I well remember my business trip to Sweden back in 2011 that saw me hooking up for lunch with a fellow WIS based in Stockholm. Carl and I had chatted on line for a while and it was good to meet him; what I hadn’t anticipated was that I’d leave the restaurant with two beautiful vintage watches from the 1970′s – the first an IWC Yacht Club, and the second a Seiko 6105 in near-perfect condition. Funnily enough, Apocalypse Now is possibly my all-time favourite film, so wearing the watch that adorned Captain Willard’s wrist felt kind of cool. Of course, it’s also just a cool watch.
Anyway, that was moved on at some point, but fast forward to last week and I was delighted to pick up Time Factors‘ latest offering – the Smiths PRS-68. It’s a wonderful watch that pays fitting tribute to the inspiration for it’s design. However, Eddie Platts (as always) ensured that there were a few improvements to the “original” specification and in this case that included:
Water resistance improved to 200 metres
Screw-down crown replaces bayonet locking crown
Sapphire crystal to replace original mineral crystal
Lug spacing increase to 20mm to enable a greater variety of straps to be fitted
Movement uprated to hi-beat (Miyota 9015)
Quality stainless steel bracelet with solid end links
One thing I particularly like about the TF watches is that the design details are made freely available on the website, and also become the subject of much debate on-forum until such time as the watches go into production. You can see the thinking behind the PRS-68 here but these are the drawings I referred to, from which you can see the level of detail that goes into the production process:
On the wrist, it’s a delight to wear. Whilst being true to the original in terms of overall design there are also marked differences, specifically on the dial; the Smiths logo and red “200 metres” reveal it’s origins quite clearly and – to me, at least – are perfectly proportioned. The surround on the indices is a little thicker than those on the 6015 and the lume (C3 Luminova, and very bright) a little greener. I’m not 100% sure what I think about the raised bezel pip but that’s a minor detail and not one that will keep anyone up at night. The sapphire crystal is flat and flush with the top of the bezel but is curved on the underside, with an AR coating that in some light gives it a blueish tinge. Legibility is excellent, and the look of the dial is clean and uncluttered. What I really love, though, is the second hand, with it’s red dot harking back to one of Seiko’s design triumphs.
It’s also very, very comfortable. The case is a tad larger than that of the 6105 at 44.5mm but is sits very flat, and with it’s very short lugs can be worn by those with relatively small wrists. Luckily the lug width has been increased to 20mm which means that strap choices abound (I’m wearing mine on black nylon, which seems a perfect match to my eyes). In fact, that additional 1mm between the lugs makes a massive difference visually albeit that the general appearance of a relatively narrow strap on a wide cushion case is retained. In essence, there’s just enough difference in the design to make it a watch in it’s own right whilst still clearly harking back to one of the great dive watch icons of all time.
There’s been much discussion on the net regarding this watch and one or two other 6105 homage’s that have been mooted but not yet brought to the market. Regardless of that, however, the PRS-68 continues a tradition that followers of Time Factors watches in all their guises have come to expect. They’re always well-priced, beautifully engineered and offer the opportunity to wear a modern take on watches that in most cases are either unavailable to most as a consequence of cost, or tend to be babied (or simply locked away) because of their scarcity. This one really does hit the spot for me, to the extent that I’ve subsequently turned down an opportunity to buy back my old 6105 because the PRS-68 is just about perfect for what I want.