickstarter launch and the launch price is 499 USD. The retail price will be 799 USD.

More info here.

JLC Polaris Gets a Movement Makeover

The devilishly handsome JLC Polaris dive watch has a reworked Cal 956 movement. The Swiss brand says the alarm movement, which is visible via a see-thru caseback, has been slimmed down – in fact, it’s 15% slimmer than previous iterations.

That gives the JLC a rare look amongst dive watches, in truth you could argue it’s more of a dress watch, especially with the unique bell-like alarm and 42mm case – which is fairly modest compare to big-ass 45mm-50mm dive watches.

At 15K retail you could also say it’s kinda pricey for a dive watch that can manage 300m. Many an Indie brand watch can match that spec for £500. Many Swiss watches can offer 300m diving for under £1500.

Yes, there is that JLC cachet, the aura of a truly ancient house of horology behind the brand name. We aren’t knocking that heritage, or in-house expertise when it comes to servicing and the longevity of a 28,800vph auto movement can be measured in decades. Yep, you can pass this onto your grandchildren, or the cats’ home, whatever. The Polaris Mariner has alot going for it as a grail watch.

Your NWC mag scribe would love a JLC – Reverso maybe, or a classic bumper automatic. As slick as this reworking of the Polaris Mariner is, it is simply too expensive for what it does. The fascination for me with JLC is that vintage, 30s mix of art deco retro and complication for its own sake.

 

 

Heimdallr New Arrivals

Heimdallr has plenty of new models on their site right now to tempt you. One we love is the retro style Turtle model, with a big 45mm case diameter, Seiko NH35 movement and a ceramic bezel.

There’s a silver dial option, or the black dial, with blue details, which we reckon is the better looking of the duo. On offer right now at $219 – plus the import duty and VAT of course.

The Sea Ghost has a useful $100 price reduction too – same Seiko movement, 42mm case width makes it a more practical everyday watch for many people.

 

Ali Express Sub-a-Like for £31 – DECENT Replica or Timewaster?

We love testing watches here at Northern Watch Co magazine and this week we have been checking out the latest automatic to arrive from China, or possibly Singapore – hard to tell – in the shape of this sterile dial Rolex Sub look-a-likey.

First impressions;

Very well packaged in bubble wrap and then surrounded by a padded bubble bag, about the size of a large US style Coke can. The watch links and clasp were covered in sticky clear tape to prevent scratches and the blue tab on the crown needed some watch cleaner to remove the last bits.

Nothing protecting the crystal though.

There were two adjustable links on one side of the steel bracelet and three on the other. I neeed three links out to find the perfect fit on my wrist. The link pins are screwdown by the way, which is a quality touch I did not expect at this price.

Yes, the price. Just £31.56 including VAT and shipping – amazing.

Inside the movement sounds like the super-spinning DG variety, which you would expect for this money.

The DG is a copy of the Miyota automatic found in many Citizens, Accurists and countless microbrands over the last decade or so.

I haven’t bothered using my Rolex opening tool on the caseback to check it out, as the watch has been keeping good time for the last two days. Frankly, a DG movement photo isn’t going to be that exciting to look at.

Yep, you can wind it, or just shake it to get some reserve power in there.  Fully wound it ran for about 18 hours, which is not as good as a typical Seiko NH35/36 auto – but they cost the manufacturer a little bit more, so you pay £45-£65 or so for some of the Aliexpress watches that feature the Seiko engine.

Setting the date is easy, unscrew and pull the crown to the first position, and away you go. The second position sets the hands of course.

The clasp is nicely finished and closes with a healthy snap, plus it has a little foldover tab for security. The bezel is unidirectional and has orange numbers set into its ceramic surface. Lume is bright on the hands, not quite so bright on the hour markers.

DOWNSIDES?

There are a few sharp edges on the bracelet clasp. The crown needs a fair bit of pressure on the tube, so you really have to push in hard before trying to screw the crown down. You get used to it.

It would be great to have the option of paying a few pounds extra to have a brand name on the dial, even if it is a made up word, or perhaps just a logo graphic? Sharks, Rays n Turtles are kinda already spoken for, but maybe a marlin, or something ocean/dive related?

Just an idea, although personally I wouldn’t go diving wearing a £30 watch. It’s like the Bell helmet advert; if you have a ten dollar head, buy a ten dollar helmet.

VERDICT; Superb value for very little money. You won’t impress fellow watch nerds but you will get regular citizens doing a double take at your wrist, until you tell them, `yeah it’s a copy mate.’

Best plan these days, as you can get stabbed for a real Rolex.

Undone Stellar: 60s Groove, Seiko VK Quality

Here’s the word from Undone, who have revived a style from the 60s, and are offering the models for a short two week sales period.
UNDONE is reinterpreting the highly collectible dials of the high-end vintage timepieces, which were extremely popular amongst the Middle Eastern elites during the 1960s and 70s.
Giving you the most sought-after color choices amongst watch collectors and enthusiasts alike; the watches come in a selection of Tiff Blue, purple, and yellow. It is a modern twist, inspired by the flamboyant colors of the 60s. The highly limited UNDONE Stellar collection will only be available for purchase within a two-week period, between June 24th and July 8th.
Each color is limited to 300 pieces and is uniquely serialized. In this collection, UNDONE is giving you all the characteristics of the highly sought-after watch style by Middle Eastern elites. The UNDONE Stellar pieces offer daring and exciting high gloss colors contrasted by the conservative tone of the 316L stainless steel case, with finishing touches including the metallic applied indices.
This collection oozes a sense of chromaticvibrancy. Bringing the dial to life is the liquid-like finish, a finish that gives you the feeling of paint that has never dried. To achieve this look, it undergoes successive rounds of sanding to get rid ofany unevenness (or the “orange peel” effect) in the enamel paint application.
Each watch in the UNDONE Stellar collection is finished with a “Khanjar” Emblem at 12o’clock. The unique design is influenced by timepieces from the 1960s, which were fitted with custom Middle Eastern dials. These rare timepieces were often presented as ceremonious gifts and were never available to the public.
In typical UNDONE fashion, each watch will come with a complementary colored Epsom grained leather strap that pairs perfectly with the vibrant colored dials, and a dark brown leather strap with a crimson printed “Khanjar” emblem for a change of look.
Technical Specs;
The 316L stainless steel case is 12.7mm thick with a hardened domed K1 crystal and a displaycaseback. With a case width of 40mm and a lug-to-lug of 47.6mm, it offers versatility to suit both mens and womens wrists. Water resistance is guaranteed at 3 ATM/30 meters. Inside the design is a Japanese TMI VK64 Mechanical-Quartz Hybrid Flyback Chronograph (supplied by SEIKO Manufacturing (H.K.)Limited), with a sweeping central chronograph seconds. The subdials show a 24-hour display and 60-minute counter. The strap is immediately comfortable and is fitted with quick release spring bars that conform to the trendy swappable design, allowing you to easily switch to your complimentary strap.
RRPPrice: USD349
(Limited to 300 pieces per color, worldwide)

Orient Star 70th Anniversary Edition

Orient is a sub-brand of mighty Seiko and sadly, they don’t seem to get the investment that the brand deserves, given its heritage. The latest Skeleton Star model, a tribute to the Star from 70s years ago is a case in point.

It actually looks like a Chinese clone, nothing like the original Star. Here’s the press info from Orient;

The new Skelton ( yep, they couldn’t even spell check skeleton) is featuring a new hand-wound movement with 70 hours of power reserve. The latest in-house 46-F8 series movements, feature longer power reserves of 70 hours, making them more practical than ever before.

The longer running time is achieved thanks to the new silicon escape wheel which is lighter and processed with higher accuracy. Beside, it has longer running time as well as a high accuracy of +15 to –5 seconds per day even with the ultimate skeletonisation.

The escape wheel visible through the watch’s skeleton structure uses Epson’s MEMS technology to control the film thickness at the nanometer level to adjust its light reflection, resulting in an eye-catching blue.

DUDE, DID YOU JUST SAY CROC LEATHER?

The vivid blue and a unique spiral shape evokes the Milky Way Galaxy, and the movement part at the nine o’clock position in the shape of a comet with two tails, symbolising the universe-inspired design theme. The model uses high-quality SUS316L stainless steel for the case, and comes with a hand-stitched, genuine crocodile leather strap.

Yes, they did say crocodile. In a woke era it is astonishing that Seiko-Orient think this won’t attract activists on social media keen to cancel their brand.

Classic Orient Star, with dial that changes from black to deep blue.

MISH MASH APPROACH

On the upside this 38mm watch has a sapphire crystal, front and back, but bafflingly it’s only got 50 metres of water resistance. So why not fit a Hardlex then?

70 hours of power is great but it’s hand-wound, mechanical, not auto. Again pointless. This mix of prestige features with some really dull aspects of the Star means it’s unlikely to attract many buyers. To be fair there are some better looking Star models in the range, including some with sub-sec dials that capture the early 50s spirit of the original. But this thing looks like a Thomas Earnshaw.

Sad times.

 

Zelos Tourbillon Mirage Skeleton: Rare Earth Tech

Zelos have a strong fanbase online and it’s easy to see why; tough, beefy watches with quality components, fantastic dive ability too.

But not every watch has to be a dive model right? Dress watches, everyday chronographs, old school three hand mechanicals, they all have their place. Then there are tourbillons, arguably Breguet’s greatest leap of imagination and skill. Perhaps the greatest technical advance in watchmaking from the 1780s to the mass production line techniques and toolmaking strategy at Waltham in the 1860s.

Here’s the latest from Zelos and it’s kinda different. Expensive too, but when you check the spec you’ll understand that Zelos are raising their game to the Swiss level here.

The sequel to last year’s Mirage Tourbillon, the 8 days skeleton is a showcase of engineering and design. A custom skeletonised, twin barrel movement powers the Mirage 8 day. This movement is supplied by La Joux-Perret, a prestigious movement manufacturer located in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

OK so they merged titanium with another metal called zirconium which creates a unique case design. Sapphire crystal of course, both sides, with the movement from La Joux Perret skeletonised on the dial plate. It’s a twin barrel 8-day tourbillon and you have to say there are very few watches using the LJP movements, so it has a real exclusivity, as this type of watch engine is usually seen on an Arnold & Son, Angelus, Hublot or Armin Strom perhaps.

The turbine effect on both barrels adds a jet age era feel and the dial has that carbon-fibre racing car dashboard feel too. It isn’t a throwback tourbillon which has elements of mantel clocks and fancy poker style hands. There are a range of colours and each option is limited to 25 pieces.

Yes, you would hesitate before spending $4000 on a Zelos. You could lose $2000 of that value in a  few years, or it might just hold about 70% of its retail price. It would be safer to buy a Tudor Black Bay for £3300 or so and watch the value creep upwards. Yeah, it is a safer choice, also you’re running with the herd to an extent.

Bottom line; you love technology and rarity? Buy one because you can dare to be different. And afford it.

More here at the Zelos website.

LIV GX Diver: Generation 2 On Kickstarter Now

LIV watches are big, bold and colourful – also pretty great value when you weigh up the spec. The GX dive model offers a chunky 44mm case diameter, Swiss movement, 300m depth rating and a ceramic bezel.

The latest Gen 2 model is on Kick right now, with prioces starting at $690 – though you need to add on VAT and UK import tax of course.

We reckon the Gamma Green and Cobalt Blue models will sell out fast, not so sure on the grey models. More details here at the LIV Kick page. 

Raven Trekker Bronze; Dive Ability & Vintage Looks

Raven watches has a new bronze case model on their website right now, which has an impressive spec; ETA 2824 movement, sapphire crystal and 300m of water resistance. It’s a great looker with the green dial option and sdistressed leather strap too – just saying.

At $1100 it isn’t cheap and it has to be said there are similar 300m spec bronze case watches for a little bit less on the Indie market. But this is a classic timepiece, which will definitely age well. Is that dial green remarkably similar to Bentley racing car green? Could well be and there is nothing wrong with that.

Here’s the tech spec;

39mm bronze case
300 meters WR
CuSn8 bronze
316L stainless case back
ETA 2824 decorated movement
Gloss deep green dial
Box sapphire crystal
AR coating
Blue Superluminova (BGW9)
Swiss rubber strap choices
bronze buckle
leather case
one year warranty
Limited to 30 watches
Price: $1100