Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Monday, November 22, 2004
The watch itself is fairly typical of the Seiko 5 line. It is 38mm in size including the crown, uses an 18mm bracelet, has a strong looking stainless steel case, and uses Seiko's Hardlex mineral glass crystals for both the face and display back. Hardlex is apparently Seiko's improved version of mineral glass, supposedly more scratch resistant but not as much so as the sapphire crystals used in high end watches. The watch is marked water resistant but no depth rating is given (I have read conflicting accounts of Seiko's without depth ratings as being either thirty or fifty meters water resistant). Irrespective, the Seiko 5 line does not come equipped with diver style screw-down crowns so one already knows that deep water is out. In the absence of a clear water resistance guide, I am treating this watch carefully by not immersing it for any length of time where possible. As I mentioned, this watch has a display back, a nice feature that allows viewing of the movement. The movement itself has a plain, industrial look about it, but it is still interesting to see. Otherwise, the watch is quite basic although it does show both the day and date.
In the final analysis, there is nothing truly exceptional about the Seiko 5. To a great degree I think that is the point of this line. It is not meant as a technology or style showcase but instead as a hard working daily-wear timepiece. As such, it does have certain limitations. First off, The Seiko 5 line can neither be hacked or hand wound. If you are the type of person who likes to set your watches to exact nuclear time and measure their accuracy, the Seiko 5 isn’t for you. Similarly, if hand winding is important, as opposed to letting the automatic winder do its work as you wear the watch, look elsewhere. Personally I consider these to be minor quibbles, especially in an automatic watch at this price range, but some may feel differently. The other issue for me with this watch was the bracelet. The stock Seiko 5 bracelet is made from stainless steel that is either rolled or folded over on to itself. I am not personally enamored of this bracelet design. Don’t get me wrong, the band holds the watch securely and looks just fine, but it has a tinny feel to it that I felt detracted somewhat from the watch. It isn’t awful at all, again considering how affordable this watch is, but I thought it could be better. Like the earlier reviewed Sandoz, I solved this issue for myself by replacing the standard bracelet with a heavy, solid link model from Hadley Roma (Watchprince has a good selection). Even with the replacement band, this watch still comes in at less than a hundred dollars and that is a very good deal indeed. With the solid link bracelet, it is easy to confuse this humble workhorse with some very fancy timepieces.
If you are seeking a good watch, and don’t ever want to deal with the hassle of changing batteries, a Seiko 5 is a fine choice. It is well made, good looking (I have jokingly referred to mine as a poor man’s Rolex Explorer), and reasonably accurate as mechanical watches go. It is also reputed to be very durable. While I can not personally vouch for this, I have encountered numerous claims that the movement in the Seiko 5 (known as the 7S26-click for an excellent review by the Purists) will run with no maintenance at all for as long as twenty years. Most automatic watches need cleaning and lubrication every few years to operate properly. That the Seiko 5 can go potentially for decades without a care is just icing on the cake, so to speak.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Friday, November 19, 2004
Another wireless Treo 600 post.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Sandoz Diver Review
I like watches. I like the way they look and feel and I like seeing them work. I especially like getting an exceptional value in a watch. That is what this review is about, an exceptional value called the Sandoz Diver. You've never heard of Sandoz you say, well neither had I until recently. They are a Swiss company (as far as I can tell) that produces an interesting line of both Swiss made and Swiss sourced (movements made by the Swiss but overall assembly elsewhere) watches. What makes them interesting is that they offer a feature set that is consistent with watches that cost many times what Sandoz models sell for. This review is not going to be a comprehensive teardown along the lines of Reto Castellazzi's, see: Reto's Review
but more of the general impressions of an ordinary user. (By the way, Reto is one of the good guys in the watch world. If you are looking for a good deal and don't want to worry about being scammed, Reto is the person to deal with. Also, if you like watches in general, head over the the Poor Man's Watch Forum. They are a great bunch of folks.)
The Sandoz Diver is a 40mm diver style watch that is generally similar in outer design to the Rolex submariner models. It is not a fake Rolex or even a copy, however, but is more simply an ode to the fancier and better known diver models of the watch industry. It comes equipped with an oyster style bracelet(more about this later), a unidirectional stainless steel bezel(important for real diving-if the bezel is jarred it can only move counterclockwise and thus shorten dive time for the sake of safety), a mineral crystal with a cyclops magnifier and a heavily built stainless steel case. Several different face colors are available, mine is a deep metallic blue. The watch is rated at 100 meters water resistance (it is not a true diver in this sense as most divers are good for at least 150 meters) which should be good enough for swimming and short dives. What sets the Sandoz apart from many run of the mill watches is its movement. It uses an ETA 2836-2. This is a Swiss 25 jewel automatic movement made by ETA, a major supplier of Swiss watch movements. The list of companies that use ETA components is very long and includes a lot of a-list players in the watch industry. That a sub $200 watch would be so equipped is very encouraging.
There are plenty of cheap consumer goods in this world. Most of them scream at you, and everyone around you, just how cheap they are. The Sandoz Diver is not like that. It doesn't cost much but it feels (and I know how subjective that is) just better and richer, for lack of a better way of putting it, then its price would imply. It is akin to finding a leather wallet in a local accessories store that rivals the look and build quality of Ghurka or Coach. The only change that I made to my Sandoz was to replace the bracelet. I did not do so because there was anything wrong with the stock oyster style bracelet. It is a nice solid link design (most low priced watches typically have a hollow link or folded steel bracelet that tends to rattle in my opinion) and is reasonably thick and solid feeling. I, however, have a personal penchant for a heavy watch band and thus replaced the original Sandoz bracelet with a pilot style one from watchprince.com (an excellent source for watch accessories by the way). Don't take it as criticism of the original bracelet, it isn't meant as such.
In conclusion, if you want to get your feet wet, so to speak, with a new automatic watch but don't want to drop a small fortune on one, you can't go wrong with a Sandoz Diver. They are available at The Poor Man's Watch Corner , and are often seen on ebay.
Update-Some of the added pictures above show the Sandoz with the cyclops removed. It didn't fall off, I had it removed intentionally. I just like the look better.