Saturday, 29 June 2013

A Touch Of Elegance, A Splash Of Gold - Steinhart Nav B-Chrono Limited Gold Edition

Words like "Special Edition" or Limited Edition" tend to send watch freaks like us into a frenzy. Owning one becomes the key objective of every fan boy of that particular brand or model. Thus, when Steinhart sent out teasers of the Nav B-Chrono Limited Gold Edition, it got everyone into a tizzy.

Upon receiving news of this variant, I placed a reservation for a piece with Gnomon Watches. What follows was a long and arduous wait.

The watch comes in a huge wooden box that makes me kind of regret not providing the pomp and fanfare that it seems to command. Within the box is a plague with the model and production number etched on it. I find the box a tad too much and utterly unnecessary. I don't see myself lugging the box around but merely have its key content strapped securely on my left wrist.

A pair of cognac straps accompanied this variant but I prefer a darker shade to bring out the gold hands. To add its appeal, the watch is limited to 99 pieces worldwide.

As the name suggests, this watch shares the same DNA as its siblings in the Nav B-Chrono line-up. Actually, it's more apt to narrow it down the the Nav B-Chrono 47mm only. It shares the same case but the main differences are the Gold-outlined hands and the absence of a seconds sub-dial at the 9 o'clock position, the absence of the day window and the position of the date window at the 6 o'clock position.

The same satin-brushed, surgically precise seen on the regular model Nav B-Chrono 47mm can be found on this classy variant. The same (painful) diamond crown and piston pushers adorn the right side of the watch.

The biggest difference between this and the regular model is visible only through the exhibition case back. The Valjoux 7750 used in this version is finished in gold. It certainly makes the watch stand out but this becomes a conversational piece only when you flip the watch to show its rear.

The lume is identical to the regular model. A definite head-turner.

Like the regular offering, this version wears slightly big on the wrist due to the lug design. Expect a little overhang on smaller wrists.

What steinhart did with this watch, in my opinion, is turn a versatile piece into a handsome, elegant yet, subtle little charmer. If you like the regular model, there is no real reason why you won't like this aesthetically toned down variant.

Case Diameter : 47mm.
Lug Size : 22mm.
Movement : Valjoux 7750.
Crystal : Sapphire.
Case back : Sapphire.
Power Reserve : +/- 42 hours.

- Elegant, dressy.
-Surgically clean and precise finch.
- Easy to find aftermarket straps.
- Rarity.
- Less busy looking dial.

- Less versatile.
- lug design leads to visible overhang.
- Diamond crown cuts the flash of.
- Rarity and no longer in production.
- No day window.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Pilot Dreams - Steinhart Nav B-Chrono 47mm

I have always liked pilot-themed watches. They possess two key elements that I find particular alluring - versatility and simplicity. It's actually their simplicity that makes them so versatile. On my third visit to my most-frequented watch shop, my mind was already made up before I even got there. Thus I was in and out of the place in a matter of minutes. I bet that was one of Gnomon's fastest transaction.

True to its pilot-themed DNA, the Steinhart Nav B-Chrono is packed with a purposeful sense of simplicity, accentuated by clean lines and curves. The matte black dial is encased in a 47mm brushed stainless steel capsule, fringed with a polished bezel and capped with a slightly domed sapphire crystal. Hooded within, is an ever-dependable Valjoux 7750 movement. The dial spots Arabic and stick minute markers, three sub dials and a day/ date window. Yes, it does look a tad busy, actually.

The watch comes with a pair of double-riveted calf straps. But I'm not a fan of such leatherware. As such, I've opted for a pair of distressed black calves.

The sides of the case are surgically finished. The piston style pushers are firm but easy to use. I have, however, a love/ hate relationship with the extra large diamond crown. It is an aesthetically pleasing and practical crown but it's rather painful when worn low on the wrist, which is my preferred maner of donning my watches. It digs into the back of the hand. The lugs are curved but it still has a fair bit of overhang.

Unlike a true pilot watch, however, the movement is not shielded from magnetic fields. The see through case back exhibits the workhorse movement with a signed gold Steinhart logo.

This watch will delight lume freaks. The turquoise, neon-like luminescence is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

On the go, it is actually rather comfortable on my wrist. However, there is some visible overhang due to the lug design. I reckon it should be angled sharper.

In a nutshell, this watch, though, not perfect, is a value for money piece that hits most of the right spots for me. It is subtle yet elegant, sporty yet not overly rugged. It exudes a certain classiness about it. Whether in jeans and tee or with a silk salami around your neck on a regular 9-5 work day, the Nav B-Chrono is equally at home on the wrist.

Case Diameter : 47mm.
Lug Size : 22mm.
Crystal : Sapphire.
Case back : Sapphire.
Case material : Stainless steel.
Movement : Valjoux 7750.
Power reserve : +/- 42 hours.

- Versatility.
- Easy to use extra large diamond crown.
- Common lug size. Easy to find after market straps.
- Classic design.
- Nice lume.
- Value proposition.
- Elegant yet subtle, not loud or ostentatious.

- Discomfort of diamond crown.
- Lug design.
- Wears rather big on smaller wrists.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

My Battle Hardened, Sleek Industralist- IWC Ingenieur Mission Earth

Unlikely as it may seem but this nondescript, unassuming little monster is the culprit that got me started on big watches. I've had this guy for a number of years. It is precisely its simplicity that caught my attention. It was my daily beater until I got distracted by more affordable, value for money offerings.

This little number comes in a 46mm stainless steel case with brushed surfaces. Five rivet holes adorn the brushed bezel. Under the sapphire crystal lies a graph-paper dial with stick markers except for the 12, 6 and 3 o'clock markers. The Mission Earth is designed to withstand hi levels of magnetism. sitting pretty within this block of steel is IWC's 80110 calibre.

Despite its diameter, the case is relatively slim. It tucks in rather neatly under shirt sleeves. Particularly French cuffs. The large screw-down crown is easy to operate and is shouldered by a pair of crown guards. In the chrono (flyback) variant, the crown guards are replaced by pushers on the same shape and design. The grooved and raised ridges on the engraved crown also adds to its ease of use. However, the crown emits a squeaking sound when wound that seems synonymous with the 80110.

Unlike conventional cases, the lugs are located in the centre rather than the sides of the case. They are also steeply angled, thus ensuring a wrap-around feel and minimising overhang on smaller wrists, such as yours truly's.

The Inggy ME uses a similar system as the Panerai 1950's case (based on what I was told). the straps can be detached by means of a push-pin. I have yet to try it out myself, though as I do not have any reason to do so yet. However, such proprietary systems would mean very limited after-market strap options.

The brushed stainless steel case back features the usual IWC spartan minimalism.

The lume is okay by my low standards. Decided to show a shot in semi darkness as I reckon it captures the industrial utilitarian essence of this particular brute.

On the wrist, it looks just right with no overhang. The rubber straps that comes with this model are supple and relatively durable. It's been more than 3 years since I bought this and it has yet to show any signs of serious wear.

This is a rugged piece that is equally aptly named. It's versatility is a real draw. It is equally at home under shirt cuffs as it is partially covered by a cycling glove. This chunk of steel is one mean brute and bears it's battle scars well.

Case diameter : 46mm.
Case material : Stainless steel.
Lug size : n/a.
Crystal : Sapphire.
Movement : IWC 80110 calibre.
Power reserve : +/- 44 hours.

- Sleek industrial, utilitarian looks.
- Soft, supple and durable rubber straps.
- Relatively long power reserve.
- Relatively affordable price for an in-house movement from a reputable house.
- Unique lug design with little overhang.
- Versatility.
- Rugged.

- Squeaky noise when winding.
- Proprietary lug design.
- Too plain and simple for some.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The One That Started It All - Ennebi Fondale Sunburst Silver (Ref: 9660-100)

Yes. This is the piece that started it all. The very culprit that is responsible for my Ennebi addiction. Despite my frequent visits to Gnomon, I've never actually seen one at the shop. The Ennebi display case is perpetually devoid of watches except for the Titanic Black, a massive 65mm table clock disguised as Goliath's wrist watch. It's no surprise, actually as the wait list for the watch stretches form 6  months to even a year.

Anders was determined that I should find out what the fuss was all about, so, when he received a piece a couple of months ago, he saved it for me to take a look before putting it on display. Well, to put the rest in a nutshell - I went, I saw and I caved.

This Ennebi comes in a grey grade 5 titanium case. The colour is lighter then the GFB in the preceding review. Like the GFB, this case measures 47mm in diameter, it's also capped with an acrylic top as well. Under the hood, is the ETA 2824-2. However, due to the lighter shade of grey on this Ennebi, the watch does not look as industrial. It actually looks kinda cool. Although depth-rated to 1000m, it does not have any HEV fitted on the case.

What drew me to this watch is the silver sunburst dial. It's got the loveliest sunburst I've seen in a while. Also, I reckon I have far too many black dial watches. A silver dial would make a nice addition to my drawerful of black faces. The dial is complimented with light green hour markers ( a mix of Arabic numerals and stick indices), a slim arrow second hand an thin luminous orange hour and minute hands. The smooth-edged, bi-directional bezel is easy to operate. Three humps on the bezel replaces the traditional serrated rim on most bezels. A purple precious stone sits on the pip of the bezel. i'm guessing it's amethyst.

The chunky case is meticulously finished. Precision engineering at its best. The lines are clean and crisp. The angels are taut and neat. The lugs are stout and curved. the crown is large but thin. It's flanked by a pair of broad shoulders. The straps ae held in place by screwed-in bars.

The case back features the standard minimalistic Ennebi-style literature.

As with other Ennebies, this unit comes with two pairs of Mario Paci calf leather straps as standard. Each pair of strap is fitted with the signature Ennebi titanium roller buckle. The leather supplied really accentuate it's rugged macho stature.

Despite it's huge, chunky case, this watch sits very comfortably on my tiny, flat wrist. The curved lugs cuts back any unsightly overhang and makes it look just right on the wrist.

This piece has the nicest lume among the three Ennebies I have in my stash. The orange lume adds a unique touch to the neon-bright markers.

There is very little I do not like about my first Ennebi. My only regret is not having found out about the brand earlier. The quality of the finish really speaks volumes. If you're waiting for yours, I assure you, it's worth the wait.

Case diameter : 47mm.
Case material : Grade 5 titanium.
Crystal : Acrylic.
Lug size : 24mm.
Movement : ETA 2824-2.
Power reserve : +/- 40 hours.

- Lume orange hands.
- Sunburst dial design.
- High quality finishing.

- Long wait for watch.
- High price tag.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Intrigued By Grey Matter - Ennebi Fondale GF Black (Ref: 9660-100GFB)

My fascination with the Ennebi brand continues with my third Ennebi purchase. Damn, this is becoming an obsession! No! It's a hopeless addiction. And it doesn't help that the pusher is constantly feeding this junkie with teasers. When Anders informed me that he had just received one piece of the GFB, the insatiable urge for more Florentine drug got the better of me. Thus, another parking lot in one of my 18-slot watch case gets another permanent tenant.

The GFB comes in a 47mm grade 5 titanium case, fixed bezel and acrylic crystal. Encased within within this chuck of titanium is the widely used ETA 2824-2 calibre. It is depth- rated to 1000m and like all its stable mates, there's no HEV. This particular unit comes with a dark mocha dial.

Like all its siblings, this case is rather chunky. The lugs are steeply curved with rounded ends. The straps are held in place by screwed-in bars. The over-sized crown is a joy to operate. 

What really drew me to this brooding beast are its aesthetically clean lines and industrial-grey sheen. The broad shoulders that guards the crown further enhances its clean, industrial looks. This gem is really the very epitome of precision engineering in watchmaking.

Every time I look at it, it never fails to remind me of some kind of mean and purposeful industrial machinery.

Even a armoured military vehicle. A tank, to be precise.

The inscription on the case back further strengthens its industrial image. However, there is one major gripe. Although it comes with a painted Italian flag to stamp its Italian heritage, the green paint on the flag started to smudge after a few days of wear. I have informed the folks at Gnomon and they have, in turn, notified their Italian principal. Now the wait begins for a solution.

Like all Ennebies, this industrial warrior comes standard with 2 pairs of Mario Paci calf leathers, each fitted individually with Ennebi's signature engraved roller buckle in titanium. The buckles are fitted to the straps by hex screws.

Not much I can complain about the neon-bright lume dial.  I really dig the turquoise glow.

On the wrist, it's a real comfort. Thanks to a large part, the steeply curved lugs. It wraps around my flat 6.75-inch wrist like seaweed on a California roll. The curved lugs also ensures that there is hardly any overhang when worn on a small wrist like mine.

There is really nothing much I do not like about this baby. It's clean, precise simplicity really speaks volumes. There is no wonder there is a long wait list of Ennebi's offerings.

When I bought my first Ennebi, a couple months back, I was warned by current owners, enthusiasts and Anders that it's a downward spiral with no u-turn in sight. I shrugged it off. But now, I've learned the hard way, one should set up a half-way house for Ennebi-addicts, or at least an AA-like help group!

Case diameter : 47mm.
Case Material : Grade 5 titanium.
Lug size : 24mm.
Crystal : Acrylic.
Movement : ETA 2824-2.
Power reserve : +/- 40 hours.

- Surgically precise finished case.
- Nice case colour and design combo.
- Curved lugs with little overhang.
- High quality finish.
- Relative scarcity.

- Relatively high price tag.
- Scarcity and long wait list.
- Smudged paint job on case back.