Sunday, April 30, 2017

Wristwatch Review: SKMEI Military-style Watch

I recently ordered a new Ola Oficina  SKMEI Men's Analog Luminous Hands Day and Date Black Watch With Black Leather Strap (SK9113A) from Amazon.  Just two days after I placed my order, this box arrived on my doorstep.  If you are accustomed to a 3 week wait for an inexpensive watch to arrive from China, the quick turnaround time was a pleasant surprise.

Unboxing the Ola Oficina SKMEI Men's Military-style Watch

Unboxing the SKMEI Military-Style Watch
I had a small unboxing ceremony.  To find a smaller cardboard watch box and a bit of plastic bubble cushioning material inside.  There was plenty of room in the Amazon box for the watch to slide around.  But, there really wasn't anything to damage the watch which was snug in a cute little cardboard box.  For less than $10, I didn't expect to find a fancy watch tin.  But, I thought Ola Oficina did a good job in creating very polished and presentable cardboard packing.

SKMEI Watch Design

While this watch has a very utilitarian name, I prefer to think of it as a SKMEI Military-style watch.  The timepiece is basically inspired by a classic military camp-watch inspired design.  It has a compass-like dial with minutes marked in 5-minute intervals and inner rings with 12 and 24-hour time markings.  The watch has a fairly readable panoramic date window at the 3-o'clock position.

SKMEI Watch Dimensions

This SKMEI watch has a 43 mm diameter case, a 13 mm thick case, and a 22 mm wide genuine leather strap.  While the watch seems perfectly dimensions, the watch strap is just a little short for my approximately 8-inch circumference wrist.  It barely fit with the buckle grabbing the very last hole on the strap.

Surprisingly, the SKMEI watch strap and watch seem close to the size of one of my favorite Nautica  watch and strap combinations.  However, the leather strap of the SKEI just doesn't stretch as much as the slightly longer plastic or resin strap of the Nautica.

SKMEI Watch Construction

To reach a less than $10, Ola Oficina had to make some hard decisions about materials and construction.  However, this watch offers an alloy case, a plastic bezel, and an acrylic crystal. The manufacturer even claims that the watch is water resistant to 50 meters.  Like many low cost watches, there is minimal lume on the watch hands, but none on other markings.  The SR626SW battery is a commonly available watch battery that should pose no challenge to change.  The leather strap is genuine and thick.  Some Amazon reviewers thought it was stiff, but I found it short, but easy enough to work with and soft.  I found that the acrylic crystal had a slight tendency to pick up fingerprint smudges that were easily wiped off with a shirt tail.

Overall, I'm pleased by my purchase.  For $10 or less, I had very low expectations.  However, I found this watch to be similar to the commodity quartz watches that you'll find in many department stores.  In my opinion, it is a little bit nicer than the no-name watches that you'll see at Walmart or Target.  If you are looking for cheap bang around watch, you might give SKMEI a try, they have a ton of different models available from a variety of Amazon sellers.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

New Watch Brands: Brigada Watches

I recently ran across another interesting watch brand on Amazon.  It's a Chinese brand called Brigada.  While some of the Amazon ad text says Brigada Swiss Brand, my research shows that they come from Shenzen, China.

East Gate in Shenzen, China.

Nevertheless, Brigada watches seem to be solid, no nonsense, minimalist watches with reliable Japanese movements.  The watch brand earns consistent 4 1/2 star reviews on Amazon.  Most importantly they simply look good and they sell for reasonable prices.  This Brigada Men's Quartz Dress watch on Amazon is a real winner for the price.

Brigada Men's Classic Quartz Dress Watch

Another winner from Brigada is what I call my Brigada Minimalist Watch.  It's a simple design with roman numerals and a large watch face.  It's a well-executed, inexpensive, watch that is just perfect for business casual wear.  You can learn more about it in this Watch Wearing Wednesday post.  If you like this watch and want to purchase it, or if you'd just like to see the amazingly low price for this watch, check it out on Amazon.

A minimalist watch from Brigada

There are some pros and cons with Brigada watches.  I also recently bought the Brigada business casual watch (shown below) and you can read my review here.  There were some nice features and a few that didn't quite fit my sense of style.  But, this Brigada watch is an amazing value for the low price on Amazon.

Brigada Men's Business Casual Quartz Wrist Watch

These kinds of commodity quartz watches give the basic models from companies like Timex and Casio a run for the money.  Plus, with an exotic name like Brigada, people will wonder if you are wearing an exotic foreign brand.  In truth you are, but this exotic brand isn't coming from Europe.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Watch Sighting: Citizen Men's Super Quartz Titanium Watch

Titanium (Ti), atomic number 22, is known for high strength, low density, and--just for us watch lovers--being shiny!  It's a strong, lightweight, metal that is wonderful for making strong, lightweight, watches.  I recently spotted this Citizen Eco-Drive Titanium watch at Belk.  Unfortunately, the shine is almost blinding in my photo.

Citizen Eco-Drive Titanium Watch
This watch is powered by the sun through a reliable Japanese quartz Eco-Drive movement.  Amazingly, nothing gives this watch away as solar.  It just looks like a regular watch.  The average consumer won't know that this Citizen can run in the dark of a sock drawer for a very long time. It features a 44 millimeter diameter case which is 10 millimeters thick and offers 100 meters of water resistance.  The case is made of Citizen's trademarked Super Titanium which makes it 40% lighter than a stainless steel case and an astounding 5x more scratch resistant.  The dial is protected by a mineral crystal.  The bracelet is a manly 22 millimeters wide and is also made of titanium. 

Overall, this Citizen Titanium Eco-Drive watch provides a lot of extra oomph for only a little more money than a stainless steel watch.  You can easily run out to your local Belk department store for personal service.  However, it can also be found right here on Amazon at a very competitive price.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

New Watch Brands: Reef Tiger watches

I recently discovered yet another exciting watch brand on  Reef Tiger.  They make some really nice looking watches and, to use 80s vernacular, they have a killer name.

Juvenile Tiger Shark - By Albert kok (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons


It looks like most Reef Tiger watches are priced in the normal person luxury watch sweet spot between $125 and $400.  Unlike many premium brands for normal people, Reef Tiger watches don't totally go overboard with styling gimmicks.  While they have some creative styles, Reef Tiger watches offer a plethora of styles that appeal to men with classic fashion sense and an appreciation for remorseless underwater killing machines.  That's most of us!

The Reef Tiger Super Luminous Automatic Dive watch with nylon strap shown to the left sits at the top of the Reef Tiger food chain.  It has a reliable Seiko automatic movement and offers 200 meters (660 feet) of water resistance.  The watch has a stainless steel case with beautiful caseback etching and a luxurious deployment buckle.  

It's a great looking timepiece that's worth checking out on Amazon.