With the matter of what constitutes a tribute, homage, or reissued watch all settled in the second installment of this series, I have two final watches I'd like to share. And this is an interesting pair to discuss, too, because they are separated in value by about a factor of ten. But I am equally fond of both of these watches for reasons any collector would understand.
Let's start with the Mk II (read "mark two") Quad 10. Elsewhere on this blog I've suggested that the name of this watch is a bit silly, but at least it refers to the watch's attributes: its 40 mm case and 100 m of water resistance. I guess if we remove a common factor of 10 from 40 and 100 we get to 4 and 10, and since Quad is another word for 4, we land at "Quad 10" without passing GO or collecting $200. But my quibble with the name is trivial compared to the watch's features and build quality.
The Quad 10 is an unabashed homage to the IWC Mk 11 (read "mark eleven"), an iconic watch first issued to Royal Air Force navigators in 1948. For some folks, me for example, it marks the beginning of the era of modern mid-century military watch design. This is a watch we all recognize, perhaps without realizing it, and one that doesn't first remind us of our grandparents' watches. Even watch-savvy folks who recognize its iconic squared off hour hand when they see it on later IWC's almost always give the credit for the design to IWC, but in truth the genius of this design belongs to the Ministry of Defence. Watches meeting the 6B/342 specification were also supplied by Jaeger LeCoultre, which represents another problem with giving the credit for the hour hand design to IWC. I am not an expert in the Mk 11 watch, but there are many web sites devoted to the subject as any simple search will show.
Mk II released the Quad 10 in early 2005 and it marked a turning point in the company's direction, which had previously been a builder of custom Seiko watches. The watch is of a build quality far greater than its original purchase price would suggest. The nicely brushed case is complemented with a sapphire crystal and screw-down crown. It wears very nicely on both nylon straps and shell straps, and thus can be dressed up or down. My Quad 10 has a date wheel, a feature that, when combined with its other attributes, makes this watch an excellent candidate for the One Watch life model.
The lume on the Quad 10's dial is excellent, however it is only present on the cardinal indices. Although this makes it a bit frustrating to use, it is historically accurate. And remember the days when the best start-up watch companies were able to use ETA movements? The Quad 10 comes from this era and utilizes the trusty and reliable 2824-2.
The final watch I'd like to talk about in this series is the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial. Although some may argue that the watch doesn't really qualify for inclusion in this blog topic, Omega itself touted the watch as a reimagining of its famous 1957 Seamaster 300. I've never owned one of the originals, but I did pick up the new SM300 MCA to mark a significant birthday of my own shortly after Omega brought the watch out.
It is hard to criticize anything about the mechanical aspects of this watch, but at the price it commands it should be. The caliber 8400 movement utilizes what many have called the last major advancement in mechanical timekeeping, the co-axial escapement. British watchmaker George Daniels invented the co-axial escapement in the mid-1970's and patented it in 1980. The movement is a sight to behold, beautifully finished and an excellent timekeeper. The co-axial escapement means the pallet stones never need to be lubricated, giving a long service life to the movement. The movement also has incredible resistance to magnetic fields by virtue of the materials from which it is constructed, whereas conventional antimagnetic watches have been so because of mechanical shielding.
The case, dial, handset, and overall construction of the watch are beautiful. Nevertheless, I have a few quibbles. The bezel is ceramic and the numerals inlaid into it are cubic zirconium. Omega calls this "Liquid Metal," a name I find somewhat ridiculous since the only metal I know of that is liquid at room temperature is mercury. The bezel's action is very nice. Satisfyingly clicky but silky smooth and perfectly aligned. The lume on the dial is also excellent, although paradoxically I find the watch a little challenging to read at night. If you have just woken up, it can appear a confusing jumble of triangles. One feature I do really appreciate about the lume is that the minute hand and the bezel pip are lumed in their own color, distinct from the rest of the dial and the hour hand.
Next quibble? The watch is shiny. It always strikes me when I first put the watch on, but as I wear the watch I get used to it. I have a good friend who loves this characteristic of the watch and would miss it if it were absent, so we'll have to chalk this quibble up to personal preference. But more substantial perhaps is the lack of drilled-through lugs. Honestly, what bona fide dive watch can claim it doesn't need drilled-through lugs? Would you really take your $6k dive watch into the ocean with nothing but a pair of rounded steel nubs that are one thirty-secondth of an inch long holding it to your wrist? I wouldn't, and don't.
Although the watch's design is quite perfect without one, I would appreciate a date wheel on this watch. Along with the non-drilled-through lugs, it is a factor that rules this expensive, premium watch out as a One Watch life model timepiece.
Having said these things, I want to assure the reader that the watch is quite lovable. It is comfortable to wear, classy looking without being gaudy, an excellent timekeeper, built from premium materials, and assembled to the highest standards. It looks great on a shell strap or a nylon strap too. I love mine and encourage anyone who can afford one to splurge. Just don't take it diving. ;-)
This concludes my three installment series on tributes, homages, & reissues. Thanks for reading!