ANICORN × NASA

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Edition number (No. 1-60) of each watch will be marked on the watch movement and also a metal plate which is unique to this collaboration. The full package includes a mechanical timepiece with Cerakote Ceramic Coatings, white textile strap (with embroidery NASA worm logo + GPS coordinates of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida), NASA embroidered patch and a metal warranty plate. Sold out.

Not a bad price and a unique design. Hardly surprising it is sold out already.

APPLE WATCH SERIES 4 – FINAL THOUGHTS

I feel like a man in 2007 who doesn’t want to give up his basic Nokia phone. I can see the future coming and I don’t want to admit that one day I may need a smartphone.

The future will overtake me and I will own an iPhone or Android phone like everyone else and wonder why I ever thought my Nokia was enough for me.

I kind of feel this way about the Apple Watch. I can see a time when it could be essential, when it could be a product group that is viewed as an oddity if you do not have one strapped to your wrist. With time and the advance of technology it is conceivable that smartwatches will offer so many benefits that they becomes a must have item, and at that point they will also become fashionable and potentially luxurious.

It is hard to imagine at this time, that a device so small can be so essential, but open your mind just a little to consider the advancement of voice control, the miniaturisation of technology and the progression of power management, and it feels possible that the usefulness of such devices will outweigh the pleasure some of us get from mechanical timepieces.

Balancing gaining pleasure from a mechanical object against the sheer utility of a gadget is not easy because it is like comparing oranges and bricks, but with only two wrists and the propensity to cover just one of them at a time, something has to give.

While it is possible that a watch on one wrist and a smart device on the other could become normal, I suspect that will not happen. The inconvenient truth is that the smart one will make the elegant one feel redundant, even for those of us who love mechanical watches, and it will be a no-brainer for the rest of the population (98% minimum) who care little for watches.

There is, however, a difference between watches and phones, and history cannot be a completely accurate guide here. No one had emotional connections, not strong ones, to their basic mobile phones. There is no sense of real history, no passing down through the generations and thus they are automatically replaceable. You will never see a vintage Apple Watch that is valuable or that can even be used in the future, and at no point will one ever be seen as an emotional object which is kind of strange for something you wear.

I suspect that the Apple Watch, and the other smartwatches, have come along at the right time. In a moment when young people tell the time with their phones and when even many older people do not bother with a watch. The time is ripe for a new product category and those of us who love the tradition of mechanical watches are in the most minor of minorities.

Onto the Apple Watch itself.

I was hugely disappointed with the Series 4 at one point because of the battery, but that seems to have settled to the point that 45 minutes of charging per day will likely be enough to keep it running the rest of the time. It still irks me when compared to the likes of Fitbit and Garmin, but it is manageable.

The Series 4 is a huge improvement design-wise over the previous four models and that screen matters more than you may expect for making touch points feel natural and for displaying the information you require without the need to squint. The way it hugs the wrist has been improved a great deal with a flatter sensor at the bottom, the Series 3 sensor lifts the entire watch from the wrist, and a more consistent form throughout.

It is extremely fast, extremely convenient and for a variety of tasks could be considered essential. For runners who want music and podcasts on the move and who do not want to carry a phone with them, the cellular version will be close to perfect.

For those who are new to fitness and who do not realise that Fitbit and Garmin do a ‘much’ better job in this area it could help them become much more healthy. And for those who for whatever reason find the iPhone impractical to use when working, the notifications and basic interactivity will feel more than a little useful.

Apple has moved the Apple Watch up a huge notch with the Series 4 and it feels like the iPhone 4 to me. The sudden design change and extra usability will make it more appealing to more people, just like the iPhone 4 did, and look what followed. If the Apple Watch Series 4 is the iPhone 4 equivalent, I am very curious to see what the Apple Watch Series 10 will be.

For the moment, however, it is still not for me and for two reasons. Firstly my love for mechanical watches which may be on borrowed time and secondly the fact that the Fitbit Versa, Ionic and various Garmin smartwatches are more practical on a day to day level, mainly because of the battery life. They most certainly have their faults, of that there is no doubt, but they have been designed to give the user what they need without the requirement to charge it too often and to mess about making it work how they need it to.

I have moments of clarity where I just sit and think. Moments when I don’t want to be interrupted and just need to consider what happens next, and as silly as it sounds in those moments I like to look at my watch, play around with it and just enjoy it. The Apple Watch is not for those moments and it is not for people who want a zero hassle experience, and if they did want a smartwatch I would still have to recommend one that does not require a daily charge to get through the day.

Final Versa final thoughts and the future of smart watches and I need three wrists, and…

I didn’t expect the arrival of the Fitbit Versa to cause so many conflicting thoughts in my mind, but I am a fickle character so am left pondering much more than just a simple fitness tracker.

The Versa is a surprise to me and has proved to be a capable fitness tracker, a practical and stylish watch and one that is the first that has made me consider wearing a traditional watch. For me, it ticks almost every box in terms of fitness tracking and offering just enough flexibility to make it an interesting device that is worthy of playing just for the sake of it now and again.

There are problems in that the battery life is not great when using third party clock faces, but I am getting close to four days per charge when using a Fitbit clock face. Some of the setup is archaic including moving music to the device which I have not been able to do successfully yet, even with the help of Fitbit support. They need to work on certain areas which are way behind Apple’s implementation of such things, but there is no doubt in my mind that the Versa is a better smart watch than Apple’s offering, to me at least.

If I were not a watch guy I would be wearing this every day in preference to a simple timekeeper, but I have my father’s vintage Bulova which is a hard object to simply leave lying on a shelf. The rattle of the bracelet is the same one I heard as a child as is the hum of the movement. It is by far the most important material possession I own and yet logically the Versa fits my life as it is in 2018 better than the Bulova ever could. If it was 1970, when the Bulova was made, it would be a different story, but I am kind of enjoying having a free wrist and just one device that serves as tracker and watch.

It makes me understand that the world is changing in how watches are viewed and I would go as far as to say that watches can feel dated at times, which in many ways is what mechanical timepieces are supposed to feel like. It makes me understand that the future may, or likely will be, smart watches and not just watches and this is a difficult realisation.

I still want to wear my father’s Bulova, but I won’t wear two ‘watches’ because that just looks silly. I can get away with a Fitbit Charge 2 on my right wrist and the Bulova on my left wrist, and lets face it the Charge 2 does almost everything the Versa does but in a different way. The problem is that I am still wearing the Versa alone on my left wrist and the Bulova is still lying on the shelf. That’s how good the Versa is.

The new Helvetica Smartwatch

Eternally more interested in hyperbole and emotion than actual facts, Mondaine didn’t know by what margin, but the new watch is 40mm, compared to the 44mm of the original. In watches 4mm makes a huge difference, and this new model is noticeably less bulky. It’s also slimmer and lighter, making it much more comfortable to wear, and dare we say it, unisex… More at Wareable.

A very unusual approach to displaying notifications. Look closely at the dial and see the letters mixed in with the hour marking numbers. I do like the way Mondaine is progressing in this area with a conservative approach and it is the brand who has got closest to making a smartwatch feel like something you could treasure for a long time.

WAKMANN YACHTING

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Wakmann did numerous versions of this watch. With that said, this particular version, the blue dial with the Wakmann signature, is quite a rare watch. There’s also a very similar black version which is common and would often pop up on several marketplace. These were probably mass produced at some point around the late 60’s or early 70’s just as the quartz crisis is starting to set in. It has a chrome case which is indicative of a low cost alternative and might have even be one of the models that are affordable at the time. Affordable is a double edge sword in a way since not very many of them would survive in the future because of the materials used. That said, it is a perfect incredient for collectors because of its scarcity… More at Rue Watches.

Very difficult to find, but possibly the most perfect watch I have ever seen.

A Concise History Of The Smartwatch

The watches that had caught my attention were a Seiko wrist computer called MessageWatch and a prototype of a phone watch developed by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. in Japan that would ultimately be called Wristomo. “The ‘new quartz’ trend hasn’t gotten a lot of attention,” I wrote. “But the hunch here is that the new technology is an important, if under-reported story. My guess is that it marks the beginning of the fourth major market shift of the quartz era. Each of the first three was a major revolution which dramatically altered the watch market. Whether the new-technology trend develops into the fourth revolution is impossible to know, but it could.” More at Hodinkee.

Not the newest of articles, but some fascinating devices included.

The Nixie Brick

Even if you get your hands on one of those prized vintage Nixie clocks from the 1950s, its vintage appeal might not suit your modern style. A better option might be the Nixie Brick. It’s a retro-modern clock giving us minimalist and steampunk vibes at once! More at YD.

What a stunning design.

Longines HydroConquest (L3.742.4.96.6) review

Full specifications. Price £840.00

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.

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.

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.

Why no watches?

Watches just ain’t my thing, but I appreciate the interest in kind of a metaway (similarly I don’t indulge very often but find 420 jokes great and songs in praise of weed kind of great.)

So why not watches (for me)

1/ I worry if I wore a watch I’d be checking the time all the time.

I kind of like a more mellow relationship to knowing what time it is. I feel like if I wore a watch I’d be glancing at it too often.

2/ I think a watch with short sleeves looks odd

(I know Shaun thinks this one is absurd 🙂 )

3/ I guess my inner-child balks because it seems too grown up

This might be the biggest and most honest one. A big, metal-y watch and its life-partner “overloaded brown leather wallet bursting with dozens of cards” somehow represents a kind of grown-up masculinity, a kind of accepting of a middle aged responsibility, that isn’t me. To quote Tracy on the Drew Carey show “Ohhho, your inner child pretty much runs the place, huh?”

This view of what a watch “means” is super-subjective, and I recognize in a lot of ways doesn’t speak well of me, but at this point stumbling into my early-mid-40s, it is what it is and I am what I am.

(Oh so my wallet is always some paper/fiber based “mighty wallet” with a custom illustration or carefully chosen bit of artwork on it, very slim and breathable as it rides in my hip pocket, with as few cards as I can get away with.)

Maybe some of it is timing – pretty soon after college graduation (and lets face it school life has a clock in every classroom…) I got a PalmPilot, so was an early adopter of the “clunky rectangular pocket watch” club.

Kirk

Why watches?

I am often asked why I have such a fascination with mechanical watches and it is a difficult question to answer. It’s not like I am adversed to modern technology, as you well know, but there is something about a high quality watch that captures me on so many levels.

To answer the question of why watches are fascinating to me requires looking at all aspects of watch ownership and the multitude of reasons that attract such an object above all others to many men. Not being sexist, but it is a fact that when it comes to watch collecting men far outnumber women.

1/ Jewellery

For many men, a watch is the only jewellery they wear. I wear a wedding ring and a watch. The watch is on show all of the time and has to look right. I don’t tend to worry about clothes, brands and men products to keep me looking younger, but a watch feels like it has to suit me if that makes sense. When you only wear one item that can say something about you, it has to be the right item. Clothes can project all kinds of negative connotations; hipster, trying to look younger than you are, pretending to be athletic, wearing the wrong sizes etc etc. There are so many pitfalls when choosing what to wear and the sad fact is that it seems that the negative aspect of closing clothes is easier to hit than wearing them in such a way that others are impressed. With a watch, unless you wear something ridiculous, you are on safe ground and can express your personality in the subtlest of ways with ease.

2/ This is me

Related to the jewellery part, a watch is worn by many men to subconsciously project something about themselves to the outside world. It is common for a man, when he finally has the financial means, to buy a Rolex or an Omega simply because it represents to him that he has been successful in a material sense. For some, not all, there is also the desire to show others that they have been successful and an expensive watch is still an obvious way to do so.

And then there are the collectors who wear a watch purely for themselves. They may buy a Longines, an IWC, a Zenith or any one of a number of other high-end brands purely because they like the company behind the product and the way the watch is designed. They wear it because they enjoy the watch, but I suspect that there is a tiny part of every collector that considers what others will think when they see it on their wrist. Watches are an object that people look at when worn by others and there will always remain a highly focussed sense of how it looks to others when choosing what to put on your wrist.

3/ What it is

Again for collectors, what the watch actually is matters a lot. The higher you go, the more the finish matters and the history of the brand or particular watch names comes into play. However, nothing matters as much as what is going on inside the case and for this reason mechanical watches still remain supreme at the very high end and for many collectors. There are many collectable quartz watches, but the reality is that for many of us a watch that is not automatic or even better, hand wound, is somehow a lesser being.

When you can wear a small device on your wrist that requires no computer chips, no battery and which contains parts that will travel the equivalent of the circumference of the globe in a year, that is indeed a special thing. Over 200 parts in a tiny space that work independently is just so clever and the amount of refinement that has been added by the best watch brands is extraordinary.

For the majority, a watch is just something to tell the time and the smart watch does much more, and is thus potentially more interesting to them. This is why the current period is similar to the ‘quartz crisis’ of a few decades ago. For some of us though, the humble watch and all of the history that travels along with it will remain forever fascinating and something to treasure even if it becomes a niche object in the years to come.