Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Croton "Noriega"

I guess I am a ShopNBC shopper as I am almost ashamed to say I’ve purchased several watches from them. One, which I have been pleasantly surprised with, is the Croton 200 M 2836 in a dial shade Croton calls “Pineapple: I have dubbed this watch the Noriega. While the specs would suggest this is a diver, truth be told it is a dressy diver or maybe even a “bling” diver. Since I am at a best a sport swimmer and by no means a diver, this turn of events suits me well and makes the watch doubly attractive in a way I didn’t
really foresee.

I ordered the Noriega quite some time after its initial offering although I did see it presented on TV with David Mermelstein and the much beloved Jim Skelton. Despite the haranguing and absurd yelling during the presentation, I was intrigued by the large auto diver with Swiss Movement even though it is not Swiss Made. The price was $299 and though mildly enticed, I passed on the watch. Shortly thereafter, a member at the watch forum I favor (JeffR and 3T) started posting his pineapple dialed Croton. I thought it looked pretty damn nice and had second thoughts about passing on the watch. What the Hell I thought, but KABOOM SOLD OUT!!

Fast forward a couple weeks and the pineapple-dialed model is again available at a reduced price, I’ve got a Slop code, and my birthday is fast approaching. Since I knew this year wasn’t going to be the grail, I thought I would pull the trigger. I have to say I am glad I did.

The Specs (courtesy to professionals at ShopNBC)

This watch has a round stainless steel case with a unidirectional rotating bezel and an exhibition back. The textured dial houses silver-tone luminous index markers at the 3:00, 6:00, 9:00 and 12:00 positions. The day/date window is located at the 4:00 position. Silver-tone luminous dot markers indicate all remaining hour positions. The logo, "CROTON", and "AUTOMATIC" are displayed below the 12:00 position. "20ATM-660FT", and "WATER RESISTANT" are written
above the 6:00 position. This timepiece has a silver-tone luminous hour and minute hands, and a silver-tone second hand.
· Bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet
· Movement: Swiss automatic ETA 2836 movement
· Crystal: Sapphire crystal
· Crown: Screw down crown
· Clasp: Deployant clasp with push button release
· Bracelet Measurements: 8-3/8"L x 15/16"W or 23mm
· Case Measurements: 1-13/16" or 46mm
· Water Resistance: 20 ATM - 200 meters - 660 ft
· Model Numbers:Grey: CA301075SSGYPineapple: CA301075SSYLSilver-tone: CA301075SSSL
· Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty provided by Croton

Well this is a no brainer from the service aspect as Croton offers a limited lifetime warranty and enjoys an outstanding reputation for their high level of customer service. In that regard, I felt confident even purchasing from Slop. I am pretty certain I’ll never need to go that route as the Noriega proves to be a solid well built watch with some great points and few real knocks if you like the styling and accept the watch for what it is. Moreover, it is large and in charge with an impressive case some 46mm in diameter.

I have a couple other large watches, namely my Vixa which is reviewed in another post here, and a Glycine Incursore. Those watches are 48mm and 46mm in diameter respectively. In addition to its girth, the Noriega is thick at nearly 15mm. The lugs on the watch are sculpted elegantly and curve downward which aid comfort with such a massive case. The 316L is high polished and finished nicely with no visible defects other than the poor decision to etch “CROTON’ on the case’s 9:00 side. For some this is the kiss of death, but in my mind the offending etching faces me and isn’t a deal breaker. Truth be told I like it a bit in a cheesy way. In a nod to tool divers, the crown is located at the 4:00 position. The crown is nicely signed and gnarled for easy grasping and works like a dream in conjunction with the 2836. There is an exhibition back giving us a look at the unfinished 2836.

The case is capped with a non-traditional bezel with diver style numbering. In my interpretation, the bezel is akin to an open flower being divided into six “petals” but fingertip sized indents for grasping the bezel. These are not really practical but more decorative and score points in that respect. This makes sense in that the bezel is cut into six ten minute pieces. There is a flat sapphire crystal that doesn’t seem to have any anti-glare material applied which is somewhat refreshing instead of having your watch appear blue at angles.

The dial work while clearly too perfect o be of human hands, is exemplary and really makes this watch special. A classic diver’s wave runs across the watch with an inner ring cut with concentric lines flowing with the ring. I find this most pleasing and well though out and executed on a watch for this price The color is quite unique, not a true pineapple to me but more a faded yellow which is subtle and lovely. The day and date are displayed at 4:00 and there is a chapter ring, which displays the 24-hour numerals. There are luminous pips and the numbers with larger marker at the cardinals. Additionally, there are luminous pips on the chapter ring between each 24-hour numeral. Although the lume is at best fair and nowhere in a tool diver’s league, the pattern displayed is aesthetically pleasing and unique. Another nice little touch is the red 24-hour numeral on the chapter ring. These details may seem inconsequential but to a dork like me, they enhance my enjoyment of the watch. One weak point in my opinion is the hands. While the lume-coated swords are just all right for the hour and minute, being a lume freak I would have preferred a better hand than the sewing needle proffered and might even accept this had if it had a luminous tip.

The movement is another favorite ETA this time with the day date complication. While it is obviously not finished in any sort of way and some WIS argue the “gilded” versions are either wholly Asian of just assembled there, the movements functions properly with the crown, and keeps reasonably accurate time though nowhere nearly as accurately as the same movement tweaked by say Mido. It appears there is a metal movement holder though I haven’t even thought about cracking the case to check the movement. All in all highly adequate.

Now on to the bracelet, which I really enjoy. I like bracelets and I’m not overly fussy so keep that in mind. This is a solid bracelet, which polished center links and brushed outer links. I like the look and find it supple though it is working hard to comfortably carry such a large heavy case. The clasp is pretty weak in my opinion with a bushed finish and a single button deployment. It seems an afterthought on such a nice bracelet and the brushed finish is a swirly making farm. I gave it a good bang the first time ever wearing the watch.

Then we must address the styling. To my eye, this watch is big and bold and a bit blingy. It is an eye catcher indeed, as I have seen people’s eyes following the watch while speaking to groups. However, if you’re a “true diver” sort this will not be for you although there is just no reason why you couldn’t dive with this watch. I must admit to not even water testing it as I just got it in late September. During its stay with me, it hasn’t quite cracked into my favorite rotation, but I am always pleased when I do wear it. In my opinion, this is solid watch for the money and shows the real value in the Croton product. For me this watch is a keeper.

If you have a comment please search out the link and leave it. Many thanks to TD for the inspiration! That’s what WIS are for!!

1 comment:

stuart turnbull said...

I am a serial watch buyer and reseller and recently had one of these in my collection. It took iron will to follow through my habit of reselling and immediately it was gon I started regretting it (sellers remorse?).
It was a lovely watch and if I can get one for the same sort of price I opaid the first time, I doubt it will be sold on for a long time.