Friday, August 29, 2008

Gruen Curvex Quartz

No, you're not having deja vu nor seeing double. Today's watch is also a Gruen Curvex like yesterday's. This one, however, is a pale imitation of the original. It was made sometime in the mid 1990s, I believe after the Gruen name was sold to this company. To quote this FAQ, "The Gruen Watch Company no longer exists." One need only look at this watch to know that is true. First off, while it retains the Curvex name and dial printing of the original, notice how flat this dial appears, lacking the visual depth of the original, as well as the actual sculpting of the seconds track. Also, the case is not as curved as the original, nor as long. It really ruins the design, not to mention the lack of beveling on the case, replaced by nondescript rounded edges. The movement is just as nondescript, some Japanese quartz movement, at least it claims to be Japanese. I'm not a big fan of this watch and it is not a proper homage to the original. I should probably get rid of it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vintage Gruen Curvex

Today I'm wearing a vintage Gruen Curvex that I got from my father. I'm certainly no expert on these but I'll pass along what knowledge I have. The Curvex was so named because the movement was specially designed to fit inside a case curved to fit the wearer's wrist. The problem with making a long, narrow, curving watch case is that a normal full-sized movement will be too large. This watch is 48mm long but less than 21mm wide. One way to fix this is to fit a smaller movement in the case which was done by Gruen (before the Curvex) as well as some other manufacturers. Gruen developed a series of movements that were full-sized but had the necessary curvature on the dial side and clearance on the back for a heavily curved case. Here's a comparison diagram from a vintage Gruen advertisement. This watch contains the original Curvex movement, the calibre 311, which was released in 1935. I don't know for how long the 311 was produced, but in 1937 the calibre 330 was released which was thinner and more curved. I haven't found a source for Gruen serial numbers that makes sense to me so I can't put an exact date on this watch, but based on the movement it's probably from between 1935 and 1940. It's an exceedingly attractive design, slender but masculine, simple but with very nice details on the dial and bevels on the case, and with a slightly domed crystal that serves to accentuate the curve of the dial and case. It is truly an iconic art deco design. Some great information about Gruen can be found here. This particular watch has been serviced throughout its lifetime, but not recently. As a result, it only runs sporadically and is definitely in need of a good cleaning. This will go on my list of watches that will be taken to my watchmaker the next time I go.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Casio G-Shock G-9000TLC-4 Team Land Cruiser Mudman

No, I'm not buying watches just to post them on my blog. In fact, I'm probably buying fewer now than six months or a year ago. This Mudman I'm wearing today is the last G-9000 I needed to complete my set of Mudmen. A quick rundown of all my "New Mudmen":

The original three:
G-9000-1V (black)
G-9000-3V (green)
G-9000-8V (tan)
The two multi-color camouflage:
G-9000MC-3V (green camouflage)
G-9000MC-8V (grey camouflage)
The Dawn Black:
G-9025-1 (black and gold)

And last but not least is today's watch, the G-9000TLC-4. This was a fairly limited edition (although not numbered) and I typically see them on eBay in the $150-200 range, which I've always felt was too much. I finally found a brand new one for considerably less than the eBay prices and quickly snatched it up. I was very surprised to receive the watch in the trunk packaging pictured below. I expected the more typical packaging seen here. I'm not sure if there were two different versions or if this is just the Japanese market version, but regardless, it's a very nice set. This watch was issued in 2007 to commemorate Team Toyota Land Cruiser's 3rd consecutive category win in the Paris-Dakar Rally. The rally doesn't go to Paris anymore, not since 2001 in fact. Its actual name now is The Dakar, although this year it didn't go to Dakar either, nor will it go to there in 2009. Here's a G-Shock promo video featuring Team TLC at The Dakar. For the curious, Team TLC is sponsored by Toyota Auto Body which is the company that sells Land Cruisers and other Toyota SUVs and minivans in Japan. I don't know why there isn't just one Toyota selling both like we have in the U.S.A, but there you have it. As for the watch, the bright red bezel and strap looks great and really stands out. The "TLC" logo on the strap is the only outward indication it's a special Mudman, unless you take it off and see the same logo on the caseback. I would have liked some additional printing on the strap (more like what is found on the packaging or inside the trunk) but I'm sure others like the more subtle logo. The module seems to be identical to the G-9000-1V which isn't a bad thing as it's very legible and the colors work nicely. Once again, I would have loved to see the TLC logo in the backlight, but lack of it obviously wasn't a deal-breaker. It's a great watch and I'm glad to have it. It's apparent that I'm a fan so I'll be keeping an eye out for any new G-9000 releases from Casio, but for the time being, this is my last one.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Casio G-Shock G-9025A-1DR Dawn Black Gulfman

Today I'm wearing my newest Dawn Black series watch, the Gulfman. I also have the Frogman, Mudman and 5500. There's a good chance this will be my last Dawn Black since the ones I am missing (GW-5625A, AWG-525 and GW-9025A) are all pretty difficult to find. As for this watch, it identical in functionality to my Triple Crown of Surfing Gulfman but with a different color scheme and caseback. It's very good looking in the black and gold, with the large gold surround around the "eye" helping to give the whole thing a futuristic mechanical look. No complaints on this one, I'm very pleased with it. Enjoy the pictures!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wenger Extreme Sport 70972

The watch I'm wearing today is a Wenger. This model came out in 2000 and has had various names on the dial including "Wenger", "Wenger Swiss Military", "Swiss Military - S.A.K" (S.A.K. for Swiss Army Knife, some Wenger watches also say "S.A.K. Design") and "Swiss Sport" seen here. I bought mine 4 years ago and they continue to make a very similar model today. At the same time I got this one I also bought my girlfriend (now my wife) the smaller version in blue. They're both Swiss made with ETA Swiss quartz movements. They're pretty nice watches with a unique design, and while they are 50m water resistant, they aren't nearly as "sporty" as a typical G-Shock. The lume is good, with the big numbers glowing slightly less than the hands. The 38mm case is attractive, but the bezel is molded into the case so it only looks like it might be able to move, while the case seems to have beefy integrated lugs but the strap attaches with regular springbars. The caseback, although stainless steel, merely snaps in place. I'm a little disappointed that the titanium-colored finish on the case seems to be discoloring in places. I don't think I've ever exposed it to anything stronger than some seawater and have always rinsed it off afterwards. It's also another one of my watches that have developed a haze inside the crystal that will have to be cleaned at some point. Overall, a nice watch for the price that looks suitably sporty for most outdoor activities and has just enough ruggedness and water resistance to go with its good looks.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Vintage Ernest Borel Mallard

Today I'm wearing another vintage piece that I got from my father which he probably got from eBay. It's Swiss made and the dial says "Mallard". That seems to be a model or sub-brand of the Ernest Borel watch company. Borel is a brand I've heard of before, but I didn't realize they're still around today. The watch is pretty nice, very simple and in good condition. The case and dial designs are reminiscent of other watches from the 1960s so I assume that's when this is from. The red arrowhead on the end of the sweep second hand is probably the most distinctive feature and adds a bit of interest to an otherwise conservative dial.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vintage Bulova Fancy Square

No, "Fancy Square" is not this watch's actual name. I don't know if it has a name, but it is fancy and square, so I'll go with that, if only to differentiate it from my other Bulovas. I thought this watch was from the 30s due to the design, but the "M3" marking on the back means it's from 1963 (as I learned when I was researching my Bulova Oceanographer.) I guess it was just a fancy men's dress watch because most of the other 1960s watches I've seen are much sleeker and simpler. It's a very nice design with an embossed checked texture on the white gold plated case around a cushion-shaped dial. The dial has some discoloration to it and I'm not sure what caused it, but it does add some visual interest to the plain-colored dial. It also has a previous owner's name and phone number engraved in the caseback, but it's not very deep so I'm sure it could be removed with some buffing. I just put it on a new lizard strap which fits well enough (maybe a mm or less too narrow at the lugs)
and it looks good if a bit fancy for casual daytime wear.