How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

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How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by conjurer » May 16th 2012, 8:51am

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It can't get any worse than this. Oh, yes it can!


This is part 3 of a strange crusade that I'm on, trying to find an automatic watch that costs a hundred bucks (or less) that's actually worth owning. So far, I've trashed Stauer: http://bdwf.net/forum/showthread.php?t=79892 and been rather impressed with Tiger Concept: http://bdwf.net/forum/showthread.php?t=80822 The standards I've set are pretty easy: 1. The watch must be an automatic or mechanical and 2. It must have a street-price of a hundred bucks. Now, there are watches out there that fit the bill, like a lot of Seiko 5's and a few Orients, and perhaps a couple of other Japanese brands as well. Naturally, we're not likely to find anything Swiss that fits the bill, which leaves us with Chinese.

And so this brings us to the strange Orange world of Stuhrling Original, which tends to be anything but original. I'm not really sure of the brand's history--or lack of history, since, like many mushroom brands, it might have been a real manufacturer once that went out of business and then the name was bought up by some enterprising fellow. I don't personally care, since most of these histories are BS anyway. SO has been around for a quite a while, though, and it seems to be sold mainly through in-flight magazine ads as well as on ShopNBC on TV. I bought the model I'm reviewing from Shop.

It comes in a large layout box, and the presentation isn't bad:

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The mouthpiece for SO is a bouffant-haired slick-but-fading hipster named Larry Magen, who has pitched for the company for the last several years on Shop. He often makes a big deal about the packaging, saying it looks like something one would get an expensive bottle of liquor in--if only this was true. The outside of the shockingly orange box bears a weirdly faint impression of "Max Stuhrling", who, I suspect, is like Betty Crocker in that he's a fictional character. However, Max lets us know that "Stuhrling Original is a vision whose rich historical roots date back centuries, but whose true success lies in a revolutionary philosophy and strategy, being developed in this very decade."

If you get through this opaque statement, there's more: "Stuhrling Original is an intimately exclusive timepiece intended for seekers of originality and individuality. Every Stuhrling Original creation is defined through the watch making tradition of technique, technology and craftsmanship, yet sports an artistic edge that redefines perfection." Big words, not necessarily making sense, but SO shoots for perfection, and we haven't yet even opened the box!

It would have been better if we hadn't, but being the credulous optimist that I am, I cracked open the layout box, breathlessly looking for perfection. Instead, well, I found a Stuhrling:

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I'm not sure what grandeloquent name SO came up for this one; there's no model number on the back, so it might have been some short run they came up with to sell on Shop. It cost me $81 shipped, which naturally took over a week, since it came from Shop (compare this to four days from Japan and five days--including customs--from Switzerland). It's an automatic skelly with a Sea-gull movement (SO calls it the ST-90050 20-jewel; I don't know if that's the original Sea-gull caliber or if SO renamed it) in a 40mm stainless steel case.

Even with the plastic mummy wrap on, the experience of beholding the watch is underwhelming. It looks like those no-name skellies you can find on ebay for $30-40, and might well come from the same sweat-shop factories where these things are cranked out. Apparently, SO is making a high-end line in Switzerland, but this homeboy ain't one of them. Taking a closer look at the dial with the plastic off, we immediately see a defect:

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Looking closely (and I didn't notice it at first; I posted some pics at a forum last week and an eagle-eyed member pointed it out to me) at the blue triad-thing over the balance wheel, the screw (or decoration) on the chapter ring between eight and nine is gone. Where it went, I have no idea; I couldn't find it rattling around inside the case, bunging up the mainspring or the balance, so I suppose it could have been worse.

Naturally, things don't get much better with closer examination. The side of the case:

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Shows circus-mirror polishing. The case is also quite thick, 14mm, which is thicker than my Sumo, makes the watch look out of whack, as if the proportions were off. Looking at the back:

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We see some actually decent engraving, but looking at the movement:

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We see a bog-standard Chinese skelly movement, with some half-hearted engraving--more like corrugated steel, really--with faked blued screws. The entire thing looks, honestly, like garbage. It seems to be made to fool people who are looking at your wrist from a few feet away into thinking that you spent more on it than you did, which kind of meshes well with ShopNBCs core demographic. Interestingly, there seems to be a metal movement holder inside the case, which is a nice touch at this price point.

I haven't worn the watch (since I intend to send it back for a refund) apart to strap it to my wrist once. The strap is like metal, too; it looks OK in the box, but on the wrist it's like a handcuff. It sits off the wrist like a brick:

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Obviously, a watch like this with some decent workmanship and a good movement would run much more money; you pay eighty bucks, you're probably going to get a turd, and a turd is what this one is. I did wind it, and the winding gears sounded like a coffee-grinder, and the grittiness of the action literally set my teeth clenched. Setting the time was difficult, because the crown feels too tight, and I'd expect this watch to break very quickly.

Overall, a revolting failure; I've owned one of Stuhrling's quartz chronos I got as a gift way back, and it was OK. I've also bought a couple for Mrs. Conjurer, and she seemed happy with them, in that they were cheap quartz fashion watches. The problem with this one is, like so many cheap Chinese-made autos, is that instead of keeping it simple, stupid (like the Tiger Concept) SO's designers tried to get clever, and failed miserably.

In the words of Larry Megan, I'm listening to the right voices so I'll make the right choices. The watch is going back for a refund. Steer clear of these, folks!
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by mosc » May 16th 2012, 9:55am

I've gotten tired of sending back SO watches. There is nothing about the brand that does anything for me. One I did keep was OK, but one of the hands fell off. I'm going to try to fix it myself, that's how little respect I have for it.

Ship it back befor something bad happens and you can't.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by itfc1959 » May 16th 2012, 12:24pm

WTF is going on with the crown? And fake furnaced blue screws?

What a heap.

In all seriousness, I'd be really interested if you took a look at one of these and pitch it up against an SO: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/KS-Luxyry-Classical-Mechanical-Leather-Band-Mens-Army-Wrist-Watch-White-Dial-/260922071365?pt=UK_Jewelery_Watches_Watches_MensWatches_GL&hash=item3cc02ad945#ht_10869wt_1002

or even

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-KS-Golden-Skeleton-Mens-Automatic-Mechanical-Genuine-Leather-Wrist-Watch-/290713459866?pt=UK_Jewelery_Watches_Watches_MensWatches_GL&hash=item43afdf5c9a#ht_11130wt_1101

And I would wager that SO would struggle against what are effectively postage-only watches.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by conjurer » May 16th 2012, 12:46pm

mosc wrote:I've gotten tired of sending back SO watches. There is nothing about the brand that does anything for me. One I did keep was OK, but one of the hands fell off. I'm going to try to fix it myself, that's how little respect I have for it.

Ship it back befor something bad happens and you can't.


I was intending on sending it back, mosc, even before I got it--unless it was actually a half-way decent watch. I was simply going to use it as cannon-fodder for my twisted sense of humor.

This whole "How Bad Can It Be?" thing is actually quite taxing--apart from a few Seiko 5s and maybe an Orient Mako on rubber, there's really nothing I've found that interests me in the slightest--although the Tiger Concept, now that I've got it on a leather strap, is pretty nice, and I wear it once in a while.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by conjurer » May 16th 2012, 12:48pm

itfc1959 wrote:WTF is going on with the crown? And fake furnaced blue screws?

What a heap.

In all seriousness, I'd be really interested if you took a look at one of these and pitch it up against an SO: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/KS-Luxyry-Classical-Mechanical-Leather-Band-Mens-Army-Wrist-Watch-White-Dial-/260922071365?pt=UK_Jewelery_Watches_Watches_MensWatches_GL&hash=item3cc02ad945#ht_10869wt_1002

or even

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-KS-Golden-Skeleton-Mens-Automatic-Mechanical-Genuine-Leather-Wrist-Watch-/290713459866?pt=UK_Jewelery_Watches_Watches_MensWatches_GL&hash=item43afdf5c9a#ht_11130wt_1101

And I would wager that SO would struggle against what are effectively postage-only watches.


That first ebay one looks all right, actually, a real luxyry item!

Really, though--the SO whatever-the-fuck-they-named-it is so pitifully bad, you'd have to be a geek who likes bouffant haircuts to think it was anything but a trinket.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by ChronoMATT » May 16th 2012, 1:07pm

Nice thorough report.

Seems like SO tried to create a decent product concept when the brand debuted. I owned two of the few Swiss Made models they released. I also picked-up a couple Chinese tanks (despite reports of problems, I had none) that I felt were surprisingly handsome with truly striking dials.

They have since either gotten greedy and / or desperate to stay in business with high profit / high volume crap. There is no way George Von Berg could be proud of most of what he sees today.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by jason_recliner » May 16th 2012, 2:43pm

The 'missing' screw is actually not missing at all. The resultant asymmetry imparts to the onlooker a sense of motion. Clever design, because in three years from now when the watch itself inevitably stops working, you will still be able to appreciate the 'movement'.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by ChronoMATT » May 16th 2012, 2:49pm

Give Archie Luxury about 8 months and he will be reviewing the same watch on YouTube. He will claim to discover the joys of quantity over quality: "I've got 50 times as many watches as my fucking boss at the computer company. Can the fucker wear one watch a day for two years straight without repeating one? Didn't fucking think so."
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by conjurer » May 16th 2012, 2:55pm

ChronoMATT wrote:Nice thorough report.

Seems like SO tried to create a decent product concept when the brand debuted. I owned two of the few Swiss Made models they released. I also picked-up a couple Chinese tanks (despite reports of problems, I had none) that I felt were surprisingly handsome with truly striking dials.

They have since either gotten greedy and / or desperate to stay in business with high profit / high volume crap. There is no way George Von Berg could be proud of most of what he sees today.


Thanks, MATT! Although I don't have much experience with SO, they might well have headed south with the quality thing after the crash, which also seems like the time when Invicta started getting really shitty.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by conjurer » May 16th 2012, 2:56pm

jason_recliner wrote:The 'missing' screw is actually not missing at all. The resultant asymmetry imparts to the onlooker a sense of motion. Clever design, because in three years from now when the watch itself inevitably stops working, you will still be able to appreciate the 'movement'.


If so, it'll be wasted on me, unless I head over to the Bronx to visit the sumbitch.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by conjurer » May 16th 2012, 2:57pm

ChronoMATT wrote:Give Archie Luxury about 8 months and he will be reviewing the same watch on YouTube. He will claim to discover the joys of quantity over quality: "I've got 50 times as many watches as my fucking boss at the computer company. Can the fucker wear one watch a day for two years straight without repeating one? Didn't fucking think so."


In 8 months Archie will probably be eating out of a dumpster.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by ChronoMATT » May 16th 2012, 3:13pm

I'd like to note I no longer own the SOs I wrote about. I do regret selling one of the Swiss Made models. It was very nice and rumor was that it was built at the Von Berg factory. Sheesh...how time flies. That must have been about 7 years ago.

conjurer wrote:
ChronoMATT wrote:Nice thorough report.

Seems like SO tried to create a decent product concept when the brand debuted. I owned two of the few Swiss Made models they released. I also picked-up a couple Chinese tanks (despite reports of problems, I had none) that I felt were surprisingly handsome with truly striking dials.

They have since either gotten greedy and / or desperate to stay in business with high profit / high volume crap. There is no way George Von Berg could be proud of most of what he sees today.


Thanks, MATT! Although I don't have much experience with SO, they might well have headed south with the quality thing after the crash, which also seems like the time when Invicta started getting really shitty.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by conjurer » May 16th 2012, 4:57pm

Hawk wrote:Excellent review.

Fucking poetry, if you ask me.

Get it on return freight before Valu-Vision eats it and gets it stuck in his wrecktum.

Not like shop would refuse the return but it might be subsequently sold to someone we don't hold in contempt.



Thanks, Hawk! Hopefully, NYcruza or some other D-bag will end up with it, and call it a piece unique because of the missing screw.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by AJC » May 17th 2012, 1:41am

itfc1959 wrote:WTF is going on with the crown? And fake furnaced blue screws?

What a heap.

In all seriousness, I'd be really interested if you took a look at one of these and pitch it up against an SO: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/KS-Luxyry-Classical-Mechanical-Leather-Band-Mens-Army-Wrist-Watch-White-Dial-/260922071365?pt=UK_Jewelery_Watches_Watches_MensWatches_GL&hash=item3cc02ad945#ht_10869wt_1002

or even

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-KS-Golden-Skeleton-Mens-Automatic-Mechanical-Genuine-Leather-Wrist-Watch-/290713459866?pt=UK_Jewelery_Watches_Watches_MensWatches_GL&hash=item43afdf5c9a#ht_11130wt_1101

And I would wager that SO would struggle against what are effectively postage-only watches.


"kronen & sohne luxyry watches"

Well that's rich!
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by TemerityB » May 17th 2012, 6:02am

Conj, as always, an enjoyable and truthful report.

I have to fess up: I have three SOs, all autos, all about five years old. One is one of those $40 skellys, the other two are just supposed to be dress watches and I paid like nothing for them. Here's my review: All three have surprisingly good leather bands. The rest of the watches, well, pick up any other watch and you can see and feel the difference right from the get-go. Oh, shoot - my wife has one as well, but her's, like conj, is a cheapie fashion quartz and she only wears it every so often. I should try to sell off my unworn watches, but for the life of me, I can't imagine who would want them. Throwing out a watch, too, feels like a sin. I can't bring myself to throw out books for the same reason.

I wouldn't have a problem with SO if they sold for what they are obviously worth. Last time I saw an on-air presentation, they had the word "Chinese" written when they listed the movements on virtually every watch. Kudos for that. But they're outrageously, astoundingly overpriced for what they are. Plus, the brand, to me, has that "sniff factor," and I'm not kidding.

I mean, imagine wearing their latest Hammy knockoff, or some of the ones like look kinda sorta like Glashutte Original or Franck Muller. Then think of someone asking you if your watch is one of those brands, and you reply, "Nah, Stuhrling Original." They onlooker then says, "what? Who?," and knows you're a cheap mofo. Then you're stuck, sheepishly grinning while rubbing the tartar sauce off your lapel.

Who needs that kind of humiliation? Wearing an SO is like being seen at a local newsstand buying a copy of Playboy at the same moment that your wife's best friend shows up. You can't say a damn thing to explain yourself.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by Watch Noob » May 17th 2012, 7:12am

John, I thought this was going to be one of your whacky funny storeis, but to my surprise it was a nice detailed yet entertaining review of SO. Thanks for your take and detail on the watch. I caught myself laughing out loud a few times reading this.

Have you looked into Parnis for your ultimate search of the $100 auto that actually looks great and funtions properly? I'm sure it's all China parts and slave labor, and I remember reading ealry posts a few years back that pointed in this direction. Some of their watches actually look pretty nice, but we've all been down that road before.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by conjurer » May 17th 2012, 7:17am

TemerityB wrote:Conj, as always, an enjoyable and truthful report.

I have to fess up: I have three SOs, all autos, all about five years old. One is one of those $40 skellys, the other two are just supposed to be dress watches and I paid like nothing for them. Here's my review: All three have surprisingly good leather bands. The rest of the watches, well, pick up any other watch and you can see and feel the difference right from the get-go. Oh, shoot - my wife has one as well, but her's, like conj, is a cheapie fashion quartz and she only wears it every so often. I should try to sell off my unworn watches, but for the life of me, I can't imagine who would want them. Throwing out a watch, too, feels like a sin. I can't bring myself to throw out books for the same reason.

I wouldn't have a problem with SO if they sold for what they are obviously worth. Last time I saw an on-air presentation, they had the word "Chinese" written when they listed the movements on virtually every watch. Kudos for that. But they're outrageously, astoundingly overpriced for what they are. Plus, the brand, to me, has that "sniff factor," and I'm not kidding.

I mean, imagine wearing their latest Hammy knockoff, or some of the ones like look kinda sorta like Glashutte Original or Franck Muller. Then think of someone asking you if your watch is one of those brands, and you reply, "Nah, Stuhrling Original." They onlooker then says, "what? Who?," and knows you're a cheap mofo. Then you're stuck, sheepishly grinning while rubbing the tartar sauce off your lapel.

Who needs that kind of humiliation? Wearing an SO is like being seen at a local newsstand buying a copy of Playboy at the same moment that your wife's best friend shows up. You can't say a damn thing to explain yourself.


Thanks for the kind words, T! The tartar sauce bit made me laugh hard!
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by conjurer » May 17th 2012, 7:19am

Watch Noob wrote:John, I thought this was going to be one of your whacky funny storeis, but to my surprise it was a nice detailed yet entertaining review of SO. Thanks for your take and detail on the watch. I caught myself laughing out loud a few times reading this.

Have you looked into Parnis for your ultimate search of the $100 auto that actually looks great and funtions properly? I'm sure it's all China parts and slave labor, and I remember reading ealry posts a few years back that pointed in this direction. Some of their watches actually look pretty nice, but we've all been down that road before.


Thanks, Noob! Interestingly, regarding Parnis, I posted this review at several different fora, including WUS. Several members there have brought up Parnis as well. I shall have to look into that brand, as I have no experience with it myself.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by iwasbanned » May 17th 2012, 8:52am

conjurer wrote:
Thanks, Noob! Interestingly, regarding Parnis, I posted this review at several different fora, including WUS. Several members there have brought up Parnis as well. I shall have to look into that brand, as I have no experience with it myself.


If Parnis is anything like Getat, don't waste your time. I once tried, even upgraded to sapphire crystal and all, not worth it.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by Nopassion4fashion » September 13th 2013, 6:37pm

The ONLY thing I would excuse on that is the funhouse polishing job. Honestly It sucks but I dont find many (if any) sub $5000 watches that have perfectly polished cases. I dont know if its machines doing the polishing that is to blame or what but the flat sides of polished cases almost always look like that. For me as long as there is no damn milling marks apparent I try not to be too picky especially in a lower price bracket. Even the fake blued screws in the dial IMHO are excusable seeing you really dont have much depth in which to have screw affixed.


(take a breathe, make a cup of coffee, or rub one out)

What is however complete lunacy is the fact that one of the things is missing. I also despise any open heart or skelotonized watch in which they try to make it look like it is a tourbillon. And that tri-wing bridge looking thing seems to be doing just that. The art deco dildo crown is a nice touch. That combined with all the missteps it would appear that if there is any statement the watch surely makes it is to go fuck yourself.
Last edited by Nopassion4fashion on September 14th 2013, 7:32am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by codguy » September 13th 2013, 7:01pm

Nopassion4fashion wrote:The ONLY thing I would excuse on that is the funhouse polishing job. Honestly It sucks but I dont find many (if any) sub $5000 watches that have perfectly polished cases. I dont know if its machines doing the polishing that is to blame or what but the flat sides of polished cases almost always look like that. For me as long as there is no damn milling marks apparent I try not to be too picky especially in a lower price bracket. Even the fake blued screws in the dial IMHO are excusable seeing you really dont have much depth in which to have screw affixed. What is however complete lunacy is the fact that one of the things is missing. I also despise any open heart or skelotonized watch in which they try to make it look like it is a tourbillon. And that tri-wing bridge looking thing seems to be doing just that. The art deco dildo crown is a nice touch. That combined with all the missteps it would appear that if there is any statement the watch surely makes it is to go fuck yourself.


Ever thought of breaking up your posts into paragraphs? Much easier to read that way.
.


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Re: How Bad Can It Be? Part 3--Stuhrling Original!

Post by Nopassion4fashion » September 14th 2013, 7:30am

codguy wrote:
Nopassion4fashion wrote:The ONLY thing I would excuse on that is the funhouse polishing job. Honestly It sucks but I dont find many (if any) sub $5000 watches that have perfectly polished cases. I dont know if its machines doing the polishing that is to blame or what but the flat sides of polished cases almost always look like that. For me as long as there is no damn milling marks apparent I try not to be too picky especially in a lower price bracket. Even the fake blued screws in the dial IMHO are excusable seeing you really dont have much depth in which to have screw affixed. What is however complete lunacy is the fact that one of the things is missing. I also despise any open heart or skelotonized watch in which they try to make it look like it is a tourbillon. And that tri-wing bridge looking thing seems to be doing just that. The art deco dildo crown is a nice touch. That combined with all the missteps it would appear that if there is any statement the watch surely makes it is to go fuck yourself.


Ever thought of breaking up your posts into paragraphs? Much easier to read that way.



I apologize. I didnt realize ten sentences were too much these days for a paragraph. But it isnt very surprising. In a world that doesnt have an attention span much longer than the average four word tweet I can understand the difficulty one must have reading a few sentences without a break. I will edit my original post as to better assist your tired eyes. (p.s. this is me joking with you)
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