Friday, April 19, 2024

TGIF: Death of An SKMEI Military-Style Watch

TGIF.  It's been a long week.  This week, I had to declare one of my watches dead. It died on the table. Once upon a time, it was one of my favorite cheap watches.  It was my OlaOficina SKMEI Military-Style watch.  

The SKMEI Military-Style Watch

Why God? Why? I had to declare this watch dead because I cannot get the watch back off to replace the battery.  I have tried and tried.  For two weeks, I have tried.  Unfortunately, the case back removal tools that I have cannot get the purchase needed to remove this caseback.  I think the case indents are just a little shallow for the tool's teeth to get a good grip.

The hard to remove caseback of my SKMEI watch

Fortunately, this watch was very inexpensive.  Amazingly, back in 2017, it cost less than $10.  Unfortunately, I can't find the same watch on Amazon now.  However, I'd try SKMEI watches again, they have lots of interesting watches available at the SKMEI Amazon store. In the meantime, I'll re-use the strap on another suitable watch.  It's the circle of life or time or something.

My departed OlaOficina SKMEI watch

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Watch Deal Alert: Bulova Marine Star 98B203 On Sale 43-Percent Off

 If you are looking for a great watch deal, you might check out the Bulova Marine Star (Model 98B203) that's heavily discounted right now on Amazon.  It's 43% off the regular price for a high quality quartz watch from this premium brand.

Bulova Marine Star (98B203) as shown on Amazon

Inspired by the sea, this elegant quartz watch has a 4.6 star rating on Amazon and offers a stainless steel case and band, a rotating bezel, a black dial, a mineral crystal, and 100-meters of water resistance.  If you'd like to get this watch, you can find it here on Amazon.

Watch Wearing Wednesday: Men's Seiko 5 Automatic Watch

Today's watch wearing Wednesday shot is of my Men's Seiko 5 Automatic 5 Sports Watch.  It has a great looking dial, a crown that's jauntily canted to the 4 o'clock position to minimize interference with the wrist, and a unidirectional rotating bezel that has the first 20 minutes denoted in bright red (Pepsi Dial style).

Seiko 5 Sports Automatic Watch with Pepsi-style Dial

The watch is rated for 100 meters of water resistance which makes it a bit more affordable and still capable of being worn while swimming, showering, and washing dishes. If you'd like to pick one up for yourself, you can find it here  on Amazon: Men's Seiko 5 Automatic Watch 5 Sports and Seiko Watch SRPD53K1 Man Steel Automatic.

The Seiko 5 Sports Automatic at rest

This watch is an interesting choice.  I find that the watch stands a little tall at 12mm and the dial isn't huge at 40mm, but it is practical and it looks like a more serious dive watch. 

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Watch Strap Review: Ritche Quick Release Leather Watch Bands - Top Grain Leather Watch Strap

Over time and with regular use, watch straps deteriorate and eventually need replacing. In the case of my AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane watch, one of the loops for retaining the tail end of the watch strap simply broke. I set the watch aside for a good long time. I shouldn't have. It turns out that lots of suitable replacement watch straps are available on Amazon.

My AVI-8 Hurricane with the old watch strap

I selected a top grain leather watch strap from Ritche on Amazon and it arrived at my home very quickly.  The new strap had a slightly weathered look that is an excellent complement to a watch that evokes a famous series of World War 2 aircraft.

A Ritche Quick Release Top Grain Leather Watch Strap

The Ritche replacement strap is offered in many finishes and tones, but the one I chose comes in a rich "Espresso Brown" and has a black buckle. Where the original strap had white stitching that looked new even after years, the new strap has more subdued stitching in brown that helps the watch look like it's been on a few missions.

The Ritche Leather Watch Strap with Buckle Shown

Installing my replacement watch strap was a breeze because I had a suitable watch repair kit that included a Spring Bar Tool.  It made it easy to compress the spring bar and remove the old watch strap.  Installing the new watch strap was even easier.  It came with a sliding "button" (shown below) that makes installation and removal very easy without the need for tools.

The quick release slide on a Ritche Watch Strap

With great quality, great looks, and a great price, it's not surprising that this Ritche Leather Watch strap is the number 1 best seller in its category on Amazon.  It was definitely one of the best purchases I've made on Amazon in a long time. Refreshed with a new watch strap and a new watch battery, I'm really glad my AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane watch can take flight again. I look forward to years of a continued wear.

Friday, April 12, 2024

TGIF: Are store-brand and designer-brand watches the same?

Sometimes while messing with watches and changing batteries, you start to notice something.  For example, the movements of these two quartz watches are very similar in size, shape, and form.  One of the watches is from an exclusive designer brand from Watch Gang and the other watch is a generic quartz watch from Target or Walmart.  The designer watch retails for around $200 and the big box watch retailed for $20.  The designer watch did come with a much cooler stainless steel case and an internal bezel that rotates.  It's an interesting watch.  The big box watch case in a much more generic base metal case.  But, still, the similarity bugs me.

Beneath the case, are these the same watch?

A generic quartz watch from a big box store & a designer watch

On one hand, the similarity in movements presents an opportunity.  I messed up the movement of the designer watch when a battery change went awry.  So, maybe I could swap the movement of one watch into the other.  On the other hand, are designer watches and store brand watches almost exactly the same when you pull the caseback off?

Maybe it's a good thing that many watch movements can be found in similar shapes and sizes? It might make repairs and replacements easier.  Speaking of replacement watch movements, did you know that there are many watch movements sold on Amazon? Click on the link to have your mind blown!  I might try to build my own watch or, at least, repair some of my broken watches.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Watch Wearing Wednesday - Armitron Stainless Steel Watch

When it comes to watches, I do like the shine of a watch with silver tones.  Even as the sun sets, this watch from Armitron catches the last light of the evening and makes the most of it.

Armitron Stainless Steel Quartz Watch

This watch has been in my collection for over a decade.  If you'd like to see my review, check it out on this blog here. With a new battery, it's keeping time accurately without missing a beat.  Since this watch is almost vintage now, that makes this blog almost vintage, and that makes me almost vintage, too.

Armitron Stainless Steel Quartz Watch

[While I can't find this Armitron for sale in 2024, there are lots of reasonably priced Armitron watches available on Amazon.]

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Wristwatch Review: Caribbean Joe Sport Watch with Subdials

Here's an interesting and inexpensive watch from Caribbean Joe.  You can typically find watches like this at Burlington and Boscov stores for less than $20 in 2024.  It comes with a synthetic leather strap and has a reasonable 38mm and approximately 8mm thickness. for everyday wear. It's a lightweight, comfortable, watch that works well.

A Caribbean Joe Watch with 3 non-functional subdials


This watch has the basic features that you expect for telling time:  big hand, little hand, and second hand.  But what this Caribbean Joe watch doesn't have raises an interesting question for watch buyers and enthusiasts.  The subdials in this watch are non-functional.  That's right.  They are only there for appearance sake.  I used to think that this would be a problem.  But, now, I'm not so sure.  

I don't think I need complications or subdials on a watch anymore.  The one thing about fake subdials is that they seem unnecessary and, perhaps, a little dishonest.  Alternatively, my Caribbean Joe Sunburst watch is a little more straight forward.

This Caribbean Joe watch has non-functional subdials


Of course, Caribbean Joe immediately makes up for the lack of functioning subdials with something far more important:  the battery requirement etched on the caseback.  I could hug them.  There's nothing worse than taking a caseback off to replace a battery and then having to start a mad quest to find some kind of obscure watch battery.  SR626SW batteries are very common and easy to find.

The Stainless Steel Caseback of the Caribbean Joe watch

This Caribbean Joe watch has a stainless steel caseback, a synthetic leather strap, a base metal case (in a gunmetal tone), and a Singapore-made watch movement.


I really like this watch.  It is simple, inexpensive, and good looking.  It also came in a nice box.  I like not having to fuss with trying to read the subdials or make sure they work.  I don't know that I'd wear this watch in a physically demanding environment or  into a status-oriented office.  It's not a prestige watch.  But, it works on a "this looks cool" level.  You also won't get mugged for it.  It's a great value at under $25 in 2024.  Plus, I like having a thatched hut and palm tree with me at all times.