|12-26-2014, 07:25 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: East Sussex
Points: 94 (+)
Alpha-Daytona 831 Paul Newman Chronograph
I do like my vintage Seiko mechanical chronographs but just recently it has become harder to acquire models for my collection because I have most of the common ones and am now only on the look out for the unobtainable. You guys must know what it is like when you look and look and can not find a watch to buy. Your beam of concentration wanders. Well I spotted the Alpha watches on the Homage Watches Ebay.
I had spotted the Alpha homage chronographs before but had dismissed them, I mean how can you buy a Rolex homage with a working mechanical chronograph movement for £120, it can not be possible. However having read various old reviews on the web I decided to take the plunge out of curiosity. I do like the look of the Daytona and it would allow me to get a grasp of how the 'Rolex' style chronograph movement works as opposed to my beloved Seiko's.
This review is to update the reviews I have read and to add my own thoughts.
The watch was purchased from Homage Watches via Ebay on 22nd December 2014 and to my surprise arrived the next day by Royal Mail special Delivery, the delivery times having been unaffected by the dreaded Christmas madness. The cost including postage was £124.50, I checked on the Alpha website and it would have cost £140+ direct from them!
The packaging is the usual Alpha deal, the watch arrives in a leatherette pouch and is wrapped in protective plastic film. Upon initial unwrapping I could immediately feel the quality of finish is not as good a a budget Seiko, just the feel in the hands of the sharp edges of the case was initially disappointing. However after wearing it for a couple of days on the trot (yes I liked it enough to wear for more than a day) it did not bother me and the edges seemed to loose there sharpness, its OK now.
This is one of the elements that drew me to this watch, the classic Rolex design is fantastic in my view, the Rolex designers nailed it. At 39mm wide excluding the crown and pushers by 48mm from top to bottom I find it perfectly sized for the average guys wrist. Even though the watch is fairly thick at 16mm it rides the wrist well is comfortable and looks good.
Made from standard stainless steel the finish is not too bad with nicely polished sides and concentric turned brushing to the top of the lugs and lighter brushing to the underside of the case. The case is accurately hewn and machined overall but the brushing looks like how Polly would do it in the lathe rather than properly lapped but I suppose for the money it is pretty good. The sharp edges as mentioned earlier have all but gone now, maybe this reflects the softness of the steel?
Not much to say about this other than the printing is good and the material and method similar to the divers watches bezel inserts from Dagaz/Yobokies et all. The Bezel protrudes slightly past the edge of the case like the original.
The Alpha is fitted with an Acrylic domed crystal that gives a vintage look to the watch when viewed from the side. The acrylic is flawless and appears to be fairly hard for acrylic and has not marked over the 2-3 days I have been wearing it. I suppose it is part of the character but there is an amount of distortion to the edge of the crystal that makes reading the minute track and hour markers difficult at certain angles.
CROWN & PUSHERS
The crown is a screw down job and other reviews I read seem to point to this as being wobbly and the threads hard to engage and grindy. The crown on this watch unscrews and screws back down nicely with smooth threads and it engages without fuss. The winding action is smooth and positive, I like handwinding watches and this one is a pleasure.
Pushers are screw down type and must be unscrewed to enable the chronograph function to be operated, its a chore but they are well made and work well. The operation of the chronograph was one of my initial concerns but the pushers operate beautifully with a light positive action, the reset is particularly satisfying. The exhibition caseback enables the chrono operation to be viewed and the gentle hammer action observed.
A lot of waffle has been talked about the bracelet quality, particularly the endlinks and clasp. The bracelet itself is a solid stainless steel Oyster style effort with screwed together links for course adjustment, its very good for the money. The endpieces have had some attention from Alphas QC department because although they are pressed steel they are thick and fit ever so tightly into the lugs with no gaps between the endpiece and case at all. The deployment clasp is a lightweight pressed steel affair offering micro adjustment for a perfect fit that does its job with comfort and looks OK.
DIAL & HANDS
I opted for the Ivory and black dial version although Alpha offer several alternative colour combinations and styles, I though I would go for the Paul Newman look (he had style). The Alpha is fairly faithful the the Rolex design and the execution while not up to Rolex standard is more than acceptable. The hands are polished along with the indices and have to be viewed at the right angle to be be fully legible, the outer edge distortion of the crystal does not help in this respect.
I won't deny it, the main reason I bought the Alpha was to have a look at the movement. It is a Chinese Seagull SG2903, 20 Jewel handwinding chronograph. Chinese like the rest of the watch. I believe the Chinese may have bought the rights/tooling from the Swiss but I found this out on the web so it could be bullshit. The Seagull does look Swiss though.
This is the first time I have been able to look at and understand how this type of chronograph functions, having only been familiar with Seiko's venerable 6138/9's up to this point. It is very simple all that happens is the top pusher moves an intermediate idling wheel that is meshed with the fourth wheel into and out of mesh with the chronograph center wheel and the bottom pusher operates a hammer to reset the wheels. There is not much to go wrong apart from wear and tear.
This photo does not do the movement justice, the lighting was particularly poor.
For the cost of the watch the movement represents a small miracle. It is well made and finished and when I put it on the Timegrapher it gave good results
So there you have it. Would I buy an Alpha again? I do not know but it has scratched an itch, I like the look of the Daytona and I have confidence in it to perform as a chronograph and will be wearing it occasionally.
Last edited by pollyc; 12-26-2014 at 01:41 PM.
|12-28-2014, 10:49 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2012
Points: 0 (+)
Interesting review. Thanks, Mike, you've just pushed me over the edge! I've been contemplating Alphas for a while now, and they seem pretty solid, at least as far as the quality of the movement goes. Anyway, now it's just a matter of deciding which Daytona model to get.
And congratulations, BTW, that one is a real beauty! Enjoy it in good health.
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