Monday, May 20, 2019

Watch Sighting: Armitron Watch with Sub-dials at Walmart

Watches are one of the few fashion accessories men enjoy.  They are a practical means of self-expression.  They also convey a perception of social status.  Thus, when it comes to watches, a luxury look and feel can be just as important as practical function.  That's why this Armitron analog watch with tachymeter markings and sub-dials caught my eye on a recent stroll through Walmart.  It has the look of a luxury brand timepiece.

When I see an Armitron watch like this with a great look, nice features, and an affordable price tag, it really makes me wonder what the advantages of a more prestigious name brand would really be.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Watch Sighting: Caribbean Joe Analog Quartz Watch

Every once in awhile, I'll encounter a watch from Caribbean Joe Island Supply Company in stores like Ross, T.J. Maxx, or Marshalls.  They are always attractively packaged and evoke an island lifestyle.  On days, when I wish I lived on a little island hut, this brand looks like one that could take me there.

I recently saw this Caribbean Joe watch at a discount retailer in North Georgia.  It must have been a Ross or a Marshalls store.  While the store is a blur, this watch looked nice and almost enticed me to break my rule against non-functional sub-dials.  

When I looked further into Caribbean Joe watches on Amazon, I found that there are a wide variety and that they are very inexpensive.  The Caribbean Joe brand brings a casual island look that evokes the Hemingway era in a wristwatch.  With a low price point around $20, these watches are a real bargain.  It's kind of cool to find an interesting brand with a nice looking quartz watch and an attractive price.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Watch Review: Kenneth Cole Reaction Camouflage Watch

On a recent trip to a Ross discount store, this Kenneth Cole Reaction watch caught my eye.  It had a flat black case, a black leather strap, and a darkly camouflaged dial with blacked out numbers.  Readers of this blog know, I love stealthy commando-style watches.  Since this Kenneth Cole watch was priced at less than $50, I had to add it to my collection.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Watch on Amazon

Kenneth Cole Reaction Watch Design

This watch has a flat black case and genuine leather strap.  The case diameter is 49 millimeters.  It is 12 millimeters thick.  The Amazon specifications list this watch as having a 22 millimeter strap, but I found that mine was actually 24 millimeters.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Watch Construction

This watch feels pretty solid with an alloy metal case and stainless steel caseback.  However, macho looks aside, the Kenneth Cole Reaction is clearly a fashion watch.  It is only rated as water resistant to 30 meters.  That's enough water resistance for a little rain and hand washing, but not much more.

This is not really a tactical watch.  However, it isn't priced like one either.  The quartz movement is powered by a standard SR626W battery.  The camouflage paint job on the dial is well done, but a little dark.  

You can see the detail in bright sunlight, but it is very dark in lower light conditions.  I would have also opted for wider watch hands so that the time was a tad more readable at a glance.

By far, the weakest link in the design is the synthetic leather strap.  I found it to be a little short with my wrist barely fitting with the use of the last hole on the strap.  

With a very minor flex of the wrist to do something as mundane as picking up a television remote control, the strap failed.  It was almost the most ignominious end to a promising addition to my watch collection.  What if I had been fast-roping out of a helicopter or rappelling down from the ceiling of an art gallery?

Fortunately, I pressed on and replaced the failed strap with an inexpensive black nylon NATO watch strap.  In my opinion, the new strap greatly improved the look of this watch.  The new strap is more utilitarian and brings a more purposeful military or "tactical" look to the timepiece. 

Now that my Kenneth Cole Reaction watch is back in action, I can go back to my imaginary life as a cat burglar on the French Riviera.  This watch fills the "stealth watch" void in my collection perfectly without busting the budget.

 Overall Kenneth Cole Reaction Watch Review

Overall, I really like the look of the Kenneth Cole Reaction Camouflage Watch.  It does look cool.  However, I was disappointed in the durability and length of the original leather strap.

The NATO strap greatly improved the look of this wath and brought it back into my collection for about $10.  However, that is $10 I would rather spend on something else.

While I still enthusiastically wear this watch and love the stealthy looks.  However, I would give this watch a 3 out of 5 star review for the feeble faux leather watch strap.  It may still be a good value to add to your watch collection depending on the price.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

How to Replace A Watch Battery

Replacing watch batteries is a common problem faced by every owner of battery-powered quartz watches.  Often watches just languish for months or years for want of a new battery.  Many old watches just get discarded.  Some like these two Hello Kitty watches make it to thrift stores for resale.  My wife likes Hello Kitty stuff and bought these two with dead batteries.

The type of battery required is printed on the back of the case.  In this case, I was looking for a 377 type watch battery for both watches.  They came in a two pack from the drug store for about $7 or $8.

I am fortunate to have a case of dedicated watch tools and I also have a new caseback press.  I've had my kit for awhile.  But there are many like it available on Amazon.

For this project, the small blade proved most helpful for prying up the casebacks so that I could replace the batteries.  Some watches--particularly manly macho waterproof watches--have indents around the back because they are made to screw off using a watch case removal tool that works like a wrench.

Once the case back is off you can usually see the watch battery in the back of the mechanism.  If you look carefully with a magnifier, you may notice that crosses onto the back of the battery.  When you pry out the battery, be careful not to bend that out of shape.  It's a little flexible to enable you to get at the battery out, but it's necessary to get electricity out of the battery.

Next slip the new battery in where the old battery was.  Place the watch caseback on the back of the watch.  Be careful that any indent on the caseback lines up with the winding (setting) stem that comes from crown on the case so that you don't bend that stem.  Then you press the caseback down onto the case.  Sometimes that can be difficult to do by hand.  That's why it is useful to have a watch caseback press like the one pictured below.

There are discs for the press that match different watch sizes.  You'll want to pick the size that matches your watch and place that on the upper piston that gets pressed down on your watch.
Then, you put your watch and carefully lined up caseback on the press and gently press down.  It should snap right into place.  Be careful about putting too much weight on it or you could damage the watch crystal.  It didn't take much force at all using the press.  If it doesn't work, don't force it.  Check to see that the caseback is lined up and that the disc matches your watch size appropriately.

I was able to get both watches back running in just a few minutes.  Please note that I am just an amateur watch collector on the internet.  If you have very valuable or heirloom quality watches, you should probably take your watch to a jewelry store for a watch battery replacement.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Watch Review: Diesel Fastback Men's Watch

What would you do if a watch company offered an understated timepiece that was affordable, readable, perfectly proportioned, and tasteful.  In the case of Diesel watches, you might take their temperature and ask them if they felt okay.  Diesel watches are known for bold, over-the-top, designs that often combine huge watch cases, multi-layered dials, interesting subdials, and lots of interesting textures and materials under the crystal.  They make watches that tend to catch the eye and hold your attention.  However, they have also made a watch that is quite simply perfect for everyday wear, the Diesel Fastback (Model DZ1838).

Diesel Watch Design

The Diesel Fastback emphasized readability above everything else.  It has large hour and minute hands that are bright, white, and readable.  If you just take the quickest of glances at this watch, you know what time it is.  In a world full of watches with subdials that make you squint, the Fastback Diesel does what it is supposed to do.  There isn't even a date window.  The second hand is in a bright yellow that is also easy to read.

When you flip the watch over, you 'll find an etched caseback featuring a man with a Mohawk and the Diesel motto "Only the Brave."

Diesel Watch Construction

The Diesel Fastback offers an all stainless steel case, a mineral crystal, and a genuine leather strap.  The case is 45mm in diameter and 10mm thick.  The leather strap is 22mm wide and comes in a deep shade of blue.    It's an attractive dark color that goes well with blue jean denim.  The strap is 9.5 inches long.  The package is tight enough to provide 5 BAR (or 167 feet) of water resistance.

After a few months of wear and some light dish washing duty with this watch, I'm finding that it is one of the most comfortable watches in my collection.  The leather has been fading comfortably around the edges a bit, but the watch remains a solid performer.

Overall Review of the Diesel Fastback Watch

I really like the Diesel Fastback Watch.  While it may be out of character for a brand built on exuberant styling, this watch is excellent for every day wear.  It's a purposeful and attractive timepiece that makes a great addition to any watch box.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Watch Find: Stuhrling Originals Depthmaster Dive Watch in Black

It has been awhile since a really sharp looking watch that's within my budget has caught my eye.  But, tonight, I was surfing along on Amazon and this black and gold beauty from Stuhrling Originals caught my eye.  It's the Stuhrling Original Depthmaster.

It's a nice looking timepiece that boasts 100 meters of water resistance, a sensible 42mm diameter case that is 14 millimeters thick, and a 20mm wide bracelet.  It's powered by a Japanese quartz movement that is protected from water by a screw down crown. 

Amazon reviews for this Stuhrling are quite good with an average of 4.6 stars out of 5 for over 250 reviews.  Since this looks like an excellent deal, I've moved it to my wish list.

Friday, November 9, 2018

A Guide to Stealthy Watches for Commandos and Cat Burglars

Black Watches for Night Time Operators

If you are a commando, a jewel thief, or a late night art collector, you need a watch that will work well in the dark. As movie goers know every good raid or exciting heist begins with synchronizing watches. This is a guide to the watches of the night!

Are you planning to emerge from the sea, silently dispatch terrorists and free captives? Do you enjoy climbing from balcony to balcony snatching diamonds and jewelry from hotel rooms along the French Riviera? Would you like to drop from a skylight to snatch something pretty for your wall from the Louvre museum? If you have such plans or like to close your eyes and concoct such plans while working in an office cubicle, you'll need a really good watch. Here are some great watches for those men of action who dress in black from head to toe.

Less than $100.
In the less than $100 range, the Timex Expedition Military Classic is a very cool watch. It evokes evokes that stealthy, military commando, feeling--except for the jumping out of planes and getting shot at by angry foreigners part. This Timex is rugged, black, and ready for action with 12-hour and 24-hour military time on the dial. It has an attractive black nylon strap. Best of all, you can transmit morse code with the Timex Indiglo dial illumination feature.

$100 to $200. The Casio G-Shock Men's Analog-Digital watch with black resin strap has all the black and red styling cues that indicate danger in an armored black case. It has a black dial with red hands tipped with a dash of white. It looks like the perfect watch for a get away driver. While you wait in an idling van down in the museum parking garage, you can fiddle with all the digital handle all manner of stop watch and time zone functions. But, with magnetic and shock resistance built in, the Casio G-Shock can actually take lots action and excitement.

$300 to $1000. Movado Museum Sport. If your interests run to laser beams, motion sensors, and art history, the aptly named Movado Museum Sport looks like a classy combination. It doesn't have any markings, just white hour, minute, and second hands and the iconic Movado circle. The watch is only water resistant to 30 meters, but it has the famed Movado museum dial, a black face, a PVD-coated stainless steel case, and has a perforated black rubber strap. It's perfect for attending an art gallery show at any time in the evening.  The Movado Museum Sport Smartwatch (shown below) offers bluetooth connectivity and can track your steps and sleep patterns.

$1000 to $2000. The Tutima Pacific Black gets your commando fantasies into the realm of automatic watches. This one gives you a black PVD-coated stainless steel case, 200 meters of water resistance, and classic white diver-style markings with uni-directional rotating bezel. It is an excellent, no frills, watch for taking care of any wet work.

$2000 plus. The Kobold Phantom Black Ops Chronograph provides all the features expected from a divers watch: 300 meters (990 feet) of water resistance, a unidirectional rotating bezel, and luminous markings. But, the luminous markings are in green to make them easier to read with night vision goggles. Provided at a discount to Navy SEALS, this automatic watch also has chronograph features to let them time their operations to the second. Made in Nepal, the Kobold Phantom sounds and looks exotic in every way.

Timing is everything. These watches should help you make the most of any night out. But, be careful out there!

Watch Time Special Edition 2012. WatchTime Magazine. 2012.