Any watch nerds on Icrontic?

ThraxThrax 🐌Austin, TX Icrontian
edited March 2013 in Style
After years of not wearing a watch, telling myself that a cell phone was "good enough," my better fashion sense took over and I ended up ordering the Fossil FS4519.

I bought it because it looked nice, not because it was necessarily any "good." Nevertheless, I fell in love with watches and have started pursuing it as a hobby. More recently, it prompted me to crack open my Fossil and discover that it uses a nice Citizen/Miyota quartz movement. Nine point nine out of ten times, quartz is quartz, but Miyota is reputable and reliable, so my blind purchase wasn't a total waste of cash.

Now onto the hobbyism! I've since become especially interested in Chinese mechanical watches, because they're largely unknown in the west (lolhipsterwatches) and offer some sensational value for the money. Some of the long-standing manufacturers are also pioneers in the field of horology, like:
  • SeaGull/Tianjin: Amongst the elite few that have developed in-house double and orbital tourbillon movements. Also engineered a prototypical microrotor movement. Manufacturer behind the legendarily good ST5, ST19 and ST25 mechanicals.
  • Shanghai Watch Factory: Developed the 3L chronograph, China's first auto movement ready for spaceflight. Also engineering their own tourbillon movements with a wide array of complications.
  • Dixmont-Guangzhou: Pioneer of an auto-winder in a tourbillon with their DG80 and DG81 movements.
  • Liaoning Watch Factory: Engineer of unbeatable value-for-money tourbillon and mechanical chronograph movements, the latter of which appeared in the British Horological Institute's 150th anniversary watch.
Here is my collection as it stands:
  1. Timex Weekender T2N650: Not made in America, but nevertheless an esteemed American-owned watch company, the Weekender is a utilitarian and ultra-durable quartz model that looks great with casual wear. Most snobs will lift their nose at the audible movement, but I find the ticking strangely reassuring in a quiet room--reminds me of the old clocks in elementary school.
  2. Akribos XXIV Saturnos AK410WT: Make no mistake, this is not a high-end watch, but I got a stupidly good deal on it. It features a skeletonized variant of the Hangzhou Watch Company's 2000 Series calibre, itself an excellent "clone" (I use that term very loosely) of the venerable Seiko 7s26. In truth, the HWC's 2000 offers more complications and equal timekeeping consistency, making it an arguably better movement than the one it's alleged to copy. It keeps time very well (+/-5 seconds over 24 hours), and the auto-wind rotor seems to work well. Again, my gamble paid off.
  3. Orient Esteem FDB08005W: This is the watch that set me off on the path of Asian mechanical watches. I fell in love with it at first sight, but was forced to wait on pulling the trigger because it was out of stock. When it returned, I told myself to wait for a sale and I'm glad I did, as I purchased it recently for less than half of the MSRP. Orient is subsidiary of Seiko, and the Esteem is fully manufactured and assembled in Japan with the Seiko 46A automatic movement. Reliable and beautiful, this is probably my favorite watch.
And now for the BIG gambles...

In watch enthusiast forums, there's a term called "mushroom brand," which refers to unknown companies that pop up on eBay like mushrooms. These brands have no provenance and no history, often with specious quality control. Nevertheless, they often use what are supposed to be good movements from some of the above companies. If you're lucky, you get a fantastic mechanical watch for a fraction of the price you'd pay for the same guts in a bigger/better brand. If you're not lucky, you get a shitty C-grade movement that doesn't keep time or doesn't work at all.

...but it's only ~$30 to try your hand. So I did. Twice. They haven't arrived, yet, but these are what I got:
  1. Jaragar PMW017: I liked the calendar (though it's not a perpetual calendar) and the dial, and was particularly enamored with the open heart balance wheel. I'm almost positive that this is the Shanghai Watch Factory 2L27 movement.
  2. And an AK Homme Whothefuckknows: AK Homme is widely reported to be of above-average quality amongst mushroom brands (much like Jaragar), and again I was smitten with the open heart. The listing also describes the watch as moonphase, but in truth it's really a day/night indicator that embellishes the dial. The 24-hour dial is legit, though, and that's pretty cool. It uses the Shandong Liaocheng Zhong Tai Watch Factory ML-7101 that's been rotated to place the open heart at the 10 o'clock position.
My next purchase will be a Rotary GS02518, Sea-Gull M171S or Christopher Ward C3 Malvern Chrono Mk II.
waxAnnesBuddyJBobbyDigiShadowdareLevexMt_Goat[Deleted User]


  • waxwax the neroberg Icrontian
    This is really great. I've been thinking about purchasing a watch for a while now. I had wholly decided that I wanted my first watch to be a cheap ($30ish), white-faced watch with brown leather strap. I was planning on ordering a Timex Easy Reader off of Amazon, instead I think I'll pick up the AK Homme "Whothefuckknows" model and will report back when it arrives.
  • brightbright Icrontian
    Are you interested in pocket watches at all, or are you focusing on wrist watches only?
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited October 2012
    Wrist watches, but I respect the pocket watch.

    //EDIT: Chiefly because pocket watches present the same issue as cellphones, in that you need to retrieve something from your pocket to tell the time. It is also my personal belief that they fall dangerously close to the "dork" end of the classic/ironic spectrum.
  • IlriyasIlriyas The Syrupy Canadian Toronto, Ontario Icrontian
    @Thrax, what would you recommend in a mechanical wrist watch for someone who's never owned one before?
  • fatcatfatcat Mizzou Icrontian
    My watch:

  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    Do you want me to recommend a specific model? Things to look for so you can look yourself?

    If the former, what's your price range and stylistic preference? I'll nevertheless explain why I chose what I did.
  • CantiCanti =/= smalltime Icrontian
    edited October 2012
    If having things attached to my wrists didn't drive me so completely insane I'd into watches. I really like the look of the Fossil but the inability to tell the time exactly from a lack of markings is a pretty big nope for me.
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    I had the same issues at first, but I can now tell accurate time on the watch at a glance. You just learn.
  • ketoketo Occupied. Or is it preoccupied? Icrontian
    I have 11 watches. At the high end, an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean that is my daily wear. But mostly I collect Seikos...I have a quartz from the mid '70's my father gave me, 2 other '70's including a King Quartz that is an incredible timekeeper...I just checked the atomic time clock, since I set it last November it has lost 28 seconds. Not bad for a 35 yr old watch. I have several modern Seikos, including a Spork diver and a Cocktail Time dress watch - both are JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) only available by import.
  • UPSLynxUPSLynx :KAPPA: Redwood City, CA Icrontian
    edited October 2012
    Real men don't wear quartz. I only buy watches that use traditional balance wheel. No electromagnetism in my timepieces :D

    You guys probably know that I'm a clock nut - my grandfather is a watchmaker, and I've always grown up with a watch on my wrist. I love them, and I think they're the most under appreciated yet significant fashion item any person can wear - not to mention totally useful to boot. I've thought about making this thread for years, but I never did because I'm dumb.

    The watch I wear the most is my Tissot Ballade III automatic. Stainless steel body (because my skin is toxic to basically anything but stainless or titanium), sapphire crystal, 25 jewel movement, ball-bearing winding rotor, coin-edge face. I love it to death. I also have two simple Caravelles, an Eternamatic automatic winding watch from the 60s, and an Elgin pocketwatch from 1925 (a gift from my grandfather). Totally agree with you @Thrax on the pocketwatch bit. It's fun, but not in any way useful.


    Tourbillons own. Though not Chinese (French, created by Breguet), only a few of the best watchmakers of all time have mastered the double axis, so props to SeaGull/Tianjin. I want a timepiece with a tourbillon, but to be completely honest on them, they're mostly show and no substance. Sure, they are devised to reduce the affects of gravity on the escapement, but the effects are negligible at best, and rarely escape the standard offset of user inaccuracy in setting time. Still, they're a hell of a thing to look at:

    To anyone considering buying a wrist watch, be prepared to invest real money into it. Don't cheap out on a simple watch - you will often find that they break, keep poor time, scratch easily, etc. A good timepiece is a lifetime investment - this Tissot will last me for the rest of my life as long as I don't abuse it. My grandfather wears watches from the early 1900s like it's nothing. It's worth it to pay $200-450 for a wrist watch.

    I know it sounds pretentious to say buy Swiss/French, but seriously, they make the best movements. Not saying Thrax's picks are bad (they're reputable watchmakers), I've just seen enough Euro watches stand the test of time for serious. Built like tanks, incredible craftsmanship.

    Just buy a watch, everyone. It beats the living hell out of looking at your cell, and makes you look like a classy dude.
  • MiracleManSMiracleManS Chambersburg, PA Icrontian
    As a person who is not that interested in fashion, how do you adjust to having something on your wrist? I've yet to find something that isn't too heavy or no matter how many links you add/remove/adjust it's either not going to fit or it's going to flop around on your wrist like a shore bound salmon.
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    You buy watches that don't use links. ;)

    Leather or nylon NATO straps will be light and considerably more adjustable than some stainless band. The links in these bands are placed closer than the width of the links in a steel bracelet, so you'll get dinner adjustment.

    I got over something on my wrist in a week.
  • mertesnmertesn I am Bobby Miller Yukon, OK Icrontian
    You might just need to start wearing one and let yourself get a bit desensitized to it. I had to do this with my wedding ring - I never wore rings before, and had to get used to it. Doesn't bother me now.
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited October 2012
    UPSLynx said:

    I know it sounds pretentious to say buy Swiss/French, but seriously, they make the best movements. Not saying Thrax's picks are bad (they're reputable watchmakers), I've just seen enough Euro watches stand the test of time for serious. Built like tanks, incredible craftsmanship.

    Just buy a watch, everyone. It beats the living hell out of looking at your cell, and makes you look like a classy dude.

    China is unknown primarily because the government wouldn't grant export rights until the eighties, at which time quartz was going mass-market and destroyed the economy of unprepared Chinese horologists.

    In the mid- to high-end, I'd say East and West ate easily rivals these days. I also keep in mind that America dominated the Swiss in watchmaking in the early 20th century, to the extent they were cloning American watches. The Swiss finally got over that and, over the course of 70 years, became legendary. The exact same story is transpiring with China: scrappy cloners of Swiss movements learned to work on their own, started churning out movements that are reputable over half-century periods (ST5 and Chinese Standard Movement are great examples).

    That said, I'm all about owning a Tissot, Longines and (if I ever have nothing at all to spend my money on) a Baume & Mercier.
  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI Icrontian
    I used to be a watch nerd, but not nearly to the technical level Thrax has dived into it. I collected tons of watches over my childhood, including several incredibly nice Swiss one during my couple of trips on the European side, but I've stuck with my Citizen Skyhawk A-T for the last several years. Connects and syncs with the atomic clocks, solar-charged, world clock, beautiful and heavy. I desperately need to get it to a cleaner, but otherwise, I love this watch.

    There's definitely something to be said for getting a purely mechanical watch, and some day I will own one or multiple and have the nice self-winding storage boxes, but for now, I'm quite pleased with this guy.
  • AlexDeGruvenAlexDeGruven Wut? Meechigan Icrontian
    Ahh, I love watches. The jeweler watch billboards (generally Breitling or Rolex) are like 60foot-wide porn for me.

    I have 2 watches:

    1. Seiko Kinetic SKA060. The first real thing I bought for myself (15 years ago, now). Steel bands are the shizz and I won't ever go back to any other material. It needs a new super-cap, but that's a relatively minor fix (I did it once, but bought the wrong capacity and it died really quickly).


    2. A 1911 Illinois pocket watch I inherited when my grandfather died last year. It's in relatively good shape, but needs about $200 of TLC (disassembly, cleaning, a couple of minor spring repairs). Digging into the history of a pocket watch is a rathole of epic proportions, so don't look up the serial number of one unless you've got several hours to burn. I don't have a pic handy right now.
  • GnomeQueenGnomeQueen The Lulz Queen Mountain Dew Mouth Icrontian
    Any recommendations for lady watches? :D
  • ZanthianZanthian Mitey Worrier Icrontian
    I still wear a watch. I prefer the ability to check it in a meeting without having to get my phone out. I really love a thin watch and thus my love for the skagen watch brand. I currently wear the following watch

  • LincLinc Owner Detroit Icrontian
    edited October 2012
    @Thrax I dig the Fossil FS4519 for its simplicity. I could actually wear that watch.

    @fatcat Your watch embodies why we will never, ever agree on the design of... anything. :p
  • CBCB ΖΈΜ΅Μ‘ΣœΜ΅Μ¨Μ„Ζ· Der Millionendorf- Icrontian
    edited October 2012
    As a teacher, a watch is a necessary part of my work day. I need to make sure I stay on schedule while lecturing, but checking a phone in front of a classroom of students feels rude and awkward, and looking at the clock on the wall makes the whole class look at the clock on the wall.

    Even if it weren't however, I'd be a watch guy. Timepieces are my favorite category of thing. Watches, wall clocks, grandfather clocks, sundials, hour-glasses, whatever. My favorite is a Foucault's Pendulum, but those are unfortunately impractical for home ownership.

    My everyday watch right now is a Casio Waveceptor with a stainless steel band and black face:
    It's got all the features I like for the practicality of everyday use: stainless steel band, date display, kinetic power, and radio-set.

    My current favorite dress watch is my Akribos XXIV Davinci with stainless steel face and black leather band:
    I LOVE the classy look of this watch. It reflects my personality and style well, but it wouldn't be practical for everyday use, as it has none of the features on the above list of requirements for my everyday watch. It gets wound and set for special occasions only. :)

    I have a box full of other watches, as well, mostly old dailywears that wore out or were for some other reason replaced. At one point I was really into calculator watches, so there are a few of those in there. I also had a Databank phase in which I really liked the ability to keep phone numbers and calendars and stuff in my watch, so there are a few of those as well (those are functions I have happily handed over to my pocket communicator).

    Among them are a few antiques, and a few cool styles, but nothing impressive in name, as I've never really had the funds to gather anything of remark. Someday, I will have the funds for the higher-end watches, but that might have to be a retirement hobby for me. :D

    I also have several pocket watches, most of which are antique, and most of those are not actually in time-telling condition. The only one I actually use is an engraved, chromed steel, modernish piece which matches one in the possession of each of the other Mitey Worriers, and which they received from me on the occasion of my wedding. I wear it as a costume piece on occasion. Some of you saw it (or at least the chain) last ICOK, as it's part of my 'Devil of the Puritan Wilderness' costume.

  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited October 2012

    Most watches are technically unisex, even if they're labelled as "male." Changing the strap color does a lot to enhance the femininity of a watch, for example.

    Female watches are also increasing in size, putting watches with 37-40mm dials, once the exclusive domain of men, into fashionable women's territory. If you provide a budget, I could make some recommendations.


    If you like that, I think you'll like watches by Timex, Wenger, Victorinox, Skagen or Obaku.

    If you're particularly snobby, you might steer clear of Skagen or Obaku for having completely fabricated lineages. Skagen claims to be Danish, but it's headquartered in Las Vegas, owned by a Floridian and assembled in China with movements of average quality. Obaku, meanwhile, invokes Japanese provenance, but is designed by Danes and assembled in China with the corpse of Ingersoll Watch Company, an American brand that long ago lost its prestige as it was sold to a chain of successively less talented companies.

    Skagen and Obaku are solid, but not as solid as more reputable and truthful brands in their price bracket.
  • BuddyJBuddyJ Dept. of Propaganda OKC Icrontian
    I like mechanical watches. I have my great-grandfather's Hamilton, and my other great-grandfather's bubble-back Rolex (which needs restoration work). The first mechanical I've purchased, however, is a Vostok Amphibia dive watch. This is the watch made semi-famous as Steve Zissou's watch in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic.


    31 jewel movement
    31 hour power reserve
    water resistant to 660'

    Not bad for a $70 ebay purchase shipped from Moscow. I've had no problems with accuracy or reliability. One could say the Vostok is the AK-47 of watches; functional, reliable but not refined. Perhaps the best example of this is the steel link band the watch comes with. The folded steel links will tear the hair from your arm if they get even remotely close to your skin. I've yet to meet a Vostok owner who keeps the stock bracelet. You almost are required to switch to a NATO strap with one of these.

    If you're looking for an inexpensive self-winding watch, check out Vostoks. They're great starters.
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited October 2012
    Great point, Pete! Vostok and Zarya mechanical watches are built like tanks, if you do the legwork to make sure you're landing a legitimate model. Russian mechanicals aren't pretty, but like many Russian things, austerity was the tradeoff for unstoppable reliability.

    Zarya, in particular, makes a gorgeous (true) moonphase auto based on the incredible Poljot 3105.1. It's a weird blend of dress and field watch, and I love it.
  • MiracleManSMiracleManS Chambersburg, PA Icrontian
    Thrax said:

    You buy watches that don't use links. ;)

    Leather or nylon NATO straps will be light and considerably more adjustable than some stainless band. The links in these bands are placed closer than the width of the links in a steel bracelet, so you'll get dinner adjustment.

    I got over something on my wrist in a week.

    I think it's the general heft of the thing. I've had leather/nylon straps before and it still shakes around on my wrist unless I pull it tight like I'm trying to tourniquet my wrist. Are you supposed to wear them so tight that they can't slide up and down?

    Its less having something on my arm than the flopping around.
  • AnnesAnnes Tripped Up by Libidos and Hubris Alexandria, VA Icrontian
    edited October 2012
    My god, I would rock the shit out of a big watch. I've never even considered that as a possibility.
  • Baltimore is probably the Pawn / Thrift shop capital of the world. I'm not an expert in fine watches, but I know enough to be dangerous. Generally an assumption is made in those places if the watch is not "blingy" it's of marginal value. I once found a XETUM timepiece in a goodwill store for $25, and I'll admit I purchased it and flipped it for some cash. Just one of those things where nobody realized what they had, after all it's a pretty plain looking timepiece with a leather strap, but it has a nice Swiss movement. If you can find a little spare time, go comb your local thrift / pawn shops. Knowledge is power, you may find a diamond in the rough.
  • JokkeJokke Bergen, Norway Icrontian
    I have a G-shock I bought when I was last in the US of A. Works fine. Not fancy/classy/stylish like other watches in here, but it tells me the time and date, and it has a stopwatch and it's water resistant, which to me is more important than almost anything else. I feel almost naked without it.
  • BuddyJBuddyJ
    is now on the hunt for that Zarya.
    Dept. of Propaganda OKC Icrontian
    is now on the hunt for that Zarya.
  • ardichokeardichoke Icrontian
    edited October 2012
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    Fossil goes for cheap often on Ebay, Amazon and discount watch sites. You could probably snag one for less than $100 if you're patient.
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