Vintage Rolex Submariner – 1980 Submariner 16800

Vintage Rolex Submariner – Accurate, Resilient and Very Cool

Vintage Rolex Submariner 16800The desire for a new watch is perfectly understandable; folks like new stuff!  It’s just the way it is. Whether or not it is the right way to go when dropping $7K on a watch is ultimately only something the person buying the watch can make a judgement on.  What is certain however is that it is not the only option.  In my work as a watchmaker I routinely service Vintage Rolex watches and I am constantly struck by just how functional and resilient these pieces are.

Rolex Submariner Evolution 

The ubiquitous  Submariner has been through an interesting evolution in terms of both movement and subtle styling on the case.  The transition to high beat (28,800 vph) was fundamental in terms of its power pack improvement and the 3135 movement which as I write this in September 2019 still powers the latest models is a very business like engine.  The 3035 movement is also highly functional and the 1500 movements still hold their own very nicely.

Rolex Submariner Styling

So, with the internal technology then there is a compelling argument that this  evolution has seen steady and demonstrable improvement.  The criteria for measuring this is reasonably objective and hence contention is low on this issue.  However, when we consider the concurrent evolution in case design the same lack of contention is missing.  There is no raging agreement that Rolex has got the styling of its current submariner range case ‘right’.  Such judgements are of course much more subjective and with Rolex stoking demand by constricting the pipeline to the Authorised Dealers effective analysis of sales based on true ‘consumer taste’ is tricky.  There is a feeling that the modern watches are in demand because they are hard to get not because of some fabulous intrinsic design triumph.

This dissatisfaction with the modern styling is something quite commonly voiced and the look of a watch is of course very important.  There is a feeling maybe that the design of the earlier models, the Rolex 16610, Rolex 16613 (probably the best vintage Rolex in my view of them all)  The answer to all this aggravating nonsense with waiting lists to me seems pretty obvious  … do not buy new!

The answer to all this aggravating nonsense with waiting lists to me seems pretty obvious  … do not buy new!

Buying a vintage piece is in the current climate not a bad option at all.

Vintage Rolex Submariner 16800

This article compliments the video I made for my YouTube channel on this watch.  So if you would like a really good look at this vintage Rolex in action then take a look ….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRq87jJ0BuU

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying a Vintage Rolex

The advantages and disadvantages of buying a vintage Rolex are …

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Vostok Amphibian – Watchmaker Review

The Vostok Amphibian Crucible  – War in The USSR

In the late 1920s, long before the first Vostok Amphibian was created, whilst America was criminalising alcohol and western girls bobbed their hair, in the east Joseph Stalin was creating strategic plans for the embryonic Soviet Union.  He had realised that the great nation that he led did not have the capacity to create wristwatches for its people.  At this time ‘five year plans’ were order of the day, but how were the comrades ever going to complete these plans if they couldn’t even tell the time of day?  Stalin was not about to become dependent on other nations to provide these vitally important tools so he initiated a strategic plan to create a Soviet capacity for the creation of watches; tool watches for the comrades!

These watches should tell good time and be tough.   The creation of several production facilities followed quickly on the heels of Stalin’s directives.  The First Moscow watch Factory (FMWF) was created with help from a surprising source, the Dueber-Hampden Watch Factory in Canton, Ohio, USA.  The Soviets spotted the opportunity that the sale of this asset presented and a delegation snapped up the factories assets, 21 of its talented staff and took the lot back to Moscow to start the Soviet dream of being self reliant on timepiece production.  A second factory was soon also created which was brilliantly named The Second Moscow Watch Factory (SMWF) and it was this factory that was several decades downstream to produce the first Vostok Amphibians.  But not in Moscow, Hilter’s advancing forces in the Autumn of 1941 caused the evacuation of the SMWF to a place called Christopol, out of range of the german guns.

Designing an Iconic Dive Watch in Peace –  Vostok Amphibian in Christopol

So the context of the creation of a facility for the production of a Soviet Dive Watch was turbulent and forged in the fire of war.  Watch production requires calm and peace.  It is no accident that the Swiss are neutral in world conflicts.  As the Russians know to their cost it is not possible to design and fabricate a delicate flyback chronograph mechanism with mortars landing in the front yard.  It would be some time until they would get around to the Amphibian

Once in Christopol production settled back down and a couple of decades after the end of WWII there was perceived a need for a new dive watch for the Soviet Navy.  In 1967 the Vostok Amphibian production began to fill this need.  It was, and is, a watch with several design features that suited it when to performing in the harsh high pressure under water environment.  In the review that follows we put those features to the test.

Vostok Amphibian – Watchmaker Review – The Video

You can see me actually conduct the testing of the Amphibian in this video which I recorded for my YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECTiOUt7jxw

How I Evaluated the Vostok Amphibian

Model Used for Evaluation: 

Vostok Amphibian (Radio Room Dial) – Case 110 – Movement 2415  – Reference 110750

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Get this watch .   In the US:  https://amzn.to/2KPQGh6     In the UK: https://amzn.to/2FkUJyL

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This review takes my standard format for reviewing a watch.  As with all of my watch reviews I use the following categorisation to break down the inherent complexity of the review.

  • Engineering – Features and Quality  (Pretty Objective)
  • Aesthetics   (Prone to be subjective)
  • Value for Money (Pretty Objective)

Engineering – Features and Quality

  • Movement
  • Keyless Works
  • Case and Bezel
  • Crystal
  • Dial and Hands
  • Bracelet
  • Lume
  • Water Resistance

The  Movement – Vostok 2415

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Starking AM0184 Watch – A Lot of Watch for the Money.

Image od Starking AM0184 Bracelet

The Starking AM0184 – What’s The Catch?

image of Sarking AM0184
Starking AM0184 – High Spec but Low Price

They say if it looks too good to be true then is most probably is too good to be true. So, when the specification of the Starking AM0184 is seen in the light cast by its incredibly low price I am already looking for the downside that explains everything. For this watch has, on paper at least a very impressive specification and yet the leather strapped version may be purchased online for an amazing $51, that’s less then £50. The version reviewed here with the black dial and stainless steel bracelet comes in a little more at £???. But these are low prices for a what that boasts.

• Automatic, ‘Lots of Jewels’, Hi-Beat, Hacking, movement (28,800 bph)
• Highly polished Stainless Steel Case
• Exhibition Caseback
• Date Function
• Quality Stainless Steel Bracelet with solid links and machined (and polished) Deployment clasp
• Sapphire Crystal

All of the above you will routinely find in a new Rolex or Omega but ‘affordable’ brands rarely have all if these high quality components. Some have one or two … but never all of them. Not so the Starking AM0184.

So in this review I am going to discover if there is a catch, I am going to do a thorough watchmaker’s inspection of the piece and give my verdict on whether or not there is a catch. In doing this I will test the watch on the timegrapher and partly dismantle the movement to check on the quality therein.

Starking AM0184 – Watchmaker Review – The video

I recorded the whole process of this review for my YouTube channel which so you can also actually watch me conduct the analysis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd6VM48jA44

Review Method

Having given the watch a thorough examination I will score it under the following categories …

• Engineering Build Quality
• Looks
• Value for Money

… and I will start with Looks

Looks

Aside from a small niggle I have about the small size of the date window in comparison with the dial size this watch looks great. In profile from the side view the case is scoped upwards towards the bezel housing the sapphire crystal. It looks like a very shiny retro lunar landing module. And the polishing is really very, very good. So good is it that whilst filming for the video all I could see when shooting the side of the watch was my own reflection. The dial design is ‘classic cocktail’ watch, reminiscent of the Tissot Visodate and some of the more plain Grand Seiko models. It is, apart from that date window, very elegant. The sapphire crystal, the applied indicies completed with applied Arabic numerals at the 12 and 6 o’clock position all make for a very pleasing effect. The printing of the dial is also bright and sharp even at high magnification.

Even the bracelet looks great. The fit at the lugs is spot on and the contrast between lightly brushed outer links and highly polished inner links is really very impressive as is the machined and highly polished deployment clasp.

So, this watch looks great and I score it 9 out of 10 for looks.

Score for Looks:  9 out of 10

Engineering Build Quality

So, we already know that at $51 dollars unless there is a disaster with the engineering build quality this watch is going to score highly in Value for Money. We also know that the watch looks good so everything now hangs on the quality. If on inspection the watch looks as if it going to fall apart or stop working at any moment then the low price would start to make sense, if not we must deduce that we have a real bargain here. It is tin this part of the analysis that I need to do my job well and this is where being a full time watchmaker really comes in useful.

Let’s start with the movement ….

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G-Shock Carbon Core Guard by Casio – Watchmaker Review

Bumping Into The G-Shock Carbon Core Guard

Like a lot of good things in life this review of a Casio G-Shock Carbon Core Guard Watch was the result of an opportunity seized rather than outcome of any careful planning.  It all started on a recent trip to London during which my daughter announced an urgent need for Puma training shoes which could apparently be best procured from the Puma store on Carnaby Street.  When we arrived there I was delighted to see that right next door was a bright little shop which, as made clear to all the world from the sign above its very clean window, was dedicated to the sale of Casio G-Shock watches.  My daughter and her mum when off to peruse the offerings by Puma and I scuttled into the Casio G-Shock shop like a kid into a sweet shop.

Now quartz watches are not normally my thing and the watches that were lit up around the store were all pretty funky quartz watches and thus quite different to my area of specialization which is mechanical watches (particularly automatic wristwatches and vintage pocket watches).

Casio G-Shock Carbon Core Guard – Watchmaker Review : The Video

I decided, for the record (and for my YouTube channel), to make a video of this work and much of what is contained within this article you can also see in detail by watching this.

Reference of Watch under Test

The exact model of the watch tested in this review was …

CASIO G-SHOCK CARBON CORE GUARD – GA 2000 1A9ER

Check Latest Price

You can checkout the latest price of this watch at both my UK Amazon Store and my US Amazon Store 

The Review Method

As always for this to be a genuinely helpful review I was determined that it should be as scientific and dispassionate as possible.  The plan I came up with was a simple one.  Firstly, as soon as I took it out of the box, I would test the watch’s waterproofing to 50 meters in the pressure testing tank.  After that I would do a detailed inspection of the watch. Finally using the information gathered and in knowledge of the attractive price tag I would judge its value  for money.

I used my normal scoring system with the following criteria which were to be scored as follows.

Scoring system

The watch would judged in three main categories, both scored from 0 to 10

  • Build Quality (Engineering Standard – Reasonably Objective)
  • Looks (Aesthetics – Not quite so Objective!)
  • Value for Money – (dependent completely on the findings of the first two categories)

Strengths and Weaknesses

I also do a quick run through what I see as the strengths and weaknesses of the watch

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Vostok Komandirskie – Watchmaker Review

Timegrapher results for Vostok Komadirskie

  The Vostok Komandirskie in Context It was only a matter of time before a Vostok watch found its way onto my watch bench for a thorough review.  When it did it came in the form of the unashamedly bright ‘soviet red’ colour that you can see in the picture to the right.  And let … Read more Vostok Komandirskie – Watchmaker Review

Seiko Seahorse Service – Seiko Automatic 6601B Calibre

The Seiko Seahorse The Seiko Seahorse calibre 6601B produced in 1965 is a very elegant automatic watch.  The movement has no plastic parts and is a joy to work on.  The specifications of the watch are …. Year of manufacture: 1965 Movement Type: Automatic (self-Winding) Calibre: 6601B Jewels: 17 Other features: Ball bearings on the … Read more Seiko Seahorse Service – Seiko Automatic 6601B Calibre

Rolex Lady Datejust – Size and The Rolex Ladies Watch

1957 – Rolex for Women gets the Lady-Datejust ‘ … The sun is warm on my back and from somewhere down the street I can faintly hear ‘The King’ declaring himself to be “All Shook Up”.  The music gets louder as its origin, the radio speakers of an open top Cadillac come into view.  The … Read more Rolex Lady Datejust – Size and The Rolex Ladies Watch