A Man and His Watch (Iconic Watches & Stories From the Men Who Wore Them) by Matt Hranek (Part 3)

From the Hermes Archives. The archives are in Paris. They manufacture straps for others too. They look at watches through a celebration of leathercraft, style, fashion etc. Some of their ostrich straps are really lovely. There were even belt watches in the 1930s.

Bradley Price. He is the founder and product designer at Autodromo. His watch is the Autodromo Monoposto. I was a product designer. I was obsessed with vintage cars since young. A watch could then be inspired by gauges in a car. I started off with the Ronda quartz movements in my watches as they were cheaper. Just like the old cars, my watches had a red line painted on the glass. It was truly inspiring. Eventually, I ventured into automatic movements. The brand has a cult following, with I am very proud of. When you are a small company, it is possible to relate to your customers better. I want to create something that’s interesting and exciting. As a small outfit, we can always try new things.

I think Autodromo resonates with people because we’re still a tiny company; basically, one guy designing stuff. – Bradley Price

I don’t care about trying to create something that lasts for the ages; I’m trying to create something that excites people now, something that they want to buy and own. – Bradley Price

Adam Craniotes. He is the writer and cofounder of Redbar Group. His watch is the 1980 Casio F-7 and the 2012 IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Ref 5029. My grandpa supported my passion for watches. He bought the Casio F-7 when I was young. I was the moderator for the IWC form on Timezone. I wanted a pilot’s watch all along. The one which I bought was made completely of black ceramic. However, the price was prohibitive. I sold a few watches and my mum chipped in as well. My mum recognized my passions and supported me.

Both of these watches always put a smile on my face when I wear them. And as with any hobby, if you can’t have that moment, you need to pick another hobby. – Adam Craniotes

Grahame Fowler. He is the founder of Grahame Fowler original. His watch is the Rolex Submariner 5513, Rolex Mil Sub 5517, Omega Seamaster 300. Watches just came naturally to me when I was young. My 5513 was found on a beach in Dorset between 1972 and 1978.

A lot of people say my Rolex is wrecked. Actually, it’s destroyed, but for me it’s a work of art. It’s like a piece of sculpture. The dial’s been corroded and faded from years of being washed about and water getting in and degrading it. – Grahame Fowler

I became interested in military watches as a child. My dad was in the English Royal Corps of Signals, and all the men had military watches and guns. – Grahame Fowler

Henry Leutwyler. He is a photographer. His watch is the Rolex Cosmograph Ref 6241 and the Rolex Oyster Bubbleback. After my dad passed away, mum and I moved to another place for superstitious reasons. I bought a Rolex Cosmograph secondhand to commemorate the time when I was a kid. It wasn’t because of monetary value, it was because I loved it. I inherited a Rolex bubble-back when my uncle died. Don’t get attached to money.

Even if I were to lose all my money again, I would never sell these watches, whether they’re worth a dollar or a million dollars. I will eat less, get thin, work hard and start over. – Henry Leutwyler

Sylvester Stallone. He is an actor, director and screenwriter. His watch is the Tiffany & Co. Gold Rolex Submariner Reference 1680/8. This is the watch I was most connected to. I first saw it on Gregg Allman, lead singer of the Allman Brothers band. I love the strength and simplicity of the watch.

From the Zenith Archives. Mechanical movements weren’t sexy or modern in the 1970s. Quartz movement hasn’t killed the fascination with craftsmanship and mechanical things. Zenith was able to return to produce mechanical movements due to Charly Vermot. This resurrected the brand. The El Primero was a high-beat chrono movement that was really outstanding and even found its way into early Rolex daytonas.

Ralph Lauren. He is the Chairman and CCO of Ralph Lauren Corporation. His watch is the Cartier Tank Cintree. It has a unique combination. Watches were an important part of a man’s look. To me, watches have emotional value. Creating a watch collection is about building something emotional. I like things built with a purpose. Watches are like moving art.

I think a man and his watch have a special bond. It’s probably his most signature personal piece – something he puts on every day. It’s functional jewelry. – Ralph Lauren

I believe in wearing different watches to match the mood of what you’re wearing, where you’re going. I see watches as I see clothes: part of a world we live in that changes from day to day. – – Ralph Lauren

I’ve always thought of my cars as moving art. I feel the same way about watches. It’s moving art, worn on your wrist. I don’t think there is anything like it in the world. – Ralph Lauren

John Criscitiello. He is a watch dealer. His favorite watch is the Breitling Chronomat. I have been trading watches since 1983. I saw the Breitling in the late 30s and 40s. The case is very rare. It was left behind by a GI in June 1941. I was happy to be a care-taker of it. I have been keeping this watch for nearly 20 years already.

Nate Berkus. He is an interior designer and author. His favorite watch is the Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref 3800/A. I liked things of quality since young. My parents wore good watches too. My mum bought a steel Air King when I was 12. My dad used to own the PP, but he lost it before passing away. I knew after he passed on, I wanted to buy it again and eventually did. My partner didn’t make it in the tsunami in Cambodia in 2004. That day, I lost my PP. I knew after that, I wanted to get it back.

amahw

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A Man and His Watch (Iconic Watches & Stories From the Men Who Wore Them) by Matt Hranek (Part 2)

Eng Tay. He is an artist. His favorite watch is the Panerai Reference 3646. I always liked vintage items, like cars and watches. In Asia, I loved to window shop for watches. I bought my first Pam from a friend (it originally belonged to a Navy officer). The story of how I got the PAM21 was more interesting. I actually flew down to Singapore and paid crazy money for it. That is just me, I am very passionate about Panerai.

George Bamford. He is the founder of the Bamford Watch Department. His favorite watch is the ‘Popeye’ Yacht Master. I started the watch customization business. I loved cartoon characters like Popeye since young. Because of that, I wanted to put Popeye on a watch. The sales of the watch were a massive success. It’s like paying homage to these character characters, but also adding a twist to it.

Everything you buy has a soul to it. You remember the details: exactly when you bought it, how much you paid for it. You want to think of that item as exclusively yours – unique to you. – George Bamford

Mark Cho. He is the co-founder of the Armoury and Co-owner of Drake’s. His watch is the Grand Seiko 61GS Very Fine Adjusted. When I first saw a Seiko that costs 8k, I was shocked. I decided to research extensively on the Seiko and really how significant the watch was. I loved its history. I even visited the Seiko museum in northeast Tokyo. To my surprise, the watch I purchased was also being displayed in the museum. The quality of finishing can rival their Swiss counterparts. Seiko is known for their big flanked lugs, lots of planes and is very angular. One day, Seiko will really live up to their reputation.

I love the Japanese attitude, the dedication to trying to be the absolute best you can be, to really push the envelope even given your own constraints. – Mark Cho

The Grand Seiko is a subtle watch, not really recognizable for what it is, but I like that. It’s a lucky watch for me. – Mark Cho

Holger Thoss. He is a photographer. His watch is the Breitling Chrono-Matic GMT. My dad gave it to me. I loved it very much. All along, I believed in the Buddhist tradition and belief in the temporal nature of things.

It’s also important to cherish the things you have and – this might seem weird to say – to have a relationship with them. You have to honor each object and, at the same time, be ready to let it go. – Holger Thoss

Eric Ku. He is a vintage watch dealer. His watch is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm. He had an obsession with mechanical objects. When I was younger, we often looked forward to get the full-color catalog in the mail. I kept following this JLC watch, but the price increased over time, and I regretted not getting it. I eventually bought it for $35,000, which I over-paid. However, to me, it was okay. This was really a unique watch because of its rich history. I paid a huge premium for it.

Watches are very personal things – expressions of who you are. And what you’re willing to pay all comes down to perception of value. – Eric Ku

James H. Ragan. He is a former aerospace engineer at NASA. His favorite watches are the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatches. Watches were the backup instrument to test flight time. 4 companies bid. However, the Omega was the most durable. Wally Schirra and Gordo Cooper had worn Omega Chronographs for their mercury days. NASA kept using Speedmasters thereafter. The speedmaster professional came in useful during the Apollo 13 mission. These Omegas really meant a lot to me. The Omega Speedmaster Alaska Project aimed at triple protection. However, it never flew into space

Omega Archives. I got the chance to visit the Omega archives. I photographed the second-generation Omega Speedmaster ref CK2998. It was Wally Schirra’s watch. I also got to see John F. Kennedy’s watch, which he worn when he was sworn in as the 35th president of the United States.

Alessandro Squarzi. He is a fashion entrepreneur. His favorite watch is the 1968 Rolex Submariner Reference 5508. My dad gave me the watch when I was 18. To me, it looked very modern. It’s a priceless piece.

Gabriel Vachette. He is the founder of Les Rhabilleurs. His watch is the Universal Geneve Compax. The watch was handed down from my grandpa to my dad and now to me. My dad was a watch collector too. The chronograph movement was amazing. I fell in love in watches because of my dad. Later on in my life, I created a watch blog, which was lifestyle focused.

Kenta Watanabe. He is the co-founder of Buaisou Indigo Studio. His watch is the Indigo-Dyed Casio G-shock. I kept soaking the watch in Indigo dye. It turned out to be amazing.

Hamilton Powell. He is the founder and CEO of Crown and Caliber. His watch is the Abercrombie & Fitch Seafarer. It has a running second hand. It was made by Heuer, for A&F. Back then, A&F was a cool adventure outfitter. It was both for adventurers and for guys who likes beautiful things.

I also like that it’s a manual-winding watch. I believe we’re alive for a brief period of time; whether it’s fifty years or a hundred, in the scheme of things, that’s a short blip. And it’s up to us to use that time intentionally. So taking a moment to wind my watch means giving myself 20 seconds of the day to create a sense of purpose as to how I’m going to use my time- to ask myself, Am I going to live today with intention? – Hamilton Powell

Josh Condon. He is a writer, editor and author. His watch is the Movado Moon Phase. The idea of heirlooms are a big deal. I have been handed down things from my grandpa etc. My dad loved to give me things too. My dad bought a Movado moon phase and I started writing about it. On my 36th birthday, my dad bought it for me. He also gave my brothers the same watch. I haven’t taken the watch off since. Every time I wear it, it reminds me of my family.

Geoffrey Hess. He is the CEO of Analog/Shift. His watch is the Rolex Eagle Beak Tropical Submariner, Ref 5512. It’s the story behind the watches that is important. I met my wife because of this hobby. I love vintage Rolexes. Often, I go for collector events overseas. We are almost like brothers. People like vintage because of the tropical dial, serial number matches the box, lume on dial match the hands etc, crown guards look like an eagle etc.

But to some degree, the world of vintage Rolex is a science; we collector always have a loupe, and we’re examining the colors, the serifs on the fonts, the way the Rolex coronet is printed. It’s a grown-man science. – Geoffrey Hess

Michael Friedman. He is a historian at Audemars Piquet. His watch is the 1938 AP. This watch would be included in an auction. My dad was impressed by the history behind it. I studied time through the different time periods and realized how interesting it was. My dad used to encourage me to explore the world. It was a moment which I shared with my dad forever.

Tom Sachs. He is a sculptor. His watch is the ‘New Bedford’, customized Casio G-shock DW-5600. I hot-glued a metal cage around a digital watch in the past. The Japanese created the Casio with the concept of status and of a low price. I have worn the same G-shock for the past 20 years. I engrave every Gshock I buy.

I like the idea of something that costs $40 that you own, versus something that costs $4,000 that owns you. – Tom Sachs

People wear watches for their associated value. You wear an Omega Speedmaster and you’re Neil Armstrong. Or you wear whatever watch James Bond wears, or Sir Edmund Hillary wore, and you become that person – even if you work in an office, at least your watch is the same as that hero’s. – Tom Sachs

Bre Pettis. He is the founder of Bre & Co. His watch is the Bulova Accutron Spaceview and Origami watch. I am impressed by the Stonehenge because of its accurate astronomical alignments. Watches represent a worldwide contract and are incredibly interesting. My dad gave me this watch. It’s a transition between a mechanical and quartz movement. The tuning fork was like the gear-train of the watch. Watches actually make great gifts to others and encourages friendship building. I created the origami watch.

Stephen Lewis. He is a photographer. His watch is the paper cutout of a HP calculator watch. I used to like cutting watches out from famous watch magazines. I was impressed by James Bond when he checked the time on his Pulsar digital watch. Nowadays, I wear a Rolex submariner, which was a present from my wife. I have been able to dig myself out of a hole with little imagination.

David Coggins. He is a writer. His watch is the JLC Reverso. Reverso was a gift from my parents. In the past, polo players could flip the dial as it was necessary to protect the watch crystal. The way the watch flips is also very purposeful. I also like Art Deco numerals.

I want a watch that’s well-made and designed with purpose – just like a suit, for that matter. And I like to wear a watch every day. – David Coggins

I think you can tell a lot about a man from his watch, and I prefer one that errs on the side of discretion. – David Coggins

amahw

A Man and His Watch (Iconic Watches & Stories From the Men Who Wore Them) by Matt Hranek (Part 1)

Preface. My father owned a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust, stainless steel with a black dial. It meant a lot for him as it signified a successful year in business. I was 18 when he died and I was given his watch. Every time I wear it, it remains me of my past. No other watch I own will replace this. I was a magazine editor for the watch market and I began doing a lot of research on historical brands and collectors. All these stories are powerful and unifying in nature. For many of these men, these watches played a significant role in their lives. Paul Newman’s Rolex was a gift from Joanne Woodward, his wife. It was a Daytona, reference 6239. The feeling of holding it was simply electrifying. The inscription on the back read ‘Drive slowly – Joanne’. Now, his youngest daughter Clea, wears the Daytona daily. Compiling the stories in the book has been an absolute joy.

For many men, watches seem to have a deeper meaning than just keeping time. Watches mark special occasions, they tell the world a bit about who you are, and they can, if you’re lucky, connect you to the people in your life who matter most. – Matt Hranek

At the end of the day, a watch is just a watch – it’s the story behind it that can make it exceptional. – Matt Hranek

Eric Ripert. Eric is the Chef & Co-Owner of Le Bernardin. His watch is the Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921. The numbers on the dial are offset to the right as it is meant for drivers to look at. I received the watch in 2011. My business partner gave it to me as I was celebrating the 20th anniversary at Le Bernardin. Vacheron is a beautiful brand. Like fine watchmaking, cooking is a craftsmanship as well. When craftsmanship reaches a certain level, it becomes art. Collectors understand the effort gone into making watches.

For me, watches signify special occasions. I’ll buy one for myself as a gift, maybe for the holidays – or maybe before, if I can’t wait. – Eric Ripert

From the Rolex Archives. I managed to set foot in the Rolex Archives. It was from there that I managed to photograph Francis Chichester’s watch. He was a famous adventurer who circumnavigated the globe from Aug 27, 1966 to May 28, 1967 and wore a Rolex Oyster Perpetual. The watch worked perfectly throughout his expedition.

Mario Andretti. Mario is a racing legend. His watch is the 1967 Gold Heuer Carrera Pilot Reference 1158CH. My uncle gave me a watch when it was my 13th birthday. An F1 gave me the Porsche Design watch in Rio. But, I fell asleep and the watch got stolen from me. In 1978, Porsche was kind enough to replace it for me. Most of the watches I own are given to me. Often, watches were given out as ‘trophies’ for winning races.

Benjamin Clymer. Ben is the founder and executive editor at Hodinkee. His watch is the Omega Speedmaster Mark 40. My dad was a photographer and since young, I was obsessed with gadgets. This naturally progressed to wrist-watches. My grandfather really impressed me and I looked up to him as a hero. When I was 16, my grandfather handed me his Omega Speedmaster Mark 40, which ran on a Valjoux movement. It was a chronograph with a triple calendar. I started off my career in strategy consulting at a big Swiss bank. The whole watch journey started when I blogged on Tumblr about this Omega watch that my grandpa gave me. An editor from a major men’s fashion site reached out to me after he saw the Tumblr post. He was interested in me as I was writing about old watches. I started Hodinkee in 2008. This watch was the one that kickstarted my career. Without it, I wouldn’t have achieved the success that I now enjoy.

One day, when I was 15 or 16, my grandfather said to me, unprovoked, “You know, I want you to have this.” Then he took this Omega off his wrist and handed it to me. I was just blown away. – Benjamin Clymer

From the Cartier Archives. I wanted to see the Cartier Santos-Dumont. The location of the archives is unknown to me as I was being hooded at the back of a van and was driven to a secret location. The place had super high security. However, the archivists inside were super amazing and hospitable. Some of the interesting pieces were the Constantine I’s Cartier Tonneau from 1915. Another was the Cartier Santos-Dumont. This was a transformational piece. Alberto Santos-Dumont was the first person to pilot a fixed-wheel aircraft that could take off and land under its own power. Louis Cartier gave him a watch so that he could keep time while flying. This was essentially the first ‘pilot watch’. This marked the era where wrist-watches started growing in popularity. Before this, all owned pocket watches.

Dimitri Dimitrov. He is the Maitre D at the Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel. His watch is the Timex Indiglo. Bill Murray gave me his Timex because the Baume and Mercier I was wearing was not visible in the dark. I thanked him for it. The Timex had a button you could press where there would be a backlight. This was something like the Gshock.

Kikuo Ibe. He is the creator at Casio G-shock. His watch is the Casio G-shock. The watch he would be making had to be tough. The G-shock was launched in 1983 and took off in the US. No one gets bored of the design, even today. G-shocks are subject to rigorous testing.

James Lambin. He is the founder of Analog/Shift. His watch is the 1967 Doxa Sub 300 professional ‘Black Lung’. It started with my grandpa, as he appreciated objects with high quality. There can be storytelling related to objects. Dirk Pitt was a character of fiction and he wears an orange-faced Doxa diving watch. I was determined to hunt it down. I did plenty of research. This watch was really designed with a purpose. Doxa was a reputable brand, and is older than Rolex. By the 1950s, the company wasn’t as relevant. Orange dials make the watch dial very visible underwater for divers. I bought it from a guy that used it for diving. I just want to love my watches.

A vintage watch is the ultimate luxury – it’s owning something that no one else has, but it’s also being the keeper of its story. It’s a book; there are chapters. And then you have that object and you write your own chapters into it. – James Lambin

Paul Boutros. He is the Head of Americas and Senior Vice President at Phillips. His watch is the Rolex ‘Kew A’ Observatory Chronometer. I looked at watches with my dad. I was mesmerized at those on display. The movement was really impressive. It was really love at first sight. I did research and asked for watch and auction catalogs. Dad and I often went to flea markets and retailers. We both often fought, but when it came to watches, there were no fights. When my dad passed away in 2002, I was awestruck to see the box of watches he left behind. I entered the watch industry despite being an electrical engineer at Lockheed Martin. I joined the watch forums, like TimeZone. Now, I’m living my dream at Phillips.

NAS. He is a musician and entrepreneur. His watch is the Patek Philippe Nautilus Reference 5712R. A serious gold Rolex makes a man look dapper. Many famous men have worn the Rolex Presidential. I developed my own style when it came to watches. The Nautilus fits me well. It goes well with almost every outfit. I still like old-school movies on film.

If you see a guy with a lot of diamonds on his watch, the way I see it – the way I’ve experienced it with other people, and even myself – you know that guy likes to have a lot of fun. He’s looking to have a good time. – NAS

They say time is an illusion, but even so, you need it. A good watch represents someone who’s punctual, responsible, who has a lot on his plate. Someone who knows how to manage his time and takes life seriously, because life doesn’t wait for anybody. – NAS

Dr. Jack Carlson. He is an arcaeologist and author. His watch is the 1941 Waltham Trench Watch. I love the idea of artifacts and understanding history through objects. Waltham is a watchmaking brand that made watches for soldiers in WWI. My watch has a shrapnel guard. I imagine the stories behind the artifacts.

Aaron Sigmond. He is a columnist and author. His watch is the Elgin. My grandfather purchased the Elgin. It represented, to him, the life in America. Elgin is based in Chicago. When he passed away, I wanted his watch. This is the least valuable watch in my possessions, but it’s the dearest to me. Like my grandpa, I only wear it on special occasions.

Max Wastler. He is the founder of the All Plaidout Blog. His watch is the Timex Ironman. I got it from my camp counselor when I was young. I respected him a lot. It came on a Velcro strap that was really impressive. It’s just a simple, clean digital watch. In addition, it has the Indiglo light function. Wearing it makes me feel like an adventurer, even in the city.

From the Tag Heuer Archives. Steve McQueen was an amazing man and a racer. He made the Heuer Monaco famous. A lot of them received wristwatches as gifts. I was very lucky to be able to access their archives. The famous film was called ‘Le Mans’. Jo Siffert was also another prominent guy in the industry.

Matt Hranek. He is an editor, author and photographer. His watch is the Sears Winnie the Pooh Watch. When young, I was obsessed with everything Pooh related. My mum kept this watch for me all along. This was the watch that started it all.

Atom Moore. He is the photographer and art director of Analog/Shift. His favorite watches are the New York City Swatches. Swatches were colourful and cool. During my lunch breaks, I would head to the Swatch store and study about watches. The Keith Haring watches were pretty amazing. Since then, I have participated in auctions for vintage Swatches.

I’m buying Swatches all the time, because they’re inexpensive and they’re fun, so why not own them? They’re like little pieces of art that you can put on your wrist. – Atom Moore

Frank Castronovo. He is the chef & co-owner of Frankies Spuntino Group. His favorite watch is the IWC Mark XV. My grandfather endured a tough life. However, he was a collector of cars, watches etc. He believed that these items could retain value. When he was older, he decided to visit Germany and see the people and the culture. He asked me what watch I wanted. I mentioned I liked IWC and we drove through the Black Forest to the IWC boutique. I like the black face on stainless steel. The watch is incredibly comfortable and you can wear it on any occasion.

It’s my everyday watch, but it’s also an heirloom; it’s something you pass on to your children and your grandchildren. Heirlooms make you think about the people in your life. – Frank Castronovo

amahw

Azimuth Event with Singapore Watch Appreciation Group (SWAG) on 22 April 2017

Azimuth Watch Company is a Singaporean watch brand founded by Christopher Long and Alvin Lye in 2003. They have production facilities in Neuchatel, Switzerland. However, their watches are all designed in Singapore and is made from the ground-up. Their goal is to make avant-garde, innovative and statement watches which allows one to stand-out from the crowd. Although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I find their watches unique in the watch industry and the brand exudes the independent watch vibe. Their pricing ranges are reasonable and it allows one to enter the realm of Independence watches without breaking the bank.

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I joined the SWAG (Singapore Watch Appreciation Group) Facebook group in middle of 2016 and have been posting my fair share of wrist-shots of the day for others to enjoy. Joining such an interest group certainly helped to enhance my knowledge of watches and appreciate the fine wrist-shots of fellow members. I chanced upon a post on SWAG when their administrators was organizing a gathering with Azimuth/ Red Army watches to showcase Azimuth’s private collection. Being an Azimuth fan and also having owned an Azimuth watch myself (The SG46 NDP version), signing up was a no-brainer.

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The event was held at Azimuth’s office at 38 Jalan Pemimpin. It was a cozy space that contains their service centre, watchmaking classes and office. Upon entering, I was greeted by an array of Azimuth watches, like the Bombardier series, Roboto series, Roulette series, Back-in-time series, dive watches etc. The Azimuth and Red Army staff were very hospitable and were patient in explaining the time pieces. As a bonus, Azimuth offered good discounts for their timepieces during this private event.

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About 30 minutes in, Azimuth’s founder Christopher Long, explained his motivation for creating Azimuth and some of the struggles he faced as a business owner even today. Christopher has an engineering background and has always been a watch collector since young. He started off his career in Sincere watches as a brand ambassador. However, he realized that instead of promoting Swiss high-end brands, perhaps he could start his own watch business with the drawings and design cues which he possessed. The rest was history. I found Azimuth’s drive to keep innovating and produce interesting complications like the back-in-time series (anti-clockwise way of telling time), roulette series (able to randomly land on a number on the roulette wheel by pushing the crown) very inspiring.

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After this segment, each SWAG member had to introduce themselves and their favorite brand of watches. It was heartening to know that others also had the love for Azimuth watches and were passionate to support a Singapore brand and the whole eco-system.

Next, Christopher gave us a tour of his office and we also witnessed the watch-making benches and tools upstairs. Azimuth is launching a workshop for customers who want to learn how to perform some hands-on operations on watches. Customers will learn to assemble a watch from scratch and they will also get to bring the watch back. I have attended a watchmaking class previously and it has certainly gave me a better appreciation of how the intricate parts of a mechanical watch interact to record time.

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I was very grateful for the chance to have a short chat with Red Army Watches founder, Suji. Red Army Watches carries non-mainstream watch brands and has stores in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Some of the brands they carry include Alexander Shorohkoff, Laco, Itay Noy, Seven Friday, Zeppelin, Junkers, Laco and of course, Azimuth. Like Azimuth, Red Army Watches appeals to the crowd who wants a statement piece that allows the wearer’s personality to shine through. From our brief conversation, I understood some of the difficulties of running retail stores and learnt more about the watch retail business. I wish Azimuth and Red Army watches all the best in their future business pursuits.

At around 7pm, we adjourned to the rooftop of the building for a sumptuous BBQ dinner, with free booze provided. The brilliant evening sky and the private pool provided an excellent backdrop for networking. During my numerous chats with fellow SWAG members, we all shared about our watch collections and I impressed them with my UV flashlight when it came to charging the luminescence of their timepieces.

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Overall, it was an event that was executed well and which gave SWAG members a chance to know about Azimuth. Azimuth, in turn, also gained some important publicity via the SWAG Facebook page. It was a win-win for all.

*Kudos to the SWAG administrators for organizing this event and Azimuth/Red Army for hosting*

Review of the ATOP World Time Singapore SG50 Edition

I purchased this watch in July 2015. This was the first quartz watch which I purchased on my own. I was really thrilled with the idea of owning another SG50 watch after owning the Ball SG50 nighttrain piece. In addition, the ATOP World Timer was only produced in 100 pieces and seemed really exclusive. This was the third watch I purchased since pursuing the watch hobby in April 2015. I first learnt about this watch from SJX’s website: http://watchesbysjx.com/2015/08/five-special-edition-watches-for-sg50-singapores-50th-anniversary.html. The watch has an interesting feature of switching to different time zones. This feature has won the brand some accolades as well.

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ATOP also produces world timers in other colours and designs. You may check out the other designs here: http://redarmywatches.com/brands/atop.html.

The ATOP World Time Singapore SG50 Limited Edition watch (44.5mm case and is 12mm thick) has a day night indicator and a unique feature of switching to different time zones. It runs on a quartz movement. One could switch to a different time zone via rotation of the bezel. On the top of the watch, there is an engraving of the number of the watch. For mine, it is number 2 out of 100. For me, this limited edition is of significance as it marks Singapore’s 50 years of independence and is certainly a moment worthy of celebration.

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ATOP is a Taiwanese brand that was established in 1984. It was founded by engineer Mark Lin and his wife. Their precision movement is also patented and their brand is known for the automatic setting of world time as the watch contains 24 pre-set destination times. ATOP watches usually come in playful colours and tend to attract a younger crowd.

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The ATOP World Time Singapore SG50 Limited Edition is a fairly new model, and follows on from other world time models. It is heartening to see unique technology employed in a quartz watch. In the brief period that I used it, the watch keeps time well and is very light and enjoyable to wear on the wrist. This is certainly a watch that stands out from other brands that carry many quartz watches, like DW, Swatch, Fossil etc. In addition, this watch will suit frequent travellers as switching time zones is such a breeze. ATOP watches are made in China, however, this is no way compromises the quality aspect of their timepieces.

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The main reason why I found it so attractive was the technical features and also the playful feel that came with the watch. My reasons are listed below:

The ATOP World Timer comes in a high grade polycarbonate case and a durable rubber strap. The watch is relatively lightweight due to the use of a rubber strap and the use of polycarbonate. The polycarbonate feels harder and superior to normal plastic watches. The strap is comfortable and still in great condition. The case is all black and the red accents on the dial provide excellent contrast to the overall appearance of the watch. This contrast gives the watch a youthful and playful feel. The bezel is also made from polycarbonate and is relatively easy to turn.

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The watch screams playfulness, which I like. This is certainly one piece which you will not see on the wrist of others. It has a hardened mineral crystal which is fairly scratch resistant. Although not as hard as sapphire crystal, it is still acceptable due to the price positioning of this watch. Due to the materials used, the watch will not develop patina over time. There is a sub-seconds dial at 6 o’clock of the watch.

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The ATOP World Timer is a weekend watch with 30 meters water resistance. This is a watch where you can wear daily without having to worry about it. As the watch is donned with a rubber strap, one can certainly use it for sporting activities. After nearly 2 years of use, my watch is almost scratch-free and still in mint condition. I have also wore my more expensive watches more frequently.

The ATOP World Timer uses an in-house quartz movement. This a certainly a workhorse movement with a long battery life. The battery can be easily replaced via unscrewing the caseback via the tool provided. This type of CR battery will likely cost less than $10, if brought to a watch shop for replacement.

The black dial on the watch has different textures under sunlight/artificial lighting. This is certainly very attractive to look at. At the 12 o’clock position, the country stated would indicate that the current time zone the watch is in. For instance, from the pictures, Singapore is by default positioned at the 12 o’clock position and is in red font. The bezel can only be rotated in an anti-clockwise manner. There is a day-night indicator at 3 o’clock and it will slowly rotate as time passes.  There are tinges of white and red on the dial and this gives the watch a playful feel at times. Overall, there is minimal text on the dial, apart from the ATOP logo at the 9 o’clock position. The bezel is of the right size and does not overwhelm the dial. The hour and minute hands are filled with luminous materials and can glow at night. However, the lume is weak and practically non-existent.

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The ATOP World Timer has a closed caseback. As mentioned earlier, it can be opened up via the tool provided. Once the caseback is opened, one can replace the battery and also change the time. Therefore, there is no crown on the watch. This actually gives the watch a symmetrical feel.

Overall, I am still impressed by how the watch has not ‘aged’ and still looks in like-new condition. I have worn this watch on a rotational basis among my other watches. The ATOP SG50 watch is a weekend watch which will pair well with casual clothing. The two most outstanding features are its (1) World time feature and (2) Day night indicator. I purchased this watch for SGD 193 from Red Army Watches and by now, all 100 pieces would have been snapped up by now. If you want to lay your hands on one now, you will have to get a pre-owned one.

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Review of the Ball Engineer II Genesis

I pre-ordered this watch from the Ball Website in Dec 2015. However, the shipment only arrived in May 2016. This would be the 9th mechanical watch that I owned, after the Tudor Pelagos 25600TB. I first saw this piece on the Ball Watch Facebook page as a sponsored post and was intrigued by the technologies like the anti-magnetic shielding properties (up to 4800A/m) and the new 1mm thick tritium tubes that the Engineer II Genesis uses. These are technologies that are not contained in most of Ball’s other watches. This watch was unique as it was first released for online sales via the Ball Website, before being subsequently released to the public at a much higher price. At that time, I was not aware that Ball would subsequently release many limited editions via online sales. Anyway, the Ball Engineer II Genesis was released to commemorate Ball’s 125th year anniversary and was a limited production model.

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The Engineer II Genesis watch (43mm case and is 13+mm thick) has a day-date feature and a brilliant blue sun-burst dial. The sun-burst dial was something that I found very attractive as it gives the watch a dressy look. The day-date feature was also useful and my Ball SG50 nighttrain and Ball Magneto S did not contain them. This watch uses Ball RR1102 movement, which is an ETA 2836. This limited production model was released to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Ball Watch Company, which was founded by Webb C. Ball in 1891. However, this is not particularly significant to me. Something to note: Ball Watch Company has been releasing quite a number of LEs in recent times.

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Ball Watch Company was founded by an American, Webb C. Ball, in 1891. An accident in 1891 prompted him to act. Refer to link for a brief history of the brand and the founder. Basically, he established stringent watch standards for train operators and inspectors in order to keep good time and prevent railroad accidents from occurring. He was instrumental in the development of chronometry and improving of watch accuracy. He emphasized on keeping precise time and created railroad grade timepieces. This was how the term ‘Official Standard’ came about. Ball watches are known for their visual simplicity, elegance and precision.

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The Ball Engineer II Genesis is of a unique design, although I must say it resembles the Engineer II Pioneer and Engineer II Arabic. The Engineer II range is known for their classic designs and natural elegance. I simply love the sword-like hands and the RR (RailRoad) design on the second hand. In addition, the hour, minute and second hands are lumed for great night visibility. Ball is celebrating their 125th anniversary in 2015, and this is testament to the longevity and heritage of the brand. Ball is known for producing reliable watches with good quality. Ball can certainly hold its own against Tag Heuer/Oris in terms of quality and finish. In terms of price point, Ball watches are generally in the affordable range of SGD1.5k to 6k. Ball is also renowned for their use of tritium T25 tubes which can glow up to 25 years and requires no charging. This sets the brand apart from many other luxury brands which use Superluminova. Ball watches are Swiss made, value-for-money and are extremely durable.

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The main reason why I found it so attractive was the technical features and also the dressy feel that came with the watch. My reasons are listed below:

The Ball Engineer II Genesis comes in a stainless steel case and a metal bracelet. The watch is relatively heavy due to the 43mm size and the thick bracelet. The bracelet is well built and has polished centre-links, similar to the Rolex GMT Master II. It also reminds me of the Patek Phillippe Nautilus bracelet. The case is highly polished at the sides and at the bezel area. This watch really plays with the light due to the numerous polished surfaces. This contrast gives the watch a dressy and elegant feel.

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The watch draws attraction from others, which I like. It has a flat sapphire crystal which is AR coated. Due to the materials used, the watch will not develop patina over time. There are the words ‘AUTOMATIC’ and 100m/ 300ft printed on the bottom half of the dial. This watch is not chronometer certified.

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The Ball Magneto S is an everyday dressy watch with 100 meters water resistance and shock resistance to 5000g. This is a watch where you can wear daily without having to worry about it. However, one should be careful not to overly bang the watch around as polished centre-links are scratch magnets. The watch also pairs well with casual clothing on weekends.  After nearly 1 year of use, my watch is almost scratch-free and still in mint condition.

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Ball Magneto S uses the Ball automatic calibre RR1102, which is essentially a clone of the ETA -2836. This a certainly a workhorse movement that is widely used with many other watch brands whom they get ETA as their supplier. Of course, Ball modifies the movement via adding decorations and also to make it more shock resistant. The movement comes with a 38 to 42 hour power reserve and I have no qualms about the movement at this price point. For an in-house movement, one can be expected to pay at least double. Some of the more expensive Ball models are COSC chronometer certified (-4 to +6 seconds/day). I have tested my watch on a Timegrapher and it currently runs at a decent -7 seconds/day, which is well within my expectations.

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The sun-burst blue dial on the watch has different textures under sunlight/artificial lighting. This is certainly very attractive to look at. There are tinges of blue, white and green on the dial and this gives the watch a playful feel at times. Overall, there are only 2 lines of text on the dial and it does not appear cluttered. The issue I have with this watch is the large case and that the 3-6-9 hour markers are too large, giving the dial an unbalanced feel. My other qualm is that the date window is white and does not blend well with the blue dial.

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The Ball Engineer II Genesis has a closed caseback. There is an engraving of a railroad train from the 1800s and also the engraving ‘125th anniversary’. The watch is shock-resistant to 5000g and anti-magnetic to 4800A/m. These are some of the features that allows Ball to stand out from the other brands.

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I have saved the best for last, just like hitting the ‘climax’ of a movie. The Ball Engineer II has incredible lume due to 28 1mm thick micro-sized tritium tubes. Although you cannot charge the lume, tritium tubes can glow up for to 25 years. I have compared the lume to my other 2 Ball Watches and this is by far the most impressive. At times, it even appears as bright as charged Super-luminova. Tritium emits electrons through beta decay, and, when they interact with a phosphor material, fluorescent light is created, a process called radio-luminescence. The radiation exposure is so weak that it doesn’t affect human health.

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To be honest, I have not worn this watch as frequently as I have liked as I am not used to the weight of the watch and the 3-6-9 markers are too large. With slightly smaller markers, this watch would have been a keeper. The problem with purchasing online is that it is not possible to tell how heavy the watch is and how exactly it will sit on your wrist. In March 2017, I traded this piece for the Ball Trainmaster 60 seconds, which I will be reviewing shortly. The Ball Engineer II Genesis is a dressy watch which will also pair well with casual clothing. The three most outstanding features are its (1) Ball Bracelet; (2) 1mm thick tritium tubes and (3) sun-burst dial. The watch was purchased online for SGD 1,310. If purchased from retail stores, the RRP would be SGD 2,200. If you want a dressy quality Swiss made piece, this might be the watch you want.

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Review of the Seiko Turtle SRP777K1

I purchased this watch in Feb 2017 from a seller on Carousell after the purchase of my Seiko Sarb033 dress watch. Although I now own the Seiko Padi SRPA21K1, I feel that this all-black Turtle is unique enough to hold a place in my collection.

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The Seiko Turtle SRP777K1 which I purchased was a non-Japanese model and is part of the Seiko Prospex line of divers and has the ‘X’ on the dial. I was always looking forward to purchase a cheap Seiko which was reliable. The black bezel really makes the watch look muted, just like the Rolex Submariners and gives it a tool-like feel. The SRP777K1 (44.3mm case and is 14mm thick) uses the upgraded Seiko 4R36 movement, unlike some of the other lower-end Seiko 5s. It has the iconic cushion-style case which is reminiscent of the Seiko 6309s in the past. The watch is a simple time only watch with a second hand and a rotating bezel. Seiko is a renowned brand which needs no introduction whatsoever. There are other models of this modern Turtle re-make. These include the SRP773, SRP775, SRP779 and also the Seiko Padi Turtles, Green Turtles, Zimbe Turtles, Blue Lagoon Turtles etc. Seiko has also released a Seiko Samurai Turtle in early 2017. The K series of the same watches are slightly cheaper but the one I own is of great quality, similar to the J models.

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Seiko movements are reliable and are made in-house. The Seiko 4R36 mechanical movements (42 hour power reserve) has been around for ages and keep good time and chronometry. In addition, because they are Japanese movements, they are a lot more affordable. In fact, the 4R36s, 6R15s are comparable to Miyota movements or even Swiss ETAs. There is extensive lume on the SRP777K1, comparable to some of Seiko’s other divers. The watch simply glows like a torch at night! This watch is certainly an upgrade from the SKX range, which uses the 7s movement. Seiko watches are good value-for-money and aesthetically pleasing and for good reason.

The main reason why I found it so attractive was the tool-like nature of the watch. My reasons are listed below:

The SRP777K1 comes in a stainless steel case in a cushion style shape. (about 48mm lug-to-lug) and a silicon Z-22 rubber strap (22mm). The rubber strap is extremely durable and supple and is extremely comfortable to wear. The metal keepers on the strap are also brushed and polished, creating a splendid visual effect. I prefer wearing the watch on the rubber strap as compared to the standard Seiko metal bracelet. The cushion shaped case sits nicely on the wrist and is well-built. I have worn the Turtle for extended periods of time and have not felt any wrist fatigue.

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The Seiko Turtle re-issue has been a great success as it closely inspired by the original Seiko 6309s. It is simply a tool watch which can be abused without the user worrying about it. The dial is largely symmetrical, other than the day-date indication at 3 o’clock. The hour markers and minute markers are shaped like broad arrows. The dial is pure black, with white fonts and markers. The all0black bezel is fully marked from 0 to 60. The black bezel is certainly popularized by the vintage Rolex dive watches.

The SRP777K1 is a dive watch with 200 meters water resistance and is secured by the screw-down crown. This watch can certainly be used for sports and for daily use. It will pair well with formal attire, like a suit/blazer or even t-shirts and jeans. I have worn this piece numerous times to work and I have had no trouble with it. Being 14mm tall, it might not slide under most shirt-cuffs. I would say that the watch is quite stealthy in nature due to the dull black colour on the dial and strap. The watch does not get as much wrist time as my Ball or Tudor watches as it also costs much less. The uni-directional bezel is easy to turn and there is little play in it. The bezel also aligns perfectly to the 12 o’clock mark. However, I have read reviews that some bezels might be stiff to turn and might not align perfectly too.

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The watch uses the Seiko 4R36 automatic movement, which is hand winding and has hacking capabilities. This a certainly a workhorse movement that is widely used in other Seikos like the famous Prospex range. The movement comes with a 42 hour power reserve when fully wound. However, I am not used to watches which can’t wind and have to be powered via wrist movements. Hence, this watch suits me more than the SKX range. The automatic movement cannot be seen as there is a closed caseback. The rotor is also very quiet and barely audible. The watch seems to be fairly accurate based on the brief period which I had it with me. Before this piece, I purchased the Seiko Turtle PADI, which is a special edition.

SRP777K1 has Seiko’s renowned proprietary Hardlex crystal. It gives the watch greater presence and texture, evoking a vintage feel while claiming to be harder than hesalite crystal. Although not as superior to sapphire crystal in terms of scratch resistance properties, it is durable and decent enough. The stainless steel caseback is engraved with the Air Diver logo and has a brushed finish.

Overall, I am impressed by how the watch looks. I have no issues with the weight of the watch. The Seiko SRP777K1 is a unique entry level dive watch which is durable and can last for ages. It is something that is highly recommended and is much more affordable than Swiss watches. The watch is available in Singapore and retails for SGD 550. You may consider purchasing it online via eBay or Amazon. If you are considering an entry level dive watch, this watch might just be the one for you.

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