Buy a Seiko SKX Before it is too late!
There is certainty that the SKX will halt production and be replaced by the new line of Seiko 5 automatic watches which feature 27 different variations and 5 styles. However, keep in mind the original Seiko SKX models are still widely available via online outlets worldwide. I believe factories still do have a lot of stock built up over the years and there should be no need to fret over a drought! As a result of this speculation, the prices have definitely shot up by $30-$50 or so online and on eBay.
Same Case or Different? Specs...
The case dimension will remain the same as our usual SKX models but there have been some upgrades- and downgrades. First of all the new models will not feature a screw down crown nor 200M of water resistance. The new models will feature 100M of water resistance with a pull/push crown which are typically seen on most Seiko 5 models. A big upgrade is the addition of the 4R36 automatic calibre which features hand winding, hacking, and a decent power reserve of 40 hours or so. A big upgrade I was hoping for was a sapphire crystal instead of our typical hardlex crystal. Oh well, perhaps next time around!
Seiko 5 “Sports” Starting at $295 USD
Seiko 5 “Suits” Starting at $350 USD
Seiko 5 “Specialist” Starting at $300
Seiko 5 “Street” Starting at $335
Seiko 5 “Sense Style” Starting at $335 USD
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Case and Dial
The Orion features a uniquely shaped solid 316L stainless steel case with a ridged bezel and thin downward curved lugs for a nice comfortable fit on the wrist. This example, being Rose Gold is IP plated and i t came out pretty good from what I can see. There are no sharp edges nor blemishes on the smooth rose gold finish. The dimensions at 43MM by 15MM thick seem a bit large but actually wear just fine on my 6.5” wrist due to a shorter lug to lug length, and the lugs which protrude downwards for a smaller fit. Now, the gunmetal dial is actually executed very nicely and super neat. We can see some of the balance wheel from the front of the case which is covered by a genuine Sapphire crystal. In terms of legibility, I was also surprised how legible this piece was and that is due to the bold applied lumed markers which really pop out at you when you read the time. The lume itself is quite strong and lasts for some time, being it is SuperLuminova and has a greenish tone when glowing. However, do keep in mind that this watch only contains 3ATM or 30 Meters of water resistance - so certainly do not take it swimming with you. This is more of a casual/dressy piece in my opinion and can look good in many types of attire for different occasions.
The movement they went for is a Japanese automatic Miyota 85S0. This movement features a nice hollowed out rotor and some striping on the mainplate of the movement. It is also nice to see an exhibition caseback which displays the inner workings of this calibee utilized on the Orion. This calibre feaures hand winding, hacking seconds, 21 Jewels, and around 40 hours of true power reserve. In terms of accuracy, they are not too bad with my examples gaining around 8 seconds per day. Overall, it is a workhorse movement that will last for many years to come without servicing.
Genuine Leather Bands
The 22MM Genuine leather bands they have chosen are actually quite comfortable and easy to wear. A nice add on is the use of quick-release pins which allow the user to change bands within 30 seconds or less. I can see myself throwing one of these on a nice Nato strap for the summer season, or perhaps a nice black canvas band. Overall, for the pricepoint of this timepiece the straps definitely are suitable.
Furthermore, the Orion by Lord timepieces is certainly an interesting design and aesthetic - from its skeletonized dial and eye catching case finishes. It also is relatively affordable and has a good value at a price under $200. We get all of those specifications most of us watch geeks expect - such as Sapphire, an automatic Hackable movement, and decent fit and finish. I can definitely reccommend this one if you are looking for something completely different and out of the norm for your watch collection. Thanks for taking the time to read and please do check out the full hands on review via YouTube.
The all new Axios Ironclad is a sister brand of the famed ZELOS microbrand. It certainly features those great elements of quality and precision, but with simpler DNA. This watch will go live on Kickstarter August 19TH of this year, and I think it will do pretty good. The case itself is solid 316L stainless steel featuring a 3 Micron thick protective coating for hardness and durability. This is quite innovative and I believe the first microbrand to do so. In terms of dimensions, they are very wearable and modern at 40MM x 46MM x 13MM. The short lug to lug really helps it wear with ease on my 6.5” wrist - which I do appreciate. Now, the case is rated to 500M which is certainly suitable for diving and any water activity you will be doing whilst wearing your Ironclad. Getting to the finishing, it is decent with polished flanks and brushed tops/bracelet. The finishing is good enough for this pricepoint and definitely does not contain any sharp edges nor blemishes.
The blue sunburst dial on this “Horizon” example is quite striking at first glance due to its’ shine and luster in the sunlight. We also get large applied white markers filled with leaps and bounds of X1 C3 SuperLuminova...which is REALLY bright. Our hands are in orange to match the sweeping seconds hand as well as the ceramic bezel insert colors. The A logo for Axios is applied in polished silver, and quite small Id say. In terms of bezel action - the 120 Click Lumed Ceramic bezel is stiff, but not too stiff. It feels very tool like and has absolute zero backplay. It definitely adds some shine to the blue dial and plays nicely with it. Hovering the dial is a double domed sapphire crystal with inner anti reflective coating, so legibility in high light conditions will not be an issue. A small detail I did notice is the matching date wheel to the dial - kudos to Axios for doing that. Its the small things that count!
Powering the Ironclad is the standard Swiss Made automatic Selitta SW200 movement. It is quite a common one and is essentially the equivalent of an ETA 2824-2. It feature hacking-hand wind- and a smooth sweeping seconds hand which beats at 28,800 BPH. You can expect around +2-6 seconds on these Ironclads and around a 38 hour power reserve when fully wound. Overall, for the price I think this is the highest end movement one can source.
The oyster style bracelet is 20MM and tapers down to 18MM and is comprised of solid steel. It does feature screw links, so adjusting the links takes only a few minutes and you will be on your way. It also features a custom buckle and proper milled clasp which so many of us are accustomed to now in higher end microbrands. There are not any dive extensions but there are certainly enough micro adjustments to fit anyones wrist just fine. It is comfortable, doesn’t pull my hair, and has a nice smooth brushed finish just as the case. I do not have an issue with this bracelet, and you shouldn’t either.
In conclusion, when searching for a watch in the $400 price range, especially a diver) there are key elements I look for such as Sapphire-Swiss Movement-Bracelet-Lume- Bezel Action. This watch definitely ticks all those boxes for me and I believe the Pre Order price is where you should jump in on this one. I am actually sad I have to send this review unit back - because I genuinely had a really fun time test driving it. Thanks once again for taking the time to read.
Each Vintro watch comes equipped with a leatherette case , card holder, warranty card, and extra band
The Vintage Inspired Le Mans 1952 Chronograph features a solid stainless steel case with a IP Yellow Gold plating in my example. In tetms of some dimensions we get a 40MM x 15MM x 48MM case ( 20MM Lugs ). These dimensions certainly are proportioned nicely for todays times, and I do not really have an issue with the size of the watch. A nice thing that Vintro did was add 100 Meters of water resistance, allowing the user to actually take this chronograph swimming if they really wanted or needed to. The highly polished case features no rough edges nor blemishes, which is always nice to see at this price ( $536 USD Pre-Order ). Another nice detail is the sapphire exhibition caseback which displays the Column Wheel chronograph movement at large, which I always enjoy on my timepieces. Overall, it is a nice well rounded and useful watch in terms of specification.
The cream off white dial certainly reminds me of older Vintage chronographs from the 50’s and they did a pretty good job at replicating that. From the Tachymeter to the Telemetre , its all mint - crisp - and completely legible. The gold dauphine hands are always aesthetically pleasing, especially on a watch of this style. If I did not mention, Vintros watches are assembled in Germany, and marked Made in Germany at the 6:00 position - which is a nice escape from the normally seen Swiss Made. Our subdial at 3:00 counts the 30 minute chronograph whilst the adjacent subdial is for our running seconds. A small detail which really pops is the blued chronograph hand - which really shows over the cream off white dial. Lastly, to top it off is a nice domed sapphire crystal with inner AR coating - which honestly is visible in the sun, and pretty much any other condition I have encountered.
I actually really do like the movement they chose for this watch for a few reasons. First of all, it is one I am very familiar with and have had great experiences with in other brands large and small. The Seagull ST1940 is actually a Column wheel chronograph - just as the Omega calibre in the Speedmasters are. The movement beats at 21,600 BPH and has a 36 hour power reserve along with a 30 Minute chronograph timer. The lever actuation is extremely smooth and rapid with these movements and feels much more high end than it actually is. Vintro also went ahead and added a custom rotor stating “Designed in Germany”. Small details that catch my eye include the perlage work and blue screws utilized ln the ST1940. It is indeed a great little package and quite a punch for the money.
Leather Band or Nato?
Now, the watch can be purchased with a variety of straps - but I chose the light brown Genuine leather vintage styled band along with a tan Nato style strap. The leather band is quite supple and soft out of the box and comes equipped with quick-release pins for easy swapability ( if that is even a word ). Overall, it is certainly comfortable and fits the vintage aesthetic the case contains. It all flows together very nice and for the yellow gold IP plated case - I would definitely go with this colorway. The second NATO strap is a pretty typical band, nothing extraordinary - but it is of decent quality and has the gold hardware to match the case. It is a nice accessory to have, incase you want to get the watch wet as well.
Furthermore, I think the Le Mans 1952 is a great first offering from a new smaller brand based out of Germany. I like that they executed each subtle detail with preciseness and 1:1 detail of watches from that era. It is certainly not the cheapest watch you will find with a Seagull ST1940 Automatic movement , but there certainly isn’t another watch which resembles those vintage watches we love so much with so much detail, and thought that went into producing each component. I think it is well worth the money, and suggest you take a look at them if you enjoy the look and feel of an older watch - but do not want to deal with the troubles an older watch can bring.