It's a slow day and I am waiting on my clients (yes all of them) to proceed at work...
Tang buckles (from here on to be referred to as "buckle(s) or tang buckle(s) - I am specifically not referring to the deployant/deployment variation) are often overlooked. For most, they appear to only have a singular function - fasten the strap. Because the general attitude to the buckle, even a WIS may not appreciate a buckle's quality, branding or finish. I decided to take some quick and dirty shots to compare buckles from four respectable manufacturers.
The Tang, Spring Bar and Top Appearance:
From left to right: Hirsch, Omega, Sinn and Speake Marin
Hirsch is a strap manufacturer and a very prolific one at that. My wager is that they produce more buckles than the other brands combined. This one is polished and has a deep relief "H" logo just above where the tang end rests. It is thick and sturdy feeling. I feel this should be the industry standard. The tang is made from folded metal and the spring bar is of decent quality. Because of the pierced spring bar holes, it is easy to remove it from a strap. However, the holes are clearly visible when the buckle is installed on a strap.
The inside of the buckle features a nice embossed Hirsch logo.
Large holes on its profile.
Omega is an upscale and prestigious brand often cited as Rolex's competition. The buckle is satin brushed and has a shallow "Ω" engraved on the top. The tang end sits in the center of the brand logo but there is no defined spot on the buckle for the end to rest in - this is an aesthetic decision which impairs functionality. The tang is made out of folded metal, and is relatively short in comparison to most tangs. This effects the top of the non-buckle side strap by having the buckle edge rub against the top of the strap when you try to tighten the strap. Interestingly, the tang is flipped and sits low on the spring bar end of the buckle. The spring bar itself is the best of the lot. The buckle has spring bar holes and are nicely filled by the spring bar ends making them discreet while still being functional.
The only buckle to feature a reference number on it.
Holes done very well.
SINN is the forum sweetheart. The polished buckle features a relief engraving of the logo, sitting above the tang end indent, that is somewhat between the depth of the Hirsch and Omega logos. I suspect Hirsch manufactures this buckle as it shares many similarities, including: spring bar holes, tang design and build quality. Much of my opinion of the Hirsch buckle can be applied to the Sinn buckle.
The buckle tells you what it is made of and in German at that!.
Similar build quality to the Hirsch
Speake Marin is a high-end boutique option. The buckle is polished and has a well defined tang end indent. The logo appears to be laser etched and frankly looks cheap - as cheap looking as the Omega's. The tang is solid, similar to a Breitling tang is feels luxurious and over engineered (in a good way). the edges are all well defined and the overall excellent finishing. There are no spring bar end holes, which makes this the dressiest buckle and the hardest one to swap from strap to strap.
Oddly enough, there are no markings to be found.
Very distinct profile.
Not one buckle is perfect, although they are all of different quality. My preference here is:
1) Speake Marin - unique and well built;
2) Hirsch - industry standard;
3) Omega - great spring bar and holes albeit with poor tang and no tang indent;
4) Sinn - a good buckle but too generic
Final last words:
My inbox is full of client replies so I must be on my way. However, I would like to know what you all think about the old tang buckles.
All the best,
PS I left out value, but at the time of writing:
Hirsch buckles are complementary with the purchase of a strap
Sinn buckles are complementary with the purchase of a strap
Omega buckles cost $50 (plus tax) from the boutique
Speake Marin buckles cost $135 on the 'Bay