When I first saw watches from London based Mr Jones brand I wrongly dismissed them as novelty quartz watches. I have recently re-evaluated this view, firstly I have come more to terms with quartz watches, Mr Jones also offer mechanical watches and finally I came across this interview.
I now must drop into their office one day to find out for myself what this other Mr Jones. I do actually pass by twice a day
I have had a quartz Citizen dive watch since the late eighties, to its credit it has done great service as an indestructible beach watch, that is until the year before last when it started to leak after I changed the battery. As a quartz watch I realised I did not love it, but I did have a grudging respect for its reliability and durability, I now miss its infallibility.
Since taking more interest in the world of watches I have clearly kept these opinion at the back of my mind, a reluctance to accept quartz watches. However after several reflective discussions with other members of the watch community I am now coming around, these watches are accurate and reliable which is all that many people look for in their watches.
One group of users for whom these attributes are important are the military. It probably has not escaped your notice that the British military are now longer issuing Rolexes, Omegas and other brands that now fall into the “luxury” category to their personnel. In particular the Royal Navy no longer gives out the super collectable Rolex Milisubs to their divers. Sometime in the eighties they changed to different British based suppliers in particular the Cabot Watch Company and Precista, CWC from what I understand being the largest supplier, I have not yet got to the bottom of who did what in which year. As well as being from different suppliers these watches also moved toward the use of quartz movements. Both CWC and Precista (Timefactors) now offer various versions of these watches on their websites.
This vague interest inevitably leads to e-bay browsing, which lead to the inevitable purchase of a Precista PRS18-Q, thinking, incorrectly, they were no longer available. One piece of advice, if you live in the UK, buying stuff from Australia can prove to be considerably more expensive than the purchase price, as there is VAT to pay and the consequent Royal Mail handling charge. You live and learn.
Anyway, the watch eventually arrives, my particular watch is a PRS18-Q from 2013. The first impressions are very positive, the two piece rubber strap being very comfortable, though the brushed steel finish and the height making the not really a formal “office” watch. My teenage son commenting that it looked like a “toy watch”, a comment I ignored. Despite not being an office watch I made the watch my “watch for the week” as I would for one of my usual reviews and of course immediately changed the strap to a grey nato, which seemed to be the most appropriate. I then hit on the optimal strap/Precista combination, a black MN strap from Erika’s Originals or as in the picture above the green version. Though given the current political climate maybe this is not the right time to mix up equipment of the Royal and French navies.
Wearing the watch for a week I rediscovered the utility of an “indestructible” dive watch. The first advantage being the ability to wear it on my cycle commute without fear of the constant vibration of London’s uneven streets damaging the mechanism. I could also time myself using the uni-directional bezel. Then the lume ! I have never had a watch with such a bright glow.
As I mentioned earlier I have discovered my watch is from 2013, so is a slightly different specification from the current PRS18-Q that now uses the Ronda 715Li quartz movement that gives a ten year battery life which still leaves me another four years before I would have to change it.
These are the other key specifications:
316L stainless steel, bead blasted
Diameter Bezel 39mm, 43.5mm across including crown
Lug to lug height 47.5mm
Lug spacing 20mm
Anti-magnetic 4800 A/m
WR 300 meters, double Viton ‘O’ ring seals on case back
So in conclusion, if you are looking for a tough reliable watch with an interesting back story this Precista is definitely worth considering, especially when you consider the current COSC version is on sale at a very reasonable £245. These are I assume these are attributes requested by the Royal Navy. On a final note I wrote to an old college friend who until recently been a Royal Navy diver to enquire about his watch experience/memories. He told me neither he or one of his ex-colleagues could remember their service watches, he had bought his own Tag Heuer… maybe watch people get a little to concerned about what is on our wrist.
In the absence of review watches I recently dedicated a little time to watch podcasts. Many of these tend to be american which despite often promising interesting content end up irritating me, so it was pleasantly surprised when I came across an interview with Mike Pearson, who recently returned to Bremont in the US.
The podcast in question is “Keeping Time” by Oster Watches, an independent jeweller from Denver, Colorado. I briefly met Mike at the first Bremont Townhouse event and enjoyed a short chat about the merits of bronze watches, so I understood he is an enthusiastic talker. During the podcast he gives a little of the insider’s view of Bremont and the enthusiasm of the founders Nick and Giles.
I really enjoyed the chatty style of this interview and it helped counter some of my Bremont cynicism.
You might have noticed that Bremont’s latest trio of watches developed together with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, The Broadsword, Arrow and Argonaut are chronometers, certified to ISO 3159 standard, not C.O.S.C. . Which I found very refreshing.
To my mind this has been a subtle way for the Swiss to maintain the perception of the superiority of their watch industry. Several British brands using Swiss movements are highlighting this certification, which I have always thought detracts a little from their British-ness, not in a negative way only in the way that we acknowledge the Swiss as the watch “authority”.
The term “chronometer” means that a watch has been certified to have a certain accuracy per day and is tested in a few different positions at a few different temperatures. While individual corporate and national chronometry certifications differ in details, the ISO 3159 is the baseline recognized by the 163 international members of the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization. ISO 3159:2009, the latest version, last was reviewed in 2015, and is described as follows:
The C.O.S.C. standard as you might have suspected is slightly more rigorous. Current standards for the COSC certificate entail passing the above evaluations while deviating by no more than -4/+6 seconds per 24 hours; achieving a mean variation in rates of two seconds; a maximum variation in rates not exceeding five seconds, a greatest variation (i.e. greatest individual positional deviation from the mean) in rates not exceeding 10 seconds, and thermally-induced deviation not to exceed +/-(.6) seconds. Additional conditions apply, but these are the principle guiding measures that underpin COSC certification.
Historically though there was a more rigorous standard, and it was from Britain., Kew “A” Certification. Watches tested at the Kew Observatory were given more strenuous testing and held to a higher standard than at the others as the Kew Observatory (a subsidiary of the Greenwich Observatory) was responsible for certifying marine chronometers before they were issued to the Royal Navy. While a standard Swiss chronometer test would last 15 days, the Kew test lasted 44 days. Any watch certified as an “A” chronometer from the Kew Observatory was known to be extremely accurate and robust in all positions in a wide range of temperatures.
So well done Bremont for not falling back on C.O.S.C. But, how cool would a British watch with Kew “A” certification be ?
The “big” horological event in London last week was probably the Bremont Townhouse; during which Bremont present their range, especially the new models to the public. This event, their third I think, has taken the place of a very expensive presence at BaselWorld.
This years event took place in a lovely Georgian building in Clerkenwell. The watches central to this year’s event was the three new military models. Bremont has always made much of their military connections but the three new watches are particular as they are the first presented as a collaboration between Bremont and the three arms of the British Armed Forces.
The core of the collaboration between Bremont and the military was the signing of an Armed Forces Covenant. The signing took place at Bremont’s Headquarters in Henley-on-Thames and is the first time an Armed Forces Covenant has been signed by any watch brand. Air Commodore John Wariner, Air Officer A6/A6 Force Commander based at High Wycombe signed on behalf of Defence to signify the start of a mutual relationship in support of Defence which will be further developed over time.
The collection ids made up of three watches, one for each service. The obviously “military” being the Broadsword (£2595) the “army” watch.
This watch is styled after the famous “Dirty Dozen” military watches of World War Two, which houses the chronometer rated BE-95-2AV automatic movement inside its two-piece 40mm hardened steel case as well as a sub-seconds hand at 6 o’clock. Multiple layers of luminous paint on the hands and dial complete the original specification for the British Army.
The “air force” watch is the Arrow.
The Bremont Arrow ( £3595) is a 42mm cased mono-pusher chronograph. The pusher at 2 o’clock on the two-piece hardened steel case will start, stop and reset the stopwatch on the chronometer rated BE-51AE automatic movement. The Arrow is aimed at the airman with its chronograph functionality, a necessity for any timed mission. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock is a running seconds, and the chronograph has elapsed minutes on the 3 o’clock counter.
Finally, the model for the navy is the Argonaut (£ 2795 ), a name inspired by Greek mythology and synonymous with Navy history having appeared on Commissioned ships for nearly 250 years. This e 42mm hardened steel-cased military dive watch, houses a three-handed chronometer rated BE-92AV automatic movement. The internal rotating bezel is operated by a crown at 4 o’clock.
Each of these watches feature a solid caseback featuring Her Majesty’s Armed Forces Heraldic Badges.
One design element strangely missing from these watches is the British MOD arrow sign, this being explained by the fact these watches are not issue watches but developed together with the armed forces. One other feature the watches in this collection miss, that has been integral to most Bremont until now, is the “Trip-Tik”; case construction, this was apparently to keep the cost reasonable.
Personally, I found these watches a little disappointing, especially that they have been produced to a price point. I would have liked something developed with the military to show a little of that over-engineering that military watches are known for. However, I applaud the English brothers for wanting to give something back to the world to which they owe much of their products marketing and design.
Well first of all for those of you that care I apologise for not posting for over a month. Unfortunately real life has been in the way, nothing serious just “admin”.
However whilst I have been away the world of British watches has not stood still, there is an increasing stream of interesting content to read, watch or listen to. In particular watch podcasts are appearing with increasing regularity.
One person that has already been the subject of a very listenable Time4apint podcast is Nicholas Bowman-Scargill of Fears. The latest Fears newsletter flagged another interview this time by the gentlemen of the Wrist Time podcast.
This is really worth a listen, Nicholas’s passion and enthusiasm really comes through, also that of interviewers. Be careful though, his sentiments are contagious, so you might finish the podcast with a strong need to buy one of his Brunswick watches.
I was very happy, after a couple of not too subtle hints, to be offered my second Schofield watch to review, the Daymark Dark. Unfortunately due to a lack of communication the watch sat in reception of my office for a few days.
However, on opening the outer packaging the first impression you get of this watch is a lovely smell of wood from the beautifully detailed wooden box.
Once out of the box and onto my wrist I expected the overwhelming impression to be “black” given the distinctive 44mm Schofield case, instead the first feature that really stood out were the “pink” anodised hardhats filled with Super Luminova C3 that sparkle above the number indices. Not in a blingy way, just making themselves playfully noticeable on what would otherwise be a more muted dial. A detail that I would not have expected from Schofield. Unfortunately, my iPhone photographic skills are such that I was not able to get a picture that demonstrates this surprising feature.
The Schofield case design is worth mentioning again, as it has now become so recognisable that there is really no need for further branding, probably realising this Schofield make you search the dial very closely until you “Schofield” find printed on the bottom edge of the chapter ring. Will they every make a watch with a different shaped case? There are still plenty of materials they have not used yet after all. Would a slightly smaller version work for female wrists ?
So, the Daymark Dark uses the same case dimensions as Schofield’s Signalman and the other members of the Markers range. Although it has been made from one piece of vapour-blasted stainless steel, the shine and sheen of the Daymark’s case have been replaced by the a Black ceramic coating. This ‘traditional matte’ coating is in the lowest band of gloss that is possible to attain by modern standards. In terms of scratch resistance it is, again, right at one end of the spectrum as it clocks in at a 9H in the Pencil Hardness Test which is the most scratch resistant that a coating can be rated. To give you an idea of the resistance, when sprayed continuously with water two and a half times as saline as seawater the ceramic coating was over ten times as resistant to corrosion as stainless steel.
As you would expect the Daymark Dark features the same tried and tested automatic movement as the first watch in the series, an ETA 2824, which is visible through the display case. Personally I am a huge fan of Schofield’s engraved case backs. Whilst it is interesting to see the automatic movement working, I feel it makes it look a little lost inside in the large case. I am sure Schofield would offer a solid caseback if requested.
Another Schofield feature present is the distinctive crown with nail notch milled into the case with a deep groove running around the circumference. These two details make it easy to pull the crown out. This groove also indicates the ‘affordance’, the action required of the crown, teeth to show rotation and the groove to show pulling in and out.
I reserve my last comments for the 24mm strap, as we expect beautifully made and held to the watch head with screwed bars. Whilst these provide a secure attachment they are super fiddly to undo. Luckily I do not have any other 24mm straps in my draw so I was not tempted to try the Daymark on anything else.
The Daymark Dark, makes a really nice addition to the growing Schofield range and as with the other watches, there are of course many ways to make these already ready distinctive pieces even more personal.
I am really looking forward to seeing the what variants on this cas Schofield come up with in 2019, and if they stick with the core design.
For those of you not on the Pinion mailing list I thought I should highlight the latest news from one of my favourite brands. The announcement of the latest version of the Atom.
I only know what I have read on the press releases. The new watch is the result of a Pinion asking enthusiasts and collectors what they would like to see in a new Atom. As a result I am pleased to see that Piers Berry, the Pinion founder and designer, has gone for a smaller 39mm case size and, despite the cost advantage offered by a Japanese movement, chosen a Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. He has come up with an individual looking modern tool watch, that clearly shows its Pinion DNA.
The watches will be produced in batches of 50 the first being available in February 2019 for £1050. The price will then increase to £1150.
So sign up for one quickly here on Pinion’s website
Personally, I am looking forward very much to seeing one of these watches in the steel.
This another brand that I have just discovered via Instagram. I would probably have ignored them when I first started this blog as they make a range of quartz watches. Experience has taught me that this recently is the start of many interesting young British brands, Elliot+Brown, Fears and Fare to name just a few. So let me introduce you to Maals watches.
The company was started by two brothers from Warwickshire, Mark Anthony and Andy Lee Sealey – MA + AL + S = Maals. Like many of us the brothers shared a passion for watches, Mark was even taught the basics of mechanical movements and repairs by an older neighbor from an early age.
They decided to take a chance and start their own company creating eye catching, high quality affordable watches that they themselves would be proud to have in their own collections. All of their watches are designed in the UK influenced by a love of all things design, Italian cars and 70’s classic watches.
For the moment they offer two versions of their “Jump over the moon” watch, one steel and one black PVD. They both share these specifications:
Japanese Miyota 6P24 quartz movement
Central second hand
Hour and minute discs
Domed silver sunburst dial
Domed mineral crystal with anti-reflective coating underside
42mm 316L brushed stainless steel case
5ATM water resistance
Curved steel snap-on caseback with exclusive etched artwork by Okse
Laser etched steel crown
Leather vintage style strap
12 month International warranty
The watches are available for pre-order on their website for £249.
So for me it could all have stopped here with two reasonably priced eye-catching watches. However remembering my premise that many new British companies have started with quartz movements I contacted the brothers to see if they had any plans to go mechanical. The good news is yes. They are working three/four designs.
So from what I can glean online this should be a brand to keep an eye on. Hopefully I will get to see a watch in the steel soon.