Watch Review: OWC 1884-World Timer Super Compressor

It is something truly magical when you can see a watchmaker’s passion in the physical form on their watch. This is exactly what can be found in OWC’s new release, the WT-1884. “OWC – Orange Watch Company – was born out of passion, frustration and the obsessive compulsion of one man – Daniel Fock – who is now following his dream and the legacy of his “overgrootvader” Willem Hugo Fock who studied at the Ecole d’Horlogie in Neuchâtel in the early part of the 20th Century.” I have had the pleasure and honor of knowing Dan for the past 6+ years. In those past years I have gotten the chance to learn and understand how his watch making passion works. It is quite apparent if you have ever had the opportunity to experience one of his watches first hand.

One of the things that I appreciate about OWC is that their focus is more on the engineering of their watches and not the fashion. Dan also focuses on the quality above price and traditional values over marketing. Dan has admitted that where they succeed in quality watch making, they have failed at marketing. I know that OWC has a cult following in the watch community and the word of mouth is better marketing than money itself can buy.

If I remember correctly, it was over a year ago when I first saw the WT-1884 prototype. WT stands for world timer which I am sure you can tell by just looking at the watch. The bezel features the major cities of the world on it. To use this function is quite simple. For example if it’s 1:00 pm in your current location and you want to know what time it is in a specific city. First you line up your time zone/city on the bezel with 1300 on the chapter ring, then you look at where the specific city you want to know is lined up with the number on the chapter ring. The numbers are easy to read and the legibility is increased because the chapter is separated into AM/PM colored sections. Lining up the cities with the chapter is also made easy because the knurled edges are easy to grip, the bezel has smooth rotating function and everything lines up with precision. All of these details are a great example of OWC’s focus on engineering over fashion mantra.

The dial on the WT-1884 is extremely legible. The matte black dial base allows the raised numeral markers to standout. The applied markers are oversized and coated generously with C3 SuperLumiNova Luminescence. The dial is simple and clean with minimal text. The only text you will find is OWC logo under the 12 o’clock position and ‘AUTOMATIC’ above the 6 o’clock position. This dial is extremely legible and that good legibility is because of precise proportion design. The sword style hands are perfectly proportioned to the dial itself. Both the hands and the applied markers are bordered with a high polished finish. That high polish finish catches the light brilliantly which gives assistance to the legibility when lightning is at a lower than normal level (before the lume kicks in to help even further). The logo and the arrow tipped second hand both add a pop of orange color to the dial. I think the length of the second hand is perfect because it just reaches the inner most point of the chapter ring. This detail of length makes timing to the second an easy job when you really need that “down to the second” accuracy.

The case on the WT-1884 is absolutely perfect in my opinion. Dan’s attention to precision is extremely apparent throughout the design of this case. It has every functional detail that I look for in a watch, drilled lugs, easy to grip crown/bezel, solid/screw down case back, thick screw bars. Personally I would have preferred a full brushed case or bead blasted finish instead of the combination of brushed and polished finishes but that’s just a personal preference and not something that OWC did wrong. The crown function is one of the best I have ever experienced in terms of function. The unscrewing/screwing action is so smooth and aligns perfectly every time. There isn’t any extra wobble that makes you feel like it could snap off at any second. Setting the time and manually winding the watch is smooth as butter. There definitely isn’t any of that choppy/gritty/grind with this crown’s winding motion.

Ticking away inside this watch is the SW300-1 Elaborate Top Regulation. This movement is essentially a Chronometre grade movement without the swing tag and added cost. The watch kept +3 seconds overall during the review process. What really worked well for me on the WT-1884 aside from it’s accuracy, was the ease of function when I needed it to the most. I have always been an avid outdoorsman/nature lover, but since the pandemic I have really focused more into getting the appropriate gear to increase the time I am able to hike/endure the elements. Techwriter on Instagram was my go to guy for questions on certain gear to get in terms of backpack, EDC case, etc…. So the watches I have been reviewing have had to endure more outdoorsy activities than they had to in the past. There’s definitely more exposure to the elements, extreme temperatures hot/cold, and more exposure to accidental abuse. Everything on the OWC functioned above and beyond what a watch should. Let’s face it, most dive watches only see desk diving. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that either. People should buy what they like and use it for whatever they like. If you want to know if a watch can withstand more than just desk diving I am here to answer that for you with my reviews.

I had no trouble using the bezel or crown in any weather situation meaning with gloves on, in wet/cold and muddy environments. The high polished sides on stainless steel case scratched up of course but that’s to be expected of stainless steel with this type of finish. It adds character to the watch in my opinion. The sapphire crystal definitely withstood the abuse without any signs of wear and tear. I should mention that the 4.5mm thick crystal is extremely clear and has AR coating on the inside. In my pictures you see that the watch is on a ballistic style strap. It’s one of the best straps on the market in terms of price and quality. Vario made the strap and it isn’t included with this watch. The watch comes on a stainless steel bracelet. I didn’t think that the bracelet couldn’t hold up to my abuse. The bracelet is one of the best out there. If the clasp was different, it would easily compete against the Rolex oyster style bracelet. The end links are completely solid and each link on the bracelet is removable. Not only removable but extremely secure because OWC uses high quality Torx screws on their bracelets. I prefer wearing bracelets on my watches at work because they are the easiest style to clean off the mass amount of germs that I am exposed to. Because I am working with patients who are positive for covid, this is more important to me because keeping my watch clean to avoid cross contamination is vital. I constantly rely on my watch at work throughout my day. I’m constantly touching it, rotating the bezel, etc….

The inspiration for some of Dan’s past releases are quite apparent, that’s why I think the WT-1884 is my personal favorite of OWC’s offerings. It has it’s own personality/identity along with OWC’s attention to quality/functional details. People may say that the price for a small brand is too high, but what is the reason you are looking at when buying a watch? Are you more interested in the name on the dial or are you more interested in the quality of the build? That’s a question that each individual has to ask themselves. There’s no right or wrong reason for buying a watch(unless you think watches are an investment 🙄)

The WT-1884 is a comfortable watch to wear and it wears true to its 40.5 mm x 12.9 mm dimensions. The curved lugs and flat case back allows the watch to sit/hug the wrist with nice balance and presence. This watch should be a consideration for someone who wants a watch that has precision and quality throughout every single component that makes up this watch. There were not corners cut whatsoever. I always enjoy reviewing Dan’s watches because of how he owns his OCD tendencies and how those tendencies allow him to execute through the functional design details in each of his watches. Each watch is made to order which adds a bit more special and individualized experience when purchasing a watch. I included below a short interview with Dan so you can get a glimpse into his watch making world/thought process.

Thank you all for reading. Thank you Dan/OWC.

A short and functional interview with Dan from OWC.

What would you like to explain about using a chronometre movement?

Dan: “What I would like to stress is that a Chronometre is not an accurate watch, it is not one without error. The most accurate movement/watch in the world is NOT a Chronometre. But take a walk back in time to the golden age of maritime adventure. It was VITAL for navigation for the ship to have a clock a Ships Chronometre or they would all die and never reach their destination.”

“Simply put a Chronometre is a watch/clock whose inaccuracy is constant. All movements have inaccuracies, but Chronometers’ have stable inaccuracies. This is why Ships Chronometers’ were locked in a box. During the voyage the clock must NEVER be touched, its time must NEVER be readjusted. Thereby the navigator who knows the clock gains/loses 5 seconds a day and every day, can accurately calculate his position. (http://www.orangewatchcompany.com/chronometre-and-accuracy/)”

What exactly are you interested in when you record your data about the watch movements?

Dan: “So it is not the accuracy we are interested in, but the stability of the inaccuracy. I know that sounds strange. But when I am faced with the question, how accurate are your watches, the reply is , if accuracy is your things buy a quartz.”

We have all seen the two crown watches that call themselves super compressor style cases, but your watches are actually functioning super compressor cases correct?

Dan: “The watch you have is a Super Compressor/Compressor – one of only 2 currently produced. The other one is the JLC (and I am not 100% sure it is a real compressor). “

What about testing and the materials that are used in the WT-1884?

Dan: “Tested to 30 ATM, 4.5mm sapphire crystal (Japanese), usual OWC features, 4mm thick Oyster Bracelet, Torx screws (I think I am the only one to use Torx) (http://www.orangewatchcompany.com/torx-design/). The dial has raised markers and made in Taiwan. The hands are from a new place in France. Plus the Crown is all new especially made for the SW-300-1. You will notice it remains 8.0mm, but a little more elegant than before.”

Where and how are your watches assembled?

Dan: “All made with love and assembled Not by a machine and not by technicians in Switzerland so it qualifies for the very loose term “Swiss Made” My watches are assembled by hand tested by hand and run on the bench for a few weeks by a Master Watchmaker. Like any high end machine, it is essentially used when it is bought new.”

Specifications – WT-1884:

  • Case Diameter (no crown) 40.5mm
  • Thickness 12.9mm
  • Lug Gap 20.0mm
  • Lug-to-lug 51.0mm
  • Crown 8.0mm
  • Crystal (Sapphire) 4.5mm
  • AR Coating
  • Bracelet 20.0mm x 4.0mm (non-tapering)
  • End links Solid
  • All links removable via Torx screws
  • Bezel 40.50mm
  • Bezel Stainless Steel with engraved markings
  • Sword Hands
  • C3 SuperLumiNova Luminescence (hands and dial)
  • Dial Colours: Black
  • Indices: Applied
  • Complications: No Date
  • Movement
    • Sellita SW300-1 Elaborate Top Regulation (Chronometre Grade)
  • Other:
    • Case Back Stainless Steel with 6 Torx Screw (Torque: 0.175 Nm approx.)

Watch Review: TACS AVL II

There’s a fine line between unique and gimmicky when it comes to the design of a watch that doesn’t follow traditional route. I say fine line because a design can easily go the gimmick route rather quickly. I find myself gravitating towards the more unique watches these days. Why? The current market is flooded by uninspired homage watches that I find extremely boring. When I saw the Tacs AVL II watch it was kind of a no brainer choice for me. The obvious reading is because I am obsessed with watches and the other reason is because I am also obsessed photography. The TACS AVL II combined both of my obsessions into this unique 47mm watch. The watch arrived in one of the best packaging presentation that I have experienced. I was more impressed by TACS presentation than I was when the Rolex SD43 arrived.

The AVL watch came in a handsome dark wooden box. I don’t normally talk much about the box a watch comes in but I love the details on the box the AVL arrived in. The outside of the is detailed with silver on three of it’s sides. Each plaque is engraved with specific details about the watch and the company. The top of the box is a hinged lid that fastens closed via a leather strap and a silver fastener post. I know it’s all about what’s on the inside of this box, but know that the watch arrives in safe style. The last detail that I want to talk about before we get to the watch itself is my favorite detail of this whole package. It is found protecting the watch and it is so freaking cool. The watch is protected by a leather cap that is designed to mimic an old school lens cover. It is by far the best and the most original design of a protective cover I have seen. Tacs gets major points for this little detail.

I initially spent quite a bit of time just admiring the amount of detail on the case of this watch. Throughout my time with this watch I was constantly discovering new details that I missed previously. The charm of this watch is all the styling cues that come from the inspiration behind the watch. As technology quickly marches on, the old ways are slowly forgotten. Especially how digital technology has advanced over the past few years. Manual cameras that use actual film is a dying art. Tacs has done an excellent job with keeping the memory of “old school” photography alive with the AVL II. As important as the style of this watch is to it’s essence, function is king when it comes to it’s “soul”. After all it’s a watch, not a camera.

The bezel has that same smooth, gliding feel when you rotate it, that is reminiscent of the feel a vintage camera’s manual focusing lens. The knurled edges on the bezel allows for easy grip. This bezel is bidirectional and rotates ever so smoothly. The clever design of the bezel, crystal and dial all come together to give the illusion of an actual camera lens and aperture. I like how the arch of the domed (fisheye) crystal sits below the top of the bezel. Just like the bezel, the crown features knurled edges allowing for easy grip for operating. The crown function is without flaw. It screws/unscrews smoothly as does the winding motion/setting the time. It was a cold and rainy day when I took the AVL out for a 10 mile hike for some photographs. Along the way I periodically would set the time back to 10:10. Operating the 8mm crown and occasionally the bezel was easy to do even with cold, wet hands. This watch isn’t small and it isn’t light, but it does wear comfortably on the wrist. It never once became a nuisance during my hike.

There is an exhibition case back on the AVL that allows the wearer to get a good view of the movement ticking inside. If that isn’t enough for you, part of the Citizen Miyota 82S0 movement can also be viewed for the dial side. The dial is quite simple and it works brilliantly for this watch design. The hand set on the AVL is also simple, a combination of black & white with a touch of silver at the tips and a splash of lume thrown in for those dark situations. There isn’t much in terms of a traditional dial layout with numerals and all. Again Tacs took it’s design cues from vintage manual cameras when they drew up this dial. There are some numerals on the chapter ring starting at 12 minutes and finishing off at 50 minutes. The numbers are small but they suffice to give you good reference points for telling the time. Rest assured that you will have legibility in the dark because the numerals are coated with lume. Tacs took the design a bit further by also coating the letters found on the bezel.

I really like the size and weight of this watch. It feels substantial teamed with it’s good quality, the AVL II is a pleasant surprise. I am impressed with this watch, impressed by the details, the quality and the unique design. The 100 meters of water resistance actually was a welcome surprise. Compare this to a deep dive watch and I get that it’s not that impressive. It’s impressive because typically watches like this have very little water resistant capabilities. In terms of function, everything on this watch functions without any issue whatsoever. For $599 the AVL II is a welcome option in the ever growing sea of boring homages. You get a unique, well made watch that comes in an impressive presentation and equipped with a solid, quick release bracelet.

What would I suggest to make the AVL II better? Well to be honest nothing comes to mind initially. When I first started spending time with this watch my initial recommendation was going to be with the hands. I thought that the hands could have been longer and wider. That opinion changed though. This is why I prefer spending a lot of time with a watch before I write it’s review. The more time that I spent experiencing this watch gave me a deeper understanding of the why of the design, specifically the hands. If Tacs made the hands larger it would block the small skeletonized portion of the dial. This would create a chain reaction throughout the dial causing change that would jeopardize the overall pleasant aesthetics on this dial. This watch is a strong contender option for those who love photography and who love watches. The design of this watch is extremely unique and works brilliantly. Unique yes, gimmicky no. The attention to detail and how well those details were executed is what impressed me most about this watch.

The AVL II is available via Tacs website:

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Thank you for reading. Thank you Tacs for allowing me to conduct my review.

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