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Random bits from a random nerd

Supercheap Skeletonized Automatic Watches.

Ever since I saw one, I’ve been enamored of the idea of skeletonized watches. (Mechanical, since quartz has no moving parts to watch.)

Some of these are quite expensive, but the Chinese are now in the mechanical watch market, and their watches are cheap.

For example, consider the Chronoswiss Opus:

(Image swiped from TimeZone, their review is here.)

This watch costs about $7,500 to $15,000. Not cheap by anyone’s standards. Not in my price range, period.

Now consider this one:

This is likely Chinese. I got it on Ebay for $70, including overnight shipping. With patience, I could have paid less. It’s labeled as ‘Stratosphere Watches’, and the auction points to their website at http://www.stratosphere-watches.com/ The detailed page for this model is here , including the ludicrous list price of $400.

Not as pretty as the Opus, no question. Also, for skeletonized watches, manual wind is preferred because the rotor weight blocks the view of the mechanism. Still, you can buy at least 100 of these for the same price…

Review notes

The power reserve seems to be at least 24H, and possibly 36. The auto-wind works well, as does the manual wind. You can see the mainspring from the front. Seems to be 21,600VPH, or 6 beats/second. The autowind is bidirectional with what looks like the Seiko ‘Magic Lever’ system.

The buttons, which look like chronograph start/stop/reset, aren’t. They set the day and date wheels. A bit of false advertising, but it makes this super fast to set if the spring has wound down.

The 24H hand is slaved to the main dial, so you can’t use this as a GMT watch.

Positives

The movement is both manual wind and automatic, it has day/date/24H complications, and it even hacks. (Unlike my beloved Seiko)

It seems to keep time well, off by less than 10 seconds per day, and it looks very nice.

There’s even a glass display caseback to admire the internals:

Pretty, isn’t it?

Negatives

The only lume is a dab on each of the hands, and it fades very quickly. You’ll not be reading this in the dark.

The dial is a bit busy, and the pretty internals also distract.

If you pull too hard on the crown, the whole stem come out. Based on this, I have doubts about the claimed 30M water resistance!

The strap is short, and I have to use the last stop. A replacement could easily cost more than the watch.

Conclusions

I bought this as a dress watch, so the negatives don’t bother me. I don’t expect this to last forever, and it won’t impress anyone for bling or craftsmanship. However, it is quite good looking, keeps excellent time, and looks great as a dress watch with formal clothing. For those of us with the mechanical watch bug, having a view into the internals is both mesmerizing and compelling.

And good lord its cheap. Almost comparable with quartz.

Highly recommended.

Links

Another review of a similar watch. High-res picture of this watch - check it out! Europa Timepieces’ ebay store. This is where I bought mine. There are some on ebay.com, but cost more for some reason.

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