Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review of Caterpillar Shockmaster

Model # S1 141 11 121

Brand/Model:  Caterpillar Shockmaster
Movement:  Swiss quartz
Material:  stainless steel case and bracelet
Complications:  date display
Price:  Street price around $75 USD


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

I’ve owned two Caterpillar watches previously and found them to be pretty decent pieces for the money.  All were bought deeply discounted, as the MSRPs on them are a bit ridiculous.  When I acquired this brand new Caterpillar ‘Shockmaster’ on e*bay, they were going for $50 to $75 USD, a decent price for this watch, although I’m pretty sure they have now been discontinued.

I don’t know who is manufacturing these watches for Caterpillar’s marketing arm, but at least the case is made in China.  This Shockmaster has a Swiss ETA quartz movement and has been keeping fine time.  The fine print in the box says that ‘Time Network’ is the global licensee of Caterpillar timekeeping equipment and is in care of Roamer Watch Company, so this may give insight as to who actually makes these things.  It would actually be pretty cool if Roamer was somehow involved.

The Shockmaster is named so because of the large black rubberized bezel on front and a removable black rubberized shock ring on the caseback.  This design is supposed to absorb shocks from a rough working environment.  I just liked the ‘tool’ watch look of the bezel and am glad the faux screws have their heads aligned for symmetry.  It kills me when I see any watch, but especially a multi-thousand dollar piece, with a similar design element and the screw heads are pointing every which way.

The Shockmaster is all stainless steel, with a brushed case and polished screwdown caseback.  The case measures 43mm w/o the large signed screwdown crown, which resembles a nut with its eight-sided design.  Lugs are 22mm, case thickness including the front and rear rubber bezels is 14.7mm.

The caseback screws down and features tire treads stamped into the stainless steel.  I did a battery replacement on this watch (it takes a rather odd #397 battery) and on the inside of the case, there is another rubber gasket that surrounds the movement and is placed there to offer additional shock resistance.  The caseback screws down against this gasket (in addition to the standard circular caseback gasket), but will sit proud of the watch a millimeter or so, to give the external rubber shock ring an edge to be seated over.  Overall, a fairly comprehensive system for a watch at this price point. 

This watch is factory rated for 200 meters of water resistance.  The overall heft and feel of this watch is substantial.  

The marketing hype included with the watch says that is has ‘high performance’ stainless steel, extra-thick mineral crystal, shock proof construction with special movement protection (see above) and ‘super light’ luminous hands and markers.

The heavy, flat crystal is mineral, with a useful cyclops over the date window.  The cyclops is installed straight and does a good job of magnifying the date, so I will not perform a ‘cyclopsectomy’ on this one.

The dial is gloss black with a horizontal texturing running down both sides.  The stick hands are silver, as are the applied markers.  The quickset date at three is black on white.  The second hand is Caterpillar yellow and looks great, but does exhibit a fair amount of shudder as it ticks around the dial.  The lume is good and fairly bright.  The second hand could align with the chapter ring markers a bit better, but is typical quartz quality in this regard.

The brushed stainless steel bracelet is solid link, with hollow end links and a signed double locking pushbutton clasp with a cheap stamped steel deployant.  It would have been nice to have a rugged machined deployant on a watch designed to take what is dished out to it.  The bracelet is signed on both sides near the lugs, one side with the ‘CAT’ wording, the other side with a bulldozer logo.  The bulldozer is also on the clasp.  A bit cheesy, but it’s fairly subtle and some people might love it.  

This watch comes in a nice black cardboard presentation box with an extra black and yellow nylon/cloth strap with stainless steel buckle and a strap changing tool.  I like the oyster style bracelet, so it will remain so, but the fact that a strap is also included is a nice touch.

This watch is also available with a white dial and in an all black case and bracelet.  There are also quartz chronograph versions of this watch. 

Pros:  rugged tool watch looks and performance, clean lines, solid construction, nifty yellow second hand

Cons:  needs a machined deployant and solid end links to play with the big boys, lack of a timing bezel could bother some, a Miyota automatic would seem perfect for this watch

Verdict:  no pretensions here, this watch does what it implies while looking good both in the field and in the boardroom.  Buy it right and you get a good value in a solid piece.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.

Excelsior!

-Marc

UPDATE!

After owning this watch for a year or so, I decided to gift it to a friend of mine who has Caterpillar friends, so he can give it to them if he decides to.  If you can still find this watch, though, it is a worthy piece for the price.

-MCV, 10-25-11


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