Jason Cotaoco

Jason Cotaoco

First Published: June 17, 2021
  1. Articles by Jason Cotaoco
  2. Rolex Submariner Blue (Date 126613) – The Modern Bluesy

    Rolex Submariner Blue (Date 126613) – The Modern Bluesy

    Blue Rolex Submariners have been “the in-thing” for as long as watch collectors can remember. Ever since its first release, Rolex Submariners in blue have always been a big hit with the audience. No one can be exactly sure why that’s been the case. Perhaps it is simply the touch of Rolex magic? Regardless, blue-toned watches have become a staple for the Rolex crowd. They are extremely recognizable and a commodity to enthusiasts and collectors alike. One of the most iconic Rolex Submariner Blue timepieces is the Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 116613LB, more commonly known as the Bluesy.  The Ref. 116613LB is a remarkable piece of luxury. It is one of Rolex’s latest and most beloved creations to date. Whether in conversations online or offline, this Rolex Submariner Blue is one of the most talked-about models in Rolex history. The Bluesy has so much to boast and has barely any faults. Many watch connoisseurs find that they simply can’t think of things to criticize this watch for. So, if there isn’t much to improve upon, how could Rolex possibly top the Ref. 116613LB? In 2020, Rolex released the successor to the Bluesy, the Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 126613LB. The new Rolex Submariner Blue 126613LB features cutting-edge innovations and craftsmanship like no other. As we take a more detailed look at the new Bluesy, we will see if it truly is better than the original. Can Rolex refine a timepiece that already doesn’t disappoint? Let’s find out. Specifications Photo by Zeidman’s Watch Dimensions This addition to the Rolex Submariner line has a case diameter of 41mm, a millimeter more than standard Rolex Submariners. Although the specs show that the model is larger than average, the slimmed-down lugs and substantial bezel size make the watch appear smaller than it is. It is 12.7mm thick with a lug width of 21mm and has a lug to lug measurement of 48.1mm. Apart from the case diameter, the Rolex Submariner Blue Ref. 126613LB has proportions much like other Submariner models. That said, anyone who has owned a Submariner and worn it with no difficulty will have a similar experience sporting the spectacular Ref. 126613LB. Oystersteel and Yellow Gold Case and Caseback Image By: Rolex There isn’t anything that Rolex wouldn’t do to ensure a high-quality timepiece. Rolex uses a combination of beveled Oystersteel and yellow gold to produce the case of the Submariner Blue Ref. 126613LB. Many Rolex enthusiasts are familiar with this iconic color scheme and refer to it as Yellow Rolesor. The term “Rolesor” is one that Rolex coined, meaning half gold and half steel. The Rolesor of the Submariner Ref. 126613LB is a blend of Rolex’s highly-regarded, durable Oystersteel and exquisite 18K gold. Rolex adopts the best properties of both materials and melds them into a perfect mixture of style and strength. The knob of the Submariner Blue Date is a screwed-down winding crown that features Rolex’s Triplock system. As its name suggests, the Triplock system makes use of a total of three gaskets to securely prevent water from leaking into the inner machinations of the watch. Simply put, this allows the crown to keep the timepiece safe underwater, whether the knob is screwed down or not. It ensures the watches are better protected and gives wearers some peace of mind knowing that their tremendously valuable timepiece is not in any danger.  Located at the rear of the timepiece is a screw-down caseback made from Oystersteel which keeps the inner mechanisms of the Rolex Submariner Blue safe. While it would have been nice to be able to view the movement at work through an exhibition caseback, a screw-down caseback is the optimal choice for greater protection. Compared to exhibition rear cases, screw-down casebacks are less vulnerable to leakages and can more effectively keep the watch safe from water damage.  Royal Blue Unidirectional Bezel Inserted on the top of the Rolex Submariner Blue Ref. 126613LB is a rich blue unidirectional bezel made of Cerachrom. “Cerachrom” is another word from the Rolex dictionary. It is an amalgamation of the English word “ceramic” and the Greek word “Chrom”, meaning color. At the top marker of the bezel is a luminescent bulb that provides brightness in dark environments. The ceramic bezel has its numbers and graduations overlaid with a tasteful gold coating to stand out from the blue surface of the dial. On the side of the bezel are notched edges that give an easier grip when rotating the bezel. The reason why Rolex uses ceramics instead of their renowned Oystersteel for the bezel is because of the scratch resistance. Unlike the metals used for bezels that can get scratched time and time again, ceramic bezels display a more resistant surface overall. It is scratch-resistant, corrosion-resistant, and resistant to UV rays. The only problem with ceramic, however, is its fragility. It does not take much to break ceramic, so it is pivotal to keep the timepiece from receiving impacts. Compared to steel, ceramics are more fragile and can crack, even shatter after taking a hard bump.  Royal Blue Chromalight Dial It is impossible to deny the grandeur of the Rolex Submariner Blue’s sunburst royal blue dial. The dial is glorious, with a stellar design that shimmers and shines under all sorts of lighting conditions. On the dial are geometric hour markers and an alpha handset encased in luxurious 18K gold. The hour markers come in different shapes of circles, rectangles, and a triangle for 12 o’clock — a simple yet effective way to indicate time. Perched at the 3 o’clock position is a date window roofed by a convex cyclops lens. Rolex supplies the Submariner Date Ref. 126613LB with their signature Mercedes-style handset, similar to the ones found in other Submariners. The hands and hour markers are also generously coated with Chromalight to provide brightness and legibility in the dark.  Here is an intriguing detail about the Submariner Date Ref. 126612LB’s dial. Tilt the watch slightly to the side, and you can see “Rolex” engraved several times on the inner walls of the timepiece, a testament to how Rolex truly pays attention to the finest of details. The main difference this particular Rolex Submariner Blue has from the previous Bluesy is its crisp, white-colored text. Many enthusiasts and collectors welcomed the color change as it is a more satisfying contrast to the blue dial than the original gold text. Ultimately, however, it is up to the preference of the wearer which version is truly better. Another minor difference can be found at the bottom of the dial. Right below the 6 o’clock marker of the new Rolex Submariner Blue is a small “Swiss-Made” signature with a crown affixed in between. Sapphire Glass For a watch as extravagant as the Submariner Date Ref. 126613LB, sapphire glass is the only option fit to shelter the striking royal blue dial. No other material does a good job of protecting the Submariner timepiece as sapphire glass. It is superbly scratch-resistant and can take a good beating compared to the other materials in its category. Positioned on the right side of the glass is a convex cyclops lens that magnifies the date aperture on the dial. Such placement allows owners of this two-tone Submariner to read the date with just a glance.   A lesser-known fact about sapphire glass is that it tends to be highly reflective. Because of that, it is typical for watchmakers to apply a layer or two of anti-reflective coating. This allows wearers to comfortably read the time without any obstructions. Although the scratch resistance of sapphire is certainly noteworthy, it is still susceptible to cracks and shattering. With that in mind, it is best to keep the Rolex Submariner Blue safe and not go knocking it around against a hard surface. Rolex Calibre 3235 Image By: Rolex Rolex equipped this blue Submariner Date with their latest mainline movement, the Caliber 3235. The Caliber 3235 is an automatic movement based on the previous in-house Caliber 3135. The 3235 features a precision of -2/2+ seconds per day, which is incredibly accurate even by Rolex’s standards. In making their latest caliber, Rolex didn’t just make some minor adjustments. Rather, they heavily modified every aspect of the 3135 to create an upgraded Caliber 3235 that is even more efficient and reliable. That said, just what changes and improvements were made to the 3235? First, we will address the oscillator. The Calibre 3235 uses a paramagnetic Parachrom Bleu Hairspring to oscillate the balance wheel. While the hairspring isn’t entirely new, it has undergone a series of upgrades and fine-tuning. As a result, it runs with more enhanced isochronism and is ten times more accurate. Rolex used a blend of zirconium and niobium to create the alloy of the revamped hairspring. These elements give the hairspring greater resistances to magnetism, corrosion, and varying temperatures. High-performance Paraflex shock absorbers also work to dampen the rebound and compression of the hairspring. A traversing bridge secures the shock absorbers and reinforces the shock resistance even further. Rolex was also able to improve the power reserve of the 3235. The caliber can now last approximately three days. With the inclusion of the bidirectional self-winding feature, you could power the watch with a simple movement of your wrist. An incredible thing to note about this improvement is that Rolex achieved the enhanced power reserve by simply slimming down the walls of the mainspring barrel. The most significant improvement to the 3235 is its highly innovative Chronergy escapement. The escapement is what regulates the power delivered by the mainspring from the oscillator. When it comes to upgrading movements, one of the most delicate things to improve upon is the Swiss lever escapement. After much research and testing, Rolex came up with an escapement innovation that offers 15% more efficiency. Rolex also used nickel-phosphorus in developing the new escapement, allowing it to be more resistant to magnetism.  31 jewels hold the caliber 3235’s mechanisms to keep them from undergoing excess friction. The 3235 also has a beat frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, which is the ideal standard for modern luxury watches. Oystersteel Bracelet Another thing that makes Rolex timepieces remarkable is that every aspect has a certain standard of quality, even the bracelet. With the Rolex Submariner Blue’s bracelet, the first thing that draws our attention is the Yellow Rolesor pattern. Its design dates back to the 1930s and is present in the bracelets of many Oyster Perpetual models, such as the highly recognizable Rolex Datejust. Despite its age, it still proves to be a timeless look to this day. In addition, the Oystersteel material of the bracelet is exceedingly resistant to corrosion, which enhances its durability. The bracelet uses the Rolex Glidelock system, which allows users to freely and precisely expand the band up to 20mm. The system comes equipped with a flip-lock extension which allows wearers to further adjust the bracelet by an additional 26mm. Such measures are necessary to ensure divers and non-divers can wear the Submariner Date Ref. 126613LB with a comfortable and secure fit. Finally, a folding Oysterlock clasp fastens the bracelet cozily around the wearer’s wrist. The lock bears the iconic logo of the company and adds a sense of sophistication to the bracelet.  Water Resistance This blue Rolex Submariner Date also possesses a water resistance of 300m or nearly a thousand feet. The timepiece is COSC certified and has received Superlative Chronometer status after further testing in Rolex’s facilities. A luxury watch with 300m water resistance can effortlessly handle activities such as showering, swimming, snorkeling, and even recreational diving. This Rolex Submariner Blue can go to depths that reach the proximity of saturation diving but bear in mind that it has its limits. If you’re looking for a timepiece built for excellent underwater reliability even in the deepest waters, the Rolex Sea-Dweller might be a better choice.  An Alternative If you want a spectacular dive watch that isn’t a Rolex, here is an alternative that could more or less fit the bill. Omega Seamaster Diver 300m Co-Axial Master Chronometer 42mm Ref. 210.30.42.20.03.001 The Submariner and the Seamaster have gone at it for a long time. Whether it comes to cameos in James Bond movies or the actual horology industry, Rolex and Omega are nothing short of rivals. As expected, Omega has its own contender in competition with the latest blue Submariner of Rolex. In 2018, Omega unveiled their most recent 42mm Seamaster Diver Master Chronometer. The new Seamaster has a proficient set of qualities that match Rolex’s Ref. 126613LB.  Similarities to the Submariner First and foremost, the Seamaster is a self-winding watch that also uses kinetic energy to supply power to itself. It features a helium decompression system which allows the timepiece to release helium when worn during long dives. The installation of the helium escape valve makes the Seamaster a professional choice for underwater exploration. As an added benefit, the crown is self-locking and securely screwed in to offer better water resistance.  The Seamaster also makes use of a high-quality stainless steel case and a ceramic unidirectional bezel. Being unidirectional ensures accuracy to a diver, and the ceramic plating will reduce any chances of scratches staying on its surface. The Omega timepiece also received COSC certification for its performance, durability, and resistance to magnetism.  Differences Between the Submariner and the Seamaster Now that we are aware of the similarities between these two dive watches, what exactly does the Omega Seamaster do differently? Aside from having Omega’s signature wave dial, the Seamaster utilizes the Caliber 8800. Just like the Rolex 3235, this in-house Omega movement features more efficiency and preciseness in operation. The Caliber 8800 is METAS certified as a Master Chronometer — the highest standard for accuracy. For calibers to attain this status, watches must be COSC certified and undergo eight additional tests. What makes this certification more impressive is that timepieces must undergo these tests twice. Although Rolex’s 3235 is not METAS certified, it possesses a more efficient power reserve and beat frequency than the Caliber 8800. On the other hand, the Caliber 8800 contains 35 jewels to hold the movement and boasts a higher rating of 15,000 gausses of anti-magnetism. Another difference is the usage of sapphire. For the Seamaster, Omega furnished both the front and the rear with sapphire glass. The watch has a dome-shaped sapphire crystal to protect the dial and a transparent sapphire caseback to protect the back of the watch. Since the caseback is see-through, wearers can view the Caliber 8800 in all its glory. Putting everything together, the Omega Seamaster puts together lots of convenience with a considerable amount of elegance. Both the Submariner and Seamaster are excellent watches, but if you’re more of an Omega fan, then the latest Seamaster is also a splendid choice. A Fun Fact About the Seamaster Did you know that in the trailer of the latest instalment of 007 (No Time to Die), you can see Daniel Craig wear the 42mm Seamaster as his trusty timekeeper? His watch is the same model but of a different reference number. The exact reference Mr. Bond uses is 210.22.42.20.01.001. It is safe to say that we will see more of the Omega Seamaster in action once the movie finally releases. Let’s hope that Mr. Bond doesn’t break the watch. Then again, he probably has the money and the methods to get another one. Final Thoughts The 126613LB is most certainly a fine addition to the Rolex Submariner Blue series. With its astounding qualities and beguiling design, the blue Rolex Submariner Date is pretty much one of the best options out there. Like all Submariners, owners can sport this marvelous timekeeper on any occasion. Moreover, the Rolex Submariner Date 126613LB is always ready to deliver optimal performance with an added sense of sophistication. It is as beautiful as it is practical. The latest iteration of the Rolex Bluesy is, without a doubt, a stunning work of craftsmanship and innovation.  Need a more affordable diver watch? Have a look at the classy Orient Mako II? Featured Image By Rolex

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  3. Valjoux 7750 – Valjoux’s greatest invention

    Valjoux 7750 – Valjoux’s greatest invention

    No wristwatch is complete without its movement. The movement is one of the most fundamental components of any timepiece. Quite simply, it is the mechanism that keeps your watch ticking. Without it, your wristwatch would be dead.   Every watch enthusiast has their own opinions on their favorite and least-preferred movements. That being said, one of the most talked-about watch movements in the history of horology is the Valjoux 7750. Some argue that the Valjoux 7750 is one of the most exceptional chronograph movements ever made. Others, on the other hand, would say that the movement is cheap, generic, and, to an extent, outdated. Indeed, the debate over the Valjoux 7750 has gone on for years. With that said, let’s find out more about Valjoux and the making of the 7750. In addition, we will also learn about what is inside the Valjoux 7550 and how it acquired its reputation. By taking a closer look at this movement, we’re going to show you just which side of the debate was right about the Valjoux 7750 after all. Valjoux – The Foundation of Many Photo from eBay Valjoux is a Swiss manufacturer renown for producing quality mechanical watch movements. Valjoux derived its name from the original address of the company, located in Joux Valley, which is otherwise known as Vallée de Joux. Valjoux was an independent manufacturer until they joined AUSAG in 1931. AUSAG, now known as Swatch Group, is a conglomerate that took in numerous independent movement manufacturers. Many of the manufacturers AUSAG has bought throughout the years are extremely well-known names. These include, among others, Blancpain, Hamilton, Longines, Oris, and of course, Valjoux. The competition over the creation of newer, more innovative, and more technologically advanced movements has always been an intense one in the watch industry. In 1969, Zenith released the El Primero, a new chronograph watch that possessed the most precise automatic movement they ever invented. Dubois Depraz, in collaboration with Breitling, Tag Heuer, and Hamilton, also unveiled their latest ground-breaking movement, which they called the Chronomatic movement. While these were all brainchildren that rocked the waters of the horology field, none of them could compare to the revolutionary quartz tidal wave that changed the landscape forever. Quartz Crisis – End of an Era  From the moment it emerged on the market in the early 1970s, the quartz movement has dominated the market with an iron fist. After just a few years, most people were turning to their Seikos and other quartz-operated timepieces, while the old mechanical wristwatches were left at home gathering dust. The quartz movement proved to be the nightmare of every traditional Swiss movement manufacturer. Not only were quartz movements incredibly accurate in keeping time, but they were also much cheaper to make. With such heavy competition, Valjoux had to think of something quick. They hired a young watchmaker named Edmond Capt to provide them with a movement that could compete with Zenith, Dubois, and most importantly, the all-powerful quartz movement. What they needed was a sturdy and dependable movement that was easy to manufacture. In addition, the new movement had to be chronograph-rated and feature a quick-set day and date function. Their expectations were high and Edmond had to meet their requirements as soon as possible.  Thankfully, Capt was a quick thinker. He made use of the Valjoux 7733 as the foundation for his new movement. The Valjoux 7733 is an old chronograph movement of Valjoux’s, released in 1969, with features such as a small seconds sub-dial, a seconds counter, but no day or date function. Capt’s new movement kept the basic timekeeping functions that the Valjoux 7733 also provided. His most innovative customisation to his new movement was having the column wheel replaced with a lever and camp system. Due to this adjustment, it became easier for Valjoux to mass-produce this upgraded chronograph movement since it was more affordable and required less precision. With the additional help of computer technology, Capt’s invention, the Valjoux 7750, became a reality. During the first year of its release, the Valjoux was able to sell 100,000 units of the 7750. It looked like a bright enough future for the 7750, but dark clouds revealed themselves soon enough. Even with such an ingenious design, it was not enough to challenge the quartz movement. In 1975, both Zenith and Valjoux succumbed to their shrinking markets. Zenith had to discontinue the El Primero while Valjoux halted the production of their Valjoux 7750. In addition, the managers of Valjoux planned to destroy the molds and dies for the Valjoux 7750 as well. Capt, who viewed the 7750 as one of his best creations, was affronted by the thought. He decided to keep the molds and dies of the 7750 in the hope that he might one day still be able to use them. You might think, at this point, that Valjoux and the 7750 seemed to be on their last legs. Thanks to Capt’s actions, however, a spark of hope soon revealed itself to the mechanical movement industry. Re-igniting the flame As mentioned, the quartz movement took the 1970s by storm. The trend of quartz-operated timepieces remained strong and showed no signs of stopping. For the Swiss companies to survive what came to be known as the Quartz Crisis, they had to consolidate. AUSAG and another conglomerate named SSIH merged to become what we know today as the Swatch Group. This newly made group went on to integrate with Piaget and later bought Heuer in 1982.  In the next decade, although quartz remained king, the demand for mechanical movements recommenced. The 1980s was the dawn of a new era for automatic watches. After the formation of the Swatch Group occurred, Valjoux merged with another movement manufacturer known as ETA. A collaboration between the two Swiss companies took place and led to the birth of the Valjoux/ETA 7750. This improved 7750 showcased a highly customizable base and 4Hz beat rate. One of the first watchmakers to take advantage of the latest 7750 was IWC. Technical director Kurt Klaus opted to use the 7750 as the base for their newest invention, the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. Kurt famously designed the Da Vinci Chronograph entirely by hand instead of using computers. The decision was a good move and gave the timepiece a distinguished reputation that added to its classic design. Thanks to the success of the Da Vinci, IWC returned to the 7750 for yet another project. As a commemoration of the company’s 125th anniversary, IWC manufactured the Destriero Scafusia. For this watch, IWC made use of yet another customized 7750 that featured a flying tourbillon, a minute repeater, a split-second chronograph, and a perpetual calendar. The success of IWC’s 7750 watches eventually led the watchmaking company Fortis to also adopt the ETA/Valjoux 75750 into their crafts. Fortis had to modify the 7750 calibre as their target market – Russian cosmonauts – were dissatisfied with the lack of an alarm feature in the 7750. In order to fix this issue, Fortis hired a watchmaker named Paul Gerber to design an alarm that could pair well with the 7750. As a result, Fortis was able to develop the first automatic watch with an alarm. Aside from that, Gerber also made other modifications. He added a second spring barrel to help power the alarm in the timepiece and made adjustments to the rotor so that it could better supply power to the barrel. As time passed by, more and more watchmakers understood the appeal of the ETA/Valjoux 7750 and started to incorporate it into their products. All these different watchmakers had different needs and requirements to fulfill, and so each of them modified the 7750 to meet the standards of their specific target audience. Over time, there became hundreds of variations of the 7750 out in the world, populating the various case backs of numerous watches. As a result, the 7750 has become one of the most frequently used movements, with many unique versions of itself in the ocean of timepieces out there. Anatomy of the 7750 Now that we’ve gone through the history and the arduous journey undergone by the Valjoux 7750, it’s time for us to take a look at what makes up the composition of this mechanical movement. First of all, the 7750 is a mechanical, manual-wind movement that uses a three-plane cam system to operate its mechanisms. The standard 7750 has subdials at the 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions. The original Valjoux 7750 units contained 17 jewels, while most modern ETA 7750 variants hold 25 jewels, which allows for less wear and tear. The movement comes with a day/date function positioned at the 3 o’clock position of the timepiece. However, not all versions of the 7750 have this feature since some manufacturers opt to remove the day and date aperture to offer a cleaner, less cluttered look on the dial. The original 7750 contained mechanisms that were partially made out of plastic. More modern, modified 7750s frequently replace the plastic parts with metal, as it is more durable and sturdier. Contemporary models of the ETA 7750 also exhibit a faster frequency. These days, the 7750 produces 28,800 vibrations per hour instead of 21,600 from previous versions. Some modified variants of the 7750 have been manufactured on a wide scale. Apart from the base 7750 model, we also have the 7751, 7753, and 7754 movements. Out of all these units, the 7751 has the most additional features. The 7751 comes with a central date hand, a day and month sub-dial, and a sub-dial for moon phases. Following that, we have the 7753 movement. Unlike other ETA/Valjoux 7750s, the 7753 variant has its sub-dials positioned in the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions of the main dial. The 7753 also positions the date aperture at the 4 o’clock position of the watch face instead of the usual 3 o’clock. Lastly, we have the final version, the 7754. The one thing that the 7754 has that other models do not is a GMT hand. That said, aside from the mentioned differences, all ETA/Valjoux 7750s operate fairly similarly otherwise. 7750’s Notoriety Despite the marvelous feats the 7750 attained throughout the years, it still has its fair share of doubters and naysayers. Why do some people dismiss the 7750?  Cheap Over the years, the 7750 has become the go-to movement for many watchmakers for its customisable capabilities and affordability. Other watch fanatics, however, argue that the cheapness of the 7750 brings down the overall value of the watch. Since the watch industry uses the 7550 in all categories and types of timepieces, many argue that the contrast set up between luxury and more economic watches is devalued by the presence of the 7550. Many watch wearers would be displeased by the knowledge that their luxurious $3,000 watch uses the same movement as a more budget wristwatch worth $300. Generic and Mundane People can indeed get tired from seeing the same thing over and over again. As we’ve mentioned, since this mechanical movement appears in a vast number of different watches, the architecture of the ETA/Valjoux is simply too ubiquitous and has become too mundane for many watch enthusiasts. This is why some would prefer in-house movements for their luxury timepieces, as it brings to the table something that is a little more distinct and sophisticated. To them, the ETA/Valjoux 7750 is just too generic and overused, bringing down the exclusivity and class of their luxury timekeeper. Cam-Actuated There is an ongoing debate between the strengths of column-wheel chronographs as opposed to those of cam-actuated systems. Although the performances of both are nearly identical, some still prefer column-wheel chronographs. The naysayers of the cam-actuated system have claimed that because the 7750 is cam-actuated, when the watch starts running, it is frequently accompanied by a sudden jerk of the seconds hand. In reality, this is actually because the gears of the cam-actuated mechanism are merely fixing themselves before initiating the system. As opposed to the supposed jerkiness of the cam-actuated system, some argue that chronograph movements that use a column wheel tend to run smoother. The pushers in the cam-actuated system have also been criticized as being harder to press than the pushers present in column-wheel movements. It all boils down to preferences Ultimately, none of the reasons mentioned above are factual. In the end, it all comes down to what a person likes and what they dislike. Collectors and enthusiasts alike may regard the ETA/Valjoux 7750 as banal, but it also has strengths that they can not deny. The 7750 has proven itself to be an absolute workhorse. Despite being a relic from the past, this humble automatic movement has survived all sorts of adversities and advancements and continues to produce satisfying results. It may be generic, but there is a reason why so many highly-regarded watchmakers have chosen the 7750 for their quality timepieces. Valjoux 7750 Watches 1. IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph First on the list is a watch that was briefly mentioned earlier in the article, the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar. As the name reveals, Leonardo Da Vinci was the inspiration in designing this particular IWC Perpetual Calendar. The IWC Da Vinci was the first in its series to be operated by a mechanical movement. A caliber known as the IWC 79261 controlled the inner machinations of the watch. You might not be able to tell from the name alone, but the IWC 79621 is actually a Valjoux 7750 that was heavily modified to cater to the needs of the IWC Da Vinci. As stated previously in the article, it was Kurt Klaus who brought this movement to IWC. Klaus refused the use of computers and chose to modify the movement by hand. The resulting IWC Da Vinci timepiece was a huge success and it marked the comeback of luxury mechanical watches amidst the era of quartz. Photo by Time and Watches 2. Sinn 358 Diapal Pilot Chronograph The Diapal Pilot is an example of a modern watch that uses the Valjoux 7750. In this modified variant of the Valjoux 7750, 25 jewels hold the movement to prevent the apparatus from experiencing additional wear and tear. The Diapal Pilot is the first and only model of the Sinn 358 Chronograph series to utilize the Valjoux 7750. Later iterations of the Sinn 358 replaced the 7750 either with a Sellita SW 500 or a Concepto C99001. Funnily enough, both of these movements based their designs and functions on the 7750. Sinn uses all three mechanisms in different versions of their Instrument Chronograph series. The three watch systems may not be the same, but they all promise reliability and durability. Photo by Sinn 3. Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph Calibre 16 DD Automatic Horology history associates Heuer and Valjoux in several instances. Aside from their mutual affiliation with the Swatch Group, Valjoux has also supplied many Heuer timepieces with 7750 calibers. In 2005, Heuer released their newest Carrera Automatic, which featured their latest movement, the Calibre 16. In making the Calibre 16, Heuer introduced the world of watches to their version of a modified Valjoux 7750. The Calibre 16 is utilized in several timepieces from different Tag Heuer collections, including Carrera, Link, and Aquaracer. Two years ago, Heuer stopped using the 7750 as the base for their Calibre 16 and replaced it with the Sellita SW 500. The new Calibre 16 now occupies the casebacks of Heuer’s main ranges of chronograph watches namely the Aquaracer, Carrera, and Formula 1. 4. Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind Automatic  Hamilton created the X-Wind Automatic to commemorate their association with the US Airmail. Although they found that the 7750 had a decent enough performance, they were not entirely satisfied with the longevity of the 7750’s power reserve. After a few customizations to the Valjoux 7750 base, Hamilton produced their very own H-21. The upgrades resulted in a modern and more accurate 7750 with a new power reserve that can last for a whopping 60 hours. Compared to other watchmakers, Hamilton made fewer modifications to the base 7750. Despite this, the H-21 is one of the most notable innovations in the Hamilton lineup. The movement was later awarded COSC certification, and the Khaki Aviation X-Wind Automatic became a hit among Hamilton’s audience.  Photo by Hamilton 5. Breitling Avenger II Here’s a fun fact — Leonardo Dicaprio wore this watch in the 2006 movie Blood Diamond. The timepiece appeared in many scenes and is one of Breitling’s most well-known models. Like every other watch in this list, Breitling made several adjustments to the Valjoux 7750. Through their efforts, the company brought the Breitling 13 caliber to the world of horology. The Breitling 13 features a frequency of 28,800 semi-oscillations per hour with a 42-hour power reserve. Due to its unidirectional ratcheted bezel, the rotor of the Avenger II can move freely. The result? A lively timepiece that “wobbles” gleefully on the owner’s wrist.  Photo by Breitling Final Thoughts To this day, the 7750 is arguably one of the most recognizable and iconic automatic movements. There aren’t many movements in the scope of horology that have made an impact quite like it. The ETA/Valjoux 7750 is a rugged and easily modifiable mechanism currently used by many reputable companies. Although it was first named the Valjoux 7750, today, it is officially called the ETA 7750. Despite the renaming, however, most people still refer to it as the Valjoux 7750. Although it is not the most advanced movement, a finely-tuned Valjoux 7750 can reach heights that are equal to just about any modern movement out there. No matter which side of the debate you’re on, it is undeniable that the Valjoux 7750 is of great importance to watch history. Not only was the 7750 a component that gave relevance to the remnants of Swiss watchmakers, but it was also a crucial innovation responsible for reviving the whole industry of mechanical movements. Just as importantly, it was the movement that allowed so many watch manufacturers to unleash their creativity, making broad modifications to the Valjoux 7750 to best suit their purposes. Released over the decades, these modified variants prove, time and time again, that the Valjoux 7750 is as strong as ever. Valjoux is not out of the watch game and does not plan to leave anytime soon. Looking for a watch you can travel with? Here are the 20 Best Travel Watches for Globetrotters and Frequent Flyers. Featured Image by: Wikimedia Commons

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  4. The Orient Mako II – A Big Shark in a Bigger Ocean

    The Orient Mako II – A Big Shark in a Bigger Ocean

    Orient is known for being an underrated watchmaking company. They have a wide-range selection of watches that far exceed their current reputation. Among their lines of diver watches, one model truly stands out among the rest. That model is the Orient Mako II. There are a lot of cheap timepieces out there that turn out to be disappointments. They may be easy to afford, but when you need them the most, they will fail to deliver. The Mako II is not like that. With this model, Orient can personally show you just how much $150 has to offer you. In a world of seafloors inhabited by Rolex Submariners and Omega Seamasters, we often forget that a trusty dive watch does not necessarily have to cost a fortune. There are more affordable options in the market, and the Orient Mako II is one of the most reliable and fair choices. Try to find a timepiece that does the job better than this with a similar price tag, and you will see just what an arduous task it poses. With that said, let’s dive into the Orient Mako II and what it can do. Let’s start with a brief overview of the origins of the first edition Orient Mako and how the Mako II came to be.  The Original Mako Orient released the first Mako in 2004. The Mako was a flagship model and was an effective crowd puller as an affordable diving wristwatch. With its affordable price and capable features, the Mako was a popular choice of a first timepiece for many newcomers. It was an enormous success for Orient, and allowed them to learn more about their market. Thanks to the constructive criticism and feedback from its wearers, Orient was later able to design a new and improved model, the Orient Mako II. The Mako features a 41.5mm case with a royal blue dial. It uses an automatic movement known as the Orient Caliber 46943 with a 40-hour power reserve. Though the Mako comes with mineral glass, it is always possible to swap it for something more sturdy. For its final feature, the Mako can handle 200m or 660ft of water pressure. And to top it all off, this timepiece does not even reach $200. Just by looking at the specs and its price tag, it is apparent that this diver watch is a suitable, easily affordable diver watch for anyone. Funnily enough, this watch was not originally called the Mako. There are a handful of stories on how the Mako got its name, but the most frequent iteration involves the dolphin logo of its rubber strap. Wearers of the Orient Mako started to notice that the supposed dolphin on the rubber strap of the Mako seemed to more closely resemble a shark instead. In particular, fans thought that it looked like the shortfin mako shark. Since then, enthusiasts, and later the company itself, started calling the timepiece the Orient Mako.  Here’s a fun fact you might not have known: the shortfin mako shark, which the Orient Mako is named for, holds the record for being the fastest shark in the world. Specifications Photo by u/motorcyclerider100 from Reddit Dimensions of the Orient Mako II Starting with the dimensions, the Orient Mako II is 13mm thick and measures 41.5mm in diameter. As far as the lugs are concerned, the Mako II has a lug width of 22mm and a lug to lug measurement of 47mm. Although the size sounds quite standard, the wristwatch actually looks smaller than what the dimensions specify due to the nature of its curved lugs. That said, those with larger wrists may perceive their Orient Mako II to be a bit small-scale. If wearers want a watch that feels a little more substantial, they could instead opt for the larger Orient Mako XL. On the whole, however, the Mako II is well-sized for a wristwatch in its category and fits adequately on many. Stainless Steel Case The Orient Mako II has an aesthetically pleasing structure. The case of the Mako II has a considerable amount of heft to it without being too cumbersome on the wrist. It is made of stainless steel, and it is both brushed on its lugs and polished on its sides. As a result, the exteriors of the timepiece exude a satisfying clean look with a welcoming gleaming sheen. Accompanied by a thin bezel, the Mako II boasts a stunning and sporty build that looks appropriate for diving. The bezel on top of the Orient Mako II is particularly unique. It is relatively slim with a deep blue color and notched edges on its sides. The bezel is unidirectional with 120 clicks and can track a typical total of 60 minutes of elapsed time. Aside from the standard blue edition, the bezel can also come in all-black or in the iconic Pepsi-themed colors. While the black version also looks smart, the Pepsi version can be exceptionally appealing. With its ridged sides and slim build, choosing the Pepsi-themed model of the Mako II makes the bezel bear an uncanny resemblance to the bottle cap of a Pepsi drink.  With regards to the functionality of the bezel, although the notched edge is supposed to provide an easier grip, it doesn’t really offer any additional help. The thin structure of the bezel might look sleek, but it also makes turning the bezel quite a challenge at times. In terms of profession, it could be even harder to use for divers, considering account the gear that divers wear. Ultimately, the Mako II’s bezel looks good, but the functionality is sub-par and is better off changed to a slightly thicker bezel. Fortunately, the Mako III and the Mako XL feature a bigger bezel for those who require greater ease of use. Another feature that we need to look at is the crown. The Mako II’s crown has some good polishing on it. Engraved neatly on the center of the knob is the logo of its maker – Orient. It is a beautiful-looking crown, but it also has problems of its own. Much like the bezel, it is a tad difficult to use. For many owners of the Mako II, the crown guards do not give enough space and are too tightly crowded around the knob, making it difficult to turn. Again, this would prove even more burdensome for fully-geared divers who wish to bring the Orient Mako II with them into the water. At the back of the Orient Mako II is a solid screw-down case back that protects the movement inside. Some may prefer having an exhibit-style transparent case back, but using a screw-down case is the optimal choice to reduce the risk of having any leakages, which is crucial for a dive watch like this.  Mineral Glass There is nothing extraordinary to note here. Mineral crystal is a standard in watches of this price range. The crystal will still get the job done, but it will not shelter the dial from anything more than light scratches. If you’re concerned about the quality of protection the crystal offers, you could opt to customize the watch by replacing the mineral glass with sapphire. However, keep in mind that sapphire will cost more. Deep Blue Sunburst Dial When looking through the mineral crystal, the Orient Mako II immediately greets on-lookers with a beautiful deep blue sunburst dial. Hour markers and indices occupy the rim of the dial, other than at the 6th, 9th, and 12th o’clock positions. The hour marker at the 3 o’clock position is replaced with a day and date window perched on the right side of the dial. At the center of the watch are sword-shaped minute and hour hands as well as a red-tipped second hand. The Orient Mako II has luminescent material applied on its hands, indices, and hour markers, so wearers are able to tell the time even in the dark. Completing the overall look is the logo and signature of Orient located below the 12th hour of the dial. The Mako II also comes with a black dial variant, while the Mako II USA sports a white dial.  Orient Caliber F6922 One of the biggest complaints that owners of the first edition Orient Mako had was the inability to wind and hack the movement manually. Since then, Orient has devised a new caliber is adjustable by hand and demonstrates the ability to tell time more precisely. This new and improved movement is none other than the in-house Caliber F6922. What makes this movement so interesting is the innovative design of the caliber. Although the F6922 is automatic, it can still be hand-wound, providing wearers benefits from either side of the spectrum. The caliber has an accuracy of -15/15+ seconds, which is much more precise than the -25/35+ seconds accuracy of its predecessor. That said, the movement will still require consistent regulation every few days. Orient uses Seiko’s Diashock as shock absorbers for the automatic apparatus. The system supplies twenty-two jewels to hold the mechanical movement in place and keep the mechanisms from experiencing excessive wear and tear. The F6922 is capable of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour and has a 40-hour power reserve. Altogether, Orient’s in-house automatic caliber is a sturdy workhorse, built with the capacity to withstand actual diving and the pressures that come with it. Three-Link Bracelet The Orient Mako II comes with the usual three-link bracelet you can find on numerous affordable Japanese timekeepers. The end links are hollow, but the bracelet is easy to calibrate and wraps around the wrist comfortably. In addition, the steel of the bracelet has been brushed and polished thoroughly, so it possesses the same glossy, professional shine as the case. A double-locking clasp with a push-button design is used to fasten the bracelet. This stainless steel bracelet gives the watch a smart, distinguished look, but there are other options available. You could experiment with different straps that better compliment the classic design of the Mako II. Depending on your preferences, you can select from a wide variety of straps and bracelets. 200m Water Resistance 200m is a deep dive. With resistances like that, the watch can withstand almost all sorts of water activity, from taking a shower to scuba diving. The only thing this wristwatch cannot handle is professional diving, which usually reaches depths of around 500m. This limitation is not a hindrance as people tend to purchase a timepiece like this for design purposes and recreational diving rather than its proficiency deep underwater. Although this timepiece is highly capable, the Orient Mako II does not have ISO certification. Taking into account that this is a very affordable $150 watch, this is a fairly minor con. For those seeking an underwater companion on their casual dive outings, however, the Orient Mako II is still more than up to the task. Alternatives For those who are not a fan of the Mako II’s style, there are a few alternatives that also provide a variety of intriguing features for a similar price tag. Orient Ray II Photo by u/pleisner3 from Reddit There is no doubt that Orient knows how to make a great-looking, affordable dive watch. If the Mako II isn’t your cup of tea, then maybe their Orient Ray II would suit you better. The Ray II sports a matte black dial, similar to that of a Rolex Submariner. Pair that with a black chapter ring and a wonderfully polished stainless steel case, and you get an affordable diver timepiece oozing with sophistication.  Orient also did a remarkable job in applying luminescence to the Ray II. The quality of the luminosity is clean, well-lit, and is unexpected for a timepiece of this price range. Compared to the Mako II, the Ray II does a better job of providing wearers good legibility in the dark. An F6522 in-house caliber powers the inner machinations of the Ray II, and its performance is identical to that of the Mako II’s F6922 calibre. Other than those features, the Mako II and Ray II are almost indistinguishable. Unfortunately, that also includes the hard-to-maneuver bezel and miniature crown. That said, the Ray II is arguably the best alternative to the Mako II. It offers nearly the same amount of features and conveniences and comes with a similar price point. The Ray II also has a wider variety of dial colors to choose from, such as deep blue and pumpkin orange. Seiko SKX007 Photo by Amazon If you’re willing to plonk more money on a trustworthy timekeeper, then look no further than the Seiko SKX007. The Seiko SKX007 is a fan-favorite amongst the range of affordable diver watches. Unlike the Ray and Mako II, the Seiko SKX007 is ISO certified, making it a highly credible and ideal choice for buyers. It possesses 200m of water resistance, hardlex glass, the Seiko 7S26 movement, and is a versatile look suitable for all occasions and activities.   It is undeniable that the SKX007 looks like a first-class watch. The blend of black and white skillfully laden on the dial and bezel makes for a beguiling design. In addition, the timepiece functions extraordinarily well in the dark. Seiko is known to do impressive work applying luminescence to their watches, and they did not disappoint with the SKX007. Seiko also uses hardlex glass to shelter the dial. Hardlex has a reputation for being more durable and resistant than mineral crystals without being too costly. Although not quite as sturdy as sapphire, hardlex glass is still an inexpensive upgrade from mineral crystals. The bezel itself has more grip than the two previously mentioned timepieces. It’s smooth, it clicks decently, and it does not have any significant amounts of wobble. Indeed, the bezel feels like something you would encounter in much more expensive wristwatches. Sadly, the crown faces the same problem as the Mako II and Ray II. Much like those watches, the crown guard of the SKX007 gives too much cover, such that it becomes tricky to use the knob. Wearers will need a bit of fingernail strength to get that pesky crown going. The Seiko 7S26 which the SKX007 uses is an in-house automatic movement and is a predecessor to the 4R36 movement. Regrettably, the 7S26 does not feature manual winding and hacking capabilities. As long as you don’t find the mechanical movement too frustrating to use, however, then this Seiko is still a good option. Since its time in the production line, the SNK007 has become more limited, and this has led to an increase in value. Right now, the timepiece fetches an average price of $330. Citizen BN0151-09L Promaster Diver Photo by NY Watch Store The Promaster Diver is a Citizen timepiece built for those who enjoy swimming at the beach. Aside from having 200m of water resistance, the watch uses solar power to energize its internal components. One of the best things about this eco-friendly timekeeper is its quartz movement, which is usually more precise than mechanical movements. Since this particular Citizen uses quartz to operate, you can rest assured that you will have no trouble keeping accurate time with this watch.  The bezel is one of the most important features of a watch, so let’s take a look at how the Promaster Diver fares in that regard. On the side of the Promaster Diver’s bezel is an alternating pattern of teeth-like edges and smoothened surfaces. This design may be an unusual choice, but it serves its purpose in providing more grip. It clicks and turns well, which is satisfying. Compared to the other alternatives, this timepiece seems to have the least amount of negatives. The Citizen Promaster Diver costs approximately $180. It is more pricey than the Mako II, but it does offer a lot of benefits. Like the Mako II, the Promaster Diver can come with either a blue or black dial.  Final Thoughts Affordable Japanese diver watches continue to occupy the market to this day. Although there are a wide variety of them, not many can step up to the quality of the Mako II. If you were to look for another wristwatch under $200 that provides the same all-rounded strengths as the Mako II, chances are you probably won’t be having much luck. Although the Mako II is nowhere near perfect, it proves to be a substantial improvement from its predecessor. It is hard to go wrong with the Orient Mako II. For a timepiece that fetches a price between $130 – $150, calling this just another economical wristwatch would be an understatement. With capabilities far exceeding other wristwatches in the same price range, the Orient Mako II is nothing short of a powerhouse. The charisma of this particular timepiece is utterly magical. Whether someone is new to watches, an experienced enthusiast, or an avid collector, the Mako II attracts the eyes of all who see its sleek look. Looking for a dive watch that would allow you to explore even greater ocean depths? Check out our list of recommended Deep-Sea Dive Watches and find a watch perfect for your next deep-sea mission. Featured image courtesy of James Case on Flickr

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  5. The Sinn 356 Pilot Chronograph – Why Should You Need One?

    The Sinn 356 Pilot Chronograph – Why Should You Need One?

    The Sinn 356 Chronograph is a pilot watch that belongs to the Sinn Instrument Chronographs collection. Ironically, despite its considerable reputation, this pilot watch flies under the radar. Sinn is known to make a lot of excellent timepieces. Although they aren’t the most famous brand, their level of craftsmanship gives them an identical reputation. The Sinn 356 is a pilot chronograph with qualities that can reach heights. Though it is not one of Sinn’s most modern or popular creations, the 356 can hold its own and challenge your expectations. This article aims to give us a better understanding of the Sinn 356 Pilot Chronograph and its variants. Hopefully, this helps you decide if the Sinn 356 is the ideal timepiece for you.  Everything We Need to Know About the Sinn 356 Sinn manufactured the 356 in 1996 as the successor to the 256 Pilot Chronograph — featuring a more refined and elegant look than its predecessors. Although the Sinn 356 chronograph has garnered some age, the watch carries a design and function that transcend its era and can fit in similarly just like any other modern timepiece.  There are two versions of the 356: The base variant and the SA variant. The beloved German watch company had three SA variants as alternative options for the original timepiece. Each version of the 356 SA showcases different-colored dials with a satin-finished steel case. With that said, let’s get right into the specifications of the Sinn 356. Dimensions of the Sinn 356 With regards to its overall size, the Sinn 356 is proportionally average. The timepiece has a case diameter of 38.5mm with a thickness of 15.5mm. It also has a band lug width of 20mm and a lug to lug distance of 45.6mm. Without the strap, the timepiece weighs 71 grams which should neither be too light nor too heavy. All aspects put together, the watch is well-balanced and can lay on anyone’s wrist with relative comfort.  Bead-Blasted Case  While the SA versions use satinized steel, the original Sinn 356 features a stainless steel casing that has been bead-blasted to achieve its confident dull sheen. The case is beautifully beveled to give the 356 a smooth and sleek look that fits all occasions. The bezel is also wonderfully crafted and fastens the dome-shaped acrylic glass neatly. Wearers can access the chronograph function of the 356 through pushers stationed at the 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock of the timepiece.  All models are pressure-resistant and screwed with a large crown to protect the inner mechanisms from pressure changes. The reason for this design dates back to the 20th century. At that time, pilots would often wear gloves to protect their hands from the conditions of flight. Since the pilots wore the gloves throughout the flight, adjusting their timepiece proved to be an infuriating task. As a solution, Sinn and other watch companies applied larger crowns so pilots would not have to remove their gloves. Bead-Blasted vs. Satinized What’s the difference between bead-blasted steel and satinized steel? First of all, both kinds of finishes are processed differently. Bead-blasted steel is the result of projecting spherical-shaped media to a steel surface. In effect, the steel obtains a uniform and streak-free exterior. Achieving a satin finish is done by brushing an abrasive material vigorously on steel. After the steel is polished and softened, the outcome is a modern-looking matte finish that is also resistant to corrosion. The second difference comes from the sheen. Bead-blasted steel offers a dull and non-reflective look, while satin-finished steel looks shinier and sharper. Due to this, the case of the standard 356 is not as reflective as its SA variants. Another difference comes from their resistance. Unfortunately, satin-finished steel is more resistant to corrosion and scratches compared to bead-blasted. If not maintained properly, the case of the standard Sinn 356 will corrode faster than its other versions. Does that mean satin-finished steel is better than bead-blasted steel? In terms of resistances, satinized steel is the clear winner. How about for appearance? That will all boil down to your preferences. Both types of finishing look good on the case. Whether bead-blasted or satin-finished, it is of great significance to carefully maintain the case of the 356. Doing this will allow its clean and elegant look to stay with you for many years to come. Dial  The standard Sinn 356 and its SA-I variant bear the same matte black dial with a syringe-like minute and hour hands. The dial consists of three recessed subdials and a bordered day and date window. This design allows the subdials and the window to be more discernible without compromising the main dial. I particularly like the structure of the handset due to its design. The thickness of the lower part of the arrows allows the alpha handset to be more noticeable, and its upper, more slender arrowhead pinpoints time precisely without meshing with the other dials.  White-colored numbers, hour markers, indexes, and subdial handsets are scattered across the dial to counteract its dark flat surface while giving it a minimalistic yet sophisticated two-toned look. The digits for 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and 12 o’clock are unregistered in the dial to make space for the positioning of the day and date window and the subdials of the dial. All numbers and handsets are coated with luminescent colors to allow easier reading at night. The 356 SA-II and SA-III use a copper and silver electroplated guilloche dial, respectively. Having the dials of the SA II and III electroplated gives it a premium chrome style that can catch the eyes of any viewer. Describing the process of making an electroplated dial is not an easy task, but a summary of the process is available in Sinn’s Technology Glossary. All versions have the Sinn and Flieger (Pilot) signature positioned at the top and bottom of the day and date window. Acrylic Glass An acrylic dome-shaped glass shelters the dial of the standard Sinn 356. Acrylic glass is a type of protection made of Poly-acrylic Esters. The material is flexible, impact-resistant, and is a more cost-effective substitute for sapphire. Users can opt to have the acrylic glass replaced with sapphire glass for more long-term durability. Despite being regarded as glass, acrylic has more resemblances to hard plastic than actual glass. That said, the glass is highly resistant to breaks, weather, and corrosion. While this type of material is impact-resistant, it has a softness that makes it susceptible to scratches. Too many scratches will hinder its wearers from reading the dial effectively. With that in mind, Sinn ensures that their users can hide light scratches with a good amount of polishing. SA versions of the 356 come with a dome-shaped Sapphire glass as standard. The interior of the sapphire dome is coated with an anti-reflective inlay — allowing wearers to view the time from different angles and lighting conditions without any distortion. SW 500 Movement A Sellita SW 500 uses a mechanical, self-winding mechanism to operate the Sinn 356. The SW 500 is based on the Valjoux 7750 and is known for its resilience and durability. It is a relatively large and thick movement that bears 25 jewels to reduce wear and tear. The system produces 28,800 oscillations per hour and is anti-magnetic. A seconds stop function is also present in the mechanism for wearers to synchronize time with reliable precision.  The movement of the 356 is protected by a stainless steel caseback that is screwed down (along with the crown) for more efficient water resistance. The SA variants utilize a sapphire crystal caseback that is similarly screwed down. Since the SA case backs are transparent, wearers can view the inner machinations of the 356 in all its intricate glory. Comprehensive Strap Selection Sinn provides its customers with the option to choose their preferred leather, stainless steel, or silicone strap for the 356. The catalog of leather bands for the Sinn 356 is composed of a wide-range selection that features cowhide, calfskin, horsehide, and alligator leather. Customers can also choose between a two-link, bead-blasted, stainless steel bracelet or a black silicone strap with a large-scale or small-scale folding clasp. Personally, the timepiece looks stylish with any strap on it. I suggest that you pick one that allows your watch to lay comfortably on your wrist. Alligator leather may be the safest and most refined material, but it is also the most luxurious among the four. Water Resistance Despite being a pilot’s watch, all versions of the Sinn 356 are waterproof and can endure water pressure for up to 10 bars or 100 meters. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a bar is a type of measurement equivalent to 10 meters of water pressure. Timepieces of this kind of caliber can resist rain splashes and shower water without a problem. While it is unsuitable for extreme water sports such as deep-sea diving, the timepiece can withstand more leisurely activities such as swimming and snorkeling.  Up Close with the 356 Flieger Family It would be disappointing if I keep mentioning the variants without giving you an illustration of their unique appearances. Without further ado, let’s meet the other attractive individuals that complete the Sinn 356 Pilot family. 1. Sinn 356 SA Photo by SinnThe first SA variant of the 356 Pilot is the most identical to the standard model. With sapphire glass and a satin-finished casing as the only difference, the 356 SA offers its wearers a similar timeless look with a little more luxury and a lot more durability. The changes may not be dramatic, but the switch from bead-blasted to satinized steel will increase the overall corrosion resistance of the watch. Sapphire glass is also much more resistant to scratching than acrylic. Shaping the sapphire was a strategic move by Sinn as it increases the capabilities of the sapphire to resist impacts. A timepiece built this way can effortlessly withstand the test of time while maintaining its deep and stylish appearance. 2. Sinn 356 SA-II Photo by SinnBeneath the sapphire dome lies a shiny copper interior. A closer look at the SA II reveals a uniform guilloche pattern that travels outward from the center of the electroplated dial. The distinct beauty of the SA II makes its wearers stand out from the mundane crowd with a powerful and fashionable statement.  Despite boasting an intriguing design, it happens to be my least favorite member of the Sinn 356 family. To me, the other colors complement the entire watch better than the copper tone. Don’t get me wrong, the timepiece still looks astounding. It’s just my preference. 3. Sinn 356 SA III Photo by SinnThe SA III is the final entrant to the 356 series and is my favorite among the four. This marvelous piece possesses a silver-hued, guilloche-patterned, electroplated dial similar to the SA II. Despite the coloring, the dials are still highly legible. The blend of the satinized steel and silver interior gives the SA III an even complexion throughout its structure without melding the different components too much.  I love the level of sophistication the SA III Pilot brings. If I had it, I would pair the timepiece with a stainless steel two-link bracelet. This kind of bracelet will allow me to keep the uniformity of the watch. I’m Not a Pilot, Why Would I Need the Sinn 356? Different people need different things. A carefully designed timepiece can go a long way in meeting the owner’s specific criteria. A diver watch specializes in water resistance, allowing it to stick by its owner’s side while traversing the mysterious ocean. Sports watches have features to let their users track their progress as they enter a healthier lifestyle. For socialites and secret agents, becoming dressed to kill is a feat that only a striking dress watch can achieve.  However, some watches break the limit and become more than just a tool. The Sinn 356 is more than just a tool watch. It is a companion that’s always there for you when you need it. Yes, the 356 caters to pilots, but it is no stranger to everyday life. With such a versatile appearance and function, the watch can be what you want it to be. It is stylish enough to be used for special occasions and is strong enough to be brought underwater. The Best Alternative to the Sinn 356 Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind Auto Chrono Photo by HamiltonIf you want a different pilot watch, you can go for the Hamilton X-Wind Auto Chrono. With more crowns and a tachymetric scale, this piece from the Hamilton Khaki Aviation collection is more than just a substitute. The X-Wind uses the H-21, an automatic movement with a reserve of 60-hours. With the case and dial loaded with numbers and meters, the design of this particular Hamilton watch leans to a more technical side. Personally, the dial of the Hamilton is not as legible as the Sinn 356. I also prefer the overall simplistic design of the 356. If this is the kind of watch you’re looking for, don’t let my preferences stop you. The X-Wind fetches a similar price tag of $1,870. Final Thoughts Though it is not the greatest among the Sinn Instrument Chronographs watches, the Sinn 356 is a stunning example of what the ideal pilot watch should be. It is a timepiece that can accurately display various times to its wearers, even when battling through extreme conditions. It flaunts a dateless style that can be directed to Sinn’s tradition in watchmaking throughout the years. All aspects considered, there’s barely anything to add or remove from the 356 to make it even better. Maybe the only thing the watch is missing is an owner?  The Sinn 356 Pilot Chronograph fetches an average price of $1,700 USD to $2,400 USD, while its variant’s price ranges between $2,300 USD and $3,400 USD. It does require a hefty amount of money, but it is definitely worth your investment. With proper maintenance, this watch can probably outlive you. With that in mind, you won’t just be buying the watch for yourself. The Sinn 356 can be passed down as an heirloom to the next generation so that they too can love and respect the glorious timepiece just like you did. Need a diver watch? Check out our guide to the Omega Aqua Terra 150m

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  6. Patek 5970 — An Ode to the 5270’s “Perfect” Older Brother

    Patek 5970 — An Ode to the 5270’s “Perfect” Older Brother

    One of the most symbolic father-son moments in watch history was when Philippe Stern handed the reins of Patek Philippe to his son Thierry Stern. This iconic moment gave birth to one of the most outstanding timepieces in watch history — the Patek 5970.  The Patek Philippe 5970 is a series of perpetual calendar chronographs manufactured by Patek Philippe in the early 2000s. Anyone who is an avid watch collector will tell you that Patek Philippe provides one of the finest watches in the industry. The passed-down technique that Patek uses in crafting their timepieces is evocative of the brand’s image. This technique made the glorious anatomy that makes up the Patek 5970. At first glance, you’re not entirely sure if the timepiece is vintage, modern, a mix of both, or somewhere in between. In this article, we will unshroud the mystery that makes this watch not only a prized possession but also a technical masterpiece. After discovering what the Patek 5970 has to behold, we will compare the 5970 with its successor — the 5270. But before we head into the nitty and gritty of the 5970, let’s get to know the origins of this lovely slice of luxury, A Closer Look at the Patek 5970 The Patek Philippe 5970 was coined in 2004 by Thierry Stern as the successor to the reference 3970. In devising the 5970, Thierry wanted to create a watch that would cater to the younger generation while also inheriting the legacy that defined Patek’s remarkable history. Patek Philippe began manufacturing the reference 5970 in 2004 and ended its production in 2011. The Patek 5970 was the last of Patek’s perpetual calendar watches to utilize the Lemania 2310-based movement. The Patek 5970 series would sell at an approximate price of $100,000 USD to $200,000 USD for each timepiece.  The Patek 5970 was later on succeeded by the Patek 5270, which uses Patek’s in-house movement mechanisms. Although it was the 5270’s time to bask in the limelight, the watch (5270) did not receive the same amount of appreciation compared to its predecessors. The 5970 remains one of Patek’s most revered and most sought-after references to date. Its unmatched luxury and distinct design make this timepiece a close and spitting image to the Perfect Watch. Photo from Phillips Specifications The timepiece measures 40mm in diameter with a thickness of 13mm. The Patek 5970 will look even thicker if your wrist is on the small side. Despite its bulky appearance, the watch is well-proportioned and fits the hand like a glove. People can don this premium watch with relative ease on various special occasions or in everyday life. Even in this level of luxury, it’s not easy to find a burly wristwatch that can wrap comfortably around your wrist.  1. Case Different cases with various colors shelter the Patek 5970 and its variants. The custom cases cover and protect the timepiece from danger and also separates it from other corresponding references. While none of them are inherently the same, each watch case has its own set of similarities. The case can either be made of 18Kt gold or platinum, depending on the model version. Each case comes with a crown and two pushers positioned at the right side of the timepiece. The watch cases are sleek and finished skillfully, and the lugs on each side are carefully beveled to lay comfortably on one’s wrist while avoiding excess protrusion. Personally, I am glad that the lugs are very short. The appeal of long-lugged watches is something I cannot (and will not) understand. Long lugs make my timepiece look like it has a pair of skis attached to it. I prefer having a small-lugged wristwatch that does not look like it’s ready to ski down a snowy mountain. 2. Dial Like most of Patek’s line-up of perpetual calendars, the Patek 5970 can indicate different aspects of time. From seconds, minutes, and hours, all the way to days, months, years, leap years, and moon phases, the 5970 fulfills its role like any other watch of its caliber. By looking at any of the Patek Philippe 5970 variants, you’ll see that the dials are ladened with all sorts of time indicators and matching leaf-style handsets. The dials for the Patek 5970G, Patek 5970R, and Patek 5970J feature a light tinge, while the Patek 5970P has its dial colored black. Visible near the rim of each dial is a tachymetric scale that provides more functionality to the 5970. Despite being fully loaded, there’s still a sufficient amount of space that separates each component. The subdials and numbers are far enough to not clash with one another, allowing its wearers to view the time and date without difficulty. The preciseness placed on the proportions and overall balance of the dial is remarkable — a distinct level of craftsmanship Patek has carried throughout the ages.  The Patek Philippe and Geneve signatures are placed below the day and month window to complete the dial’s style. 3. Movement Photo from Phillips As mentioned above, a Lemania-based movement operates the Patek 5970. The base of the apparatus is deeply customised to create the CH 27-70 Q. Although heavily modified, the Lemania-based mechanism is a crucial piece of Patek’s perpetual timepieces due to its usage in the company, dating back to 1986. The Patek 5970 has a power reserve of 60 hours before needing to be manually rewound. Twenty-four jewels hold the CH 27-70 Q together to reduce friction between the parts. At the rear of the watch, you can see an exhibition-style caseback that shelters the mechanism. With this design, people can enjoy viewing the intricacies of the CH 27-70 Q movement. The watch uses sapphire glass to form the transparent caseback to help ensure that the apparatus can avoid all sorts of scratches and damage. 4. Strap The Patek 5970s typically use high-quality alligator straps to hold their luxurious timepiece. Juxtaposed to other reptile skin such as crocodile skin and caiman skin, the material of Alligator skin is much more flexible and durable. Alligator leather is also said to age well, so it pairs well with an ageless watch such as the Patek 5970. Alligator skin undergoes a type of processing that excludes the use of harmful chemicals, allowing users with sensitive skin to wear the watch without irritation. Maintenance for the alligator strap is simple and easy, too, since all you need to do is wipe it with a damp cloth. Picking alligator leather was an experienced choice for making the 5970’s strap. Patek Philippe 5970’s Four Different Variants Photo from Phillips Patek Philippe 5970P (Platinum) Possibly the fan-favorite of the series, the platinum-cased 5970 boasts a unique and versatile look that makes it stand out among the rest. This particular 5970 is the only model that features a black dial. The 5970P entered production in 2010 and was the last version of the series before its discontinuation. The charcoal black dial and platinum case made this particular 5970 model attain an exceedingly high demand among enthusiasts and collectors alike.  I’m a simple man. When I see the color black, I like it. The blackness of the dial definitely sets it apart from the other three versions. It is the most popular variant of the bunch and is the series’ highest sold base watch. Patek Philippe 5970R (Rose Gold) You’ve probably heard this specific color go around during the release of the iPhone 6. One of the first 5970s produced was the Patek Philippe 5970R. Like the 5970G, the 5970R began its production in 2004. Patek continued to manufacture the 5970R for five years and halted production in 2009.  Compared to most shades of rose gold that highlight a rosy-red hue, the redness of the 5970R has a milder tone which makes the gold aspect of the rose gold shade more distinct. The merging of the rose gold case with the clean yet elaborate white dial makes the 5970R a vintage take with a modern twist. Although it has some resemblances with the 5970J (yellow gold), this eccentric work of art has its personalized spot in the series that gives it as much attention as its siblings. Photo from Christie’s Patek Philippe 5970G (White Gold) The Patek 5970G was also one of the first in the series to make its debut. Along with the rose gold version, Patek began producing the 5970G in 2004. This model features a neatly done white dial accompanied by a matching white gold case. The white dial is balanced with black hands and black numerals, giving it a simple yet intriguing two-toned elegance. Although the Patek 5970G arguably has the cleanest look, it was the least popular piece of the series. Its minimalist design has likely catered to a younger demographic instead of Patek’s usual audience. I’m glad to be a part of the younger generation, as I think the 5970G suits me. The complementing tones are elegant, and the watch looks good on all kinds of wrists. Photo from Phillips Patek Philippe 5970J (Yellow Gold) Everything about the Patek 5970 screams classic, and you can sense the prestigious aura it exudes. The 5970J was introduced in 2009 and is the rarest model of the reference. It was made as another option for enthusiasts apart from the rose gold and white gold versions and only underwent one year of production. I’m a total sucker for this kind of color scheme, and this variant is undoubtedly my favorite among the four. Its extensive vintage look, high-quality crafting, and sepia-like tone sequence make this watch one of the best watches I’ve ever seen. Patek 5970 vs. Patek 5270 — A Comparison  The Patek 5970 has been likened to the Patek 5270 by many watch enthusiasts. Both perpetual calendar watches were conceived during Thierry’s time as chairman and are both reputable constructs. Although most enthusiasts deem the former to be more well-loved than the latter, more 5270s populate the market. You can find a model of the 5270 under the Patek Philippe Complications with no sign of the Patek 5970. That said, let’s get a better understanding of these two models. Movement: CH 27-70 Q vs. 29-535S Q The first and apparent difference is the movement. Unlike the 5970, which used a heavily modded Lemania 2310, the 5270 used the 29-535S Q,  a mechanism built solely in-house. Not only was it a more modern apparatus, but it was also the first mechanism Patek ever made. The 29-535S Q comes with a column wheel to manage the different levels of the watch. The new column wheel allows the systems of the 5270 to work smoother and be subject to lesser wear and tear. Is it better than the 5970’s movement? Technically, yes. Another difference, albeit minor, between the two is their power reserves. The 5270 has a power reserve of 65 hours, while the 5970 only had a power reserve of 60 hours. Other than that, the two mechanisms work like a charm with barely any noteworthy contrasts.  Diameter: 40mm vs. 41mm The Patek 5970 has a diameter of 40mm, while the 5270 has a diameter of 41mm. The 5270s new case and new lugs make this model one of Patek Philippe’s most sizable references in their catalog. Despite being only a millimeter greater in diameter, the 5270 is visibly bulkier than its predecessors. The Patek 5970 also exhibited a more comfortable fit compared to the 5270. That said, both references fit cozily on the wrist despite their girthy exterior. Series: One vs. Three  The Patek 5970 only had a single series during its production. The sole series of four metals features the following versions: Rose Gold, White Gold, Yellow Gold, and Platinum. With four stunning and unique timepieces, it proved challenging for enthusiasts and collectors to pick a favorite. With regards to the Patek 5270, there were things it did right and things it didn’t. I usually like hearing the good news first so let’s start with that. The 5270 had two windows embedded on its 4:30 and 7:30 sides. This innovation solved an issue that some users had in reading the 5970’s multiple dials.  That said, it is time for us to go through the three series of the 5270 and its bumpy road. The first series of the 5270 featured a white gold case identical to the 5970 variant, a light-silver dial with a gold handset, and (get this) no tachymeter. It is unknown why Patek excluded this component from the 5270. Due to that decision, fans were unhappy with the outcome as their expectations were unmet. In effect, the 5270 had to reintroduce itself in a second series. The second series had a white gold case with a choice between an opal or blue dial. To not cause events that repeat history, the second series now comes with a tachymetric scale. Patek finally took care of the problem. However, a new obstacle made itself apparent when enthusiasts noticed something unsightly in the dial. How should I say this? Do you know that feeling when you take a picture of yourself, and you see your double-chin? Yes, that grim reminder that we need to lose weight is such an eyesore.  The 5270 has a similar issue in which a small protrusion is visible at the bottom of the dial. This design messes with the perfect circle of the tachymeter and is an absolute bane for those with an inkling of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Funnily enough, this disfigurement also acquired was described as a “chin” by its users and viewers in the watch industry. The model was further snubbed by its audience not only because reading the tachymeter would prove a challenge but also because that “chin” is straight-up unsightly. Well, it looks like it’s back to the drawing board. After yet another fault, the brand releases its 3rd series of the 5270. This installment has the same palette option as the second series (white gold case with either a blue or opal dial. The series also unveiled another color scheme – sporting a Rose Gold casing merged with an opal dial. It looks like the third time was definitely the charm for the 5270. The 5270 finally had its breakthrough and is now placed in a better light. Goodbye, chin. I won’t miss you a single bit. Is one better than the other? It took a while, but the 5270 finally hit the sweet spot that the Patek 5970 has leisurely stayed. Despite having mishaps during the development of the 5270s series, its first and second series developed a niche as part of the 5270’s history. Such models would sometimes fetch a price that’s equal to the models of the 5970. Is one better than the other? Personally, no. I like the 5970 better by default, but that doesn’t mean that the 5270 lacks. Both references showcase superb performance and individual style, which is what matters the most. The 5970 may be rarer, but they are both priced closely. Additionally, I think these two references (along with the 3970) can outclass any of Patek’s current catalogs — including Patek’s Grand Complications set. Final Thoughts The Patek 5970 is a reference series that you could very much call perfect. Honestly, you won’t find a more spectacular piece of horology than the 5970. It’s simply such a beautiful timepiece that it’s in a league of its own. No wonder the world of watch enthusiasts has kept its eye on this particular reference. It has so much to flaunt and hardly had anything remotely disappointing to converse.  If anything, one thing I can complain about is the longevity of its production. For such a lustrous and complex timepiece, the amount of time it had in assembly was considerably short. There was only an estimated amount of 2,800 ever made, according to watch collector and Patek Philippe expert John Reardon. With only that many 5970s, you probably will not be seeing the whole in-person anytime soon.  This beloved timepiece not only marked Thierry Stern’s spot in Patek Philippe’s lineage but also made Philippe Stern a contented and proud father. _____________________________________________________________________ Want a watch that’s more oriental?  Here are the Top 5 Japanese Dress Watches.

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