Sunday, July 14, 2024

Wristwatch Review: Caribbean Joe Watch with Coin-Edged Bezel and Two Faux Subdials

This wristwatch review covers another simple, but interesting, watch from Caribbean Joe.  It's an all black watch with two faux sub-dials, white hour marker numerals outlined with a shiny silver accent, and  a coin-edged bezel. While the watch has a reliable quartz movement, it is not a precision timepiece. If you rock the watch back and forth, sometimes you may notice that the minute hand can move just a little.  It's enough that the minute hand might be half a minute off.  That little bit of play certainly reminds you that this is an inexpensive $20 to $30 watch.   

Caribbean Joe Watch with Coin Edged Bezel

However, this Caribbean Joe watch has it's merits.  For example, it has a smooth, gently domed, crystal. It's lightweight and comfortable. The case is 42mm in diameter and doesn't stand too tall on the wrist.  It's weird to me that they went to the trouble to have a wonderfully domed crystal and then undermined it a bit with non-working sub-dials.

Caribbean Joe Synthetic Leather Strap

The synthetic leather band is quite generously sized and is comfortable to wear.  I like not being on the very last hole in a watch strap.

The Watch Strap is generously sized.

Overall, this Caribbean Joe watch offers a sophisticated, casual, look for very affordable price.  It's a great bang around watch for travel to a tropical island because it's inexpensive and easily replaced.

Friday, July 12, 2024

TGIF: Another Watch Bites the Dust

I can't believe how much rubber watch bands can deteriorate in a little over a decade.  I went to revive one of my older Armitron digital watches and found the band was slick, almost oily, and crumbling apart in my hands.  It made quite a mess.  Even worse, when I examined the mechanism for attaching the band to the watch, it was more than a little bit unusual.  It doesn't even look like replacing the band is really practical.  The same thing happened to one of my Structure watches.

An Armitron Digital Watch and the remnants of its band

While this watch is an inexpensive digital watch, it is kind of a bummer that the strange strap attachment mechanism and deteriorated rubber watch band have rendered it useless.  In the future, I'll try to take a close look and make sure watches I buy have a conventional lug and spring bar setup.  I might avoid some rubber watch straps, too.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Watch Wearing Wednesday: Fossil Rhett Chronograph with Navy Blue Dial and Leather Strap

 Here's an interesting watch to wear around town.  It's a Fossil Rhett  Chronograph with a navy blue dial, a date window, and a leather strap.  According to the caseback, the watch has a stainless steel case a nice rose gold tone.  Of course, it's not actually gold because I found it at Ross for only $59.99. 

Fossil Rhett Chronograph

I like this watch because it has a old nautical look that, on some primal level, harkens back to the age of sail.  I think the gold tone on the subdials, the hands, and the marker batons, really classes up this watch.

Fossil Rhett Chronograph with Blue Dial and Leather Strap

If this watch grabs your attention, you can still find it on Amazon as the Fossil Rhett Chronograph.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Sharp Watch Shout Out: Movado Bold with Gray Case and Dial

This Sharp Watch Shout Out goes to Movado for their Movado Bold with Ionic-plated Gray Case and Gray Dial.  It's simply a beautiful and understated watch.  It's also a reasonably attainable for most watch enthusiasts.

A Movado Bold watch (Amazon photo)

Movado is an intriguing luxury watch brand.  It carries a high degree of cache with upper middle class America and has long been the kind of luxury watch that we would buy at a high end department store or typical jewelry store.  Personally, I'm fascinated with all the permutations of their classic museum-style watch with its minimalist dial and a single dot at 12 o'clock. I very much like the design. I even have this Movado Museum-style desk clock.

Movado Museum-Style Clock

However, I think anything above a $500 price point is quite a bit for a wristwatch.  Fortunately, there are sales and other lines of Movado watch.  For example, I really like this Movada Bold watch with a gray case and dial brings the Museum watch motif to watch collectors at a far more attainable price point.  That's why it has earned the sharp watch shout out!

If you've been looking to add the essence of the classic Movado watch design to your collection without dipping into savings or running up a credit card balance, this may well be your watch!  You can find this men's Movado Bold watch here on Amazon.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Wristwatch Review: Vintage Oris Men's Manual Wind Watch from India

The Allure of Vintage Watches on Etsy

It's alive! I recently purchased an interesting vintage watch off of Etsy. It is a vintage Men's Oris manual wind watch that has been extensively restored.  I found this watch when looking at the wide variety of vintage watches on Etsy.  The price tag was amazingly low for such a beautiful looking watch. 

Vintage Oris Manual Wind Watch

Fear of the Unknown Watch

When I teased its impending arrival from a faraway land on the Watchfreeks forum, some members warned me of "Frankenwatches" from India. These watches are made up of a hodge-podge of parts and can be of dubious reliability.  To be honest, once I learned of this and did a little research, I was quite worried about what I would actually be getting. This watch was inexpensive and from India. I was scared, but the die was cast and I was determined to see what I would get.

A well packed Vintage Oris Watch

Shipping, Packing, and Tracking

The seller and Etsy did a great job tracking the package from India and it made its way from India through a shipping company to my mailbox in only 13 days. Upon opening the small, thoroughly wrapped, box, I found that the watch was just as described. I immediately placed the watch next to my Timex Weekender for comparison sake.

A restored Oris compared to a Timex Weekender

Watch Dimensions

Some posters had warned that some of these watches could have very small cases. However, the reconstructed Oris ended up with a 35mm diameter case which makes it a little smaller than a current Timex Weekender and about the same diameter as a vintage Timex Mercury.  The watch is about 10mm thick. The included leather strap was nice, but just a little short for my wrist. I replaced it with an inexpensive fabric expansion strap. This Oris is a smaller watch than most contemporary timepieces, but it is definitely wearable and a man's watch.

Vintage Oris Caseback

Watch Construction

The caseback says that the watchback is made out of stainless steel and the movement is reportedly shockproof. I'll try not to shock it. The crystal is nicely domed and seems to be some sort of glass. The hands are simple silver-toned dress watch hands with no lume. This seems faithful to vintage Oris dress watches of the day. I didn't see any obvious problems with the construction of this watch. While Oris purists will scoff at the full replacement of the case, dial, hands, and crystal, the result is a nicely functioning watch that keeps good time for long periods.

Vintage Oris Watch from India on the Dashboard

Watch Daily Wear

As I wear this, the watch has been keeping accurate time for over a day.  I wind it up gingerly since the crown is small and the winding seems a little tight.  Without a manual, I err on the side of caution.  But, winding it with several short slow spins of the crown, it seems to run and run.  Due to my clumsiness with the caseback press, I'm not pulling the back off.  From the photos provided, the watch  mechanism appears to be a Swiss FHF96 movement.  I wind it a little more each day.  

Vintage Oris FHF-96 Movement in Oris Vintage Watch from India

Once wound, I notice that second hand doesn't stop when I pull out the crown.  This will make precisely timed cat burglaries, jewelry thefts, and casino heists difficult, but I shall persevere.

Authenticity of A Vintage Watch From India

The authenticity of this watch remains an interesting question. You can dig and dig into the topic on forums like WatchRepairForum and Watchuseek. Since the seller revealed that the case, dial, and hands were all replaced, I feel that is fairly transparent. The movement appears to be Swiss and has been running like a champ. Obviously, the new plastic guide ring needed to be in place in order to fit the movement to its new case.  

Ultimately, the question is somewhat irrelevant to me. When I look at new and used Oris models in places where the provenance has a good paper trail, I see Oris watches priced from $1000 to $3000 or so. I don't have that much money for a watch right now.  For a watch, I have about $35 or so.

If I did have serious money for a genuine Oris watch, I'd be quite tempted by this Oris Big Crown Automatic that is available from Bob's Watches in Amazon.  It has an authenticated pedigree and a serious price tag.

Oris Big Crown Automatic from Bob's Watches

Researching this topic has certainly driven me to the Oris site, to Bob's watches, and to various watch movement sites than I could have previously imagined.  It's planted a seed that may yet grow into a "if I ever have some money I should look at an Oris" tree.

I'm satisfied in calling this a genuine Indian "frankenwatch."  I'd liken it to a "restomod" car built completely new from the remnants of the engine and frame of a very old car. I'd like to think that this  watch is using a movement made by Fabrique d’Horlogerie de Fontainemelon, Fontainemelon in Switzerland for Oris.  

I'm not expert enough to definitively call this watch a fake. It seems unfair considering the workmanship that has gone into this watch.  The watch has been completely rebuilt around the movement.  However, if this watch has a Swiss movement but not an Oris-labeled one, then the restorers should name the watch something else. They've done work they can be proud of.  Perhaps they should rebrand it as "Vintage Revival" put "Swiss Made" on the bottom of the dial and "Rebuilt in India" on the top?  I think they've made an earnest attempt to re-use and re-work this watch and provide a good value for the money.

Should you buy a watch like this from India?  

If the authenticity and provenance of each watch in your collection is important, you should not buy these sorts of inexpensive watches from India. If you just want a mechanical watch that is interesting, works well, and is very affordable, then give it a shot.  Don't spend too much money.  Keep it fun.

My Vintage Oris Watch from India reflected on an ebony table

Overall Impression

I love this little watch. It was affordable at $32. It sure has an  interesting backstory. The mystery of this watches origin story has kept me engaged and busy for hours. In my opinion, the restorers in India did a great job matching a case and dial to the movement and staying true to the vintage Swiss watch spirit. It is working watch and a fun addition to my collection.

Friday, July 5, 2024

TGIF: Spotting a Rolex Submariner in the Wild

I saw a Rolex out in the wild a couple of weeks ago.  It was a Submariner of some sort with a gold and stainless band.  I didn't see it up close, but you couldn't miss it.  At a glance, the Submariner appeared to be like the one pictured below and for sale here on Amazon.

The original uploader was LuckyLouie at English Wikipedia.,
CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

It was late at night and the man with a Rolex was sitting in a suit and open collared shirt was holding court at a table in one of his four successful restaurants.  He was clearly the King of his domain. He could see and circulate among his customers, keep an eye on his waitstaff, and have visibility to the kitchen and the cash register.

It's not like he had to micromanage every aspect of his business.  The rules, systems, and supervisors have been in place for years.  But, he is a presence.  You can tell he runs a tight ship. His staff, friends, and family treat him with congeniality, but also great deference and respect.  In turn, you can tell he takes great pride in the restaurant and his staff.

So where does the Rolex come in? It was probably never the restaurateur's initial objective. Instead, it was a reward that came with taking on the risk, taking on the responsibility, and investing the time, the money, and the soul into building and maintaining a successful business venture.  Instead of focusing on the timepiece, an aspiring Rolex owner might be better served by focusing on how they spend their time.

A focus on developing entrepreneurial skills, business acumen, persevering, and taking calculated risks might be the key to unlocking the prosperity required for an epic timepiece.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Watch Wearing Wednesday: George Retro 70s Watch

Today's watch is from George.  Yes, the Walmart brand George.  It's just an inexpensive watch that only cost $10.98, but I think it captures the 1970s vintage look of the watch everyone's dad owned back in the day.

A George Watch from Walmart

I did a little sleuthing on the internet about this watch and uncovered a few interesting details. First, I thought George brand was originated by George Foreman.  I was wrong.  George brand originates from British fashion designer George Davies.  He had a deal with the British retailer Asda and sold the brand to Walmart when Walmart bought Asda in the UK.

Using the factory service instructions from the box and discovered that the watch was made by E. Gluck Corporation (EGC).  E. Gluck is no stranger to making watches. The company owns Armitron and Torgoen. More importantly, EGC makes many, many, private label watches for retailers around the world. The company definitely knows about making watches.

A George Watch from Walmart with Green Dial

There's no doubt that $10.98 is an incredibly low price.  Some corners definitely have to be cut to bring this watch to consumers at this price point.  Compared to more expensive watches, the bracelet feels lightweight and hollow and the crystal seems to be made of some kind of plastic.  Still, I think this is a really good looking watch, a great way to fight inflation, and it is fun to wear.  It's another example of retro style in low cost timepieces.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Watch Store Report: Watch Shopping at Burlington

Burlington (formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory) remains a good source of inexpensive quartz watches.  The watch brands for men that I've seen over the past year or so at Burlington stores include the following:  Armitron, Beverly Hills Polo Club, Caribbean Joe, Ed Hardy, Roca Wear, Sean John, Tahari, and Van Heusen. Almost all of the watches at Burlington are inexpensive. You won't find any watches that require locking up in a cabinet for special handling.

A Burlington Store in Georgia, USA

The styles at Burlington tend towards urban trendy and outright gaudy, but you can find sometimes find some real gems on the shelves.  If you like a little bling, you'll likely find something interesting.

A typical store display of watches at a Burlington store

Prices are reasonable with many models coming in at $20.  Sometimes slightly nicer watches might be $30 to $35.  Clearance watches can be found for as low as $15.

Armitron Model 20/5497

A good example of an understated gem of a watch might be this quartz Armitron (model 20/5497).  This Armitron has a classic dial design that would be perfectly appropriate for an office setting.  Naturally, I bought it.  It fits my wrist perfectly--almost too perfectly on the snug side.  But, it is a great bang around watch and the Burlington price was just $20.

For casual shoppers, Burlington is a great store for inexpensive big and tall clothing (shorts, sweatpants, and graphic Tee Shirts) and has a great selection of reasonably-price brand name shoes.  If you find yourself shopping at a Burlington, you might give the watch selection a quick glance.  You never know when you might find something interesting.