Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review of Invicta Pro Diver Master of the Oceans

Model # 6055

At a Glance:

Brand/Model:  Invicta Pro Diver Master of the Oceans
Movement:  Japanese automatic
Material:  Stainless steel case and bracelet
Complications:  Date display
Price:  Street price $100 USD


Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

I’ve been intrigued by this Invicta Pro Diver with its Seiko-sourced automatic movement ever since it was introduced.  Part of the ‘Master of the Oceans’ series, these watches are interesting combinations of subdued, clean designs, hefty looks and all-around versatility.

First off, let me say that this watch is NOT 48mm as stated in the specs.  Depending on how you measure it, the bezel diameter is 45mm; when the watch is measured from the rear of the case, 46mm.  They seem to get the 48mm measurement by including the shoulders on the sides of the crown.  Size with crown is 51mm.  Lug-to-lug measures 54mm, lug width 24mm.  The bracelet tapers to 22mm at the clasp.  Watch thickness is 15.5mm. 

Also, due to the curvature of the case, this watch hugs the wrist very nicely and makes its still large size easier to manage.  So if you have been put off by thinking this watch is just too damn big, don’t be, you may be pleasantly surprised.

What jazzes me about this watch is that it retains some of the best Invicta traits and also does away with some of the worst.  The case and bracelet are fully brushed, save for tiny edges on the case sides, so essentially, there is no polished stainless steel on this watch, which gives it a great look.  There is no garish ‘Invicta’ engraved on the side of the case and while the crown is nice and big and signed, it does not have the cheap-looking Invicta yellow and black plastic insert.  The crown does not screw down.

The black dial has a simple pattern radiating out from the center about half-way.  The markers are applied, but are not too big.  The hands are simple and effective, the quickset date @ 3 gets along without a cyclops and the bezel is a smooth 120-click affair without a lume pip to fall out or worry about.

The bracelet is typical high-quality Invicta fair, solid links, finished smoothly with standard split pins for adjustment.  The clasp is a typical signed, double locking unit.  The deployant is stamped steel and the bracelet does not have solid end links.

The Seiko-sourced 21-jewel movement does not hack or manual wind, but keeps fine time.  The hands are perfectly aligned at midnight and the date clicks over promptly at this time.  The crystal is heavy mineral.  The display back screws down and is engraved with the watch’s pertinent information.  The script on the rotor gives it a classy look.  One thing I have noticed about this movement, it seems to take a lot of shaking/swinging to get it up to a full power reserve.  It does not seem to power up as easily as a Seiko 7S26 movement.

This is a 100 meter rated dive watch which may disappoint some, expecting a deeper rating.  100 meters is fine by me as I don’t even get my watches wet. 

The lume is brighter on the hands than on the markers and could be stronger and longer lasting.  The chapter ring on this model is a pale greenish white which may be off-putting to some, but I like it.  The green color of the bezel is just about perfect and the green second hand is a pleasing touch.

Overall, I will go out on a limb here and say that IMHO, Invicta got just about everything right with this watch.  It looks strong on the wrist, is solid and heavy and has a great movement in it.

These watches sell for around $100 on the street, even less if you snag one on sale like I did.  For this price, this watch is an absolute steal and will do you proud.  There you go, MCV says this Invicta rocks!  These watches also come in a wide variety of dial colors, dial textures, rubber strap or bracelet models, so there is a lot to choose from.

Pros:  Big, nifty case shape; Seiko-sourced auto movement; nice green bezel; solid, great quality bracelet; simple, clean dial layout; superb value for the price

Cons:  could have a higher water resistance rating; lume could be better; lack of a bezel lume pip could bother some people; a machined deployant would be nice; long-term Invicta quality is still a question mark, but seems to be getting better

Verdict:  Can’t beat this big boy of a diver for the price and with its bit of Seiko cache, you’ll be the hit of the party

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics!

Excelsior,

-Marc

UPDATE!

I owned this watch for about a year before selling it off to make room in my collection for, what else, another watch!  Overall, I liked what this piece had to offer, especially for the price and would not hesitate to pick up another one if the mood ever strikes.

-MCV, 5-28-11


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review of Nautec No Limit Barracuda Automatic

Model # BC 8215/IPBK

At a Glance:

Brand/Model:  Nautec No Limit Barracuda
Movement:  Japanese automatic
Material:  Black IP stainless steel case and bracelet
Complications:  Date display
Price:  MSRP:  $250 USD


Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

I had been searching for an all-black watch in the past few months and wanted to make sure I made the right choice.  I didn’t want an all-black ‘stealth’ model (dial and hands black to create a stealth look, but impractical and hard-to-read) since I had already gone down that path with both Wenger and Invicta stealth models and deemed my attraction to this design to be over.  I simply wanted an all-black watch with a good looking dial and hand set, preferably with an automatic movement.

I considered a Steinhart Ocean Black but decided against it for two reasons; the first being the price, I really didn’t want to spend upwards of $500 to acquire my-yet-to be-determined all-black watch and second, while the look is pretty cool, the Ocean Black is still too derivative of a standard sub-clone, just done in black.

In the meantime, I had become interested in trying out a Nautec No Limit brand watch because a few of the designs looked interesting and some of their models were available with Miyota 8200 series automatic movements.  Nautec also makes a range of quartz chronographs and other automatic models with Chinese (Seagull?) engines.

I really don’t know too much about Nautec as a brand, but I do know they are assembled in China and seem to be mostly available from the German Revue Thommen seller I have been very pleased with over on ‘the bay.’  I have a suspicion, which is entirely my own, that this seller, which is a watch distributor/retailer named MacArthur’s, has developed this line on their own and are having the watches contract manufactured in China.  Whatever the real genesis of this brand is, it piqued my interest and about the time my quest for an all-black watch started, a new model called the Barracuda was introduced under the Nautec moniker and it grabbed my eye.

The Barracuda is a Miyota-powered automatic diver that is available in several varieties, with different colored bezels, case finishes and features.  I became captivated with the all-black Barracuda and fell in love with the nifty reddish/orange dial and hand set.

So I dutifully waited my turn and decided to bid on a ‘pre-owned’ example of an all-black Barracuda from the German seller.  By pre-owned, they pretty much mean that the watches have been used as samples or showroom models, as they are in nearly as-new condition and come with a one-year warranty, while costing 30 to 40% less than the ‘new’ price.  I took a chance, won the auction and three days later (again, excellent service, watch won on Monday, delivered to me Thursday from Germany) I had my Nautec all-black Barracuda.

The Barracuda is a substantial watch, heavy and thick in most respects.  The all stainless steel IP coated black case is polished/gloss IP on the sides and brushed IP on the top.  Case measures 42.5mm without the signed screwdown crown, 45.4mm with the crown.  Large crown guards shield the crown from errant knocks.  Lug width is 20mm, thickness is robust at 16.5mm.  Factory water resistance is rated at a fine 1,000 feet/300 meters.

The rear of the watch is polished black IP and features a Rolex-style screwdown caseback with the Nautec logo etched into the center.  The 120-click bezel is black IP with a black and silver bezel insert with lume pip (the Germans refer to it as a ‘lightpoint’) at 12.  The bezel is the worst part of this watch, as it has considerable backlash and as much slop as the pig trough at Fester’s farm. 

Aside from the bezel woes, what did impress me right away with the Barracuda is that the entire watch is all black.  Many times on all black watches, either the case back and/or the deployant part of the clasp is still polished stainless steel.  Not on this bad boy, everything is coated in black IP, all of it being evenly applied and well finished.

The flat crystal is sapphire with no cyclops (thankfully!) and no anti-reflective coating. 

The dial is simply superb, with a black dial with orange and white markings, small orange Arabics underneath square white lume markers.  An orange and white printed chapter ring encircles the outer edge of the dial, while a simple white minute track consisting of hash marks rides below the Arabics.  Overall, it’s a legible, unique and useful dial layout. 

A note on the shade of orange used in this watch.  It is not a fluorescent or bright orange, it’s a bit reddish in tone and strikes the perfect balance against the black.  It doesn’t have the ‘halloween’ feel that some orange and black watches have, which suits me fine.

The hour and minute hands are basically stick style with slightly pointed ends, painted the nifty orange hue with inset lume.  The seconds hand is all orange with no lume, so serious divers would not want to use this watch.  The lume quality is good, but not great.

A quickset date resides at the three o’clock position and its window seems a bit small.

The Miyota 8200 series automatic hand winds but does not hack, winding action is smooth and easy as we’ve come to expect from this tried and true workhorse of a movement.  Seconds hand sweep is smooth and not jittery and timekeeping/accuracy has been fine.  Power reserve is the expected 40+ hours.

The solid link bracelet is all black IP, with brushed IP outer links and polished IP inner links.  The edges of the links are polished.  The end links are black IP, but folded; solid end links should be installed on this watch.  Links are secured with screws, which are not a favorite of mine, but posed no problems with removal or re-installation during sizing.  The bracelet measures 20mm at the lugs and tapers just slightly to 19.6mm at the clasp.

The clasp is a pushbutton double locking variety that is signed and done in polished black IP, while the deployant is a cheapish stamped steel variety in brushed black IP.  Much like needing solid end links, the deployant on this watch should be a proper machined type.  There is also no diver’s extension, so serious divers need not apply.  Three micro-adjustment holes are included on the clasp.

This watch has acquitted itself well during my initial test wearings.  Due to its rather thick case and 20mm lug width, I was afraid it could be top heavy/floppy on my thinner wrist, but it hugs the wrist nicely and feels substantial while wearing.  A note about polished black IP; this finish tends to be a fingerprint/smudge magnet, so this may be off-putting to some.  So far the IP finish on this watch seems durable.

Presentation on this Nautec Barracuda is a large square rugged looking thin metal box with molded hard foam insert.  A heavy black cardboard outer box with separate lid completes the packaging.

MSRP on this watch is $250 or sp, which is getting a bit pricey.  Afterall, you can get an all-black sub clone from Invicta for $100 or so with pretty much the same features.  But if you don’t want ‘just another sub clone’ watch, the Nautec starts to make more sense.

Overall, this Nautec Barracuda has the look I was seeking in an all-black automatic diver and while some aspects could be better executed, the overall effect is one that I am pleased with.

Pros:  all-black good looks, reliable Miyota automatic movement, sapphire crystal, hefty build quality, great dial and hand set

Cons:  bezel looser than Snooki from Jersey Shore, needs solid end links and a machined deployant, tends to be pricey if not bought right

Verdict:  the Nautec Barracuda presents a solid, sleek black image that with a little more effort in a couple of spots could turn a good watch into a great watch 

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.

Excelsior!

-Marc

UPDATE!

I decided to sell my Nautec Barracuda in part because I couldn’t get past the looseness of the bezel.  Little things like that tend to bother me more than they should.  The watch still looked good to me, but I have also recently acquired another all-black watch which has taken the place of the Nautec in my collection.

-MCV, 5-25-11

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review of Orient King Master World Time

Model # WZ0371EM

At a Glance:

Brand/Model:  Orient King Master World Time (modern re-issue)
Movement:  Japanese automatic
Material:  Stainless steel case and bracelet
Complications:  Day and date display
Price:  Street price $250 USD (used)


Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Orient Japan produces a number of watches that bear the ‘King Master’ moniker.  I’m not an expert on the genesis of the King Master series, but I do know that some of the original models appeared in the ‘60s, I believe.  This particular King Master World Time is a modern re-issue of one of those originals and came out a few years ago.  As a ‘JDM’ model (Japanese Domestic Market), these aren’t seen too often for sale stateside, so when this one came along, I snatched it up.

First off, this is a large, impressively weighted and beautiful watch.  Even though it is not an Orient ‘Star’ model, the build quality on this puppy is a definite step above other three-star Orients I have owned.  The case is fully polished stainless steel, measuring 42.2mm without the crowns.  Thickness is 14.5mm, lugs are 22mm.  The screwdown caseback is polished stainless steel and shows the Orient ‘Marlin’ logo.  The watch is factory rated at 10 BAR of water resistance.

The crystal is a thick, heavy domed mineral with a large and effective cyclops over the date display @ 3.  There is also a day window on the opposite side of the dial @ 9, but not a cyclops for this window.  It would look rather strange having dual cyclops on a watch face, but to me it seems a bit odd to have just one.  I guess Orient thinks knowing the date is more important than knowing the day, so why not just leave the day out of the equation or eliminate the cyclops altogether?

The bezel is a coin-edge style, a nod to the original King Master design and something which adds a bit of retro-inspired cool to this watch.  The dial is black (almost a matte charcoal grey, really) and in a word, busy.  I usually eschew busy dials because too much clutter detracts from simple timekeeping, but in this case, I make an exception.  This dial is busy, but in a very cool way.

The outer 24-hour bezel rotates via the signed crown @ 4 and has scalloped silver pointers to help center the bezel on the selected city.  Action of this crown is super smooth and it rotates in both directions.  The 24-hour bezel is used to track the time in any of the 23 cities, plus summer time and GMT that encircle the dial adjacent to the 24-hour track.  Simply rotate the dial to the current location’s time (if it’s 10 a.m. in Chicago, rotate the dial until the ‘10’ is aligned with ‘Chicago’) and then tell the time in any of the cities using the 24-hour bezel.  The thin white line visible at the nine minute mark corresponds to the International Date Line.

As with all world timers (except maybe the digital ones like Citizen) the cities are quite hard to see without readers, but I’ve always liked the international flair of city names on a watch face.

The hands are fairly wide and filled with Lumibrite, so the lume is good.  A reddish-orange second hand sweeps the dial.  There are also lume dots at each five minute mark just inside the cities track.  The main timesetting crown is signed and is also used to quickset the date.  In typical Orient fashion, the pusher @ 2 changes the day display.   Since this is a JDM model, this is the first watch I have owned with an English/Kanji day display, which is ├╝ber cool.

The movement is Orient’s in-house 21-jewel automatic that does not hack or manual wind.  Factory specs are +25 to -15 seconds per day, with a power reserve of 40 hours.  In my testing, these specs have been met.  Timekeeping on the watch is very acceptable.

The bracelet is a fully brushed solid link oyster style with polished edges.  Solid end links and a signed pushbutton clasp with cheapish stamped steel deployant complete the presentation.  The bracelet measures 22mm at the lugs and tapers to about 17.8mm at the clasp.  Adjustment is by standard split pins.  The clasp has only two micro-adjustments, so exact (and comfortable) sizing may be difficult for some.

I cannot understand why Orient would not choose to install a machined deployant on this watch, given that the remainder of the bracelet is of high-quality.  They put an awesome machined deployant on their Dolphin, a watch that sells for about half of what this one goes for.  Some things just don’t make sense to me.

The King Master World Time is a pleasure to wear and looks great on the wrist.  The 24-hour bezel is easy to rotate while wearing and the bezel stays in place despite the lack of a screwdown lock mechanism like the Seiko Land Monster features for its rotating compass bezel.

This watch was purchased in nearly ‘as new’ condition on the used market and came without papers or box, so I cannot comment on these items.  I got a copy of the instructions on the Orient Japan web site, really only needing the section on how to use the world time function.

Overall, this Orient King Master World Time is a jewel of a watch with great build quality, nifty world time keeping ability and Orient reliability.   For the world traveler or stateside land lubber, this watch fills a niche and does so with style and function.

Pros:  useful world time keeping function, great build quality, Orient automatic movement, Kanji day display

Cons:  cheap stamped steel deployant, sapphire crystal would be nice, somewhat odd single cyclops for date only, small print on dial hard to read, dial may be too busy for some

Verdict:  you gotta love the King Master name and the way this watch looks, for its world time functions and overall JDM style, an Orient through and through!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.

Excelsior!

-Marc