Watch Review: Morgenwerk M1-3

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COMPANY: Morgenwerk

WEBSITE: http://www.morgenwerk.watch/en/

About:

Observing the last 200 years of horological history, great things have been accomplished. Micromechanical miracles have emblazoned our wrists and vest pockets. Quartz oscillators have managed the more robust tasks of timekeeping, and some even now keep their time over the internet. But despite these innovations, one thing is apparent: None of the watches we use day–in and day–out actually run accurately. Even top–of–the–line mechanical watches have an off–set of two seconds at the end of the day. If they are not reset weekly, by the end of the month, you might miss your
train. Quartz watches are more reliable, yet achieve far from what is technologically possible. And the internet connection for time verification becomes much less reliable in most parts of the world as soon as we leave the urban space. We believe a watch should measure the time as accurately as possible. Therefore, we have equipped our M–Series watches with everything that is necessary to ensure precise timekeeping, and incidentally created a world–timer that does not let you miss a moment anymore (and also not the train).

 

Model: M1-3

Specifications:

MOVEMENT: Morgenwerk Satellite Caliber 1, bi-directional
CASE: titanium carbide coated, titanium two-part case, saphire lens, hardened (K1) mineral glass for antennae covers, brushed, stainless steel case-back with four inserted nuts, water resistance 5 atm
DIAMETER: 43.8 mm
THICKNESS: 14.0 mm
WEIGHT: 122g
DIAL: galvanised dial, SuperLuminova on index and hands
STRAP: black, high-endurance fuororcarbon–rubber strap
FUNCTIONS: time, date, timezone, daylight saving time on/off
POWER RESERVE: up to 110 days, (eight months in power save mode). Contains rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Separate USB charger and cable (max. charging time 2.5 hours)

Price: $1550

Today’s world is a tech filled world in which it’s all about the gadgets. For a lot of people cell phones have replaced their watches for telling the time. For those of us who know better still rely on our watches for telling time and for those of us that want the best of both worlds, Morgenwerk has given us that. Horological background meets today’s tech world in the M1-3. It’s simply not just a “smart watch” which basically is a cell phone on the wrist. Morgenwerk M1-3 watch has retained the analog design of traditional watch making, but incorporated the technology of today’s world.

Because of the dark grey color of the case it has a military/stealth feel to it. The case is titanium carbide coated, titanium. Titanium is already a solid case material that’s stronger than the traditional stainless steel cases watch. But this case toughness is on steroids due to it’s carbide coating. Morgenwerk uses a stoichiometric pure titanium carbide that is applied through an ion–plating process (condensation of a material vapor in a partial vacuum) onto the case of the M1-3.
The gross hardness grade of the surface exceeds 1000 HV (Vickers) and protects the M1-3 against traces of everyday usage. The case is very, very strong but the base material is softer therfore extreme impact can cause occasional spalling or chipping of the coating.

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Though it appears that there is a traditional crown and button pushers on the M-1 watch, it doesn’t function like a traditional crown. Instead it operates but pressing like a button as do the two other button pushers. These are used for setting the time, date display, etc..

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The bezel on the M1-3 is fixed which means it doesn’t rotate at all. The bezel is quite useful in a different sense. It makes the M1-3 a true world clock that is able to display all time zones. Originating from UTC, the time zone of the Greenwich Observatory near London, the desired time zone is added or subtracted by the push of a button. This is where the bezel comes in handy because the required scales to accomplish finding the time in different zones are engraved directly on the watch’s bezel. It is extremely convenient and also cool to look at.

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The case itself is a two-part case with a flat saphire crystal. The case back is brushed stainless steel and features a city time zone scale. The case back is held in place by 4 inserted hex head nuts. Above the 12 o’clock and below the 6 o’clock you will notice what looks like two windows. These are actually antennae covers for the satellite antennae connectors that are hardened K1 mineral glass.

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The matte black dial is really beautiful and minimalistic in appearance. Nothing pops more on a dial than the combination of black and white. It’s probably my personal favorite dial combo, a matte black dial with white indexes and white hands. Looks so good. I really like the hands on the M1-3, squared edges with hollowed out centers in which you can see the dial through. Very sexy. The hands can be used obviously to tell the time, but the hands can also be used to display the date by a push of a button. Along the inner chapter ring is where the numbers are printed that the hands point to numbers that represent the month and day. It’s pretty cool feature because this elimates the need for a date window. Something dial purest can truly appreciate.

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What makes this dial even better is that everything that is white is coated with Super-LumiNova. For those of you that don’t know, Super-LumiNova is a nontoxic substance that is made from strontium aluminate, a phosphorescent based on an alkaline-aluminate. Everything glows nice and bright, and it does last through the night on a bit of a charge from a strong light source.

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The M1-3 is equipped with a passive GPS antennas that receives signals from up to six satellites the strongest signal is chosen to calculate the current reference time. Sometimes when you are indoors GPS reception is inhibited, that’s when the specialized quartz movement kicks in to keep the time precise until the next available signal is picked up by the M1-3.  This eliminates the need to set the M1-3 manually. That’s pretty freaking awesome.

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The movement inside the M1-3 is a combination of complex architecture and technology. Morgenwerk produced a completely custom–developed movement for the M1-3 which is a complex work of high–tech components that Morgenwerk hand assembled into it’s own unique drive. Each movement inside Morgenwerk watches are always one–of–a–kind and is only manufactured by them.

The strap on the M1-3 is my next favorite detail of this watch after the dial. This strap feels like it can handle quite a lot of abuse. The strap is made of carbon–based terpolymers which has a high chemical durability and can handle extreme temperatures. This strap can remain flexible at temperatures as low as -20°C (-4°F). But even at the other end of temperature spectrum this strap remains strong at 200°C (400°F). This strap has a long list of substances that it can fight off, that list is as follows: mineral oils and oil–based lubricants, aliphatic, aromatic and particularly chlorinated hydro-carbons, gasoline, diesel fuels, silicone oils. Due to it’s engineering this strap has age resistant properties. Another awesome detail is how the keeper fits to the end of the strap like a puzzle piece. See the picture below.

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The M1-3 has a technology filled heart, with a tactical soul and the shell of a tank. I really enjoyed reviewing this watch from a technology and design perspective. I love the matte finishing on this case it’s absolutely bad ass. It reminds me of a stealth bomber, sleek and deadly. Let me get what I don’t really like on the watch out of the way since it’s only one thing that I think could make this watch look better appearance-wise. The antennae covers aren’t exactly pleasing to the eye. They are quite large and distract from the flow of the case. Now Morgenwerk did make the lugs angle down pretty sharp to allow the watch to hug the wrist despite how the extra length has added to the case to allow the space for the antenna. It would have made more sense in my opinion to mount this on the underside of the case or even incorporate them into the strap somehow. Everything else about this watch is a hit.

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The dial is my favorite part of this watch. The shape of the hands  are perfect. The square shape works perfectly with the tatical theme of this watch. I love how the cut out hands a detail that I am finding to like more and more. Another thing that is perfection on this watch is the strap. I didn’t think that my love affair with Isofrane straps could ever be tainted. But Morgenwerk has achieved that. This has to be the nicest “rubber” strap I have ever experienced. It is so flexible yet feels like it can withstand any amount of abuse that you can dish out. Hats off to Morgenwerk for the technological advance strap. This strap can withstand everything, even kryptonite.

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The toughness doesn’t stop at the strap, the case is rugged military tough. I put this watch through some heavy duty use during this review. I wore it in seawater during some shallow diving, rock climbing, hiking, at the gym, and it handle itself without fail. This is a great adventurer companion.

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It’s battery life on a full charge is pretty impressive. To fully charge this watch on the included charger only takes a max of 3 hours and that charge can last up to 8 months. The lithium-ion battery can handle 500 charges which will last over 100 years. That’s damn impressive.

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Traditional watches will always have a place in my heart, but these tech filled watches are gaining a place there as well. Morgenwerk put in a lot of research and science into the M1-3 watch. It’s a great watch that I completely and thoroughly enjoyed reviewing. I want to personally thank Morgenwerk for this honor.

Thank you so much for reading!

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Watch Review: Mondaine Stop2go

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COMPANY: MONDAINE

“The simple design, the unmistakable easy-to-read face, distinctive hands and the famous red seconds hand have made Mondaine timepieces uniquely recognized the world over. Ingenuity and simplicity are the combined elements that distinguish and define a truly iconic design classic. The Mondaine Official Swiss Railways watches embody these elements and proudly exemplify excellent 20th century design.”

MODEL: Stop2Go

SPECIFICATIONS:

Model number A512.30358.16SBC
Function Stop2go
Movement (manufacture. Ref.) MONDAINE stop2go cal. 58-02
Movement (type) Quartz
Case size/diameter (mm) 41.00
Case material Stainless Steel brushed
Case back Caseback with Screws
Crown Regular Gasket
Crystal/Glass material Sapphire anti-reflective coated
Water resistance (m/ft/atm) 30 / 100 / 3
Strap/Bracelet material Genuine Leather
Strap width at lug (mm) 20.00
Origin Swiss Made

All aboard! Even to this day, when I hear a train off in the distance it brings a smile to my face. When I was a kid I would imagine being aboard that train that I would hear. Imagining how awesome it would be to travel the railroad. Who hasn’t imagine that at some point or another. There is something that is just so fascinating about the railroad. Some people are even more fascinated with the railroad than others. For example, Hans Hilfiker, the man who was responsible for designing the clock for the Swiss Federal Railway service (SBB) in the 1940’s.  This station clock possessed an unique feature, the second hand would pause briefly, allowing the minute hand to jump forward. No it wasn’t broken, there was a very important reason for the pause/jump. This method was for keeping the SBB system synchronized from a central master clock so that the railway could run without incident.

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Mondaine has implemented this key feature of the SBB clocks of yesteryear into their Stop2Go watch. Mondaine watches are instantaneously recognizable because of their design roots coming from the famous SBB clocks. The round brushed stainless steel case comes in at 41mm with a lug with of 20mm. 41mm is an ideal size for this watch because I think anything bigger would end up looking cartoonish.

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The lugs are quite refined. Thin and short allowing the Stop2Go to wear true to its 41mm size and just over 47mm from lug tip to tip. How the ridge runs along the sides of the case the appear to run the length of the case. This cool little detail adds some great personality to the overal simple case design. The low profile of the case is maintained by its 11mm height.

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The crown is pretty unique on the Stop2Go. It doesn’t look like you average crown by any means. What it reminds me of is a winder on an old tin robot toy from the 1950’s, which does go along with my love of trains and the railroad. The crown functions essentially as a push/pull style crown to set the time. You can also use the crown to fine tune the second hand to properly pause at the 12 o’clock position. This can be achieved by holding down the crown for 3 seconds and then turning the crown counter-clockwise to advance the second hand. Once the second hand reaches the 12, you simply push the crown once to set it back in motion.

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The case back is held in place by 4 flat head screws and features a raised MONDAINE in the center of the case that is surrounded by a red circle. The case back also features engraved information about the watch itself. This case is simple, effective and well executed. No gimmicks, just pure essential functionality.

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The dial has to be the most recognizable part of this watch. The famous crisp matte white dial, with the pop of color, there is something so attractive about the dial on Mondaine’s watches. The white of the dial is so absolutely clean and it makes the perfect backdrop for the applied black hour markers. The markers are midnight black and the minute markers are as well, making ease with legibility.

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Now the ease of legibility doesn’t stop with the markers alone, the thick black hour and minute hands help make this dial distinct. Of course I haven’t forgotten about the main attraction here, at that main attraction being the red second hand. This is what truly makes the Mondaine dial in my honest opinion. Its origin of design was inspired by the stop paddle of the old Swiss Railway crossings and looking at it you can absolutely see that inspiration.

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The coolest feature of this watch is what it’s actually named for, the Stop2Go. You now know the back story of why it pauses for 2 seconds at the 12 o’clock position while the minute hand jumps to the next minute. It’s just so cool to watch it actually work. I found myself watching and waiting just for the second hand to reach the 12 so I could watch it pause and for the minute hand to jump. It’s quite addicting and quite entertaining actually.

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The movement inside the Stop2Go is the MONDAINE stop2go cal. 58-02. Obviously because of its special and unique way of functioning/time telling you can’t just rely on your off the rack movement. Mondaine developed the movement specifically for the Stop2Go watch. Being a quartz movement it is very accurate as you would expect.

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The Stop2Go came on a bright red, leather strap. Now, this color strap might not be for everyone but this strap is super soft from the get go. I like that it’s a non-tapering style strap and is pretty thick. It’s more square in design than it is rounded. The Stop2Go also looks great on a NATO strap.

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Timing is everything when it comes to the railway system. There is no margin for error. Absolutely none. Percision in timing. Mondaine has achieved that percision with their Stop2Go watch. That percision can be seen throughout the Stop2Go watch. The dial is absolute perfection. There’s a real crispness to this dial and when you see it in person you will see what I mean. I love how clean the dial is, no gimmicks or anything that isn’t needed.  The Stop2Go is just that, no gimmicks, nothing unnecessary. I wouldn’t call this watch minimalistic. Because of its origin this watch is packed with historical character.

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Mondaine has done an excellent job with executing every aspect of this watch. There isn’t anything about the Stop2Go watch that I would change. It would be cool though to see a nice engraved train on the back of the case and that’s just a nit picking stretch of a suggestion. If you are a train enthusiast and love watches too, then this is the perfect watch for you. If you are looking for a crisp, clean, killer matte white dial watch then this is also the watch for you. This is perfect to wear with a t-shirt and a pair of jeans just chilling on the weekend kind of watch.

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The Stop2Go feature also adds to the coolness factor of this watch. It’s a unique feature that I found myself constantly entertained by. It reminded me of watching a model train circling the track. Another suggestion to the design element would be having the “railroad track” style minute track. I think this would really add to the overall experience of this watch. Mondaine makes some iconic watches and they are very well designed. You will not be disappointed by this variation of their watch and you will in fact find yourself entertained and enamored by the Stop2Go feature.

I want to personally thank Mondaine Watches for this wonderful experience. It made me feel like a kid again, obsessed with the railway. Thank you for reading!

 

Update: Helm Vanuatu Generation 2. WOW!

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Company: Helm Watches

Website: http://www.helmwatches.com

About the company:

HELM Watches, and the company behind the brand―The Helm Group Limited―are American owned and operated, with roots in North Carolina. Conceived in the summer of 2014, HELM Watches was founded in September of the same year and our first watch, the Vanuatu 300m Automatic, was introduced in October, 2015.

Our mission is simple: To produce durable, affordable, dependable timepieces inspired by adventure and exploration, and designed to survive a lifetime of both.

The same spirit of adventure and exploration that inspires our brand and our watches (the kind of spirit, incidentally, that sometimes gets the better of common sense) is what inspired us to move half way around the world in the first place to launch a new company and a new brand among a sea of other brands. Undoubtedly, it will be one of our greatest adventures in this life. We would be honored if our watches can become a part of yours.

To ensure every watch is up to the task, we committed to quality from day one. And that’s a commitment that involves more than just words and good intentions. Regardless of the product in question or the country of origin, if multiple parts and multiple suppliers are involved, consistent quality is tough to maintain―especially from the far side of an ocean. So we packed up and switched sides, relocating to Hong Kong and southern China to keep a close eye on our suppliers and monitor every step of the production process.

So our commitment remains. Because it’s the only way we’ll fulfill our mission―to produce watches you’ll want to wear for life, and make them tough enough that you can. An unrealistic goal in today’s throwaway society? Perhaps. But we’d rather aim high and miss the mark than aim low and hit it. And we love a challenge. It’s kind of what we live for. So HELM Watches was born. And behind the brand is the challenge we set for ourselves, which inspires us, inspires our products and we hope will inspire anyone who straps on a HELM watch: It’s time to stop dreaming and start doing. It’s time to chart a course, grab what you need and get moving. It’s time for life.

Named for the South Pacific island nation famous for its coral reefs and a WWII shipwreck, the HELM Vanuatu epitomizes rugged functionality. Featuring a 316L stainless steel case and bracelet, automatic movement, screw-down caseback and crown, sapphire crystal, unidirectional bezel and 300 meter depth rating, the ISO 6425  (follow link to read full testing) http://helmwatches.com/iso-6425.html compliant Vanuatu will go as long and as far as you do―above or below the waves. Also included with the watch is a durable NS1 Nylon Strap, a perfect option if you’ll be in the water or just want a lighter weight alternative to the stainless bracelet.

 

VANUATU GENERATION 2

 

Back in January I had the great privilege to review the first release of the Helm Vanuatu. It packed in a great value for your dollar. At the price point I was quite impressed with what you received for the price. There is no such thing as the perfect watch we all know this of course, but what Helm did was they actually listened to the feedback from their first release and improved upon what was already a nice release.

I am here today with the Helm Vanuatu Gen 2 and I’m going to explore & explain the differences between the two watches.
What first caught my attention was the bezel design. The number font is a bit different and the fill is done with more percision. It looks much more streamline than before. Of course I am a bezel snob when it comes to function. I expect a bezel that lines up perfectly with the dial, ratchets firmly & smoothly and doesn’t have any play. Well Helm achieved all of this with the new and improved V2.

V2 DIAL

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V1 DIAL

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As soon as I glanced at this dial I noticed how nice and crisp everything looked. The lume coating on all the indices is done very neat and clean. Sharp lines throughout. I touch on the actual lume later on don’t worry! The new hands are filled now as opposed to the old solid hands on the V1. This small detail really cleans up the dial nicely, crazy what a huge difference it actually makes. Even the printed text on the dial looks cleaner. Now don’t get me wrong the V1 was impressive and I really like it a lot, but these improvements have carried the Vanuatu into a different league competition wise. As I explore the V2, I can honestly say that it will be tough to find these kind of details on a watch at this price point.

 

V2 CASE BACK

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The caseback on the V2 has also been upgraded both functionally and visually. Helm went with a combination of stamping and etching which has created a much more smooth and clean appearence to the case back. I absolutely love solid case backs and the V2 doesn’t disappoint. Even running my finger across it feels so nice. Underneath this beauty of a case back Helm made some changes they replaced the NBR gasket with a DuPont Viton. What does this mean? Well this gasket helps seal the case back creating a tighter water resistant seal. Something you want on a dive watch. Another important detail about the new gasket is that it has a higher resistance to chemical erosion and it has a higher resistance to extreme temperatures. When exposed to hot or cold the gasket won’t shrink or expand so that the seal is always tight maintaining the water resistance.

V1 CASE BACK

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The crown on the V1 operated without flaw and so is the same on the V2. So why fix what isn’t broken right? Wrong. Helm just made it even better. The made the crown with higher profile teeth/gear edges that allow you to get a better grip on things. The crown is so easy to screw and unscrew. Just as I’m a snob with bezels, the crown is the other are of a watch that draws a lot of critism from me. Rest assure my friends, this crown will receive no critism from me.

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A detail that you may not notice that was upgraded is the spring bars. They are beefier than before, 2.0mm of beef to be exact. The new included strap is also beefier, from the strap itself to the keepers. It really feels like quality. A strap that can handle some good, rough and tumble outdoors adventure. I like this style of strap for when I’m doing things in the woods, hiking, climbing, chopping wood, etc.. When I’m in the water, I prefer a bracelet. The Vanuatu’s bracelet is crazy nice. Helm switched to single-sided screw pins on the new bracelet which not only adds to aesthetics but it actually makes sizing the bracelet much easier.

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The lume is so nice on the V2. It has great depth and detail throughout the dial, hands and bezel. The V1 had a muted blue glow to it. Now? Oh man it has green & orange and glows so bright. Helm used a LumiNova BGW9 luminous pigment, this go around and it works perfectly. This is one of my favorite upgrades on the V2. I never was a lume fan before and what I mean by that is it would never make or break a purchase of a watch for me. Now, it’s so satisfying to lay in bed at night and look at the bright glow of lume. Plus the jerk in me finds it slightly satisfying to shine the lume in my wife’s face. Hehehe. Yes I just say hehehe and yes I wear a watch to bed. Got a problem with that?

V2 lume shot from a 30 second charge of light

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V1 lume shot from 30 second charge of light

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The price for the V2 comes in at $275.00 USD plus $30 for shipping. The first 100 V2 will be offered starting around August 15th, for $250.00 with shipping included. To be honest, even at $275.00 the Vanuatu is an incredible value. The bracelet alone makes this an instant value not to mention that each watch is ISO 6425 standard. You get a watch with nice lume, a killer dial, smooth as butter bezel, screw down crown, a rugged stainless steel bracelet, and an automatic movement for under $300.00! That’s crazy! The case construction on the Vanuatu is solid. This watch can handle your abuse.

This is a perfect watch for someone looking to enter the dive watch world. I am very impressed with this watch. Like I said before, I was impressed with the V1, but holding both versions side by side, you can see the work that Helm did to improve upon a solid foundation only to make it even better. I always hear across the watch groups and forums “I’m looking for a daily beater, any suggestions?” Well yes, I have a great suggestion, the Helm Vanuatu generation 2 is that watch. You won’t break the bank either. This watch can easily compete with watches that are offered at a much higher price point.

I want to personally thank Helm for allowing me to explore the Vanuatu Generation 2. It was an honor to do and it was awesome to see the great improvements built upon an already firm foundation.

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VANUATU SPECIFICATIONS:

WHAT YOU GET:
Vanuatu 300m Automatic Watch
SS1 Stainless Steel Bracelet
NS1 Nylon Strap (your choice of 4 colors)

CASE:
Brushed 316L Stainless Steel
Integrated Crown Guards
Screw Down Caseback
Diameter (12H to 6H): 42 mm
Diameter (9H to 3H, with crown): 46.0 mm
Lug to Lug: 50 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Height: 14 mm

CROWN:
Brushed 316L Stainless Steel
Screw Down
Position: 3 o’clock
Diameter: 8 mm

MOVEMENT:
Seiko Instruments NH35 (Automatic Mechanical)
Hacking and Manual Winding Functions
Accuracy: -25 ~ +35 seconds/day
Beats Per Hour: 21,600
24 Jewels
Power Reserve: 40 Hours

DIAL & HANDS:
Dial: Matte Black with Luminescent Hour Markers (Super-LumiNova BGW9 + Dark Orange)
Hands: Luminescent Hour, Minute & Second Hands (Super-LumiNova BGW9)
Date Window: 6 o’clock (Black or White Date Option)

BEZEL:
316L Stainless Steel
120-Click, Unidirectional Rotation
Diameter: 43 mm
Stainless Steel Insert with Black PVD Coating
Markings: White Oil + Super-LumiNova BGW9

CRYSTAL:
Flat Sapphire with Internal Anti-Reflective Coating

BAND:
Stainless Steel Bracelet and Folding Clasp with Brushed Finish (22 mm Bracelet Tapers to 20 mm at Clasp)
NS1 Nylon Strap with Stainless Steel Buckle and Keeper Rings

WATER RESISTANCE:
300 m / 30 atm / 990 ft
Tested in accordance with ISO 6425:1996

WEIGHT:
With Stainless Bracelet (full length): 225 grams
With NS1 Nylon Strap: 120 grams

ACCESSORIES:
The LS1 and LS2 leather straps pictured in some photos at left are available separately, and at a discount when purchased with a watch.
The canvas strap pictured in some photos at left is a work in progress, which we hope to have available soon.