OceanicTime Archives

2021-07-28

TORNEK-RAYVILLE Series 3 TR-660 [no longer MIA]

Most of what I know about the Vietnam War was gleaned from Paul Hardcastle’s 1985 hit “19” and Robert Mason’s book “Chickenhawk” – oh, and movies like; Apocalypse Now, Deer Hunter, Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill, Platoon, Casualties of War – the list goes on – and on – 

suffice to say the Vietnam War was one of modern history’s most infamous wars killing more than 3 million people; including more than 58,000 Americans.

With numbers like that it’s kinda’ twisted to imagine that there was possibly any kind of upside – as far as humanity was concerned there certainly wasn’t; however one thing that war does do is push innovation. Starting with weaponry and eventually filtering down to the humble wristwatch. The Vietnam War like WWII had its fair share of watch stories: the Benrus Type I, the Zodiac Seawolf, the Glycine Airman and of course the Seiko 6105; they all saw action in Vietnam.

However there was another name – a name long gone but never forgotten; no not John Rambo but another legend that is back (thanks to Bill Yao and Mk II Watches), and that name is Tornek-Rayville AKA the name stamped on the American version of the Fifty Fathoms. 

Seven years after the first advisors arrived in Vietnam and 4 years before combat units landed, the US military put out the call for its first combat dive watch.

The unknown Tornek-Rayville beat out all the major US watch companies, including Bulova, which was headed-up by the well-connected retired General Omar Bradley, to win the privilege of supplying the US Special Forces units their first purpose built combat dive watch. The first TR-900s were delivered in 1963 and served with Special Forces units including, among others, Marine Force Recon, MACV-SOG and the Navy SEALs, during the Vietnam War where it was last seen - at least in active service.

Decades on and Bill Yao much like Chuck Norris in Missing in Action has brought back the TR-900 which is no longer MIA in Nam’! In truth all remaining watches were duly decommissioned and destroyed owing to their use of radioactive lume but – 

its legacy lived in all those homage watches – and in this new Tornek-Rayville’ TR-660 a Type B self-winding wrist watch (submersible) that finally replaces the TR-900 MIL-W-22176A.

It is powered by the Japanese made NE15C movement delivering a longer power-reserve and superior accuracy to the preceding mil-spec. Water-resistance too has been improved to 660 feet and the construction enables longer service intervals. Lastly the TR-660 has an optional aluminum or acrylic timing dials and reinforced spring bars to meet current ISO standards for dive watches. MSRP is 900USD – once they are back in stock.

Thoughts? So what is the TR-660; some sort of affordable Blancpain homage watch that uses the real name but like so many TR-900 homage watches comes with a Japanese movement not Swiss like the OG watches did? I dunno’ you tell me. 

It looks super nice and it’s bona fide in that Bill Yao bought the name and put it on the dial but this is still just a T-R FF homage watch, right?

But what do I know; my youth was misspent watching Vietnam War films. Anyway, what do you think – I guess it beats tracking down one of only 30 surviving radioactive OG watches and ponying up tens of thousands of dollars. 

It’s still an interesting proposition even with a Japanese movement and even at 900USD.

2021-07-27

BALL Watch Engineer Master II DIVER Chronometer RAINBOW

You know how they say that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Perhaps it’s a leprechaun or unicorn or some other shiny happy entity; either way – they were wrong. 

There’s actually a wristwatch at the end of the rainbow or another way to look at it, is that you might just find your wrist at the end of a rainbow-sporting new diver from Ball Watch Co.

Remember back in the day (I think it was a Thursday) when Omega introduced a new PO collection that boasted a nifty new trick where two different colored lumes were applied to its dial to help its wearers more clearly distinguish those markers that were integral for the reading of dive-time. Lume has come a long way since those days – it glows brighter and longer and the idea of using two or more colors is no longer anything new; however even back in the day (whenever it was) there was one Swiss luxury watch brand that were already considered leaders in wristwatch illumination and that was Ball Watch Co.

Today (15 years on from their first-generation Diver) Ball introduce the Engineer Master II Diver Chronometer, and it’s available with their latest Rainbow illumination technology that makes use of 6 colors for a technicolored dial display that will likely illicit one of two responses being – 

whoa that’s trippie, dude or WTF’s the point of that?! If you fall into the latter, then Ball offer this new collection in what they are calling classic lume with only two colors (green and yellow) as opposed to the full spectrum.

Nevertheless, the new EM II Diver Chronometer collection is so much more than its lume; its internal diving bezel can easily be operated (via the crown at 2 o’clock) even underwater when timing safety stops which it can do in darkness thanks to its micro gas tubes that ensure elapsed dive-time is always visible. Meanwhile the automatic chronometer provides excellent precision to a depth of 300 meters – housed inside a robust 42mm Stainless steel case that is only 13.5mm thick and is also with 1,000 Gauss (80,000 A/m) anti-magnetic protection as well as patented shock-resistance.

There’s even some attractive craftsmanship on the case-back where you’ll find an olden days diver’s helmet flanked by a pair of seahorses – sure it’s all a bit predictable but it does its job. 

Finally this new Ball Diver is powered by an automatic movement that has been tested and certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). And it is safeguarded by powerful resistance technology.

Ball’s special mu-metal shield surrounds the movement and delivers anti-magnetic protection to an intensity of 1,000 Gauss (80,000 A/m), ensuring that every component, especially the fragile hairspring, remains perfectly intact. 

In the event of a harsh impact, Ball’s patented Amortiser® anti-shock system absorbs the energy created by such an external shock.

The new Ball Engineer Master II Diver Chronometer is available with 2x dial colors (black or blue) with 2x lume options (rainbow or classic) and is limited to 1,000 pieces of each. It comes with 2x strap / bracelet options (steel or rubber). 

MSRP is approx. 2,624USD (bracelet variant). 

Thoughts? The rainbow lume isn’t for me – it’s all a bit gimmicky but what do you think, isn’t one or two colors already sufficient?

 http://www.ballwatch.com/

2021-07-20

PANERAI Radiomir EILEAN PATINA STEEL AKA PAM01243 [old before its time?]

♫ Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand . . . ♫ Were you even alive in the 80s? 

If you were, perhaps you remember Duran Duran’s 1982 music video ‘Rio’ with Simon Le Bon, hair blowing in the wind (like Donald walking towards Air Force 1) sat astride a yacht’s bow à la 'I'm the king of the world' Leo in Titanic, no?

Well, it’s a really nice song even today and the music vid. was considered pretty cool in its day – oh, and that yacht? It was the venerable yacht named, Eilean. The yacht is in fact an ambassador for all of Panerai’s classic-yachting exploits and is the muse for a special two-piece Radiomir Eilean collection that includes PAM01243 and PAM01244.

The latter, the Radiomir Eilean Bronzo AKA PAM01244, produced in a series of just 50 pieces and priced 39,000euros is exactly like the watch shown here – only much-much better cos’ it comes with a bronze: 

fixed bezel, crown and case-back inlay all made from bits of actual bronze salvaged from the Eilean’s restoration project. Plus it has a lovely blue dial and its case-side engraving has been gold-plated too.

The bronze version is so rare that I couldn’t find a single decent bleedin’ quality image of it online, anywhere. 

But, let’s not worry about what could have been with that edition , but instead focus on the all-steel variant which you can acquire and is a comparative bargain at just 7,900euros.

Introducing the Radiomir Eilean Steel AKA PAM01243 - Okay, so you know the back story to this watch so let’s take a quick look at its spec. as well as all of its special features. 

First up is the dial which is in dark brown with slats just like those found on the deck of a yacht.

Meanwhile its case which measures 45mm in diameter is constructed from what Panerai are calling ‘Patina Steel’ (it sounds a lot better said with an Italian accent). 

The Patina Steel has been used for the watch’s mid-case as well as its fixed bezel, and case-back. The engraved case-back design has been directly lifted from the Eilean’s brass rigging main cog whatchamacallit / thingamabob – I think that’s the correct sailing term for it?

More engraving can be found on the left lateral side of the watch’s case which bears the name “Eilean” along with the year ‘1936’ (the date that her build was finished and she was launched) plus some filigree on either side for good measure – most likely echoing some other part of the boat’s design. Power comes from a 19 jewels, hand-cranked mechanical, P.6000 caliber with a beat-rate of 21,600 alternations/hour, an Incabloc anti-shock device and a power-reserve of 3 days.

Finally one last nautical touch – comes by way of the watch’s special “Scamosciato” brown leather strap made from Cuoio toscano (marine-grade leather dating back to Paneria’s Pre-Vendome days). 

This has ecru contrast stitching echoing the ropes you might find on the Eilean’s rigging.

Thoughts? It’s all a little too Bohemian for my taste but I do appreciate the thought put into those design details as well as the Eilean’s history and of course the Duran Duran tie-in – although I was more a New Order kinda’ guy myself. 

I know I haven’t shown it but if money was no object of course the bronze version would be my pick but if I were truly in the market for a Radiomir – THIS would be more to my taste. But what do you think – this or the Radiomir Ceramic? 

2021-07-16

PANERAI Submersible 42MM PAM01223 [white done right]

This is the new Submersible - 42mm AKA PAM01223, Panerai’s masterclass on the classic summer-time white dial release.

And yes, it will likely cause those of us that typically shun white dials to fully reevaluate all that we thought we knew about – err, watches with the white dials that is. 

Or to put it in more technical terms – this is white done right!

Special white features of the watch include a glossy white enamel dial with all hands and appliqué markers picked out in contrasting matte black plus a white luminescent pearl at 12hr on the bezel.

And that’s it – no more white was necessary. Further specs: includes: a 42mm AISI brushed Stainless steel case, 300m of water-resistance and a P.900 caliber automatic movement. 

MSRP in the US is 8’900USD.

Thoughts? Un così bel viso bianco! 

Yeah, I can’t exactly speak Italian (at all), those of you that do - please feel free to berate me in the comments! ;)

 

LeJOUR Coral DIVER [live in the moment]

Is your love of vintage inspired diver’s watches, those that recall a certain bygone golden era in dive watch history all but dwindling? I hear your pain – but fear not, there’s another way – it might be time to start living in the moment. There’s an exciting, eclectic world of style and elegance beyond the vintage realm. One such watch that you might consider that delivers in terms of contemporary aesthetics is a brand-new collection from LeJOUR.

LeJOUR explored the ocean through eyes of a HAMMERHEAD shark; now they invite us to explore the coral reefs and atolls in which they inhabit – 

introducing the new LeJOUR Coral Diver, a modern diver with all the style, elegance and sophistication of any of the Swiss brand’s forebearers.

Executed in a comfortable 42mm diameter, its case is made from 316L Stainless Steel with an integrated H-Link bracelet. 

The design of which offers a soft interplay of shiny polished and satin-brushed surfaces – paired with a unique texture-finished dial that recalls a whirling underwater vortex or whirlpool.

Available in 5 alluring color combinations of Black / Blue / Gray / Green and Brown, the Coral Diver Watch features a domed Sapphire Crystal. 

Meanwhile adding to its functionality, the timepiece also comes with an easy gripping unidirectional bezel.

The 120-click bezel comes with intermittent toothed tabs on the bezel’s outer perimeter – meanwhile the inlay has been filled with ceramic with an engraved with 60-min. scale.

Well balanced symmetry is maintained on the dial with an immaculately applied indices and classically styled hands. 

The dial hands, indices and the bezel markers are filled with C3 grade Swiss Super-Luminova ensuring enhanced legibility in low lights.

Built to survive up to 20o meters, it is powered by 26-Jeweled SELLITA SW200 Swiss Made automatic movement renowned for its accuracy, dependability and longevity. 

The NEW LeJOUR Coral Diver is available from now priced 800USD. 

 https://www.lejourwatches.ch/

TISSOT Seastar 2000 Professional POWERMATIC 80

TISSOT welcomes a new professional model to its diver’s watch family – and it could be the Swiss brand’s most technically advanced diver’s model to date. Introducing the new Seastar 2000 Professional – delivered in three gradient shaded colors that include: blue, grey and turquoise-blue, its dial is distinguished from lesser Seastar family members by that oh-so-popular nautical touch – a wave-pattern. As you have likely already deduced from its name, the Seastar 2000 Professional, has exactly double the water-resistance of its older sibling, the Seastar 1000 and so is rated to 600 meters AKA 2’000 feet. In addition to its higher-depth rating, the ISO6425-certified diver also comes with a couple of other new diver’s feature that one might expect to find on a diver that advertises itself as “professional”.

There’s its ceramic bezel inlay and because going to the expense of engineering a crown or bezel-locking device or some other clever piece of diving tech would have been too much to hope for, Tissot has given their new diver you guessed it a Helium Escape Valve – 

and just in case there was any doubt to its purpose (perhaps it could have been a hot air vent) they have labeled it accordingly with the chemical symbol for Helium “He”.

Not surprisingly, this new Seastar 2000 Pro model also boasts a larger case diameter – measuring 46mm its case has been constructed from 316L Stainless steel which is finished with an alternating finish.

So what’s powering this lovely new Tissot dive watch? 

The very same Powermatic 80 with 80hrs of power-reserve as well as magnetic –resistant Nivachron™ technology that includes a patented Si balance-spring.

The movement can be viewed through a Sapphire crystal exhibition window placed in the center of the screw-down case-back. 

The new Seastar 2000 Professional Powermatic 80 is available now from Tissot dealers, Worldwide. 

Its MSRP in the US is 1’025USD on its bracelet or 925USD on black rubber.

Thoughts? Sure, it’s a nice watch, nicely made, reliable and with everything you could hope to find in a professional diver’s watch except perhaps one thing – a personality. But what do you think? 

https://www.tissotwatches.com/