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The watch appreciation thread

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While I was at Wing Wah waiting for the lady to bring out these two watches, a customer walked in. Obviously, Wing Wah's customer, but also my customer! Can't even buy a watch in peace.

Just now, I was searching on Carousell for a cordovan strap. I came across Carmina cordovan shoes, almost brand new, in my size. At a great price. I messaged the seller.

The seller replied. Turns out he's my customer.

There is no privacy anymore. They are everywhere.

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So it was between the turnograph and the tapisserie (or tapestry, in reference to the corrugation on the dial). I thought it would be clear which to pick the moment I handle them. But they were both very impressive. They are both from the Datejust family, but neither are quintesssential Datejusts. For me, the quintessential DJ has a fluted bezel and a jubilee bracelet.

The turnograph is Rolexes attempt at a sporty DJ. To achieve that look, a matte dial in a graphic colour was used, in most cases matte white or matte black. Instead of slender hour markers, chunky ones were used. The hands are about double the width of a traditional DJ. To create an even starker dial graphic and therefore more sportiness, red elements were introduced in the form of hands, date and model designation. The turnograph is a development of the early 2000s, and by then, Rolex had already introduced the super cases to the divers line. Rolex did a super on this Oyster case, too, packing more metal onto it. The lugs are about double the volume over the traditional DJ case. To create more sparkliness, the top of the lugs are mirror polished instead of satin brushed. Turnographs are quite uncommon because it was a poor seller. It sold so poorly that Rolex discontinued the entire line. This particular exemplar is even more uncommon because it is two-tone.

The tapisserie model is from the mid 1990's. It has the traditional Oyster case whose proportions have not changed since the 1920's. The case, in its proportions, is identical to my ref. 6480 from the 1950's. What sets it apart from 95% of DJs is the plain gold bezel and the fact it has an Oyster two-tone bracelet, not Jubilee, making it sportier. The tapestry dial is what sets this watch apart from others. Each dial is ground in a process similar to making Geneva stripes, except the stripes here are much narrower. The facets of the corrugation are not high polished but instead have the grind marks of the tool (just like Geneva stripes) which give a diffuse reflection. In the flesh, the dial is both sparkly yet richly lustrous.

The turnograph is quite a bit heavier than the tapisserie. It is chunkier in width and thicker in depth. It has solid end links and solid center links and milled clasp. It is an amped-up DJ. Since it has a matte dial, most of the Rolex-typical sparkliness had to come from other elements, primarily the fluted bezel. Unfortunately, the sparkle of the bezel is relatively unsophisticated compared to the sparkle of the tapisserie dial, which moreover is spread over a larger surface area, making the whole watch sparkle, as opposed to it being concentrated to the bezel. The sparkle of the tapisserie dial is also more sophisticated than the relatively simple sparkle of the turnograph bezel. The hour markers of the turnograph contribute relatively little to the sparkliness, compared to the hour markers of, say, a Grand Seiko.

They both have the cal. 3135 movement.

I was a little torn between the two. The turnograph communicates more modern sportiness, but gives off a somewhat unsettled look. The tapisserie looks dated but glorious. Ultimately, I found myself drawn to the relaxed proportions of the classic DJ, the mesmerising dial, and the astonishing lightness. It was not amped up to look sporty. Its sparkliness is evenly distributed throughout the watch.

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The commercial failure of the Turnograph is a lesson to all product developers. At high prices, people demand very high quality. Not just build quality, but design quality. The designers of the turnograph failed to find optimal solutions to many design problems. They simply did not work hard enough at it.

For instance, they failed to design hour markers that were optimised for sparkliness. The rectagular cuboids just do not cut it. They only reflect light at a specific angle. Now how dumb is that? Seiko in particular has shown how to design hour markers for maximum sparkliness. They reflect light in a variety of angles.

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There is also the overreliance on the bezel for sparkliness. The designers should have found a way to make the dial add visual drama, instead of being a totally neutral backdrop to... a totally neutral backdrop to...to what exactly? Even Omega, the retards of the watch industry, managed to find a better solution in the form of texturing the dial:omega-blue-seamaster-electric-wave-dial-

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And then we have the problem of how to make a sportier Oyster case. The solution of the Rolex designers? Add more mass, polish everything into a reflective pebble.

Rolex_Datejust_116264-5D3_9703-3-Edit.jp

But the success of the Royal Oak suggests the opposite. Make a facetted case with alternates of polished and brushed surfaces. An angular case.

Subsequent decades have shown that consumers prefer angular cases for sporty watches.

What I'm really saying is I see a total lack of imagination in how to handle the problem of the Oyster case. The case in the Turnograph reflects a complete lack of design ambition.

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Stunningly, the Turnograph suffers from the peephole dial problem. You would have thought this impossible for Rolex. But it happened.

A 36mm watch CANNOT have a thick bezel. Because when you have a small case and a thick bezel, what happens? The dial becomes tiny.

If you are going to put in a rotating bezel like on the turnograph, you need to maintain the tried-and-tested dial size and increase the case size instead of shrinking the dial.

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Im with you - Im not a fan of the super oysters with fat lugs. I’d rather they keep the thinner lug profile with a slightly bigger case like with the current 43mm sea-dweller or the six digit reference 40mm sea dweller circa 2014-2017 (RIP). 

 

I must say I was almost expecting the story to take a twist like “...then suddenly I glanced a third watch, THE watch, on the wrist of the proprietor! A solid gold datejust/ day-date complete with fluted bezel and jubilee bracelet. Pure Rolex, pure FU, pure ambrosia.” 

 

Your datejust screams Rolex, evokes a time when men would have owned just that one watch.

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I forsee stopping by Wing Wah becoming a monthly ritual for you. 

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I wore the only chronograph I own earlier today to a barbeque. The Heuer branded “Calibre 11”. 

 

It claims to be a 39mm case, but I feel it wears much bigger due to the square case and its hefty 15mm thickness.

 

The original design of the case was 38mm, and this modern day version is said to be quite close to the 70s original model 1133B.

 

The biggest visual differences are that the chrono pushers have been redesigned to a squarish shape, and the red chrono hand is thinner. I really wish they had stayed true to the original on the chrono seconds hand. However I do love the matte colouring of the dial - no bling at all. 

 

I find myself timing everything and anything since I got my hands on this piece. 

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IMG_20180726_173444.jpg?raw=1

Rolex on Ah Pek look. Panama hat, Buttonwell t-shirt (sorry Buttonwell), Uniqlo shorts and well-chewed (by my dog) flip flops. Took trouble to find suitable Chinatown tiled floor. Actually, that's not true; I happened to be in Chinatown.

Rolex is sporting a Camille Fournet alligator strap.

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IMG_20180726_165405.jpg?raw=1

The movement in my 60-year old Rolex ref. 6480. On a friend's recommendation, I brought it to Wah Foong for a service. It's running at about -20s/day. I guess because the lubrication has dispersed.

The guy you deal with is the guy who will work on your watch. He tells me, 3 months! RM450!

As you can see, there is very significant pitting in the gasket groove. It's caused by sweat drying out there, leaving salt crystals that, over decades, eat into the steel. I think this is the main reason Rolex went with 904L later, after seeing many cases of pitting. Pitting in the gasket area makes the gasket ineffective, allowing moisture and dust ingress.

I'm not overwhelmed by what I saw at Wah Foong. Do I think they're good? I'm ambivalent.

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You also see, from the indentations at all four lugs, that the watch originally came on a bracelet. Which went to hell decades ago.

I've since ordered an aftermarket riveted bracelet. It's a copy of the original, except the links are solid, not folded sheet metal.

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All this while I've mistaken the linen dial to be the tapestry dial. Could u give us a close up shot of the  Geneva stripes that make up the pattern? It looks 3D.

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Well, it requires a great deal of magnification to show the dial. AP made a video showing how they make their tapestry dial.

 

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