Saturday, February 27, 2016

Seiko Neo Sports Gray SRP711

We now go on to the third model in my series of reviews for Seiko's recently launched line of Neo Sports watches, the dark gray dialed SRP711.

Again, as a sibling of the SRP713 (see earlier post here) and the SRP707 (see earlier post here), it is essentially the same design with the exception of the color scheme. Like the SRP707, this model also utilizes a stainless steel bracelet instead of a leather strap like the SRP713. The dial is dark gray, with most of the markings in white, except for the 24 hour markings which are in silver. The hands are also in white like the SRP707 with the second hand sporting the same predominantly black color with a white tip. The day/date wheels use white text on a black background.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of this variant is the ion-plated brushed bezel which shares the same shade of gray as the dial.

While I have a preference for stainless steel bracelets in general, the bracelets used on this particular series don't really seem to do much in enhancing the overall appearance of the watch. Again, like the SRP707 this is on my list of candidates for a leather strap change.

Some photos:


Friday, February 26, 2016

Seiko Neo Sports Blue SRP707

I recently wrote about Seiko's recent line of Neo Sports field/military inspired watches (see the earlier post of the SRP713 here), and this follow up post focuses on the SRP707, the SRP713's blue-dialed sibling.

The SRP707 is identical to the SRP713 except for the adopted color scheme and the use of a stainless steel bracelet instead of a leather strap. This model features white dial markings on a very distinctive and eye-catching dark blue sunburst dial. Hands are white as well, and the second hand is black with a third its length up to the tip painted white. The day/date window is bordered in white, with the day/date wheels consisting of white text on a black background. The fixed coin-edge bezel is brushed, in contrast to the polished finish on the SRP713.

The stainless steel bracelet is a basic single fold-over clasp type with a pinch lock, measuring 22mm at the lugs and tapering down to 20mm at the clasp. End-links are hollow, and the links are secured with split pins. The clasp is signed with the Seiko brand, and only has two micro-adjustment holes, so finding the right fit may be tricky for some.

It's pretty much a variation of the theme, but personally I may consider some aftermarket straps instead of the stock bracelet.

Some photos:


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Seiko Neo Sports Beige SRP713

Hidden deep in Seiko's product line up under its Conceptual Collection lies a range of Neo Sports watches powered by the ubiquitous hacking/handwinding 4R36. This line, which includes the SRP707, SRP709, SRP711, SRP713, and the SRP715, features a contemporary-sized 44mm diameter case (excluding crown) housing a dial with field/military design cues. Water resistance is rated at 100m.

This particular line seems to be a forum favorite but isn't that popular among non-Seiko fans or non-WISes. An Instagram search revealed only a handful of hits, and a lot of the hits pointed to the photos I myself uploaded. A shame really, because this line represents a lot of watch for the money, with a flexible aesthetic straddling the middle ground of being a tool watch and a dress watch. It can easily be dressed up or down depending on the wearer's whims, and it's available in a range of color combinations and strap options (black, blue, gray, beige dials, stainless steel bracelet or black/brown leather) and with a generic lug width of 22mm, the choices when it comes to straps are virtually limitless.

Features include a large, but not oversized, non-screwdown crown which is very easy to manipulate, hour hashes on the fixed coin-edged bezel, polished stainless steel surfaces except for the top of the lugs which are brushed, and a see-through exhibition caseback displaying a rather plain-looking, but reliable, 24-jewel, 21,600 bph, 41-hour power reserve, 4R36 movement. The dial comes in a variety of colors and is mostly a printed affair, with Arabic hour and 24-hour markers, lumed stick hour indices (the numerals themselves aren't lumed), and second hash marks. Dial text is relatively sparse, only highlighted by an applied Seiko logo midway between the center point of the dial and the 12 o'clock position, and a printed "Automatic" inscription in cursive font at the 6 o'clock end. Interestingly, the Seiko 5 logo is not at all present. Hands are lumed and of the fencepost variety, and the second hand features a lume ball on the opposite end. All of these details are topped off with a slightly domed Hardlex crystal.

As mentioned earlier, the case diameter is a rather large 44mm, and the lug width is a generous 22mm. Case thickness is 12mm, and lug-to-lug length is 50mm. The dimensions seem to be aimed at individuals interested in contemporary proportions, but may likely turn off those interested in watches with more classic sizes, or those with smaller wrists.

In the Philippines these models can be purchased for around 130-150 USD. In other territories, expect them to be priced somewhat higher, perhaps in the 200-300 USD range...still a bargain, considering what you're getting.

The specific model featured in this post is the SRP713, which has a beige dial, black markers, black outlined hands, red-tipped second hand, a black bordered day/date window, black text on white background day and date wheels, and a brown calf leather strap. Photos of the other models in this line will be shared in succeeding posts.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Certina DS Action Diver in Blue C013.407.11.041.00

For today I will be posting photos of the Certina DS Action Diver in blue. A review of this timepiece's black sibling is posted here, and virtually everything in that review applies to this model as well.

The only differences between the blue and black models are the colors of the dial, bezel insert and date wheel. While the black DS Action Diver has a glossy black dial and bezel insert, this model has a glossy blue sunburst dial and bezel insert instead. What's unique about this model's shade of blue is that it warms up depending on the lighting and angle you are looking at it, ranging from cobalt blue, to royal blue to almost violet. This is in contrast to the Blue Oris Aquis Date (reviewed earlier here) where the matte dial takes on a cooler shade, almost bordering on gray in certain angles.

The date wheel adopts a color scheme the reverse of that on the black DS Action Diver, with black numerals on a white background.

Here are some photos:

DS Action Diver.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Oris Aquis Date in Black 01 733 7653 4154-07 8 26 01PEB

Here are some photos of the Oris Aquis Date in black. I recently wrote a review of the Oris Aquis Date in blue here, and everything in that review applies to this model as well, with the exception that this particular model's color scheme is a black dial and black bezel combo. One other difference is that the bezel in this model features a brushed finish, unlike the the blue model's polished bezel.

Aquis Date.

Ceramic bezel with brushed finish.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Certina DS Action Diver in Black C013.407.11.051.00

Certina is a brand whose name doesn't come up often when discussing Swiss watches, unless you're in South America, Europe, or Asia, and perhaps not even then. It's lack of popularity notwithstanding, the name represents what may be one of the best sleeper watches to come out of Switzerland, with quality at least on par, and in several cases exceeding that of other Swiss brands.

Belonging to the Swatch group, its popularity is eclipsed by it's stablemates Tissot, Hamilton and Mido on the mid-tier segment, and Longines and Rado on the higher-range end. It compares favorably in terms of heritage, being founded in 1888 and its timepieces seeing action in various historical endeavors including mountain climbing, marine research, winter sports, sailing, various motorsports and exploration in general. Despite its storied history, the brand remains relatively obscure affording an atypical level of exclusivity among those who are  aware of the virtues of its watches.

Case in point is the watch featured in this review, the 200m water resistant Certina DS Action Diver. First introduced in Baselworld 2011, it stands toe-to-toe with its Swatch Group stablemates which include the Tissot Seastar 1000, the Hamilton Khaki Navy Sub, the Mido Ocean Star Captain, the Longines HydroConquest (reviewed earlier here) and the Rado D-Star 200. Outside the Swatch Group, it's peers include the Oris Aquis Date (reviewed earlier here) and perhaps the Victorinox Swiss Army Maverick Mechanical (which is only water resistant to 100m).

Despite the somewhat crowded mid-tier Swiss dive watch segment, the Certina DS Action Diver holds it own with notable scratch and water protection via its proprietary Double Security (DS) concept. The DS concept consists of number of technical features, which include a scratch-proof sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, O-ring gasket in the stem, two O-ring gaskets in the crown, a caseback gasket, and reinforced caseback. The DS concept is not limited in application to the Action Diver, but extends throughout Certina's entire watch line.

The DS Action Diver is the only one among it's peers with an ISO 6425 certification for dive watches, a distinction it proudly states on its dial. This means that aside from the aforementioned scratch and water resistance afforded to it by Certina's DS Concept, it also boasts notable condensation, thermal shock, magnetism, corrosion, and shock resistance, along with durable straps and bracelets as well as superior legibility. This watch is clearly a true dive watch, and not intended to be a mere desk diver.

The watch itself features a contemporary-sized 43.2mm brushed stainless steel case with mostly unchamfered edges (except for the top edges of the lugs and the crown guards) giving it a no-nonsense functional appearance, which is balanced out by a relatively slim 12.3mm case thickness allowing it to slip under most shirt cuffs. It possesses perhaps one of the best case finishing seen in a Swiss dive watch worth less than 1,000 USD with consistent brushing all throughout. Lug-to-lug length is a moderate 48mm, making it wear the right size for most wrists except exceedingly small ones. Lug width is 21mm, which is typical for this type of watch, though the odd-sized lug width will probably turn off those with a preference for aftermarket straps. The included Oyster-style double folding clasp with dive extension bracelet which is solid all throughout also features a brushed look, and matches the case perfectly. There are four half-links included, allowing for a more customized fit. In perhaps the only nod to cost-cutting, the links are secured with split pins, instead of pins and collars or screws.

Topping all of these is a rotating, 60-click unidirectional dive bezel with a glossy black insert finished in acrylic, instead of the usual aluminum or ceramic. Some may balk at the use of acrylic as bezel insert material given its lack of scratch resistance, but this is offset somehow by the fact that acrylic can easily be refinished using a scratch remover such as PolyWatch. The bezel edge features rectangular teeth for extra purchase, finished in polished steel. Bezel feel is robust, a bit on the stiff side, with little indication that it can rotate inadvertently.

The dial consists of a matching glossy black dial with applied hour indices with silver surrounds consisting of an inverted triangle at the 12 o'clock position, rectangles at the 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions and circles everywhere else. Despite the commonality of these dial elements with the Rolex Submariner, the DS Action Diver doesn't really come across as a Sub homage, especially when the rest of the elements of the watch are considered. The hour hand is arrow-shaped, while the minute hand is sword-shaped. The second hand is painted white near the center of dial and red towards the end, with a lume ball ("meatball" to some) a third of the way to the very tip. A date window is situated between the 4 and 5 o'clock indices and the date wheel is in a matching white text on black background. There is a total of six lines of text on the dial in varying font sizes (seven if you include the "SWISS MADE" inscription at 6 o'clock) which some may find distracting, but to me it doesn't really detract much from the overall appearance of the dial.  In low light conditions, the hands and indices emit a cool blue glow courtesy of the generous application of  Super-LumiNova® BW-G9.  Duration and intensity is just average though. The bezel also features lume from the 12 o'clock position up to the 20 minute mark.

Performing timekeeping duties is a Standard grade ETA 2824-2, a hacking/handwinding 25-jewel, 28,800 bph movement with a 38-40 hour power reserve. Screwing and unscrewing the signed crown is buttery smooth with little possibility of crossing or stripping the threads unless one is extremely ham-fisted or insists on using inordinate force. Action when pulling the crown to the first and second position is clean and deliberate, and setting the time and date is pretty much effortless. Handwinding, as with most other 2824-2 movement based watches, can be a bit stiff.

Caseback is solid, with a laser etching of Certina's turtle logo.

The Certina DS Action Diver is available at most authorized dealers here in the Philippines modestly discounted to around 730-750 USD. Online, they can be quite a steal at around 500 USD on either rubber or bracelet.  As far as Swiss divers is concerned, you'd be hard pressed to find something with better bang-for-the-buck.

Some photos:

DS Action Diver.