How To Read a Bogus Watch Review

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(courtesy ablogtowatch.com)

A reader recently emailed an attaboy. David closed his much-appreciated appreciation by asking how to detect an honest watch review. Easy. Read ours. Assume that all other watch reviews are co-opted. Bogus. Bullsh*t. If you read between the lines, it’s obvious. Here’s a blow-by-blow analysis of A Blog to Watch’s review of the Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic . . .

Before we dive into all of the details, it’s worth running down a quick shortlist of what exactly the new Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic brings to the table, because it is almost as if a severe watch nerd listed specs for the ideal field watch, and then Timex went ahead and produced almost that exact model . . .

When a watch sucks, the first thing an advertiser-supported reviewer has to do: kiss its metaphorical *ss. But even the best spin doctor leaves clues to the carefully concealed carnage to follow.

Did you catch the words “almost” and “just about” in Ripley Sellers (by name and nature) intro? In terms of prevarication, the Vassar grad and former Simpsons database guy is just getting warmed-up.

That said, no timepiece is perfect, and when you see these many desirable specs at a price point of only a few hundred dollars, you can almost guarantee that there will need to be a few concessions made, although this doesn’t necessarily mean that the watch will be any less capable because of them.

Sellers is giving readers a heads-up, telling us to discount the semi-obscured failings to follow.

Actually, he’s not giving us a heads-up. He’s framing the review for Timex. Covering his and the publication’s *ss, should they want to know why they should support a website that tears their titanium pride and joy a new *sshole, however gentle the proctology.

At this point, an experienced enthusiast knows there’s only one reason to read this “review”: to marvel at the true terribleness of the Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic. Mercifully, we don’t have to wait long for the first shoe to drop.

The case of the Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic is crafted entirely out of bead-blasted titanium, and while its on-paper specs list it as 41mm in diameter with a height of 12.5mm, you are realistically looking at closer to 13.5mm in total thickness once you factor in the two flat sapphire crystals fitted to both the top and bottom sides of the case. 

While ABTW and its ilk are so deep in manufacturers’ pockets they risk lint asphyxiation, they can’t resist putting some truthiness in their work. In this case – literally – Sellers is calling out Timex’s bald-faced lie about the Expedition North Titanium Automatic’s case thickness (by a full millimeter, no less).

Note: the discrepancy between the watch’s case thickness and the listing on Timex’s website is a fact, not an opinion. The manufacturer can’t fault Sellers for that! Hence its revelation. But we’re just getting this party started!

Fewer components mean lower production costs, although it does result in a slightly less refined appearance, and it also does not allow the bezel and case to be refinished independent of each other. That said, refinement is secondary to functionality when it comes to field watches, and I also can’t imagine that anyone is refinishing their Timex field watch either, so this simplified design ultimately just means a lower purchase price for the customer.

“Refinement is secondary to functionality when if comes to field watches.” So true! A close second. Close enough not to be dismissed, unless a watch lacks any hint of it and your job is to praise a horological Cesar, not bury it.

Sellers could have written “Only an idiot would expect refinement from a $349 Chinese-made Timex.” Instead, he pulls his punches by saying the titanium Timex has a “slightly less refined appearance.”

Less than what? A $499 USA-assembled Vaer A5 Field Black. If so, fail. Not to put too fine a point on it, I don’t think the word “slightly” means what Sellers needs it to mean.

The tip of the crown is set with a black and green plastic emblem that depicts the Expedition North collection’s stylized mountain-shaped logo. Given that this emblem does not glow in the dark and is the only bright green element on an otherwise entirely black, white, and gray watch, I would have personally preferred to just see a regular signed crown fitted here instead, although this is hardly an aesthetic deal-breaker, at least as far as I’m concerned. 

There’s no getting around it: a watch review must contain an opinion! When that opinion is negative, a co-opted watch reviewer must state clearly IT’S ONLY MY OPINION! and IT’S NOT THAT IMPORTANT!

Sellers ticks the first box twice in the same sentence (“I would have personally preferred” and “as far as I’m concerned”) and spins magnificently (“hardly an aesthetic dealbreaker”).

Why did he choose something as trivial as the color of the Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic’s crown’s tip? You ever heard/used the expression “just the tip”? Just sayin’ . . .

Other than alluding to the fact that it has to do with the watch’s case design, Timex really doesn’t offer too much information about what has been done to make the Expedition North Titanium Automatic more resilient to shocks compared to other Timex models that are powered by a movement with the same type of built-in shock absorbers . . .
If this were a watch produced by a major Swiss luxury brand, we would likely have an entire page of the press release dedicated to explaining its shock protection system; however, since this is Timex producing an affordable watch for the general public, technical details are kept to the bare essentials. 

Timex doesn’t offer ANY information about the titanium watch’s shock resistance. But that’s OK because price-sensitive consumers don’t want, need or deserve to know.

It’s one thing to run cover for a company paying your bills and throwing free watches at you, it’s another to insult your audience. Sellers scores another two-fer. But he ain’t done.

. . . the open space within the case almost acts as a resonator, meaning that the motion of the rotor is far louder than many other watches that use this exact same movement. A lightweight watch with a noisy rotor doesn’t exactly provide the impression of a high-quality object, yet it ultimately is a very functional one, and these perceived shortcomings in quality are largely only because our lizard brains associate heavy and solid objects with inherent quality.

F*ck your lizard brain! I told you before: it’s functionality über alles b*tches!

Suggesting that Timex’s noisy flyweight titanium field watch has “inherent quality” is like saying a Big Mac has inherent nutritional value. It’s both true and largely irrelevant. Damn! Did I use a qualifier? That sh*t is catching! I meant “both true and irrelevant.” Sorry.

The center sections of the hour and minute hands, along with each one of the hour markers and the five-minute lines within the minute track, all receive an application of green-glowing luminous material, and while the hands glow more brightly than the dial, both offer far better lume then what I typically associate with Timex’s watches.

WHAT? Is Mr. Sellers unfamiliar with the lume-tastic innovation known as Timex Indiglo? Or does he simply not “typically associate” with such luminescent riff-raff? Anyway, this part of his PR-pleasing prose offers a dictionary definition of “damned by faint praise.” Again, literally.

. . . the choice to pair a leather strap with an outdoor watch that has 200 meters of water resistance seems like a slight misstep given that leather is one of the materials that is arguably least suited to regular aquatic use. Given the countless nylon/fabric straps being made from recycled ocean plastic, something along those lines might have been a more appropriate choice here for an eco-friendly strap option . . .

Another opinion! This time, Mr. Sellers shows us how a watch reviewer pulls his punches.

In this example, substitute “major f*ck-up” for “slight misstep” and “laughably inappropriate for its intended purpose” for “arguably least suited to regular aquatic use.” With a “might have been” thrown in for good measure.

To his credit, Mr. Sellers concludes his puff piece by naming cheaper titanium field watches for people who don’t give a sh*t about quality. He ends as he started, offering an editorial BJ to Timex’s deep-pocketed PR peeps.

Although Timex is the number one best-selling watch brand in the United States and typically produces timepieces that are destined for malls and department stores all around the globe, watches like the Expedition North Titanium Automatic are proof that the brand still very much has its finger on the pulse of the industry and knows exactly how to cater to an enthusiast crowd. 

So the Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic won’t be available in malls and departments stores? Maybe so, given they’re both busy going extinct. Meanwhile, I hope this analysis helps David appreciate the skill needed to parse mainstream watch reviews, and appreciate our efforts on readers’ behalf.

NOTE: TTAW needs independent watch reviewers! No experience necessary, no pay available. Email robertfarago1@gmail.com with Ba-BAM! in the subject bar.

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