It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a review. It seems like over the past year, my interest in quartz is picking up. As I’ve become older, I have developed a newer appreciation for quartz watches and I don’t dismiss them as readily as I did 10 or 20 years ago. The 5 watches I’ll discuss below are ones that have either have been receiving a good bit of wrist time from me or perhaps models that aren’t highly discussed on the watch forums. Mind you, I’m still wearing plenty of automatics, but each of these watches has been worn more than most over the past 12 months.
I’ll begin this discussion with my Seiko Sportura SLQ007 Chronograph with the 9T82 kinetic chronograph movement. The 9T82 is my favorite chronograph movement bar none. While I understand that many find the layout odd, if not downright ugly, its legibility and functionality beat every other chronograph layout I’ve ever owned. This movement does it all.
Although quartz, this hand assembled movement is surprisingly complicated and contains more parts than some automatic chronographs. It’s finished amazingly well and when you push the actuators, you are actually engaging and disengaging gears. For those who time long events, this chronograph is a dream. The minutes and hours are displayed in a single register with two hands using a 12 hour counter. What this means is, you can read off the hours and minutes instantly. 2 hours 10 minutes shows up as 2:10 on the dial. It’s the way we are used to reading time and there is no more intuitive way to display long term timing than in this manner. At a glance you can immediatlely tell where you are in your timing event just like you can tell time quickly by glancing at an analog watch. Because hours and minutes are displayed in their own subdial, you are never peeking around the main hands to see what’s going on.
The chronograph seconds counter on the 9T82’s is as smooth as any second hand you will ever see. It actually runs smoother than a Swiss 7750 based chronograph and to my eye is indistinguishable to what you see with the Spring Drives. And for those that like a little fun with their watches, there is a speedy little 1/10 second register and hand.
The SLQ007 is my 3rd 9T82 chronograph. I had a SLQ015 years ago, but sold it to finance the more conventionally styled SBCG003 which I still own. However, I missed the funkiness of the traditional SLQ watches and earlier this year picked up this 007. It’s a fun watch to wear, that fits great, looks great and always receives comments.
You rarely see any discussion of the SBDR001 Prospex Flightmaster. Although it’s been in production now since around the year 2000, this watch doesn’t generate much interest. Why? If I had to guess, I’d say it would be a combination of the movement (pedestrian), the price (high) and the styling (geeky).
When it arrived, I was unimpressed. I found that the digital readout was not as legible as I’d like, the lack of a backlight was annoying and the free turning bezel was just odd. I immediately removed the bracelet thinking that I would soon sell it and there was no need to chance scuffing it up. I found a brown leather band that actually worked well with the watch as it accentuated some of the colors in the bezel as well as the seconds hand.
Over a year later, I still am very non plussed with this watch and yet, I still frequently wear it and I’m not sure why. I will say that the analog display against the black glass dial is super legible and its titanium construction and relatively thin profile make it a very comfortable watch. With the exception of a nice loud alarm, I really don’t find anything noteworthy about the H023 movement including its accuracy. I suppose you could say that the plane that flies across the screen when the stopwatch is engaged is neat but….
The bezel construction is strange. It turns quite freely and is attached via gearing to what looks like the crown on the left side of the watch. So while you turn the bezel, the ornamental crown spins as well. Besides the comfort and time legibility I do often find myself admiring the contours of the case and the blacked out side attachments. Are they ceramic? I’m not sure.
So while I can’t describe anything that truly excites me about the SBDR001, I can say that it somehow consistently spends a lot of time on my wrist and in fact, is being worn right now as I type this post.
Moving on, we come to another Prospex model. This one is a simple 7T92 Chronograph; the SBDQ001. I won’t say too much about the technical details on this one. Zami actually posted a nice writeup on this one on his blog earlier this year, and his post is worth a read. Mine was an eBay pickup. One of those instances where you half-heartedly put in a bid thinking for sure it won’t be enough to win. In this case, it was.
In contrast to the SBDR001, I had no expectations with this one before it arrived, but I appreciated it immediately. I find myself timing things continuosly and it’s one of the reasons I like dive watches. Unless you need accuracy to the second or better, a dive bezel is an ingenious tool. Sometimes though, you do need to count seconds or hours and in these cases, only a true chronograph will do. That’s why this is such a perfect tool; having the dive bezel, you don’t always have to fumble with the chronograph buttons unless you need that extra bit of accuracy.
Although it’s a very basic quartz movement, all examples of the 7T92 I’ve had kept exceptional time at 30 seconds per year or less. Additionally, like the 9T82, the 7T92 measures hours using two hands on a 12 hour register and it has a rapidly spinning “gee whiz” hand, in this case, measuring seconds to the 1/20th.
For the most part, quality on this watch is good. I appreciate the originality of both the bezel aesthetics as well as the main hands. Seiko didn’t reach into the existing parts bin when they created this watch. The big lume dot on the end of the continuous seconds hand almost makes me laugh and the chrome rings surrounding the subdials complement the polished parts of the bracelet. The package as a whole is unique and it works. My only real qualm is that the edges of the hands have a rough finish which is surprising as this isn’t something we usually see on Seikos in this price range.
Collectors’ interest in high accuracy quartz movements seems to be building lately. Most hardcore collectors are well aware of the timekeeping abilities of Seiko’s 9F and Citizen’s A660 movements and GMT+9 readers recently have been introduced to some of Seiko’s older efforts into high accuracy quartz engineering through the posts of Martin and Bryan. Generally speaking, the benchmark for modern high accuracy quartz movements is the 8F series of watches from Seiko.
The SBCJ001 was a numbered and limited edition of 1000 Pipin 8F58’s released around 1999/2000. There were non limited models also produced with white and black dials. Although I’m not a fan of the integrated lug setup of this watch, I find the rest of the package to be very attractive. The bracelet is silky smooth with organically rounded links both polished (center) and brushed (sides). Seiko doesn’t do many dials in red which is why this watch stood out for me. In truth, it’s more of a magenta color with hints of purple too.
Like many other Pipin watches, this one has the protruding fin design on the side. The case is titanium and at 41mm, almost small by today’s standards. However, it’s the dial and movement that make this watch for me. The color is unique, bold and fun and truthfully, there aren’t many high accuracy quartz dive watches out there let alone one with a perpetual calendar and GMT function. Plus, it’s always nice to know that when you have this one on your wrist, the time it’s showing you is probably very close to the time it is.
Time to wrap this post up. The Citizen PMX56-2601 is a great watch. Not only does it have the best implementation of a solar dial ever used, but it also has a tremendous case and what I think to be one of the coolest names ever given to a timepiece; Mission Antarctica. It sounds rugged, spylike and built for a specific purpose. Do any long term collectors remember when you could buy these from Higuchi or Seiya? I bought my first from the latter. It was the 2602 blue dialed version. I liked it quite a bit, but sold it after I started collecting Landmasters. I found it a little cartoonish compared to the more serious Landmaster series of Seikos.
After about 5 years, I started to miss it. I spent a good many months looking for a decent version in black and was thrilled when I finally found one. For me, this watch is all about that solar cell dial. For the most part, the dials on solar powered watches leave me very disappointed. They are either too shiny, have a milky transparent quality or sometimes just have a vague look to them that just doesn’t quite look right to the eye.
With the M.A., Citizen embraced the solar cell concept. The dial is littered with a stunning hexagonal celled layout which to me hints at some of the cool lazer engraved designs that Seiko uses on some of their Grand Seiko products. As you turn the watch in the light, the dial changes from an inky black pool into a colorful pattern of lines. The fun factor of this dial continues with the oversized markers and the probably too shiny plasticky chrome highlights.
The Duratect case is a work of art. Although it has the color of titanium, the finish is more in line with a fine steel watch. There is an ultrafine brushing on the tops of the lugs with some polished highlights on the side which then morph into an almost bead blasted like brushed finish (a little sloppy with a 10x loupe) as you get to the back. It’s not often that you’ll see three different types of finish on a watch case from any watch manufacturer, let alone a combination that works so well. Here, Citizen has pulled it off. This was a fun and innovative watch when it was released almost a decade ago, and it still is today.