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  • Watches

    So I got myself a watch for Christmas. I dreaded looking at watches while shopping because I feared it may kill my investing goals and become a money sink. Haven't worn a watch since the 90s or so because phone was sufficient to tell time and if I had worn a watch, it would have to be nice. During the work trip to Switzerland I became really interested and spent some time researching. Finally after talking to a friend who told me while he had money he was considering buying a nice watch but then changed his mind and now that he has health problems can't afford a watch like that I decided to get one.

    I discovered I really enjoy wearing a watch. The ability to tell time discretely without looking at the phone, ability to just go for a walk while leaving phone at home, the child-like happiness while observing luminous paint in the dark, the ticking, the fact that independently powered mechanical device ticks few 100.000 times per day with +/- 1/1000th measurement precision. I got to have a watch all the time so I got another cheap watch (Seiko 5) for every day wear.

    The scene now: Casio is classic and rocks. There are many retro models from 80s out, they don't cost much. Go a bit up and you get solar charging, radio sync or GPS sync and more functions.
    Many decent quartz watches to choose from
    There are myriads of Automatic mechanical watches starting with Citizen and Seiko which cost 3 times less than Swiss equivalent. The Swiss: Tissot, Longines, Breitling, IWC, Omega, Tudor/Rolex and the high end. The Germans: Sinn, Nomos, A. Lange

    Compared to smart watches automatic mechanical watches or solars have complete autonomy for years.

    Yesterday caught up with an old friend who typically wears Apple watch but became a real watch geek recently so we had some cool discussion. Anyone else into Watches here?
    Last edited by UtwigMU; 6 January 2023, 16:07.

  • #2
    Not me. I used to wear a watch religiously even when I had a phone. First thing I did when waking up (or second, priorities) was putting it on.
    Around 2010, I had a flu, had not worn it for a week, never wore it again. I can't imagine being bothered to wear one again. Unless it's some sort of smartwatch and then not for time but other functions.
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    • #3
      It is a rabbithole I am careful not to go into... :-)

      I have a couple of Swatch watches, including a fully automatic self-winding model and a chrono, and can appreciate the intricate mechanics to make something like that work. I sometimes still regret not having bought a TX watch: it was a subbrand of Tissot that was fully analog (could have been quartz though), with interesting added functions - I loved the analog altimeter and the use of sliding indicators for the chrono. My dressed watch is a utlra-thin Tissot, but I don't use it much and should actually replace its battery. I have this soft-spot for Breitling watches, particularly those that manage to combine an analog with digital display. They are expensive but not entirely outside of reach. I also don't like huge watches.
      While I still like the analog watches, I have developed some appreciation for electronic watches with special functions. My dive-computer (Suunto D9) is an example, as are some Suunto adventure watches - prior to the era of smart watches which made the digital functions a bit too "easy" - they had altimeters and gps, paired with nice dot matrix displays to present data. The dot matrix display was not without challenges, so it is nice to see how they manage to present things on such low resolution displays (the D9 displays depth, compass, decompression times, and a lot of other info)

      Lat year, I got my father a watch for his birthday. He wanted something that counts steps and for a while used this cheap fitness bracelet that just looked tragic. So I got him this Skagen-branded Fossil watch which has analog hands and a e-ink watchface (model Jorn). And it is nice! It has the feel of a classic watch, and the delicate eink display is perfect for showing notifications or data (dates, heartrate, steps; all things that don't need a high update-rate). To me it seems like a good combination between fashion and functionality (and it can go almost a month on a single charge).

      My daily watch is a four year old Samsung Gear S3 and it has taught me a couple of things: I tried to make my own watchface to maximize visualizing all the data it can gather without internet of phone in an analog way, but stopped for lack of time (it computes sunrise/sunset from the GPS position, shows direction, ...; the watchface on Tizen is actually a html5 webpage). The thing it though me though is that I don't use a watch that much for telling time: the display is usually off and that does not bother me. I sometimes glance at my watch and don't care that it did not switch on or show me the time (I'm however very aware of all clocks around me: an oven, a decoder box, a wall clock, the small clock in Windows, a clock tower you pass on the street, and advert with a clock, ... ; I use it all to tell time and am annoyed when they are wrong - my wife by contrast never notices the time on those and always checks her watch). I have put some nicer looking watchfaces on the S3, but they all rather quickly loose their appeal... Perhaps because deep down you know it is all just fake? The display can show anything anyway, so a nice image is still just an image - even though I am aware someone must have spent time in making it... (something that perhaps is less with the eink watch, even the dot-matrix displays of the Suunto's had that less)

      The Gear S3 has taught me that many of the functions of a smartwatch are just not that interesting; notifications are nice, stepcounter also... But the rest is more gimmicky unless you really use e.g. the fitness functions. Weather I check on occasion, but usually I just look outside .

      As far as apps are concerned, the most useful app on the smartwatch for me is actually the HereWeGo navigation app: it works standalone using the gps of the watch and is ideal for city-trips: a quick glance at your wrist and you have the map of your surroundings, and it can even guide you (maps are offline and stored on the watch, you don't even need a phone or internet connection). Much less clunky than holding up a phone (which nowadays are just too big). I also have an flight-navigation app, but have not used that one while flying, but it looks fancy .
      The watch did surprise me once: I forgot my phone at home, but the watch connected remotely to it via wifi (wifi at work, phone connected to wifi at home) and allowed me to send messages and even call. It made me realize that if it works like that, there can be benefits to having a watch with 4G, as you could do a lot without having to take your phone).

      The Gear S3 will be up for replacement soon, on wifi its battery only lasts a couple of hours, normal use still manages just over a day... but I'm not sure what to get to replace it... I don't want anything Google (and Samsung moved from their own Tizen to WearOS), which rules out a lot of smartwatches now... And I'm not an Apple user, so that also would imply quite a change (not impossible I'll make the switch: I like that Apple has smaller phones, and it offers wireless Carplay with our car whereas Android Auto requires a cable... although I always say that until I see the prices ). For sure I will get the battery in my Tissot replaced and will start using it more. Perhaps complement it with a cheaper smartwatch for travel/fitness but not every day use... or I could with some eink like my father or give in and consider a more expensive solution such as Garmin to fully replace the S3... But nothing urgent at this time.

      Somehow I don't want to spend too much on a watch if it just concerns looks... I'd rather upgrade objects at home with nice design objects. And that gets easier: earlier we needed to buy things for functionality, but now, when things break down one at a time, we can replace it more selectively.
      Last edited by VJ; 9 January 2023, 14:05.
      Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die tomorrow. (James Dean)


      • #4
        Years ago I bought a Citizen watch as a feel good item for myself. I had NOTHING but headaches with it. Had it warranty repaired 5x at the factory and it never worked right. I swore off watches after that and the offending item is in my desk to remind me NEVER to do it again.
        Better to let one think you are a fool, than speak and prove it


        • #5
          Dilitante1: sad to hear that... My father sported a digital Citizen for years and it just worked...

          UtwigMU: Forgot to mention: Amazfit has a very nice retro model smartwatch, something that Casio should have come up with:
          Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die tomorrow. (James Dean)


          • #6
            My father has a quartz Citizen for like 10+ years, I had a quartz Citizen during hi-school, both without problems. I lost mine.

            VJ: There are many retro Casio watches out and they start at 32 EUR
            87 Casio Vintage - Retro Watches with the same day shippment ✓ Free return up to 100 days ✓ Official reseller Casio Vintage - Retro Watches ★ BEST PRICE Guarantee ★

            I don't have my own dive computer and haven't done any diving since before Covid. I have PADI certfication. But I know that all so called dive watches have been superseded by dive computers by at least 1980s and I never saw anyone with a dive watch. This is why I won't probably ever get one. Some Casios have bluetooth functionality
            Protrek have many other features such as compass, altitude.

            Found similar Casio to one you posted:


            I do think that eventually smart watch functionality will come to regular watches as battery usage from functionality will go down. Midrange quartz are now solar or kinetic powered, so probably once you have about a week of battery with smart functions and can charge daily by solar, they will be added. For example I saw Mondaine quartz watch with payment option.

            The reason I don't want a smart watch is the charging infrastructure. I typically carry charger for laptop, phone and digital camera. For italy I have 3-prong ITA to schuko adapter and when I went to fairs I just brought 5-plug powerstrip. In Switzerland 2-prong schuko plugs work. For USA or Asia I had to get a local charger and I have USA 3-prong cable I got in BestBuy. Before that I was only able to stop at Home Depot where I was only able to get a plug so I cut off schuko and MacGywered USA plug on 3-prong cable using vape toolkit. A decent USB charger costs 20 EUR and shitty 10 EUR one doesn't charge fast enough. Also while on the go as in overnight flight or bus/train, you are not always able to charge all of your devices.

            I also have a complete charging infra for phone, laptop at work, home and parents + travel bag. Add 3 smart watch chargers and it's at least 60 EUR and more clutter.

            Another reason is tracking and a smart watch mainly being a phone accessory. Hosting my own infra for a smart watch is cumbersome, I'm self hosting email, tasklist and notes. I see smart phone as a necessary evil to which I should give as little data about me as possible. I actually have the new Nokia 3310 besides the smart phone and when I go for a walk I only take that or no phone at all.

            Third reason is digital rot. After years a smart/electronic device will no longer be compatible with other operating systems, connection standards, encryption standards and won't receive updates. After 5 years it's an obsolete paperweight. Meanwhile for example a film camera, an automatic watch or a pistol will still function after decades.

            4th reason: most are 45+mm in size and look ridiculous.
            Last edited by UtwigMU; 9 January 2023, 18:22.


            • #7
              The one I posted is a smartwatch which looks like a retro-digital watch. Not fully my style, but I think it is nicely done and am a bit surprised Casio did not do something like that.

              My divewatch is a true dive computer: it is even air-integrated (wireless transmitter), just in the size of a watch.

              I get the charging issue: my gear S3 barely managed more than 3 days (unless you really put it into powersaving modes, but then it is not a smartwatch anymore. That is why I like that retro-digital Amazefit, the eink Skagen of my father, or my wife's Garmin (Lily): easily 2-3 weeks without charging and without having to worry about power saving settings. Even though a watch-charger is quite small, it is an additional thing to take, and you are unlikely to find one to borrow. The watches do charge very fast though.

              I like having the full smartwatch with all functions, but it really made me evaluate how I use a watch. The notification function is great, but you don't need a full touchscreen watch for that. As I wrote, the map function is one I would actually miss (never expected that to be the best app for me), but it is more a luxury than a necessity. I don't like to walk around with a phone in my hand (and they are even getting bigger still), but it is not impossible. For fitness I wonder if one is not better of with a purposely bought fitness strap (which could also serve as sleep monitor, as it feels weird to sleep with a big smartwatch). On size, now there are plenty of smaller smartwatches, the Samsungs and Garmins go down to 40mm or even smaller. The digital rot is indeed an issue.... I'm honestly surprised my Gear S3 is holding out as long as it has: 4-5 years and counting... It is actually my second smartwatch, my first was a Sony Liveview which I got together with a phone. It was not that comfortable, but I used it in specific situations (e.g. while teaching) - that use was actually the reason for my wife to get me the Gear S3. That first smartwatch also lasted me quite some time, but 7-8 years was really the maximum: the oled screen is much less bright and the software is no longer supported (so a good example of the digital rot). But actually, I had another wearable before the term was common: a Nokia HS-12w. It is a stereo bluetooth headset with a pendant with display (it showed caller info). It is still going strong, even after 15-or so years...

              My wife is worried about using her smartwatch in the fitness: she's afraid of damaging it. Somehow I don't have issues with that: I wear the Samsung everywhere (I just change the strap not to wear out the leather strap too fast).
              Last edited by VJ; 10 January 2023, 04:27.
              Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die tomorrow. (James Dean)


              • #8
                Epson launched a brand Trume (JDM only for now), Epson being part of Epson-Seiko (Seiko, Grand Seiko, Credor - ultra high end, Orient).

                It's large solar watches with GPS navigation feature - dials point to direction and show distance and remote sensor/remote control.


                • #9
                  It was Japanese market only... Nice concept, given how much data they can show using hands only.

                  There were some nice ideas in the past. Kairos had some interesting models, analogue watches where the glass is a semi-transparent display. They also had a smart-watchstrap: a small display on a strap, allowing one to use it with a normal watch (nice idea but clunky). Mykronoz was the first to launch an analogue watch where the watchface was a display (now Garmin has several such models). Casio has some watches in the pro-trek series that had double displays: a colour display that could display maps, etc. whereas the glass housed a powersaving display to show basic info while using less power - the watches ran WearOS. Ticwatch has some model that still has that concept.

                  Neptune turned the whole concept upside-down: the phone is actually the watch (it held all data and functionality); cheap external displays were then used to provide phone-like or tablet-like interfaces (it won big on Kickstarter but never delivered).

                  I liked how my current watch can run so independently: you can install apps, run navigation, ... without needing a phone (I'm not sure if you can do it without ever connecting to a phone). The new Samsungs are different as they are running WearOS.

                  You've made me go down the rabbithole... I started looking at watches....
                  Last edited by VJ; 11 January 2023, 02:44.
                  Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die tomorrow. (James Dean)


                  • #10
                    So I did a watch day excursion to more high end shops downtown. All top brands are available. I checked out Breitling Navtimer, Zenith El Primero, Grand Seiko Snowflake and Omega Seamaster (4-5 figure wathes). Of these I was the most impressed by Grand Seiko and Zenith. The watches look even better in real life than on Internet. The clean sweep of Grand Seiko hands and the instant reset snap of Zenith chronograph are amazing to see.

                    Of course they are men's jewelry and completely pointless and everyone can set a watch while few can take good pictures with a good camera or play musical instrument. The way one should go about watches is to get yourself a nice watch when hitting a goal or a milestone.

                    Still the fact that I can just go out without a phone wearing an inexpensive Seiko 5 the most satisfying.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by UtwigMU View Post
                      So I did a watch day excursion to more high end shops downtown. All top brands are available. I checked out Breitling Navtimer, Zenith El Primero, Grand Seiko Snowflake and Omega Seamaster (4-5 figure wathes). Of these I was the most impressed by Grand Seiko and Zenith. The watches look even better in real life than on Internet. The clean sweep of Grand Seiko hands and the instant reset snap of Zenith chronograph are amazing to see.
                      Nice ones...
                      The key with such watches is not just the look/design; the material choices and finishing really make a difference.

                      Originally posted by UtwigMU View Post
                      Of course they are men's jewelry and completely pointless and everyone can set a watch while few can take good pictures with a good camera or play musical instrument. The way one should go about watches is to get yourself a nice watch when hitting a goal or a milestone.
                      My brother got an Audemars Piguet from his inlaws as an engagement present (under the condition that he would use it - if he would just keep it in a safe they would opt to give something else). He used it for over 15 years as his daily watch, until there was an attempt to steal it one night while he was walking his dog. Luckily it was not a violent attack, more of a pick-pocket attempt that did not go unnoticed thanks to the double locking system of the watch and then got chaotic when the dog considered it all very playful and started jumping around. Since then he keeps the watch at home and wears an Apple watch. It is much less elegant and stylish though.

                      I get the idea to get a treat to yourself... and a watch is a nice thing. But I'm not sure that in my case I would wear it enough for me to enjoy it fully (more than just the satisfaction of having it) and think I would rather opt for something for at home: a piece of design furniture or so.

                      Originally posted by UtwigMU View Post
                      Still the fact that I can just go out without a phone wearing an inexpensive Seiko 5 the most satisfying.
                      I'm not sure I get that comment... any watch allow you to go out without a phone.
                      Last edited by VJ; 16 January 2023, 02:22.
                      Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die tomorrow. (James Dean)


                      • #12
                        What I meant is that you can really enjoy a watch even if it's an inexpensive one. I have a nice-ish Seiko sharp-edges and a Seiko 5 which I got a week after since I plan to only wear the Sharp edges with shirt. I wear the 5 almost all the time and I enjoy it about as much as the nice watch. I'm wearing a watch during all waking time for almost a month now (except when doing dishes, gym...).

                        Like for example Ford Ka was a cheap car but it was like a go-kart, narrow and very lively engine, so you could drive very fast through city traffic. It was much more enjoyable to drive than many more expensive cars.
                        Last edited by UtwigMU; 16 January 2023, 03:16.


                        • #13
                          I fully agree with that. And actually, my Samsung smartwatch taught me that to some extent. No matter how nice the fake watch face is designed, the fact that it is fake somehow makes it quickly loose appeal: it misses the material, the feel (even though e.g. my watch has a steel case and leather strap - but it is not enough). By contrast, even a simple stylish watch - my Tissot is nothing high end - keeps that appeal: the way the light hits the material, the way it reflects or feels.

                          Hence, I noticed it is difficult to find a balance between the functionality (some of which is nice to have) and the appeal. I read more on that Epson Trume you posted, and it was amazing. A shame there is no bigger interest in such type of smartwatches... and surprisingly the most stylish ones are not from the typical watch brands (apart from Casio Edifice and the fossil group).
                          Last edited by VJ; 16 January 2023, 05:48.
                          Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die tomorrow. (James Dean)


                          • #14
                            Went to an event that was not happening for 2 years due to covid and met old friend from Sicily. Checked his watch and it's the Royal Oak. Looks really cool in real life.


                            • #15
                              I wear my dad's engraved pocket watch. The cover image is of a large elk.
                              Dr. Mordrid
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