No 235 - CWC Quartz Diver Day/Date

We’ve reached the most important point in my life which is followed by the most important watch I have in my collection so far. During the years I’ve become a huge sucker for watches from my year of birth and it’s something that I’m constantly on the lookout for. To me it’s something special to have a timepiece on your wrist that I know have been ticking for just as long as I have been drawing breath. It’s like you’re on the same level somehow. Like a lifelong companion that won’t let you down as long as you look after it. 

My first concern back in the winter of 2013 when my wife announced that she was pregnant was which watch to buy for our firstborn. I had of course gone through this matter in my mind many times before so I already had a couple of options to evaluate. I figured there was two different ways to go. I could either go with something that represented the year of 2014, like a new release from that year, or I could go with something classic that could have been bought whenever. I came to the conclusion that what mattered to me the most was that the date printed on the certificate and receipt was going to match the date of birth. My decision finally fell on a CWC quartz diver with day and date display. I figured it had a classic look and was built to last. To me it’s a watch that can be used anywhere and for anything. CWC also happens to be one of my favorite brands which of course also played a big part in my decision making.

In early 2014 I called up Silverman’s in London, UK, to see how we could arrange this. I got to talk to a gentleman by the name Richard and I explained to him the matter of how I wanted to buy the watch but not until my baby was born to make sure all paperwork was going to be made out on the actual date of birth. “No problem” Richard told me “I’ll just lay it away”. I clarified that the baby wasn’t due until August and that it would take a while. “Don’t worry” he said “We'll hold the watch for you. Just call me when it’s time and I’ll take care of all the details”.

My son was born 2:53 am (a great hand position btw!) to a Saturday morning in August 2014. I was wearing a Rolex Datejust 16233 when I got to hold him in my arms for the first time but that's another story. When we later woke up after getting a couple of well-earned hours of sleep I got on the phone and called up Richard. “Congratulations!” he said “I’ll put the name and the date of birth of the certificate and will ship it out ASAP”.  Talk about customer service!

#235 - The CWC Quartz Diver Day/Date on the wrist of a very proud dad.

I've literally taken hundreds of pictures when wearing this watch so I had plenty to choose from. Below follows only a few from different moments were it have accompanied me. 

Two new jackets that went well with the watch.

I would estimate that 90% of all my watch pictures are taken while commuting to work. Either on the bus, the subway, the train or while waiting for any of the three. Given photo opportunities!

Waiting for the bus. A classic!

Fooling around with the copy machine at the office.

I probably don’t have to mention that this is one of my few keepers but perhaps it’s best for the record to confirm that this watch will never be sold. I haven’t really decided when I’m going to give it to my son but he will of course get it someday. Meanwhile I’m using it every now and then, not afraid of giving it a few battle scars so that he in the future always can carry some memories of his dad with him wherever he goes. I mainly wear it when I go fishing but I also wear it every now and then just because I love it so much. It really is a fantastic watch.

At the playground.

In bed at night.

The first picture I took with my new iPhone 5S.

On the subway on my way to the office.

Having my second child coming up in a very near future you might think I’ve already planned what watch I will get for him or her this time but I actually have no clue. I have of course considered sticking with the CWC theme but unfortunately they have no dive watches with the T-dial left and I’m a little allergic towards the new L-dial. I’ve been thinking about getting a Seiko and perhaps go with the other option this time and buy something that will represent 2017. I recently saw that there will be a pretty cool re-issue of the old Samurai being released in February/March and might go for that one. We’ll see. You’re going to find out eventually.

Gave it a try. Didn't like it.

A little daylight lume.

According to my Instagram I was listening to Huey Lewis & the News when I took this picture. Great stuff!

Pike fishing in October 2016.

Yet another picture taken on my way to the office.

If you haven’t started to look for watches from your birth year yet but think it sounds like a fun thing to try I would recommend you to start with Seiko. The year (and even month) they were built in is super easy to identify thanks to the logical structure of the serial number and if you are lucky you might even manage to pinpoint them both. I'm still struggling to do just that and it has really become a challenge.

On my way to a wedding in Katarina Kyrka, Stockholm, Sweden. The CWC made it on to the wrist and worked just fine for a dressed up occasion.

© All pictures by a Watch Flipper's Diary unless noted.


No 233, 303 & 323 - Sjöö Sandström UTC ORC

Yeah, let’s get patriotic again and do another one from the Swedish manufacturer Sjöö Sandström! This watch is quite unique and I have had three of them so far. It really has a special place in my heart. To quote Sjöö Sandström directly: "It was developed for the Volvo Ocean Race and was designed to meet the extreme conditions of competitive sailing". That is just awesome!

I bought my first one in August 2014. I had been ogling at it for quite a while but paying thousands of dollars for a digital watch (I think MSRP is somewhere around $2500) felt like a weird thing to do. But this watch is no ordinary digital watch. It is something more than that. As always I’m bias when it comes to Swedish design but when I look beyond that I see a watch that has been designed with thought and effort to serve an actual purpose except for just telling the time and that’s what is turning me on. That’s what I’m prepared to pay money for; a serious and well-designed product.

#233 - The Sjöö Sandström UTC ORC.

To me, one of the most interesting details about the UTC ORC is the heart of this watch; the high-tech digital module. It was developed by the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors and was originally used in their robots and missiles. The UTC ORC shares this digital module with Sjöö Sandström’s most iconic model the Chronolink; the watch that Sjöö Sandström might be most associated with (which besides from the digital module also has a manual movement). It has tones of features (day, date, week, month, year, chronograph, world time, UTC, memory bank, DST function, alarm) and is quite easy to maneuver once you get the hang of it but it requires some studying the manual. The watch can be set to three different modes – Normal, Active and Extreme – which are supposed to be developed and customized based on different sailing conditions. In Normal mode the display stays black until you activate it by pushing one of the buttons. The display is also backlit with a red light which is activated automatically by a sensor if the light conditions are poor. The UTC ORC has gone through at least one major update were the movement was upgraded and the display was changed to negative. The early models didn’t have a negative display which in my opinion didn’t make them as legible. This watch is super cool and I think it looks great but one detail, which it shares with other Sjöö Sandström models, are the polished center links of the bracelet that I'm not too happy about. It totally takes away the tool watch feeling. I would have loved to see Sjöö Sandström to come up with a rubber strap that is fitted tight to the watch case. That would look awesome and make it much lighter and more tooly.

The second one I got had originally been donated by Sjöö Sandström to the Swedish watch forum Klocksnack to be auctioned off for charity. The winner of the auction never used it and had kept it in its box almost the entire time. It was pretty much brand new when I got it. I was happy to have one again because I couldn’t really remember for what reason I sold my first one. 

#303 - My second UTC ORC resting on the top of its box.

With the display active.

The red backlight is said to be gentler for the eyes in darkness and does not cause temporary blindness like white backlight.

Left side.

Right side.

Engraving on the back. KS ♥ BCF (KlockSnack loves the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation).

The third one I got a hold of came to me in a trade and turned out to be one of the first one hundred made and those watches were mainly given to the Volvo Ocean Race crew. This one had seen some action and was pretty banged up. You could tell it had been used as a tool watch but still it worked just fine. It came on a really cool and worn original velcro strap.

#323 - The third one. One of the earliest examples. Given to the crew of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Original Sjöö Sandström velcro strap.

Titanium case back. No. 76 of the first 100.

The only negative thing I can really come to think of that bothered me a little bit was that you couldn't tell the time by just glancing at it since you had to push one of the buttons to activate the display. Of course, wearing this watch every day will teach your muscle memory to do this without thinking but when rotating this watch with others that's a thing that might become an issue.

I really want to encourage my international readers to explore Sjöö Sandström and their collection if you haven't already done that. They are genuinly service minded and if you're looking for something unique that everybody else doesn't have, look no further.

Me holding a speech on my 30th birthday. My first UTC ORC on the wrist.

© All pictures by a Watch Flipper's Diary unless noted.


No 232 - Rolex Oysterquartz 17013

Why the hell did I go and buy myself another one of those bloody loud tickers? I had promised myself not to buy another OQ but then this beauty turned up to a price I just couldn’t look away from. It had recently been given a proper gasket service and was in a great condition. I mean, who can resist the combination of blue and gold? Its stunning looks simply made me forget about the noise it gave off. This watch really meant some serious business. It was so beautiful. A perfect summer’s watch!

#232 - The Rolex Oysterquartz, ref. 17013.

I received it with no box or papers. I don’t even know which year it was from. But it was easy to sell and was gone like that when I put it up for sale. I only had it for a couple of weeks in August 2014. That was enough to once again make me realize that looks isn’t everything. It’s the inside that matters. I simply couldn’t overcome the loud movement it housed and believe me when I say I tried!

A sunny Sunday afternoon on the balcony together with my dad.

© All pictures by a Watch Flipper's Diary unless noted.


No 230 - Rolex Datejust 16013

OK, so we are back on track! Sorry for my little side step there with the ZRC but it had to be done. But now let’s get back to July 2014 and watch number 230.

I love projects. I always have plenty of different ideas going on in my mind of what would be cool to put together to create something unique. There have of course been several Seiko mods in the past but eventually I started to look beyond the horizon of SKX-divers to see what else could be done and realized that the Datejust was a great model to play around with and mainly because there are so many different dial variations to choose between. 

#230 - The Rolex Datejust, ref. 16013.

Pre-make over.

Not too funny even on an ostrich leather.

When I found this 80's head only 16013 Datejust I visualized something completely else than what it was being sold as. Instead of putting it on a matching two tone jubilee I instead fitted it with a regular all-steel jubilee from a ref. 16030 to give it a cleaner look. But I still wanted it to pop, at least a little bit. The gold linen dial was nice but I wanted something a little more uncommon. I remembered that when I sold my 16233 I also gave away the three extra dials it came with when I bought it. One of those dials was really cool and I saw it as the perfect candidate for my project. The whole story about how I got a hold of the dial is told in the post about the Rolex Datejust 16233.

I think the end result of a toned down 16013 with an extraordinary dial turned out pretty great.

Post-make over. Much better and according to me a way more interesting watch!

Wrapping it up with a wrist shot.

© All pictures by a Watch Flipper's Diary unless noted.


No 328 - ZRC Grands Fonds 300

Sometimes you just got to break new ground. Do the unexpected. Go crazy. Take a walk on the wild side. And today I will do just that. This will be the first time that I break the chronological order of presenting the watches I’ve owned. Doing something like this demands a somewhat special reason. It’s got to be worth it. I consider this watch to be just that special, that it allows the order to be broken. And instead of presenting you another Rolex Datejust (the ref. 16013 which is the one I’m supposed to be writing about at this moment) I wanted to give you something more up-to-date; something that is happening right now. No one needs to read another word about an old pre-historic Datejust. That can wait. This watch on the other hand is way more interesting and this is what I wanted to write about today.

There are several candidates out there competing for the number one spot of being the most iconic diving watch of all time. In the past I’ve always considered the classic orange Doxa SUB to be the one claiming that position but with some serious competition from the Omega Ploprof 600. But when I learned about ZRC’s Grands Fonds from the sixties and that they had made a re-issue of it, I had to reconsider my decision. The Grands Fonds is not designed to win any awards for being beautiful. I can’t see any other diving watch being more pure in what it is supposed to be. This is the ultimate tool watch. It is designed by divers for divers, to be an accurate and functional instrument that you can rely on while working down in the depths of the ocean.

Product picture of the Grands Fonds 300 (borrowed from ZRC Watches).

This watch had been sitting on the top of my watches-to-buy-list for little over a year. I had only seen it on pictures and I really wanted to have a closer look at it before I decided to get one. It happens quite often that the product pictures from manufacturers look amazing but the watch in reality looks like crap. I was praying that this wouldn’t be the case this time. At the moment ZRC only have authorized dealers within France so my only option if I wanted to examine it up close was to go there. Another option was to contact someone who’d bought it to see if we could arrange a meeting where I could have a look at it but I still haven’t seen a single watch from ZRC on any Swedish watch forum so far.

My options therefore were quite limited. I could either fly down to France or go for a gamble and order one without seeing it first. Also, being a watch flipper and buying watches new is an equation that always ends up the same; in a big financial loss. But finding a used one had turned out to be almost impossible. I think I’ve found one for sale within the last twelve months and that was in the US. But IF this watch turned out to be as good as it looked, it could be a success. It was either make it or break it. I finally decided to get it and I ordered it from an AD in Toulon. I decided that if I was happy with it this would be a serious attempt of becoming an OWG (at least for a while). But if it was bad I just had to suck it up, try to sell it with a minimal loss and then move on.

Last Thursday on the 3rd of November, less than 24h later after the watch had been sent from France, the package was delivered to my office. For over an hour I just let it lie on my desk while I continued with my work. I was so nervous I didn’t dare to unwrap it. My heart kept beating harder and harder. I didn’t want to be disappointed. Finally I braced myself and took a deep breath before I ripped the box open.

#328 - The ZRC Grands Fonds 300.

To my great relief the watch turned out to be way better than I had expected. It looked stunning. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to size it and put it on my wrist right away but a screwdriver wasn't included. “Damn!” I knew this meant I wasn’t going to be able to have it sized until later the same evening when the family had gone to bed. I put the watch back in the box and tried to remain focused on work for the rest of the day.

Later that evening I ran into the most frustrating bracelet sizing session in my entire life. First of all my screwdriver broke. It just snapped in half.  “What the hell!” It was 10.30 pm when I texted Magnus while rushing down the stairs: “On my way. Bring out all your screwdrivers. Coming over. Sorry for the late hour.” Magnus, being the rock he always is, did all he could to help me out but this time even he was beaten. The screws just wouldn’t loosen up and the screw heads ended up pretty damaged. We finally had to accept defeat and I walked home in the cold night afraid that I might have ruined the bracelet beyond repair.

The next day, on my way home from work, I found a watchmaker who gladly helped me out while I was waiting and once again to my great relief I could calm down and the watch was now sitting perfectly on my wrist. Crisis averted!

On the wrist at last!

I find the two most striking details about this watch to be the hands and the position of the crown. The hands are extra-large and full of luminova. Unlike many other dive watches you can actually tell which hand is which in really poor light conditions and even when the lume has faded quite a bit. Not being able to tell the hands apart is something I’ve had real problems with concerning other dive watches but not anymore thanks to the Grands Fonds. The crown located at 6 o’clock leaves both the wrist and the upper arm unharmed and will cause minimum risk of getting caught in something. It is fantastic to wear and even though many may find it rather ugly I can rest my eyes on it for a long time. I can only see beauty in this beast. OK, I will admit that I’m not a big fan of the design of the bracelet and I will probably order the endlink adapter which gives you the option of wearing it on other straps.

Insane lume!

To summarize it all this watch is fantastic. One of the best watches I've ever had. The size of 40,5mm is perfect. The lume is bright and strong. The matte dial is awesome. The case design is a work of art. The bezel action is the best I’ve ever felt. The legibility is excellent. I would say its only weak point is the bracelet. I know it’s supposed to be true to the original and look like it did in the 60’s and that’s why I accept it. Perhaps I will learn to love it over time.

At the bus stop.

Down in the subway.

© All pictures by a Watch Flipper's Diary unless noted.