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.
The all new limited edition Spectre Phantom II is designed with a genta-ish case comprised of solid 316L stainless steel with a diameter of 39MM and a height of 48MM. In terms of case thickness, it is most definitely comfortable at 11.5MM. The dimensions are just right and sit right at home on my 6.5” wrist comfortably. A smooth brushed finish covers the entire case without any sharp edges or roughness. To the skin, the steel feels very smooth and brushed with care. One of my favorite aspects of the PH II is the 100M of water resistance we get, thanks to the screw down crown and caseback. Getting to the caseback, we get a nice sapphire display of the swiss automatic caliber and its’ perlage work. Lastly, as expected at this price a flat genuine AR coated sapphire covers the front of the watch as well.
The dial is actually black, but can appear as a deep grey due to the sunburst effect this model has. Other than that the dial is rather simple, symmetric, and down to the point. The applied markers are filled with superluminova as well as the S logo below 12:00. A neat detail is the black date wheel which does match the dial quite well, if you did not notice. The bezel is neat, brushed, and fixed with perfectly circular aligned screws just as a Hublot or Audemars Piguet RO would be.
To be 100% honest, I have never experienced a Fossil group STP1-11 Automatic movement prior to receiving the Phantom. It did quite surprise me with its’ neat perlage work and blued screws. It is basically the equivalent of an ETA 2824-2 and has precise accuracy as well. My model is running at +3-5 seconds per day and is very consistent. This movement contains 26 jewels, beats at 4 HZ, and contains a hacking and winding feature as well. A nice little touch is the custom spectre logo on the actual rotor.
Bracelet or Leather?
Considering this is a integrated case design, your strap options are going to be cut short. However, the stock bracelet is definitely a very nice and well finished one. It also is extremely fluid and comfortable, and does not pull a single hair off my arm. Small subtle polished edges allow for some visual flair while the extemely fine brushing sits comfortable on the wrist. The bracelet was a breeze to adjust with screw links and a screwdriver which came inside the box itself. Comparing this bracelet to their first ever release “Phantom I” - there is a huge increase in overall quality on this model. The butterfly clasp is tight, secure, and even is signed when you completely fold it over. The good thing about this type of clasp is the seemless and clean look it has
once fitted correctly. If the bracelet doesn’t suit you, a second end fitted genuine leather band comes in the kit as well. The strap is of okay quality and definitely wearable, but I do much prefer the bracelet.
Furthermore, the spectre phantom II does
not dissapoint, and I was actually quite surprised at the actual quality and feel
of this piece when I first received it. It is indeed a well made watch and well worth the asking price in my
opinion. The Phantom II is also a very versatile
watch as it can be worn dressed up or down, and even while swimming. Im glad I had the chance to experience this watch and it is evident they truly have stepped their game up in terms
of movement and overall case/bracelet quality.
Today , we are taking a look at the all new release from famed micro producer Richard LeGrand or ( RLG ) now. Their newest release is definitely a vintage inspired watch with a super compressor design. The solid 316L brushed steel case comes in at 42MM x 13MM x 48MM. These dimensions fit quite nice and much smaller than 42MM on my wrist considering the short lugs and small tip to tip length. This one kind of just sinks into the wrist weighing only 80 grams on the supplied strap. The finishing is decent, and definitely suitable for the $220 price this watch is currently being offered for from RLG. Now, we get two crowns, which is quite typical of a super compressor watch. The first crown allows us to rotate the inner bezel for a 60 minute dive timer which can also be useful in day to day situations. The second crown is screwed down for that 200M of water resistance and used for timeset. Heading to the caseback, a nice and rather refreshing new design of a ship which is raised and polished is displayed proudly.
Now, there are four different dial options - but my example is the navy / deep blue colour. It really suits the whole vintage compressor aesthetic, as well as the applied lumed “Blancpain” style markers. A nice detail is the chromed out borders surrounding them. The 12-3-6-9 markers are rectangular - matching the long rectangular lumed hands as well. It is a rather simple and symmetric dial meant for a tool like purpose. If you did not notice, RLG is printed below 12:00 instead of the Richard LeGrand we are so used to seeing. This was done for obvious reasons as “Dick” is short for Richard - and enthusiasts were basically making the joke of “The grand dick” in translation..Anyway, the lume is BGW9 and quite potent with a good bright blue shine. Overall, I think it looks clean, crisp, and to the point.
Well...NH35! Yes, I feel like I am repeating myself in almost every review. The famed Seiko NH35 automatic movement is used in this model, for good reason. It certainly helps keep the price down and is probably the most reliable and accurate movement in this sector of watches. It features 24 jewels, hand-winding, hacking, and is relatively accurate at around 5-10 seconds a day while beating at 3 HZ.
Genuine Leather / Sailcloth Band
Now, the band is probably one of my least favorite parts of the watch itself. I mean, the quality is decent...but the backside is genuine leather while the front is a faux sailcloth material that can get wet. I really think a nice rubber end fitted band would of suited this watches purpose much better as a dive watch. However, I am seeing more and more microbrand divers being offered on leather bands which is quite odd. Personally, I threw mine on a Bartons rubber band and it looked stellar. The band is 22MM and does feature a signed steel clasp.
Furthermore, I think RLG is offering quite a good design and specification for the coin. It has the great NH35 movement, a beautifully domed crystal, and is certainly better looking and a bit more sporty than its’ arch enemy - the Dan henry. If I honestly had to pick between this or the DH which I reviewed a few years ago..I would choose this. It fits much slimmer and comfortable on the wrist, and is much more “Minimalistic” shall I say. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read.