Overall, the Mondaine Helvetica Smart watch falls short of the high bar set by Swiss competitors and Apple alike. In my review, I was surprised by the high-quality materials and finish evident in my steel Apple Watch. The reverse is true with the Mondaine; it’s just “good enough”. Combined with lackluster “smart watch” functionality, I’d call this a “do not buy”.
Some of the most recognizable and sought-after collectible watches weren’t all that expensive when they were new. One example of the low-end grail is the line of 7A28 Seiko chronographs designed by Italian designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro. These odd asymmetric watches were used in the 1986 film, “Aliens”, but were not considered collectibles at the time. Now they are so in demand that Seiko has reissued them as limited edition models in their home-market Spirit line.
Many novices assume that a movement that “ticks” more than once per second is a trait of high-end watches, but it’s actually nothing special. Nearly all mechanical watches, from Chinese and Japanese value lines to Haute Horology, tick at least 5 times per second! The smooth 8-beat seconds hand now associated with fancy Rolex watches isn’t the pinnacle of technology. Seiko and Zenith popularized 10-beat movements in the late 1960’s, and some exotic pieces tick even faster!
Once people realize I’m a “watch guy”, they tend to ask the same question: “What’s the best watch under $x price?” And most often, that price point is $1,000. There seems to be a psychological barrier to spending more than a grand on a piece of jewelry that has long since had its essential function taken away by electronic gadgets and computers.
Is the Apple Watch a personal communication revolution like the iPhone, a well-executed gadget like the Apple TV, or a total miss? Does it mark the end of the the world as we know it for watches? And what’s it like to use one? I’m a watch guy and a gadget guy, so perhaps my perspective will be of some value.
If you’ve read this blog for long, you know that I love to scour auction listings for under-described watches that are way more special than they appear. But folks like me also often note pieces that are incorrectly described, and one great example just caught my eye: The Omega Seamaster 176.005 Chronograph is often described as the “Jedi”, an incorrect name for this model and an unofficial one regardless. Let’s take a look.
Get ready for the tech press to flip out when Apple announces the retail price for the gold Apple Watch Edition model. Apple critics have always roasted the company for selling products that are more expensive than they should be, and they frequently use this as a wedge topic to criticize buyers. But the “18-karat gold” Apple Watch Edition will set a whole new bar with a sales price of $10,000. The funny thing in this case is that Apple is perfectly right to be charging that much!
I first discovered the world of column wheel 7750 variants while looking at a Longines Heritage Chronograph. The movement looked vaguely familiar to me, yet I couldn’t place it. A bit of research revealed it to be something really special: A column wheel variant of the Valjoux 7753 built by ETA for their Valgranges line. Then I stumbled on the fact that Omega also got a version of this ETA Valgranges A08.L01 movement with a Co-Axial escapement.
I recently had the experience of doing some watch shopping with a whole group of friends with me. They weren’t all that interested in watches but I spotted some shops and went inside. This made me realize that “normal people” really don’t understand what “watch people” are looking for in a watch. What makes one worth thousands while another isn’t even worth hundreds?
I’ve learned a few valuable lessons over the last few years in the watch collecting hobby, some through experience and some through research. So I thought I would share two really important ones with my readers today: Do not buy a Rolex watch and try to ship it into the USA, and do not buy a watch strap made of an endangered species and try to ship it out of Europe. These two rules are unrelated, but both can easily trip up would-be watch enthusiasts. And not all watch dealers will have your back if you run afoul of them!