Hamtun H2 Kraken Review – A Wild Kickstarter Success Delivers....But Not Without Labor Pain

By any measure, the Kickstarter campaign of the Hamtun H2 titanium dive watch was a wild success. Fully funded in less than 30 seconds, the pledges ultimately exceeded $550,000 with 1,300 enthusiastic backers in the queue. Based on well-documented feedback, that initial euphoria dissolved into a war of words between defenders of the H2’s creator (Ross Davis) and certain backers who were less than satisfied with Ross’ service and communication style. More on that later.

The menu of options that were available was extensive and included six dial colors, date or no date, multiple bezels and case backs as well as the choice of a Swiss movement or a value priced Seiko NH35a. The watch that I chose features a starkly beautiful white dial, ceramic dive bezel and Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement.

Overall specifications of this watch are impressive and include a titanium case with scratch-resistant coating, applied indices, sapphire crystal with internal anti-reflective coating, BGW9 Super-LumiNova, 60-click ball-bearing ceramic bezel, drilled lugs, 200m water resistance, screw-down crown, scratch-resistant titanium bracelet with solid end-links. As an early adopter, my cost was $432. which I viewed as an unbeatable value. Comparisons to Ross’ first dive watch, the H1, are inevitable and will appear throughout this review. Let’s see if the H2 lives up to the spec sheet.

Case, Dial and Hands

I have to start with the dial because it’s a showstopper featuring creamy white, applied markers against a pure white background. The markers are very well defined with a silver-grey outline that can appearblack before it catches light reflections. The sword hands are just the right size and have a bold, black outline that allows for quick and easy time reading. The second hand is tipped with an aqua blue lollipop that matches the word “Kraken” on the dial. The date window aligns at 4 o’clock with the crown and its white background nicely integrates with the dial.

The 41mm titanium case is similar to the H1 but slightly less generic looking and slightly more refined. The surface angles are less abrupt and curvier. The finishing is brushed and has a pleasant sheen. It’s just a better and more integrated package.

The screw on case back is dominated by a scowling Kraken that is less scary and more cartoonish than the legendary, supersized Octopus. Right below its front tentacles is a special code that indicates the model, type of movement (“S” for Sellita, “N” for NH35a) and serial number. An exhibition case back is available but you are responsible for its installation.

One of the features of the H2 is its anti-scratch coating. Titanium can be prone to scratching and I’m happy to report that, after several weeks of continuous wrist time, the entire case is scratch-free. I certainly haven’t babied this watch and time will tell if the coating continues to perform.

Attention lume nerds! One of the criticisms of the H1 was the skimpy lume and Ross has put that problem to rest. The lume application on the H2 is very generous and completely satisfying. Sitting on a dresser across the room, this watch will glow all through the night and into the morning.

Bezel and Crown

When judged by aesthetics, the bezel and crown are an improvement over the Hamtun H1. They have a more tasteful appearance with recessed knurling on the bezel and the Hamtun logo nicely machined into the crown. Unfortunately, the user interface on the crown is unrefined and gritty. The action is anything but smooth and there is tremendous resistance when trying to engage the threads. Maybe it will improve with continued use or maybe it will just give me arthritis. On the plus side, the crown guards seem less intrusive than on the H1 and allow for better purchase when muscling the crown into place.

The ball-bearing bezel is a nice feature and it does offer precise placement of the indicator with the markings on the chapter ring. It tends to bind when turned slowly but, after several weeks of use, I noticed that the action loosened up and smoothed out.

The Movement

As previously mentioned, I went with the Swiss Sellita SW200-1 movement over the Seiko NH35a. The Sellita movement added $100 to the final cost but offers better accuracy specs and also allows for a case that is 0.5mm thinner. Several informal timing runs using the WatchTracker app point to excellent timekeeping in the range of +1 to +5 seconds per day. The SW200-1 also features a 38 hour power reserve and a quickset date that changes precisely at midnight.

Bracelet and Rubber Strap

The bracelet is all titanium and, therefore, super lightweight. Sizing it was a breeze using a 1mm screwdriver to remove links and then fine tuning the micro adjustments on the clasp. Ah, the clasp. It’s not great.It rattles every which way and required field surgery (using cushioned pliers) to get the safety catch to stay put.

Compared to the silicone strap that came with the H1, the rubber strap that arrived with the H2 is a step forward visually but is not at all comfortable. Aesthetically, it looks better because of the nice taper as well as the natural rubber that, unlike silicone, does not attract lint remnants. Practically speaking, it doesn’t work for me. The rubber is not pliable and consequently does not conform to the shape of my wrist. It also has the exact same awkward clasp as the bracelet.

However, all is not lost. I have a brand new 22mm Toxic Shiznit that’s been neglected in my strap box for years. I normally don’t wear NATO straps but it’s perfect for the H2. For additional comfort, I cut off the strap keepers on all of my NATO straps as they just add extra bulk with no discernible benefit.

Kickstarter Friction

After the success of the Hamtun H1, Ross established a reliable fan base hungry for his next dive watch. As the H2 campaign unfolded, emotions ran high for some backers who became disenchanted by months of delays, unanswered questions and shipping gaffes (which they blamed on Ross). Still, many others rushed to Ross’ defense and reminded disgruntled patrons that Kickstarter is not the same as just ordering a product that arrives in two days. My own observation is that Ross became a victim of his own success and was almost vanquished by the sheer number of watches that he had to deliver.

Final Thoughts

The H2’s Kickstarter campaign has run its course and the watch is sold out online. Ross is promising a second batch of H2 models in the future. Other dial options include black, yellow, light blue, dark blue and meteorite. Personally, I found all of those to be rather bland and uninteresting. The white dial is just more playful, more unique and so well executed.

The H2 is one of those dive watches that would satisfy Goldilocks. The case size is just right, the lug-to-lug distance is a manageable 48mm and, at 13mm, it’s not too thick. The titanium case is comfortable on the wrist and appears durable, but it’s the dial execution that brings joy. If that was Ross’ mission, then I say mission accomplished.

Featured Insights

• 41mm x 48.3mm x 13.1mm
• Lug width: 22m
• 200m Water Resistance
• Flat sapphire crystal
• Ceramic, 60 Click Bezel (ball bearing)

Seiko 5 Sports "5KX" Review Ref. SRPD51

How can you talk about the refreshed Seiko 5 Sport without talking about the legendary SKX or 7002? You can’t. I tried to throw out all of my preconceived Seiko thoughts. It’s impossible.

So many of us view the SKX as an iconic legend. I’ve personally recommended it to more people than I can count. It works for a watch with “street cred”, a milestone birthday present, or a solid timepiece to knock around in the field.

Can the Seiko 5 Sport live up to the SKX? I wasn’t sure. I knew that it was going to be a tough task. That’s why I asked for it. More importantly, I took my time with the review. Being first isn’t always as important as being correct.

The Case:

I was immediately comfortable with the case. It was like my favorite pair of jeans. It was so similar to the SKX that I didn’t even bother taking out my calipers to make the exact measurement. Millimeters and curves aren’t exactly the same, but in-hand they might as well be.

Good for Seiko for keeping the crown at four o’clock. It’s in their DNA. It remains unsigned. This time Seiko finally smartened up and milled a few rings on it. The polished, unsigned crown bugs me on everything from the SKX to the Marine Master 200.

Flip the case over and you’ll see something unfamiliar, the movement on display. The Seiko wave is gone. The other new trick is the drilled holes in the lugs. It was one of my favorite changes to the new 5 Sports case making strap changes easier.

The 46mm lug to lug of the case should be something that you expect. It’s a double-edged sword. The 13.5mm case height makes the 5KX sit deceptively tall.  If you’re down with the SKX aesthetic, you’ll hit the ground running with the 5KX.

A few concessions had to be made to keep the price down and to incorporate the display case back. Gone are the days of ISO 6425 “dive watch” certification.

“..it seems the 5KX is geared more to be a desk diver with 100m capabilities, not that anyone dives with these things anymore anyway.” - @brodinkee

Friend of the show Brodinkee is totally right. 100m=328ft. I’ve swum deeper than 20ft only a handful of times. Deeper than that and I’d probably be dead. This Seiko 5 Sport held up in the hot tub and the swimming pool on vacation. That was good enough for me. I did keep checking the push-down crown like a nervous nellie.

The Dial:

If you can’t find a dial that you like in the new 5 Sports line, you aren’t looking hard enough. Different colors, textures, and collaborations are all available. It’s the Seiko for everyone. Seiko is trying to drive that home with marketing the 5KX in five categories: “Sports”, “Suits”, “Specialist”, “Street” and “Sense” styles. I’m pretty sure that you can figure out what model fits your lifestyle on your own without being put into a defined box. But thanks for trying, Seiko.

The model that I reviewed was the SRPD51 that came with a sunburst blue dial. It was a real treat to rotate the angle and let the dial morph. In indirect light, the blue Seiko dial was more subdued. The blue aluminum bezel was pleasantly matte. The blue dial / blue bezel combo was something that we never get on the SKX.

If you’re familiar with the SKX you will recognize the handset style. It’s not my favorite style of hands, but it is hard to argue that the hands aren’t distinctly Seiko. Lume was ample and long-lasting as you would expect from the Seiko Lumibrite treatment.

The hour markers are a familiar shape, but they are now applied as opposed to painted. It gives the Seiko 5 Sports a “sporty” modern feel, but you lose that vintage vibe of the SKX and 7002.

Also applied is the Seiko logo on the dial and again it modernizes the watch. Under the Seiko logo, “5” is for 5 Sports. Many people have a problem with the style of the “5”. It never bothered me. I didn’t care for the cursive “Automatic”. I missed the blocky “Diver’s 200m” typeface.

Yes, I realize that this is not a 200m water resistance watch. You can’t have two lines of text on the dial and have two drastic font changes. I’ll still take the refreshing two lines of text and a generous amount of negative space on a dial any day.

The Movement:

To keep the 5 Sports at an accessible price point, Seiko used their in-house 4R36 automatic mechanical movement. You might be more familiar with this caliber movement referred to as the “NH36”, as Seiko sells the same movement to outside companies under a different reference.

I’ve always found it annoying that the 7S26 based movement found in many Seikos does not hack.  Hacking on the really unnecessary because it shouldn’t matter that a movement that is specked at +45/ -35 seconds per day needs the precision of hacking (stopping the seconds hand while setting the time).

Seiko did do a nice job dressing up the fugly 4R36 so that it could be displayed through the caseback. You can never overstate the importance of showing the consumer the “guts” when marketing an entry-level mechanical watch. Winding the watch and seeing the parts move makes the 4R35 that much more fun.

The Bracelet:

Seiko switched it up with the 5KX and 5 Sports. Seiko figured out what a strap monster the SKX has been and decided to go OEM with more options for the 5KX. There are serval straps, bands, and bracelets available across the model line to suit all tastes. Gone are the days of the loveable jangly jubilee and throw-away SKX rubber. The SRPD51 that I reviewed came with a three-link metal bracelet.

Bracelets are my preference so I’m always critical in this part of the review. I can’t sugar coat it. Seiko blew it. The lines on the polished sides highlight the cheaply made folded clasps in an unflattering way. I’m really over hammering out pin and collar links for adjustments as well.

Seiko kept the 22mm lug width as expected on the 5KX. That’s fine. The lack of taper down to 20 mm is not. With 22mm lugs, you need to go down to 18mm at the clasp. Seiko got the ratio dialed-in on the SKX. Tudor figured out the same ratio on the Black Bay.

There’s good news! Strap Code makes a replacement called the “Super-O Boyer”. There are two models; make sure that you pick the one that tapers down to 18mm (Ref# SS221820B019). The same thing goes with their 22/18mm “Super-J Louis” jubilee. Whatever your flavor, spend the $70 and upgrade.

Final Thoughts:

Is it easy to tell the time? Yes.

Could I #watchfast it? Yes.

We grabbed this reference SRPD51 from Macy’s online store. It was about $200 USD after taxes with all of the sales codes. The watch came from the distribution center in New Jersey to me in upstate New York in one business day. Impressive. However, the distribution center wasn’t Macy’s, it was Seiko USA’s. Macy’s literally “cut out the middleman”. No wonder they can deeply discount these. They cut out an entire layer of their supply chain. Macy’s is saving a ton by shipping from the manufacturer direct. They also don’t incur the cost/risk of holding the inventory. An old-school department store outmaneuvered Amazon’s logistics. Slick.

We needed this watch. Many of the new Seikos are getting too expensive. The 5KX provides a diverse platform that doesn't discriminate. It's a great watch for both the aspiring enthusiast and someone who would like a “nice” daily watch but doesn’t want to go deep down the rabbit hole. Both camps will be happy with the new Seiko 5 Sports series. The 5KX is also a perfect watch to pair with sweatpants in the evening to shed the stress of the workday. If you’re a veteran owner of the SKX don’t feel pressure to re-buy. If you think that it looks cool, find the 5KX model that feels right to you and grab it.

Featured Insights

• 42.5mm x 46mm x 13.5mm
• Stainless steel case
• Seiko 4R36 Movement
• Applied Markers
• 22mm 3-link steel bracelet
• Price $295 USD

New Casio G-Shock Mudmaster GGB100BTN-1A: Casio Partners with Burton Snowboards

Watches have been a part of snowboarding for me since the early 1990s. They still are today in the cell phone era. I can’t tell you how often that people ask me on-hill, “what time is it?” I hate taking my cellphone out. It takes you right out of the moment. You also risk dropping it from the chairlift (happened to my wife last season...). Plus, in the back-country I’ve found that cellphones don’t work well and quickly lose power as they search for a signal.

G-Shock has recently released a Mudmaster series watch in collaboration with Burton. Burton Snowboards wrote the book on colabs in the mid-2000s. They always seem to nail the function and execution to make a “thing” become something special.

The Burton Mudmaster GGB100BTN-1A is no different. Details such as snow camo pattern on the strap differentiate this limited edition to the stock Mudmaster. Many of the patterns that Burton incorporates into their designs are from legendary snowboard photographer Dean Blotto Grey.

The shock resistance is interesting. I’ve never damaged my watch with severe impact on the case while snowboarding. I have broken plenty of spring bars from the torque of a crash though. The altimeter, barometer, thermometer and accelerometer functions would be both fun and handy. The GGB100BTN-1A features 38 time zones and 38 cities for riders that travel chasing the endless winter.

But are the new G-Shock Mudmaster GGB100BTN-1A even practical for snowboarding? It will be interesting to see if I’ll even see one of the Burton Mudmasters in the wild while snowboarding. Can you even sleeve a Mudmaster comfortably with gloves on? I don’t know. Finding out first-hand is an intriguing experiment.

I would be fibbing if I didn’t say that Nixion’s snowboarding sponsorships didn’t have an impact on me in the early 2000s. It’s nice to see watch sponsorships returning to snowboarding with G-Shock continuing their sponsorship of the US Open. With an MSRP of $440 USD, this Burton G-Shock GGB100BTN-1A isn’t cheap but will surely sell out on Casio’s online G-Shock store to a specialty audience with an eye for detail.

Burton <> Casio G-Shock Mudmaster GGB100BTN-1A Press Release

Online Store


Rolex Explorer Alternatives: Navigating First World Problems

This is not an article about the fabled Rolex Explorer 1016 (Feature Photo Credit: HQ Milton).

But... if you squint your eyes really tight and tilt your head, it could kind of look like one.

The perfect storm of Rolex’s value increase and the vintage market renaissance has made it difficult to locate a 1016 below the five figure mark. Perhaps, if you were keen on owning a smaller watch several years ago when the craze was all about 42mm and up, it would have been economically feasible. But, sensibly, you mulled it over and pivoted toward Zodiacs or something equally pocket-friendly and settled. Several years have passed, and now that you've tumbled down this rabbit hole of vintage interest, you're kicking yourself over what could have been.

Today, if you were to list one for sale on Chrono24 in “fair condition,” the suggested price is $19,688… in excess of three times its value since 2015. Its worth by 2025 will be anybody’s guess. Sure, a Rolex is a Rolex, but while the argument can be made "there's nothing else quite like it," a broke watch snob is uniquely postured to play devil's advocate.

This in mind, there are still several tool watches of the era also designed for the casual adventurer that could satisfy your craving for purpose-built aesthetics, while standing firmly on their own merit (and not just as Rolex Explorer Alternatives). Here are several of them.

Tudor Prince Oysterdate Ranger ref. 90220

Featured Specs
 

  • Case: “Oyster-case” Steel, 34.5mm, with signed Rolex crown
  • Movement: Automatic, caliber 2784/ETA 2483 with hacking seconds
  • Dial: Matte black with Arabic numerals at “12-3-6-9.”
  • Hands: Luminova Sword (minutes), Arrowhead (hour), paddle (second)
  • Bracelet: Rolex “oyster-type bracelet; ref 7835,” with signed Rolex crown
  • Date produced: 1970
  • Expect to pay: $5000+

When comparing watches to the 1016, it’s difficult to ignore the Tudor Ranger... mostly because there are Rolex crowns all over it. At the time of its release, the largest differentiating factor was primarily its engine, a stock ETA movement with a Tudor-branded oscillating weight. While the prices of these have skyrocketed in suit with Rolex, they are a fraction of what you’d expect to pay for the “real deal.” Maybe it isn’t trying to not look like Rolex at all, in which case, the internal dialogue worth considering is, “Will I be happy with a borderline homage?”

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Even more controversial of an issue for collectors is the prevailing concern of reference integrity. Many early examples of the Ranger shared the same reference numbers with more conventional Tudors. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that the Ranger had earned enough of an identity to rate its own unique number set. Because of this, charlatans had capitalized on the confusion by giving birth to the now infamous “Red Ranger” —a redial fraudulent model that has enchanted suckers world-wide.

Bulova Snorkel “666’ Deep Sea Diver” ref. 386-3

Featured Specs
 

  • Case: Steel, 35.2mm x 43.3mm long, 18mm lug width. Signed “Bulova” on crown, steel rotating bezel, with painted black indices. Note: there are two dial variants with a triangular and circular pip above the twelve.
  • Movement: Automatic with Date, 11ALACD, 17 jewels
  • Dial: Matte Black, with Luminova Arabic numerals at “12-6-9” with window date at “3.” Note: There is also a white dial variant (386-4)
  • Hands: Dauphine-shaped with Luminova on the minute and hour. Steel second hand
  • Bracelet: Originally steel (although extremely rare)
  • Date produced: 1964-1968
  • Expect to pay: $350-$800

Despite being called the “Snorkel,” Bulova catalogs referred to the model as the “Deep Sea Diver.” To make things more confusing some have referred to it as the “Devil Diver,” a nickname shared by at least two dozen other Bulovas (also boasting the 666ft depth rating on the dial).

Photo Credit: mybulova.com

It might surprise some that the case back doesn’t feature anything aquatic-related such as a diving helmet or a ship. Instead we see Bulova’s traditional logo of a dancer who in earlier ads from the early 20’s, represented goddess-like elegance (not unlike automobile hood ornaments of the era). At the time, Bulova’s watches were designed with luxury in mind, and it wasn’t until 1919 that they’d built a watch for men specifically for WWI.

The Snorkel was located in Army PX’s around the world when it was released, often placed alongside Rolexes and Zodiacs. And although they were never “issued,” it’s probable that thousands ended up on wrists of service members in Vietnam.

Caravelle Sea hunter ref 49482 “Dauphine hands”

Featured Specs
 

  • Case: Polished Steel, 36mm, signed “C” on the crown. Rotating Bezel with aluminum insert
  • Movement: Caravelle Cal. 11 / manual winding (17 jewels); 18,000 bph
  • Dial: Black with Luminova arabic numerals at “12-3-6-9,” and 5-minute indices
  • Hands: Tritium dauphine (or) baton (ref. 41585). Baton version includes a “lollipop” second hand
  • Strap: 20mm Tropic diver
  • Date produced: 1971
  • Expect to pay: $350-$800

What Tudor was to Rolex, Caravelle was to Bulova. It was sibling brand with economic methods of production, surfing off the reputation and resources of its big brother. Bulova Watch Co. went through painstaking efforts to advertise that Caravelle’s lineup was all the quality you’d expect from a Bulova, while at the price point of a Timex. This included 17-jewel movements, 50 steps of quality assurance testing, and a 200m water resistance that made the “Snorkel” a success. What never made its way to the full page magazine ads was the fact that they were produced in China.

Still, the merits of its tool watch functionality made it a popular choice for divers who needed a reliable companion underwater without breaking the bank. In keeping with utilitarian basics, Caravelle dismissed the need for a date window (for what reason would it be relevant as opposed to tracking your remaining oxygen?). The only drawback for some could have been its manual wind movement, which, cost savings aside, was behind the curve for 1971.

Featured Specs
 

  • Case: Polished Steel, 35mm, signed “C” on the crown. Rotating Bezel with black aluminum insert
  • Movement: Automatic Movement, date complication (17 jewels)
  • Dial: Black with Luminova arabic numerals at “12-6-9,” with a date at “3,” and 5-minute indices
  • Hands: Tritium arrowhead (hour), tapered baton (minute), white second hand
  • Strap: 20mm Tropic diver
  • Date produced: 1969
  • Expect to pay: $900-$1700

In all of Caravelle’s lineup, the Sea Hunter seems to have benefited the most from the age of vintage popularity; it’s found a strong cult following. Despite their mass numbers produced, flippers will try to price them well above a Bulova Snorkel when placed side by side.

Caravelle Sea Hunter “Swiss-Made”

To the true connoisseur, there’s a Sea Hunter reference that combats the entire notion of quality spared. It’s known simply as “the Swiss Made version.” Because Caravelle was at one point “Caravelle New York,” it’s understood that their goods were designed with the United States in mind. There’s little research that can speak to this unique model’s place for distribution, as it was never mentioned in printed ads alongside it’s counterparts. It’s scarcity has made it coveted.

Notably, it shares the same unique handset as the Ranger, yet the inclusion of the bezel sets it apart from the Explorer enough that it’s very much its own design… although eerily similar to the Longines Legend Diver.

“But I don’t want to settle.”

Then don’t. Maybe you’re kind of guy who eats first world problems for breakfast. But, consider the fact that the Rolex 1016 Explorer is one of the most mass-produced Rolex replicas circulating the second-hand market. Your likelihood of finding an honest example through dealers on eBay are that much more slim because of it. Risk can be skirted through expert sellers who routinely assess the legitimacy of their stock (expect nose bleed-inducing premiums). Educate yourself*, and learn to enjoy the research.

Photo Credits:

Rolex Explorer 1016

Tudor Prince Oysterdate Ranger ref. 90220

Bulova Snorkel “666’ Deep Sea Diver” ref. 386-3

Caravelle Sea hunter ref 49482 “Dauphine hands”

Caravelle Sea Hunter “Swiss-Made”


Seiko SARB035 Review: Discontinued, Not Forgotten

The “white dial dress watch” is something that we tip toe around at TBWS. It’s like the home project that keeps getting put on the back burner when a higher priority project or task comes along.

For me it’s been updating the tile on the kitchen backsplash in my home. Whenever we seem to be ready to pull the trigger, something always comes up and the kitchen update takes a back seat. The white dial dress watch falls into that same role in my watch collection. Every time that I would consider something more elegant, figuring out my diver / driver / flyer combo took priority.

I’m not alone. Many of my fellow enthusiasts have been working towards that same three-watch goal. Now that the end of that journey is here, where does that leave us? We need that new hunt. The “white dial dress watch” (or just simply dress watch) tends to be the next quest.

Both the Seiko SARB035 (white dial)*and SARB033 (black dial)* have flown under the radar for years. Those were part of the new legacy “Spirit” collection. The reference numbers are misleading because the Seiko SARB065 is a modern watch called the “Cocktail Time” and the SARB017 is the green “Alpinist”. Are you confused? I’m am too. Let’s try to make some sense of the SARB035.

The Case

The Seiko SARB035 was the watch with a 38mm case before that size was cool again. There is no real obnoxious wrist presence. It still feels large enough to be modern yet compact enough to stay classy. With a lug to lug of 44.5mm, it fits my 6.75” wrist comfortably. At 11.5mm tall the Seiko SARB035 was made to slide under the tightest shirt cuff.

There are two features of the case that help distinguish it from those found on Seiko dive watches. This first is the 6.3mm push-down crown. It’s signed with an “S” and won’t offer much water resistance. The second is the chamfered edges on the lugs. It's something that you normally only see at a much higher price. On closer inspection, it is actually a step that runs along the top of the flank all the way to the end of the lugs.

I found it interesting how this feature plays with the light as the watch moves. This is a subtle, but important detail that differentiates this watch from an oyster case clone.

The Dial

For me the dial is the hook on the SARB035. It’s listed as “off-white”, but in person it’s a faint cream. Seiko nailed it. It’s just enough of a hue to be interesting without going overboard to look artificially aged.

The hour markers have a touch of lume. The interesting thing is that the lume is positioned on the end of each hour marker on the side facing the center, not the outside. It’s such a small amount of lume compared to a dive watch that it’s almost inconsequential. Polished Seiko (and Grand Seiko) dauphine hands seems to catch and reflect the smallest amounts of light. Visibility in low light is not an issue.

The date window seems to be a debatable topic, especially with the SARB035. Some don’t care for it and get even more vocal about it being “boxed”. It is easy to imagine how clean this watch would be without a date window. The date wheel is actually white as opposed to the creamy (off-white) dial.

The Movement

Both the SARB035 and SARB033 come with Seiko's 6R15 movement. It’s the same movement that's in my SPB087 “Marine Master 200”. My past experience with the movement was great. I already knew that it was rugged and reliable.

It hacks, it hand winds, and the power reserve is listed for 50 hours. My experience is that this is a conservative estimate. Seiko offers the 6R15 renamed as the NE15 for outside sales to other brands.

Performance aside, the 6R15 is a better looking movement than the NH35. Very few independents display the NH35 movement for good reason. I was surprised how handsome the 6R16 was through the display case back, especially the milling on the rotor. This is very important in entry-level mechanical watches. The impact of simply seeing the movement can’t be overstated to turn a newbie’s interest into a purchase. 60% of the time, it works every time.

The Bracelet

The Seiko bracelet was just OK for me on the SARB035. It’s a handsome three link oyster style brushed steel bracelet. It tapers form 20mm at the lugs to 18mm at the clasp. Nothing abnormal here. If you’re not picky, it will be fine.

Here are my complaints though. Sizing the bracelet will drive you insane. The links are sized with a pin and collar system, not screws. There are only two micro adjustment spots on the claps. To add insult to injury, there are no half links.

With problems, there are solutions. In this case, I have two to offer. Put the SARB035 on a leather strap to dress it up or put it on another steel bracelet. My preference is the steel bracelet. I’d recommend getting a high-quality aftermarket bracelet from Strapcode. A Strapcode Super-O or Angus-J bracelet for the SARB035/SARB33 will set you back $85-110. Uncle Seiko will soon have an option as well. If you decide that this watch is going to be a keeper, just go for the upgrade.

Final Thoughts

Is it easy to tell time? Yes

Could I #watchfast it? No

The Seiko SARB035 combines modern and classic touches in the same package. I’m not sure that I could wear it every day due to the lack of aquatic security. That’s not a deal breaker. The SARB035/033 is going to be a second (or sixth) watch for most.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well this “white dial dress” watch paired down with jeans and a ruggedly-hip flannel. Any SARB is perfect for a night out. Forget the Datejust or Oyster Perpetual. You’re killing it for under $500 USD.*

Unfortunately, the SARB035 is a remnant from the Seiko of old. Larger and flasher watches from the Presage collection are quickly replacing the “Spirit” collection. Luckily for you, there are still plenty of these in the pipeline. They are JDM, so expect to source them from places like Singapore, Hong Kong, and of course, Japan. For bonus points and extra swagger, seek out the elusive SARB037 with a salmon colored dial.

Featured Insights
 

• 38mm x 43.5mm x 11.5mm
• Stainless steel case
• Lumibrite
• 6R15 mechanical movement
• 20mm 3-link steel bracelet
• Price: $500 USD (approx)

Citizen NY008-11E 'Fugu' Dive Watch Review

Today I’m reviewing my Citizen Promaster “Fugu” dive watch, model number NY008-11E. This is the “Pepsi” bezel edition of the limited NY008 collection, released in 2018 and sold only to Asian markets. This collection has been nicknamed “Fugu” for the Japanese word for pufferfish. The caseback has a laser-etched pufferfish motif, and perhaps the rounded bezel with the grooves gives some semblance to the spiny fish. Five models of the NY008 were released, limited to 1,000 pieces each, with two more models getting a 500 piece run. Despite this limited production, these watches are available here in the US on the used market, which is how I acquired mine.

The Case

Let’s get some specs on the table.

  • Case Diameter: 41.5mm
  • Lug to Lug: 48mm
  • Lug width: 20mm
  • Case thickness: 12.5mm

It’s impossible to talk about the Fugu without talking about its predecessor in the Citizen dive watch stable; the venerable NY004. The NY004 was first released in 1993, and famously adopted for combat use in 1997 by the Italian Navy’s Special Forces unit.

The NY004’s unique crown position at 8:00 has been preserved in the Fugu, although the crown itself is now knurled rather than grooved- in my opinion a great upgrade, as knurling is low profile, has a tidy presentation and is unparalleled for good grip. The unusual location is kind of divisive among dive watch enthusiasts; for me, I love it! It prevents the crown from digging into the top of the wrist at all, and really sets this watch apart from any other diver. The crown is also signed with the Citizen Promaster logo.

The case shape is also the same as the NY004 and in my opinion (and Citizen’s, evidently) it’s definitely a case of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. From the top it has simple, clean lines, brushed surfaces and nicely beveled off lugs. On the underside, however, the sides of the case are heavily rounded and polished, for a really great wrist fit that prevents the tall bezel from making the watch look perched on the wrist.

I love the bezel on this watch- also a carryover from the great NY004. It’s totally unique, with its relatively tall, straight-sided profile, rounded top edge and alternating smooth and notched areas around the side. The bezel on my watch is quite easy to move, especially with the deep notches, and gives a positive click. It’s a bit looser than some bezels I’ve handled and has a small amount of play. It definitely does not have the same great feel that a mid-level Swiss diver often has, but I like it quite well in its own way.

Each of the 60 click positions lines up perfectly with a minute marker, something I really like about 60 click bezels in general. The insert is bright anodized aluminum and has a metallic shine that changes tint slightly depending on the light. It’s similar to Steinhart’s Pepsi bezels, and unlike Seiko’s flat painted appearance.

The Dial

Changes and upgrades from the NY004 include the shape of the lumed indices, now straight and sharp corned instead of round. The handset is changed as well, still massive and legible, but now more straight-sided, with a sort of straight cathedral-style hand for the hours, and bold, a red-trimmed arrow for the minutes. The arrow-tipped second hand is lumed, and trimmed in red also. The colored minute hand is a great feature for a working diver’s watch, as it draws the eye immediately to the most important hand on the face- and it looks very cool above water too.

The dial itself is deep, glossy black, and I really love how inky and polished it looks- and again, a nice change from the legions of matte-dialed divers. The day/date wheels are dark gray- very well color-matched to the dial itself, something rare on a diver and very aesthetically pleasing.

The Movement

Underneath the dial beats the same movement used in the NY004- the Citizen caliber 8203. This caliber was released in 1977 and is known for its simplicity and robustness. It hand winds but doesn’t hack, and keeps perfectly acceptable time. An upgrade to the much more refined Miyota/Citizen 90xx series would have made this watch almost perfect, but the older caliber still works reliably well.

The Strap

This watch comes with a special color-matched NATO strap and a black vented rubber strap. The NATO is dark blue and red to match the bezel, and is of middling, ok quality. The rubber strap is the usual suspect on Citizen divers, and is rather stiff, but of decent quality otherwise. The matching NATO strap is a nice touch - it makes the watch feel like a special edition.

My Fugu gets equal wrist time on a NATO strap and an aftermarket bracelet (I don’t particularly like rubber straps). The case shape and slightly smaller height of 12.5mm make this one of the best NATO-wearing watches I’ve owned.

For those interested in a bracelet for this watch, anything with endlinks that fit the NY004 or the newer NY009 will fit this watch as well. I bought an inexpensive oyster style bracelet with solid links and folded endlinks for mine, and I love the way it wears. I’ve also worn this watch on a polished Milanese mesh, another great look.

Final Thoughts

This watch is one of my favorite dive watches - 100% for its unique and beautiful design. At a glance, it doesn’t appear too out of the ordinary or revolutionary- but when you look closely, handle it and wear it you come to appreciate what a really spectacular piece Citizen has put together. The legibility of the clean lumed indices causes you to notice the glossy, smooth dial, the unique and bold handset, and how smoothly the day/date window blends in with the rest of the dial. Turn the bezel and you’ll realize how easy it is to grip and turn, and the way the brilliant blue and red pop in the sunlight. And the whole time you’re wearing it, no matter what you’re doing, you’ll never once feel a crown dig in between your wrist tendons.

Featured Insights
 

• 41.5mm x 12.5mm x 48mm
• 20mm Lug Width
• Citizen/Miyota 8203 Automatic (Manual Wind | Non-Hacking)
• Mineral Crystal
• 60 Click Bezel (Aluminum Insert)
• 200 Meter Water Resistance
• Price: $400 - $600

This watch reminds me strongly of the Seiko SKX- not necessarily the best specs you can get for your dollar, but possessing a unique quality of design that makes it compelling to collectors in all price brackets. It would have been great if Citizen had made this with a sapphire crystal. I would have loved having a 9 series movement in it, and a more tightly machined bezel, but at the end of the day this watch more than makes up for some of its lower-end specs.


The TBWS Crew's Last-Minute Holiday Gift Picks

The panic of the holiday season has finally settled into a steady code red. As we stressed and procrastinated ourselves, all of us here at the Two Broke Watch Snobs crew thought that it would be fun to put together a last-minute guide filled with stuff that we love. If you miss the cut-off for the holiday these picks aren't a bad way to spend a gift card on something that you'll actually want.


Watch Pod - Watch Travel Case
Price: $15
Even if I’m only bringing one watch on a trip, I always take a watch case. The Watch Pod case is very useful for airport security. I’ll take off my watch, place it in the case and put it into my backpack. It comes with a microfiber cloth that I use to wrap around my watch before placing it in the case. There is no soft foam insert. I’ve never had an issue. If you are traveling with three Pateks (as most of us do) upgrade to the CASBUDi triple case.


Nike - Zoom Fly Flyknit Running Sneakers
Price: $160
I set multiple PRs with these sneakers last season. The Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit benefits from trickle-down technology from the $250 Vaporfly 4% that many professional long-distance runners use. Most notably, it has a full-length carbon fiber plate that acts like a springboard. They feel almost weightless in stride. This is a pure running shoe and isn’t great laterally. The Zoom Fly Flyknit will soon be discontinued. You can find them for a very hefty discount on Amazon. Grab a pair before they’re gone. (They are available in both Men’s & Women’s.)


Horofix Spring Bar Tweezers
Price: $85
It might seem like needlessly overspending when you can get a regular spring bar tool for under $20. I’m a bracelet guy who swaps for rubber straps in the summer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated with a traditional spring bar tool and damaged something by mixing rage and haste. A high-quality spring bar tweezer tool is worth your peace of mind. Can you even put a price tag on your sanity? I can: $85.


Field Notes – Three Missions Series
Price: $13
Field Notes make high quality pocket-sized notebooks. The materials and the printing are all sourced and manufactured in the United States. Each of the “Three Missions” notebooks contains information about its respective NASA mission as well as white graph paper for your notes. This series also includes three carboard punch-out and assemble versions of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space capsules. The notebooks fit perfectly in my back pocket and I used them for all my notes while on the floor at Wind-Up last fall. The fun-to-cost ratio for this set is higher than a geosynchronous orbit.


The Watch of the Future
Price: $37

Written by Rene Rondeau, this book captures an iconic era for Hamilton when technology was advancing beyond mechanical engines toward quartz. It catalogs the design influences of “jet engine aesthetics” and speaks to the rich history behind the fabled American brand. Rondeau’s enthusiasm for Hamilton eventually lead to the company to recruiting him as their official historian.

AlphaPremier – Moss Green NATO Watch Strap
Price: $36

The quality of this Blushark strap is incredible, with almost a silk-like texture. At 1.2mm in thickness, it’s the thinnest of the premium NATOs I’ve seen to date. These guys are available from Amazon if you’ve got a gift card, or can be offered at some serious discounts if you buy several from their website direct.

1911 [LEGO] Brick Gun
Price: $65

Guns aren’t for everybody, and I generally discourage folks from playing with anything that could result in “negligent discharge,” but there’s something inexplicably interesting about metal components working in unison for a utilitarian purpose.  Remove that risk and swap it out for Legos. This 1:1 scale replica actually has a functioning slide when it’s cocked and the trigger is pulled. Firearm fanatics would be pressed to find a safer or cheaper alternative.


McCoy Boxing Kangaroo Caddy
Price: $50

Cinephiles will likely remember the line from Pulp Fiction, “Bedside table… on the Kangaroo.  Say the words. Don’t forget my father’s watch.” Bruce Willis’ guidance to his girlfriend was in reference to his “pocket dump” caddy, a ceramic chunk of kitsch Americana that would look awesome at any night stand (and more so with a watch around its tail).  Despite being popular back in the fifties, there are a ton of these things all over eBay and Etsy in perfect form for around fifty bucks.


Jabra Elite 75t Wireless Earbuds
Price: $180

Ever since I saw Ryan Reynolds don a pair in 2008’s Definitely, Maybe, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect pair of wireless earbuds. The new Jabra Elite 75t earbuds offer nice controls, comfortable form factor, decent water resistance, good sound quality, and outstanding battery life, all for under $200. This pair doesn’t boast Active Noise Cancellation but it offers nice sound isolation which gets the job done. Of all the wireless earbuds I’ve purchased over the past couple of years (and there have been a lot), these offer the best overall feature set for my money.


Timex Weekender Linus Watch
Price: $57 (currently on sale for Approx. $32)

Don’t get me wrong, Snoopy is great. He’s got a sidekick, a rich fantasy life, and never lacks for confidence. However, I feel like Linus is the true voice of the modern watch lover: slightly insecure, full of pretty esoteric knowledge, and always ready to engage in a lengthy diatribe, the Chidi Anagonye of his time. The Timex 38mm Linus watch is a very basic quartz two-hander on a playful passthrough fabric strap, modest in size, resistant to basically nothing, pretty inexpensive, and frequently on sale. In fact, I’m pretty sure that this is from the same series that Greg reviewed just a couple of weeks ago. Break away from the Snoopy spacewatch mold: pick up a watch that really speaks to your inner neckbeard.


KeySmart Pro
Price: $53

I lose my keys a lot - or, at least, I used to! After one too many multi-hour road trips to recover keys I misplaced somewhere, I finally found a great solution. The KeySmart Pro provides a nice, organized way to keep keys in your pocket without all the jangling or accidental thigh stabbing and comes with Tile technology to help make sure you don’t leave your keys behind and to help you locate them when you do. It even sports a little LED flashlight which has come in handy not only for finding stuff in the dark but also to help light up a watch meetup strap change in a pinch.


Barton Quick Release Spring Bars
Price: $9

I love swapping straps and bracelets on my watches. I am also very lazy and clumsy and, even though I have a strap changing tool attached to my KeySmart Pro, will find any way to avoid using a strap tool in order to minimize the potential of damaging my watches. These quick release spring bars not only allow me to swap between NATOs and quick release leather straps with aplomb, but also represent the most straightforward way possible to install an MN strap like those from Erika’s Originals (which I would absolutely recommend as a fifth recommendation out of my allotment of four!). Definitely beats trying to stick little bits of scotch tape on a spring bar tool, too.


Leatherman Crater C33TX
Price: $45

This little pocket knife is really handy. The blade is only about 2.5 inches long which makes it small enough to easily deploy with one hand, but large enough for most everyday tasks. The combination of a straight and serrated edge also add to it’s versatility.

This knife also has both a philips and flathead screwdriver. While I wouldn’t want to do any major hardware installation with them, they are very handy in a pinch. The final feature is the one I probably use as much as the blade itself: a bottle opener.

However, the best part of this watch is the Leatherman warranty. After many years of ownership I managed to chip the blade and they replaced it with a new one at no cost.

At just shy of $50, this is a great everyday companion.


Foley Fork
Price: $6.99

It’s time I let you in on a family secret: The Foley Fork. Julia Child and my grandma used them, and you should, too. In my family, you get one when you’re married (I am not kidding: my cousin bought one before she was married and it was taken away from her). You can use it for everything except dicing and serving soup. Works great with bacon and blending. I encourage you to get a Foley­-brand Foley fork, but they can be expensive as they aren’t made anymore. The one linked here is a cheap alternative to the original.


Barton Elite Silicone Quick Release
Price: $20.00

If you don’t already have one (or more) of these, skip my blurb and just buy a few. Thank me later. This is the pinnacle of rubber strapdom: Super comfortable, sturdy quick-release, secure, tons of colors, and every size from 18mm-24mm. They thicken a bit at the lug and feature a locking keeper loop. Don’t waste your time or money on those expensive integrated straps for your SKX or DJ; this is all you need. And God help you if you just buy an all-black one—have fun with it!


Glenor Co. 12-watch Watch Box
Price: $60

Still looking for a perfect watch box? I got you. I’ve got two of these and love them. Good quality build, reasonable price, and plenty of extra storage. The bottom drawer features 8 compartments, which I have turned into 5: three long sections for straps, one for tools, and one small for my wedding ring. I’ve drawn an outline of how I’ve got it set up. Use a box cutter to make it your own space and add some lavender for year-round calming.


Ball and Buck Lined Deerskin Gloves
Price: $92

These gloves aren’t waterproof and they aren’t touch-enabled. You also probably can’t set your watch with them on. But they are warm, durable, and exceptionally comfortable. I had chance to buy mine at the Ball and Buck store in Boston, where they sell Weiss watches and the owner rocks a vintage gold JLC Reverso. If I were someone who felled his own Christmas tree, I’d feel right at home doing it in these gloves. They’re also available in black and unlined versions.


SEIKO SRPB46 Cocktail Time
Price: $360

While the Cocktail Time Gets a lot of attention, I feel like the ones that get the most attention are black or silver. Those are good and all, but for a warm date by the fireplace on a cold winter’s night, consider the SRPB46 with the gold tone case and brown dial! Powered by a 4R, these watches can be found for UNDER $300 if you put minimal effort into hunting, and with the beautiful deep brown Alligator grain strap, it’s an absolutely incredible value! One that easily stands with more expensive brands and can absolutely go toe-to-toe with its silver and black siblings. Give a gift that says, “Another Great Year!”


Frolk Whiskey Decanter Gift Set
Price: $70

Brown and Gold with a beautiful Fur and a fire just aren’t complete without a quality drink to go with it. It’s one thing to have a bottle in the cupboard, but a Frolk gift set will let people know you care about your dram and you’re not just the town drunk. Personally, I like the XL Balls Decanter set that comes with the Decanter, two glasses, and the Balls that you freeze and use like ice so that your drink doesn’t water down. It comes in a nice wooden box gift set as well! It’s a great starter set for your home and only costs a mere $79.99. May I suggest Lagavulin 16 to go with it? I shall!


Dr. Grabow Duke Tobacco Pipe
Price: $29

Finally, to compliment that dram of Lagavulin, is the Dr. Grabow Grand Duke pipe. I inherited the briarwood pipe from my Grandfather, but it’s still in production today just as it was all those years ago. It’s a straight and simple pipe with a small to medium bowl that holds just enough tobacco to last you through that delicious glass of scotch. Maybe two! The reddish brown of the briarwood also compliments the colors of the Seiko on your arm. Don’t forget long matches for lighting or a Zippo pipe lighter to go with it. You can find these for a great starter price of $29.00! Might I also suggest the Mac Baren Scottish Blend with its deep raisin smell? I shall, indeed! Merry Christmas to all and have a great 2020!


Moody Tools 6 Piece Slotted Screwdriver Set
Price: $39

Let’s face it. Most of the precision screwdrivers made offshore are garbage. They are inexpensive which, in this case, is just a synonym for disposable. Apply some torque and you risk breaking the blade or worse, stripping the screw head and scratching your watch bracelet. Enter Moody Tools and their excellent 6 piece slotted screwdriver set (Stock #58-0116). They are made in the USA and carry a lifetime warranty. At $33., they are a bargain, especially when compared to a certain, well-known, Swiss company that makes pricey tools for watches.


Klarus XT2C LED Tactical Flashlight
Price: $56

Flashlights make a great stocking stuffer. Modern LED flashlights are compact and bright enough for any task. The Klarus XT2C is my perfect EDC flashlight. The twin tail cap design is innovative and practical. The center tail cap functions just like in any other flashlight while the adjacent button instantly unleashes a disorienting strobe that gives the user a nonlethal, self-defense option. Uses a rechargeable 18650 battery or two 123A lithium batteries.


Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic

Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic

By: Michael Penate

Timex has been ruthless this year, with releases pulling in collectors from all walks of life and even commanding prices well above retail on the secondary market. Folks at the brand must really have a pulse on what's going on in today's watch enthusiast market, and we're lucky to have so much variety from a historically affordable brand. One of those individuals is the brand’s design director Giorgio Galli, who combined ideal, luxurious traits into a Timex with classic design and what appears to be a level of quality slightly above what we'd expect. Here's a quick look at the Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic.

Initially, it feels like this is the watch the Timex Marlin reissue could have been. We see a significantly larger 41mm case, brushed and polished surfaces, and a playful, layered case architecture that is completely outside of Timex's design wheelhouse. Combined with a large, textured crown the case almost immediately presents tasteful luxury, which is not a trait I look for in a Timex—but I'm very happy to see it. We also get a beefy rubber strap with a quick-release function and a clean silver dial featuring a cut-out that reveals a functional movement jewel.

Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Specs:

  • 41mm Diameter x 11mm Thickness
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • K1 Hardened IGN/A3 Crystal
  • Synthetic Rubber Strap
  • 50m Water Resistance
  • Miyota 9039
  • Price: $450 USD

Speaking of the movement, it's a Miyota 9039 and I'm excited to see Timex being a little more transparent about the mechanical movements they're working with these days. Whenever I wear my Timex Marlin, I'm always afraid of the movement exploding and blowing a hole in my wrist—it just doesn't feel solid. Needless to say, I hope Timex continues to fit their watches with reliable movements across the product lines. The Miyota 9039 is visible through the watch's display caseback and delivers 42 hours of power reserve.

The Timex Timex Giorgio Galli S1 is now available on the official Timex website. Learn more here.

Photos: Timex Group USA


Laco Aachen 42 Review: Blaue Stunde

A Brief Introduction to Flieger Watches

When it comes to military watches, provenance can take a bit of a tricky turn rather quickly. From WWI trench watches that might have been used to time horrific mustard gas attacks to the Vostok Amphibia that helped Soviet submariners keep the iron curtain shut for decades, wristwatches have long been used as crucial tools in the waging of war. Dive watches, field watches, and of course the pilot’s watch were all borne from times of military necessity and are among the most popular types of watches used today. The watch I’m reviewing today, the Laco Aachen Blaue Stunde 42, is based on a B-Uhr or Flieger watch that would have been used by the German Luftwaffe in WWII.

The modern Flieger watch type is based on the Beobachtungsuhr (observation watch), or B-Uhr, from the Second World War. During the war, only five manufacturers were granted a license to provide these timepieces to the Luftwaffe: Lange & Sohne, Stowa, Wempe, IWC (interestingly also a manufacturer of “dirty dozen” watches for the Allies, in a horological example of Swiss neutrality), and of course, Laco. These watches were designed for maximum legibility to read while wearing goggles up in the ear and ease of use to allow the watches to be set to coordinate attacks whilst wearing gloves mid-flight, with a huge, high contrast dial and large onion-shaped crown.

The modern iterations of these Flieger watches, including the Aachen, continue to riff off this original design with very little variation. All five brands continue to make watches today, and with the exception of Lange, continue to make pilot’s watches. Of all the references from these original makers, the Laco Aachen is the most affordable, with an MSRP of $410 in the United States.

Case and Strap

In fact, in a world where many brands are taking vintage models and scaling them up (for instance, the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical takes an old 34mm field reference and ups it to 38mm and the Certina DS PH200M scales a 40mm diver reference from 1967 up to a bit beyond 42mm), the Laco Aachen 42, as is the case with most pilot’s watches, actually scales down from the 50-55mm case widths of original WWII-era pilot watches to a much more manageable 42mm. This is still quite large for some, but the short, curved lugs keep the lug-to-lug distance at a fairly reasonable 50mm and the overall case shape hugs the wrist quite nicely.

The case height is just under 12mm, which is quite reasonable and proportional given the diameter. The whole Laco Aachen case is bead blasted, and the oversized push-down onion crown makes setting and winding the watch very easy. There is a display caseback that shows the Laco 21 movement (basically a Miyota 821A with a skeletonized rotor) which is a welcomed touch. The watch is water resistant up to 5ATM, or 50 metres, which is good enough for everyday wear but probably not for swimming or any sort of immersion.

The watch is fairly light for its size, coming in under 90 grams on the included NATO strap. The  Laco Aachen 42 Blaue Stunde was very comfortable on my 7.5” wrist. Lug width is 20mm, and there’s enough room between the case and the spring bars to accommodate most strap thicknesses. The included grey NATO strap even features a nicely signed buckle, which is another lovely little touch from Laco.

Movement

The Miyota Cal. 821A is a basic automatic, hand-winding movement that beats at 21600 bph. It sports a 42-hour power reserve and is “accurate” within -20 to +40 seconds per day, which is a pretty wide range. The movement also has a quickset date function which is unused in this model, creating a “ghost” second crown position. It also doesn’t offer hacking (the ability to stop the seconds hand when the crown is pulled all the way out for setting).

Hacking was considered quite a critical function for pilot watches as it allowed pilots to synchronize their watches to coordinate attacks; clearly, then, this particular pilot watch is meant more for everyday convenience with the automatic movement than for coordinating bombing runs, which is fair enough given its likely use. For historical functionality it would have been nice to see a hand-wound, hacking movement used here instead, but the automatic movement probably lends itself to broader appeal.

Dial and Hands

My particular model is the Aachen Blau, with a lovely sunburst blue Type B dial. The Type B dial sports large minute markers and smaller hour markers on a separate inner track. The stubby sword-shaped hours hand is just long enough to reach the inner track, whereas the much longer minutes sword hand reaches out to the minute indices along the diameter of the dial.

The hands and markers are all coated with white C3 Superluminova; particularly notable is the baton seconds hand which is painted with Superluminova from the centre all the way down its length. The counterweight on the seconds hand and the edges of the other hands are painted in a matte black. The dial is large, bright, and extremely legible in all lighting conditions with the high contrast between the blue dial and white markers and the fairly generous application of lume throughout.

Conclusion: Great Value

It seems important to me to remember that the progenitors of this watch were put to horrific use in the Second World War, and in a way the far more casual application of this piece is a bit unnerving given the history. But overall, I do like the Aachen Blaue Stunde 42. It looks and feels great on the wrist, has a good feature set for affordable everyday wear, and doesn’t take itself as seriously as one might assume one would get from the term Beobachtungsuhr.

The Aachen Blaue Stunde also comes in a 39mm variant, and Laco produces dozens of what they call “basic” pilot watches in a wide variety of configurations and colourways all in the $400-$700 price range. Laco also offers more authentic Flieger watches that start around $1000 and go all the way up past the $4000 mark for those looking for a more genuine B-Uhr experience.
 

Featured Insights
 :

• 42mm x 11.75mm x 50mm
• 20mm Lug Width
• Laco Caliber 21 (Miyota 821A w/ Skeletonized Rotor
• Type B Flieger Dial in Blue Sunburst
• CS Superluminova
• Bead blased case finish
• Sapphire Crystal
• Exhibition caseback (w/ Sapphire Crystal)
• MSRP: Approx. $410 USD

In Their Own Words: Rossling and the Hydromatic

In Their Own Words: Rossling and The Hydromatic C.01

In Partnership with Karim Elgarhy (Co-Founder of Rossling)

Like most watch guys, my dad got my brothers and me into watches. My dad was a huge watch lover; one of my earliest memories was trying on his giant (well, it seemed giant to me at the time) Seiko 6319-5040. I also still vividly remember his first Rolex. It was a second-hand gold Datejust and it always inspired awe in me.

With some of my earliest memories tied to watches, it's not surprising then that when my brothers and I had the opportunity to start our own watch brand we jumped on it. Fast forward to 2013 and we launched our first Rossling watch on Kickstarter. By today's standards in horology that first piece was a "fashion" watch with a few twists, but it got a lot of media coverage and our tweed straps were a big hit.

After that release, our first automatic was next in 2014. It was a 9mm thick, Bauhaus-style dress watch with a Miyota 9015. To date, my brothers and I have launched 6 Rossling timepieces, but they've all been dress watches. For 2019 we knew it was time to try something new.

Enter: The Hydromatic C.01

We’ve always loved sports watches, but the prospect of our first diver had been a tough nut to crack. We honestly spent many years mulling over it and trying to work out the finer details. If Rossling did a diver, it needed to be done right. We didn't want to cut corners. We didn't want it to feel like a "diver-style" watch. We wanted it to be an efficient dive watch - something you could rely on and trust for whatever adventures you took it on.

Around this time we started making contact with manufacturing partners in Germany. Through many conversations and getting to know each other, my brothers and I started to understand and get a feel for German watchmaking culture. There's a strong sense of doing things objectively right in German horology. There's a strong sense of quality, precision, and over-engineering parts and processes (plus two of us are engineers by trade, so this deeply resonated with us).

It clicked then that our new diver needed to be made in Germany. It was the only way to get it right. And thus the Hydromatic was born.

The diver is manufactured in Pforzheim, Germany, which is an honor for us because it's the heart of German Horology. They've been making watches there since the 1700s. The craftspeople there are experienced and working with them was a no-brainer.

You can see the German influence in the design and engineering of the watch. It is no-nonsense, very efficient, and very effective. There's no fluff on the Hydromatic; everything has a purpose. The crystal, for example, has a pronounced box shape with a strong dome. While this adds to the visual appeal, it serves a crucial function first and foremost. It allows us to have a thicker crystal which allowed us to have a strong WR (200m) while also limiting distortion to the very edge of the dome. The Hydromatic dial also is very balanced, which (to my brothers and I at least) gives it a very aesthetically pleasing design.

One of the most important facets for us was ensuring the Hydromatic fit into the ISO/DIN spec. This basically means that the diver fits into the objective standards for product reliability as set by the International Organization for Standardization and Deutsches Institut für Normung. We're happy to confirm that the Hydromatic is fully compliant with ISO/DIN. However, watches will not be individually certified. It's honestly just too expensive, which would mean that we'd have to end up charging watch folks more. That's just not something we want to do. We want people to be able to afford and enjoy this diver.

The Rossling Hydromatic will feature the 2824-2 (or possibly the SW200-1). We would have loved to utilize a German movement as well. But as of yet, there aren't any commercially available options.

The Hydromatic is a monumental milestone for my brothers and me. So far the feedback has been really great and the watch resonates pretty strongly with the watchfam. Plus, at $399 during our Kickstarter campaign, it’s an insane value.

Check out the Kickstarter page - it’s currently live and the campaign ends on November 26th, 2019. This will be your only chance to get the Hydromatic for the preorder price of $399. Afterward, it’ll be retailing at $599.

We really hope you enjoyed reading the story behind this really special watch and a huge thank you to all our die-hard fans who’ve helped my brothers and I get this far.

Rossling Hydromatic Specs

  • Designed and made in Germany
  • SW200-1 / ETA 2824-2 Movement
  • 200m Water Resistance
  • ISO 6425 / DIN 8306 Compliant
  • 42mm x 51.5mm x 12.7mm (14.9mm with crystal)
  • Domed, box sapphire crystal with AR Coating
  • Screw down crown
  • Ceramic Bezel (120-click unidirectional)
  • Super-Luminova
  • Pre-order price $399 / Retail price $599

Rossling & Co.
Hydromatic Kickstarter