Friday, 28 February 2014

The Black Watch by Sinclair

Today's watch was a gamble to buy as I'd seen that it was part of a pile of junk, but didn't expect it to work.

The watch is called The Black Watch and was made by Sinclair. Actually, it wasn't necessarily made completely by Sinclair as it was sold in two ways - either as a complete watch, or as a kit for you to make yourself. It was released in September 1975 and cost £24.95 ready built or £17.95 for the kit.

It has a 4 digit LED display at the top of the case, and is a very minimal design. The buttons are hidden in the middle section and seem to show either hours and minutes (by pressing the left side), or minutes and seconds (using the right side). The design was described in the adverts as being "styled in the cool prestige Sinclair fashion: no knobs, no buttons, no flash". It is powered by two LR44 batteries which could be accessed by a plastic flap on the back. By default, it came with a black leather strap, but you could get a luxury stainless strap as an extra. The watch should have a sinclair marked plate surrounding the LED display, but that is missing from my watch. 

The watch is quite a rare and collectable watch as they weren't very robust, and could be rendered useless by the static from a nylon shirt or even air conditioning. The watch was a major failure because of that problem, and other problems with production (from the same static issue as above), temperature sensitive quartz crystal (which changed the speed between summer and winter), exploding batteries, control panel failures, 10 day battery life, constructability issues for the kit (despite the claims that anyone who can use a soldering iron can make it), and a case that couldn't be glued (so would often fall apart when the clips didn't work). These problems lead to massive returns and a 2 year replacement backlog, and resulted in Sinclair losing so much money they were only saved from bankruptcy by government subsidies.

Sinclair (or Sinclair Radionics to give them their full name) was founded in 1961 by Sir Clive Sinclair and started with radio products, making the world's smallest FM radio of the time. In the early 70s they moved into calculators making much smaller and styled units than the competitors and leading to a major success. In the late 70s, after the financial troubles from the black watch, Sinclair has started a new company called Sinclair Research which produced the most famous Sinclair product in 1982, the ZX Spectrum home computer. Sinclair also had another marketing disaster in 1985 with the Sinclair C5 electric vehicle, which was deemed impractical to use in the UK, but was still the biggest selling electric vehicle in the UK until the Nissan Leaf overtook it in 2011.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Geo Time Alarm Chronograph

As well as collecting the Citizen 1481010 watches, I also buy watches who's design has been heavily influenced by that range, and today's watch is one of those.

The watch is by Geo Time, and shares some of the same design elements as the 1481010 D390 design (which I've blogged earlier). The Geo Time watch has the same one piece bendy metal strap design as the 1481010 with a plastic trim around the edge. The watch case shows through a window in the strap to reveal the face. It has a standard 6 digit LCD display, with day markers along the top of the LCD. It meets the promise made by the name by having alarm and chronograph modes, and the display can also show the date. Overall, the watch case is a little thicker than the 1481010, and everything feels a little thicker and so a little less luxurious.

The Geo Time brand seems to be another of these mystery fashion watch makers I keep finding. Web searches show they made a variety of designs, but there is no information that I have found about any bigger manufacturer behind the scenes. Inside doesn't help as the module has no makers mark or model number to help. With regards to date, I'd assume that this is a similar era as the 1481010s, and so from the late 90s or early 00s.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Nooka Zub Zayu Yellow

It's been a little while since I blogged a Nooka, but as they are one of my larger sub-collections, I thought it'd be good to cover another one. The thing with the Nooka watches is that there are so many interesting and eye-catching designs in the collection, and there is always some cool design or limited edition collaboration piece that I'm tempted by. If you like the Nookas I've blogged so far, you should definitely check out their homepage (link).

Today's model is the one in the Nooka collection with the largest display and is called the Zayu. The Zayu design is asymmetric, with the strap at the right and the case extending up your arm, but it is also swappable, so that you can use it right or left handed (and the text on the display is written side-on so it doesn't look weird for either).

Time is displayed with a combination of dots and bars on the LCD display. The dots (or more correctly capsule shapes) show the hours, there is a thick bar that fills with the minutes, and a thinner bar for the seconds. The display can show time and date, along with the alarm mode, and it has a stopwatch too. There is also a sleep mode that switches off the LCD to save battery when the watch isn't being used.

The Nooka brand is the brainchild of Matthew Waldman, who after a short collaboration with Seiko started the Nooka company. They don't just make watches, but also have other interestingly designed products with unique but highly functional designs. I'm normally wearing one of the Nooka belts and using a Nooka wallet, and they also have other products such as t-shirts and sunglasses.

The Zayu design is still available on the Nooka website (as of Feb 2014), and generally costs $129, but this yellow one is currently only $49!

Normally, the box isn't worth a mention in my blog, but with this watch it's something unusual. The box is a collaboration between Nooka and Silicone Zone, and this has resulted in a box made from food grade silicone. Because of this, the package is suitable to be used for food, is microwave safe, and can be put in the dishwasher.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Deadman Custom Parasite GV4122

I'm back on the Deadman watches again today. I've been trying to find out as much as I can about this brand as the mystery intrigues me, but without much luck so far.

The Deadman watches have been around since the late 90s, and we're featured in several watch magazines in Japan. I've managed to find over 20 designs so far, but there is very little online. They were pretty popular in Japan, and regularly could be found in retro fashion shops in Tokyo in the 2000s. All the watches have a very 60s and 70s feel, and come in a wide range of different designs.

Today's model is one of the named models, and is called Parasite. It is shown as being a Deadman Custom watch, but I haven't come across a reason for the Custom name. The watch has a jump-hour /rotating disc design, but this time only 2 dials (without a seconds hand). The time display is very small and in the centre of a large silver case. It has a red patent leather strap (with the Deadman name on the back) which goes around the front of case with a rectangular window for the face.

This model is part of the GV series with a model number of GV4122.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Cabane de Zucca Safari Zoo - Giraffe

The very first watch i posted on my blog was a Safari Zoo watch by Cabane de Zucca. Today is the fourth and last of the line (well the male version at least).

This design is the Giraffe version, and like the others has a textured resin strap and case with the marking of the animal covering the surface. Four different designs were released in 1998 under a series called Safari Zoo, with the others being a Zebra, Leopard, and Alligator.

The Cabane de Zucca watch range is a collaboration with Seiko that started in 1995, and the Safari Zoo watches use a Seiko W240 module. The watch has a 2 line LCD display with a red Z in the backlight (which is triggered by the front button). Both lines have 6 digits, with two of the digits on the top suitable for showing letters. The modes for this watch are stopwatch (with pace mode), timer, and alarm.

All of these Safari Zoo models have the same model number of W240-4120. They were originally released with a retail price of ¥14,000. The catalogue number of this version is AWAB007.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Casio Lilana LNA-2LJ

Today's watch is a complex watch for its size. It's also my sisters birthday, and the model number contains her initials.

The watch is by Casio, and is part of their Lilana line of watches. The Lilana range isn't mentioned much on any of the websites I've found, but it gets a special mention in the Casio Japan company history. In that listing, it says that the Lilana watches were first released in November 2004. The line was designed to be for cool watches for women, but doesn't seem to be around anymore as the Casio Lilana website has a front page but nothing else. The line had a tag line of "True Time & Solar Power" and this refers to he fact that the watches have both radio control and solar power. The line also had its own logo with a round symbol with a swirly flower pattern, and this could be found on the watch back.

This model is the LNA-2LJ (or more specifically the LNA-2LJ-5AJF). It was released on November 27th 2004 making it one of the first Lilana watches. It is a 3 hand dial design with a date window at the 4 o'clock position. It has solar power, and works on the 40 and 60kHz radio control frequencies. The date is also done with a perpetual calendar, so it will auto correct based on which month it is. There are two hidden buttons on the side which control the adjustment and mode (where the seconds hand turns to various places to designate whether it is receiving a signal, show whether it is am or pm, and other things). This is all powered by a Casio 3717 module. The watch is also 5 bar water resistant, but the amount or resistance is only shown on the label and not the watch case.

This particular version has a brown face and a Pinky beige strap, but the design came in a range of colours including all black, and black with a white strap.

It was a pretty expensive watch when it first came out, with a retail price of ¥36,750 (after tax). Some of the original posters can be seen on the ZonaCasio blog at link (in Spanish).

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Crepha Telva Chrono R TI-127

The watch today is one that was a brand I'd not heard of before, but one I've kept coming across.

Originally, I'd thought that the brand was called Telva as that was prominent on the watches, but it turns out the maker is called Crepha. The Crepha company is from Tokyo, Japan, and was founded in 1989 with the mottos "Smile is extreme energy, and "Share the Happiness". They make a range of clocks and watches, including watches for Sanrio and Walt Disney. Telva is one of the lines that they produce, and is their line for stylish, traditional, sports, and digital. The company name is shown on the watch as Crepha X Design.

This watch is the TI-127 model, and has the name Chrono R on the strap. It is a chronograph watch with an alarm function. There is also an el-backlight triggered by the button on the front, and the text on the face says it has "Light in the Night" (-the text also says the watch has "Power of Telva").

The watch has an LCD display with a holographic /reflective back style making it quite easy to read in low light (even without the backlight). It has a 6 digit time display with smaller seconds, and there is a small circular section above the seconds which shows indicators for the alarm and chime.

I don't know when this model was released, but it isn't available anymore.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Zero by Axcent of Scandinavia

I've been avidly watching on of the sports at the winter olympics. That sport is Curling, and as Great Britain is going for gold today, I thought I'd go for gold too - a gold watch (although it didn't help)!

This isn't a real gold watch, but is a very shiny gold coloured watch by Axcent of Scandinavia. Axcent were formed in the late 90s to bring Nordic design into the watch market, and are based in Stockholm, Sweden. They have become a fashion phenomenon with their motto "when art becomes a timepiece without costing a fortune".

This model is the Zero design by Daniel Jakobsson. Daniel was their brand/product manager and head designer from 2002 to 2009. In 2004 the Zero design was released with its high tech dot matrix module and wide leather strap.

The time is shown on the dot matrix LCD display with 6 digits (each 5x3 blocks). It has world time functions, a data bank (for 10 sets of details), and a stopwatch. Each mode has an animated entrance like shutters opening and then the name of the mode before the mode is started.

It had what I think is a catalogue number of x23482-7880, and it originally sold for ¥10,500.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Casio GeoTrail FT-611 Ana-Digi

Today ime back to the Casios with a more rugged watch.

The watch is an ana-digi model from the GeoTrail range (sometimes written Geo Trail). The GeoTrail range seems to be watches designed for outdoor life, but are less bulky than the more rugged G-Shock range. The range designation letters vary a little, but most GeoTrail named watches have an FT model number.

This model is the FT-611 and uses a Casio 2319 module. The main part of the watch is taken up by the analogue display. This is a 3 hand dial design, and is set by the crown. Below this is a small window with the LCD display. The window is tiny compared to the rest of the watch, and is set deep into the case (presumably to make it more impact resistant). The LCD display is split into two smaller sections, each with 2 digits. This display is where the other modes are accessed, and it can be used to display the date, dual time, and alarm modes.

The design looks like it is designed for quite heavy wear while still being quite lightweight, and it is 10 bar water resistant.

It has the GeoTrail name on the face above the dial, and comes with a matching, GeoTrail branded, black leather strap.

I'm not sure exactly when this is from, but it isn't available anymore.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Art of Life chronograph by Philip Morris

I'm a little confused by today's watch. The name on the back suggests it is by Philip Morris and the only reference I found to this name is the tobacco giant. This would suggest that it was a promotional watch, but the name is only on the back so it isn't advertising...

The watch is called Art Of Life and is a chronograph design. It has a 3 hand dial with a carbon fibre (style?) face. The seconds hand on the main dial is actually part of the chronograph, with the real seconds hand being the bottom of the 3 other small dials on the face. The other small dials cover 24hr time (at 3 o'clock), and chronograph minutes (at 9 o'clock). There is also a small date window at the 4:30 position. The only other information is that it is 5 bar water resistant.

It has quite a smart look, and the rubber strap has the same carbon fibre style pattern as the face. The strap is also a cut-to-size design so you need to watch out if bought second hand.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Citizen Ana-Digi Temp 8988 angled design

I'm blogging another from my Ana-Digi Temp collection today, and this one has a different look than the normal design.

The Ana-Digi Temp range by Citizen started in 1982 and were the first range of electronic temperature measuring watches. I have am Ana-Digi Temp overview page where I go through more of the details (link to the top right on the web version and from the drop down menu at the top on the mobile version of the site).

This Ana-Digi Temp has an unusual design compared to the rounded rectangular design that the majority have. The case has a tapered shape and is wider at the top than the bottom. The temperature sensor area is also more angular and follows the shape as the watch tapers down to the matching strap.  The glass in this model is also shaped to have 3 different faces, raising to the highest point where they meet in the middle of the watch. Strangely, it doesn't have the Ana-Digi Temp name on the watch, and just says Alarm Chronograph. Based on the serial number, this design is from 2003.

This version uses the 8988 module which is one of the standard inside for an Ana-digi Temp. It has the 2 electronic dials at the top of the face with 3 LCD windows below. The watch has dual time, alarm, stopwatch, and of course temperature modes, and my overview page explains how those are displayed between the different dials and LCD panels.

The full model number is 8988-Q02047 and I think this had a catalogue number of JG2040-54A. There is also a small number at the bottom of the face which reads S04-M530. I've seen from one online site that it had a price of ¥13,450.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Fuso vintage LCD watch

I've managed to pick another mystery watch again today. After lots of searching, I've not found anything online about this watch's name...

The watch is called (or made by) Fuso, and is a Japanese watch. It looks to be a vintage LCD watch with the classic curved sides and the top and bottom tapered down to the strap.

It is an alarm chronograph model with a 6 digit LCD display, and a line of symbols below to highlight the mode. The chronograph can display 1/100th seconds or will switch to hh:mm:ss if left long enough.

The back doesn't give too much more information on the history, but does have a model number. This tells me that it has a 9428 module, and is a model number 9428-390806. The watch has a strap marked Vega, which gave the first hint on the maker, and I've blogged a Vega 9428 module previously. The Vega line were made by Citizen as a low price range which ran from the early to mid 80s and were phased down in the late 80s.

From the design and Vega branding, I know this watch is from the 80s, but I can't tell which year for sure.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Casio Casiotron S-11

Today, I'm blogging another one of the old Casio Casiotron watches. Unfortunately, there is a loose connection inside, so I can't get the display to work reliably, and therefore I can't use it properly.

This model is the S-11. It is one of the large heavy body models with a small LCD display in a large and deep case. It has a 4 digit display, and has markers along the top that either cover the seconds or the day of the week, as well as the pm mark. My model appears to be a Spanish version as the day markers are Dom, Lun, Mar, Mie, Jue, Vie, and Sab.

The S-11 model was released in January 1976 and uses a QW16 module. It takes an AG12 (or 386) battery which is accessed through the coin opening slot on the back.