I've been here almost two years, and decided it's time for a State of the Collection thread.
For the past 11 weeks, I've been a member of the f71 One Watch a Week Club (OWaWC), and I've worn all of the watches in my collection for at least one week at a time during that period. I took two weeks off due to vacation, I wore one watch twice and another for a week and a half, but I went through all 8 watches in my collection (excluding the newly arrived Orient Chicane, which is slated for modification).
Wearing the same watch for a week at a time has allowed me to really get a feel for the watch. To discover its quirks, and what I like and don't like about it. It's also given me an opportunity to experiment with straps, since I'm more likely to do that if I'm wearing the same watch every day. My watches that have been running too slow or too fast have now been regulated, something I would likely not have gotten around to had I been swapping watches every day.
I've also discovered that I care for some watches more than others. For some, I was slightly sad at the end of the week when I had to switch to another one. With others, I was secretly waiting for the week to be over so I could switch to another one (I took my club obligations seriously).
I've come to the conclusion that my favourite watch in my collection is the Black Lagoon, my home-made homage to the Tudor Black Bay:
This is the one I wore twice, and is the one I'm wearing today. While wearing it as a member of the OWaWC, I discovered a pretty serious smudge on the rehaut (barely visible above, between 12 and 1 o'clock), so I took the opportunity to clean that up. Timing has been pretty good on this one, so I haven't messed with it. I've also decided that I prefer it on the bracelet over either the leather strap I made for it, or the black NATO. I have to give most of the credit for my enjoyment of this watch to Tudor for coming up with the elegant yet not boring design.
Second in line is likely my Strela 1252B, a 3133-powered chrono fashioned after an older 3017 version, but spiffied up a little with IWC-style raised numerals.
With this watch, I've discovered that I prefer the leather strap I made for the Black Lagoon over the RIOS strap it came with. I think that with this 38mm watch, the strap has to curve too sharply around my 6.25" wrists, and the RIOS is just too stiff for that. My home-made strap is much softer and more pliable. Although it's a little less formal than the RIOS, I think it works well with this design. The only work I've done on the watch itself was to slightly nudge the chrono bridge so get rid of some slop in the second hand when the chrono was reset.
Next up is my Velocimaster V-33, another home-made homage, this one of the Omega Speedmaster X-33.
What have I discovered about this one? Well, when I originally built it, I started with a Pulsar NX01-X001. Later, I transplanted it into the case of a Bulova Marine Star 96C12, with the chunkier looking (but not actually any wider) case that looks more X-33-like. But now I'm starting to think that I preferred the Pulsar case, and am considering putting the watch back in that case, reassembling the Marine Star, and flipping it. But I'm not sure yet.
Fourth and fifth place are a toss-up between my 3133-powered early post-Soviet Sturmanskie, or my 31681-powered Pilot Berkut.
I have a lot of time invested in the Sturmanskie. Not much in the way of mods like my Black Lagoon or V-33, but rather, this is the first chronograph I did a complete service on. It's also the first movement where I got brave enough to remove and clean the balance jewels, because they were the root cause of really bad performance (~90 degrees amplitude). There was also some damage to the dial which I was able to repair. In short, a full restoration. It took me a while to find a strap that I like for this watch, but finally arrived at this GasGasBones-inspired nylon strap with leather tabs and a splash of red thread (home-made).
The Berkut (like the Strela, another Juri Levenburg creation) was my second chrono, and I got it for a really good price from someone who was selling it locally and didn't want to mess with eBay/PayPal. However, shortly after I got it, I decided to reset the hands because the 24h hand was lagging by about 40 minutes. Unfortunately, I broke the chrono second hand during that job, so the watch sat on my workbench for a long time. Recently, I was able to acquire a replacement second hand and repair the watch. I did a bit of modding while I was at it, adding more lume to the dial, going to a tri-colour subdial hand scheme, and blacking out the centre of the chrono second hand (to match the hour and minute hands). So, another watch I have some time invested in.
After this, we come to my USSR-made early 1990s Sekonda alarm watch, with Poljot 2612.1 movement. This is one I fell in love with early on, and I snapped up a somewhat-non-working example from eBay.
Like the Sturmanskie, it needed extensive restoration. When I received it, it had very low amplitude, was about 20 minutes per day slow, and the crystal was badly scratched. I serviced the movement (my first servicing ever) and seriously polished the crystal, resulting in what you see above. I'm not a fan of big watches (40mm is my upper limit), but this one is quite small at about 36mm. Fortunately, it's "all dial", so looks a little bigger than the size would suggest. I used to wear this on a home-made boring black leather strap, but the watch took on a new life when I put it on a modified not-quite-olive green NATO.
Almost but not quite finally, we come to my Timex Expedition. My parents bought me this watch for Christmas in 2001, shortly after I began flight training.
The watch has everything one could need in a pilot watch: clear easy to read dial and hands, a second timezone (pilots often need to know UTC/GMT/Zulu time), and a date display. Until I became a WIS, I didn't realize how bad the bracelet was (or how good one could be), so now when I wear it, it goes on a modified olive/khaki NATO instead. The bracelet is loose, rattly, and pulls on my wrist hairs. I imagine how bad it would be if I actually had a lot of hair on my wrists. The only drawback is that the LCD display has become smaller as I've gotten older.
And finally, this is my beater watch, a Vostok Komandirksie. It's actually my second post-WIS watch, which I purchased from amil over on the Russian watch sub-forum (f10).
I purchased the dial (which is actually an Amphibia dial) separately (also from amil), so this was my first mod. I wanted a reasonably tough, not too big, not too new, water resistant watch to wear when working with and around horses, and I think this one exactly fits the bill. It's in fairly good condition, but not so nice that I feel like I have to baby it. My only problem with it was that early on, the hairspring kept getting tangled when the watch received a hard shock. With the help of fellow WUS members, I determined that it was contaminated with oil, so I took out the balance and cleaned the hairspring. The watch now runs extremely well, gaining about 10 seconds a day, and showing really good amplitude.
What have I discovered in general?
1. A little bling isn't necessarily bad. It seems that my two favourite watches are also my blingiest, and this kind of surprised me. I really don't like bling, and I always hate how jewellery store lighting highlights the bling in watches, making them all look rather unappealing to me. But I guess like anything, a little goes a long way. Neither of those watches have a lot of bling (the Strela is probably the blingier of the two), but enough to take away the tool watch look.
2. Straps can make a huge difference. To me, the greenish NATO on the Sekonda completely transformed the watch. My home-made strap looks just as good and is much more comfortable on the Strela than the RIOS strap it came with. A too-small lug size (18mm) can be compensated for with a wider strap with small tabs like I did on the Sturmanskie (that strap works well with the Komandirskie too, but because there's leather on it, I don't want to get it wet).
3. Customized/modded watches are a lot more meaningful (to me) than just having bought a nice watch. Similarly, even a non-customized watch that I've put a lot of work into carries more meaning. I guess I like the feeling of knowing that I built or restored something that I'm wearing or using. This might be related to the fact that I write with a 50 year old restored fountain pen, have a restored 35 year old HP calculator on my desk, play a 52 year old Hammond organ that I fixed up, and am building a plane from scratch in my workshop.