The Spaceview Reborn: The Accutron II Alpha


IMG_6621This past Christmas, my wife and son thoughtfully gave me a new timepiece that I have actually wanted for some time now but kept allowing other watches to get in the way. Sometimes a gift is the only way to get something that you keep putting off yourself and I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful new Bulova Accutron II “Alpha” watch waiting for me under the tree. Bulova should be pretty happy with me as this is the third Accutron II watch to come into my hands since they hit the market late last summer.

I’ve reviewed the first two that I purchased myself here on Measure of Time in recent months, beginning with the Moonview, an homage to the old Accutron Astronaut and the Snorkel, which is a dead ringer for the original Accutron diving watch. In both cases, however, my review came only after a day or so of use, just long enough for me to get a good feeling for them and to write something credible to evaluate them. This time around, I decided to wait until after I had worn the watch for a while before writing a review and I’m glad I did. This Accutron II has become my favorite of the three and indeed has become a favorite in my collection.

AlphaThe Alpha is based on one of the original Accutron watch designs from late 1960, when the revolutionary tuning fork watch was first introduced to the public for sale. The 1960 version of the Alpha was a halo model for the new brand, available only in white or yellow gold. Some came with dials, others went without, earning the “Spaceview” designation and it is that particular watch that this new one is based upon. The updated Alpha incorporates a very close approximation of the styling and shape of the original model, resembling a rounded shield design with 60’s looking lugs on the bottom that conform nicely to the shape of the case.

Coming in at a modern 42mm, the size is more in keeping with today’s watch trends without being overly large and unwieldy like some designs have become. The stainless steel case features a variety of sculpted surfaces that work harmoniously together, both polished and brushed. The upper case surrounding the crystal features a brushed finish that radiates outward in a sunburst pattern, a vintage touch not usually found on today’s watches, while the sides feature both a beveled polished finish and a brushed flat side. The variety of surfaces, polishes and angles make for a watch that photography has a hard time capturing the beauty of, yet in person it is quite striking and different from anything that is run of the mill.

IMG_5319The overall construction of the case is unique as well because it is formed of two separate pieces, upper and lower. The lower piece comprises both the back and the lugs as one solid piece while the upper piece forms the sides and top of the case and holds the crystal. The movement is sandwiched between these two pieces and held together by four screws on the back. It feels very solid and substantial and the crown at the 3 O’Clock position tucks neatly into the side of the case, virtually hidden from view.

Original Alpha 214 models featured the crown on the back of the case, further highlighting the difference between an Accutron and conventional wristwatches that required frequent winding and time correction. The case is water-resistant to 30 meters which means if you accidentally submerge the watch it should be fine. Just don’t swim in it.

IMG_3626Here also is a picture of the inside of the case back. Note the construction, stainless steel, and the lugs which are part of the case back. This forms the composite watch with the movement and top shown above.

A raised and domed K1 hardened mineral crystal is seated tightly into the case, allowing one not only to read the time but to get a glimpse of the exposed electronic movement that recalls the original Accutron Spaceview. Imprinted on the underside of the crystal are the words “Bulova Accutron II” in white. While some may wish for sapphire glass, I have found the mineral crystal to be substantial enough and clear. There is some refraction at extreme angles but it adds to beauty of the dial, or lack of dial if you prefer.

IMG_3628There are no exposed tuning forks in this modern version but you do get to see the copper wire coil and the movement is seated in green plastic similar to the original Spaceview. Covering the movement is a gold metallic plate that highlights various apertures for seeing jeweled pinions in place. The plate features a radiating sunburst pattern that plays nicely with the finish of the case. A solid anodized aluminum chapter ring, rendered in a deep and beautiful shade of green, features the minutes in white hash marks with a round marker set at each hour. The Accutron tuning fork logo is featured at the 12 O’Clock position and all hours markers are filled with luminous material. The chapter ring, along with the white pointed hands make it very easy to read the time. The hands are identical to those used on original Spaceview models and they are filled with luminous material as well. The second-hand features the Accutron logo as a counterpoint and this is what brings out the best aspect of the movement.

The watch is fitted with a BA101.10 movement (this is engraved on the gold plate, along with the tuning fork logo) that is the latest movement to spring from the Bulova Precisionist technology introduced in 2010. To create the Accutron II line and keep the watch size within reason, Bulova needed to have a smaller movement while retaining a battery lifespan of 2-3 years. This new movement lowers the operating frequency down to help the smaller battery achieve that. While this had the effect of decreasing the Precisionist’s accuracy somewhat, the Accutron II is still considered to be an ultra high frequency watch that is considerably more accurate than a standard quartz movement, up to six times more accurate to be, well…accurate.

This class of movement features a proprietary quartz torsional resonator that uses a three prong quartz crystal and not the usual two and beats 16 times per second, resulting in a second-hand that sweeps in a fluidic, continuous motion, the hallmark of an Accutron watch. The name, which originally meant “Accuracy through Electronics” has once again been realized.

IMG_3625The watch features a black leather strap, embossed in an alligator pattern which is both padded, yet pliable. While it is a bit long, it is easy to customize the size via the adjustable butterfly deployant clasp, a pleasant surprise at this price point. I will admit that I wasn’t a big fan of this clasp at first and immediately wanted to put a traditional buckle on it but I didn’t have one that worked so I decided to wear it with the included clasp. Having worn the watch for four weeks now, I’ve grown to appreciate it a lot more and have gotten used to how it works with the leather strap. I like them on metal bracelets but it takes a little getting used to when dealing with leather. The clasp itself is nice and features a polished tuning fork logo raised in a surrounding circle of bead blasted finish.

Speaking of the tuning fork logo, it is featured no less than six times on the watch: chapter ring, dial-plate, counterpoint, crown, clasp and back. Bulova has discontinued the use of the tuning fork logo on its other lines of watches for the most part, bringing the logo back for use exclusively in the Accutron II line, a decision I agree with. That logo was once what set an Accutron apart from any other kind of timepiece and it is now back where it belongs.

So what are my thoughts on this new Alpha? Simply put, I love the entire package. It is well crafted, substantial and unique in design. The fit and finish are superb, especially in a watch that retails for under $500.00 USD. The movement has not lost nor gained a second in four weeks of daily wear and the strap is well made, comfortable and adjustable. Like the other watches in the Accutron II portfolio, it looks like an Accutron that recalls the 1960’s in a package designed for 21st century. Plus it’s mesmerizing to look at. The combination of polishes and finishes, the rare look at a quartz based movement, the beautiful green and gold tones of the movement, the smooth second-hand and the interesting design of the case all work well together.

IMG_5316From what I have been able to determine, the watch features a Swiss made case and is assembled in Switzerland while the movement is crafted in Japan. This would explain why the case is so well made with such excellent fit and finish. This picture shows the case back inside.

Fans of the original Accutron should be very pleased with this new version of an iconic watch design. All of the Accutron II watches I have seen and reviewed indicate that Bulova is headed in the right direction with this series and I look forward to seeing what else they come out with. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy this beautiful homage to a historic line of watches that literally changed timekeeping over 50 years ago.

Note: I should have included a word about the accuracy of the Alpha. After one month of wear, I found no deviation of time from the atomic clock signal I used to set it initially. I’m sure there will be some differences among Accutron II owners due to different types of wear, exposure to magnetic fields, etc. but overall, the accuracy if the watch is dead on the money for me. 

Follow Up: Ten Months

I have to say that the most surprising thing about the Accutron II Alpha after ten months of ownership is the surprising amount of wrist time it gets. Quite often, I’ll get a new watch, wear it for several weeks and then begin to lose interest in it. Other watches beg to be worn and eventually the once-coveted timepiece ends up in a drawer where the battery will eventually die. Such has not been the case with the Alpha.

While my initial enthusiasm for the watch has diminished somewhat, I would prefer to think that it has mainly just leveled off. The Alpha generally gets some amount of wrist time every week. I’ll open the box, look through the collection and that green dial and sweeping hand always gets my attention. Unlike most Bulova watches, this one is definitely a unique look and it stands out. More often that not, I’ll leave home with it on my wrist for the day.

Having worn it a lot over the past ten months, I’ve been impressed with the accuracy of the watch. Despite what they may claim, the Accutron II Alpha might gain one second every four months. That’s it. It set it on Christmas Day, I reset it when the time changed in March and as I write this just days before the fall time change, the watch is exactly 1.5 seconds faster than my atomic clock signalized digital clock. That is impressive for any watch and certainly for one that is under $500.00.

A few things I don’t like about the watch or rather, I would change if I could.

  • I still wish the watch was just a little bit smaller. It’s still vastly right-sized when compared to the Precisionist models and their Incredible Hulk sized cases but I wish it was about 40mm and it would be perfect.
  • I have come to wish that it did have a sapphire crystal, even if it drove the cost up. The clarity of sapphire is just so much better than any mineral crystal. Make the crystal sapphire, remove the Bulova name from the crystal and increase the font a bit on the Accutron II. Call it what it is, just like the originals.
  • With a slightly reduced case size, decrease the lug width to 20mm. With a 21mm lug width, you are going to have considerably less choice out there in aftermarket straps and bracelets. Most of them are sized in even-numbered sizes, which means for a really nice leather strap, you are going to have to force a 22mm strap to fit or go with a 20mm strap which leaves the spring bars visible. Same with a mesh or metal strap-there are very few 21mm metal bracelets out there and with metal, your only real choice is to go down a size to 20, which means it will fit loosely. The Accutron II Moonview I have has a 20 mm lug width and gives me a wide array of choices. Changing bands and bracelets is like changing neckties and can bring a whole new look to a watch.

Having said all that, I’m still very impressed with what Bulova has done and I really hope they will consider doing a few more Spaceview homages of other models in the future.

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Bulova Accutron II “Snorkel” Review


B7A8CF4C-FD66-4794-93DF-19D0706A5CB4_zpsxwuw0zicThis week, I’m reviewing another great watch recently released by the Bulova Watch Company under their new Accutron II line of watches. Just to recount some previously covered ground, Bulova ceased producing watches under the Accutron name earlier this year and reintroduced that line as “Bulova AccuSwiss” to denote their high-end line of Swiss-made watches. Doing this accomplished two things. It righted a wrong in the minds of many purists who just could not connect the dots between the original Accutron tuning fork watch of the 1960’s/1970’s and the present day Swiss automatic watches that have now carried the Accutron name for many years. To many, it seemed that the watch that pioneered ACCUracy through elecTRONics had nothing to do with a mechanical wristwatch. It also freed up the Accutron name for use on something more befitting it’s heritage, which was the introduction of the Accutron II line in the Bulova portfolio.

Accutron II, the name of which implies a totally new generation of Accutron wristwatches, blends what is old with what is new. The line, which appears to be positioned between the standard Bulova line and the Precisionist line, is comprised of five distinct versions in a variety of styles, all of which are drawn from the original Accutron archives and updated to appeal to a modern audience. This particular review will cover one of the most interesting versions, the Accutron II Snorkel which, in the 96B208 version is a pure homage to the original in almost every way.

The Snorkel line is the only line of Accutron II watches that are rated to a 200 meter water resistance level. At this rating, the watch is acceptably designed for swimming and light diving. The original Snorkel was rated to a depth of 666 feet or roughly 200 meters so Bulova stayed the course with the updated version. More on that later.

Original Accutron Snorkel

Original Accutron Snorkel

First, the case of the watch is crafted in stainless steel, shaped to resemble the original. It has a distinctive 1960’s/1970’s style that was popular at the time but which went out as quartz watches and their new thin designs became prevalent. This funky retro, colorful watch style has come back in recent years, especially in brands such as Zodiac and Bulova has perfectly captured the design of the original while upsizing the case to 43mm to conform with the larger styles of the 21st century. The original was about 38mm, which at the time was considered to be a large watch.

0f91d29b-2632-45e4-addd-ce8cc5714dfe_zpsa834638aThe surface of the case is mostly rendered in a light brush finish with polished highlights such as the thin bezel ring around the crystal and a polished chamfer that runs up both sides of the case. The right side features two crowns like the original, the lower one used for setting the time and date while the upper one rotates an internal elapsed time bezel that surrounds the main dial. Oddly, the lower crown is  screw-down style while the upper crown is not. The lower crown also features the Accutron tuning fork logo introduced on the original Accutrons in 1960.

The back of the watch is a screw-in type back, which is not surprising given the watch’s 200m water resistance. It is simple, brushed with polished accents and is signed with the serial number as well as the year production code (B4 for 2014). So is it a serious diver’s watch? I don’t think it is but at 200m, it should be fine swimming, snorkeling and light diving.

The dial is black with thin chrome indices filled with luminous material. It is a stark and simple dial with the slightest hint of a sunburst pattern and is signed “Bulova Accutron II” with the Accutron logo above it. The bezel ring, in orange and white, surrounds the dial and rotates in either direction you turn it. The hour and minute hands are white with luminous materials while the second hand is bright orange and stands out noticeable against the black dial.

Protecting the dial is a K1 mineral crystal. According to various watch sources, K1 mineral is a type of watch crystal that is hardened, more shatter-resistant than sapphire crystal, and more scratch-resistant than regular mineral crystal. This will not deter those that won’t consider a watch unless it has a sapphire crystal but I suppose that Bulova was trying to keep the price as reasonable as possible. On this example, the crystal is slightly raised and domed, which adds to the vintage appeal of the watch in a way that a flat mineral crystal could not.

The movement of this watch is one of the defining factors that makes this a unique timepiece. To get the size it wanted from the new Accutron II watches, Bulova built a new movement based on the Precisionist model, but smaller and thinner. To accomplish this and use a smaller battery, they had to make some modifications that lowered the accuracy rating from that of a Precisionist (accurate to within 10 seconds a year) but is still up to six times more accurate than that of a standard quartz type wristwatch. The torsional resonator movement beats at a rate of 16 beats per second, which gives the second hand the appearance of a completely smooth sweeping action, a hallmark of the original Accutron.

photo copy 31This particular model is only available with a mesh bracelet, which works well for this design. There are other versions of the Snorkel with different dial configurations and these feature a 60’s style coffin-link bracelet. The mesh bracelet, while attractive and vintage appropriate, fits oddly on my wrist. Rather than use a conventional clasp, Bulova elected to use a butterfly clasp and the bracelet is a combination of solid mesh with several removable bar links on either side of the clasp. Removing more than 6 links (the bracelet is quite large) resulted in difficulty closing the clasp as the bar links do not bend to conform to the shape of it. I decided to remove the bracelet and replace it with a period appropriate rally strap which I think goes well with the watch.

Overall, I think that Bulova has developed a credible vehicle from which to launch a reimagined Accutron watch line. The combination of proven designs from the 1960’s, accuracy much higher than probably 98% of the watches made today from a unique movement, a good price point ($450 to $650 USD), quality construction and a company with a storied history makes for a watch that should be a home run for Bulova.

Bulova Accutron II Astronaut Homage


AstronautOriginalThere once was a time when the name “Accutron” meant something very significant to people. When it was introduced on October 25, 1960, it was the most significant technological leap in timekeeping since the invention of the clock…the world’s first electronic watch that keep time to the precise vibration of a tuning fork. There was nothing else like it when it came out and it had the effect of rendering watches like the Hamilton Electric, as well as all mechanical watches obsolete in the dust from an accuracy standpoint.

For ten years, it dominated the watch scene and was “the” watch to have. Even when quartz came along at the end of the 1960’s, the Accutron tuning fork movement soldiered on for another seven years or so, finally giving in to the realities of the market, which quartz would, somewhat violently, reshape. Bulova would continue to use the Accutron name on a variety of watches including both quartz and mechanical, all the while squandering seventeen years of hard-earned brand equity in the process.

A significant attempt to revitalize the Accutron name occurred around 1989 when Bulova begin to market Accutron as a high-end, Swiss-Made division of Bulova but there was nothing innovative or unique about them and legions of original Accutron fans cried foul. It was considered heresy for a watch which which had broken the mold by not being a conventional, mainspring-driven watch to have its name ascribed to the very watches Accutron was created to outperform in every way. These watches, while very well made and worthy of the “Swiss Made” title were never considered to be the logical successor to the original Accutron…that honor went to the Bulova Precisionist when it came out in 2010. The Precisionist was the first quartz based watch whose second hand did not hack but which flowed with the smooth motion of “a satellite in orbit”, the most noticeable attribute of an original Accutron.

Moonview1If the Precisionist had the technology DNA of a true Accutron, it never had the appealing design and looks of one, going mostly for oversized, overly designed cases that turned off many would-be buyers. It also left many asking the question: why didn’t Bulova utilize this revolutionary new movement to completely relaunch Accutron instead of creating an entirely new line under a different name? Fast forward to 2014.

Bulova announced in March of 2014 that Accutron would be relaunched as a line of vintage inspired watches borrowing designs from the original Accutrons and featuring a new Precisionist-based “UHF” or “Ultra High Frequency” movement that would allow the use of more conventionally sized watches. Dubbed “Accutron II”, these watches are now the only Bulova product that carries the Accutron name. Several months before the introduction of the Accutron II, Bulova quietly began removing the name from its Swiss line of watches and replacing it with a new branding called “Bulova Accu-Swiss”. I’ll leave that particular name alone for this review.

For this review, I’m writing about one of the five lines of the new Accutron II series, the Moonview. Anyone who knows the original Accutron Astronaut (pictured at the top of this article) will recognize the Moonview because it is directly inspired by the Astro and Bulova has been somewhat faithful to the design of the original. Here are the particulars:

Moonview2Build: The case and bracelet are Swiss made (the movement is made in Japan) and is crafted in stainless steel and the bracelet is pretty solid for this price range, nicely finished and it well made. All links are solid and polished on the ends and once sized to the wrist, it fits nicely. The bracelet is modeled after the old “coffin link” bracelets that some Astronauts had, brushed outer links and polished center links. It has a butterfly clasp with push releases on the sides and claps snugly together when closed.

The case is round and features a bezel which has engraved numbers for the hours and hash marks for the half hour. It is brushed and looks nearly identical to the original, although it is a twelve hour scale and not a 24 hour scale. It is stationary as this is not a GMT like the original. It is serrated around the edge of the bezel and brings the width of the case to 42mm. The crown is neatly tucked away at the 3:00 position, hidden from sight. Purists will no doubt long for a GMT version but that would likely require engineering a new movement just to add that feature. Still, a rotating bezel would allow the watch to be used for tracking two time zones if desired.

Moonview3The back is a snap-back, nicely polished and includes the various markings including “Water Resistant”. According to the manual, unless the watch is marked this way with a depth number next to it, it is not suitable for swimming. The lowest number in the manual with a depth rating shown is 50m and anything under that is suitable only for splashes, washing or cleaning. Another Accutron II model, the Snorkel, is rated to 200 meters if you want one for swimming and diving.

The original Astro’s cone-shaped lugs are not present here but there are vestiges of them. This was a missed opportunity to create a truly unique case design for the watch.

Dial and Crystal: The crystal is mineral but seems to be very thick, somewhat raised and nicely domed, giving it a vintage appeal. It does not warp the dial at an angle like some do. There is no A/R coating but the dial is matte black which, when combined with the dome effect helps cut down on reflections. The lume is decent, glowing brightly when energized for a few minutes but growing pretty dim after more than 15 minutes. The dial has applied silver markers and silver hands and is signed “Bulova Accutron II”. A date window appears at the 6:00 position. It is very readable and somewhat simple. The feature missing here is the original model’s use of alternating rectangular and triangular hour markers, which was a hallmark of the original design. If I had designed the dial for this model, I would have added these back, as well as signed the dial “Astronaut” on the lower part of the dial to break up the expanse of empty space. I would have also increased the font for the “Accutron II” designation and reduced the “Bulova” font.

This watch is thinner than any of the Precisionist models I have had and the depth of the dial is pretty good so the new movement must be thinned down a good bit. The second hand also seems to glide along smoother than the Precisionist as well. It was very hard to detect any trace of incremental hacking…think of an old electric clock and you get the idea.

Moonview5Things I like: Good build quality, nicely sized case, vintage looks and appeal, gliding Accutron second hand, highly readable dial with decent luminosity, nicely executed coffin link bracelet, machined bezel, hidden crown.

Things I would improve: I would have made the dial to as closely resemble the original Astronaut, including adding that name to the dial. I would have also gone to the extra expense to machine the lugs exactly like the original, giving that true original look in a modern format. Accutron did this with the Limited Edition Astronaut introduced in 2007 and reviewed on this blog separately. I would have made the watch water resistant to at least 50 meters and preferably to 100. I would have also used hands exactly like the original. The new one has hand which are close but obviously not the same as the original. A sapphire crystal would be nice too but all of my improvements would have added more to the overall price.

Summary

The first modern watch to bear the Accutron name that has a movement worthy of Accutron. The gliding second hand really brings back the feel of the originals and the accuracy and reliability should be a lot better. For the money, the watch has a lot of appeal and the battery life should be twice as long as the original, if not longer. It is good to see the Accutron name back on a watch that can truly claim direct lineage to the original. I’ve also noticed that since the Accutron line was introduced, the Precisionist line had been greatly reduced and, hopefully, will be laid to rest for good. Accutron is the true direction.

Authors Note: This is an expanded version of my article that appeared this month on Timezone.com

Doxa Sharkhunter 1000T


Two years ago, I reviewed the Doxa Sub 750T Sharkhunter and was very pleased with my watch. Unfortunately, as so often happens, another watch came along that I really wanted and something had to go to generate the needed funds (I’m sure nobody in this forum knows what I am talking about, right?). I ended up sacrificing my 750T (which sold for within a $100.00 of what I paid for it new, a testimony to Doxa’ s policy of selling limited runs of each series and strictly controlling sales-as a result, there is no gray market out there and most every Doxa that shows up on E-Bay is used to some degree). Another thing different about the Doxa was, unlike many I have disposed of, I started to miss it, then really wondered what I was thinking for having gotten rid of it and finally, obsessing over it. I made the decision to get another one but by the time I got around to it, the 750T in the Sharkhunter black dial was consigned to Doxa watch history. The orange was still available but I couldn’t bring myself to getting an orange dial watch.

Fortunately, Doxa had released the newer Sub 1000T in nearly all color configurations and, other than the orange minute hand, it looked to be virtually the same. I ordered one and a week later, it arrived for my inspection. Here is my review of the watch and I will contrast some of the changes to comments made in my previous review.

The Sub 1000T is Doxa’s latest effort to recreate the original Sub of the late 1960’s and Doxa took special pains to improve upon the previous generation 750T by coming as close as possible to the original. This meant a slightly smaller case to match the exact proportions of the original, resulting in a watch with a 42mm diameter rather than a 44.7mm diameter used in the 750T series. You might not think that just a few millimeters would make any difference but it does just slightly. The watch visually appears more “right” in its dimensions and does not look as ungainly as did the 750T. Still, it took a bit of getting used to because the dial is a bit more compact and the hands cover less dial real estate than on the 750T. Another change is the lack of the orange minute hand, which is replaced by a matching white hand (oversized, as on all Sub series watches).

The Doxa Sharkhunter Sub1000T is a watch frozen in time (no pun intended), replicating nearly perfectly its original look from the latter half of the 1960’s. Watches that looked dated just a few years ago are suddenly back in vogue again and many companies are beginning to pick up on that era’s designs and combine them with modern technology. The Doxa case is classic 60’s/70’s style with its oval shaped case overwhelming what would otherwise be a pretty wide steel bracelet. Diving features such as a screw-down crown, water resistancy to an increased 1000 meters and diving bezel all make this the Diver’s Dive Watch. The ratings and comments are as follows, along with some contrasts to the 750T:

Movement:
The classic ETA 2824-2 movement, automatic with 25 jewels, modified and decorated by Doxa. This movement is running a little bit faster than it should, gaining about a minute per day, which means it has to be re-synchronized frequently. I had hoped it would settled down into a more normal routine but it is still running about the same rate as when I got it over a month ago. The previous Sub 750T was very accurate, running within chronometer ratings. Where there was a deviation, it gained only about 2 seconds per day. Judging from its history, this movement should be low maintenance and have a long life though. If it doesn’t settled down soon however, I may have to send it back for regulating.

Case:
Solid Stainless steel case and back. The case is finely finished with polished sides and brushed top and back. The back and crown are polished mirror chrome finished and the crown has excellent “grip”. The back of the watch has lots of engraving on it and includes an updated center disk featuring the Jenny Family (owner of Doxa) fish logo, now with engraved waves behind the fish. There are six square dimples for a watch case opener around the periphery of the back, indicating a screw-down back. It appears to be a tad thicker than the 750T, probably due to its increased water resistancy. Finish is flawless with brushed and polished surfaces and it is very heavy, although maybe not quite as heavy as the slightly larger 750T.

Crystal:
The crystal is mineral sapphire and on the 1000T, it has been slightly domed to recreate the look of the original 1960’s plastic crystal. Whether it really does I can’t say but I do like it better than the perfectly flat crystal of the 750T. It too has an anti-reflective coat on the inside and this makes the black dial look blue in certain lights but it is a pleasing effect. The rise of the dome is barely above the rim of the rotating dive bezel and I doubt it will draw more blows than the flat one did because it is so slight it is barely perceptible.

Bezel:
A staple of a Doxa Sub watch is its patented no-decompression dive bezel that allows divers to know how long they can stay at certain depths without endangering themselves from the effects of helium buildup in their bodies. These rates are depicted in feet, like the originals instead of meters and are engraved into the flat, polished bezel face. They are filled with what appears to be orange enamel, which goes well with the black face. An inner bezel of brushed metal depicts minutes 0-60 in black. The side of the bezel features a saw blade design and it sits high on the case. It turns with an authoritative click, 120 clicks per revolution and is of a very solid design.

Crown:
Polished crown, screw-down type with the Jenny Fish in raised relief. The crown, which unscrews from the case very smoothly after many rotations, has two distinct clicks, one for the date and the outer stop for the time. No changes here.

Dial and Hands
The 750T featured a glossy black dial; the 1000T has changed this to a more period-accurate matte black, which increases visibility and brings it closer to the look of the 60’s version. It has large, luminous square markers at 6, 9 and 12 and smaller ones at the other numeral positions. The date is at the 3 position and is white. The date window matches the 6, 9, and 12 markers in size which gives the dial excellent balance. Overall the dial has a perfect symmetry to it. Unlike traditional dials, this one seems divided into four equal quadrants with “DOXA automatic” in the upper left quadrant and “SUB 1000T Sharkhunter” in the lower right quadrant-all very balanced. The smaller hour hand is dominated by the wider and longer minute hand, now in white as well, (this hand is the most important to a diver, hence its size) and the second hand is white with a square near the tip filled with Super Luminova. The hands are classic “stick” hands. The Super Luminova indices and hands are extremely bright at night. Speaking of the luminova, it too has been updated (or, depending on how you look at it, retrodated). To make it even more reminiscent of the original and to give it a more aged look, the luminova has been tinted green so even in normal light when it is not glowing, the luminova stands apart from the white color of the hands and indices, giving the impression that it has aged. It also is raised slightly on the indices like the old tritium used to be. It is a nice touch that probably only a Doxa purist would notice. Another new feature is that sub-second indices have been added between each second mark which forms an outer circle of the dial.

Bracelet:
A classic 60’s look, the Doxa bracelet features outer bars and an inner “rice bead” look like its original design. Today, the rice bead sections are actually solid links made to look like many intricate beads strung together-much more durable. It has a flip lock with the word “DOXA” in relief on the lock and the Jenny Fish on the buckle part. It appears to be a little bit more beefed up from the 750T and of course, this is a tried and true design and should hold up well. The links use screws instead of pins so a jeweler’s screwdriver is necessary to adjust links. Be very careful when doing this because the screws are difficult to turn on a new watch and it is easy to chip the screwdriver head. The best way is to apply gentle pressure when turning, then go back a bit, back and forth, allowing the tension to ease up. The screw should then turn normally. The bracelet is attached to the case lugs by spring bars and the connectors fit flush to the case. The bracelet is supposedly 1mm less in width than the 750T but since I don’t have the 750, I cannot compare. This makes sense though as the slightly smaller case would merit a slightly reduced bracelet size.

Accuracy:
Gain of about one minute per day regardless of position. This is really too fast, even for an automatic watch.

Comfort:
Very comfortable to wear but might be weighty on someone with a small wrist, although the 1000T will probably fit smaller wrists better than did the 750T. The design curves to the wrist and stays in place.

Packaging:
Doxa still ignores the mainstream trend of presentation boxes and instead opts for an aluminum tube made of diver bottle material instead of a box. The tube has a form fitted seal top and the words “DOXA SUB Professional Series” painted in black against the silver aluminum. Inside is a hard foam insert, black and molded to fit perfectly inside the tube. The foam comes open with a fitted slot for the watch, warranty card and a jeweler’s screwdriver. A DVD is included with full operating instructions and graphics/animations. I have to give this one a high score for quality and originality.

Overall Impression:
When I rated the 750T two years ago, I stated that it was “An interesting, accurate, nostalgic and rare watch, worth the $1349.00 price tag”. Two years later, I still feel the same except for one major change-the price of the watch. Doxa is no longer an unknown watch to the masses and the price reflects that, having climbed to the loft price of $2390.00. This represents a price increase of 77.17% or about 38.5% per year, which is more than even Rolex increases its price each year. Still, you are getting a lot of watch for the money and maybe they were a bit underpriced in the beginning. Whether this one will hold its value like the 750T did remains to be seen and someone else will have to tell me because I have no intention of finding this out. Clive Cussler has probably made this watch as famous as James Bond’s Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster among thriller novel fans. The fact that you A) Don’t see them on E-bay everyday for $100.00s less than retail and B) Limited Production and controlled sales makes them rare and C) not enough presence for the Hong Kong counterfeit market makes the Sharkhunter a watch that is a good investment and one with some history. Of all the features that have been improved, none are really functionally better than the 750T with the exception of one that I haven’t really highlighted-its increased water resistancy from 750 meters to 1000 meters. Both are a good bit deeper than a standard Rolex Submariner will go. An interesting historical footnote too-Doxa and Rolex once collaborated and jointly patented the helium release valve currently found on the Rolex Sea Dweller and on the new Doxa Sub 5000T that is the newest release from Doxa.

Recommendation: Buy one. This may be your last chance to get an original looking Sub as the newer 5000T has been modernized a bit and doesn’t quite look as vintage. Doxa is only making 5000 of them and the watch will have a unique number “XXX of 5000” engraved on the back. If you are a serious diver or just a pool skimmer, this watch is great in the water and you won’t see them all over the place, although it is easy to identify one when you do occasionally see one. Like people who drive certain types of unique cars, a Doxa wearer who spots a complete stranger wearing one can strike up a conversation about their watches. You don’t see Rolex owners doing that very often.

Raymond Weil Maestro Automatic: Moving on Up


Raymond Weil Maestro Automatic

Raymond Weil as a watchmaker has never been more than a blip on my radar, coming into range occasionally but then mostly forgotten about. When the Parsifal first arrived, I thought it was a beautiful watch and very much in style with the times but I thought it was a bit high priced for a name brand that was relatively new and a quartz-driven watch at that. Like most people, I assumed the high price was for the smattering of real gold that it featured but there were just too many other, better watches in that price range to choose from.

In recent years, RW began to make more of an impression as they begin to take their product line further upmarket, with an increase in quality sufficient to justify their higher prices. Automatic movements, intricate dial details and better materials became the norm and not the exception. When the high quality RW Nabucco and Freelancer lines were introduced to the family, the newly improved family was looking pretty good by then. Recently, RW introduced a new line of watches, the Maestro collection, which seems to tie into their Tradition collection but can almost be viewed as a standalone group. The Maestro collection is very traditional in its overall design, complimented by time-tested styling cues such as the dial and hands. Currently they are all round, all stainless steel and all 39.5 mm in case diameter. When I say traditional, think of the basic models offered by Patek and Vacheron and then subtract about 85% off the price of one. As a competitor to one of these watches, there is no competition in total substance but the elegant simplicity of the Maestro pays homage to those vaunted brands.

I was looking for a new dressy watch that had some physical substance but was not overly large and pleasing to the eye and I wanted something under $1500 USD. While shopping at my favorite Atlanta watch store that carries just about every luxury brand made, I discovered this one and was captivated by how good it looked. The price fit the budget and pretty soon I was walking out of the store with it. Its appeal was that it had all the elements I like in that style of watch-and no real compromises. This included the size, the dial, an automatic movement and a subdial seconds register, a design element I have always liked in the older, traditional watches.

The case is executed in solid stainless steel and is polished on all surfaces. The plain lugs curve gently downward and protrude only minimally from the case, spaced to hold a 20mm strap very closely to the case. The spring bars have a slight curve to them to allow the strap to touch the case at the center but still allows complete flexibility of the strap swivel freely. The case appears to have a bezel slightly smaller than the case and raised about 1.5mm above the main body of the case but this is an illusion as it is part of the case sculpture. The surface of the crystal is flush with this pseudo bezel. The case back is a stainless steel ring that holds a transparent viewing crystal so that the movement is easily observed. The ring around this crystal is engraved with an elegant but traditional font stating “Swiss Made – WR 50m/165ft – Stainless Steel – Model/Serial number – Sapphire Crystal”. The back snaps to the case. It weighs enough to fell substantial but not so much that it feels cumbersome. It doesn’t tend to “roll” on my wrist like some heavier watches do. At this price point, I feel the case is solid and well-made, if not exceptional. Traditionalists will love the round, simple design of the case.

The dial is the most beautiful part of this watch and it appears RW took extra pains to ensure that the dial did not in any way look like corners had been cut. The dial is silver in color, in a muted, matte finish that catches just enough light to play with it but not get in your face. In direct light, it exhibits a nice glow and its iconic black Roman numerals stand out in stark relief against this silver. From a readability standpoint, this elegant dial is very easy to quickly get the time with a minimum of fuss. The minute track on the outside of the dial is plain silver with one minute indexes in black. A hobnail pattern surrounds the minute track along the case. The hour track features the Roman numerals against grooves that mimic the grooves of a record album. The inner dial features a “clou de Paris” relief that combines with the hour and minute track, provides a nice palate of textures, each different but all in the same matte silver. The seconds subdial sits just above the number VI and features a background similar to the hour track, grooved like a record album. The only drawbacks to the dial in my opinion is the word “Automatic” being situated on a smooth surface rectangle inside the second subdial and the date window straddling the line where the hour track meets the inner dial but neither of these detract from the beauty enough for me to worry about it. The upper half of the inner dial displays “Raymond Weil” in a readable, simple font and “Geneve” under the name, both on a slightly raised, flat surface. The watch features blued steel Breguet style hands that work perfectly with the silver dial.

The crown is large and easy to grasp as it has no protectors. Much like a gear, it has widely spaced “teeth” and the modern Raymond Weil “brand” is featured on the crown and is deeply set. The crystal is sapphire and has a subtle antireflective coating on both sides to minimize light reflections and allow the beautiful dial to stand out. Winding the watch is easy and it is easy to set the time accurately as the watch does hack when pulling the crown to the second position. The date is easily changed in the first position. The crown does not screw down but it feels well seated and of good quality construction.

The movement is a RW4250 movement, which is based on the Selita SW200 movement. I suppose as the supply of ETA blanks slowly dries up, Raymond Weil has positioned themselves to buy future movements from Selita. The movement itself is visible through the exhibition back but is very plain and functional. A few blued screws and a nicely decorated rotor are the only distinguishing marks on it. The rotor features the Geneva Stripes on the surface and is engraved in blue letters denoting Raymond Weil and indicating a 31 jeweled movement. So far it is very accurate, gaining only a couple of seconds per day and I may decide I can live without an ETA movement.

According to Raymond Weil’s material about this watch, this new collection “demonstrates once again its profound attachment to its roots and its desire to offer a piece of history. The various models soberly explore the one thousand and one ways of interpreting a certain idea of harmony and discretion”.

If that means it’s supposed to be a traditional watch in every sense of the world, they have succeeded. For the price, it is a very beautiful watch, accurate and possessing styling cues that have stood the test of time. I think Raymond Weil is definitely heading in the right direction in taking their models further up the stream and I could recommend this watch to anyone.