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Recently, I was asked the question “Why is it that you only ever seem to review watches from Timefactors?”. A fair question given that most watches I have reviewed from that stable are on the face of it very similar. My answer was simply that those watches I have experienced from the Sheffield based operation have all had a twist if you will. There has always been something either literally or metaphorically beneath the surface which has made me want to own them. Therein lies what I believe to be the secret to the success of the internet based company. As well as adding authenticity to genres of watches by resurrecting trademarks ( e.g. Precista), Timefactors has, as already demonstrated, improved on the originals. For the wearer of such timepieces then this of course reinforces the confidence that he or she has when they are being worn for what they were intended (of note here would be the latest dive watches from Precista). The wearer knows that whilst the watch certainly looks the part, it is eminently capable of playing the part given the manner in which it has been built.
I certainly don’t buy every Timefactors piece that is introduced; some are too large and some styles (though true to originals and improved) I don’t like – however, every so often a trump card is played by the firm and a watch is developed and introduced that lights the blue touch paper so to speak and for me is a must buy. It is quite amazing that nearly nine years has passed since I wrote my first review of a Timefactors watch which had the blue touch paper effect, that being of course the PRS-1 Speedbird. Since then, four or five others have come along (amongst others not reviewed by me) and here in June 2010 comes yet another.
The title of this review will of course have given the game away to many watch aficionados, particularly if their interest lies in military watches; no doubt many readers who have visited my previous reviews will already understand why this one is being penned. Indeed, vintage watches have passed through my hands in the past and I have often wondered what it would be like to be able to own and wear a fresh, newly manufactured example. New old stock is good but it isn’t new; if one is brave enough to wear a new old stock watch then there are of course other issues – the watch should really be fully serviced and oiled before wear and on an eminently financial basis then the value of the piece will inevitably be affected as cosmetic decline ensues due to everyday use. How different the world of watches is today than it was just a decade ago; without trying to sound too dramatic or romantic then the things of watch collectors’ dreams really have happened and are continuing to do so it seems.
Thus, through a combination of passion for watches, business savvy, modern communications and access to small production run facilities, a handful of businesses are making it possible for us to wipe out any doubts we may have about (God forbid) actually wearing a vintage or new old stock watch that could be damaged by one clumsy move. We have a choice of chronographs, dive watches and pilot watches which haven’t been available in new or near new form for decades. In many ways were are stepping back in time although of course monetary inflation has taken its toll.
In the case of the watch reviewed herein, Timefactors is allowing us to step back to the late 1960s and purchase a watch which was both supplied to the British Armed Forces and interestingly was available on the open market to civilians; this of course is the Smiths with which military watch collectors will no doubt be familiar. Smiths had supplied the armed forces with timepieces since the early stages of the Second World War, some examples of which are now extremely rare. The Smiths catalogue of 1968 describes and illustrates the watch which most people associate with Smiths and military applications. This was the model GS.4701. Forty two years later and by virtue of the combination referred to in the previous paragraph, the classic Smiths military watch is once again available to purchase brand new, both to within a hair’s breadth of its original form and also in a dimensionally updated form.
“Your heart was warm and happy
With the lilt of Irish laughter
Every day and in every way
Now forever and ever after."