Thursday, February 02, 2006

Trias Regulator Review




The subject of this review, the Trias Regulator, came to me second hand by way of a fellow member of the Poor Man's Watch Forum. With the exception of the strap, which is not original save for the clasp, the watch arrived in virtually new condition (it even still had the protective clear plastic sticker on the back). As such, I think that it fairly represents what a current model would be like for anyone else.

Trias is, apparently, a German company whose watches have generated a fair amount of buzz on a number of watch enthusiast forums. Some Trias models are powered by popular Swiss watch movements like the ETA 2824-2 automatic mechanism and the Unitas hand wound movement while others use movements that are made in China. The latter practice has led to Trias being labeled a "Germasian" brand as their watches say Germany on the face and case back but some of their movements come from Asia. According to one Trias re-seller, the watches have their final assembly and casing done in Germany but the individual components come from all over the world. This, it seems, is acceptable under German trade laws but has led some watch collectors to shun the brand for seeming inauthentic and misleading with its place of manufacture label. I'm not sure I would go that far as many watches use components sourced from other countries but Trias should be more forthright about its products (at the very least name the movement). All the more so in my mind as their watches are not junk at all and would probably be better received by enthusiasts if the details of their manufacture were better disclosed. It is not as though the "Made in China" label has hurt China's trade balance after all and I doubt that a quality watch at a good price would be criticized for it either.

On to the watch itself. This model is a regulator watch, of a style that is not terribly common these days but was at one time considered a good layout for a clock face. I have read that the design was originally meant to make seeing the individual hands easier. (see Timezone Jacques Lemans Review See also here and here) The polished stainless steel case measures 39mm in width (43mm with the crown), 11mm in thickness, 51mm lug to lug and 20mm in band lug width. The watch has a "coin edge" bezel design (which I admittedly find quite attractive) and the face appears to be made of engine turned metal (steel or brass perhaps). As is obvious, the watch has a three-face design arranged vertically as hours, minutes and seconds. The movement is, to my knowledge, a Chinese made Tianjin Seagull TS17 20 jewel automatic that hand winds but does not hack. The domed crystal and display back are made of mineral glass. The see-through display back gives a good view of the movement that is decorated both with Geneva stripes and a rotor engraved with the Trias name. Water resistance is rated at 5atm, and is thus probably not suitable for prolonged exposure to water. Overall, the Trias appears to be very well assembled and everything about it works perfectly. It is also reasonably accurate for a mechanical watch, gaining approximately 20 seconds a day for my example.

My thoughts about this watch are somewhat mixed. It appears to be a well-made watch that offers an upscale complication at a very low price. It is certainly one of the least expensive mechanical regulators available and given my budget, probably the closest I will ever get to one. The mixed aspect of Trias is that the company projects an image of pretentiousness that frankly seems absurd (I really don't think any watch company should behave in such a silly way, irrespective of their heritage and craftsmanship). The musical ebay listings complete with baroque chamber music and the excessive sprinklings of German words in supposedly English language ad copy are simply silly. They are also completely unneeded, the watch is really good enough to stand on its own without all the frills. (In fairness, not all Trias sellers do this. LongIslandWatch.com seems to be a class act in this regard. Their site is largely devoid of the excess that mars much of the other sales listings and they really seem to know the product well.) My final take on the Trias is simply this, look at this watch for the interesting timepiece that it is and ignore the bulk of the ebay marketing (among others) you see. Trias offers a great deal of watch for the money and that is really all that counts.

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