Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review of Precista PRS-9 Czech Air Force Manual Wind

Model # PRS-9
Brand/Model:  Precista PRS-9 Czech Air Force Manual Wind
Movement:  New Old Stock Swiss manual wind
Material:  stainless steel case, leather strap
Complications:  none
Price:  MSRP £385 British Pounds/approx. $580 USD

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

Precista is one of the brands of Timefactors, run by Eddie Platts in the UK.  Since 1996, Timefactors has been selling watches strictly on-line and currently, the company produces a nice range of unique, small production-run watches, many of which are homages to famous watches of the past. 

You may also be familiar with Timefactors when they introduced the now iconic ‘Dreadnought’ diver about ten years ago.  While I tend to eschew most homage watches because I always prefer to own the real thing if I can, this homage to the fabled Longines Czech Air Force watch from 1938 caught my eye and looked intriguing.  I also took the plunge because the real Longines Czech Air Force watches are very rare and quite pricey.
What Timefactors does and does extremely well is take their time in producing a new model.  It doesn’t matter if it takes Eddie a year or more working with detailed construction drawings and interfacing closely with his manufacturers and suppliers to make sure a Timefactors watch is a top-quality, well-designed and durable timepiece.  Hats off to this philosophy.  
It took some time to properly engineer the PRS-9, mainly because Timefactors wanted to ensure at least a modicum of real water resistance (the original had no real water resistance) and still have the crystal rotate when the bezel is turned ala the original, which rotates the red pointer around the dial for timing purposes.  Even though the PRS-9 has only a 30 meter water resistance, the company achieved their goal and the result is quite a special watch.
Ordering from Timefactors through their web site was a breeze.  Eddie responded to my inquiry about availability before ordering and once the trigger was pulled, the watch shipped out promptly and showed up from the UK to the U.S. in a few days.  Shipping, foreign transaction fees and brokerage fees added to the total cost, so bear this in mind if you are planning to purchase one.
The PRS-9 starts with a mirror finish high polish 316L all stainless steel case in a unique squared off shape that is somewhat cushion-like.  The case measures 41mm without the signed winding crown; 44mm crown inclusive. 

What immediately impressed me about this watch was the quality look and feel and great fit and finish of the case, which is crafted in Germany, along with the rest of the watch.  This being my first experience with a Timefactors watch, I was wondering how the quality would be.  Trust me, it’s superb.
The PRS-9 has a polished and very nicely engraved caseback, detailing the Czech Air Force heritage this watch pays homage to.  The caseback is held in place by four screws, one at each corner.  Case thickness is 13.7mm, lug spacing is 24mm.  The lugs are drilled for easier strap changes.

It might seem odd to have a 24mm lug spacing on a watch that’s only 41mm in diameter, but due to the squareish shape of the case and the way the lugs angle off downwards rather sharply from the case, the 24mm spacing works and doesn’t make the watch look weird.  Lug-tip to lug-tip measures 51.6mm.
Timefactors lists the weight of the PRS-9 at 95 grams including the strap.  As previously stated, the watch is factory rated at a modest 30 meters of water resistance.
The dial is very legible on this watch, being a matte black with SuperLuminova C3 luminous material for the arabics that encircle dial.  The hands are silver with inset lume and both the dial and hands glow brightly. 

The hand style is referred to as ‘squelette’ style or in more general parlance, ‘vintage’ style.  Either way, they look great.  The seconds hand is in the subdial at the 6 position, which consists of a simple 60-second track and a straight silver stick for the seconds hand.
The bezel is a fluted, coin-edge style design that rotates in either direction along with the high dome acrylic crystal and red pointer below the crystal.  The bezel rotates with the perfect amount of friction, not too hard, not too easy, which makes sense given the water resistance capabilities of the bezel/crystal design.
The dial has the ‘Precista’ brand name below the 12 position and ‘Great Britain’ at the bottom edge of the dial.  Even though the watch is manufactured in Germany, having Great Britain on the dial pays homage to its design birth in the UK.
One nifty element of the PRS-9 is that given it is an homage to a watch that existed 75 years ago, Timefactors puts a new-old-stock (NOS) movement inside, which gives this piece an unmistakable vintage feel.  A great move on Timefactor’s part.
The movement inside the PRS-9 is a Swiss Made AS-1130 ‘Wehrmacht’ caliber, with 17 jewels, manual winding and beating at a durable 18,000 bph.  Power reserve is listed by Timefactors at 41 hours; during my testing, I clocked the power reserve a bit shorter at 39 hours. 

Since the watch doesn’t hack, accuracy checking is a bit more difficult, but I have seen about +30 over a 24-hour period.  And just to ease your mind, since ‘NOS’ and ‘Swiss movement’ many times means servicing prior to reliability, Timefactors has stripped, cleaned, inspected, oiled and regulated all the movements placed in the PRS-9, so they are good to go and work perfectly.  A manual wind, slower beat movement in an homage watch just seems so right.
The strap on the PRS-9 is another highlight of this intriguing watch.  Crafted by long-time English leather artisans Pittards, the strap is butter soft glove leather, mildly padded and is a pleasing shade of dark brown bordering on burgundy.  The strap was designed to reflect the straps originally fitted to the Czech Air Force watches and features copper colored/bronzed screwed rivets at the lugs, a roller style buckle and fixed metal keeper, plus a floating leather keeper.  The strap measures 24mm at the lugs and tapers to 21.5mm at the buckle.
The only problem I have with this wonderful strap is that it is almost too long for my smaller wrist.  I have to have the buckle on the last hole in the strap to achieve a good fit and that tends to offset the buckle from the bottom center of the wrist and shifts it to the left.  This makes wearing the watch a bit ungainly but not enough to be a deal breaker.  Since the strap is such a beauty, I could not bear to put a different strap on the watch, so I have learned to live with this anomaly.  If you have an average size or larger wrist, you should have no trouble getting a near perfect fit.
The presentation for the PRS-9 is as unique as the watch itself.  The outer box is an unfinished wooden crate that has Czech printing on the lid that opens to reveal a dark brown ‘aero’ leather pouch that holds the watch.  Additional goodies include a strap changing tool, a Timefactors pen, and two cleaning cloths (one cloth being extra large.)  A simple color sheet has the instructions and a signed warranty card complete the PRS-9 presentation.  The watch also came amply packed and padded to prevent any damage during the overseas shipping.

You have to admire the time and care that only a small company like Timefactors can put into a project like the PRS-9 watch.  It’s top quality from the case to the strap and everything in-between.  And given the fact that the production volume on this watch is not real high, the price puts it within reach of many a WIS and much less than the real thing from 1938. 

Congrats to Eddie Platts and Timefactors for producing a thoroughly engaging and modern watch that doesn’t lose sight of the original.  The Timefactors Precista PRS-9 Czech Air Force homage is a winner.
Pros:  top quality fit and finish, superb case, thoroughly serviced NOS Swiss movement, high quality strap, unique looks, easy-to-read
Cons:  still has a modest water resistance rating, strap a bit too long for smaller wrists, accuracy of manual wind movement could be better
Verdict:  a superb homage to the fabled Czech Air Force watch by Longines, the Precista PRS-9 fills the bill with its high quality, good looks and unique style from boutique company Timefactors. ‘Smashing!’ as they say in England

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.

No comments:

Post a Comment