So, as you may have read, my 2016 New Year's resolutions were a disaster. I managed to improve watch storage but failed in my efforts to downsize my collection, slow the pace of new acquisitions, or wear the absurd number of watches I own. How did this happen? Mostly because when it comes to watches, I have the impulse control of a 4-year-old. Here is the full report.
For someone who doesn't dive, I added far too many diving watches to the stable. I started with the Borealis Batial, a 44mm bronze diver watch that wears surprisingly small. Like most of my 2016 arrivals, it has an automatic movement. In this case, the excellent Miyota 9015.
When Armida held a flash Father's Day sale, I seized the opportunity to buy a 43mm blue A7 with a Seiko NH35 automatic. Its intense metallic aqua dial and orange hands make it a summertime classic. This year, I plan to add a polished stingray strap.
From TC-9, I got the 44mm 1970's Diver, which reinterprets the iconic Seiko 6150 turtle case in a bronze case. Like the Armida, it also has an NH35. My biggest challenge was finding a buckle to match the deep red tones of its case. As luck would have it, the Batial buckle was spot-on, and that watch gained a lower profile Pre-V bronze from the strap drawer. Win-Win.
The 43mm Spinnaker Cahill with its Miyota 8215 took me by surprise. That sleek black case, sapphire bezel, and gilt markers and hands give it a charming vintage look. A dark brown, oil-tanned strap is the perfect complement.
The 42mm royal blue Deaumar Ensign with a Seiko 4R36 was a colorful addition. I liked the prototype and was pleasantly surprised when the finished product arrived with a beautiful ceramic bezel insert. Sadly, the micro brand world can be unforgiving, and the Deaumar brand did not survive the year.
NTH managed to make 2016 a little brighter with its Subs line. Remarkably compact at 40mm wide and a scant 11.5mm thick, these beauties marry 1960's sensibility with modern updates and Miyota 9015 movements. I bought an Amphion Vintage and consider it one of my smartest purchases. How much do I like it? I wore it to my high school reunion. Not because I expected to impress anyone with it, but just because it looked so damn good on me.
In addition to not scuba diving, I also did more than my share of not piloting airplanes. I celebrated my complete absence of flying skill with the addition of two pilot's watches. The first was the Redux COURG Zero Hour, a 40mm titanium tool watch with a Seiko NH35. I snagged it for the absurdly low $199 pre-order price and had Joel Mills of Choice Cuts Industries whip up a suitable leather strap. (Joel's work also graced my NTH).
The second aviation watch was a Sinn 103 St Acrylic. This one was an all-occasion (birthday, anniversary, Christmas) present from Mrs. Time Bum. It is a magnificent 41mm classic with a Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement. I promise a full review soon. It was a step above and beyond my usual price point, but being the Bum that I am, I still managed to swing a good deal by waiting for the annual WatchBuys sale.
I had some forays into affordable vintage watches as well. I snagged this "transistorized" Caravelle on eBay for just $29. The dial is faded and the plastic crystal is beyond polishing, but that's kind of what I like about it. The movement is mechanical but it is driven by a battery powered solenoid. These were all the rage before they were superseded by more accurate, reliable, and inexpensive quartz movements. Now they are just curiosities but it is good to have one in the collection.
The Midas was another eBay find. This new original stock item from the 1970's was just too good to pass up. You don't see many red, TV dial watches these days and the 37mm barrel case looks surprisingly modern. It has an A.Schild 17 jewel mechanical movement and cost $80. It came without a strap but an 18mm polished shark mesh from Strapcode.com looked just right, even though it cost more than the watch.
An eBay vendor in Poland sold me this minty Ruhla Chronograf. Ruhla was an East German manufacturer that cranked out low cost, and somewhat rudimentary watches well into the 1980's. This model appears to be a 1970's vintage model. The hand winding movement has no jewels and isn't even a real chronograph. The second hand is always in motion. The top button starts the count by snapping it back, and the bottom button is a brake that holds it until released. You might call it the very poor man's flyback. Still, it is an interesting survivor. It cost $129 shipped, which frankly, might be on the high end for one of these.
Of all my eBay finds, this last one was by far the best. I bought an original, unmolested Omega Dynamic for $277. This was a steal. The seller had an eBay store but did not deal in watches. He claimed it was his father's watch and all original. It certainly appeared to be so, showing signs of normal wear, but not abuse. I plan on doing a more complete, affordable vintage post on the Dynamics, so stay tuned.
I got two trench watches this year. Not just one, two. And it's not like I didn't already have one (a Helgray California quartz). But there were different colors, and had different movements, and... Oh hell. I have no willpower.
The Manchester Watch Works Vergennes was inspired by vintage pocket watches, as evidenced by its traditional white dial and blued hands. I like the fact that it is only 40mm wide and looks so damn good on colorful NATOs. This one became a staple of my summertime workday wardrobe. It runs a Miyota 8245 automatic.
For as much as I enjoy mechanical watches, I won't turn up my nose when the right quartz comes along. This sweet blue McDowell Time DelRay is a perfectly lovely trench style watch made all the more interesting by its Seiko YT57 Kinetic movement. Unlike a quartz, the movement has no battery but uses a mechanical rotor to charge its twin capacitors, all of which are visible through the exhibition case back. I love stuff like this. The DelRay is significantly larger than the Vergennes, measuring 44mm wide, yet it wears smaller than you might think.
Finally, I went a little crazy for racing chronographs in 2016, and you know what? I don't regret any of them. The Manchester Watch Works Morgan channels the spirit of the Zenith El Primero into a tidy 40mm unit packing an IsaSwiss 8371C quartz with a 1/5 second sweep. The "blue-eyed" silver dial looks sharp and I swooned over its quilted leather strap. Of course, that didn't stop me from trying some other straps as well. It rocked this BluShark AlphaShark nylon, and I think it will spend the rest of the winter on a CheapestNATOStraps.com blue suede.
I borrowed a Moto Koure MK I from Guest Bum GUTuna for a review and loved it so much that I bought it from him (he bought two). The MK I uses a Seiko MechaQuartz in an uncommon rectangular case. It looks like nothing else in my collection and is positively stunning with its burgundy dial and diamond plate pattern "dashboard."
The last chrono on the list is a Vratislavia Conceptum Heritage Youngtimer S.5. This is the latest variant of the model I reviewed last October, but they have switched from MechaQuartz to Miyota 6s21 quartz. The dial is a distinctive, yet subtle, combination of gray, brown, and orange. I put it on a CheapestNATOStraps.com brown alligator rally strap with orange stitching (a "rallygator," if you will) and achieved a sort of strap nirvana.
... And One More
The last watch on the list defies easy categorization. The Zelos Cosmos is just plain cool. This 45mm hockey puck uses laser cut and engraved discs driven by an ETA 2824-2 automatic and it is a thing of strange beauty. You might call it a concept piece, or a conversation piece, or just plain odd, but I love the hell out of it.
So there we have it. I picked up 18 watches this year. No regrets, but maybe I should try to balance the ratio of watches in, to watches out a little more judiciously this year. ◆