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Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Memovox -07

posted 24 Dec 2015, 03:37 by Markus Helander



Whenever I think of luxury timepieces and jingle bells, which is surprisingly not that often, my mind turns to the one of the most irritating watches I've had to date. Don't get me wrong, it's also a fantastic piece with it's commando-like design, superb alarm function and overall design - oh, and got to love the twist-to-lock crown and pushers, too. But it is not a watch I'd take back. 

And then there's the jingle bells part. Whenever the alarm is due, even if the alarm is not wound, the mechanism chimes and jingles anyway. Since the alarm is a 12-hour mechanism, if you set the alarm at 7am, pretty normal time for an alarm, the chimes will also commence at 7pm when you throw your hand around - which is normal at 7pm, I guess.

The sound isn't obviously as loud as the actual alarm, but disturbing nevertheless. It sounds like the alarm hammer is loose, which it probably is in some way, inside the case. And this is by design, so there's no need for extra service upon hearing extra sounds around you. For those, who don't mind, or maybe just don't hear the alarm-off chime, this is the one piece that blows Crickets and Poljots out of the water.

The alarm itself is very good. I used solely that when I had the Memovox on rotation and it worked perfectly. The case fits well on the wrist and the design is weirdly bulky and subtle at the same time. But for me, it is the wrong Master Compressor.

They say - 'they' being the internets - that the JLC calibre 918 which makes all the magic happen, is a loud movement with its echoing, made-to-alarm, case, but I honestly did not notice it. I found it working smoothly and with a solid performance of +2 seconds a day with a normal office desk jockey use.

The sweet, sleek and efficient looks of the Master Compressor line keep one version of this on the short list back to my wrist. I'm thinking it's going to be the simple three-hander or maybe even the chrono if I get all wild and decide that the one chronograph I'm going to get is this.

What makes this even more macho is the 1000 hours of testing these Jaeger-LeCoultre watches go through. The 'golden standard' of COSC (Bureaux du Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) tests the movements without the case and complications. JLC does it slighly differently: for six week, which is the thousand hours, the manufacture tests the watches with the movements inside for longer and more rigorously. Supposedly. :) And after a factory service, they redo the test yet again. So, that's kind of cool. I am certainly more than okay with that!



So, top of the list. Will have one again. But not the Memovox. Loved to hate it! :)


      

Montblanc Star 4810 Automatic -12

posted 9 Oct 2015, 10:19 by Markus Helander

I felt like writing about a watch with hideous, modern numerals, so obviously it was Montblanc!

I bought this watch because in the hour of need, it was there. Pretty, out of the ordinary, dial, cool bezel and sweet and interesting hands. And ha! No disgusting modern arabics but some oddly good looking romans.What an exquisitely pretty piece!


And where did I find such a clean gray surface?!

I remember this Montblanc having one of the greatest leather straps and butterfly clasps in a long time. Like the luxury pens, this one also has the clean and stylish Montblanc star logo. Also, unlike the other Swiss, this one has a neat detail in its seconds hand that I seem to be a sucker of. The innards are nothing special and the watch sits rather high on the wrist. Compared to another similar three-hander, the Portofino, this is huge - then again, the IWC is petite. 


But surely it is a pleasure to feast your eyes with the dial. Please.


Just to get this watch off my chest, type something new of something rather mundane.
I'd like to end this again with an artsy photo of a watch. Please.





Officine Panerai Radiomir Black Seal 183k

posted 30 Aug 2015, 10:43 by Markus Helander

Alright,

What next? It's been a while since my last post due to some new work endeavors. But here now to continue the slowly decreasing list of watches to post.

It's also been a while, let alone nearly unprecedented, that I have had a watch in my possession without wearing it once daily. This PAM183k will be, and hopefully stay as, the only exception. I originally got this for myself to gift myself for a certain life changing event when I actually got into it. I had obviously seen to it that it is in working order and took some pictures of it, but other than that, is was just idly waiting in a bank safe.

    

The Officine Panerai Radiomir Black Seal 183k. I fell in love with its classic looks. I felt that the huge crown guards of Luminors' and Submersibles' looked awkward. Now, I may feel differently, but the simple onion crown, the edgy but round case and the huge lumed numbers made it terrific in my eyes. The small seconds did not hurt, either.

     

The movement itself wasn't anything special being a glorified pocket watch. Beautifully cased with OP texts and info, and again, the lovely crown with logo. Regardless of its size the piece was actually very light and the original leather strap worked superbly with it.

Oh, how it felt good when I got to wear it. Somehow, I'm ashamed that I let it go - now, that I think about it, I'm terrified that I actually did it. I must get a Panerai once more. Maybe a smaller one, tho. A Luminor, maybe. Time will tell.

Zenith El Primero Rainbow -01

posted 15 Jul 2015, 23:51 by Markus Helander

I remember this came to my attention totally by surprise. It was just one of those things that happened while I was browsing through different fora and sales sites, not having the slightest of interest in buying anything. But there it was, after many many 7750 chronographs, something seriously more premium with its calibre 400. 

It was one of the most legendary watches ever, the El Primero by Zenith, the 02.0463.400. Obviously, I was aware of the brand, the watches and their legacy, or rather the legacy or the famous movement ticking inside, to be exact, but I never intended to purchase one. 

I've never been a fan of chronographs, maybe due to to my not-so-pleasant experiences with Valjoux chronographs. But then again, I was already selling some of my earlier vintages so why not, I thought. Make a fair trade, of sorts. After all, this would be a significant addition to my ever growing bag of experiences, so I decided to pull the trigger.


One of the most exciting things about the El Primero is its beat rate of 36.000 bph. It's a wild feeling when you take it to your ear and hear it go. Especially if you're used to the normal 28.800 bph, let alone the older standard of 21. 600 bph. To me the comparison is similar to, for example, listening to the background hum of Rolex movements or even the ultrasonic tuning fork movements.

Wild things!


Now, like many others later, this one came from Italy - Rome, maybe. Quick, good delivery with no fuss customer service turned out to be valuable when the chrono second hand, like my luck seems to dictate, stopped around 59 seconds. The partial refund was quick and easy and I got it fixed by a local watch maker.



I was actually slightly disappointed of the mere 5 atm water resistance 
even with it's screw-in crown and pushers. The screw-in mechanism, though, even if it was very basic, was somehow fantastic, I felt. I found myself fiddling it back and forth every now and again like some little school boy with a new toy.

Of course, it was a new toy to me, so maybe that explains. This toy also happened to have the most exquisite of cases to date with fancy wood and clear white cushions - something I wasn't accustomed yet and, now thinking of it, not many other later purchases have been that fine and luxurious.
 
Maybe that's the reason that this was the first watch I tried to photograph with slightly more effort. To me, the best memory of this is below this post; a rather artistic black on black picture of this lovely piece. Sweet device all together, I think.

The pic right below is also seen on my first Rolex post earlier (here).
The statement still stands: white is better, black is more for me and I love it!

 

Here's some artsy watch stuff to end this. Hope you enjoy!



Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer II -91

posted 13 Jul 2015, 09:25 by Markus Helander

Ah, Rolex.

At the time simply the only Rolex I felt I could ever own. The other models were just too boring or.. for the elderly. Funny how that changes over time. Today, I have completely different thoughts about the brand itself and totally different favorites from its rather wide selection of pure classics.

This being my first Rolex, I was scared to say the least, about the possibility to end up with a fake. I bought this from the now notorious Finnish Hallin Kello dealer at a fairly good price - notorious since the owner later, a few months later to be exact, decided to fake a robbery to get the insurance money out. Though, and maybe an early sign of that something was wrong with the place, there was so much going on at the store when I picked this up, I hauled the piece straight to a watch maker. To be fair, the term 'store' might be too generous for the dealer since it was really more of a wide window that the watches were sold from.

Now, it was a full set complete with tags and papers from Japan. Supposedly the Explorer II was serviced and fully operational but in few hours it turned out that I had in my hands a twenty-year-old virgin. According to the watch maker, the watch had never been opened, let alone serviced, the case had been polished wrong and the bracelet was unevenly put together. Regardless of the lack of service of the Rolex 3185 movement, it was still running near chronometer standards. Imagine that.
   

I found the Explorer II very well balanced and a true tool watch. I got some heresy accusations when I changed the steel bracelet to a British green nato strap - bad me! I serviced the watch, got a small partial refund, and wore my new old Rolex with pride. In the beginning at least.

After a few months, which is actually a significant period for me to wear any watch, all together, I started to feel people's eyes beam my brand watch. They of course didn't. Nobody notices others watches, unless they're a fellow watch
aficionado. Nevertheless, I stopped feeling comfortable with the watch and I still feel awkward with Rolex written on the dial.



To this date, the 16570 will be one of four Rolexes I've owned, and all of them have made me feel uncomfortable. I have decided, among other things, silly or not, that my next Rolex will be 1981 GMT Master and that's it. Or maybe a Submariner. Or Explorer I. Or.. well you get the idea.

From the pair below, I felt the white one was the better one, but I still preferred the black El Primero instead. Maybe I'll discuss that next.


Thanks for reading!

IWC Portofino Automatic -05

posted 26 Jun 2015, 09:25 by Markus Helander

Something to start the holidays, then.

International Watch Company. It has tried to get under my skin for years. The Portofino was a clear sign of my weakness when it comes to classy dress watches with a fine brand image, but then again, IWC in general has a lot more to offer. But first, the 3563-05. 

   

Like many of my watches, this one also came to me from Italy. It had a dated warranty card and the condition was near perfect. Actually it had been made so perfect that while polishing, also the crystal was partly polished. This meant that the anti-reflective layer had been wiped off from the edges and was clearly visible in certain light conditions. Fortunately, the seller was a reasonable man and agreed to pay for the crystal change - surprisingly only a one hundred euro part in my local authorized dealer.

   

After the crystal change, it was really a perfect piece, and therefore a really easy piece to flip. It was super-light, a perfect size, and it fit like a dream. The mesh bracelet that it came with, was fancy enough to give its rather minimalistic looks some bling, yet comfortable enough to wear all the time. One thing I still remember it by, with the crystal incident of course, was the terribly well functioning crown; firm but still gentle and oozing for class and quality!

The thing is with IWC, I think it has something for everyone. For me, it has the Ingenieur and Mark series. For a long time, I've looked for a mid-size Ingenieur to sweep me off my feet and recently, also the pilot watches have started to intrigue me.

Actually, now that I've acquired my Ulysse-keeper, an IWC XII or XV is actually on my Very Short List and, at least, most certainly the next IWC on this page.

Kemmner Mechanik -10

posted 3 Jun 2015, 08:27 by Markus Helander   [ updated 3 Jun 2015, 08:27 ]

After trying to find a shoe that fits with rather poor results, I stumbled upon a post featuring different pieces of Roland Kemmner. They were mostly made on a tonneau case or a simple round dialed three-hander. I started digging around since the watches were (and still are) made in Germany which meant that shipping would be fast and no extra VAT would be added to the price.

However, and this still seems to be the case, there is no actual site to browse, customize or order the watch of your dreams. Roland Kemmner operates mostly though Ebay with the username 'erkahund', though, he also takes orders through his email. Even if I eventually ordered a watch from him, this was actually really frustrating! Ebay as a sales site for Kemmner watches is OK at best, but that only covers the watches that are ready-made. But I can't, for the life of me, figure out why hasn't Kemmner invested even in the lightest of own pages even just to list the parts available for truly custom watches.

No, the order procedure goes as follows:

You email Roland for your interest in a brand new, custom designed, Kemmner watch. Roland then lists basically all parts one after another as a reply to your email, which is absolutely fantastic to read. The list includes different cases with prices, several crowns with prices, dial & hand combinations and colors with prices, case backs and bezels with prices and, of course, compatible movements with prices. Oh, and straps, bracelets and boxes with prices. With dozen pictures in the end as attachements. I like to mention the prices, as you can see, since they combined with the pictures make browsing the email an agony.

My selections were:
  • 42mm simple round case with a clean cut bezel.
  • an onion styled crown.
  • Arabic numerals with long white arrow hands.
  • sapphire sandwich with PVD black movement.
  • manual-wind Seagull 3620 movement.
  • no bracelet, no box.

So, I went with a conservative black and white look with a raunchy black PVD movement.

   

Soon after ordering I got message of estimated delivery of two weeks and sure enough, in two weeks, I got an email telling me that my watch had been shipped. The watch was shipped with a nice leather pouch the held the piece still during delivery. I found no issues with the Kemmner, even the budget Seagull worked just fine. The option would have been to order the watch with ETA 6498-1 but I didn't mind. Still wouldn't. Power reserve was slightly over forty hours and the Mechanik felt as mechanical as it should have.

So, there you go. Some custom German action to fill in your fancy.

Eterna KonTiki 1958 Automatic -01

posted 22 Apr 2015, 23:29 by Markus Helander   [ updated 3 Jun 2015, 07:39 ]

Unlike my other watches, this actually has something more to it. I've had a lot of those that just have the looks, have the thrill, and in the end don't really give much, nothing even. But this one does.

I got the perfect chance last year to combine a nearly life-long dream, an adventure revisited, and a relaxing summer vacation. I even got a chance to trick in a special surprise! This is how it went down; the short version, the watch-edition, if you will.

My girlfriend had visited Iceland several years back during her studies. She lived there for a while, gathered memories and experiences, got new friends, learned of a new culture. The visit faded to a phase in her life, as much as many other things in life, but there always remained a feeling that she had to go back. And then she did - right after turning forty, no less. I got to go with and smuggled the KonTiki along.

KonTiki was actually the perfect find for this journey. Two flights to a remote island with not much more than rocks, lava and Viking-descendants. A plan to roam long and winding roads to see great waterfalls, burning hot volcanoes, mystic black sand and icy glaciers. For a modern Westerner, that's nearly as adventurous as the feats of the crew of KonTiki led by the legendary Thor Heyerdahl.

Left: Kontiki 1958 with a NATO strap. Right: A super-secret hot spring in Iceland.
  

Oh, KonTiki was the name of the raft Heyerdahl sailed across the Pacific from the Peruvian coast to a Polynesian atoll just to prove a point, the point being that population could have migrated from South America to Polynesia.

The raft was made from balsa wood! Stones.

Originally the name is said to be from the Inca sun god Viracocha. It took 101 days for Heyerdahl to make his journey during which he wore an Eterna watch. This happened in 1947 and ten years later Eterna released their first KonTiki to celebrate this magnificent achievement - hence the year in the watch. As a side note, in 1958 a French adventurer Eric de Bisschop tried to made his way from Tahiti to Chile with a similar type of Polynesian raft called Tahiti-Nui II. The raft eventually sank, but the crew built a new raft, Tahiti-Nui III.

From the wreckage.
In the middle of the ocean.

Stones, too. Sadly the new raft was also wrecked and de Bisschop was killed in the accident.

Left: Kontiki submerged in the secret Icelandic hot spring. Center: Erupting geyser, Strokkur. Right: The cyclops and the screw-down crown taking a dip.
     

After the long first day of travelling from Helsinki via Copenhagen to Reykjavik, the watch surprised the way to its current wearer. I was actually a bit surprised later, since it was only at the airport a week later that the watch came off the first time. It took the week's adventures easily; dives to the hot spring (above), sprays of the very hot Strokkur (above, too), the cold waterfalls and bumpy glacier rides (below) and the drunken nights as well (what?). All this while looking fantastic, yet dignified.

The purple dial was The Thing that had sealed the deal earlier that year. There had to be some kind of twist in the color to stand out from the basic blacks, whites and grays. It had the fine lines like its wearer, but it also had to be rugged enough to be able to go anywhere. Sapphire crystal today is as common as black sand in Iceland, so that was easy, but the screw-down crown makes the watch just that little bit more trustworthy when you're planning on keeping the watch on everywhere.

While we're at it, I'll throw the specs down here:
  • Ref. 1571.41
  • Stainless steel case, 36mm diameter without crown
  • Screw-down case back with Kontiki raft logo
  • Screw-down crown with Eterna 5 Ball-Bearing logo
  • Quick-set date feature at 3 o'clock
  • ETA 2428-2 caliber movement, with 25 jewels, 28800 A/h and incabloc shock system, hacking
  • Flat sapphire crystal with a cyclops over the 3 o'clock date
  • Purple dial with Arabic numerals at 6, 9 and 12
  • Water resistant to 120 meters

Left: Jökulsárlón glacier. Right: Kontiki 1958 browsing the brochure of Islandic JS Watch Company.
  

This Kontiki 1958 is no longer in production and, what I browsed though the internets, it seems that it is in very popular demand indeed. And no wonder; it really has the looks to match the features:

  • The Arabic numerals on the far edges give it a Rolex Explorer look but with the cyclops which is not found on Explorer I but in many other Rolexes.
  • The size is more comparable to the classic Datejust, but with a more sporty feel. 
  • Combined with a standard ETA 2824-2, cheap to service, too.
I like it very much - even without the non-standard dial color, this would be a solid piece!

Left: Bubbling under. Right: Kontiki 1958 playing Ian Anderson's (Jethro Tull) flute.
  

What a truly wonderful trip that left me with a clear memory of a phase of my own I'd love to return to.

I got to live there for a short while and to see the grand tour with her. I got to share new memories with her and from this super-friendly place. I got to experience a real adventure with someone, even if it just a walk in the park for true adventurers. But more from those on a later date.

The Kontiki checks every box in the gift list for watches and, at least to date, it has proven itself to be the perfect all-rounder for her. Some watches have the looks and features figured out like this but very few have the history behind them. Eterna Kontiki 1958 really has it all.

To sum it up, Thor Heyerdahl started it with passion, Eterna picked it up and fine tuned it to perfection over the years, Iceland gave us a great adventure for testing the piece out and now, in essence, she's wearing an Inca Sun God on her wrist that, hopefully, reminds her of a trip back to memory lane with me - not too bad, I feel.

Thanks for reading!

Left: Blancpain Leman Ultra-Slim Aqua Lung. RIght: Eterna KonTiki 1958 Automatic.

Poljot Chronograph Journey Redgold -11

posted 7 Apr 2015, 08:24 by Markus Helander   [ updated 7 Apr 2015, 08:24 ]

While on the subject of gold, this Poljot remains as my proof that gold, red gold in this case, and white dials go happily together. When I look at this dial, or these days unfortunately only the image of the dial, I get the same feeling when looking at pictures of IWC Portuguese - white-dialed, gold details, big round case. Slightly of different price range and surely quality-wise there may be some differences, too. So, not quite the two peas in a pod, but maybe from-another-mother kind of case.

Russians seem to have a knack for manual wind chronos. I've had a few and this is no exception. There is even a 24-hour rotating bezel which is operated from the 10 o'clock crown. It has a fantastic gliding feel to it - something like those soft little pushers that Longines has in its Master Collection Retrograde.



I must admit, the bracelet was a bit overkill for me, but I think the black racing leather did it justice just the same. Just checked and this is still available new from Poljot itself and from Aviation-time.com where I bought my piece.

For the interested:
Movement: Caliber 31681, manual winding
25 jewels, shock protection, 48 hours power reserve
Case: stainless steel red gold plated
Dial: white, raised arabic numbers
Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 13 mm

Just an overall good deal!



This is one of the watches that return haunting for me when I'm weak an looking for a new addition. Many times I'm left wondering what stops me from just getting this Poljot once again; are there too much faults in it for me to forgive?

Is it the slightly too close together situated chrono dials?
Is it the rather dull movement seen through the display back?
Is it the price of around 500eur that cannot be justified?
Is it too much of a bargain Portuguese for me?

I don't know. Maybe my love for it is more than the sum of it's parts.
But for something flashy, other that a Breitling, it's going to be this!




Seiko Diver's 200m Automatic -08

posted 6 Apr 2015, 10:21 by Markus Helander   [ updated 6 Apr 2015, 10:22 ]

Another of my true Catch & Releases.

Never had a Seiko before and I saw this while browsing through F2 at WatchUSeek.com. Price was next to nothing, around 200 US dollars and at the time the rate to Euro was perfect so I pulled the trigger.

I remember looking at the tracking info on USPS website and actually laughing when I saw the watch being shipped from East US towards Hawaii. Obviously the tracking stopped when it left the States so after Hawaii, there was nothing! The laughing ended when I had not heard anything of the delivery after two weeks. It took about a month for the watch to arrive at my office. Go USPS.

I got the watch, loved the fit and feel of it. I remember the click of the dive ring sounded tight and very pleasant. Even the bracelet felt excellent, tho I'd heard the Seiko bracelets were a bit flimsy.

In the end the Seiko was too top heavy for my taste and I flipped it forward to my then boss. I have understood that he still has it - though, it shouldn't be that strange since normal people (not watch enthusiasts) don't sell watches - ever.

But I do. I'm that kind of a guy. And this guy is still some twenty watch articles behind.
We'll see what's next.

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