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An Affordable Connery 6538 Sub Homage

Admittedly, I’ve been getting into the affordable watches game lately. After obtaining a few too many suits to fit comfortably into the wardrobe, I’ve been looking at my rather modest watch collection as an area to improve on. One of the watches which had recently caught my eye was the 6538 Submariner that Sean Connery wore in Dr No. The watch has a simple yet timeless aesthetic and doesn’t overwhelm the wrist unlike some more modern divers.

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Unfortunately, I’m no James Bond and I don’t have a spare 5 grand to splash on a vintage watch, especially when I have a number of other timepieces that I’d like to rotate around on my wrist on a regular basis. I was after an automatic movement, a reasonable quality stainless steel case with a screwdown crown and some degree of water resistance that might survive a careless drop in a sink.

While I could potentially get a replica, the idea of walking around with a fake Rolex doesn’t really appeal to my budget-minded sensibilities, especially after a rather amusing anecdote from a colleague about getting asked for money after rocking a fake Rolex sub in his neighbourhood. The quality of replicas also vary drastically and for under $150, I would be probably be getting a piece of junk that was assembled in some underground factory in Shenzen.

Fortunately, I was in luck. The quality of Chinese watches have improved alot in recent years and they plug a very respectable gap in the sub $150 watch range. There’s alot of brands now like Parnis that borrow the aesthetics of Swiss watches while running their own movement and have a small degree of quality control. One of them is a rather unknown brand known as Tiger Concept that basically sells Tudor and Rolex “homages”. They had a 6538 based model that I was interested in trying out.

I already had a number of watches with dial markers and a fortunately, they had a variation of the 6538 with an explorer-inspired dial.

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They offer watches with either a Chinese based 2813 movement or a Japanese Miyota 8215 movement. While the Miyota was slightly more expensive than the Chinese DG2813, it doesn’t have a second hacking feature, which means the sweeping second hands don’t freeze when the stem is pulled out. However, it’s apparently more reliable due to quality control issues with some DG2813 movements but they are essentially two very similar movements.

I ordered the watch on a Thursday and arrived little more than a week later in a padded yellow envelope from Hong Kong. I selected the model that came with the DG2813 movement and three nato straps. The watch is available on a metal bracelet but anecdotal reports on the internet suggest the bracelet is kinda jangly and I do prefer having a variety of nylon straps than fiddling around with adjusting a metal bracelet with links and pins.

The other straps come in a dark grey and a dull blue. They’re thick, about 33cm long, 20mm wide and are a step above the $4 nato straps you might find on Ebay.

PICTURES

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VERDICT

So what’s the verdict? I’ve been wearing the watch for about a day or two and it’s been better than expected. While the DG2813 movement is dirt cheap, the second hand does sweep smoothly as expected of an automatic and I haven’t encountered the second hand stuttering like some reports from the internet.

The case is well machined, there’s a screwdown winder and the crystal appears to be a domed mineral glass. The power reserve runs for about 40 or so hours but even if the power runs out, the lack of a date window means you can just set the time and put it back on your wrist for a quick start.

The watch has a bi-directional friction bezel which means it doesn’t “click” like the bezels found in most modern divers and it can be turned in both directions. It appears it could be done so very easily so it’s not something I can rely on but apparently, the vintage 6538s had them too.

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Sizewise, it’s about 41mm so it shouldn’t overwhelm the wrist. If there’s one complaint, the lume on the watch isn’t that great and it isn’t helped by the rather thin numbers on the explorer-type dial. However, for under $120 shipped, it’s hard to get manufacturers to improve the lume and the only company I’ve seen doing so at this price range is Seiko, with their Monster themed divers.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a premium watch but it doesn’t feel ridiculously cheap/tacky either. At any rate, it’s a fun, reasonably cheap automatic watch and whether it lasts or not, it’s definitely sates my itch for a vintage-inspired diver without having the associated pricetag of a Rolex or the risks of wearing a replica. At least I can hope I won’t get shaken down for money in my neighbourhood anytime soon.

Tiger Concept watches are available at http://www.tiger-concept.com/watch.html along with associated parts, cases, hands, etc.

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Latest Acquisitions from Shanghai C&G

A few months ago, I sent some fabric to Shanghai C&G tailoring for some suits. I received some QC pictures today showing the completed items and I look forward to receiving them in the mail soon.

 

Fabric: pinstripe from Holland and Sherry. Petrol Blue Mohair from Harrison Burley.

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Matthew Aperry Review Round 2, Check Jacket

I was at the shallow end of a monthly paycheck and I wanted an odd jacket for more casual functions, something that wasn’t as businesslike as a regular suit jacket but still smart enough for lazy summer afternoons and social catch-ups.

After placing a recent order for a suit from online tailoring company Matthew Aperry, I had an opportunity to review a follow up product from the online custom clothier to see if the fit could be improved with subsequent orders.

I was interested in a jacket with a more textured and thicker weave than the matte solid blue suit that I had ordered. I noticed a fabric in their books labelled as a “super 160s”. I wouldn’t place too much stock in the super number as the labelling can be quite erroneous but the wool had a nice open weave, a good texture and an interesting pattern which I could not find elsewhere.

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THE SPECS

I spoke to Belinda about the overall workmanship of their jackets. Their default construction is a half canvas with a floating chest piece. This is essentially a piece of wool/cotton canvas slotted between the outer shell of the fabric and the lining at the upper half of the jacket to give the jacket some shape. I requested the following changes to their default pattern.

  • Padded lapels and full canvas. The extra canvas gives the jacket lapels a “roll” which cannot be replicated with the cheaper fused effect. The canvas also means the jacket won’t bubble over time as there’s no glue between the fabric to degrade.

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  • White resin buttonsIMG_20141206_125051_2
  • Blue patterned liningIMG_20141206_124943_3
  • Ticket pocket
  • 3.5 inch notch lapels

Having gone through the ordering process once, it’s far easier to repeat future orders and make changes from the pattern they have stored in their database. My basic measurements were already on a form and I changed the shoulders to make them a little smaller. I also reduced the chest size by 1cm to remove any lumps in the fabric.

The trimmings again, were a basic polyester lining and resin buttons and it would’ve been nice if they could upgrade to something slightly better like mother of pearl or horn, even for a marginal premium.

Nevertheless, the quality of buttons isn’t a huge issue. I can easily replace them with some 24L /32L mother of pearl buttons I picked up from Ebay rather cheaply.

The stitching was clean, typical of a machine made jacket and the buttons were sewn on firmly. The buttons are machine sewn and a little messy. There was some hand finishing around the armholes, which is something that’s rarely seen on jackets at this price range.

Typically, jackets that cost under $400 are 100% machine made, fused and are made of a polyester blend fabric. This is not one of those jackets and represents a reasonable quality for the price.

THE FIT

The package arrived in about 2 weeks in a padded bag from TNT express. Unfortunately, when I received the jacket, there were some slight issues with the shoulders which were still cut about 1cm too wide on either side. It seems no matter how much I request the shoulders to be made a little tighter, their default pattern shifts the shoulders to a wider measurement. This is something I wish Matthew Aperry could address with future orders.

I dropped the jacket off to the tailor for some minor alterations to the shoulder and while it took a few weeks for the tailor to finish the job, it was returned with an improved fit.

Fit, after some minor tailoring thanks to BQ Yan of Sydney

Fit, after some minor tailoring thanks to BQ Yan of Sydney

I was generally happy with their pattern and I noticed they were able to have the checks match up around the shoulders and the pockets, which many made to measure companies could not deliver for that price.

I noticed the patternmaking at the bottom of the jacket could use some improvement, especially as the checks don’t actually line up but it was far more than what I expected for a sub-$250 jacket. Equivalent offerings at places like MJ Bale or Charles Tyrwhitt don’t offer this level of construction and are priced higher.

The rest of the fit was good. I was quite happy with the drape and texture of the fabric. They were able to resolve some problems with a slightly dropped shoulder and the cut was slim but not overtly tight.

CONCLUSION

As I said before, I think Matthew Aperry offer a reasonable product at a more than reasonable price range and their offerings improve with subsequent purchases. Online made to measure is a process and while the first order might not fit 100%, it’s worth a second try to get things right and at their price point, they are an affordable option that can yield a lot of potential. Their willingness to accommodate requests also makes them a better option if you’re looking for something specific.

Now if only they could trim down the shoulders on their default cut and improve the quality of their buttons and lining fabric, they’d be one of the best value online tailors around at the sub $400 bracket.

Matthew Aperry can be found at http://www.matthewaperry.com

Any requests outside the standard patterns should be made by email. They’re generally quite accommodating when it comes to unusual requests.