Watch Review: Ocean 7 LM-7

Homage watches are definitely a touchy subject. Love them or hate them, they are a reality of the watch industry. I’ve heard both sides of the argument and there have been times when I agree with both sides of the debate. That is basically all that I am going to say about the subject for now because I am not here to talk in depth on the debate. We are here to explore and to discuss the Ocean 7 LM-7 titanium watch so let’s dive right into this.

The O7 mission statement: “OCEAN7® design objectives are simple: to create beautiful watches that are tough and functional. We use variations on styling cues such as “Plongeur” (French for diver) hands made famous by historic, collectible dive watches of the past. OCEAN7 dials are simple and pleasing to look at, uncluttered by specifications relegated to the back of the watch. Most of our designs are influenced by watch enthusiasts worldwide. Our guiding philosophy is simple – we have to be different to be better!”

When I opened up the box to get to the watch itself, the first detail I noticed was the finish on the case. The finish on the case has a dark grey matte color that gives off that utilitarian feel. The finish on this case is two parts, not only is it sandblasted titanium but the LM-7 is DLC hardened to approximately 1250 vickers. Therefore, you not only have the lightweight & ruggedness of titanium but you also have the resilience of the 1250 vickers of the DLC. This case did receive a lot of abuse during my review and it held up remarkably well. I was not only surprised by the scratch resistance of this case, but what did surprise me was how light it was on the wrist. I took the LM-7 with me on several hikes. These hikes included a lot of up cliff climbing and equally the same amount of sliding down because of mud, snow and ice. The LM-7 only weighs 93 grams so comfort was never an issue. Also worth noting is this watch wears much smaller than the dimensions imply. Take a look at the lug design because that has a lot to do with the watch wearing smaller. You don’t have those long lugs creating that substantial wrist overhang, instead you have this lug design that helps create a manageable lug to lug measurement/fit. The LM-7 is 55mm x 46 mm x 17mm.

I like that the lugs are drilled on the LM-7. Why? In my experience/opinion drilled lugs not only add strength with the screw lug bars but it also makes changing the strap easier helping to avoid scratching up the case. The LM-7 comes on a 24mm black poly sport strap with a signed Ti pin buckle. The buckle is signed ‘Ocean 7’. The LM-7 feat an easy to grip, screw down crown. The oversized crown operates without any issues. It is easy to operate whether you are setting the time/date or if you are manually winding it. During my hike, I would reset the time to 10:10 for picture purposes. I found that even with wet, cold fingers I was able to accomplish the task at hand with ease. The crown is located on the 9 o’clock side of the case. The reason for the crown position is so that it could give way to the large protruding section on the 3 o’clock side of this case.

Wondering what the orange button does? When you press it down and hold it, it depresses a lock located under the bezel which then allows you to freely rotate the bezel bi-directionally. To lock the bezel you simply release the orange button. This ensures that there isn’t any accidental movement. This is especially important if you are using the bezel to time something that requires critical precision. The bezel and button both operate as they should. I do wish that the bezel rotation was a little more smooth. The LM-7 does comes with two bezels that can be changed easily with the supplied tool. This is done by simply loosening the 4 screws on the outer edges of the bezel. One bezel has a black sapphire insert with all the markers treated with lume and the other bezel is all titanium with black filled markers & a lume triangle.

The LM-7 has a helium release valve that is located on the bottom of the orange button housing unit. The screw in style case back features engraved specs about the LM-7. Flipping the watch back over brings us to exploring the dial. There is no denying the legibility of the LM-7’s dial. The matte black dial creates an ideal backdrop that allows the painted lume coated markers to stand out for greater legibility. The markers have a slight green tint to them. They really “shine” in low light and dark environments. Just like the bezel, the markers and hands are coated with generous amounts of Swiss super luminova. Each one of the three hands are proportioned exactly right for this dial. I personally prefer when the hands extend out enough to touch the markers. This is both a personal preference and it allows for ease of use for more precise timing. We do live in an age of where we all have phones with us pretty much 24/7, but it’s not always the most convenient way to time things. This is especially true when an activity involves the use of both of your hands. I like how wide the hour and minute hands are. Of course I like the width for the obvious reason of increased legibility and the other reason being the overall aesthetics the wide hands add to the dial itself.

As with any watch purchase, the question of the why always comes into play. I think that it’s a bit more complicated of a question for watches that of paying homage to a different piece. The why here could be a matter of financial details because not everyone has a budget of $10k to buy the watch that inspired the homage pieces. Ocean 7 created a quality watch that is budget friendly for those watch enthusiasts who want to get the experience of owning a watch without having to sell a kidney to afford it. There are several details about the LM-7 that separates it from about 75% of the other homage watches out there. One of the most important details is quality. This is my second review of an Ocean 7 watch and quality is definitely a consistent detail on their watches. The quality is apparent in every function of the watch especially where it matters most. Movement aside, the details on a watch where quality is of the upmost importance is the bezel and the crown.

The LM-7 is a well built watch that has a “tough as nails“ hardened titanium case which offers great protection for the ETA 2824-2 movement that is ticking away inside. It’s a comfortable watch to wear in all situations and environments that I put it through. It’s surprisingly lightweight but doesn’t have that “toyish” feel that some titanium watches have. The LM-7 is available at https://ocean7watchco.com for $799.00. Ocean 7 is currently running a 25% off sale on their website. The LM-7 comes with two bezels (sapphire and engraved) that can easily be changed with the included tool. If you get bored of one look, you can switch it up to refresh that “honeymoon” feel. I recommend the LM-7 to those who are on a budget looking for that dive watch of yesteryear experience but can’t afford the original watches. The LM-7 can handle a lot of abuse and still clean up for a night out…..well a night in these days.

Stay safe!

Thank you for reading. Thank you to Ocean 7.

  • Swiss Made with Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Black Dial with Matching Black Sapphire Bezel Insert
  • Extra Easy to Change, Engraved Bezel Included
  • Sandblasted Titanium Case DLC Hardened to Approximately 1250 Vickers
  • Weight – 93 Grams without Strap (35% Lighter than the Original LM-7)
  • Diameter – 55mm x 46 mm
  • Height – 17mm
  • Swiss Super Luminova
  • Flat Sapphire Crystal with Inside AR Coating
  • Water Resistance – 1250m
  • 24mm Lug Spacing
  • Screw Down Crown with Etched O7 Logo
  • 60 click turning Bezel with Locking Pushbutton
  • Black poly Sport Strap

Watch Review: Wolf Creek Voyageur

The “great outdoors” is something I have always enjoyed finding peace in. Since the pandemic, I find myself escaping into nature as often as I can. It is, without a doubt, my happy place where I can truly clear my head. As I find myself hiking/camping more I have discovered exactly how much more purpose driven gear I want/need. One of my new additions was a Zippo arc insert. In case you are unfamiliar with these, the act insert is a rechargeable lighter that creates a wind proof plasma beam that can be used to ignite a fire. I found out from experience that it works in the rain as well as being wind proof. This is an example of new technology added to a known tried and tested classic design. This is also quite applicable to the watch in this review, the Voyageur from Wolf Creek Watches.

“We believe that a focus on the simpler elements of design can lead to a more elegant and practical timepiece.” -Michael Johansen, founder of Wolf Creek watches. It all started for Michael when he was a kid and received a military style/tool watch. He has been hooked ever since. Wolf Creek Watches is located on the shores of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota and the watches are made in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland.

The case on the Voyageur is simple, purpose driven and durable. As you can tell from the pictures, the Voyageur case is constructed of bronze, it’s CuSn8 to be precise. I have said this in the past, “too much emphasis is placed on the size of a case”. Quality design will/should always win over the measurements of a case. What I mean is, if a watch is made with good quality and a good design, then the size of the case doesn’t really matter. (Within reason) In the past the size of the Voyageur wouldn’t be something that I would even consider. I missed out on so many great watches because I thought the size of a watch was what mattered. I understand if you have a size preference and I am not saying that there’s anything wrong with having a certain preference. I just don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did by missing out on some great watches. Broadening horizons! The Voyageur measures in at 38mm x 11mm (including the domed sapphire crystal, 43 lug to lug, with a lug space of 20mm. I like the shape and design of this case.

Bronze is one of my favorite case materials because of how it is always changing as the natural patina begins to form. Bronze displays scratches and dents better than any other case material. The wear and tear adds to the natural beauty of the watch. The Voyageur case is basically constructed from a single piece of bronze thus creating some nice clean lines of the tonneau style. The simplicity of the Voyageur’s case actually increases the durability of the watch. How? The fewer pieces and components that make up a case, the fewer areas there are for mechanical error/breakdown/dirt build up/seal failure. The Voyageur features a push/pull crown. The Voyageur has very smooth and fluid winding action. It’s important to note that when you feel resistance when you are winding the crown that’s the indication that the watch is fully wound. Over winding will damage the movement.

The crown is signed with the Wolf Creek logo. I am definitely a sucker for a well designed logo. A well designed logo shows the dedication and devotion of a company’s commitment to their vision. That certainly is true with Wolf Creek’s logo, which is a beautiful combination of a wolf and a forest.

Wolf Creek kept it simple on the screw in stainless steel case back. The case back contains information about the watch itself. Shall we flip the watch back over to take a gander at this dial? The Voyageur’s dial is designed like the case. I mean the dial is designed with that same functional and purpose driven design that the case was designed with. The dial is simple and it gets the job done. Not in the lazy sense either. This simplicity is achieved through careful planning that involves a lot of trial & error in order to get it just right! When I was researching about this watch I read that the dial Voyageur’s dial was green. Of course I was pleasantly excited because bronze cases and green dials are a fantastic combination. A combination that is like the Yoda to Luke, the peanut butter to the jelly, Sam Wise to Frodo. The funny thing is when the Voyageur arrived and I unboxed it, I honestly thought the dial was black. It wasn’t until I changed the lighting that I discovered it wasn’t. I can tell you that this dial is in fact green, but it is an extremely dark green. It’s even better than I anticipated. The dark matte green dial doesn’t only look lovely, it serves a function other than looking pretty. The dark green allows the white numerals and the white hands to appear that they are “jumping” right off the dial. This color contrast allows for optimal legibility. I was hoping that the hands, numerals and arrow shaped markers were lume coated. Wolf Creek did in fact treat each of the dial details with a generous amount of BGW9 lume. This allows for that optimal legibility to be carried over into dark/lowlight situations/environments.

I find Wolf Creek’s design choices for the dial to be quite interesting. Interesting is a definitely a good thing here. How it translated into the final execution of the production piece is even a better thing. The logo, dial text and minute/second track are printed in a aged bronze color. The dark color gives the illusion that it vanishes and reappears. This is dependent upon what kind/type of lighting you are in. The color is cohesive with the bronze case which illustrates how carefully thought out the “simplicity” is. It’s that same simplicity that I mentioned earlier. The simple design doesn’t create any overcrowding on the dial. It’s a great example of how well thought out the details are. Details that retain the consistency with that simple, yet purpose driven design. This to me is what defines Michael’s mantra and what he was striving for in the execution of the Voyageur.

I want to also point out how well the second hand matches the hour & minute hand. Wolf Creek did a fantastic job of matching the shape of these three hands. This is my personal favorite example of how committed they were to the overall design cohesiveness of the Voyageur. The Voyageur’s extremely legible dial is set underneath a domed sapphire crystal. Adding to the overall legibility of the Voyageur, is the anti-reflective coating on the inside of the crystal.

I was truly intrigued by the choice of movement that was used for this watch. It is a movement that can be found in some watches from Panerai, Laco, Hamilton, etc… Of course this was more commonly found with movements from ETA before they tightened the belt on their movements. The 2801 movement inside the Voyageur is a 17 jewel movement, with a 42 hour power reserve that beats at 28800 vibrations per hour. I think the hand wound movement was the perfect and ideal choice for this watch and it’s adds to the endearing personality that the Voyageur possesses.

The Voyageur is an endearing watch that checks so many boxes for me. It may have smaller dimensions but it packs one hell of a punch in terms of ruggedness and quality build. Every function delivers exactly how one would expect it to deliver. The movement is accurate, with +5 seconds per day accuracy. This watch handled itself without fail during some cold, wet Midwestern winter conditions during numerous hikes. The bronze case is tough as nails with the protection against corrosion that CuSn8 is known for. A detail that that I want to point out are the beautiful machine strokes on the case. The strokes are becoming more visible as the patina is forming.

I have a few suggestions for Wolf Creek to improve upon an already great design. I would suggest a screw down crown for added protection against dirt, dust, and moisture. A personal preference would be to increase the size of the crown to add ease of gripping and operating it. The last suggestion I would make is to add drilled lugs with screw bars. Screw bars not only add over strength Vs spring bars but are easier to change the strap without unwanted scratches. These aren’t deal breakers, they are intended for furthering the purpose driven design of the Voyageur.

This watch is an excellent option for those looking to get into the bronze watch family. Especially for those who may not like the 42mm-47mm size range. It is also a great option for those who don’t have a under 40mm watch choice in their collection. Like I mentioned earlier in this review, this watch is packed full of purpose driven details. Details that are well thought out that help maintain it’s simplistic charm. The quality found throughout this watch is extremely impressive. It is even more impressive because this is a first release for Wolf Creek Watches. I’m excited to see what the future holds for this young brand.

Thank you for your support and readership. Thank you to Michael and the team at Wolf Creek Watch company.

The Voyageur can be purchased for $725 USD at https://www.wolfcreekwatchco.com

The straps included with the Voyageur, 2 Nato straps and a beautiful handmade leather strap.

Voyageur Mechanical Specifications

316L Stainless Steel Case Back 

CuSn8 Bronze Case

ETA 2801 Movement with 42 Hour Power Reserve

38mm Wide Case

43mm Lug to Lug

20mm Lug Width

11mm Height (Including Crystal)

Domed Sapphire Crystal with Inner AR Coating

Dark Green Matte Dial

BGW9 Number and Arrow Markings

BGW9 Printed Hour, Minute, and Second Hands

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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