Saturday, 31 May 2014

Omega BaselWorld 2014 Novelties in Singapore ~ A Fine Meal With Fine Watches


thanks to the Omega team in Singapore for a great nite out. Good food, good wine, good company and some very nice pieces to showcase for 2014. this won't be a wordy post as i'll let the pics do most of the talkin. (also check out the 2013 shots here with better co-axial movement pics LINK)

early bird catches the seamaster! 
very nicely setup venue for our dinner
David Ponzo, our gracious host, introduced the pieces for the 2014 collection and took us 
through a presentation on Omega's interesting range and 2013/14 highlights. one of the pieces 
shown was a white dark side of the moon which looked pretty cool to me
as u know i love me some speedys but the highlight of the 2014 novelties was definitely 
the seamaster 1957... it's gorgeous! very nicely done "vintage" lume, a good size at 41mm
and it sits very comfortably... so much that it was difficult to pry it off my wrist ;) retail at S$8,550
the other piece was the two tone version with 18k sedna gold and steel. it is also very nice but 
costlier of course at list of S$16,300. same 4 years warranty with the co-axial anti-magnetic movement
>15,000 gauss... quite the achievement [note: it could be higher than 15k gauss but that is what the
measuring equipment for this kinda stuff can go up too]
i think i need to get me one of these ;) a very sweet piece... it has a sand-blasted ceramic dial 
and ceramic bezel with Liquidmetal diving scale
next up is the Speedy 45th Anniversary... limited to 1969 pieces. case made of sedna gold and titanium 

the Speedy box it comes in is really nice 

and has these great logo emblems on the front and on the inside
comes with loupe, spare velcro strap and strap changing tool
an interesting variant of the moonwatch in a cool brown, grey, rose gold color combination. priced at S$9,950
and finally a wrist shot with it's 1968 brother
next up is a piece that is real nice in the metal. the clous de paris dial and the domed dial and crystal come together 
very nicely. the elegant classy tresor deville master that comes in sedna gold

with the co-axial, anti-magnetic movement
and yellow gold. both at retail price of S$17,850... maybe offer it in steel soon perhaps? ;)
there were other pieces there of course and the ladies pluma range shown on the presentation looked real interesting but the 3 above were the highlights for me :) the pics that follow are random ones taken at the dinner event

first up movement in layers... 

and it looks like Omega is looking to sell NATO straps... these are going to be priced at the slightly higher end
the very heavy and fierce Seamaster Aqua Terra all in red gold glory (retail price is S$43,450)
that gorgeous emblem again... this is done so well on the watch box

and a food collage shot... some of the dishes were good but others not so
but most of the folks at this dinner weren't here for the food :)

and that's it for coverage of a fine watch dinner event. thanks once more to David, Pauline, Maria and Fiona for being such great hosts. cheers, raph

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Sign me up for Seikoholics Anonymous ;) Seiko 6309 7040 Turtle Diver Review

potent stuff... a very curvaceous cushion case beckons
in case you weren't certain or aware, i am very much in the seiko zone right now... i've had some of the good stuff and i wants more ;) and unbeknownst to my beloved wife i have purchased 4 seikos in these past 3 weeks... [waitamoment! ... ah she doesn't read the blog often methinks] the reason this is possible is because as earlier mentioned they are affordable and good, bang for buck watches BUT I AM signing up for Seikoholics Anonymous and putting myself on a program to get myself off this addiction... my friendly watch dealer has suggested a 3 step 'Buy Swiss Only' program but i heard it's a pretty expensive package ;) ok jokes aside. 

"doesn't mean u r a character... means u have character..." this watch has character in spades :) 
i had originally thought of modding it to a 6105 dial but i set that aside pretty quickly after admiring
it's original dial in all it's creamy lume goodness

there are already excellent resources out there on purchasing a 6309 7040 (a vintage-y or early diver from Seiko as it's not that old at about 30+ years) and i am not for reinventing the wheel so do check these out if you be keen to buy or just wanna read up more but i warn you this is a dangerous road to travel ;)  

  • A good reference on what to look out for and on different dial and case back variants LINK 
  • some buying pointers LINK
and uhm there's this post u r reading for some info on it and pics of course :)

How my watch came to me and what needs to be addressed on it
  • watch came to me in a tupperware not the usual watch box... a tupperware with freshness sealed inside hopefully? 
  • it came on a modern diver rubber strap and sadly with an aftermarket bezel insert wrong for this model. 
  • the movement is running well and keeping good time which is a big plus 
  • the main hope for me was to find something with as little aftermarket parts as possible and i managed to get a pretty decent one. the main issues are that it's been polished before so the original brushed finish pattern is gone and the bezel ain't right(lume pip protrudes and capped 10 and smaller dots). Everything else looks to be pretty spot on though.
some corrosion on the hands but it's 33 years old so some aging is expected
symmetric and the cushion case serves as a crown guard too 
and first sign of sadness... it's water resistance is zero metres. some water went into the case likely through the crown and got onto my dial. kinda interesting how the droplets pop onto the lume pips... this is one of the drawbacks of purchasing online i suppose. no water depth testing that will happen. but i got it cleaned up and will keep it away from h20 from now on. 

a watch with... dodgy water resistance :( 150m? more likely 150mm

my watch is from the last year of production of the first batch of 6309s which were made in Japan from 1976 to 1981. it has "JAPAN 6309 -704L T" on the dial and the Suwa symbol above the 6 o’clock marker as per the below pic. Suwa symbol means that it was made in the Suwa Seikosha factory(now Seiko Epson) in Japan. Suwa is the name of the city the factory is at in Nagano, Japan. the next batch were made in Singapore and then other countries.

crisp clean printed dial... 150m with Suwa symbol below it in nice silver print

Based on case back serial of 125876, it's from 1981 February as the 1st number is the year of manufacture looking at which decades the watch was made and second number is the month of manufacture. when it hits October, November and December, the 2nd digit is O, N, D respectively. Japan A denoting it's from the Japan factory and the Suwa symbol after


17Jewels 21,600bph non-hand winding non-hacking as negatives
movement is in reasonable shape overall... 

Some quick notes

  • Manufactured from 1976 to 1988 
  • Diameter: 44mm Height: 13mm 
  • Lug width: 22mm 
  • stainless steel cushion case with screw down crown 
  • non-manual winding auto movement, which means you got to get the rotor going for it to power up and start running(note: this is pretty easily done depending on the condition of your watch) and non-hacking(seconds hand does not stop when you put it to time setting) 
  • Quick set day date which is always good to have
  • 60 click bi-directional bezel
Water resistance symbols on your Seiko caseback and what it means


image above from seiko website

and though the higher depth symbols looks like it was inspired from it, there's no direct link of it to the Great Wave off Kanagawa which is also not a wood block print of a tsunami(iirc) but of a great wave but people make whatever associations they like and that's fine by me


Fuji-san and the people about to be swept away? the horror...(note this is a very easy clue to my next Seiko... well easy for film buffs and Seikoholics ;)
and since we are talking about associations... this watch was a very widely sold and popular model in the 70s and 80s and has appeared on the wrist of a rather popular English gentlemen who has been knighted for his services to music... u may have heard of him... Sir Michael Phillip Jagger.

i can't get noooo satisfaction... pic from early 80s with Jerry Hall
Do note that wearing the same watch as Mick once wore does not mean you 
get magicked away to the 70s and become the frontman for the Stones ;)

and it was right to be on the wrist of Ed Harris in The Abyss... although he definitely went past the recommended 150m depth rating in the moviePhotobucket
(above screengrab done by me. his uhm other hand was fishing a wedding ring foolishly thrown in a latrine :)

and on my wrist after it's cleanup from the watery lume dot crises :) 

and a last shot... if u didn't already notice it, i'm lovin the quick change of look with the nato strap changes


and to conclude... Seiko has many great propositions new or not so new or vintage-y below the S$1k mark so do check out what's there and see if anything calls out to you out of a very wide selection. 

once it passes 1k though, you've got to think a bit more about where it stands vs other possible choices as it goes up to the 2k, 4k mark and above. I know there are folks into the marine masters(SBDX001 SBDX003 etc) and tunas and the Grand Seikos but once you cross certain price thresholds, there will be other marques to consider(or that you could save up a little bit more to attain) as well which may tick your boxes for the next target so of course choose wisely. and that's it... for now ;) hagwe. cheers, raph

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Seiko SNZH57 J1, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and the Fifty Five Fathoms ( FFF ) Review

in the mood for some French(inspired) creations
One thing that i won't wear is a replica which is a direct copy or ripoff of an existing timepiece. think of the knockoffs which say 'Rolex' on the dial but are really crappy watches that never saw the inside of a Rolex factory. for some reason Thailand comes to mind ;) anyways, homages though, are a more tricky area.

Homages made by the folks who own the design (vs folks who uhm don't own it)

A reissue is a new issue of an old watch model that was out of production per my definition. The reissue copies the look of the old watch near exactly and can have faux patina'ed tritium looking lume(Eg Basel 2014 Omega Seamaster) or it can be updated eg normal white lume(eg pre-Basel 2014 Omega Speedmaster Mark II) with just the slightest variations/updates in design. 

Panerai riding on straight reissues and Rojak homages(bits here bits there and voila... A NEW MODEL!)... milkin it... 
A Smart Homage done by an established brand even though they could have done a blatant copy of their past Sub model, was Tudor with the Black Bay Heritage. that was done really well impo and which is why i am happy to own it vs a questionable vintage Tudor/Rolex sub (although, i do get the tritium itch at times) 
Homage watches not from the brand that owns the design though are a different story. there is a line that is drawn and it differs from person to person, be they a hard core collector or budding enthusiast or folks with no interest in timepieces. where do i draw the line then?

raph's take on homages. Category: 

1. Blatant copies - Wholesale ripping off a design of a more established brand/model and plastering their own brand on the dial or removing the brand(i.e. a sterile dial). stuff in this range isn't for me but i know many who justify it with the "well i'm not forking over a couple of thousand or tens of thousands for the genuine article but i do like it's looks, so i'll get this 'homage'. It's NOT a replica." uhm just changing/removing the brand on the dial and everything else stays the same... it kinda is. an easy measure is, how much creativity or innovation went into making it look the way it is? for these, its a big fat ZERO. some design changes due to manufacturing constraints don't count yuh :) 

2. Middle of the road homages - Large % ripoffs of designs, slight tweaks to probably just slink past copyright issues (if the design rights haven't lapsed), to make even folks who know watches think it may be from that particular brand. 

not talking about folks who don't care what's on your wrist(which are the majority of folks out there) but those who are enthusiasts/collectors who know somethin about watches beyond a handful of brands. 
____________the line (which differs person to person)___________

3. Smart homages - Influenced by single/multiple past designs(note: a LOT of watch designs have come before), slight inflections and design tweaks across them and differences significant enough to justify that they aren't direct or close copies and are therefore acceptable. [of course the definitions of the terms above range from person to person] a measure here is that some real ideas/innovation/creativity went into making them.

In terms of the line then, think Star Wars and the stolen code and Piett's reply to Vader " checks out. I was about to clear them." so the smart homages can be cleared and can go onto Endor but the icky ones, [category 1 above] kinda deserve to be blown up like the death star ;)  "search your feelings... you know it to be true..."

& we come to a smart homage of the Blancpain 50 Fathoms vintage models 
The base of this watch is a cool Seiko, the SNZH57, a good quality low cost mechanical watch with some design cues from the vintage Blancpain 50 fathoms range and to other dive watch models from other brands... but on the whole different enough from what those watches are. 

the very definition of affordable and good... seiko snzh57. wonderful hardlex crystal over the dial AND bezel... 
crystal is also domed for some great distortion at different angles
value for money movement

Some smart folks on a Polish watch forum saw the potential though and designed this dial with a 54 fathoms on it... later versions changed to 55 fathoms. so with just a dial change they made the watch, look to my eyes, a WHOLE lot better looking and a smart homage because again it doesn't copy any model blatantly or too significantly in that range. 

Additional note: This particular vintage style fff dial came out in 2010 and it was very popular in forums in 2011, infecting one after another. It spawned the modern styled Fifty Five Fathom dials in 2011 as well which i will talk more about in time. When those first came out it was a group order thing on the watch forums but then they became more or less readily available after more stocks were ordered and most of the forummer's appetites for these dials were sated.

Now Blancpain has A LOT of fifty fathoms models(originally made for the French Navy a long time back), a great reference for the history of the blancpain 50 fathoms models can be found here LINK and for all the current range look at blancpain's site of course LINK 

vintage with the 12, 3, 6, 9 dial and the distinctive diamond, 15, 30, 45 bezel markings which 
has been carried forward to a large degree to their modern range
standard modern version.. the red tip hand is prevalent on most(all?) 
of the modern range
the only modern dial with the dots and diamond shaped 12' o'clock marker
which has the 'no radiation' symbol and text
what you will find is that this 55 Fathoms dial is not exactly the same as any of the old to current dials BUT it does copy several design cues from the 50 Fathoms and throws in it's own stuff. Original stuff like the 2 line text on the lower half of the dial(different fonts) with the red 55, the crosshairs across the front of the dial... some thought definitely went into it's creation.  

Baron Munchausen to 3 ladies(Uma being one of em ;):  You so remind me of Catherine the Great, empress of all the Russias, whose hand in marriage I once had the honor to decline."
Desmond: They all remind you? 
Baron Munchausen: Yes, why not!? Bits here, bits there

a look at the dial when it first arrived... with this dial you lose the day and date display yuh. 
there are similar versions of this dial out there which have the date window
people who know the modern range would not mistake this for the modern tribute watch(per the earlier pic above) which it most closely resembles from the modern range coz of the obvious lack of the not possible to miss 'no radiation' logo and this is clearly not a vintage watch with its modern lume markers and freshness. 

people who are into the vintage range are likely afficionados, collectors, etc who would know of the seiko FFF and other homages, of which there are many. it's also easy to learn of them when you google about the 50 fathoms (and would probably know of more blatant copies of them) & know it's a seiko with a healthy dose of Blancpain 50 fathoms design mojo. 

why 55 fathoms on the dial? my take on 2 reasons for it: (1) because it is a seiko 5 so 50+5 = 55 
(2) in terms of stated water resistance on the seiko it's 100m or 54.68 fathoms
(1 fathom=1.8288m) and rounded up that's 55 fathoms baby ;)
the people who may possibly mistake it for a blancpain then are the teeming unwashed masses(of which you aren't because you are on this blog and you have read up to this point of the post ;) kidding yuh), and collectors/folks who don't care much about blancpain 50 fathoms range(this was me in the past) or even what watch another guy out there is wearing. 

so to someone who doesn't know timepieces, it may look like some variant of the 50 fathoms, but to someone who doesn't know timepieces, a MB&F may look like a $5k watch ;) for me personally, i'm proud it's a sub-US$150 seiko with a nicely designed US$35 dial and after a US$30 service and strap change... it looketh amazing 

OR you could just put it down to cognitive dissonance and me justifying my purchase of this yuh :) whatever the case, determine for yourself where you draw the line and enjoy whatever you choose to buy. 

to my eyes though, and this is personal taste thing, i think the looks of this FFF is better than many of the 
modern range of the fifty fathoms and their tribute watch... and that's saying something

it benefits of course from the very nice case from the seiko with polished sides and brush finished lugs 
and that bezel is a beaut :)
some specs:
  • Diameter: 41mm without crown and 43mm with
  • Height: ~13-14mm
  • Lug width: 22mm
  • stainless steel case
  • 7s36C auto movement - no manual winding which means you got to get the rotor going for it to power up(note: this is very easily done yuh) and non-hacking(seconds hand does not stop when you put it to time setting) auto movement
  • hardlex crystal over the dial and bezel and case back
  • 120 click uni-directional bezel
  • for the J1 version vs the K1 version, there's made in Japan on the dial and on the rotor and Japan noted on the hardlex case back and on the movement (seen below pic)
  • Note, this model comes in a number of different variants: 
    • SNZH60 - Black dial and black bezel with gold accents on a gold plated case 
    • SNZH55 - Black dial and bezel on steel
    • SNZH53 - Blue dial and bezel on steel
    • SNZH51 - White dial, black bezel on steel
    • SNZH59 - Black dial and black bezel grey accents on black gun metal case 
Some negatives amidst this glowing review:
  • no screw down crown so i don't suggest you go diving with this. swimming pools and the shower should be safe :)
  • as noted above, non-manual winding(gotta shake the rotor to power it up) and non-hacking movement
  • and that's it i think

did i mention it glows? superluminova away :) 

how to put it altogether: 
  1. get the watch - ebay or seiko authorised dealers. Made in Japan (J1) model should be in the S$200+ range. the K1 model probably $10-30 less which kinda negates the need to get that instead of made(or assembled) in Japan goodness. You can check with K2(contact below) if he has it as he had one when i was there to do this dial swap
  2. get the dial - 2 versions of this dial type available, one from yobokies(with an 'automatic' word in red - you can google 'yobokies' to get to his photobucket account) and the one i prefer and bought which is from dagaz LINK 
  3. go to a watch servicer/repairer to swap the dial out - i personally recommend k2 watch co at tanjong katong complex. Mr Goh is a friendly and knowledgeable chap who has been in this business for ages. 
Total Damage ~ should be below US$300 but prices may rise with time

Recommended Seiko seller/servicer/modder ;)
  • K2 Watch Company run by Mr Goh since 1982 (30+ years... It's a local horological institution ;) he sells seikos too and can deal in 2nd hand pieces
  • Add: 845 Geylang Road, #03-K1 Tanjong Katong Complex, Singapore 400845
  • Tel : 67460270 
  • Opening Hours: Weekdays and Satday 2-9pm, sun: 3-7pm, public hol: best to call to check if he'll be open
iPhone pic while he assessed what other watches I should buy since i was there ;)

the macarons didn't last long as props... quickly consumed after the pic was taken
And on the wrist... it holds up very well
  • the hands lume is stronger than the dial lume so under strong light sources(eg. the sun) it looks greener overall for a non-matching lume dial & hands set... both look the same white under normal lighting. 
  • good presence and gotta be careful not to knock it around coz of height and bezel size. 
  • overall a pleasure to wear... and uhm no one commented on it but that is cause i am typically surrounded by folks who generally don't care much about watches and what adorns a man's or woman's wrist :) 

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