This is not an Apple Watch

I have owned a few Apple Watch models since release, mainly to facilitate freelance work, and to date I have been less than impressed by almost everything the device offers.

From the form factor (too square, too thick, too fiddly) to the limited customisation options to the unambitious fitness implementation, it ticks none of the wrist-based boxes for me and falls into a place that just doesn’t fit my tastes or my needs.

Throw in a battery that requires a daily charge, even if it is a short one, and I struggle to understand why it is so popular. Indeed, it is the only Apple product that doesn’t appeal to me in any way. Apart from the HomePod, AirPods and iPad, but that’s another story. For me, Apple is the iPhone and the Mac and that’s about it, but boy do I enjoy using both of those products every day.

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Because of the above the time had come to try something new and so I was given the opportunity to test the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier watch, which is perfect timing considering that the new Galaxy Watch is imminent?

The testing ended up being cut short sadly due to battery performance that was beyond poor. It moved from 100% at 10pm to 0% at 4am and as such failed to track my sleep. I re-charged it and it was gone again by midday.

The watch was reset and I followed all of the online tips to resolve this issue, but it simply would not improve and the end result was half-day battery life which is of course unmanageable.

Aside from this I genuinely really enjoyed the Frontier when it worked. The faces on offer are visually quite impressive, some of the apps actually make sense on the wrist and there is a sense that this is a ‘watch’ rather than a small computer.

The debate surrounding what shape a smartwatch should be continues with some saying that square is the way forward because it makes more logical sense to build it this way. You get more real estate to cram small app interfaces into and it just makes things easier all round. However, for some of us a watch should be round if possible to break up the notion that it is in fact a computer.

This simple change of shape actually means a lot to the experience and in my case I found that I much preferred the Frontier to the Apple Watch on the wrist.

Fitness is catered for well with sleep tracking, steps etc and a heartrate sensor, and with Samsung Health you have the ability to track trends and aim for improvements. The main problem I see though is that it is very standalone with no way to import data from other fitness software. So, if you move from a competing product to this you will effectively be starting over, and the solution is not good enough (in my opinion) to allow that.

As I said, my time with the Frontier was cut short, but I do see something here which reinforces my view that the wrist will become smart and that the age of traditional watches, at least those below £500, is time limited. The Apple Watch may well be selling the most, but in my view there is much better out there, if some of the irritations are fixed.

Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch (SKT1113) review – master of none

Hybrid watches are by many accounts dominating the sales figures for brands such as Fossil, and by some stats in a way which means that they are seriously scaling back on traditional watches due to a lack of sales.

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This kind of makes sense because people who are used to purchasing a watch every few years, one at the lower end of the market, could be more tempted by a hybrid that looks and feels familiar, but which offers ‘safe’ new features that do not feel too technical in a proactive or reactive sense.

Hybrids potentially appeal to those who are not in the market for a full fitness tracker, who definitely would not wear a smartwatch and who are dipping their toe in the watery idea that the wrist is a space for more than just the time. In effect, this is the majority of people which would explain the popularity. In the world of tech, a small percentage of the largest market is worth more than dominating a niche because it’s all about the future. The future is everyone. It is not geeks who want a screen on their wrist, but I am not convinced that the watch world will not be dominated by screens in a few years.

Just like PDAs and the earliest smartphones were used by a niche, the iPhone breakthrough brought the idea to everyone and at some point the same could happen with the smartwatch. Until that time we have hybrids which represent a temporary middle ground that has a small chance of becoming permanent, a very small chance in my mind.

The reason for this is that hybrids currently do one this well, which is to tell the time in a stylish well, and one thing quite poorly, which is fitness tracking. When you download the app and check out what it can do it kind of feels like stepping back in time; step tracking and sleep. That’s it really, no heart rate monitoring, no exercise tracking, no food input, no real stats over time and a light touch that is squarely designed for beginners in the area of activity tracking.

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There is nothing wrong with this and it makes perfect sense which may explain the popularity, but in comparison to a smartwatch or a dedicated fitness tracker the difference is stark. The advantages to this, however, come in the manner of a six month battery life before you need a new one, simplicity of use and the ability to completely ignore the watch if you want to.

Notifications are present, to a point, but are somewhat lacklustre because you can only choose six contacts to receive notifications from. You choose a contact and assign a number at which point the hand will move to that number when a message or call is received. It’s simple, quite elegant actually and worthy of inclusion, but it would be nice to see notifications default to a different number from those outside of your favourite six people.

The three buttons on the side of the watch are configurable and in my case, for example, I have the middle one for the date (push and the hands move to a date on the outer ring), the top one for a second time zone (push and the hands move to it) and the bottom one to start and pause music on my iPhone X. They have all worked perfectly well and the connection to the phone has been rock solid so far, but I do have concerns about Skagen as a company.

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Without making this a true statement, there is a theory that this is a Chinese company making cheap watches to the level of a Daniel Wellington and that it offers practically zero support. This theory is sadly backed up by numerous customer reports so my review here will not cover the fact that it could fail at some point and leave the user stranded.

What I can say though is that the design is quite superb. From the case to the mesh bracelet to the dial, the consistency and elegant construction are really very good for a watch at this price point (shop around and you can pick it up for slightly north of £100). Build quality is harder to judge because only long term use can show that, but I do get the sense that it is built to a price point and that it will not survive many knocks. This is to be expected for what is essentially a dress watch, but overall I have enjoyed wearing it and do appreciate the design behind the watch.

Surprisingly the lume lasts through the night which is quite unusual. I would expect this from a Seiko or a Citizen at any price point and most certainly from Oris, but many watches I have tried fail dismally in this area. Longines is a culprit, no matter the price, and I find it unforgivable for any watch brand to include lume that does not last for more than an hour, and even more so for the likes of Longines who are happy to charge upwards of £2,000 for a watch with poor lume. This Skagen does lume very well and despite a dimming from, for example, 3AM you can still see the time if you happen to wake up at night.

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Back to the design, the only thing I would change would be the hands which could be slightly wider to make the watch 100% glanceable. It is decent enough for quickly catching the time, but there is a sense that the design overcomes the practical elements around the edges and at those moments when you want your watch to do something rather than to be a statement on your wrist.

Competition

There is much competition in the hybrid watch area, much of it from the same parent company, and the likes of Fossil, Michael Kors (shudder!) and Timex are pushing hard in this arena. Hybrids have grown from fashion watch brands looking to protect their businesses against smartwatches, but the fitness gang have started to join in. Garmin makes the vívomove® HR which comes in at £169 and for that you get a heart rate monitor, V02 max, fitness age, calories, intensity minutes, stress tracking, smart notifications, music controls and so on. It’s all backed up with a very good (maybe slightly complex?) app which easily rivals Fitbit in terms of being able to give you all of the activity and fitness stats you need. In my experience the Garmin trackers are more accurate than Fitbit and better built which makes the vivomove a candidate for the best hybrid watch on the market today. The premium version (£249) takes things further with stainless steel and a classier strap, and takes the idea of a traditional decent quality watch with some advanced features to the level we would expect in 2018.

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You can go much higher in price through the likes of Kronaby (£445), Alpina (£575) and Mondaine (£650) up to Frédérique Constant (£2,980!). The problem with all of these brands though is that no matter how refined and well made the watch is, they still default back to very simple and light touch software to undertake the smart features. I am not saying that everyone wants sophisticated fitness tracking and super smart features, which are impossible on a traditional watch design anyway, but it seems to me that the most complete hybrid watch today comes from Garmin for well under £200 which is saying a lot. To complete properly, I believe that a decent watch manufacturer needs to get into bed with the likes of Garmin or Fitbit because otherwise we are looking at a fad and little more.

Conclusion

I like the Skagen a lot more than I expected to. The design is sweet, the fitness functions work to a point (pushing 10% more steps than reality for me) and the notifications are somewhat useful. The main problem is that it is not ambitious enough, like 99% of hybrids, and I would like to see more effort put into making this kind of watch more functional. For the price, however, I believe it to be excellent value and for most people it will serve them well over time, providing the worries about Skagen reliability and support do not come to fruition.

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Is the Oris Divers Sixty Five perfect?

Probably. Well, it seems to be perfect for me or as perfect as any watch can get.

Perfection is an unachievable aim and one that we would likely not want to attain even if we could. The opposite sex, or same sex of course, watches, cars and any other material object. Perfection is never happening, but the best you have experienced is a good thing and will offer a glimpse of what perfection is like. Until the next one comes along which is just a little more perfect.

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My wife bought me the Oris Divers Sixty Five a couple of months ago and in that time it has grown on me more and more. I have a list of things I like to see in a watch, but it is the entire form and the unseen parts that I cannot list which make a watch what it is. Anyway, the list-

Divers style with a prominent bezel

Simple and easy to read

Not too deep, not too shallow, not too big, not too small

Decent mechanical movement (automatic or hand winding)

Subtle and long lasting lume

The Sixty Five ticks all of those boxes with ease and the form in particular is what first attracted me to it. The bracelet is thin and extremely flexible, and it flows perfectly onto the shallow side casing which makes it sit naturally on the wrist.

The dial is stunning in its simplicity and it is exceptionally easy to read with prominent hour markers and hands that sit perfectly within it. For perfection I should have gone without the date window which would add to the vintage feel, but it’s not the end of the world.

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The colouring is wonderfully considered as well. The blue dial (looks black a lot of the time), the fautina hands and markers, the black bezel and silver casing work so well together. They stand out and blend in at the same time which is not an easy trick to pull off. Indeed, the colour of the hands and hour markers is so clean that it does not feel like a vintage recreation, but rather a blend that just sits as it should when on the wrist.

The 100 metre water resistance has been criticised by some, but consider this. It is a watch that will likely not be worn when diving, like 99% of diver watches, and the honesty of only running to 100 metres makes a lot of sense, as does the beautifully domes crystal which finishes off a near perfect design. The obsession with seriously high numbers when it comes to water resistance makes little sense for desk divers like me, and presumably for the majority of you reading this.

By the way, mine has proved to be deadly accurate (+ – 2 seconds a day) when worn each day and it really is one of the few watches I own that I do not notice 95% of the time, but when I need to see where I am in the day I take a second longer than I should to admire it, just a little.

Is it perfect? No, nothing is. OK, maybe it is.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five first thoughts (reference 01 733 7720 4055-07 8 21 18)

If there is one watch that has floated around in my subconscious for some time, it is the Divers Sixty-Five from Oris.

It ticks all of the boxes for what I want in a modern watch-

Decent lume (not too bright, but enough to see me through the night)
Trusted movement (Oris Cal. 733 based on the Sellita SW 200-1)
1960’s diving style ideally
Thin enough to not look like a desk diver’s penis extension
Consistency – it has to all work together for a reason and not just to stand out
That special something – I have no words to explain what that is, no one does

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Despite the fact that this watch has always been there somewhere in my mind, I had no intention of buying one because it wasn’t figuring for some reason. The lack of a stand-out look or feature means that it will be overlook by most and even by people like me for whom it does tick those boxes. It’s nice, but it is not noticeable which ironically proved to be the biggest advantage of all.

All of this happened because my wife and I took our son out to purchase a watch for my son’s 18th birthday and the fact that he is heading off to university soon. He love watches (wonder where he got that from?) and his Seiko SRP has a few problems so we decided to buy him ‘the’ watch that he will wear for some time.

We were going to simply buy him a watch, but after asking for advice on what to buy James Stacey (The Grey Nato) advised to take him with us and to make it part of the experience. I should have known this because the purchasing experience is strangely important when buying a special watch and is something that will stay with you while you wear it. Sometimes buying online is not worth it even if you save a lot of money.

Anyway, we spent some time looking around and he seemed to focus in on the Oris Artelier Complication (reference 01 781 7729 4051-07 5 21 66FC) which was a surprise. He tried it on and absolutely loved it which seemed to shock me and the sales assistant. For some who is 18 years old this does not appear to be the kind of watch they would go for, but he has his tastes and is heading to university to study law so maybe he is trying to fit the part early. As he continued to just stare at the watch on his wrist my wife and I realised that we were about to spend a lot more than expected on his birthday present.

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I haggled and haggled with the sales assistant until we agreed on a price and then made the mistake of trying on the Sixty-Five after my son had discarded it within seconds – he really did not like it which was a surprise as he loves his Seiko SRP. It then hit me.

You know when they say a watch has to speak to you, this happened with the Sixty-Five instantly. It just felt so right on my wrist and I was surprised at how thin the case is and the way it remains substantial despite what some would see as a smaller form factor. I really cannot explain what struck me about this watch, but something did and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I did not, however, buy it.

And then I bought it two days later in another store after lots more haggling. It was like an itch I just had to scratch and one that left me with uncertainty because I have some reservations about the Sixty-Five.

The term ‘desk diver’ usually refers to those of us who like dive watches, but who do not dive. In this case the term could accurately describe the watch itself. The compromises are quite substantial and in an honest way because to me there is no doubt that Oris is not selling this as a tool watch.

It’s 100m water resistant which is less than expected in a modern dive watch.
There are no crown guards, but the crown is a screw-in setup.
The lume is good enough, but maybe not enough for real diving?
There is no way to adjust the size of the strap without tools.
It feels just a little fragile and more suited to air conditioning than air tanks.

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My first day with the Sixty-Five has made me realise than any regrets are theoretical because it is a stunning looking timepiece that stands out to me, but likely not to others who see me wearing it. I am never fussed by what others think and if I was I would wear a Rolex and tell everyone about it. The reality is that most people do not care about watches and what others are wearing, which is one reason to wear an Oris which few are aware of, and in this case I suspect that the Sixty-Five could be a long term wear which adorns my wrist most days. I am a desk diver who likes 1960’s dive watch styling and the Oris brand. This would seem to cover all that I need, but time will tell.

The Omega Seamaster Railmaster

The Seamaster Railmaster comes in a 40mm stainless steel case that measures a hair over 12mm thick. The result is something that feels very sturdy both in the hand and on the wrist without being excessively heavy or chunky. You’re not going to mistake this for a vintage watch by any means, but that’s not the point here. What makes the dimensions really work though is the sense of proportion. The way the bezel is integrated into the case is simple but effective and the length of the lugs in relation to the size of the case makes it feel like a compact, no-nonsense package… More at Hodinkee.

That is a gorgeous watch.

The Seiko Prospex Samurai SRPB51 reviewed

Seiko enthusiasts were first drawn to the Samurai for its unconventional, clean, bulky handset, and a titanium case and bracelet option (note: titanium isn’t available on these new iterations of the diver – they are only in steel). Unlike the many many dive watch options from Seiko, the Samurai has worn smaller and been a more refined timepiece – one that can be worn on serious dives or a night downtown. The angular and intentional lines of the Samurai put the model in a league of its own. The 2004 iteration had a boxier handset, but the more modern releases of the samurai have much cleaner lines and an updated hour hand shape. I feel that it brings an older concept to not only a potentially newer audience, but also caters to existing fans of the Seiko Samurai… More at A Blog To Watch.

To me, the Samurai range doesn’t quite work visually. It’s a modern version of a classic and ends up lacking a distinct identity. I may be being picky here, but you can’t always pinpoint what tweaks an emotion whether it be negative or positive.

Citizen BN0100-51E Promaster Sea review

Any watch that comes in below £150 could be considered to be at the low-end of the spectrum for those who have a passion for timepieces. There are, however, some brands that offer consistency and quality in important areas at such a price point. Seiko and Citizen in particular stand out in this regard, but even then we tend to expect compromises at the lower end of their ranges.

There is something unusual about this watch though and that is the sheer quality throughout the feature set. From the moment I tried it on, I had a sense that this is a carefully considered design that does not try to do too much, but rather concentrates on doing the important things well.

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The design is somewhat classic with just a touch of ‘Black Bay’ in the case shape. The sizing works well and is substantial yet slim enough to be worn comfortably by almost anyone. It is actually much more pleasing to the eye than you may expect when you look at the marketing shots of this watch and the feel is one of quality way above the asking price.

The screw down crown is protected by angular crown guards that lift the design from the more traditional to tool modern yet they just about manage to fit in with the dial and case shape. If I had to sum up the aesthetics, I would say that it is one of the smarter looking watches I own. It does not stand out in any way, but it holds its own against much more expensive timepieces that also attempt to go for the Submariner feel.

Readability is superb thanks to larger than expected hands that stand out from the otherwise colourless look thanks to the bright orange minute pointer. There is no problem choosing a specific point when setting the time thanks to the sharp tips and for me it works perfectly for quickly catching the time at a glance when you are busy. Add to this a quite superb lume, seriously superb, which borders on being too bright at night. It does, however, add to the sense that this is a genuine diver’s watch despite the low price.

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It has 200 metre water resistance and the bezel, which clicks strongly with no play at all, is also well lumed for when you are not being a desk diver.

With a Citizen quartz movement inside I expected accuracy and after 1 week it is not even 1 second out. My experience with Citizen quartz is that they are easily as accurate, if not more so, than the Seiko equivalent. Obviously a mechanical movement is preferable to us watch people, but if you want accuracy you will have it here.

So, is there anything wrong with this watch at all? Just one thing which is the tiny date window. The size and colour of the window dial are to the point that I fail to see why there is even a date function included. This is standard for Citizen though and I have seen this time and time again from this brand, but it is a small price to pay for a watch of such quality at such a… small price.

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This is one of the best value watches I have owned to date and I find myself wearing it much more than I expected. It’s perfect at night if you wake up and want to check the time, it is highly accurate, it is subtly designed and it has a charm that you would not expect in a watch of this price. Throw in a quite brilliant metal strap with an excellent dive extension mechanism and you really are looking at a beater watch that you may find yourself wearing a lot. Seriously, this is a great watch. It really is.

Oris Aquis Date Review

If there is one watch brand that has always fascinated me, it is Oris. The company has made watches for more than 100 years, but has strangely only moved to producing high-end pieces in recent years.

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This would normally be a recipe for disaster because moving to the creation of high-end watches is far from easy and has to be built up over many decades. However, today we have a company making some of the best value watches in the market and one which is managing to create individuality in the most subtle of ways.

I bought the Aquis Date last weekend for £900 (haggled down from £1,200 which you can do in most jewellers by the way) and it was the culmination of thoughts I have been having for the past 2 years. To get to the amount involved selling 4 watches, buying 2, fixing them and then re-selling them at a profit. The end result was that I had £1,000 to spend on a daily wear watch that satisfied my watch nerd brain and which also ticked a few horological boxes.

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It had to be a diver’s watch and ideally one which mixed the past with the present.

It had to be mechanical (automatic) and using a movement that could potentially work for many years without assistance.

The lume needs to work all through the night.

The build quality must be exceptional with decent finishing.

It had to be an Oris.

The Aquis Date ticks all of those boxes and more because the form and function are easily some of the best I have experienced in my time wearing a variety of watches. For value vs quality, only Seiko is comparable alongside some smaller manufacturers. In my opinion, the likes of TAG Heuer, Gucci and so many other watch makers who sell their watches from and up to £1,000 only offer a name and little else. When I walked into the jewellers I was wearing a £1,000 TAG Formula One watch which, while looking quite smart and being exceptionally accurate thanks to whatever quartz movement it is using, is effectively an charmless piece of steel with little to no class. It may come over that I have something against TAG Heuer and that is because I have.

The problem with brands like TAG is that for 98% of people they will look at the TAG on your wrist and be impressed. They will think it is one of the best watches in the world and that is, sadly, the admiration many watch wearers are after. Say you are wearing an Oris and they will look at you perplexed. But then again I wear a watch for me, not for strangers. And as Oris says in its marketing ’Real watches for real people’.

Anyway, on to the watch itself.

I tried a couple on and this one just felt right. At first the yellow markings did not jump out at me because I am a sucker for orange in anything and tend to prefer blue faces (the blue that TAG uses ironically), but there is a simplicity to the colours here that makes the Aquis Date feel classic in a modern way. Also, in the different lighting the colours change to the human eye. In bright sunlight the yellow pops and at night in artificially lighting, there is a classic gold texture to the markings. Both work well and it’s kind of nice to have a watch that looks different depending on the time of day.

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Build quality really is superb and this is demonstrated in the watch itself, the strap links and the buckle which all offer a sense of robustness that could take literally anything that is thrown at them. Add to that the way it all comes together to create a timepiece that flows over the wrist in a way that I have never experienced with lower-end watches. It comes down to the lighting again. Light catches the face, which is anti-reflective to a point, and it continues to flow over the bezel so that it looks as if the two pieces are actually one. The effect next to the steel bracelet is super impressive and there is no doubt that the quality shines through every time I check the time, to the point that it often leaves me staring at the watch for longer than I need to.

Safe to say I am loving the visuals of this watch and my reservations over the face design are long gone. The simplicity really does work with the sword hands adding a very slight vintage look as an added bonus. My only criticism is aimed at the date window which is a touch too small to read, especially when 2 digits are displaying.

Accuracy has also been excellent and I am currently 5 seconds fast after 5 days which is exceptional for any mechanical watch. This could be luck, it could be a fluke that changes over time, but I could live with under 5 seconds off a day so I am more than happy with the performance so far.

The display window at the back is lovely and highlights the unique Oris red rotor with the very smooth screw-down crown finishing off the list of goodness in this watch.

This is probably the best watch I have owned from a technical perspective and in terms of how well it is built. It feels right, it feels like a small luxury on my wrist and it feels like it is mine. Fortunately for me, it is now mine and Oris has exceeded all of my expectations so far.

Longines HydroConquest (L3.742.4.96.6) review

My watch got too big for me. My beloved Oris Aquis Date which ticked all of the boxes for me suddenly felt ridiculous on my wrist and I knew I needed to change it.

I have lost a lot of weight recently, just hit 84lbs gone since June, and this has meant changing my wedding ring to one that is 3 sizes lower and removing a full 4 links from my Oris bracelet. The end result was a watch that looked silly and that just did not suit me anymore.

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It was more than that, however, because the larger size alone was not the only problem. It reached the point where I felt self-conscious about wearing it and so I had an overwhelming desire to buy something smaller. After much research that something smaller turned out to be the Longines HydroConquest.

It uses the same base movement as the Oris Aquis, is of a more traditional and slimmer design, and just about ticks the boxes I need ticking in a watch. I had reservations concerning the overly large 6, 9 and 12 digits and the actual Longines logo which is a bit too Breitling for me, but I decided to make the purchase anyway because something was telling me that it would work for me.

As it happens I was right and a few weeks later I am absolutely loving this watch, as much for its imperfections as the excellent finishing. The Oris feels like a more substantial watch and is arguably even better finished and better engineered, but the Longines offers more of a traditional watch experience that feels right when worn every day.

There is a sense that the Longines is built to a price, which is actually low for the brand and movement included, and it’s not easy to see what is going on, but the movement inside is tried and tested and over the past 3 weeks has lost 12 seconds in total. This can happen with brand new watches and a knock or two, or even resetting the time, can affect accuracy a great deal, but first impressions on that side are very positive.

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Less positive is the lume which does not work well with the shape of the hands and which does not glow anywhere near as brightly over time as a Seiko or an Oris. This is still an £800 watch and to my mind if you are going to include lume, what is the point in not offering the best experience you can?

The included metal bracelet is also engineered to be very difficult to remove in places. Changing the strap is tough because you have to push both ends of the pins in at once and this normally requires a tool that costs well over £100 to accomplish. Once I had battled the strap off I stuck the pins in a box and replaced them with standard ones that are much easier to remove. It’s also difficult to undo and can hurt your fingers- secure no doubt, but a bit of a pain. The bracelet itself is sweet though and fits the watch design perfectly with come rattling occurring now and then to let you know it is there.

Overall, the HydroConquest has grown on me great deal in a short space of time and I suspect I will be wearing it for some time to come, and it cost less than my Oris has already sold for so I am not out financially. It is ironic that the Oris is to me a better watch in so many ways, but that the Longines is a better watch for me.

Bulova Chronograph C (96K101) review

This is a watch that has intrigued me for some time and for a reason that makes it perfect for Bulova to market in a way that is sure to generate sales.

The 96K101 is different to other watches and impossible to define for many people. It looks like a 1970’s watch because the design is from 1970 when the original was born, and Bulova has made sure that it is very much a clone from 47 years ago. The original was 43mm in diameter which is huge for a vintage watch- watches really started to get small in the 1980’s, but in the 1970’s brands like Bulova did not worry about size too much and this worked well to highlight the colours, the design and the general look of the watch.

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As you can see in the advert above, Bulova promised a lot and largely delivered in a product that did what it needed to and by all accounts better than much of the competition. If you want to purchase the original today you will need about £2,000 for one that is in good condition and I can only presume that the uniqueness of the design is the main reason added to the fact that the size makes it fit in with today’s preference for larger watch dimensions.

I must admit that my first impressions of the 96K101 were not too favourable. This could be because I am currently wearing an Oris Aquis Date which feels like a product in a completely different league. The build quality, presentation and everything else about the watch makes it one that you could enjoy for decades and it has certainly become a watch that I genuinely enjoy every day. For me it is almost faultless and looks and feels like a high-end product that sits well above the likes of Seiko, Bulova, Citizen and other manufacturers who sell watches well below £1,000.

The problem for the Chronograph C is that my Oris cost £900 and the Bulova offering is retailing at +£500 at this time. That is a lot of money for a watch which does not feel like a high-end product and from the perspective of ‘bang for the buck’ it simply cannot compete with any Oris.

So, I shall ignore Oris at this time and look at what this watch offers otherwise the review would be pointless.

In the box

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The ‘Archive Series’ box is a step up from the standard Bulova boxes and you get a blue leather strap and a strap adjustment tool alongside the watch. The manual is a standard high frequency booklet so is not aimed at this particular watch, but it tells you what you need to know. For me, the blue strap actually looks nicer than the mesh strap that is attached to the watch, but it would be nice to see an easier way to change it than the classic ‘scratch the hell out of your watch’ tool that is supplied.

I love the fact that there are no lugs on this watch, which is yet another area in which Bulova has cloned the original, but I am not so convinced by the 20mm strap width in comparison to the large 46mm diameter face. Historically a thin strap on a big round watch accentuates the dimensions in a positive way, but here it feels just a little too thin aesthetically. Overall, however, the box contents and presentation are good enough for most buyers to be please with the package. It adds a sense of completeness even if those who truly understand watches can see the gimmickry and lack of quality in was is on offer here.

The watch

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It is big at 46mm for sure, but it does not feel big on the wrist in any way. I have 7.5” wrists which are not huge and the lack of lugs ensures that at no point does it feel too wide. I would say that my Oris feels larger when worn and is heavier for sure. The lack of weight here suggests what the watch really is, a quartz offering that is not using the best materials. I don’t mean to sound demeaning to this level of watch, but pick up a new Seiko Turtle for £350 and you will see that the quality and feel is much higher than the Bulova.

However, this watch is not about quality or offering a timepiece that you will wear for many years. You could do that of course and will enjoy it, but to me it feels like a homage that has been made to be exactly that. It is designed to offer something new in a world of similar watch designs and it succeeds. Where it fails is that it feels like a copy of a vintage watch rather than a modernised version of the same product. It is hard to explain, but the Bulova Snorkel was a clever re-design which feels well built and the same is true of the new Seiko Turtle, but this feels just a little light to me and there is a sense of building to a budget rather than to a standard.

And then there is the face which is of course the stand out feature that sets this watch apart from the rest. The colourful combination is striking and makes for extremely clear chronograph dials, but at the expense of the clarity of the overall face. Telling the time requires more than a glance and at times it feel far too busy to be practical in any way. To me this is a problem because for a watch to not offer a clear view of the current time is a bit like a car with an engine which is far too small for it. I get why the face is the way it is and understand that it is a clone, but good design has to be practical as well as beautiful looking and this watch only offers one of those.

There is no date window which make sense and the buttons work perfectly well for timing things with lots of information surrounding the face for timing speed etc. Strangely for a high frequency watch the second hand moves twice a second rather than 16 times which is what you may be used to in recent watches from Bulova. There must be a good reason for this, but considering the tiny hands and large dimensions of the watch, I wouldn’t expect battery power to be a problem here.

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The crystal is nicely domed and offers a decent balance between clarity and offering a sense of strange perspective when viewed at a certain angle. For me, this is a highlight of the design which lifts the form a little and I have no complaints about the form or how it looks on the wrist. I just wish it felt more substantial and less like a budget copy of a real watch.

Conclusion

I’m struggling to like this watch to be honest. I should like it because it is a 1970’s design, it is made by Bulova and it is big, but I feel zero attachment to it. When you try a new watch it can be difficult because reasons to like or dislike a watch are impossible to quantify. Sometimes a watch will feel perfect and other times it just won’t work for you which makes it a personal choice as to what you really like. For me, however, the new Chronograph C suggests that Bulova is aiming for the look and the memories of the original rather than taking the time to make a good quality product. A big chance missed.