Sunday, July 21, 2019

Watch Review: Cufuo SKMEI Men's Quartz Dress Watch with Brown Leather Strap

One of the watches in my current rotation is a cheap Chinese watch, but you'd never know it from a casual glance.  It's a nice looking dress watch that was sold by Cufuo on Amazon under the brand SKMEI and cost me less than $15.  I have also seen this watch sold under LYMFHCH.  The Amazon advertisement lists the watch with the short and elegant moniker - "Mens Leather Band Quartz Watch, Men's Analog Business Working Roman Numeral Casual Waterproof Watches with Calendar Date Daily Dress Fashion Wristwatch - Brown."  Sheesh!  You'll likely just want to find it via my link.


WATCH DESIGN FEATURES

The watch has some surprising features at this price point.  The dial is marked with Roman numerals on the hour, hashmarks on the minute, a small date window at 3 o'clock, and an elegant, but basic, guilloché pattern on the dial.  The genuine leather strap offers a generous length that I have found very comfortable from the first wearing.  The dial has a bright white face, but it easily takes on the tone of your surroundings.



WATCH DIMENSIONS

This is not a huge watch. The case diameter is 38 millimeters and the watch is 10 mm thick.  The strap is 20 mm wide.



WATCH CONSTRUCTION AND QUALITY

This is one of the best cheap Chinese watches in my collection.  But, it is not perfect.  When I run my finger over the zinc alloy case, there is a little burr on the front that I can feel.  However, I cannot see it with my eyes.  It's the only flaw that I can find.  Otherwise, this watch would be right in there with other commodity quartz watches or even basic Timex or Armitron watches.



Another issue with this watch is that when you click on it directly on Amazon, you see the watch as I have pictured it.  However, when you order it, a brown watch of a completely different model is shown in the picture on the order page.  This makes for a bit of a panic until the watch arrives.  The seller really needs to clean the listing up so that the right picture is shown consistently.


OVERALL

This is a great watch for under $15.  If you are on a budget and want a decent looking dress watch, this might be one to take a chance on.  I like it.




Sunday, July 7, 2019

Are you ready for Amazon Prime Day

As a watch collector, I find Amazon to be an amazing resource.  You can use Amazon to learn about smaller brands with interesting timepieces.  Alternatively, you can skip the middleman and order some popular watch styles directly from the factory.  Finally, you can shop unobtainable prestige brands and weep privately in your own home.  But, as great as all this is for Amazon shoppers, Amazon Prime takes it to the next level.

Advantages of Amazon Prime


Amazon Prime opens up access to more free and fast shipping options.  It also provides online photo storage, an excellent music streaming service, and prime video with exclusive programming that is unavailable elsewhere.  But, if you really want good deals, Amazon Prime offers Amazon Prime Day on July 15th and extended into July 16th.  The whole day is like a Black Friday sale in July.  You'll get great deals, all day long, on the coolest products.  If you don't want to miss out, you'll want to sign up for prime today!

Sign Up for Amazon Prime



Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Other Moon Watch: The Bulova Lunar Pilot

The Omega Speedmaster has always been the official moon watch of NASA.  Consequently, it commands big money in the marketplace.  However, another wristwatch has also visited the moon:  the Bulova Lunar Pilot.


On August 2, 1971, Commander David Scott's NASA wore his personal Bulova as a replacement for his NASA issued Omega.  The crystal of the Omega had popped off and was lost.  He was able to use the Bulova for his remaining five hour moonwalk.


 With this month marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo moon landings, interest in the Apollo program and our astronauts has never been higher.  If you'd like to add a watch with a connection to astronauts to your collection, the Bulova Lunar Pilot Chronograph is a watch that we can all aspire to own.


Saturday, June 29, 2019

On the Road with my Buech & Boilat Thresher Dive Watch

When it comes to travel, everyone has their own favorite "go to" watch.  My current favorite is my Buech & Boilat Thresher dive watch.  It looks great in a business casual setting and has the rugged stainless steel construction that's needed for the hustle and bustle of travel and airport crowds.
 
The Buech & Boilat Thresher

The readable dial came in handy as I wondered whether I would ever make it through intensely long airport security lines.  Fortunately, the TSA moved us quickly and this huge security line in Atlanta was only a 45 minute wait.


 After a long day, the Thresher looks great on the hotel nightstand.  It's a watch that goes with anything.


The next morning it was up and ready for breakfast.  While I was tired, my watch didn't miss a beat. 


When your watch makes you feel like a real man, you don't have any problem wolfing down quiche.



Most of my week was spent in meetings, but as they drug on, I did find time to take a few quick shots of my watch.

The etched caseback is interesting.  The pattern and logo are cool.




It would have been nice to take advantage of the pool.  But, that was only a dream.  An escaped to see it on a short break.


At the end of a long week at the Mall of America, my Buech & Boilat still looks great. I've had this watch for just over a year.  I got it when I was a member of the WatchGang watch club.



I was tired on the airplane, but I had time to take in a light show beneath the wing.


Check this link out for my complete review of my Buech & Boilat Thresher.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Watch Sighting: Izod Diver Style Watch

I recently spotted this Izod diver-style watch in a  discount store for about $15.  It's a nice looking quartz wattch, but a little tough to find online.  There's no date window.  It's just a basic no nonsense diver-style watch with a rotating bezel.

Izod Diver Style Watch

I probably should have picked it up.  But, the day was young and I passed on it.  In retrospect, I think it was a pretty good deal.  If I stumble upon it again, I may have to snatch it up. I'm kicking myself because it would have been perfect for that James Bond watch project idea I had a couple of weeks ago.


Sigh.  I may have to root around in my watch boxes to find another nice looking dive watch.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Recreate the James Bond watch from Goldfinger on a budget.

Most of us wish we were James Bond at some point in our lives and watch collecting can bring us a little glimpse of that James Bond world from time to time.  One of the most famous James Bond scenes is the opening scene from Goldfinger.  A SCUBA diving James Bond wears a Rolex with a nylon strap on a demolition mission. Would you like to recreate a classic James Bond look with your watch collection?


The first step in recreating this Bond look is to get a watch with suitable styling. In the best of all possible worlds, we'd simply saunter down to the nearest jeweler and pick of a Rolex Submariner.  Unfortunately, that's not something most of us can do.  Instead, you might look for an affordable watch that draws inspiration from the classic Rolex Submariner.

 Choosing a Cheap Bond-style Watch 

 

The Rolex Submariner look is the standard look for dive watches.  It is quite simply the epitome of a dive watch.  Lots of watch can recreate the style.  If you want a waterproof dive watch, I'd suggest starting with watch makers like Invicta.  However, if you just want to recreate the fashion, there are many timepieces that will fit the bill.

For less than $50, you can get this Fanmis diver-style watch. This watch features a rotatable bezel, sapphire glass crystal, and luminous hands. It has a 40 millimeter diameter stainless steel case and 20 mm band.
Fanmis Diver-style Watch

Choosing a James Bond-style Watch Strap


Of course, you'll need a suitable strap to go with your Bond watch.  The easiest choice would be to simply get a NATO strap.  But, 007 didn't actually wear a NATO strap in Goldfinger.  If you don't believe me, check out this explanation from the European watch strap retailer Esprit NATO.  This Barton Watch strap is the closest match I could find on Amazon.

Barton Watch Bands Ballistic Nylon Strap

You can get this James Bond-style strap here from Amazon at an amazingly affordable price.
 


Neither this watch nor this strap will transform you into James Bond. You'll have to become suave and debonair on your own. But, this watch and strap combination should successfully evoke the James Bond Goldfinger look for less than $50. Have fun and, for your own health, stay away from the unfiltered cigarettes.

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.