January 2009


Another small Celebrity Wristwatch Watch (sounds confusing!) update to see what kinds of celebritys are sporting which watches. Been scoping out the watch magazines and watching some of the TVs and blogs to see who’s wearing what. Sometimes I wonder why a certain celeb picks a certain Brand.. like Josh Groban. Why did he pick Croton? I would think he should wear something a bit more upscale..

Musicians:
Josh Groban – Croton
Lang Lang – Montblanc
Dave Cook – Oceanaut
Lionel Richie – Hublot
Hilary Duff – Cartier
Fergie – Cartier
Janet Jackson – Cartier

Atheletes:
Kobe Bryant – Jaeger LeCoultre
Bob and Mike Bryan – Perrelet
Derek Jeter – Movado
John Starks – Zenith
Kazuki Nakajima – Oris
Sir Ranulph Fiennes – Kobold
Andre Agassi – Longines
Ben Ainslie – Corum

Actors
Jeff Goldblum – Kobold
Joe Pantoliano – Franck Muller, Patek Philippe, Corum, JLC.. apparently he trades and sells watches. I bet he hangs out on TZ!
Molly Sims – Oceanaut
Edward Norton – Breil

Other:
Bill Clinton – Cartier, Audemars Piguet

An interesting list… I found it cool that Joey Pants sells and trades his watches.. I can’t see him doing it anywhere other than online. Heck any of us could have done a deal with him and not even known it!

I continue my search for the perfect sub-$500 watch, in order to help prospective buyers get their watch fix while still remaining realistic in this financial crisis. Because you gotta get your fix, even if your savings are taking a dive… I know this 🙂

The next couple of watches I am reviewing are some watches by a fellow who gained his customer base from a replica watch forum, and started his career by modding replica watches. He calls them Hommage watches now as his watch creations do not bear the marks of commercial watch companies, but are rather sourced from the same people that provide Alpha Watch with their parts.. another famous Hommage watch company I have also tried out recently.

The man behind the products is Pejman Foroush, and he CNC machines his own custom dials on a benchtop CNC mill.. very cool. Custom dials and custom applied Lume.. you’ll see why they are called Pyrolume the first time you see one.

His prices run about $200-500 at the moment, with occasionaly $1 no reserve auctions on ebay, which is where I picked mine up. I bought two watches from him, one a manual winding asian unitas, and the other a Japanese Miyota quartz movement.

Pyrolume 50mm Japanese Miyota Quartz
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A very cool and unique looking watch, with a somewhat rough finish. He said that this is a “prototype” watch so it is not finished as well as others. The strap I put on the watch is an aftermarket $100 NUBO strap. The original bracelet that came with the watch was made of a very cheap metal, almost feeling like aluminum and really did not do the watch justice. I was unable to get the bracelet off using Pejman’s instructions as there is no notch that is typically there to remove bracelets. I ended up using a drill press and just drilling right through the bracelet to remove it.

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His dials is really the center point of this peice, as the case is nothing special, and actually a bit light and flimsy. However, the care he puts into his dials is really something. Very good work indeed. I would really like to see this stuff in a germany or swiss made case, with a genuine swiss movement.

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As you can see, the Lume is outstanding, and is really the whole point of the watch. If you are looking for a completely unique dial, made and assembled in the USA, this is your watch. However, I would say that the case work and original bracelet were a bit lacking given the prices.

Oh, and just for kicks, I checked out the back of his dials. Kinda neat hey?

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Pyrolume Manual Winding Pilot 45mm
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Now this Pyrolume costed a bit more than the other one, but the dial is a bit less flashy, and has a very neat blasted surface, that looks amazing when it is lit up. This one has a Chinese replica unitas movement in it, and the case is all blasted Titanium. It’s a really dark titanium, so I’m not sure what alloy/grade was used, but I do not think it is the type typically used for watches.

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As you can see from the above pic, the surface has what he called a “moonstone” finish to it, that somehow reflects some of the lume when it is lit.. not sure how he did it but it is very cool.

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Here is a wrist shot of the watch on a black leather strap that I swapped in. It came on a Panatime Carbon fiber strap that was okay, but I did not like that the blue stitching in the strap was a different hue of blue than the kind onf the dial and of course the buckle was not titanium… just looked a bit off to me so I stuck it on leather for these pics… Afterwards I bought a grey NATO strap that matches the Titanium dial and now it looks Amazing! I love it on the grey Nato, and that is where it is staying.

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See, there it is on my grey Nato.. I love it. Too bad that it covers the exhibition back, but no biggie, just a chinese movement. Speaking of the movement, I am not sure what level of experience Pejman has with watchmaking, or what kind of regulation he puts his watches through, but this watch is running about 30-40 seconds fast per day, and has ever since I received it. It may have gotten magnetized on the way here, or just was that way before it came. Its hard to tell how fast sometimes because there is no second hand, so its just a rough guess.

The quality of the case on this model is better than the one on the Quartz one, and is reflected in the price. Also it is Titanium, which probably adds a bit to the cost. The crystal is curved, and a bit annoying as it reflects quite a bit of light, but the Dial on this one is truly magnificent. I love the blue hues and sandy finish to the dial, and that is indeed the entire purpose of this watch, to showcase the dial. All things aside, Pejman does a fantastic job with his dials, and for that he should be commended.

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There is a nice lume shot of the dial from Pejman. All things aside, these watches might be priced a bit high in my opinion, but their one-of-a-kind originality is worth the price if you like it. I would really like to see some swiss movements in his watches, as that would really up the ante and justify the pricing. Heck, he could even raise his prices if he switched to swiss movements and cases.

Given that you can pick up peices from Debaufre and Invicta completely swiss made for the same price, it is the innovative dials that will draw you to his peices, not the quality of the movements.

This is the first of my recession time watch reviews! In this economic downtime its important to still get the fix for your watch bug, but at the same time stay responsible. Its not about whether you have the money, its about whether you should be spending it. And spending it might not be the prudent thing to do. And some of us aren’t patient enough to wait long periods, so that short term watch fix can be had by spending only a hundred or two.

The Ticino Big Pilot 47mm Watch
I purchased both the black and the regular steel version of this watch after owning an IWC Big Pilot for a very short period of time. Picked ’em up from sizzlinwatches.com – they have a deal now.. cheaper than when I bought them. I really loved the look of the Big Pilot, but it was uncomfortable with the crown digging into my wrist all the time. Couldn’t justify the expense. So I purchased a couple of Ticinos! For $125-200 a pop, the cost was minimal and with the amount that I would wear it, it would last a decent amount of time.

First up is the Ticino Black PVD.
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Massic 47mm size, with a well-machined case. Dial is a very nice matte black with a totally sterile dial. Small seconds at 9 o’clock. Very standard Pilot dial, with the Triangle and two dots at 12 o’clock. Speaking of which, does anyone know what that symbol is called?

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Comes on a black leather strap, of average quality. Buckle is black coated as well, which was nice to see. If you look closely you can see the crown is not that sharply angled. At first, I thought this was because they painted it black and it wasn’t very good paint. I realized later that it is because it is a cheaply manufactured base metal crown because the non-black coated one looks like this as well, except it is chrome plated.

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Visible case back, not bad. Some sort of Chinese movement.. sea-gull, type E, whatever. I don’t keep up on the Chinese movements but if you know, feel free to comment. Once a fellow on youtube called me a blowhard because I didn’t know my Chinese movements and how it’s the heart of a watch. I realize its the heart (or soul, as I like to call it), but keeping up on $20 movements that are replicas of real swiss movements isn’t something I am that interested in. But perhaps one day!

Ticino Big Pilot 47mm Regular Steel.
Now.. onto the Steel version. I picked up the Pilot style bracelet for this one also from the same guys. I prefer the look of this watch on the bracelet, and it seems to sit better on my wrist, even though it is still probably a bit too big for me. The bracelet makes the watch not move around quite as much.. but maybe I just wear bracelets tighter than straps.

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There’s a shot of the regular steel version. As you can see, the dial on this one is not sterile, and has the Ticino logo on it as well as the word “Professional”. I think I prefer the sterile dial but this steel case. Too bad they didn’t offer it that way. Perhaps the movements and dials could be swapped out. Looking at the crown, you will notice it is also not very well cut probably because it is chrome-plated base metal rather than stainless steel. I’m not sure how long the plating will last, but most old watches have crowns that are plated base metal.

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If you look closely, the movements are actually different. I thought that was strange. I don’t know which Chinese movement was used in which watch, but they are not the same. Both models have Ticino written on the winding gear, however.

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And a final shot of the silver model on my wrist.. and another below of the black one on my wrist!

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Both watches are pretty good value for being under $200, and offering a nice, subtle styling that you don’t find very often. Both kept very good time, within 12 seconds a day, which is better than many non-swiss made mechanical watches I have had. Aside from the Crowns, I really like the build quality of these peices. Hope you enjoyed the review.

Departing from their usual style of watches, Doxa announces a new watch with a limited production of 150 peices – The Doxa Ultraspeed. The watch is designed around it’s automobile roots, so looks nothing like the current offerings from the company. It will be a Chronograph with power reserve complication, powered by a Valjoux 7750. 44mm Case with Double sapphire crystals, AR coated.

Should be a nice watch, though I would prefer a Doxa to look more like a Doxa, even if they are kind of ugly.

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A little video I shot on Aftermarket Panerai Straps. I do a quick review of several of these straps, and talk about the different kinds available on the market. Aftermarket Panerai straps are a world of fun, and can be purchased second-hand or new. They are easy to sell and a great way to get some variety without breaking the bank, especially in these times.

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