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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.

New Rolex Explorer: 36mm Case, Two-Tone Bracelet

OK, we are in two minds about the latest Rolex Explorer with two-tone bracelet. Yes, it adds a kinda executive touch to a watch that has looked a little bit dated for a few decades. But 18ct gold centre links? Hmm, yeah it’s a bit Swiss Tony. Plus a 36mm case size is too small for much of the 50-60-something, male dominated market that Rolex enjoys. The watch collector market has got used to 40mm being the default size for a statement watch on the wrist. That’s all we are saying Rolex, so get that 39/41mm case option prototype tested and in production for September.

Here’s the press blurb from Rolex;

Rolex is presenting its new-generation Oyster Perpetual Explorer. At 36 mm, it returns to the size of the original model launched in 1953 following the first ascent to the summit of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on 29 May that year.

The new-generation Explorer is notably released in a yellow Rolesor version (combining Oystersteel and 18 ct yellow gold). The black dial, now lacquered, bears the index hour markers and emblematic 3, 6 and 9 numerals that are the cornerstones of the model’s personality, evoking the determination and spirit of adventure that give rise to great achievements.

The new-generation Explorer’s Chromalight display is particularly impressive. In dark conditions, the intensity of the blue glow emitted by the hour markers and hands now lasts longer thanks to the innovative and exclusive luminescent material with which they are filled or coated. In daylight, these display elements also have a brighter white hue.

The new-generation Explorer is equipped with calibre 3230, a movement at the forefront of watchmaking technology. Like all Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual Explorer carries the Superlative Chronometer certification, which ensures excellent performance on the wrist.

AN EXPLORATION TOOL 

Presented in 1953, the Explorer is emblematic of the close ties between Rolex and exploration. In the 1930s, the brand began to equip numerous Himalayan expeditions with Oyster watches. Among these was the group that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were part of when they became the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, at 8,848 metres (29,028 feet).

This pioneering move illustrated the company’s ambition to use the world as a laboratory, testing its watches in real conditions in order to continually improve them. The feedback that Rolex received from the members of these different expeditions therefore had a direct influence on the evolution of its watches, making them more precise and robust.

GOLD CENTRE LINKS

Rolesor, the combination of 18 ct gold and Oystersteel on a Rolex watch, has been a signature feature of the brand since 1933, when the name was registered. It is a meeting of two metals: one, noble and precious, attractive for its lustre and stability; the other, highly resistant to corrosion, assuring strength and reliability. All of these qualities mirror the elegance and performance that come together in a Rolex watch.

On the yellow Rolesor version of the new-generation Explorer, the bezel, winding crown and centre links of the bracelet are in 18 ct yellow gold, while the case and outer links of the bracelet are in Oystersteel.

100m WATER RESISTANCE

The new-generation Explorer’s 36 mm Oyster case is guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet). Its middle case is crafted from a solid block of Oystersteel, a particularly corrosion-resistant alloy. The case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only Rolex watchmakers to access the movement. The Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a double waterproofness system, screws down securely against the case. The crystal is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire. The waterproof Oyster case provides optimum protection for the watch’s movement.

MODERN MOVEMENT, PLENTY OF RESERVE

The new-generation Explorer is equipped with calibre 3230, a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex that was released in 2020. At the forefront of watchmaking technology, this self-winding mechanical movement led to the filing of several patents, and offers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.

Calibre 3230 incorporates the Chronergy escapement patented by Rolex, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic fields. The movement is fitted with an optimized blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy that makes it up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks. The blue Parachrom hairspring is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position. The oscillator is fitted on the Rolex-designed and -patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.

Calibre 3230 is equipped with a self-winding module via a Perpetual rotor. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of calibre 3230 extends to approximately 70 hours.

 

Christopher Ward C60 Sapphire: Deep Blue Magic

There are some who love UK brand Christopher Ward and others who regard their Sellita powered watches as essentially entry level and therefore not quite prestige.  Maybe a Tissot has more heritage, and even a Hamilton Ventura has cool vibes? Well, you can argue those points down the pub – actually you probably can’t as the pubs are closing down like 20th century blacksmiths, but that’s another story.

The C60 Sapphire is a starter watch, no question. But what good value it offers. Beautiful blue tinted caseback lets you see the 26 jewel movement and the crystal has a blue tinge as well. Inside, the SW200 engine is based on an ETA 2824 which is arguably one of the great workhorse Swiss movements of modern times. Reliable and accurate? Of course.

True, you’re buying a £900 watch, not a 9K Swiss watch from a House of Horology.  For that bargain price you would not expect a depth rating of 600m but you do get that with the C60. Impressive. It’s a 40mm, 316 grade stainless steel case, with a uni-directional click bezel too. This is a watch that can handle an afternoon lolling about in the pool on holiday, or a scuba dive off the coast of Portugal into deep water – no worries.

Add in features like a quick change strap/bracelet release and you’re being snobby if you don’t consider this as a genuinely decent watch for the money.  OK, you may lose say 50% of the value if you choose to sell after 3 years or so, but there are some brands and watches where you could easily lose a bigger percentage.

If watch collecting isn’t about investment, but rather enjoyment, then we reckon the C60 Sapphire is one model that you’ll keep wearing just because you love the deep blue looks. That’s no bad thing, life is for living.

More here.

New 41mm Oyster Perpetual Is a Smart Move by Rolex

Rolex has completely revamped their classic Oyster Perpetual model; more power reserve, new movements, plus a 41mm case size which many gents will see as being a better fit than a 36mm model of old.

Here’s the press info.

Rolex presents the new generation of its Oyster Perpetual watches and brings a new model to the range, the Oyster Perpetual 41, as well as versions of the Oyster Perpetual 36 displaying dials in vivid colours. The light reflections on the case sides highlight the elegant profile of the Oyster case, which is made from Oystersteel. Measuring 41 mm or 36 mm respectively, it is fitted with a domed bezel.

One version of the Oyster Perpetual 41 has a novel configuration: its silver, sunray-finish dial is graced with hands and hour markers in 18 ct yellow gold. A second version is introduced with a bright black sunray-finish dial, and hands and hour markers in 18 ct white gold.

The Oyster Perpetual 36 is unveiled with a dynamic and vibrant new look, offering lacquer dials in five new colours: candy pink, turquoise blue, yellow, coral red and green.

The new generation Oyster Perpetual model has a Chromalight display: the hands and hour markers are coated or filled with a luminescent material that emits a long-lasting blue glow in dark conditions.

We love this new lume by the way, and it’s worth noting that one way to spot the new 2020 Submariner and Oyster models alike is the tiny Rolex crown, positioned at the 6pm marker.

Oyster Perpetual 41
Oyster Perpetual 41, new blue lume

The Oyster Perpetual 41 and the new versions of the Oyster Perpetual 36 are equipped with calibre 3230, a movement at the forefront of watchmaking technology, launched by Rolex this year.

Like all Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual 41 and Oyster Perpetual 36 carry the Superlative Chronometer certification, which ensures excellent performance on the wrist.

New on Kickstarter: Reverie Diver, Offers Miyota Power, 3 Dial Colour Options

The Reverie diver watch, from the Singapore based company, is on Kickstarter right now, with a cost of £270 shipped to the UK. Delivery is expected in December if the funding target is reached and it should make it, as the Reverie Diver was at 66% of target today with 21 days to go.

They also have a nice Meca-Quartz powered GT chronograph on the site and good to go now.

OK, here’s the tech spec on the Diver project from Reverie Watches website;

  • 316L Stainless Steel Case. Dimensions: 40mm diameter, 43mm lug-to-lug, 11mm thickness and 20mm lug-width. Brushed and high-polished surfaces for contrast. 120-click unidirectional rotating bezel also provided.
  • Miyota 9039 Movement. Premium Japanese automatic movement with a 42 hours power reserve, hacking seconds function and high frequency of 28,800 per hour. Expect a smooth sweeping seconds hand.
  • Movement Engraving. The Japanese ‘Seigaiha’ pattern (i.e. “blue sea and waves”) is engraved on the rotor as a tribute to the movement’s Japanese roots and the watch’s aquatic theme.
  • reverie diver watch automatic
  • Guilloché Dial with 3 Color Choices. Double-layer dial with our signature guilloché effect displays different color tones depending on lighting conditions. Choose from: (1) navy; (2) olive green; and (3) warm grey.
  • Super-LumiNova. 2 types of Super-LumiNova luminous material aid reading the time in the dark: BGW9 (blue) on the hands and C3 (green) on the hour markers and bezel marker. Super-LumiNova is the benchmark for the luxury watch industry.
  • Sapphire Crystal. Sapphire crystal with AR-coating minimises glare when telling the time. Sapphire is scratch-resistant as it is nearly as hard as diamond.
  • Screw-Down Crown & 20ATM Water Resistance. Water resistance up to a depth of 200m, The screw-down crown further improves water resistance.
  • Adjustable Tapered Bracelet. The brushed stainless steel bracelet includes: (1) a 6mm taper for comfort; (2) on-the-go adjustability allowing you to adjust the bracelet by up to 11mm quickly; and (3) easy removal design allowing you to swap out the bracelet for another strap without a tool.
  • Additional Rubber Strap. 20mm wide strap which tapers down to 18mm at the buckle. The strap will also have an easy removal design allowing you to change straps without a tool.
  • Limited Quantities. Limited edition with each watch’s number engraved on the case-back. Like all other Reverie collections, we do not reproduce any designs once sold out.
  • Watch Roll. Each watch comes with a leather travel roll which fits up to 4 watches.
  • Free Worldwide Shipping. Complimentary tracked shipping via DHL Express.
  • Warranty. 2 year international repair warranty provided.

Richard Mille Re-Invents The Pocket Watch

Luxury watchmaker Richard Mille has given the old school pocket watch a modern twist, with a tourbillon movement inside a square case, attached to a keychain. It’s a high quality bespoke piece as you’d expect, with carbon fibre and titanium all over the shop.

Inside is the RM20 movement and on the dial you’ll see a kind of gearbox indicator which lets you know when you’re in the winding position, or hands setting mode. Interesting detail; it runs at quite a low 21,000vph speed, so should have long term reliability, as in a lifetime of service.

Here’s a little bit of tech detail from the RM website;

The RM 020, the only pocket watch in the Richard Mille collection, has a unique, slightly rectangular case housing its exceptional 10-day tourbillon movement, with the two bezels curving outwards in two directions. The creation of a case like this, including the front and back sapphire glass which offers an open view of all parts, is a veritable tour-de-force of Swiss casemaking in haute horlogerie. The case is assembled with 16 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion-resistant washers in 316L stainless steel.

rm pocket watch

Here’s the tech specs from RM;

Movement dimensions: 42.20 x 42.20 mm
Thickness: 8.40 mm
Tourbillon diameter: 12.30 mm
Number of jewels: 28, set in white gold chatons
Balance wheel diameter: 9.12 mm
Balance: Glucydur®, 2 arms, 4 setting screws, moment of inertia 10 mg•cm2, angle of lift 53°
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Balance spring: elinvar by Nivarox®
Shock protection: KIF Elastor KE 160 B28
Barrel shaft: nickel-free Chronifer® (DIN x 46 Cr 13 + S) with the following characteristics: stainless – antimagnetic – suitable for tempering

We cannot see any clues as to the UK price on the RM website,but let’s take a guess at about £70,000. Reassuringly expensive.