May 26, 2013
From the unpublished archives. This blog was written in May of 2013
FOR the past few months, watchgeeks have been gushing over Sottomarino watches. This, the house brand of the retailer Precision Time who have both a chain of brick and mortar stores and an Internet retail presence. It seems to be treading in the TV brand space with oversized cases and inflated MSRPs.
Precision Time routinely runs specials on the Sotto brand with deep discount sales sweetened with coupon codes. It was one of these scenarios that was too good to pass up: the Ceramico on a rubber strap for $15. Two things stood out at this price; a ceramic case and a sapphire crystal. I figured it would be something to write a review about and for the price and materials would be a great summer beater. Perfect for shade tree mechanical jobs, yard work and eating sand later in the summer as the surf smashes me into the beach.
It took about five days to reach my mailbox. It shipped in a large, tin case similar to what you see with Fossil but with a hinged lid. as i opened it, I was initially taken back by the high-end look. Nice finishing, a clean aluminum bezel ring with sharp fonts and nice clean dial details. The first thing I noticed when pulling it out was the weight. As this is a ceramic watch I was expecting it to be a lot lighter until I got a good look at the caseback.
Where to start…
The Case. The face and side of the case looks great. It is a matte finish ceramic that is very pleasing to the touch. But flipping it over reveals that the case construction is actually two pieces – the stainless steel bottom of the watch with the ceramic fitting over it like a shell. The finish between the two case pieces is night and day. The stainless steel base is rough and poorly finished; this in sharp contrast to the well crafted ceramic top. The edges are super sharp and the tolerances are terrible with uneven gaps between the caseback and the surrounding ceramic top. Immediately the spell was broken. This was not much different than those Chinese switchblades at the flea market that seduce from afar and reveal their true hackiness up close.
Matte ceramic also has an odd quality in that when it gets covered in sweat and dries, it looks like the thing is covered in boogers.
The Bezel. With any dive style watch, a unidirectional bezel is pretty much the standard and the Ceramico is no exception. The clicks were solid with none of the sloppiness one would expect in a cheap watch. That was until I rotated it about a quarter turn and it immediately seized. It was then that the overall flawed bezel design became apparent as it is much too thin to be adequately manipulated with wet or dirty hands. I literally had to work it for several days to get it to reliably move through an entire one hundred degree rotation.
Here’s one from the spring that i never got around to publishing. I ended up replacing the terrible silicon band with a Panerai style leather band. Even with all of the flaws, this thing has taken a ton of abuse and keeps time. It looks pretty good in the wrist and has become my beater work watch.
As I went to unscrew the crown to set it, something seemed wrong. It felt like it was cross threaded. When I looked closely I found that it wasn’t centered properly into the case and that it was actually rubbing against the lower crown guard. Yet another detail missed.
The Dial. I can put up with a lot of flaws on a watch but an uncalibrated, inaccurate second hand drives me crazy. Couple that with haphazard dial markers and lume that’s worse than Invicta’s proprietary Tritinite and you’ve got a real mess. My biggest peeve is that the minute markers do not seem to be equidistant.
The Strap and Buckle.
The Crystal. This is actually the best feature of this watch. Very solid and thick and it has taken quite a beating. As expected, the optics distort the as it is viewed from the edge.
For $15, I kinda except all of the flaws. The retail of $399 is laughable. Even an Invictard would not put up with all of these issues from a yellow boxed behemoth. I’ve worn this thing to do a lot of manual labor and dirty jobs and knocked the hell out of it. It looks exactly as it did when I got it six weeks ago. Granted, it’s analogous to a really attractive woman with crossed-eye.
April 10, 2013
Fresh off the heels of their edge of space weather balloon launch of watches, Invicta Watch Company is previewing a new, soon to be released model, the Subaqua Specialty NASA/Apollo 40th Anniversary Edition.
It is a kitchen sink of materials that make up its construction: ceramic, thermopolymer, titanium and carbon fiber. But the big selling point is the 44.45 mm medallion case back with the official NASA vector logo that contains metal taken from Apollo Command Modules that flew to the Moon.
Upon first seeing the promo pictures, I thought, “Wow, how did Invicta get a license agreement with NASA?”
But a google search of ‘Apollo 40th anniversary medallion’ turns up dozens of sites selling this medallion with the best price at nasagiftshop.com for $12.95!
Beside the case back, the only other obvious ‘Apollo’ reference is the tachometer that mimics the Omega Speedmaster bezel – the watch that actually did go to the moon.
One has to wonder how NASA would feel about this new model as it is seemingly trading off of their history and implies that it is an officially licensed product. I think it is disingenuous and purposefully misleading to consumers. I’ll be interested to see the markup that this $12 medallion commands.
And in case you were curious, here’s what the other side of the medallion looks like:
March 19, 2013
BASED on a recent thread over at Watchlords, one cannot help but wonder if WoW.tv’s days are numbered. The Ustream infomercial-as-shopping network is no longer being carried on several cable systems, including Time Warner, FiOS or Dish. A look at wowtv’s website reveals that they are only on DirectTV.
WHAT can we attribute this pull back in spending to? Might it be a result of the losses incurred by SWI’s unsuccessful litigation attempting to take the trademark “Swiss Made” away from the
Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry?
OR might it be the result of the new owners of SWI, Clearlake Capital Group. There has been some speculation that the sale was necessary because of the fight with the Swiss Federation but with this new infusion of capital (and new board members) it may just be nothing more than a change in direction. It could be possible that the cost to included the programming on the cable networks is far more than the actual returns. Couple that with the salaries of the hosts and you have to wonder how much ROI there is even if it is streamed exclusively via the Internet.
In any event, what once seemed a potential challenge to ShopNBC watch sales now looks to be little more than a vanity, basement Internet show.
TODAY the tree finally came down. It was my chore to perform this year. From hand wrapping and boxing all of the ornaments and pulling the lights down off the tree.
I get a baseless sentimentality for the tree every year, looking on it as a temporary guest that gets discarded when he’s worn out his welcome. The visual manifestation of all that is primary and holy to me. His conversation having grown tiresome and scattered on the floor. That tree is a symbol of the season and that tree represents a lot of things. From the anticipation of a week off that starts somewhere in the hours between the end of Thanksgiving dinner and the start of Black Friday sales to the yearly trip to the Oglebay Festival of Lights.
That tree also represent this season as a moment in time. A moment that we will never get back.They will receded far into the rear view mirror to be replaced by other Christmases. Other beach trips, tragedies and trials.
And as I drag his brittle mass through the door I reflect on that all if that. I see it all at the same time; hear it, feel it and taste it. I wonder if I’m the only one in this family that feels this so deeply.
December 30, 2012
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 39,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 9 Film Festivals