October 17, 2014
Yosemite and musings
I read an interesting post this morning about the need for multiple blogs:
I find it sort of charming when people write “whole person” blogs that may contain material spanning from their personal emotions, to the culture they appreciate, to the work that they do, and the politics they believe in. But I also find it kind of irritating when I don’t happen to value or share in common one or more of those many disparate interests. Slogging through myriad posts about renaissance faires or meat rendering techniques, just to get the rare morsel about, say, optimizing Objective-C code, is not my idea of enjoying the written word as a reader of blogs.
Yes indeed! I have Fnord for general nerd-ery, watchotaku for WIS, one Twitter accout as my main ‘face’, another Twitter for WIS, and a third for friends only.
Plus sites like LinkedIn (the resume) and about.me for general visibility. And Github for code.
Identity is a complex thing. When I’m writing, or reading for that matter, focused content and feeds work better. If you go to watchotaku.com, you know what you’re going to get.
October 9, 2014
A most excellent toy
It’s $23 bucks on Amazon. It actually flies and is controllable. You can get spare parts for cheap, and it comes with 4 replacement props.
Onboard battery lasts a few minutes, recharges via the USB cable, controller takes 2x AAA and seems happy with Eneloops. It’s small enough to sit in your palm, so you’re not going to hang a GoPro from it, but it flies and is stable enough with the trim to actually be fun.
Took me a single flight to get the hang of it, and once I do a few more I can enable loops and flips in the controller. Not a kid toy by any means, but a very well priced gadget for ex-pilots like myself.
December 26, 2006
The Seiko Marinemaster page
SBDX001, link goes to source page
What this page is
I’m debating a watch, the Seiko Marinemaster SBDX001. This page is a collection of my notes and finds as I did the product research and reading. It’s posted here (and will go to SCWF as well) as a service to other people considering it.
I don’t own one, so all of the pictures here are copied from other sites. Whenever I’ve done so, the picture is a link to the source site to provide attribution.
I’m experimenting with formatting, for now I’ll put the source links at the end of the page.
There’s more than one model of Seiko called ‘Marinemaster’, so to distinguish this one I’ll call it the MM300 to distinguish it from the 600M spring drive version. Both are part of the ‘Prospex’ line of watches, Seiko’s upscale diver line that’s only sold and marketed in Japan. (There are other Marinemasters as well, this page does not cover them.)
The MM300 designed for saturation diving, up to 300 meters, and is equipped with a special L-shaped gasket and one-piece case to render it proof against helium gas. Unlike the Rolex Seadweller and Omega Seamaster, a helium escape valve is not needed due to the superior seal - a more elegant solution, in my opinion.
It’s a large, heavy watch - 14.6mm high by 44mm across, 209g on the included bracelet, 136g on the rubber strap.
The watch comes with a rubber strap as well.
The official product page, in Japanese, is here.
Back of watch
The case is made of stainless steel, I assume type 316L but I’m not sure. It’s monocoque, meaning that the back does not come off and the movement is accessed after removing the bezel and crystal. Seiya claims it’s antimagnetic as well; I’ve not seen anyone else mention this. Drilled lugs, unsigned screw-down crown.
The movement is an 8L35, an undecorated and unadjusted version of the high-end Grand Seiko 9S55. Rhodium-plated, 26 jewels, automatic, 28800vph (4Hz), handwind and hacking, 50 hour power reserve. The size of the balance wheel was increased to provide the torque required, as the hands are heavier than a dress watch. The 8L35 is also used in the Landmaster, which has the same hands.The movement by all accounts keeps excellent time, and in 9S55 trim is capable of exceeding COSC specs. Anecdotal reports on various fora indicate less than five seconds’ daily error is typical. The spec is -10 to +15 seconds per day.The 8L35 is completely in-house Seiko, and is descended from the 6159 300m diver, circa 1969. Everything from oil on up, including mainspring, is Seiko. Kinda cool. What they call a ‘manufacture’. John ‘ei8htohms’ Davis is a big fan of the 8L35, and had this to say about it:
My understanding is that the Seiko 8L35 is pretty much the same movement as the 9S55, but perhaps missing a few refinements and not as thoroughly adjusted. As such, it is one of the finest automatic movements Seiko makes. The machining is of the highest quality and the design and construction is informed by Seiko’s many years of experience. I believe the 8L35 even has a Lossier inner coil on the hairspring. A very nice touch you will not find in any modern Swiss watches to my knowledge.
In a different thread he elaborates on Lossier inner curves, pinned hairsprings and fine adjustments, well worth a read if you want to know more. I liked this quote:
As far as the movement is concerned, it is a wonderful piece of work that is exactly what it claims to be: a grand Seiko movement. The finishing is almost entirely machined, but machining of exquisite quality overall. The edges are generally not chamferred (anglaged), but are incredibly crisp and the sides are cut to a near mirror polish (as can be seen in some of SteveG’s pics).
Since the case is one-piece, there are very few pictures of the movement around. Here’s the official one from the product page:
Update 8/29/07: A new thread on Timezone has 3 large pictures of the movement.
Update 3/20/08: The movement is hand-assembled in northern Japan by a staff of 21, see this post for details.
Strap and bracelet
The included bracelet is 20mm, tapering to about 18mm at the clasp. Solid links, flat Oyster-style with slightly raised center link. Center links are partially polished. It’s held together with the Seiko pin-and-collar system. Solid end links, fliplock with push release and ratcheting wetsuit extension. Each link is actually five discrete pieces. As noted above, the lugs are drilled which makes changes easier.
The included rubber strap is a variation on the Z22 that Seiko uses on its SKX-series divers. (Note that its 20mm, not 22, so it’s really a variation of the less-common Z20.)
Here you can see the wetsuit extension in use, works well by most reports. Nice for warm days as well. If you look at this and the above picture, you can see that they changed the extension slide a bit, so which type you get depends on the age of your watch.
Crystal, bezel and face
The hands are interesting, a superbly detailed combination of brushed and polished finish with Lumibrite infill:
Very legible, though they could be a bit longer. I’ve noticed that Seiko and Citizen seem to use shorter hands than European brands. Aesthetics, I assume.The text on the face is a bit verbose, which is a negative for me. Unlike the newer SD600, the crystal is domed Hardlex, with an exterior anti-reflective coating. It sits just below the sloped bezel, and is therefore less likely to be damaged. According to Ikuo Tokunaga it’s mainly a question of economics and resistance to impact. Jack at Industrial Watch Works will replace it with sapphire for about 200USD. Bezel is 120-click and sloped. From Alphonse on SCWF, an interesting tidbit about it’s construction:
The MM text is printed directly onto the bezel in a multi step process. The metal bezel’s top surface is blackened and then the printing lasered onto the black “paint”. So in other words, the bezel is a one piece assembly.
I found this out the hard way when I needed to have one replaced from a very nasty series of gouges caused by a knurled barbell. The entire bezel had to be replaced by Seiko since there is no traditional “insert”.
The same thread also discusses the fact that you can scratch the bezel pretty easily, which makes sense if its 316L steel.
Seiko is well-known for excellent luminosity, and the MM300 is no exception. Lumibrite, their version of Super Luminova, is applied liberally to hands, indices and timing dot:
The bezel indices are not lumed.
Price and availability
The list price is 262,500JPY, or about 2,200USD as of 12/2006. Since it’s Japan-only, you have to either book a flight or find a dealer who will ship it. You also want to ensure the dealer is authorized and will handle warranty service, if required.
Higuchi has an excellent reputation and, as of today, the lowest quoted price at 185,000JPY. (~1,600USD)
Seiya also has them, also is well-respected, but as of today is a bit more expensive.
If you speak Japanese, WatchTanaka site has them as well.
You can find them used on the TimeZone sales corner, the Seiko-Citizen trading forum, or the Poor Man’s watch trading and sales forum. Expect to pay 1200 to 1400USD for a used one in good condition as of 12/2006. This seems to indicate strong demand and good value retention.
Negatives and drawbacks
There’s significant controvery around the MM300. For many Seiko fans, it’s considered a ‘grail watch’, yet there’s some unhappiness as well. The Hardlex (instead of the sapphire expected at this price point) and Japan-only service are commonly cited. The unsigned crown also nets complaints. The only domestic repair is Jack at IWW, and that’s not covered by warranty.
There have been reports of the crown threads being damaged, such as this thread. However, Bongo on SCWF did a complete search of the archives and finds no factual basis for it.
Overall, the negative comments are greatly outnumbered by the positive ones, so consider accordingly.
More information and sources
I mainly used Google, TimeZone and the SCWF while researching this. And SteveG’s pictures, of course.
Other reviews (and discussion) of the watch
This is the oldest review I found, dating to 2001 and indicating that the MM300 had been introduced a year previous.
This is the famous Randall Benson review, with good pictures and commentary.
Wonderful review with many pictures by Cafe.
Review on the less-Seiko-centric TimeZone, also good.
A second TZ review
Review in German
Discussion on TZ, pretty decent.
Added June 2007, a nice review on Timezone. Lots of excellent pictures and similar take as myself.
This page from Roger Ruegger (in German) seems to be a complete review with pictures of his Marinemaster actually diving. Imagine that.
I found a pictorial disassembly here, extremely unusual, very nice pictures of the case, movement, crystal, dial and crown.
Here is a thread discussing service issues, Seiko Japan versus Industrial Watch Works(IWW).
Comparisons to other watches
Amazingly, a video of the MM300 is here on YouTube.
History, other Seiko divers
This page (Titans of the Deep) has a detailed history of Seiko divers, quite interesting. Mostly about the ‘shrouded divers’, some of which also use the 8L35 movement.
The Legacy of Seikosha has lots of details about the company and brief sketches of the various movements.
December 24, 2006
An interesting essay on modern masculinity
I’m not a big Adam Sandler fan. In fact, I like the “Piece of shit car” song and the Bob Barker scene from “Happy Gilmor” and that’s pretty much it.
Well, ‘Fifty first dates’ was good.
Anyway, Metafilter led me to an interesting essay on “Punch Drunk Love” as a metaphor for modern masculinity. I found it to be thought-provoking:
The film’s dark underbelly emerges when Barry calls a phone-sex line. Sheepishly, he gives the operator his credit card, Social Security number, home address, and phone number so that a girl can call him back. Barry hangs up the phone only to pick it up again to be greeted by the verbal stimulation of “Georgia.” It all seems innocent enough as he claps off his bedroom light and goes to sleep in the safety of his apartment.
But Georgia calls Barry again the next morning, awakening him to the nightmare of being asked to help her with her rent. Barry refuses and she threatens that if he doesn’t give her more money she will charge his cards and make trouble for him. He hangs up and goes to work. Georgia’s “sexy” voice turns sinister as it hunts him down at work, calling again to blackmail Barry for money he doesn’t have. Just as Barry’s late-night chat partner is turning up the heat, one of Barry’s seven sisters comes to his warehouse with a friend to play matchmaker.
The scene is shot to juxtapose three kinds of women, all expecting Barry to perform different kinds of masculinities. The phone sex girl is threatening him into playing the role of a financial patriarch. Barry’s sister is harassing him into a heterosexual performance as the macho man who should date her friend. And then there is Lena (Emily Watson), the woman Barry’s sister is trying to get him to date. He appears to be genuinely frightened of her, just as he is of the other two women in this scene. When he does not immediately follow up on his sister’s demands, Lena bluntly asks him on a date and Barry passively accepts.
Though the women are obviously asking Barry to masquerade in the patriachal costumes of their liking, Barry is unable to do so. The patriarchal means, like wealth and his ability to be the macho man, are non-existent. He sells novelty plungers from a warehouse. Even if he did make a lot of money he wouldn’t be able to brag about what he does, a traditional sign of masculine pride.
This barrage of female voices is the normative context for what we might want to call a post-patriarchal man. Women hand out multifarious fictional roles to men who no longer have the resources to play them out. Women define and redefine the roles and then judge the performances, but there are many different women to listen to.
In Punch-Drunk Love, women complain to Barry that he is inadequate (his sisters), ask him for money (the phone sex girl), and even ask him on a date (Lena). Barry is expected to be a financial provider, a tough guy who doesn’t cry (Barry has a crying problem that his sister asks him about at this point in the film), a macho ladies man, and, oddly, some sort of soft-hearted and sensitive companion.
The plurality of voices, presented cinematically to evoke the experience of pressurized chaos, leaves the audience with the distinct impression of the futility of male attempts at patriarchal performances. If there was ever a case study for the experience of post-patriarchy, Barry is it.
Ouch. More interesting discussion follows:
Part of the complexity of current masculine gender constructions is that men are confronted with a plethora of voices that tell them how to be a man. These voices create real crises in men’s experience of masculinity. Linda Lindsey suggests five that are traditional:
1. No Sissy Stuff: the stigma of all stereotyped feminine characteristics and qualities, including openness and vulnerability. 2. The Big Wheel: Success, status, and the need to be looked up to. 3. The Sturdy Oak: A manly air of toughness, confidence, and self-reliance. 4. Give ‘Em Hell: The aura of aggression, violence, and daring. . . . 5. Macho Man: An emphasis on sexual prowess and sexual conquests.
Some wives may want “the sturdy oak,” while the locker room may beckon the “macho man.” The marketplace may tell him to be the “big wheel” with all its politics and refinement, while the bar room may call for the “give ’em hell” aura of mindless aggression. And while men have traditionally found ways to integrate these voices into their masculinity, more recently they also have had to contend with new masculinities that idealize, “the fallible anti-hero who . . . emerged in the 1970s, such as Dustin Hoffman and Dudley Moore. Women praise the sensitive man who can admit to his vulnerability yet admire the toughness of the man who refuses to bend in the face of overwhelming odds,” says Lindsey, concluding, unsurprisingly: “Most men fall short when attempting to satisfy both standards.”
I read some reviews when the movie came out, but haven’t seen it, think I’ll have to add it to the netflix queue…
This film shows us that masculinity—and really gender as a whole—is a process and a journey that men must undertake in post-patriarchal contexts. Hopeful re-enchantment can be birthed in a man who comes to terms with the many lies he was living. This is not to say that Barry will ever be freed from gender performances, but through catharsis and a touch of transcendence represented by the harmonium, he can begin to assess how best to correlate the roles he plays with the reality of his concrete relationship with Lena. The film begins with a man riddled with self-doubt and shame. It ends with a man hopeful that his cathartic love can sustain the punch-drunk masculine journey on which he has embarked.