Monday, December 13, 2004
Orsa Diver Review
I have always admired the look of military watches. They all seem to convey a simple form-follows-function image that is sorely lacking to my eye in many things today. No fancy engravings, artwork, or elaborate complications for only their own sake. No, a military watch just tells the time in a simple, albeit bombproof, manner. The subject of this review, the Orsa Diver, is a modern reproduction of a Royal Navy divers watch. It is also, incidentally, an exceptionally good value.
The Orsa is an extremely handsome timepiece in my opinion. The case is a big solid looking chunk of stainless steel with a thick ratcheting unidirectional stainless bezel that looks like it could deflect a bullet. ( The bezel on a diver should only rotate in a counterclockwise direction and its action should be firm. This is for safety, if the watch is bumped while underwater, the bezel will only move in such a way as to show a shortened dive time and thus prevent a diver from running out of air). In addition, the bezel has a bright lume marker built into it. The crystal is mineral glass ( alas no sapphire ) with a pair of strong looking guards around the stem. Orsa's come equipped with either a leather strap/deployment clasp combo or a nylon Nato style strap as my piece has. Both straps compliment the rugged, no-foolin, look that military watches all seem to have. The Orsa is rated at 200 meters water resistance which should be adaquate for most divers and the lume on its face, hands and bezel is both bright and long lasting. Internally, the watch is powered by a Ronda 515 Swiss quartz movement that exhibits the usual excellent accuracy and reliability that quality quartz movements are known for.
Orsa is a small company and it is perfectly understandable if you haven't heard of it. It is located in Canada and is run by Martin Berger, a watch enthusiast who apparently decided that he could do a better job. It was a pleasure to do business with him and he regularly posts and responds to feedback on the Poor Man's Watch Forum.
Everything you have read so far wouldn't mean much if the Orsa cost an arm and a leg. After all, there are plenty of expensive dive watches available. Thats where the great value part comes in, this model only runs $105.00. For a watch that almost exactly matched the specs of my Tag Heuer (the Tag has a sapphire crystal, that is the only significant engineering difference) for one fifth to one sixth the price, it is an excellent buy. Orsa's are available at the sales forum on the Poor Man's Watch Forum and on Martin Berger's ebay store. For both a serious diver or just for everyday knock-around wear, the ORSA Diver is a great choice.
Monday, December 06, 2004
I will start a new review in a while
Friday, December 03, 2004
Tag Heuer Review-Formula One (Corrected)
ETA F06-111 Movement. I had originally stated that this watch had an ETA 955.112. Now that I have a caseback tool that can open this one without scratching it, I can see for myself the truth. Still a good quartz movement, just not the one I thought.
Tag Heuer Formula One Review
This review will be a little different from the others I have done to date in that the subject is that modern evil, a quartz watch. If you have visited here before you probably know that I have a thing for watches. However, while I have owned various quartz watches through the years I can't honestly say that any of them left any impression on me. I guess that I simply never thought of a quartz regulated watch as anything special. My Tag Heuer, however, has changed my mind at least to some degree. Its not that there is anything remarkably unusual about its movement, it is an otherwise ordinary ETA F06-111. I have simply come to appreciate that quartz movements are technically interesting in their own way. I am not going to go into a long technical discussion about the history and engineering behind the quartz movement, but if you would like a good read, check out Prometheus Bound .
The Formula One is Tag Heuer's entry level model. Entry level, however, is a relative term when referring to popularly perceived upmarket brands like Tag Heuer among others. In the case of the Formula One, this amounts to a price that varies between $470 online (from a non-authorized dealer in most cases) to as much as $650 in a watch store like Tourneau. Irrespective of which retail channel one refers to, the price of admission is above impulse buy levels for most people.
The watch itself is really quite nice. It has a heavy stainless steel case with hard rubber or plastic bumper guards around the stem and on the other side of the case. The bracelet is excellent, very solidly made and not a "hair puller." The watch is rated as being 200 meters water resistant and has a sapphire crystal (the best type to ward off scratches) and a unidirectional rotating bezel (needed for serious diving). Like most quartz watches, accuracy is extremely good. Lastly, and this is obviously subjective, I think it looks very handsome, more so than its pictures would indicate I feel. (The watch is available in a variety of different colors-white, blue, red and black I believe.) This particular model is a re-issue of the original Tag Heuer Formula One. The most notable change that I can see is the bezel. The original issue used a plastic bezel, I believe, while the current model's is made more strongly of titanium coated steel.
From a purely practical standpoint, it is hard to call a watch in this price range a bargain or even a good buy. A big part of the reason that people purchase premium brand watches has to do with the image and style that they project. I don't think that there is anything wrong with that at all. Quite the contrary, at a certain point in most people's lives, I believe that it becomes necessary to project a self image of being conscientious, detail oriented and concerned about both your own time and that of others. A nice watch fits in well with this posture. That the watch in question is precise, rugged and attractive only adds to the appeal. If you are thinking of an initial foray into the high end watch market, or just want a good solidly made timepiece, give the Formula One a look.