Friday, November 30, 2007

Casio Super Illuminator Review

Fire Phasers!

The lume in broad daylight

Bracelet detail

The Casio Super Illuminator came to me by way of a fellow member of the Poor Man’s Watch Forum. It was at the big annual meeting in NYC where I first saw this watch and I commented about how nice it looked. At that, this generous soul handed me the Casio and basically said, it’s yours. Good stuff to say the least.

Lume fans, listen up. If Super Luminova isn’t super enough, Indiglo doesn’t glow for you and tritium is too radioactive, this is your watch. The Super Illuminator has a pair of lights at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions on the face that activate when the second crown (at the 2 o’clock position) is pressed. We are talking flashlight style light here folks. If you can’t see the face of the Super Illuminator, you should probably check out the review of the Braille watch I did a while back. This Casio is that well lit.

In terms of other specs, the Super Illuminator’s stainless steel case measures(at least this example, there are other case styles) 43mm in width (47mm with the crown), 14mm in height, and 51mm lug to lug. The watch uses a semi-integral, stainless steel bracelet (folded link design but quite nicely done) whose lug width is 12mm. Water resistance is rated at 100 meters and the 3 o’clock crown screws down (but not the 2 o’clock crown oddly enough. I don’t think it has to for water resistance purposes since it doesn’t turn either). In addition to the powered lume system, the watch also has conventional luminous paint on its hands and face. Additionally, the watch has a thick dome shaped mineral glass crystal and the bezel will turn counter-clockwise. The movement is an otherwise unremarkable quartz model (I believe the reference number of the movement is 3304) that exhibits typical superb quartz level accuracy.

There is really no downside to the Casio Super Illuminator. It is inexpensive, rugged, accurate and remarkably easy to read in low light. As an added bonus, it looks very good too. (I don’t know why but the domed crystal reminds me of an Oris.) This watch would make a perfect daily wearer for anyone who wants a good solid watch with no hassles.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Citizen NY2300 Automatic Diver Review

On an aftermarket Hadley Roma bracelet

On an aftermarket nylon Rhino band

On the stock rubber diver's band

Profile showing the short lugs

Profile showing the tapered case

The relatively unadorned caseback

Citizen is the world’s largest watch manufacturer and looking at their NY2300 diver’s watch, it’s not hard to see why. This model features an excellent combination of features for a really absurdly low price. There are several different versions of the NY2300. They differ in style and color in that some have a white face or gold lettering on the dial or an all black bezel. Mechanically, they are all identical however.

The NY2300 is a classic looking diver whose bezel (in this example) is another of the “Pepsi” type. (See the earlier reviewed Seiko diver). The watch measures 42mm in width (including the crown) 43mm lug to lug, 12m in thickness and has a 20mm band lug width. I was actually a bit surprised at these dimensions as the Citizen really looks and wears smaller than it is. I think this is because the lugs are short and taper in towards the body of the case. Additionally, the case itself narrows in width towards the caseback. The overall effect is to make the watch more compact in design and quite comfortable on the wrist.

In terms of specs, the NY2300 is powered by a Miyota 8200 21 jewel automatic movement (Miyota is to Citizen as ETA is to the Swatch Group. They make movements for Citizen’s line but also sell movements to third party manufacturers). The 8200 has been around since the 1970's and is quite well thought of. The movement can be hand wound but not hacked and includes both a day and date function. Accuracy on my example seems to be at about +20 seconds a day (which is not bad for a mechanical watch with no pretensions of chronometer level accuracy) but I have read that this movement can settle down in a few months with better accuracy. The NY2300 has a mineral glass crystal and is water resistant to 200 meters. The lume isn’t quite at a Seiko Monster’s level but it is very good nonetheless and remained clearly visible in darkness after a few hours. The stock band is a rubber diver’s model that is reasonably soft and comfortable. Lastly, the bezel has a very firm and precise action and will turn in only a counter clockwise direction like most good diver watches.

The NY2300 is in most respects very similar to many other automatic divers. Where it excels in comparison with other such watches, however, is in its price. The example seen here was new for well under $100.00 on the world wide tag sale. That is easily 1/3 less coin than similarly featured Seiko diver and a fraction of the cost of a Swiss automatic diver. The only obvious concession to economy is the choice of a rubber band, which realistically will need to be replaced after a few years of wear and tear. That being said, an after market bracelet or even a nylon nato style band can be gotten for very little money when the time comes.

To sum up, the Citizen NY2300 is an exceptionally good value that should give years of trouble free service. If you are looking for a solid water sports watch or just a good daily wearer or beater, but want to avoid a battery driven quartz watch, the NY2300 is a hard choice to argue with. It would also make an excellent introductory piece for someone interested in a quality mechanical watch who isn't prepared to commit to a large purchase at the outset.
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