Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Woodpile Report On Watches

This week's Woodpile Report had, as always, lots of interesting links and commentary. But Ol' Remus also included some discussion as to watches:
      Some time ago I gave my Seiko 5 to a person surprised to learn there were wristwatches without batteries. I was once something of a watch collector so I have an interesting inventory to draw upon, but eventually I replaced it with another Seiko 5. It's an admirable product.

      The "5" means five functions: hour, minute, second, day and date. Memory says the movement was first marketed in the early 1960s, patterned after the plain vanilla ETA with an added day/date complication. Mine is equipped with the Seiko Caliber 7S26C, a six beats per second, 21 jewel automatic with a 40 hour reserve, um, they say.

     The caliber designation has no "J", meaning it's made in Malaysia rather than Japan, and is so described on the back. "J" movement Seikos cost a bit more and are reputed to be slightly higher quality. Some experts dispute it. In any event, "J" movement Seikos are getting thin on the ground. I had mine three-position adjusted by a watchmaker. Now, some years later, it still only gains a few seconds per day, perhaps a minute in two or three weeks. Watches priced in four figures will do no better.

      The current model number for my Seiko 5 is SNK793, about a hundred dollars, stainless, 37mm case size, which is about right for most people, with luminescent hands and markers. It's also rated at 30 m hydrostatically, although if I'm ever 30 meters underwater the last of my worries would be the correct time. Joking.

     As in everything else, ol' Remus has rules about watches. Tactical watches should be semi-disposable with duplicates or equivalents ready to hand. They should have bold markers and Arabic numerals at every marker, with no complications unless you're a pilot or charged with timing competitions. Otherwise it's just exhibitionist clutter.

     Mine's a Timex Expedition, stainless, quartz, marked WR100M. I believe they call it the Scout now. Timex quartz movements are of higher quality than one has a right to expect at the price, which means longer battery life.

      Everyday watches need no numerals but if they do they should be at every marker. The second hand is an indication the watch is actually running, otherwise useless, one day with another. But I have yet to have one removed. Clocks in the home should have Roman Numerals. No exceptions.
I've mostly stopped wearing a wrist watch and rely on my cell phone for time (and its many other features). But it is sometimes nice to be able to glance at your wrist and see the time without the fuss of fishing something out of your pocket. And there is something classic about a nice analog dial on a watch. "A quarter to ten" sounds better than "nine forty-five." I made the switch from digital displays to analog displays a long time ago, when I was serving my mission in Japan, because it was easier to glance at my wrist and get an approximate time while riding a bike--we rode bikes everywhere all day long--than to focus on the numerals and maybe crash into someone or something. The idea of a mechanical watch over one with a quartz movement seems to be something useful for the prepper--one less thing that requires a battery. But I've never seen anything that suggests that a mechanical watch is inherently more durable than one with a quartz movement.


  1. I've always liked digital watches. For the last decade, I've been wearing a Casio solar powered "Waveceptor" (receives WWV signals to set itself) watch. It is one of the G-Shock series with a metal band. Even though I work indoors, office light combined with daylight exposure during my commute is enough to keep its internal battery topped off.

    1. Looked it up and it appears to be a very nice looking watch.


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