Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Watches A to Z: Armitron

Armitron History

If you are looking for quality watches at an affordable price point, you really can't go wrong with Armitron.  Armitron is one of the top 10 U.S. watch brands.  The company is a subsidiary of E. Gluck Corporation which was founded in 1956 by holocaust survivor Eugen Gluck. Armitron was established as a subsidiary company in 1975.  They are known for quartz watches, digital watches, and mechanical watches.

Famous Armitron Digital Watches

Armitron was founded just as quartz movements and digital watches were shaking up the world of watches. Casio had just released LCD digital watches in 1974 and Armitron sooned followed with similar digital watches that were arguably even better.
Armitron Retro Watch - Rogue

One of the famous LCD watches was the Rogue which was basically identical to the current retro version pictured here (above).

Another one of their most famous early digital watches was the Armitron Rubik.  Amazingly, the watch or a very similar version of it is still sold as part of Armitron's vintage collection (shown below).
Armitron Retro Watch - Rubrik

If you have a Pong console or an Atari 2600 for the sake of nostalgia, you might want to add one of these watches to your collection.

Fortunately, you can easily find both of these watches.  The Armitron Rogue can be found here on Amazon and the famed Armitron Rubik is here on Amazon.  

If you'd like to read more on these fantastic retro watches, check out the Digital Armitron Reviews at Ben's Watch Club.

My Favorite Armitron Watches

Armitron Diamond Watch
Over the years, I've owned a few Armitron analog and digital watches and I've always thought they represented a great value for the money.  I first wrote of Armitron watches as potential Christmas gifts back in 2013.  One of my first was the simple Armitron Diamond analog watch.  Mine had a simple brown dial and had gold and silver tones.  I wonder if I still have it tucked away in a watch case somewhere.  It had the tiniest dot of a "diamond" at the 12 o'clock position.

Armitron Stainless Steel Quartz Watch

Perhaps, the Armitron that I am most enamored with is my Armitron Silver tone on Silver tone stainless steel watch.  You can read a full review of it here.

Are Armitron Watches Any Good?

Yes, Armitron watches are good. Armitron watches offer good, solid, reliable performance at low price points. Armitron watches don't usually have high price tags. Instead, the brand offers attractive products that provide good values at very attainable price points.  I've found that Armitron watches compare favorably to inexpensive watches from Timex and Casio. Brand and history are worth something. To me, Armitron watches stand above random cheap off-brand watches and excel at price points in the $20 to $75 range.


Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Truth about Watches: DIY Repairs

I've done many of my own minor watch repairs over the past years.  By watch repairs, I mean changing batteries and replacing watch bands. I've got to reveal the painful truth about my DIY watch repairs:  they aren't always successful. I've screwed up a few of my watches. 

Oniss Meca Watch

Battery changes seem to be the riskiest operation. Sometimes, it can be tough to extract the old battery and insert a new one without damaging small parts of the movement that clasp the battery and ensure that it is able to power the watch.  Other times, it may not be too hard to change the battery itself, but dealing with press on casebacks can be a real pain. It's almost impossible to put them back on by hand.  You have to use a caseback press.  

A Caseback Press

But, you need to use caution.  I completely cracked up the crystal on this Oniss Meca watch in an attempt to press the caseback on using my caseback press. I also slightly cracked the crystal on my Hamlin watch. It really doesn't look good either.  The interchangeable round pieces are supposed to keep pressure off of the crystal on on the case.  Of course, the Hamlin had a semi-rectangular case.

Hamlin Watch in Better Times

I'd recommend watching every video you can on Youtube before using a caseback press. Thankfully, replacing watch straps is much easier!

Friday, April 26, 2024

TGIF: What Do You Consider a Prestigious Timepiece?

What do you consider a prestigious timepiece?  

It's an interesting question.  We often let the very rich define what is prestigious.  To them, watch brands like Blancpain, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Vacheron Constantin, or Zenith might be considered prestigious. While each of these brands produces exclusive watches and masterpieces of watch engineering and mechanical craftsmanship, these watches are far too expensive for most middle class people.  Perhaps, for most of us, a Rolex is destined to always be something we see high upon a far off billboard?

A Rolex on a Jewelers Billboard in Atlanta

Do middle class people get prestigious timepieces?

If we can't have a Rolex, can we have prestigious timepieces? I'd argue that we do.  I'd also argue that we, middle class people, get to come up with our own definition of "prestigious."  For the vast majority of people, a nice Seiko or Bulova timepiece is classy, elegant, and prestigious enough for most special occasions.  We forget that $500 to $1000 is actually quite a bit of money for a watch.

What are my most prestigious watches?

For prestige, I'll just focus on three of my watches: my Seiko University of Florida watch, my Bulova Precisionist, and my Tissot Carson Powermatic 80.

One of my most prestigious timepieces is the Seiko Watch my parents gave me when I graduated from college.  It's from a great watch company and, since it is aimed at a small market, it's probably a relatively rare watch.  It's also meaningful since it was a gift.

I'd also consider my Bulova Precisionist watch to be a prestige watch.  It has an interesting 26kHz quartz movement that allows for a continuously sweeping second hand.  Since a Bulova watch actually went to the moon on Apollo 15 in 1970, the brand has a storied history and a bit of mystique for me.  That actual Bulova worn on the moon fetched over $1.6 million at auction back in 2015.

My Tissot Carson Powermatic 80 brings a bit of European exclusivity and panache to my collection.  It's a true Swiss-made watch with an automatic movement.  It also has old world style in the form of Roman numerals.  You can read my full review of this great watch right here.

All of these watches bring quite enough prestige to my wrist. If I win the lottery or do incredibly well with my investments, I won't turn down a Rolex. But, I've got prestige covered.  Now, it can be about fun and about being interesting.  What are your prestige watches?

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Watch Wearing Wednesday: Sperry Topsider Skipper Watch

 Here's another older watch from my collection.  It's a Sperry Topsider Men's Quartz Watch that I first reviewed here back in 2016. I've got some new photos of it that show a little more detail. The thing that is cool about this watch is all the little details and hashmarks.  As is befitting a nautical brand, the watch successfully evokes the instruments of old mariners:  compasses, sextants, and the like.  On the downside, sometimes all those little markings and the date can be very hard to read.

Sperry Topsider Skipper Watch

The watch also has lots of little details like a logo on the strap buckle.  I also like how the stitching reminds me of lines on a sailboat.

Sperry Topsider Skipper Watch Strap and Buckle

The star on the crown is also an interesting detail.  I'm not sure what it's about, but it is a cool little detail.

Sperry Topsider Skipper Crown detail

The watch also has an etched caseback with the Sperry sailboat logo amid a sea of stainless steel waves.  It's the kind of detail that you appreciate over time.

Sperry Topsider Watch Caseback

The wave theme is continued from the dial.  Finally, the date window at 3 o'clock is round like a porthole.  It also mimics the stainless steel ring of the bezel.  I can't read the date without a magnifier, but still . . .

Sperry Topsider Skipper Watch face at an angle to show detail.

You can't find this watch on Amazon anymore.  That's something that makes it unique as well.  Over time, companies enter and exit the watch market, watch models come and go, and the uniqueness of watches surviving in a collection continues to grow.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Wristwatch Review: AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane Chronograph Watch

Examining a Chronograph Watch Inspired by a Famed World War II Fighter Plane 

This watch review takes a closer look at a unique watch that commemorates its famed namesake aircraft through a variety of design features.

The AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane Chronograph Watch

Every watch has a purpose. Some watches simply tell time. Some watches stand up to the rigors of diving. Other watches make bold fashion statements. A rarefied few watches communicate high social status. But, the AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane watch is a little different. 

Inspired by one of the most significant fighter planes of World War II, the AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane evokes the image of a famed propeller-driven fighter sitting on a dew covered grass airfield in the English countryside 

AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane watch foreground.  OV-1 Mohawk Background

Watch Design

It must have been quite a challenge for AVI-8 designers to evoke an airplane that first flew in 1935. They had to conjure up the feeling of bygone era using modern materials and meet an attainable price point. I think they succeeded with the AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane watch. They gave this watch a classic case in black with traditional looking pusher buttons for the chronograph features. The watch also has a soft supple brown leather strap with white stitching that looks like something from the 1940s. I think the colors and case design of this watch successfully evoke a vintage feel. 

The next challenge for designers was to summon the spirit of a specific plane: the Hawker Hurricane. They did this via insignia, lettering, and art. When you look at the watch dial, your attention is immediately drawn to an RAF roundel insignia just inboard of the nine o'clock position. The disc is actually the chronograph sub-dial for tracking elapsed minutes. The red dot forms the base of that sub-dials minute hand. It is surrounded by a white circle inside a blue circle inside a yellow circle. Two more sub-dials one at twelve o'clock and the other at six o'clock cover elapsed time in 1/10 of a second and one second intervals respectively. The three o'clock position is occupied by the AVI-8 logo and date window. Just above that is a front silhouette of a Hawker Hurricane. Below the logo and date, the name of the watch is spelled out: Hawker Hurricane. The dial is ringed by a tachymeter scale. The back of the case is shiny stainless steel and features a line drawing of the Hawker Hurricane fighter plane from a top down perspective.

Watch Dimensions

The dial is sensibly sized at 42 millimeters by 49 millimeters in diameter and 10 millimeters thick. The Hurricane is not a bulky watch by any means.

At 10mm thick, the case of the AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane is sensibly sized

Watch Construction 

The case is constructed of all stainless steel and the strap is genuine leather. The case and buckle are ion plated (IP) for a deep black color. The Hawker Hurricane is water resistant to 50 meters. Like any good Hurricane pilot, you'll prefer to stay above the English Channel rather than below. While the original Hawker Hurricane was powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, this watch is powered by a reliable Japanese quartz movement.

The AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane prior to surgery to get a new watch strap

[As of 2024, I've owned this watch for just over a decade.  It still looks great. I did end up replacing the watch strap with a Ritche Leather Strap since I broke a loop on the original strap.]


I was initially somewhat concerned about the price of this watch. The AVI-8 website lists the Hawker Hurricane for $470.
However, the entire AVI-8 collection is now available on sale at Amazon.com and price points are in a much more attainable. This puts all the unique goodness of the Hurricane watch into the same price category as most Fossil watches. 


Since I grew up reading all about the Battle of Britain, I really like having a watch that commemorates the Hawker Hurricane. The Hawker Hurricane was the backbone of the Royal Air Force (RAF) during that pivotal time in history. Now the AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane watch is one of the mainstays of my collection. The black, brown, and green colors of this watch blend well into a business casual wardrobe. You can easily sit in a cube or a conference room with this watch. But, once you strap on the Hurricane, you immediately want escape your cube, find a leather jacket, tie on a silk scarf, and take to the skies in defense of democracy, western civilization, and the King.  Overall, this is a very cool watch.

[I originally published this article in the 2012 timeframe on Associated Content which evolved into Yahoo Voices. The watch was provided by AVI-8. The watch is still available here on Amazon.]

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.

[As of 5/16/2024, the 43% off deal has expired.  It's still a great watch.]

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.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

TGIF: Kicking Back with a Caribbean Joe Watch

We've made it through another workweek and reached another blessed Friday!  If you're ready for a palm tree and a hut, so am I!  That's why we'll soon have another review for a fashion watch from Caribbean Joe.  I have a few of these watches in my collection now so you'll see more of them in the coming weeks.

A tiny little hut and a tiny little palm tree adorn the dial of a Caribbean Joe watch.

I know. I know.  With retail prices that are typically less than $30, Caribbean Joe watches are cheap watches. We'll do a bit more prestige with a Bulova sometime soon.  But, as far as I'm concerned, with the little hut and palm tree, these watches come with just the right attitude.  Here is my review for a Caribbean Joe Men's Degrade Watch with a green  sunburst dial.  Never be afraid to have a little fun with a bang around watch!

A Caribbean Joe Watch with Three Non-Functional Subdials

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Watch Wearing Wednesday: Invicta Men's Pro-Diver Automatic with Coin-Edged Bezel

Here's a simple dive watch that I bought about 3 years ago.  It's an Invicta Men's Pro-Diver Automatic Watch with a Coin-Edged Bezel that I bought off of Amazon for less than $100. In the dim lights of a local Mexican restaurant, it looks great. It has rotating uni-directional bezel with a coin edge that is easy to grip and rotate.  It also has an exhibition case back.

Invicta Men's Pro-Diver Automatic with Coin-Edged Bezel
This watch reminds me of a certain famous brand of dive watch in many ways.  But, it has a very affordable price tag.  I like many features of this sharp-looking Invicta watch and I'll write a full review soon.