Sunday, August 13, 2006

Vixa Nettuno Professional Sea Power Automatic

< I was checking out the ads on PMWF one morning when I saw Shane Delaurian was selling off some Pseudo Ruhlas and one included one of his straps. Shane Delaurian is a well-known strap artisan who has mastered the craft of making distinctive custom straps of extremely high quality and rich in personality. Shane also stated in one of the posts he was selling off some of his watches. He is also known for his collection of dive watches so I thought I would inquire about the Ruhlas with his strap and ask if he had anything else I might be interested in. Shane replied he was selling a nearly new Vixa Sea Power and that was it. The Vixa Nettuno Sea Power is, of course, an Orange dialed diver, and I have a fondness for this dial color above all others. Shortly thereafter (VERY) I was the proud owner of a Vixa Nettuno Professional Sea Power Automatic. Here are the details on this watch.


48mm case diameter
Mechanical automatic movement optimized by Vixa, date, 25 jewels (ETA 2824-2)
Extra crown at 9 o'clock blocks the bezel from rotating
200m/660ft water resistant with screw in crown
High grade, solid stainless steel casing
Sapphire crystal/mineral crystal?
Solid case-back
Unidirectional bezel
Black genuine leather band; size 24mm Luminous hands and numerals

When I received the watch, I was pleased to see Shane hadn’t appeared to have used the original Vixa strap and had put the watch on a nice 24mm rubber strap. The Vixa strap is unbelievably supple and buttery sweet. I kept the rubber on as it was summer when I got the watch, and I am a sweaty man. Its all right I know I’m a sweater… I do believe I will hold off on wearing the original until the temperatures around here drop off. That won’t be too very long from now in the part of the world where it stays cold longer than it stays warm. Why do we do it??

This watch is a large 48mm diameter brute with a somewhat pale orange dial and black contrasting bezel over a lightly brushed business like stainless steel case with screw down caseback. The watch also features dual screw down crowns at 3 and 9 o’clock. The crown at 3 o’clock is a signed crown, which sets the 2824-2, and the crown at 9 o’clock locks the unidirectional rotating bezel. This seems practical and easy to operate and enhances the watches overall burliness in my opinion.

At 48mm diameter, this is clearly a large watch, which will be noticed merely for it sheer breadth. This makes for a very evident dial with luminous numerals at the cardinals and luminous circular markers at the remaining hours. The date is at 4 o’clock, which you either love or hate. There is a black chapter ring with 5-minute numerical markings and minute markers. The cardinal numbers receive dots of lume on this ring. The dial’s orange is different from archetypal orange in that it is a touch washed out and reminds me of delicious sherbet. The hand are luminous swords at the hour and minute with the sweeper being a luminous arrow tip with a red edge. The second hand is well executed in my book. The dial branding and lettering are pure joy with another splash of red! Again, I find the dial well executed overall. The lume could be beefed up but is more than adequate to visualize the time and the case back work while pleasant, is certainly underwhelming and perhaps unfitting for a watch of this deportment. There is also confusion in my mind regarding the crystal’s material. I have been told the first run of these had a sapphire crystal and fully engraved case back while later runs had mineral crystals and etched casebacks. Mine would fall into a later run based on this info. I have only heard this from others on boards so if anyone can shine more light please do and I will gladly post an update.

The watches impressive case is water resistant tested to 200m and houses the workhorse ETA 2824-2 movement. For me, this is the standard all automatic watches should aspire to. I am uncertain of how new this watch was or how heavily it was worn, but it has been a bit inconsistent in its timekeeping. The very inconsistency leads me to believe the watch may still be braking in as I have noted less variance over time. The watch is typically +8 to +10 over 24 hours which is not highly accurate in my opinion though it is certainly within respectable limits for an automatic watch.

For being such a large piece, this watch is quite comfortable. It definitely has presence to be the wearer and wearees and has a most respectable heft to it. The Vixa feels sold and reassuring on the wrist and functions well on land and in water. I only learned how hefty this watch was upon trying it on my right wrist, which is unaccustomed to wearing a watch. With the watch in this position, I could truly appreciate the girth of the Sea Power. I must also confess to treating this watch rather poorly having dropped, scraped and bashed it on all means of material without the watch missing a beat of even seeming to think twice. The brute has shrugged off every tribulation I’ve dumped on it and greets me with a sunny disposition.

All in all this is a great watch for me. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it lightheartedly as it requires some thick skin to wear such a brute with dimensions approaching Flava-Flav style. For an avid lover of orange such as me, the Vixa is a good fit.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Invicta Scuba Diver 500 (3076)

I am almost ashamed to admit it, but this watch came courtesy of ShopNBC. T is also an Invicta. For many WIS’, this is anathema, as Invicta and their partner ShopNBC, or as they are semi-affectionately known, “Invictim” and “SlopNBC”, are so named due to their reputation as cold businessmen with little or no concern for QC as long as they can move 5000 units. Reports of defective or DOA watches issued from ShopNBC appear repeatedly on many of the watch boards. Factor in the fact that I had just purchased an OTV item, which had arrived DOA, (disposition still open), the retailer’s less than stellar reputations, and it is easy to understand my hesitation to pull the trigger on this one. On the vendor’s side was the sub $300 price tag, which only got better with a promo code and the watch’s potential as a legitimate 500m water resistant, Swiss motor supplied auto. I pulled the trigger.

The Specs:

Bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet
Movement: Swiss automatic movement
Crystal: Sapphire crystal
Crown: Screw down crown
Clasp: Deployant clasp with locking closure
Bracelet Measurements: 9"L x 25mm
Case Measurements: 44mm
Water Resistance: 50 ATM - 500 meters - 1,650 ft
Model Number: IN3076

Nothing left to do but sit back and wait for the watch to arrive. A few days later, the FedEx man came a calling with my package. I opened it carefully and much to my relief found a hefty, well-built deep diver. I wound it, set it and let it run, not forgetting my recent experience with a watch arriving in non-operating condition. After it kept time and I had a chance to examine it, which I did intently, I decide to size it. At that moment, it became clear to me just how substantial this watch’s bracelet truly is.

The bracelet is SEL 316L, lightly brushed, with a width of 25mm and does not taper down to the clasp. The beefy links are held solidly with split pins, which proved to be a bit off a pain to get out. In other words, yes, I did use a hammer to size the bracelet in this watch!! !! That being said, this is a very solid high quality bracelet that infuses the watch with a sense of presence. This is the sort of bracelet you would want to spin over your knuckles for use in hand-to-hand combat. It has a lightly brushed finish that adds to its purpose built appearance.

The case is a 44mm slab of metal with crown guards protecting the screw down crown. It is branded on the 9 o’clock side of the case, which many WIS disprove of. I am unsure at this point how I feel about this tag so left by the watch behemoth. The case shape is round, somewhat bulbous in a way I find reminiscent of the ORIS divers. In most instances, a case size of 44mm would be on the large size, but this case almost appears a bit small when fitted to a bracelet of this magnitude. The caseback screws in with eight fasteners and is nicely etched with the watch’s specifics and a scuba diver in descent.

I managed to dislodge one of these screws my first day with the watch. I did play racquetball and go swimming the first day I had the watch and it may have been loose when shipped but either of the two activities that day could have been the culprit as racquetball is racquetball and I was performing aerial flops from our local pool’s high dive. I replaced the screw and have decide this is a no harm no foul event as I really should have checked the screws upon receipt. Actually in retrospect, a new watch should be checked by the vendor,not the buyer. Needless to say they are all tight at this point. I have no idea how this might effect the claimed 500 meter water resistance and don’t plan on finding out. The watch was watertight even with only seven of the eight screws.

The watch has a classic re/black bezel around a black dial, which is more a deep charcoal then true black. The charcoal color give s the dial some texture and depth. The chapter ring is marked with second and sub-second indices and has luminous pips every five minutes with 12 having two pips. The applied markers are luminescent, plump and rounded at their ends. Lume is adequate but not out of this world. The illuminated face is pleasing though. The date is a white window at three o’clock. This watch would look great with a red window date as its dept resistance is stated on the dial in red lettering. The hands are wonderful, in my opinion. They are swords with the hour hand being split by silver edging and the second had is a long tipped arrow with a red tip. It moves with the seamless sweep of an ETA 2824-2. All this is, of course, covered by a sapphire crystal.

Now, to the movement.

Allegedly, this watch has a plastic movement holder, which I find unconscionable in a watch with the supposed retail price of this one. In fact, I hate plastic movement retainers as a cost savings measure in any watch!! Realistically, this isn’t the end of the world, but I really expect it only in cheap rip offs and homages. Perhaps Invicta wishes to troll in those waters. It is of course the old chestnut ETA 2824-2, which needs no introduction to mechanical watch fans. The movement is said to be gilded (whatever that means), and again, I haven’t ripped open the case to verify or disprove since I don’t really give two sh*ts. I know this movement to be reliable and accurate and find this one to run about +7 per day. I am satisfied with this performance from the movement.

Overall, I think this is a great package at the price I paid for it. I would not wish to spend much more than that as the watch is Swiss movement only and is put together in Asia most likely. This is not a kiss of death, merely a fact, which keeps this watch from ever really attaining more than a purpose, built tool watch with little cachet. Not a biggie for me. I find the watch extremely comfortable although it weighs a ton. This watch has a lot of presence and looks rough and refined in context.

This is probably the only Invicta I will ever own as I prefer to spend my hard earned with companies that have more soul and love watches like we WIS do. Invicta seems too soulless a conglomerate to bother with, but I am glad I got this piece at its bargain buster price.