The Gruen Airflight

Looks like a watch with 24 date windows, no? Well, look again.

Let’s not beat around the bush: the Gruen Airflight has twelve see-through apertures in the dial. At 1 pm a thin under-the-dial plate shifts automatically to expose the numerals 13 through 24. How cool?! More here. Thanks to Andrew.

I like mechanical watches that include one smart feature. It kind of makes that feature feel more significant.

No one noticed it, no one…

The person putting the dial together didn’t notice.

The person putting the case together didn’t notice.

The person doing the final quality checking didn’t notice.

The person selling it didn’t notice.

The person buying it didn’t notice.

We humans are remarkably blind at times.

The Electrostatic Accutron Concept Movement

The Accutron concept movement will remind Accutron enthusiasts immediately of the Accutron Spaceview, an original-production Accutron which had an open dial, allowing the tuning fork mechanism and transistor to be seen. The concept movement likewise exposes the mechanism, however, there’s no tuning fork. Instead, two small turbine-like structures are visible in the lower half of the dial, which rotate rapidly when the watch is in motion, while the upper part of the dial is dominated by a near-identical, but larger, turbine – this rotates continuously, as it drives the seconds hand in a smooth forward motion that recalls the original Accutron watches… More here.

Bulova is really pushing it in a good way at the moment. This is very smart.

When your grail is not the best, it’s still your grail

When I first became very interested in watches, there was one particular model that I always aspired to own. It was the Tudor Black Bay Red and this feeling never really left me. Aspirational is the word because after running through many Seikos, Citizens, Bulovas and countless others I have ended up with the Black Bay red and I think that’s the end of my watch buying and selling story.

I recently owned the Black Bay GMT which is by all accounts a better watch. It of course has the GMT function, it is hard to come by and there are long waiting lists at every authorised dealer, and it is rarely seen in public. If you are wearing a GMT and someone else knows their watches they will notice it and likely be impressed by it. If you are wearing a Black Bay Red the same effect will not be seen because it is a commonly worn watch and in red is the most popular of the Black Bay series.

The problem for me was that the GMT felt cold. The white hands and hour markers didn’t drag me in and the, admittedly subtle, red and blue bezel was a little too noticeable for my liking. It’s hard to explain because it ticked all of the boxes for me, but perhaps it ticked too many which was the ultimate problem.

When you are into watches, and particularly if you have a grail watch, it becomes too easy to compare other watches in an unfavourable way simply because they are not the same. The white hands and hour markers are not a problem in the GMT, but they are not the subtle gold of the Black Bay, a gold that is enhanced by the red bezel more so than in the other colour variants. The date window is useful, but it takes away the clean symmetry of the dateless Black Bay. And then there is the GMT hand which makes the dial feel busy to me. Of course the GMT is still an exceptionally easy to read watch, but once I had seen the Black Bay Red it was hard to not see anything other than business and functions I did not need.

The old adage of less is more has never been truer than with the Black Bay for me. Pulling out the crown just one notch to change the time without the need to gauge exactly which position it is in to make specific changes to each function. The superb accuracy means I rarely need to correct the time and without the need to amend the date every month or two months it just sits on my wrist doing its thing and looking quite splendid.

As easy as it is to say ‘that’s it for me, no more watches’, I have an advantage in that I have never collected watches. I may have owned many, but I don’t like having more than one decent watch in the house. I like one beater watch, in my case a Citizen Brycen AW1590-55E, and a wear the rest of the time watch which is only removed when doing things that a decent mechanical should not be exposed to (grading, running etc etc).

So, this really is it for me. I always wanted this particular Tudor and it is easily living up to my expectations. I have never felt the need to own a Rolex or to spend a huge amount of money on a watch. I don’t care what other people think about what is on my wrist. 99.9% of people have no clue which watch is which and the ones that do probably have a focussed opinion on what a really good watch is and likely it will not be the one you are wearing anyway. And even then, what would I be trying to say with the watch on my wrist? Shall I wear a moon watch and pretend I am an astronaut? How about a massive dive watch for no other reason than it is huge and can go 1000m below the surface? No, why would I want to do that?

When I check the time on the Black Bay Red I simply see the time. I see the chocolate dial and gold hands and markers and a splash of red around the edge. That’s what grabbed me when I first saw it and as silly as it seems it causes me to look just a little longer than I need do when checking the time. This watch is for me, it’s my grail and I neither care what others think and don’t presume they do either. It’s my grail.

Citizen Brycen (AW1590-55E) review

So, I finally got my grail watch, a Tudor Black Bay, and was happy. I wasn’t 100% happy because it was the GMT rather than the Black Bay Black, but because the waiting lists are so long to get the GMT it made sense to take it when offered and to see if I would grow to love it.

I grew to love it.

It was a tough buy because I always wanted the gold hands of the Black Bay Heritage, but when the jeweller emailed me to say that a GMT had come in and asked if I wanted it, I jumped. Besides, I can buy a Black Bay Black at any time because they are everywhere, the GMT is not.

And then we were hit by a huge medical bill for my son. It’s a long story and I won’t go into it until we know the full situation, but it’s fair to say that the NHS proved to be so under resourced that they were unable to help in the most potentially serious of cases and the delays could be potentially very serious.

We decided to go private, an experience which has also proved to be less than impressive, in order to save time and the end result is that the GMT has to be sold. It would be a horrible thing to do in normal times, but when it comes to the health of one of your children you start to realise what is important and having a £2,800 watch on my wrist fell way down the list.

I could go into the myriad thoughts I have had over the past two weeks concerning the important things in life and my temporary realisation that an expensive watch is not necessary, but I hope that the feeling for my grail watch comes back one day and that I can rebuild my watch fund to buy the one I want.

The GMT will be gone in a few days, potentially at a profit which will help contribute to the medical bills, and so I decided to pick up a watch that I have had my eye on for some time, one that could be bought 13 times before the cost of the GMT is reached. A watch that I know will not be of the same quality, a watch that no one aspires to, but also one that I do not have to worry about and which may just have enough personality to suffice until the grail returns.

It is a Citizen Eco-Drive and so I am expecting excellent accuracy, but of course there are particular quartz movements in each watch. To date I am on less than 1 second deviance per day which is what I have experienced with previous Citizen Eco-Drive watches.

The case shape is not deep at all and curves a little around the wrist when paired with the right bracelet. The included mesh bracelet is of OK quality, but it pulled hairs out of my arm immediately. I do not have particularly hairy arms and this is the first strap to do that so that is a downside. I changed it straight away and this watch pairs very well with almost any 22mm strap thanks to the muted colours. The gold hands and hour markers are extremely subtle and work well with the very very light green inner colouring. Only the hands are lumed, but Citizen has cleverly managed to match the green throughout the dial.

Talking of the lume, this is a Citizen and so it is exceptional. It is very bright and lasts throughout the night, and with just the hands painted the end result is not overwhelming at all. The pointed hands offer more than enough recognition to tell the time in total darkness and this is without doubt a highlight.

The bezel fits the design very well, but strangely is static. I have never seen a bezel with 60 markings that does not rotate and so it is purely there for aesthetic reasons, presumably to give the watch a ‘dive’ vibe. For me, and no doubt the majority of people who prefer dive watches, it all comes down to the styling rather than the likelihood of being under the sea for any length of time and Citizen seems to have embraced that. Citizen has actually embraced it to the point of only giving 100m of water resistance, only luming the hour and minute hands, and of course installing a static bezel. It looks like a dive watch, it feels like a dive watch, it most certainly is not a dive watch.

If I could change anything it would be the date window. Citizen has a habit of including date windows that are tiny, to the point that I wonder why they are even there. It would make more sense to either remove it altogether to offer a cleaner look or go the whole hog and put a big one on the dial. If you go half way you may as well not have bothered.

Overall I really like this watch and it was the particular model I was looking at above more expensive Seikos and Citizens. I suspect it was because I previously owned an Oris Divers Sixty Five (above) and there is a similar look going on here. I loved that watch, but not as much as the Tudor and so sold it to pay some of the Tudor. I love my son much more than both of them and so now have this Citizen on my wrist, and remarkably I really am liking it.

The Bulova Computron

It was a real surprise to see Bulova bring back the Computron in a form that is not dissimilar to the original from the 1970’s. If you want a timepiece that is unique, this would be a good way to go.

The only problem I see is that it has only been publicised in gold or black, neither of which make it ideal for tastes in 2019. I fixed it, below, with a simple bit of tweaking on my iPhone and Bulova advised me to “Stay tuned!” so just maybe it will be available in steel as well.

New stuff: AirPods, Kindle and Watches

Apple today announced new AirPods, the second generation of the world’s most popular wireless headphones. AirPods revolutionized the wireless audio experience with a breakthrough design and the new AirPods build on the magical experience customers love. The new Apple-designed H1 chip, developed specifically for headphones, delivers performance efficiencies, faster connect times, more talk time and the convenience of hands-free “Hey Siri.” AirPods come with either a standard charging case or a new Wireless Charging Case for convenient charging at home and on the go… More here.

Would have liked to see noise isolation above anything else, but some decent improvements have been included here.

Adjustable front light lets you read comfortably for hours, indoors and outdoors, day and night.
Purpose built for reading, with a 167 ppi glare-free display that reads like printed paper, even in direct sunlight.
Distraction-free reading. Highlight passages, look up definitions, translate words and adjust text size, without ever leaving the page.
Select from millions of books, newspapers and audiobooks. Holds thousands of titles so you can take your library with you.
Prime members read for free with unlimited access to over a thousand titles.
A single battery charge lasts weeks, not hours.
Enjoy more books with Audible. Pair with Bluetooth headphones, or speakers, to switch seamlessly between reading and listening… More here.

Totally standard features in the new Kindle, but at £69.99 I can see trouble for the higher priced models. This does 99% of what 99% of Kindle owners want and it is so much cheaper.

Baselword 2019 is now in full swing and last year we were treated to some superb new watches. It is, however, almost as if this year the tide has completely turned. Some of the new watches on offer, such as the Tudor P01 above, are startlingly bad.

And then came the Tudor Black Bay Chronograph Steel & Gold, below, which is trying to be far too pretty for its own good.

Don’t worry though. There’s always Rolex to take things even further in terms of poor taste as is demonstrated by the Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126719 BLRO With Meteorite Dial In White Gold below.

Thankfully, the Zenith El Primero A386 Revival, below, offers a sense that one brand is happy to simply improve rather than turn down crazy alley.

For more news from Baselworld 2019 check out the excellent Hodinkee.

The Tropical Dial Is a Flaw

And with a tropical dial, something sincerely has gone wrong: around the middle of the last century, Rolex primed its dials with a finish that was supposed to protect the watches from sun damage. Bizarrely, it had the exact opposite effect: after years of exposure to the sun, that chemical reacts in a way that discolors the dial. Some Omega watches made during this same period are similarly susceptible to sunlight. The discoloration has the same effect on an Omega’s value, too: In 2015, A Blog to Watch found that the selling prices of Omega Speedmaster Professionals with tropical dials were 334 percent higher than those with plain black ones… More here.

Most of you must think that watch people are bonkers.

Time for a change

In 1913, Ariste Racine and his wife Emma Blatt started a watch manufacturing company in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. They named the brand ‘Enicar’. That’s right, that is ‘Racine’ spelled backwards. This seemingly small detail sparked my passion for the brand. Just look at the fantastic Saturn planet logo, the innovative and outspoken watch designs and the cool adverts and brochures. So much to like. There is enough to write a book about it.

And that is exactly what I’m doing, because it has not been done before. In fact, for a very long time, Enicar was more or less forgotten. In 1984, Enicar S.A. ended and all the archives were destroyed. But thanks to a small, but very enthusiastic Enicar collectors community, the brand is finally getting the attention it deserves… More here.

I never pledge on kickstarter, but I am tempted with this one.

1969 and watches

So many significant world events and developments occurred in the legendary year 1969 that Billy Joel could write a song simply by listing them — hell, he could probably even dedicate a verse to watches. This was the year that a race between several major watch brands (Zenith, Seiko, and a consortium of Heuer, Breitling, Dubois Dépraz, and Hamilton-Buren) to be first to bring an automatic chronograph movement to market culminated in iconic timepieces that people can’t stop talking about even today… More here.

If you are a watch nerd, like yours truly, you will know just how significant the watches listed in this article are.