Seiko Orange Monster – bracelet review

Posted by Harry Bishop on Oct 31st, 2008
2008
Oct 31

It’s Halloween, so I have to write about something orange, right? :-)



I’d already posted a few months ago on adding an Orange Monster to my collection this summer. I’ve enjoyed the watch, but part of the reason I acquired this particular one, was to get an example of the oft-talked-about and respected Monster stainless diver’s bracelet. It’s spoken about as one of the best diver’s bracelets on anything below the cost of a Rolex.

So, what feedback can I share after this time?

First, it’s obviously high quality. It’s heavy, due to solid links. It’s got a double-locking clasp. The look is professional and (for a diver’s watch) classic.

There is also a hidden diver’s extension. It’s a bit of a pain to open, and when you do you can’t help but notice that both it and the inside clasp are thinner pressed metal, which look out of place compared to the solidity and quality of the rest of the bracelet. Here are some pictures from the Poor Man’s Watch Forum (PMWF) that show the solidity of the bracelet plus these little hidden parts.

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Don’t misunderstand my statement about quality – for the price I can see that it’s the best I’ve experienced. I really like the micro-ratcheting diver’s extension on a Rolex, but that’s a very different price point, and you don’t see these hidden parts when it’s on your wrist. And let’s be honest, how many of us who buy Seiko Monsters actually dive with them? :-)

So what’s my bottom line? First I have to mention two things that may not be obvious. First, the bracelet does not stand out looks-wise. Sure it’s solid, and classic looking. But I find that wearing this bracelet on the OM diminishes it’s distinctiveness. I actually prefer wearing my 7S36 based SNZD77 on stainless over this one.



My second non-obvious finding is an annoyance. I mentioned the double-locking clasp, and the hidden extension. All of this takes up space … when closed the clasp portion of the bracelet totals approximately 60 mm – almost 2 1/2 inches.

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My wrist is not that small at 7 1/2 inches, but for me that’s a third of my total wrist circumference! Even though this part of the bracelet is rounded not flat, it still has a problem wrapping about my wrist properly. What this means is that when wearing the watch, if I flex my wrist too much, the second part of the clasp lock pops open.I’ve checked and it locks down quite solidly, but even so it pops open several times a day. I can’t see how this will do a good job fitting any but larger wrist sizes without problems.

So the bottom line is that it’s high-quality, but too “average” looking on the wrist, and has problems fitting even mid-sized wrists. It just doesn’t do it for me, and I’ll probably switch my OM over to a Z22 Seiko rubber bracelet instead.

US to Canada shipping – UPS hidden fees

Posted by Harry Bishop on Oct 30th, 2008
2008
Oct 30

A quick note about something that continues to irk me. I purchased something from an online vendor last month for $19. They were located in the US (the item wasn’t available at stores here), so I had to pay $17 for “international shipping” with the appropriate statement that I’d be responsible for any taxes and duty.

No problem, all good so far. So I’d pay about $2.50 in Federal and Provincial sales taxes. Normal stuff, and it’s what would happen if I purchased in a local store here. Sure shipping was higher than the listed $6 for shipping within the US, but they had to deal with the border, so that seemed reasonable.

Then I found out when the shipment arrived that they’d used UPS.

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I’ve had this happen every time I’ve received a shipment from the US with this courier company … a little $29.95 US “brokerage handling fee”.

That’s right, they billed me an additional $30 as a cost to charge me $2.50 in taxes. Please bend here sir.

I’ve seen this complained about so many times in various blogs and other WOM media, but unfortunately buyers almost always never know about it for a particular purchase until after the fact. It’ might make sense if they have to figure out duty on a $400 item, but the first time I had this happen was for a $9 shipment.

It would be one thing if they stated this clearly up front, but what actually happens is you choose to pay extra for special “international” shipping rates, thinking that the extra fees cover what they have to do, then you get charged again. And it’s usually COD so you have to pay to get your shipment.

What. A. Hidden. Rip. Off.

I’ve stopped using UPS for corporate shipments at my firm because of this. And I’ll never knowingly use them for personal purchases through eBay or other online vendors. With USPS at least you get what you pay for … you can choose extra-cost options like quick shipment, insurance, etc and there are no surprise fees at the end.

Hopefully this will be of use to you .. if you choose to use UPS, just realize there are extra COD costs at the end, and make your own decision based on that.

Seiko SNH029 (caliber 4225) – review

Posted by Harry Bishop on Oct 29th, 2008
2008
Oct 29

This newer arrival deserves a review, of my findings and feelings after wearing it off and on this last month.

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As in the last post, images are from eBay vendors as their pictures are better than mine. There’s actually a specific reason for this, rather than just my picture-taking ability, which I’ll talk about in this review

First impressions were that the watch was a bit too small for me, at 35mm excluding crown and 38 mm including crown it’s certainly a lot smaller than most watches I wear. However I was pleasantly surprised actually wearing it, it didn’t wear quite as small as I expected, and I found it quite comfortable and good looking on the wrist. The size actually picked up some of it’s design cues and contributed to a more elegant look than I expected. That perspective was repeated by other people who saw the watch on my wrist, both WIS and non-watch individuals.

I like the bracelet – despite being lighter it doesn’t look cheap. It matches the look of the watch well and is quite comfortable.

The onion-dome crown is a nice look – a bit more picky to pull out and set, but not as much as I expected, and a nice change from the normal Seiko 7S26 “workman”crowns.

The red and black combination work well also. The black date dial helps the design look good overall, but it’s trading off looks for usability, making it more difficult to tell the date by glancing at the watch – I found I had to squint to read the date, compared to most of my watches with a date window. The globe lines on the dial weren’t a big hit with me however. The simple hands looked better than they did in a picture. All in all, I was very pleased with the look, it worked better than I had expected.

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So getting back to the pictures, why aren’t mine that good? The reason is the one big negative I have with this watch, which is the crystal. It’s a domed crystal, which I really like, but it’s acrylic. Looking at it from the side, or in bright light, it’s got a “milky” look that detracts from my enjoyment of the watch, it makes it look like the crystal is really dirty and needs to be cleaned. So I’m sure the eBay vendors selling this watch had some good lighting setups in order to get this pictures without having a filmy looking dial

If this watch had a mineral crystal I would be wearing it a lot, I really like it other than that one issue. I’m not sure why it doesn’t … despite the somewhat upscale look and movement, it’s pricing would seem to indicate it’s the lower end of the Seiko lines. Other than the crystal however, it certainly does not seem like that, it looks and wears like a more expensive watch.

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Let’s finish by talking about the movement. The 4225 is a very small automatic caliber compared to what I’m used to in current Seiko lineups – according to posts on the Seiko & Citizen Forum it’s only 17 mm wide, compared to 27 mm for a 7S26. That’s an amazing 37% reduction in caliber size! I’m not sure if this movement was initially designed for smaller Asian dress watches for men, or perhaps even for lady’s watches.

And one of the best things about this, it’s hand-windable. This is the only new Seiko I’ve bought with that feature, and I’m amazed how useful it is. For me it’s almost like having an auto-winder. Not expected in a smaller caliber, and one more sign that other than the acrylic crystal, this watch really wears and looks like a much more expensive model than it is. Definitely a good addition to the collection!

Musings from the watch blogosphere – October 2008

Posted by Harry Bishop on Oct 28th, 2008
2008
Oct 28

I’ve like to share a number of articles recently on some of the blogs I regularly watch (the pun being completely intentional :-) ) that speak to some general topics of interest, rather than to specific watch brands.

From Wrist Watch Review, a nicely understandable post on the difference between accuracy and precision, words that I agree are often misused.


… In watches, accuracy is how well the watch keeps time and reflects the time according to an accepted standard … Precision is the markings on the face, or the decimal places in the digital read out, with smaller intervals of time measured reflecting greater precision …


Harry SK Tan takes a break from his wonderful photography at Watching Horology to talk about the possible silver lining for watch lovers in today’s economy.


… for the financially prudent collectors who had been saving up for their grail watch, the financial downturn could well turn out to be a windfall as many mint used and rare watches are being put into the secondary market at much lower prices …


Some neat insights into why watches have differing accuracy depending on the position of rest, and some information on sapphire crystals, both from Montres/Watches.

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… In jewel-bearing movements, energy losses due to friction are influenced by the position of the pivot axis, the load on the pivot, the maximum contact pressure developed and, the minimum working torque available. These losses are at a minimum when the spindle axis is vertical, and in this situation both pivot and jewel radii are significant factors …

… Sapphire crystals are crystal clear because they are made of sapphire and therefore work well for watch crystals. Optical-quality sapphire combines zero porosity with five times the resistance of carbide to scratches. Sapphire is unaffected by acids even at 1,000C. It is virtually inert to all reagents and alkalies at room temperature, including hydrofluoric acid. It is next to diamond in hardness (9 mols vs. 10 for diamond) and sapphire’s high strength and moderate refractive index make it a good selection for high-pressure windows and view ports.


KronosBlog speaks about the dependability of higher-end mechanical watches.


… It generally is in their firm belief that the more expensive the watch the less prone to flaws, quality defects, faulty service, etc … In the laws of watchmaking this is quite the opposite … the more imperfect, delicate and problematic …


And also about the obsessions some watch collectors have with “in-house movements” and “screw-down crowns”.

Screw down crowns were a very effective solution up to 10 years ago for Automatic Divers. Today with double gasket crowns they have become obsolete.


I completely agree on the screw-down crown part. Today’s seal technology makes screw-down crowns unnecessary for recreational diving watches, and increases the likelihood of component failure plus adds an annoyance to the use of the watch.

When it comes to manufacturers using inferior movements just so it can be said they are using “in-house” calibers, that’s not as big an issue for me … see the first KronosBlog post mentioned above for one reason why – that’s one thing I don’t have an issue about with a Seiko watch! :-)

Seiko SNH029 (caliber 4225) – new arrival

Posted by Harry Bishop on Oct 26th, 2008
2008
Oct 26

The 4205 automatic movement from Seiko is one that you don’t see a lot, compared to the very ubiquitous 7S26. I hadn’t any examples of this caliber, until this addition to my collection arrived last month.

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I had noticed the 4225 movement some time ago in a number of mid-sized Seiko dress watches, but didn’t know much about it. A few months later I found a model line that I really liked that used this movement, so decided rather than read about the 4225 I’d get one and see what I think of it first.

This was both to have an example of that caliber, plus I liked the different style of these models. Smaller sized dress watches, half flieger / half classic styled dials, alternate colored 5 minute markers on the chapter ring that match the colour of the seconds hand, faint globe lines on the dial, crown at 3:00 and date window at 4:30. So then I had to decide between three different color options in the model line I liked.

Here are pictures of each (note, all images in this post are eBay vendor pics, as they are better than my own shots)…. SNH025 has a white dial, blue accent colour, and white date dial. SNH027 has a black dial, yellow accent colour, and white date dial. SNH029 has a black dial, red accent colour, and black date dial.

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It’s normal Seiko product numbering … 6 letter codes, the first 3 being the group and the last 3 being the model, with each main version being given the next odd number, without any real change between the end of one design and the start of another. So for example SNH023 is another 4225 based watch but with a different design look.

I tried bidding for several months with no luck – these were not seen nearly as often on eBay as other Seiko watches. It’s not that expensive a watch, but I always like to think I’m getting a bargain! :-) So I waited, and then managed to get a reasonable deal from a Singapore seller who posted in Australian dollars, when the exchange rate happened to be good. It wasn’t a real bargain, but better than normal online list (you can buy one at Wayne’s Watch World aka Roachman for $109 – like I said, it’s not an expensive watch).

At the time I had a choice between the SSNH027 (black dial, yellow accent colour,  white date dial), and the SNH029 (black dial, red accent colour, black date dial), and just could not decide, so I asked my wife who said she liked the look of the red accented one much better, so that’s what I went with. :-)

I actually have a number of things I like about this watch, and a few I don’t, so I’ll do a review of it in a few days.

Social Media – some summer web tidbits

Posted by Harry Bishop on Oct 7th, 2008
2008
Oct 7

Time to mention a few web articles, posts, and various other items that have caught my attention this summer. This batch are either interesting reads or contain useful nuggets, on WOM.

First, a “sticky” campaign gone wrong! (sorry, very bad pun :-) )

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David Meerman Scott (who I’ve mentioned before on this blog) writes on how 3M managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (my words), and turn a potential WOM opportunity into a PR problem. He compares it to the way Mentos turned the “Diet Coke + Mentos geysers” phenomomon into an actual positive WOM campaign.

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Here, B.L.Ochman disses the Republican party’s earlier attempted use of Social Media – the basic premise is that they just don’t get it, and are making all the typical mistakes of “old media” people trying to use new media without understanding it.

… Social media = new media + opinion. Our opinion.  If you want us to vote for you, buy from you, read you, or enter your contest, we want to hear your point of view, and then we want you to listen and respond to what we think. Social = two-way street …

… The Republican Party’s clueless new video contest demonstrates how new media principles continue to elude the red team … Who decides the winners? The Republicans. Not the public: the Republicans. (Excuse me, I was breathless from laughing for a moment.) …


and then goes on to show a recent JibJab video as an example of how to do it right.

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Listen up marketers! THIS is how you create a viral … their latest softcore satirical video starring me – and you, after you upload your photo here … launched on the Jay Leno show last night. It’s a fantastic sure-to-go-viral promo for JibJab brothers’ studio, who’ve handled campaigns for huge brands as a result of earlier videos they’ve distributed in the same way.


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From BzzAgent comes a free PDF download of their “Word Of Mouth Manual”. It’s a large document, and not tree-friendly (buy it from Amazon if you want a hard copy), but it’s an interesting read, with useful case studies and a unique perspective.

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Thanks to John Moore’s blog for pointing me to the download link for this, as well as to an Advertising Age article talking about JetBlue’s success in WOM and their recent issues…

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… JetBlue achieved its success by being unlike the other airlines. Its good name spread — via word-of-mouth and smart marketing — because great customer service gave it a compelling story to tell.Priority No. 1 should be getting back to a place where consumers want to share good stories. Take the money being wasted on <their advertising> campaign and plow it into customer service …

True that.

Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2008

Posted by Harry Bishop on Oct 1st, 2008
2008
Oct 1

The 2008 GPHG awards orgy is underway. This is always an interesting event to watch from afar – everybody always chimes in with good and bad comments about the selections, the politics involved, etc.

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I posted a list of the winners last year, this year let’s jump ahead of the curve. You can visit their site to vote for the “Audience Award”. I find it interesting, and look forward to the results, despite being fed the short list to choose from and not having my own independent input. As always, for some strange reason there are no Asian watches of note in the list. Strange how that works, isn’t it? Must be just a coincidence that it’s a Swiss based show. Hmm.

Here are my personal choices for this year’s viewer picks. We’ll see how well my choices match the crowd later this year…

Lady’s Watch – Gerald Genta Arena White Spice.

I’ve always liked Gerald Genta watches, and if I was a woman this would definitely be my favorite, I’ve really liked it from the first time I saw it. Retrograde minutes, jumping hour with preceding hours shown in frosted similar apertures, and an artistic mix of 1960s “go-go dancer” bubbles in pure white with matching colored ones for the hours. This is actually in the running for my favorite new watch this past year, which is amazing since I don’t collect, or typically even like, lady’s watches. Groovy, girl!

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Men’s Dress Watch – Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Polaris Tribute

I have to admit there wasn’t a lot that really moved me this year in this category. The Gerald Genta model in this section was nowhere near as artistic or unique as the above, and although I have some issues with this JLC reissue, it’s still by far the best selection.

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Watch Design – DeWitt Watch Concept WX-1

It’s just too far out there, too “steampunk” which I’ve loved for years but is just now hitting mainstream as a design style, and too unwearable by other than those few who can carry off anything, and too masculine, for me not to pick this watch in this category. Other than the Jerome Romain chain tourbillon, which I like but not as much as this, everything else was “same old, same old” … everybody’s adding toubillons this year (and there’s still the standard “color the case black” trick), but you can add complications and different case coatings to a pig, and it’s still a pig. This watch is NOT a pig!

Mind you, I’d still rather purchase a Desotos asymmetrical chrono and have money left over for a couple of new cars (and more). :-)

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Jewelry Watches – Audemars Piguet Millenary Pianoforte

There are certainly a lot of AP watches I really dislike, they’re one of the brands I find reissues fake Limited Edition watches that are nothing more than a new color/dial of an existing watch, over and over again far too much. In this case however, I simply find this watch design the best of the group shown … I’m not into jewelry watches, so for me this is simply a design pick.

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Grand Complication - Greubel Forsey Invention Piece 1

Another watch that stands out from the norm in the crowd. I actually like quite a number of pieces in this group, especially the FPJourne Supreme Centigraph, but they’re just a bit too much the same as what’s already been done, without any real technical brilliance to differentiate them. And with that being the case, the difference for me this year comes down to design again.

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Sports Watch - Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Chronograph

This was a “whatever” decision. This is usually my favorite category, but nothing appeals to me this year. That’s disappointing considering how many great sports watches there are.

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Perpetual Calendar – Harry Winston Prime Excenter Perpetual Calendar

Although I like the DeWitt Academia line, I’ve always loved what the Harry Winston line of watches brings to the industry. This was a tough call, but in the end the HW won out for me.

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