Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Glimpse at the AVI-8 Lancaster Bomber Watch

I recently caught a glimpse of the AVI-8 Lancaster Bomber watch at a local retailer.  Since I enjoy my AVI-8 Hurricane watch, I was curious to see some of their other models.  AVI-8 Lancaster Bomber Watches commemorate Britain's most famous World War II bomber. I like the way that the subdials are presented in a horizontal row across the bottom of the dial.  While some makers present instrument panel inspired watches, it looks like AVI-8 is providing an instrument panel on their watch!  The light brown band also gives the AVI-8 Lancaster Bomber watch a vintage look.

AVI-8 Lancaster Bomber Watch

The British Lancaster Bomber was a very capable aircraft.  With four engines and an undivided bomb bay, it was capable of delivering the largest bombs dropped during World War II.  With modifications, it could carry bombs of up to 22,000 pounds

Photo By Geoff Acton (Flickr: Lancaster Bomber Cowes) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

It can be recognized by the rather upright turret over the bombardier's bubble in the nose and by its twin tail configuration.  The dark paint came in handy as the British bombed at night during World War II.  The Americans bombed during the day.

By Geoff Acton (Flickr: Lancaster Bomber Cowes) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The AVI-8 Lancaster Bomber watch comes in two configurations.  The first provides the instrument panel configuration.  The second emulates the big bomber by providing a a bubble in the crystal over the date window.  The bubble is larger than the magnifier on a Rolex.  It's a pretty unique feature in the world of watches.  It's an innovative touch in a watch that draws inspiration from history.

[As of 2024, it looks like AVI-8 discontinued their Lancaster line of watches, but check out their store on Amazon for the latest offerings.]

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Intangible Qualities that Make Luxury Watches Special

Any common timepiece can keep accurate time, but there is something magical about luxury watches. In addition to mechanical genius, stellar design, and high quality materials, there are a number of intangible qualities that simply make luxury watches special.

Rolex 5100 By Derk Marko Reckel - DMR (own picture taken of own watch) [GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Brand Identity. A brand is many things. On the surface, a brand is simply all of the logos, designs, slogans, and names applied by a company to a product, product line, or the company itself. But, a brand also encompasses all the perceptions that customers have about the company and products marketed under the brand. Most companies have marketing gurus, MBAs, and customer service specialist who try to shape that customer perception. They try to put together products, advertising, and service to shape and nurture positive perceptions that are fundamental to a powerful brand. But, in the luxury watch market, the watch makers have something more that often pre-dates MBA degrees and the marketeers. They have quality and passion that has been nurtured for decades and in some cases even centuries on fundamentals like craftmanship, ingenuity, and value.

Achievement Symbolism. Some brands embody all that a person aspires to become, but high end watch brands announce that a person has arrived. Whether a luxury watch is a flashy Rolex or an unattainable Ulysse-Nardin, it is a powerful symbol of wealth, personal taste, and social status. While it is easy to scoff at a status symbol, it isn't so easy to scoff at an achievement symbol. When a high achiever glances at their wrist, they may see more than the time of day on a luxury watch. They may see the results of diligent study, hard work, faith, perseverence, risk, and long hours.

 Heritage. Luxury watches almost always have a story. That story conveys a sense of connectedness to long traditions of watchmaking art and engineering. When you buy a watch from Vacheron Constantin, you are buying from a company that has been refining the art of watchmaking since 1755. Today, it's refreshing to hear a story that doesn't begin with "some entrepreneurs in a tropical city found a watch factory in Asia." When G. Gagnebin & Cie make a watch, they are putting their good family name and reputation on the line. When each watch represents four generations of watch makers, you can bet they are making a watch that will make them proud.

Relevance. Luxury watch brands stay relevant to the passions and pursuits of their market. When watchmakers sponsor auto racing, yacht racing, golf, and tennis, they are staying relevant in the eyes of watchbuyers. Every week, Rolex sponsors a television show called "Rolex Spirit of Yachting." They are an integral part of the active lifestyle of wealthy yachtsmen.

Authenticity. Luxury watch buyers want their watches to be part of a broad and authentic traditions. For many years professional mountain climbers and undersea explorers were sponsored and prominently featured in Rolex advertisements on the back covers of National Geographic magazine. It was Rolex that Sir Edmund Hillary wore when he conquered Mount Everest. The idea that real adventurers wear Rolex watches is deeply planted in the western psyche. When the British luxury watch maker, Bremont, used actual metal from a classic P-51 fighter plane in their limited edition P-51 chronograph chronometer, they were creating connection to history.

It is indeed the intangible things about luxury watches that add to their mystique and make them a magical addition to any collection. When making a luxury watch purchase, any prestige watch buyer would do well to use their spirit as a guide.

G. Gagnebin & Cie website

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wristwatch Review: The Innovative ADNA XXL

As summer comes to a close, I've been wearing a great new watch that I recently received courtesy of the folks at ADNA.  It's called the ADNA XXL and it combines the comfort of a silicone band, the innovation of interchangeable straps, and the business like look of a diver-style watch.

Watch Dimensions. The ADNA XXL is a large watch with a movement that is surrounded by a silicone strap.  The overall width of the watch is 52 millimeters.  However, despite the large size, the ADNA XXL is a lightweight and comfortable watch.  While it has a stainless steel caseback, the case is made of heavy duty PVC and the strap is made of silicone.  I find the weight of the ADNA XXL light and comfortable.

Watch Dial Style. The ADNA XXL is available in a variety of styles.  Since they are uni-sex watches, you can get them with straps in a wide variety of colors.  However, the core watch comes in with a strong, masculine, diver-style look.  Each watch has numerals at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock.  The date window sits just inboard of the 3 o'clock marker.  The bezel rotates unidirectionally with satisfying clicks.  The rotating bezel has a clean design markings in 10 minute intervals and the ADNA name occupying the 12 o'clock position.

Watch Construction.  I'm rough on watches.  Unfortunately, I tend to whack my wristwatches into hallway walls and door frames when I round corners.  Typically, I like a strongly built, all metal watch, but the ADNA XXL takes a different approach to cornering.  When I incidentally bang the watch into a wall or door frame, my ADNA XXL bounces off without a scratch.  The silicone strap does an awesome job of protecting the watch.  So far, I haven't gotten any scratches at all.

While the ADNA XXL is a first and foremost a fashion watch, it is built to be water resistant to 3 atmospheres (100 feet).  That's enough water resistance to protect against accidental dunkings and rain.  The Seiko quartz watch movement resides in a strongly built PVC case protected by the silicone band.  With the ADNA XXL you get a nice combination of strength and light weight.

Watch Pricing. My ADNA XXL has already drawn compliments.  Yet, it is currently priced at a refreshingly affordable $99.  That seems just right for this watch.  It also puts the ADNA XXL in the same ballpark as a typical Fossil or Relic watch.  But, as a novel and newly introduced timepiece, the ADNA XXL will be relatively rare on American wrists for some time to come. 

Overall, I like the ADNA XXL and it has quickly become one of my favorite watches for daily wear.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Armitron vs. Mega Moth

If you grew up in the seventies, you probably remember seeing great adventurers like Jacques Cousteau on the back covers of National Geographic Magazines extolling the virtues of Rolex watches.  But, if you wear $60 watches, your adventures tend to be a little less impressive.  Nevertheless, I discovered the largest moth I've ever seen a couple of weeks ago while wearing my favorite Armitron timepiece.  This moth wasn't at the bottom of the sea or on the top of Mt. Everest.  But, it was alarmingly close to our front door.  I dub it the Mega Moth! 

Armitron vs. Megamoth!
For a sense of scale, my Armitron stainless steel watch has a case diameter of 43 millimeters.   You can read my complete review in this post:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Wristwatch Review: Marc Ecko Rhino Men's Analog Wrist Watch

 A Cool Looking, Affordable, Watch from America's Most Gifted Designers

Marc Ecko is one of America's most gifted designers. He demonstrated a flair for design with a modern hip-hop, skate rat, urban sensibility while he was enrolled in the pharmacy school of Rutgers University. His mentors there suggested he take a year off to pursue his passion. He started with graffiti-inspired art t-shirts and has grown into an amazing success as a fashion designer, artist, and philanthropist. Of course, I didn't know any of this when I found a Rhino by Marc Ecko watch at Kohl's for about $60.

My Marc Ecko Rhino Watch
If you name a watch after one of the world's toughest animals, you are making a bold statement. The Marc Ecko Unltd. brand uses the Rhino as a trademark symbol for its Rhino by Marc Ecko line of watches. The designer was actually inspired by the need to support the Rhinoceros-one of Africa's most endangered species. My Marc Ecko Rhino watch is a rugged looking men's casual watch. While many watches are engineered for extreme conditions, the Rhino is a fashion statement that is really about achieving a rugged look in an affordable package.

Watch Design. The rugged rhino look is achieved through a cross-hatched pattern that is repeated as a styling theme throughout the design. The rubber strap is about 24 millimeters wide and is encircled by three bands of raised cross hatch design. The cross hatching is repeated on the top of the watch case. It's reminiscent of the shiny chrome pattern that you might see on the truck-bed toolbox on a working man's pickup truck. The cross hatch pattern is repeated around the center of the rich blue dial. The center itself is occupied by the shiny chrome silhouette of a rhinoceros. It it outlined by a chrome oval with a cross-hair motif. The overall effect is just plain tough.

Watch Size. You might expect to a Rhino watch to be a behemoth. However, it is reasonably sized with a 38mm diameter dial, overall case width of 44mm, and a thickness of about 10mm. With a fairly thin profile, this Rhino can easily be concealed beneath the cuff of a long-sleeved dress shirt.

Construction. While a young designer may not know a lot about the internals of a wristwatch, Timex does and Timex is the maker of the Marc Ecko watch brand. It's a good union because these watches have a young sensibility and Timex excels at making affordable watches. My Marc Ecko watch has a reliable Japanese quartz movement. The Rhino by Marc Ecko has a stainless steel back and a base metal case. The strap is made of a supple rubber or silicone material. The watch is water resistant to 30 meters.

Overall. The Rhino by Marc Ecko delivers a lot of interesting watch designs at affordable prices. I found my Rhino watch to be a fresh, masculine, designer look in a practical and affordable quartz package.

"Marc Ecko,"