Tag Archives: divers watch

Precista PRS18-Q

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:

Case

  • 316L stainless steel, bead blasted
  • Diameter Bezel 39mm, 43.5mm across including crown
  • Lug to lug height 47.5mm
  • Thickness 12.5mm
  • Lug spacing 20mm
  • Anti-magnetic 4800 A/m
  • WR 300 meters, double Viton ‘O’ ring seals on case back
  • 80 grammes without strap
  • Screw down crown, 120 click unidirectional bezel

Dial & Hands

  • Plain skeleton hands, luminous filled
  • Luminous: SuperLuminova C3
  • Semi-matte black
  • Hour markers & bezel triangle Super Luminova C3
  • 3mm thick sapphire, anti-reflective coating underside

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.

Christopher Ward – gosh

I thought Christopher Ward merit an honorable mention this week, they have recently announced some really nice looking watches which move them significantly away from the generic styles. The latest one to really catch my eye is this the C65 Trident Diver.

C65 Trident Diver – photo Chr. Ward

As you can see the look is vintage but I am not able to identify any particular watch as the inspiration, though I am sure there is someone out there that can.

This watch has  a useful casual but smart look, a diver that is not so “in your face” as the usual desk divers whilst retaining all the practicality. A cool trick.

The specifications are:

  • Diameter: 41mm
  • Height: 11.55mm
  • Weight: 65g
  • Calibre: Sellita SW210 (hand wound)
  • Case: 316L Stainless Steel
  • Water resistance: 15 ATM (150 metres)
  • Vibrations: 28,800 per hour (4 Hz)
  • Timing tolerance: +15/-15 seconds per day
  • Dial colour: Blue or Black
  • Lug to lug: 47.1mm
  • Strap width: 22mm
  • Leather or Rubber strap
  • Price €870

I would really like to see one for real. The only potential negative for me might be the 41mm case size, I am curious to see how it wears.

Here is the usual nice video from Christopher Ward

 

 

Christopher Ward – Trident GMT

For some reason I have steered slightly clear of Christopher Ward as a brand, I have not warmed completely to them. I think this might be because their positioning is based on a very commercial message, great value well made watches. I think I might have been doing them a disservice especially when you consider some of their recent launches.

Over the Christmas holidays I had the chance to see one of their watches for a little longer than the cursory trial at a show. My brother turned up with a Trident GMT on a “Bond” nato strap.

Trident GMT

 

Although this model is one of the many “homage” to the Rolex Submariner, hence the Bond strap, it does have enough design details that make it a little more individual. For starters the case is 42mm. Then there is the trident shaped second hand and the textured ( I am sure there is a technical description) finish on the dial. The final obvious difference  on this watch is the red second time zone hand.

Adding to the charm of this particular watch is the steel bezel and the old style Chr. Ward logo.

My brother tells me he bought this watch a few years ago in the sale,  duty free, so paid well below the £700 plus of the current model. For this he has a well made GMT tool watch which he says he uses when visiting “dodgy” countries, were his more normal wrist wear might attract the wrong sort of attention. Maybe I should start checking eBay.

Bamford Mayfair Watch

Bamford, the well known London based customisers of high end watches has for some time provided a “service watch” for their clients for use whilst their own watch is being worked on.

In two weeks they will make these watches available for sale.

Bamford Mayfair Range

The Bamford Mayfair range of watches are available in a number of combinations. From a choice in dial colour, bezel, coating and type of strap, you can choose a Bamford Mayfair to match your own taste.

The 40mm case will be made of military grade titanium. The movement will be a trusty Miyota calibre 2035.

For £425 you can look like you are having your Rolex customised.

Farer Acqua Compressor

Sometimes real life gets in the way of a blogger’s blogging. Last week I was invited to the launch of Farer’s new dive watch. As a fan of  both dive watches and British watch brands I was really looking forward to attending – then I was stuck in a conference in Brighton and could not attend – bother.

The Endeavour

The teaser photos on social media in the run up top the launch did not really give much of a clue to the final appearance. I think you will agree they have come up with a great looking watch. The Farer designers have managed to come up with a dive watch that does not follow the usual “submariner” direction. The look is individual whilst at the same time looking classic. The most similar design I can remember is the Longines Heritage Legend.

The Farer cushion case design was chosen for strength. Developed to allow the architecture of the Aqua Compressor system to work seamlessly within the water, it is carved out of a solid block of high-grade 316L stainless steel and finished with highly polished sides and case back, with a fine decorative edge lip cut into the case surrounding the bezel, creating a subtle contrast against the brushed top of the cushion case. The case is characteristic of Farer, dropping down at the lug for a more compact feel and superior comfort on the wrist.

The Aqua Compressor case has the key features of a classic Super-Compressor case design – twin crowns, screwed on case back, compressed O’ring gasket, internal rotating bezel. However the Farer Aqua Compressor design has evolved the specifications of the original system which was created when the water resistance of watches was a big challenge. With the progress of modern materials, they have gone through a whole series of developments to create a very compact but highly technically capable dive watch case. Now tried and tested to  modern standards to be taken to depths of 300m / 1000ft.

The Farer Aqua Compressor collection is powered by the Swiss-made ETA 2824-2 Elaboré Non-Date Movement. This is a rare piece from ETA, in that it features no date within the mechanics to make this 100% functional for the diver’s needs. A highly reliable, workhorse movement.

There is a screw down back case to hold the flat sapphire crystal exhibition glass, both utilising compressor gaskets to secure the water resistance and withstand the high pressures to 300m/1000ft.

The watch is available as one of three variants, each named after ships of the Royal Navy.

Endeavor
The Helca
The Leven

As well as the natural rubber strap the watches are supplied with a 316L Stainless Steel bracelet.

All this for £ 1095 – which looks a pretty reasonable price. I hope to get my hands on a physical  example of the watch soon. I think the Helga version is my current favourite.

 

Salon QP 2016 – Saturday

This event has now the highlight of my Grinidgetime calendar. It is an opportunity for me to meet in person many of the people I have been writing about over the year. Given the number of people that also want to meet these people I limit these meetings to a quick hello, just to put a face to Grinidgetime. Last year I managed to shake the hand of the great Roger Smith.  This year  there was at least his “Great Britain” watch.

Roger Smith - Great Britain
Roger Smith – Great Britain

Again, I have to mention I was disappointed that neither Meerson, Pinion or Schofield were exhibiting this year.  I was also disappointed that Farer did not have a stand, the brand caught me a little by surprise and I really like their new range of automatics.

Our first port of call was The Deep Time diver’s watch exhibition where I really enjoyed seeing an early Panerai, a Blancpain  Fifty Fathoms and an Eterna Kontiki  helps which remind us there are alternatives to Rolex Submariners. The first British stop was the Bremont stand, which disappointingly look identical to last year’s.  So I moved swiftly onto the first floor where  to see the Christopher Ward stand, this year featuring  Morgan three wheeler to highlight the relationship between the two companies. There was also  their star watchmaker Johannes Jahnke working away at a bench.

 Johannes Jahnke
Johannes Jahnke

Then up to the second floor where I almost literally bumped into Nicholas B-W of Fears Watches looking very pleased with himself. The show was going very well. Chatting with Nicholas he explained a little more to me about the philosophy of the brand. Apparently, he had been advised that the brands history would permit them to be much more upmarket. Nicholas explained that he thought this would be a betrayal of what the brand had been, good value watches with Swiss movements. He went on to explain that one key design feature of the Radcliff watch was legibility in the dark, interestingly having the date window is key in being able to orientate the watch.

My editorial assistant ( my just teenage son) was very impressed, He was even more impressed when Nicholas let him try on “watch No. 1”

#1 Redcliff + # 1 Son
#1 Redcliff + # 1 Son

The next stop was to say hello Toby Sutton to see how Dennison was going a year from their launch at last year’s Salon. He was wearing the material Denco53 with the French paratrooper strap which is a really great combination. This is the only picture I have managed to find, you must admit this strap looks made for this watch.

Next was Robert Loomes; I wanted to congratulate him on his talk the day before and of course to have a closer look at the new Stamford. I also had the pleasure of meeting his wife Robina, apparently the strategic mind of the couple. Robert was his usual enthusiastic self and was very pleased with the reception the watch had received at the show. It looks like he will be busy for sometime to come.

Our last “British” stop was to see the new “Portsmouth” at the Garrick stand. Here I had hoped to get some pictures of the watch, unfortunately exhibition cases and and an iPhone prevented this. So here is a picture from the Garrick website.

Garrick Portsmouth
Garrick Portsmouth

David Brailsford of Garrick was a another happy man. He told me sales at the show were going very well. They had sold out of there Regulator model and the Portsmouth was generating a great deal of interest despite the £17,995 price. So the Norfolk watchmaker is going to busy for sometime as well. Finally, I managed to resolve a doubt I had been harboring for a while, David confirmed to me that the watch was originally going to be called the Plymouth. Being Hampshire born I am much happier with this name.

So to sum up, another very enjoyable show this year. The best news being the great the great reception that the British brands exhibiting are receiving from everyone. Well done.

 

Hamtum – Kickstarter launch

Tomorrow, Hamtun Watches are a small Southampton, British based company, launches on Kickstarter on with a goal of £20,000 to begin production.The Hamtun H1, which has been in development just over a year.

The White dial Diver
The White dial Diver

As you can see from the image above the watch promises to be very handsome.

The watch was designed in Southampton, UK and is built in China at a specialist factory.

The British brand  aim to stand out In a sea of “me too” minimalistic Kickstarter watch campaigns, the aim was to build something that was both truly affordable and high quality. Something people would enjoy wearing, not something to wear for a short period and then dispose of.

The H1 is a custom designed 41mm diameter titanium dive watch. With the exception of the movement, everything is custom made to our designs and specifications.

As well as using high-grade titanium, they have  a matte ceramic bezel, 20ATM water resistance, a double domed sapphire crystal (with anti-reflective coating inside and out), and an option of a custom designed titanium bracelet or silicone strap. It’s available in 3 styles. My personal preference going to the more traditional die watch look – white.

The  interesting part is, they are planning to launch on Kickstarter tomorrow, Tuesday 27 September at 5pm BST/midday Eastern/9am Pacific, early backers being offered the chance to buy the watch  at $199. You can see a preview of their campaign now at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rossdavis/2033132819?token=7a9e8bd5 which looks like a great deal if the watch lives up to its promised high quality.

A further element I like is the their use of the Seiko NH35A automatic movement rather than the more usual, for Kickstarter brands, Swiss quartz movement. Many people still do not appreciate how tough and reliable Seiko movements are making them ideal for tool type watches.

I am certainly looking forward to seeing these watches in the “metal”.

Offshore Professional

On one of my browsing sessions I came across another British “micro-brand” that has escaped my notice up until now. Offshore Professionalb from Classic Chronographs Ltd whose stated aim is to build unique chronographs under the OFFSHORE Professional model name.

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These are the broad specifications:
  • 44 mm diameter (47.5 mm incl crown), 14.5 mm thick
  • Custom made triple complication 25 jewel Swiss Valjoux automatic movement with anti-magnetic key components
  • Movement manufactured to a customised top echelon grade with decorated and rhodium plated mainplates 
  • Day and Date display 
  • Hour, minute and 1/8 second chronograph
  • Layered shock resistance
  • Pressure rated to 10 ATM (300 ft water depth)
  • Suitable for any climate (tested in the arctic, tropics & middle east) 
  • 4 layer dial designed for maximum low-light and harsh-light visibility
  • C1 Super Luminova solid wafers in hour and minute hand
  • C3 Super Luminova hour markers on dial
  • No luminous markings on subdial or second hands for clear night time legibility of hour and minute hands
  • Silicon impregnated leather strap with rubber core and neoprene anti-sweat lining
  • 316L stainless steel multi-hinge deployment clasp with engraved Trident logo
  • 316L stainless steel bracelet with Trident logo deep engraved into a butterfly clasp
  • Both the bracelet and strap are included with each watch
  • Leather travel case suitable for up to 2 watches
  • 2 year Warranty & a Lifetime Guarantee
 There is a great description of this limits of this guarantee :
There isn’t much in day-to-day life that will destroy one of these watches. If you break a crown, button, sapphire crystal, damage the movement or do anything else from any reasonable level of accident (dropping onto a tiled floor for instance) over the first 2 years of ownership then just send it back and it will be repaired or replaced. Same goes for any water ingress provided you promise you didn’t push the chronograph buttons when swimming.
The warranty extends to the strap, clasp and bracelet. You can swim or shower with the leather strap as it is silicon impregnated to be more waterproof than your skin, but please remember not to apply any mosquito repellents containing high levels of DEET as they will dissolve the neoprene lining and leave a black stain on your wrist.
If you manage to break an OFFSHORE Professional Field Engineer through something not covered by the Warranty, like running over it with a car, then I will replace it at half the price of a new one. This is a lifetime guarantee (my lifetime as I don’t want to pass any liabilities onto my children) regardless of abuse, lack of servicing or number of owners. Failure analysis is a important part of engineering and from a dent or damage size, I can back calculate the impact energy that caused it and the energy levels that were absorbed or transmitted through each of the shock absorbing layers.
More information can be found at the company’s website www.classicchronographs.co.uk

Chr. Ward C60 Trident

Two days ago Christopher Ward announced a new version of their C60 the Pro 600.

c60-43-chr-sbbsi-b_1_nf

This is their description of the watch.

Built to the most exacting standards, the C60 Trident Chronograph is a watch created for diving professionals that even non-swimmers will covet.

The boldness of the deep navy and metallic yellow dial design catches the eye immediately and, upon closer inspection, it is easy to be impressed with the intricacies of what may be our most detailed dial to date. Worthy of special attention is the 60 seconds sub-dial which “breathes” via a rotating disc behind a cut-out display delivering ease of reading for the diver as well as a fascinating appeal for the more casual wearer.

The uni-directional ceramic bezel has been enhanced with the professional diver in mind by the addition of a full minute-track, and a better defined font for the numerals which are filled with high-grade SuperLuminova for outstanding luminosity.

Engineered to resist water at up to depths of 600 metres (2000 feet) the fluid contours of the Trident case, which also incorporates an automatic helium release valve, surround one of the most reliable and robust chronograph movements, the self-winding ETA Valjoux 7750. All told, therefore, this is a remarkable watch that signals another milestone in an unfolding story that positions Christopher Ward in the vanguard of British watch design.

The watch will be available early March.

Here is a nice dramatic video showing the watch off

Video Link

Scurfa – Diver One Watch

From what I have read these watches are the kind of watch a real working diver would use.
picture1
Having first been made for divers and support staff who were left without a watch when the value of their vintage rolex diving watches exploded leaving them the option of a large windfall or too self conscious of wearing such a valuable item in a hostile workplace, Paul Scurfield watch enthusiast and saturation diver tried to fill the void with a few affordable watches built to a high standard using the best materials.

Divers working in the North Sea are made up in teams of three and on any working dive you have a diver 1, diver 2 and the bellman, diver 1 controls the dive and diver 2 is there to make his job easier, the bellman tends the divers from the diving bell and the divers work in the water for a maximum six hours, a normal saturation diving system will house four teams of three divers covering the full twenty four hours of the working day stopping only for bad weather or crew changes, the work period for the divers is 28 days including decompression.

Unfortunately, if you go to the website Scurfa Watches

You’ll find all the watches are sold out.