On straps, and Zeniths

One of the more surprising things (to me, anyway) that I’ve found over the last year or so has been the way that I’ve found myself gravitating away from bracelets and towards straps. Although there’s no doubt that a well-engineered bracelet can be a joy to wear, I think that leather gives a watch far, far more character. In fact, even though some of my experiments have met with a mixed reception I’ve always liked the result (and my 5513 will probably never be paired with it’s bracelet again).

The De Luca that arrived a few days ago is slightly different, in that it (the series 1, at least) was only ever sold on a strap; Coady managed to source a correct De Luca bracelet, but technically it was only ever really correct for the later models. I was finding the look a bit clinical but luckily I had an OEM strap and buckle in the package so I thought I’d give it a try. I absolutely love it, and much prefer it to the previous look. In fact, I’ve bought a couple of Di-Modell Jumbos – one in brown and the other in tan – to see how they look mounted on the watch.

I’ve just taken a few shots, so I’ll shut up now and let them do the talking…

Worth the wait

I’ve been looking for a nice vintage Zenith housing an El Primero movement for about a year now. Initially I had my heart set on one of the early chronographs but I decided to widen my search after a while, and see if I could unearth a De Luca.

Whilst this watch was only ever made for the European market I was aware that there were quite a few knocking about in NOS condition, particularly in Italy; however, many were the later versions with round applied indices. Zenith went potty with different series of this watch, but the nicest (IMO) and probably the hardest to find was the series 1 (ref 01.0040.400) that housed the cal. 400 El Primero movement, and had rectangular tritium markers on the dial without the applied surrounds.

From what I can gather, this series was only made for a year or two, from 1988-89. It was the only model to have a plexi crystal (a nicely domed one, in fact), and also had a non-screw down crown. The sword hands were also unique to the series 1, so all in all it was a bit special.

There were a host of changes through the 90’s. The plexi became mineral glass and then sapphire, the hands became straight and then Mercedes, and the crown and pushers both became screw down. Some of these changes might in many senses be considered improvements, but to my mind the original is the nicest, and the one that I was waiting for.

Fast-forward a few months, then, and having seen my efforts pretty much come to nothing I decided to switch my attention to a nice Heuer Autavia instead. And then, of course, it happened; the very De Luca that I wanted appeared on TZ-UK and an immediate message to the seller, saw it on it’s way to me. This one had spent the first 22 years of it’s life, from 1988 onwards, lying in an Italian watchmakers shop, unsold and probably unloved. It’s still in almost NOS condition, and actually had some stickers in place when it reached me. It also had the boxes, hang tag and manual so it’s a nice set.

I’m really, really pleased with it.

Let’s get dressed…

For a period of months, I’ve been searching for the perfect dress watch. Perfect for me, I mean, of course.

For a while, my craving was sated by the Omega Aqua Terra with the blue hands and markers; eventually, though, that one was moved on. It was succeeded by the rather beautiful Grand Seiko that almost fulfilled the purpose completely. To be honest, I don’t know why it was “almost”, but it was, and that too has now found another home. More recently, I owned a rather lovely Oyster Perpetual Date – for a day. I loved it but knew the moment it went on my wrist that it wasn’t the answer.

Over recent weeks, my head has been turned by a couple of watches that I keep stumbling across. The first was a Junghans Max Bill, that appealed because of the simplicity of its design; and the second was the JLC Grande Ultra Thin – perfect, but just too expensive. This watch is almost a hybrid of the two, so I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that I wanted it the moment I saw it.

With all of that in mind, I give you, then, my new dress watch – the Zenith Elite Ultra Thin. Like the GMTIIC and Striking 10th, it won’t be going anywhere in a hurry.

New macro lens (oh, and new camera)!

I like my cameras to be robust, having spent a few years (admittedly a lifetime ago) as a semi-pro using high end/medium format gear. it’s not that it makes you a better photographer, but there’s a feeling of comfort that comes with using a proper tool that you know isn’t going to let you down. Anyway, with that in mind I traded my Canon EOS 500D for a 50D a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say I’m delighted with it. I’ve forsaken video output for a tough manganese-alloy body and pro build quality, and to mark it’s arrival I also treated myself to Canon’s EF-S 60mm macro lens. It makes a perfect portrait lens too (equivalent to a focal length of 96mm on a 35mm camera; having a prime lens makes a nice change from the normal zooms; and it’s great for… watches!

Anyway, here’s a few very early shots with the 50D/60mm macro set-up (a couple of which have already been posted under the MKII Kingston review below). It clearly has potential, and I’ll be posting some more, no doubt, over the coming weeks/months.