I’ve had a lot of watches over the years, and I’ve paid anywhere from under £10 to almost £300. I just thought I’d share my thoughts on a few of them, in case it’s any help to anyone else. This may not be fascinating reading unless you happened on this after searching for one of the watches mentioned.
I’ve had quite a few Casio watches, and generally been pretty happy with them for the money, but they’re better value at the lower end of the market, I think. Unfortunately, my skin seems to eat the black resin that the straps are made from, and after about a year of wearing, the strap turns brittle and snaps. With the cheaper ones, a year’s use seems pretty ok, but I wouldn’t pay too much for a watch with a resin strap. Most people have skin that doesn’t eat away at plastic, though, so this is unlikely to be a problem for you.
My last but one Casio was a ProTrek, with barometer, thermometer and altimeter. No, I don’t go mountaineering, it was purely a toy. I loved it at first, but after a while, the casing started to wear away, and bits that looked metal turned out to be silver painted plastic. It ended up looking a bit cheap, which wasn’t good on a £160 watch.
I also became irritated by the one really serious failing it had – it was really difficult to tell the time with it. It had an analog face, with a digital face set into the glass that could be turned on or off. This seemed like a very neat trick, but it meant that you have to peer at the analog hands through an LCD screen, which isn’t the clearest thing to look through. Also, the background was grey, and the hands were grey, so there was almost no contrast. The digital face wasn’t too easy to see either, because the analog hands were behind it. In the dark, with the backlight, it was very clear.
My last Casio was a Waveceptor – sets its time every night from a radio signal, so it’s always accurate. This means that the case has to be plastic for the radio signal to get through. It’s made to look metal, but it’s plastic, and the paint scrapes off fairly quickly. After only three or four months, it looked old and worn out, and I never quite liked it. I think some of the more recent Waveceptor watches may really be metal – I’d check before buying, though, because the painted plastic Casio watches just don’t seem to last well.
I liked Seiko watches, and have had three of them. The last one was a reasonably expensive Kinetic – the most expensive watch I’d had at that point (around £160, if I remember rightly). The first one had a black finish that just slowly wore off. (yes, I know, but it was the eighties – it was ok then.) It was a shame, as I still liked the watch when it just started looking too tatty and worn out to wear any more.
The next Seiko I had just stopped working properly after a bit over a year. Just long enough to be out of warranty. I figured it was a one-off though – just bad luck – and bought another one.
The Kinetic watch just stopped holding a charge after just over a year. It would hold enough to work during the day, when it was being worn, but didn’t keep enough to run overnight. From a bit of research on the web, this seemed to be a fairly common issue with them. The mechanism that meant that you never need a battery didn’t last as long as a battery would have done. I’d guess they’ve got around these problems now, but it was enough to put me off Seikos.
I first heard about Citizens by happening across some info on the Skyhawk, which sounded fantastic. Way too expensive, but I was most impressed by the mechanism, and the fact that it was solar powered. After doing a bit of reading, I found that Citizen’s solar watches (Eco-Drive) actually start a lot cheaper than that (from around Â£40 – £50).
I nipped in to town one day, and picked up one for me and one for Sam. For a bit of a change, mine had almost no features at all – an analog watch, a bit ‘military’ in style, with nothing more advanced than a date indicator – of the sort you have to move on by hand on any month with less than 31 days. Sam’s was similar-featured, in silver and blue.
I knew the obsession with simplicity wouldn’t last, but I was surprised by how long I did remain happy with this one.
When I did finally succumb to the temptation of features, I went for the Casio Waveceptor mentioned above – a mistake, really.
The older Eco-Drive watch is still around, and if I start to feel overwhelmed by the features and size of the Skyhawk, I’ll probably just swap back over for a while, but I don’t see any sign of it happening yet.
Sam’s had got a bit worn out after some time, but was still running fine – and the wear and tear wasn’t bad for a £40 watch worn every day. It got lost on a recent trip, so she took the chance to look around at all the options for replacing it. She finally settled on – the same watch again. I must have made a good choice 🙂
Oh, and last Christmas, I bought Citizen watches for both of my parents, and they seem to be perfectly happy with them too.
It still feels like it could be some time before I’ll want another watch, but when it does happen, I’ll certainly be looking at Citizen’s watches first.
Update, 2010-10-28: I’m still wearing the Skyhawk, nearly five years later. I still keep the other Eco-Drive watch around, and swap back occasionally for a few days. The rest of the time, it sits on my desk, like a little clock. Both are still working fine, with just some scratches to their glass. Both wear well – they still look good after a lot of use and battering. When a suitable special occasion arrived, we bought a more expensive Eco-Drive watch for Sam, and she also alternates between the two.