Saturday, December 27, 2008

In search of the perfect watch

So at one point I thought an analog watched powered by your arm motion (dubbed "kinetic" by the watch industry) was the way to go. Many higher end watches like this, however, require you to set the date again at the end of every month that isn't 31 days, and what's worse make you crank through all 24 hours of the day to move forward a day (ie. you can't just set the day one day forward easily). I had both a Rolex and a Tag Heuer like this, and while both are great looking watches, I simply stopped wearing them because of this, and because if you did go a day or two without wearing them, you then had to wind and re-set them, and both are annoying to set. (Yes, I know you can get a "winder" box to fix this, but even those are annoying to put the watch in every time you take it off. I simply didn't do it.)

Having a cellphone does preclude the need for a watch these days, but I still occasionally thought it would be handy to have an actual watch on my arm. Besides, a good looking watch is a whole lot better looking than a cellphone. I wasn't actually searching for a watch when I saw a TV commercial for the Citizen Eco-Drive watches. I'm pretty agnostic when it comes to TV advertisements, but the watch in that ad just really caught my eye. So I started doing some research...

Turns out that "Eco-Drive" is a fancy name for "solar powered." The nice part, however, is that the watch doesn't look solar powered. The solar cells are embedded in the face in a very hidden fashion. Interesting. No batteries to worry about and no kinetic business. That also means the watch is electronic, so it turns out that setting it is easy. But since it's electronic, it can know what year it is and will always get the months right. Okay, great. But then I find they have a LOT of different Eco-Drive watches. Hundreds. Ugh.

Then I started to find there are different types. I've typically been interested in larger "diver" type watches, but only because of the look. I don't scuba dive and may never scuba dive. But upon further research, I found that there is also a "pilot" genre of watches. Interesting. Similar look to a diver's watch, but different features entirely. Like the bezel is actually a circular slide rule. Apparently pilots have long used circular slide rules because of their compact size in a cockpit for navigational calculations and watch companies started incorporating them into the bezel of a watch. Neat. I found a lot of different pilot watches I liked, and almost bought one.

Then I happened upon the smaller "race" genre. These are sort of a hybrid between a pilot's watch and a more powerful stopwatch. The Citizen Promaster series looked great to me. Upon further research, I found via forums that Citizen watches in the US didn't often come with sapphire crystals, just mineral (which scratches fairly easily). This was disheartening as I now found myself in the $500+ price range for an electronic watch that looked analog and couldn't get a good crystal. There was some chatter that perhaps it was possible to get the US repair shop to put a sapphire crystal in most models since most models were sold worldwide and the Asian market watches do have sapphire crystals, but nobody had confirmed you could do that.

I was fairly certain I wanted a titanium case and band in whatever I got, too, since in the size watch I was interested in the weight savings would be significant. So finally I zeroed in on the Citizen Promaster SST. Somehow in my travels I found that a while back Citizen had done a limited edition version of this very watch in black titanium. The icing on the cake was that this model also had a sapphire crystal! Oh, but where to find one. Turns out a few still sat unsold even though only 1500 were made. The original list price was $1,499.95 and I found a couple online retailers with them still listed at MSRP. But I found an eBay seller listing one for $950, which had been the going rate on eBay for them when they came out. The seller looked legit, so I ordered it. It's number 82 of 1500.

Turns out it was better than I ever expected it to be. It's big, but not heavy. Once sized it seems to work in all conditions better than any watch like it ever has (my arm swells when I'm hot and most watches are too "floppy" when I'm not hot or too tight when I am...this one works both ways fine). The features are awesome. I'm lazy and when I travel I like to not have to try to remember what time it is at home. This one lets me put the time for a second timezone in the digital area. It has a 20 lap memory for lap timing at the race track. And a lot of other features I may never use. Best of all, I think it looks great and I wear it everywhere. Now I just have to learn how to use a circular slide rule!


Lady Holiday said...

This is funny because for the past hour I've been reading a book about wristwatches, and decided to take a break to read blogs. I was just reading about an aviator watch that Charles Lindbergh designed. Watches are fascinating things. Glad you found one you like!

Beechwood Metalworks said...

my dad bought me a citizen watch for my birthday because he also thinks they are great. The one I got was huge and probably something HE would wear, not me. So I promptly exchanged it for a beautful emerald necklace which is oh so pretty! Yet I still don't have a watch ;(