Looking for a swim-able mechanical with sapphire. Any recommendations?
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  1. #1
    Member Bassline's Avatar
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    Question Looking for a swim-able mechanical with sapphire. Any recommendations?

    Hi all! So after coming back from a short Labor Day vacation, Iíve realized that Iím in need of a nice simple every-day mechanical to hide my watch tan lines when it would be inappropriate to sport my simple dress watch or fancier flieger chronograph.

    Now, Iím sure there are those of you that would suggest the best vacation watch is no watch (and that this would subsequently take care of my tan line issues), so allow me to cut to the chase and state firmly that this isnít an option Iím considering.

    The title outlines my main criteria: Iím interested in finding a simple, hardy and reasonably accurate mechanical (either auto or hand-wind) for under $500 if possible. I'd also prefer a bracelet to leather for this one, but I'm willing to handle that after-market if need be.

    Iíve set the price at $500, because it appears that one of the main contenders from my personal research can be found under that mark Ė the Hamilton Khaki Field Auto (38mm version would definitely be my preference):
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    In all honesty Iíd like to try and find something a bit more inexpensive, but sapphire + decent water resistance seem to be attributes understandably harder to find in the lower price tier.

    I've also run across a few of the world time watches from Orient:
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    These seemingly can be had for under $350 when all is said and done, but my preference for less moving parts and a simpler dial definitely make me lean more towards the slightly more expensive Hamilton.

    So what do you think, is there anything else out there that Iím missing that might fit the bill?

  2. #2
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    Re: Looking for a swim-able mechanical with sapphire. Any recommendations?

    Exceeds your budget:
    ARCHIMEDE Outdoor


    Stay with that Hamilton.

  3. #3
    Member BlackLight's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a swim-able mechanical with sapphire. Any recommendations?


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  5. #4
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    Re: Looking for a swim-able mechanical with sapphire. Any recommendations?

    I think the Bernhardt Binnacle Anchor is a great bet Bernhardt Watch

    Sapphire, 200 meter water resistance, tried and true Miyota movement that is hand wind-able all for $200.

    I own the black-dialed varient and I must say that it looks much richer than the price would suggest. The indices are applied and chrome-lined, the dial is a deep black with almost a sunburst pattern, and the bracelet is nice and thick, held together with screws. At 40 mm diameter, it wears well - not too big, not too small.

    One unique feature to this watch is the built-in end links. The endlinks you see are actually machined into the case. The bracelet has straight end links which are hidden under the faux endlink "hood". This design gives the appearance of perfectly fitted endlinks with the factory bracelet installed, but IMHO looks a bit odd when the watch is worn on leather - not bad, just unique and the design does serve to eliminate the gap you see between the strap and the case.

    The only negative I can offer is the lume is a bit weak, but this is from someone who normally wears diver styled watches with very strong lume. If you are more used to dress watches, you may find the lume OK.

    Bottom line, a really nice vacation watch with both key requirements met, plus leaving you $300 in the ol' watch budget.
    enkidu likes this.

  6. #5
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    Re: Looking for a swim-able mechanical with sapphire. Any recommendations?

    You have a lot of choices. The Hamilton Khaki Field automatic is a nice watch. If you are considering preowned, you could go with a Tag 2000 automatic. Perhaps a professional or an exclusive. I'm sure you could find one that fell within your price range given their age. They have a simple yet classic look that looks nice either casual or dressed up (i.e you only need one watch on vacation that is general purpose.) They have a flat sapphire crystal (no AR coating) and are 200M water resistant. Good luck with your search you'll have a lot of fine choices.

  7. #6
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    Re: Looking for a swim-able mechanical with sapphire. Any recommendations?

    Alright! So for recommendations so far:


    Archimede Ė I really like the face of this one, very bold and legible, though the lug design is kind of odd. Regardless, as the poster mentioned, it is over my budget.

    Benarus Ė there doesnít seem to be any in stock, but their case design seems a bit too thick industrial for my taste.


    Bernhardt Binnacle Ė this is a great recommendation, and one that I had been checking out before and somehow forgot about. There are a few personal preference things though about this one that would turn me off Ė one of them being the built in end lugs. The other being the anchor on the end of the second hand. I know that itís small, but I personally feel itís a bit much. Between the typeface and that anchor it seems like it's trying a little too hard to hit home that nautical theme. Still, at $199 this one needs to stay in the running just for the sake of value.


    Thinking hard about what I like/dislike about the above suggestions, I think that I could probably be a little bit more descriptive about what Iím looking for, and what style Iím most interested in.

    First off, Iím finding myself drawn more to watches with relatively low profiles, smaller diameters (under 42mm) and sleek, sexy lines. Iíd say height wise 13mm is probably my max, though Iíd prefer thinner if possible.

    Secondly, for me a smooth sweeping center seconds hand is probably the most entertaining and hypnotic aspect of wearing a mechanical watch. As this is the case, Iím a huge fan of the second hand either being white, or having some sort of contrast coloring Ė be it white, red, or some other color on the tip (or tail). I find that an all silver second hand can get lost on a black dial (which I also prefer) pretty easily. For some reason, possibly just due to the lighting, the second hand seems to fade away on the Binnacle in pictures more than others.


    As for the Tag, Iím checking it out now since Iím definitely not opposed to buying used. However, if Iím going to go this route, the practical side of me tells me that I should probably find a less expensive watch and buy that used for an even better value. Maybe I'm wrong in that department, but it's my gut instinct.


    Thanks everybody for all of the recommendations so far, please keep them coming if you have them!

  8. #7
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    Re: Looking for a swim-able mechanical with sapphire. Any recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ad_Man View Post
    Bernhardt Binnacle – this is a great recommendation, and one that I had been checking out before and somehow forgot about. There are a few personal preference things though about this one that would turn me off – one of them being the built in end lugs. The other being the anchor on the end of the second hand. I know that it’s small, but I personally feel it’s a bit much. Between the typeface and that anchor it seems like it's trying a little too hard to hit home that nautical theme. Still, at $199 this one needs to stay in the running just for the sake of value.

    I don't disagree with you on your assessments, but one thing to note is the hands can be swapped pretty easily if you wish. Jay at MCWW swapped in a set of sword hands into a member's Binnacle Anchor and I think the result looks pretty nice. Plus, with the added surface area the sword hand style provides, the lume is also improved. The dial font is a bit more difficult to modify, but I kind of like it. The larger font used for the numbers tones down what would otherwise be a fairly stoic watch face.

    One thing I didn't point out, but that might be a factor to add into your mix is the lack of a date feature. I tend to like having a date on a watch I wear fairly regularly, but for a vacation watch (or one that I won't were very often, resetting the date can become a PIA. The Binnacle Anchor has no date, so setting is pretty quick.

    A couple other suggestions I would offer are the Mark II Vantage. This one may be a bit of a challenge to source, but Mark II makes a heck of a product. The other would be an OWC Black Tie. This is even harder to source (OWC is probably the most boutique of boutique manufacturers) but Dan Fock (OWC owner) has made a handful by request. The Black Tie is essentially a Mil-Sub style dial and sword hands in an Explorer style case. Dan uses high-end SeaGull movements (28,800 BPH, hacking, hand winding) and all assembly and QC is done by him and a very small trusted team (for example, each watch is individually pressure tested to their full rated depth).

    Nothing against the more main stream brands - I have a bunch myself - but it is nice to support the smaller manufacturers and wear something unique. You won't be likely to run into anyone else wearing a Vantage, Binnacle Anchor or Black Tie any time soon.

  9. #8
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    Re: Looking for a swim-able mechanical with sapphire. Any recommendations?

    Tons of choices here. Deep Blue, Ocean7, Armida, as well as others.
    If you can live without a sapphire crystal, consider the Seiko Monster, or Seiko SKX007.

  10. #9
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    Re: Looking for a swim-able mechanical with sapphire. Any recommendations?

    Thanks again guys for all of this great recommendations.

    RyeGuy - I'm completely with you when you mention the desire to have something more unique than one of the mainstream brands. If at all possible I'd love to go this less traveled route, though in the past I've generally felt that many of these watches would be out of my price range for this watch in particular. I'm starting to see this isn't necessarily the case though, so I'm broadening my exploration accordingly.

    I also need to note that, while I didn't want to discount them completely, I find myself leaning away from a "diver" in a sense. I know that seems like an odd thing to say given my desire for a watch with decent water resistance, but for this particular watch gap I'm looking to fill I have something a little less utilitarian in mind - something slightly more refined (as I write this I'm thinking mainly of the recommended Seiko Monster and Benarus divers).

    That being said, I'm finding myself attracted to some of those OWC watches in spite of myself - though I'd really prefer a Swiss or Japanese movement over the Seagulls which would take them out of my price range. Am I off base here? This watch may potentially become my everyday go-to, in which case I'd like a workhorse that can be serviced or repaired with minimum hassle if/when the time comes. In the back of my mind, though unoriginal, the first movement I think of in this case is ETA due to their sheer ubiquitousness. Maybe I'm wrong. My mind isn't set in this department, so please feel free to tell me otherwise.

    That Bernhardt anchor is starting to look better and better for $200... if only it had normal lugs...

  11. #10
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    Re: Looking for a swim-able mechanical with sapphire. Any recommendations?

    The Bernhardt Binnacle Anchor is a pretty great deal. I often find myself almost buying one. If it were 42mm, I think I'd have one already.

    But my recommendation to you is the Hamilton King Scuba day-date mechanical. You can find it for around $450, 41mm, 100m WR, sapphire, and it comes in a variety of bracelet or rubber options.



    I have the quartz chronograph version, and it's a great watch.

    Cheap on Overstock right now:
    Hamilton Khaki King Scuba Automatic Divers Watch | Overstock.com

    E
    DIT: Should have scrolled down more. It's sold out there. Still, should be able to find it somewhere at a decent price.
    Last edited by Raza; September 8th, 2011 at 16:30.
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