May 16, 2006

Orient analog-digital review

Due to some very thoughtful relatives, I got lucky last Christmas:

Purty, Kelly Rayburn picturePurty, Kelly Rayburn picture

I wrote about it a bit in a previous post on analog-digital and am now very pleased to have one.

The above picture is a scaled version; the full review and high-res pictures are on this thread. Kelly Rayburn, the photographer, is a seriously artistic man.

Here’s another review by Kelly of the same watch, in the grey dialed version.

This thread explains that its a Miyota T241 movement, and links to the manuals.

So what do I think of it?

I delayed writing this for a few months, to get more of a reasoned and balanced review. In short: I love it.

Pros

Excellent, classic Oyster bracelet, with pushbutton release. Comfortable and low-key. The lugs are standard, so you can swap in a strap if you want.

The analog face is extremely readable. Easily read at a glance, which is important to me. At night, the luminosity is very good, easily lasting all night. The numerals are filled, so you have a cool-looking set of numbers to see.

This is a subtly beautiful watch. The aesthetics, so often overlooked, add up extremely well. The pieces are well placed, of the right size and shape. Little details, like the screw-down crown, elliptical buttons, sloped bezel and clean hands add up to a very nice looking and very functional watch. It’s slim, fitting easily under a dress shirt cuff, and has worked well for me in semi-formal dress settings. I work a lot with engineers and scientists, and this watch is perfect for presentations: dressy, but still technical and unpretentious.

It also travels well - the alarm will wake me if I put it on the bedstand, the times are easy to change, and the luminous dial is easy to read at night when jetlag wakes you up. At the same time, its affordable enough (appx 150USD) that you don’t have to worry about getting mugged for it.

I don’t have a lot of use for a stopwatch, but it does have one that works just fine.

Cons

The digital portion is not illuminated, so it’s not usable at night or in low lighting.

The analog and digital portions are not synchronized; setting one doesn’t affect the other. This is possibly a pro as well, since you can easily set them to odd timezone offsets, local time, GMT or the like.

The countdown timer is useless - you set year/month/day, and it counts down until 12:00AM. How is this useful? After the date arrives, it changes to count-up mode, and times how long its been since then. Maybe useful as a Doomsday clock or retirement countdown, but useless for cooking and the like. Bummer, that.

The unidirectional bezel is both stiff and imprecise. It uses 60 clicks per revolution instead of 120, the minutes are not marked, and there’s no pointer at zero. This adds up to hard-to-read and hard-to-set, so it rarely gets used.

The second hand has very poor registration. At different points on the dial, the hand stops in varying locations. Personal pet peeve, this, as an indicator of a cheap movement.

The tachymeter scale is, as always, spectacularly useless and a waste of space.

Overall

I’ve become a big fan of mechanical watches, but its still essential to have a highly functional quartz sometimes. This one is cheap, well designed, affordable and quite nice to look at. Highly recommended.


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