Tag Archives: rated

Reviewed: Ailang Twin Tourbillion, Rose Gold Edition

We love to review watches here at NWC magazine, so let’s take a look at this twin-tourbillon Ailang, which we bought on Ali Express recently.

At around £67 (inc postage) this is a typical budget watch, although there are a few extras included in the deal. For example, you get a proper box complete with outer sleeve, VIP warranty card, handbook – English as well as Mandarin – swing tag and protective covers on the crystal, caseback and clasp.

There is also a spare conventional leather strap, plus a wristband, kinda Harry Styles leather thing, with what looks a bit like an Iron Cross in the centre. Useful if you’re in the Vaccine Enforcement Stormtrooper Squad in Vienna I guess.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This watch measures 41mm across – excluding crown – and some 13mm high. It does feel chunky on my slim wrists, but not too wide, in fact 40-42mm across suits me fine. You won’t fit this watch under a fitted evening or office shirt, but maybe that’s a good thing, as it is a conversation piece.

The watch was packed nicely with protective tape and padded box, bubble wrap etc for shipping.

The dial has a classic  tourbillon face with those twin barrrels standing out, then a small time telling dial above, almost like an old fashioned mantel clock; black chapter ring, silver Roman markers. The tourbillion wheels are held in place by two steel triangles, which are exact replicas of the rotor on the movement, but segmented – like a slice of rotor pie.

CAGE NOT FITTED CORRECTLY

The sad thing is this watch is not quite right. If you look closely the tourbillon cage on the right isn’t in situ. Hard to believe it slipped out of alignment during transit but it’s possible.

More likely it’s poor quality control at the factory.

The tourbillion cages hide most of the balance wheel spinning action, with the second wheel kicking in as I shook the watch after winding the crown to get wheel number one started.

Quite impressed it ran OK given the manufacturing fault. But so far it’s still ticking and telling the right time. However it will be returned for a refund.

It is visually very striking, hypnotic and apart from an uber-thin second hand, which looks quite fragile, the dial is impressive.

An AR coated sapphire crystal sits slightly proud of the bezel, which is rose gold tone, just like the case and crown.

Skeleton rotor is a nice touch.

TESTING

I wound this one for about ten turns, then shook it for ten seconds. After a day wearing it doing office stuff and one short walk to the shops it ran until 5.23am the following morning. Not bad. Most automatics I test from China tend to conk out in the early hours and I also own a vintage Lanco and Accurist which do the same thing.

By the way the one vintage watch I own which DOES continue to run through the night is a 20 year old Seiko 6309 basic gents automatic, which will run on the bedside cabinet for about 12-15 hours after being worn the day before.

One thing that does stand out is that changing the strap will not be easy. There’s no quick release slider on the pins and the strap is fitted very flush to the lugs, which means there is a risk of damaging the rose gold finish when you prise in a pin removal tool, to free the pin from the lugs.

On the upside the foldover steel clasp is well made and fastens with a reassuring, solid click, on both sides. The push button release works smoothly too. Many Chinese watches have less than perfect machining on clasps and retaining bands, but this leather deployment feels just as good as Rotary or Tissot in my experience.

VERDICT

This model comes with a silver tone case as well, plus blue, white or black dial options.

You know just 5 years ago I told people in the shop that I couldn’t try to repair Chinese watches as they were so hit & miss as regards build quality. Sad to say this is still the case, as the damaged tourbillon shows.

Very disappointed with this watch.

More here at the YJwatch store.

 

 

Watch Shopping: St Anns Square Manchester

St Anns Square in Manchester is one of the best places that watch fans can shop this Christmas. Within a few hundred metres you have nearly all the authorised big name Swiss dealers, plus independent watch shops and pawnbrokers.

Bremont has just set up a shop-within-a-shop franchise with Signet, better known as H Samuel and Ernest Jones to UK shoppers. You can also find official dealers for Duckworth Prestex, Ikepod, Junghans, Norqain and QlockTwo – and that’s just at Mappin & Webb.

If you like the luxury watches then Watches of Switzerland’s amazing shop on the main square is a good starting point. Here you’ll find Patek, Rolex, Omega, IWC, Cartier, Vacheron and Zenith. There is usually a burly security guy on the door by the way, checking people in and out, which is good to know if you have just bought a 40K watch.

If you love Rolex then official dealer David Robinson is across the way on the corner and they also have a wide range of pre-owned Rolex models. Very well trained staff in my experience, which is something worth your time if you like collecting a particular genre of Rolex, such as Subs, Daytonas or Sea Dwellers etc.

Walk towards Deansgate and you’ll see the separate Omega and TAG boutiques, plus a large Goldsmiths, multi-brand store. If you duck down that alleyway you will find Boodles on your left at the end as it joins King Street. Not my cup of tea, but undeniable high end watches and jewellery if that’s your thing.

On the way back along Police Street to St Anns Square, you might want to check out Rockefellers jewellers, which has a selection of pre-owned Rolex, Cartier, Breitling etc. Before you do, check Harrington & Hallworth on the corner of King St/Police St as they sometimes have some vintage pre-owned watches under 2K that are really nice quality. Very strong on knowledge at this shop, they know watch history which is a rare thing.

OK, now cross the square and head to the Exchange Arcade, where you will find Mays Pawnbrokers and Jewellers. This has about 15-20 watches in store but it’s part of a bigger chain of shops so they can search their database for you. All pre-owned stuff, they don’t stock new brands.

Neither does the Swiss Watch Shop opposite Mays, which has a big selection of pre-owned Swiss watches, with Rolex, Omega, TAG, Breitling etc being well represented. They will look at PX watches too.

Further along the arcade you’ll find Jenny Jones, who sometimes has the odd ladies vintage watch in store. They don’t really know much about watches tbh there, so skip it imho.

Hope you enjoyed that little watch heaven tour.

 

 

 

 

Timex Falcon Eye Makes UK Debut

Timex UK are adding to their Q range in the UK with the Falcon Eye model, which has been around in the US market for a year or so.

Two dial colours; blue and green, vintage 70s style battery compartment ready for a 20p piece to slot in, plus steel case, and an adjustable sliding clasp on the bracelet.

These can be fiddly to set up, but you only have to do it once and then the clasp folds down in the perfect spot.

We like that sleek, multi-link bracelet too.

Quartz movement, 70s styling, and that classic day/date layout at 3pm too. Pricey at £159 though. Alternatives in the retro quartz field include the Accurist Retro at £78, or about £90 for the bracelet version. How about a Ben Sherman Ronnie Original, which we also spotted online for £78.

New Grand Seikos: Beauty, Simplicity & Yeah, Expensive

Is a Grand Seiko worth £54,000? We only ask the question because as great as a Grand Seiko is, we are at Patek money and the watch market is Swiss dominated. Maybe it’s a great investment, maybe not.

Anyway that expensive GS model is the star in a range of new models from the famed Japansese watch house of horology, with some more affordable models on offer for us mere mortals on average wages and ever rising taxes.

That GS at £54,000 is the Hi Beat, Annual Rings, (above) made from platinum and limited to just 140 pieces by the way. In case the Sultan of Brunei is a regualr reader of NWC magazine.

Other GS models are available on pre-order right now, including a very nice Mechanical Seasons: Summertime edition, with a kind of light blue, folded linen effect on the dial. Seiko says;

“The dial of this watch is inspired by early Summertime in Japan just after the rainy season when the refreshing southern wind breezily ripples on the sea and the lakes to mark the start of high summer.”

This one is relatively affordable at £6860 by the way.

Finally, this is our fave from teh new GS model line-up, the Spring Drive Suwa Lake . This blue dial watch is a classic, and very much an investment piece or grail watch for the average collector with 3-5K per year to devote to their watch obsession.

A 40mm case, updated power reserve of 120 hours, yes 120 hours, plus a see-thru caseback so you can admire that exquisite workmanship every month or so.

There is a great deal to be said for owning a Spring Drive rather than a Rolex Sub. Why? Well in some ways it is a purists choice because you are investing in the watch technology of today, not a refinement of 1950s dive watch tech. That marriage of electronic power and mainspring drive is a clever tour de force in miniature, rather like the gear-driven V4 motor powering the first 1980s VFR750 from Honda.

OK we digress, what’s the pice of the Suwa? £8200, which is bang on Rolex Sub territory.

Find out more at Seiko’s UK site here. 

 

Top Of The World? Definitely Top Value

We bought this watch from Ali Express in our quest to find cheap timekeeping for the masses, because sometimes that’s all you need for everyday wear. Save the Swiss watches and Seikos for Sundays and special occasions maybe?

OK, so what we have is a basic 42mm watch with a white dial and grey/black chapter ring. It looks a little bit like a slimmed down Ingersoll/Triumph pocket watch from the 60s, with a bold red second hand plus a date window at 6pm.

The steel case feels smooth, well polished and has the TPW logo on the back. Looks easy to pop the tab on the caseback when it’s time to change the battery too.

The crystal is raised slightly above the bezel, which makes the watch look a bit more finished, more designed, than the average sub-tenner basic watch.  The TPW is about 11mm thick in total, so it sits neatly under a shirt sleeve.

A faux leather strap completes the budget look and at £6.50 including shipping from China, yes six pounds fifty pence, this has to be one of the better looking cheap-as-chips chinese watches NWC mag has road tested.

There’s no box or paperwork so you can’t fob off an annoying relative by buying them this watch for their birthday and pretending it cost twenty notes. Nah, not that we would ever do that.

VERDICT; A winner at this money.

 

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.

 

Ball Engineer M Pioneer: Retro Precision

Ball Watch has a new Engineer model, here’s the press info;

The originator, pacesetter, visionary. In 1891, Webb C. Ball created the official railroad standard of accuracy using stricter criteria than the modern COSC. On our 130th anniversary, our legacy of precision becomes even more exacting with our new in-house movement: Chronometer Manufacture Caliber RRM7309-S.

Powering the new Engineer M Pioneer, this watchmaking achievement takes BALL’s standards even further with an accuracy range of -2/+5 seconds per day. New technological advancements, highlighted by an ingenious silicon balance spring, withstand magnetic fields up to 2,500 Gauss and deliver superior shock resistance. Even in the dark, its precision is on full display thanks to our revolutionary micro gas lights. Once again, we are forging ahead with belief that excellence always moves forward. Limited to 1,000 pieces each, the Engineer M Pioneer is available for pre-order at a special price until 26th May 2021.

In Engineer M Pioneer, our designer has taken a bold step with the design of the dial, featuring large Arabic numerals formed by micro gas tubes at every hour. When it comes to the colors of the micro gas tubes, the Engineer M Pioneer offers 2 choices that are vastly different in styles: the standard classic version with the green and yellow gas tubes creating a harmony of light or the special version with 6 different gas tube colors mimicking the rainbow, a hidden gem that is only revealed in darkness.

All three hands are also outfitted with the micro gas tubes, with the added luminosity from the Super LumiNova coating.

SILICON BALANCE SPRING

The balance spring, the delicate part within a caliber that regulates its accuracy, is particularly susceptible to the effect of magnetism. A magnetized movement will run abnormally fast or worse, will stop running at all.

In the creation of the RRM7309-S, our watchmakers combined new material with traditional watchmaking and created something truly marvelous. As a material choice, silicon offers high anti-magnetism and corrosion resistance, it also offers enhanced stability to temperature fluctuations. Extremely lightweight and yet harder than steel, turning silicon into a delicate balance spring that is finer than a human hair requires a next-level expertise. However, as accurate oscillations – and therefore a precise movement – depend on the balance spring, silicon is an ideal material selection with these increased levels of efficiency.

We believe longevity is one of the core attributes that make mechanical timepieces more than a mere object. Thus, while we use silicon balance spring that works in combination with a new escape wheel and lever that are made in nickel-based material to deliver enhanced performance, our watchmakers have decided to retain the classic structure of the components to ensure that the fine-tuning of the remarkable precision and the serviceability in the long run is never a concern.

Bigger, Bolder and er..Boldr

Boldr are bringing back the Odyssey 45, which as the number suggests is a hefty dive watch with a 45mm case.
The previous release of the Odyssey 40 was met with cheers from those who prefer a leaner fit, says Boldr, but there were no shortage of enquiries on the return of the chunky big dive watches. Locked & loaded for a deep sea adventure, the Odyssey 45 is the first BOLDR watch to feature a sapphire bezel surrounding a sector dial design, clearly marked and powerfully lumed with Superluminova.
Nice engraved design on the caseback
It has a 500m depth rating, we love the bright, two-tone dial options and the first ten pieces sold have a useful $150 off the list price. Each fully stainless steel piece will also be marked with an individual serial number from 001/200 to 200/200. There is a very handsome two-tone green model in the line-up, plus Pacific Blue, Silver and a meteorite dial finish too. Inside there is a Japanese auto movement.
Very good dive spec for a UK price of £549 – plus any import taxes the government can think of. More info here. 

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.

Spinnaker’s Mille Metri is A Deep Dive Into Swiss Territory

A dive watch that can sink to 1000 metres, with a Swiss movement, for under £800? Sounds too good to be true, but that’s the deal we spotted on the Spinnaker watches website earlier.

Their Tesai Mille model, which is a cool name by the name, has a sapphire crystal, 44mm case, superlume markings and a unidirectional bezel.

The Mille Metri model has a serious depth rating, and as you’d expect this is a functional tool watch, with an optional rubber strap included in the box. Plus pin-pusher tool to release the steel bracelet and make the switch. One thing we like about Spinnaker is that they have a UK sales portal, so you can buy without worrying about import duty and VAT being slapped on.

This is the way ahead for other Asian watch brands we reckon, be great if Zelos, Audric, Advisor, Vario, Orient and others did the same thing.

You can have a black, green or blue dial on the Mille Metri, our preference is the blue. This is a high spec dive watch for Tissot fashion watch money – can’t really fault that.

More here.