I bought a watch

So, after nearly 15 years I bought a watch. You’re probably thinking that’s not a big deal right? Well yes, for everyone else. Probably not.

The thing is, I always used to have a watch growing up. Mostly classic Casio’s as they were the ones cheap enough that a kid could buy with the limited pocket money I received while growing up abroad. When I moved back to the UK, I got myself a couple of evening and weekend jobs. With this sudden new found wealth I upgraded to a sweet Seiko Kinetic. Yes, it did take me a few months to save up the money, but the feel and quality of it all was just oh so special to a young teenager growing up in the middle of nowhere.

The only time you couldn’t find me with a watch was either when I was in the gym or martial arts training where it really didn’t make sense to wear one. Yes, I guess you get that I really did love wearing watches before. So what changed? I guess it was a messy break-up. You see I’d been dating someone for over 3 years who one day gave me an Omega Seamaster as a birthday present. It felt oh so special and I wore it everywhere. One day I noticed the strap wasn't locking correctly so I took it to a watch specialist to get it replaced. I handed over my cherished object, like a baby to the jeweller. He looked a bit confused. First at the strap and then at the actual watch itself. "I'm sorry, but this isn't a genuine Seamaster" he said, awkwardly. "It's too light. It should be heavier and the second hand isn't moving like a mechanical automatic". As he handed the watch over, he pointed to a real Seamaster sitting in a display case. "Notice how smoothly the hand moves, that's what it should look like".

I took the watch back without bothering to replace the strap. There was a good chance that the strap would of cost more than the watch itself. It was during the heady dot com days and normally rather than heading back home after 6pm I would grab some food, work for a few more hours before going home. Today though, I wasn't in the mood, so I travelled back to my flat earlier than usual... And that's where I discovered the watch wasn't the only thing fake about my relationship with my then girlfriend duh duh duh! So now you know how my journey to being greatest gigolo known to womankind started... Wait, no. Wrong story.

So you see, for silly reasons really, I despised wearing a watch. You're probably wondering then how I've told the time all these years? Phones, well mobile phones. For many years manufacturers were on a mission to shrink their size while increasing their function. It kind of worked well for me for a long time. That is until I needed to trade my old iPhone 5s in for a 6 plus. I loved my new phones battery lasted compared to my previous one. There was one problem however. It was HUGE. Like uncomfortable in my trouser pocket huge. And that's not a euphemism. I started leaving my phone in my bag when while I was working. And when it came to my morning commute, I'd be loath to take it out of my bag. Preferring to not know whether I was on time or fashionably late.

After a while I started feeling a bit lost not having easy access to the time. And so I started my search for a watch. I knew I didn't want a Rolex or some other expensive time piece such as an Omega. I'd feel too scared to actually wear it for fear of damaging the time piece. I did know that I wanted something that didn't use batteries and didn't feel like it was going to fall apart after a year.
A bit of research and I discovered that not many manufacturers outside of Switzerland made their own mechanical movements. Even some of the more expensive, well known companies prefer to buy in a movement and rebrand it as their own.
Unless I wanted to pay top potato for a Swiss (which I didn't), I'd have to look elsewhere.

More research later and I'd narrow down my search to both Seiko and Orient. Yes, all Japanese companies, with each offering classic mechanical movements designed in the 1960's, encased in a number of styles. If I'm honest, I actually nearly got myself a Seiko. And if I was in the market to pay more than £100 then I might have taken the jump. However, what swung it for me towards the Orient, was how the watch felt in my hand. Cheaper watches, usually cut costs by providing a lighter , poorer quality watch strap. The Orient however felt very very solid. Leagues better than that fake Seamaster from years past and better in the hand than the Seiko 7 watches I'd tried (at least the sub £100 ones).

The watch feels and looks like something five times more expensive. It doesn't need a battery, instead powered from the mechanical movement of a little semi-circle shaped wheel that moves as I wear it on my wrist. If leave the watch on my bed side dresser it's usually got enough juice to last for a day without use. It's got a thing called a 'crown' which all divers watches have (or should have). The purpose of this, is so that the wheel that you'd normally turn to set the time and date is screwed down to prevent any water entering the mechanism and damaging the watch. If I'm honest, I didn't know about a watches crown before I started looking at divers watches. My previous divers watch which was fake didn't have a crown and looking back now, I was lucky that I didn't try taking it into the shower.

If there is one tiny thing that I don't like about the watch, it would be the lume. Lume what? I hear you say. It's just short for luminescence. The glow in the dark feature most mechanical watches have where the watch hands and numbers glow in the dark. The lume isn't terrible and I rarely do find myself in pitch black dark. But if I were to ever use the watch, diving in deep, dark waters I definitely would have a hard time. The glow just isn't that bright or lasts that long.
I saw that Orients new Mako watch that's designed for the US market solves this problem as well as including a scratch proof sapphire glass front, which adds to its classy looks.

So, if you're in the market for sub £100 mechanical divers watch, I recommend looking at the Orient Mako.

Jonathan Conway

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