Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sinn 556 Mother of Pearl

When my Sinn 556 mother of pearl watch first arrived, I was glum because the dial was as black as midnight before a storm on a moonless night. There was no hint of mother of pearlness, no shine, no glow.

I thought I'd been shipped the wrong watch, and with that thought came another: How am I going to return this watch all the way to Germany?

After my heart returned to its correct spot in my chest I noticed that the mother of pearl's kaleidoscopic rainbow only appears when the light is reflected just so. When you tilt your wrist to reflect the light, letting your eyes catch the vivid colors, you see a watch dial stands in a category of its own.

The Sinn 556 comes in several flavors, including a white mother of pearl, which to my eye is too flashy. The black mother of pearl is handsome, masculine and subtle. The mother of pearl version is the Sinn 556 I MOP S. The 556 comes in a variety of flavors, including versions with numbers instead of indices and date complications.

The Sinn 556, a 38.5mm watch, costing about $1,000 US, uses an automatic ETA 2824-2 movement and a screw-down crown. It's water resistant to 200 meters, has a stainless steel case, a sapphire crystal, and is 11 mm thick. The Sinn 556 is a 25 jewel watch with a clear caseback.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Nixie Tube Watches: Retro, Cool, and Fun

It's hard to describe the sensation that accompanies wearing a Nixie tube watch. I often feel like I've strapped on a time machine and I'm one step away from 1961.

Nixie tubes are cathode display tubes filled with an inert gas, usually neon. Nixie tubes were invented in the 1950's and were popular props in movies from the 1950's, 60's and 70's that tried to portray that era's vision of the future. The watch is filled with retro technology.

While Nixie tube clocks are fairly common (you can find them on Etsy, eBay and Amazon), Nixie tube watches are rare, in part because it's hard to squeeze relatively large tubes into a small wristwatch space.

The watch pictured here is a NIWA Nixie tube watch, a Kickstarter project. It costs about $500, but you need to contact the designers via their Kickstarter or Facebook page for availability.

You set the watch by using a magnetic wand. The two tube display first shows hours (12 or 24 -- your pick), then minutes, and finally seconds. The watch comes with a USB charger and has a battery backup. The time is displayed when you tilt your wrist to a 45% angle, a setting that can be changed, too. The NIWA watch is 55mm in diameter, which looks especially large on my 6 1/4 inch wrist. The watch needs to be charged about every four days, depending on how often you look at it (which is likely to be very often.)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Watch Malpractice

On the one hand, who would do that to a Rolex, or any watch -- not screw in the crown? An unscrewed crown invites every molecule of humidity, every drop of water to invade the watch. It's the watch equivalent of a diet that consists of Big Macs and Cokes, certain to lead to an early death.

The photo above is from the 1976 movie, All The President's Men, a political thriller about Watergate and the downfall of President Richard Nixon, in which Robert Redford portrayed Bob Woodward of the Washington Post. (Redford's co-star, Dustin Hoffman, played Carl Bernstein.)

Perhaps the pulled out crown was a symbol of how busy Woodward and Bernstein were, that because of frenetic pace of the Watergate investigation Woodward didn't even have time to screw in his Submariner's crown. Perhaps. It's more likely this was just a case of watch malpractice.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Watch Enablers: For Collectors Who Need a Little Coaxing to Buy

Watch Enablers is a group of watch enthusiasts whose mission is to support, encourage, and coax other members into spending our hard earned money on new watches.

Sometimes all you need is a few words of encouragement --or a kick in the seat of the pants-- to buy the watch you really want.

Can't decide between an Oris and Doxa? Looking for moral support because once you purchase that Patek you have to have to tell your spouse you can no longer afford a vacation? Have you always sported dress watches, but feel a pull to buy something different like the Jaeger-LeCoultre's Jumping Seconds Hand? Need advice about buying a Grand Seiko directly from Japan? Then Watch Enablers is for you.

The group is limited to 24 members (one for each hour of the day). We're keeping this group small so we get to know each other. There are many wonderful and large watch forums around, but Watch Enablers is cozy, friendly corner of the internet. Watch Enablers is for collectors in all price ranges.

There's pleasure in buying a new watch, of course, but it's also fun to inspire somebody else to buy a watch.

Join or find out more about Watch Enablers at

Monday, November 7, 2016

Rolex Unveils World's First Watch Vending Machine

Located inside the lobby of the Grand Hyatt adjacent to New York's Grand Central Terminal is the world's first wristwatch vending machine.

Opened last week by Rolex, this first of it's kind technology dispenses six different flavors of Rolex: Lady-Datejust 26 and Datejust 31 (black face with roman numerals) for women; Oyster Perpetual, Air-King, Milgauss, Submariner and Yacht-Master for men. 

Housed in a 2.5 centimeter thick titanium armored dispensing machine with non-reflective bullet proof glass, the vending machine holds ten of each model of Rolex, a total of sixty watches. Customers can pay with their American Express, Mastercard or Visa cards. The Rolex-Matic vending machine also accepts American Gold Eagle coins for payment. 

Rolex's market research has identified several groups of individuals who are inclined to buy a Rolex from such a machine, including:
  • Business travelers who forgot to take their watch and have a meeting for which they need to look impressive.
  • Rolex owners who just had their Rolex stolen (or who left it behind at airport security) and need an immediate replacement.
  • Travelers who have been wearing their Omega, Breitling or Patek for several days and want a change of pace.
  • Consumers who want a Rolex without all the hassle that goes with buying one in a store.
Each watch is dispensed with easy-to-use tools for band sizing. 

A little watch humor from A Better Wrist. 

A Better Wrist is Back

After a nice, long novel writing vacation, Bill Adler's A Better Wrist is back online. (One novel done, more in progress.)

A Better Wrist won't be publishing on any particular schedule, but we'll post new material on a variety of subjects --watch reviews, watch humor, wristwatch trends, watch technology, breaking watch news, and more-- from time to time. You can sign up to be notified about new posts, or follow us on Twitter.

If you need to get in touch, use the contact form on this page or fire away with a direct message via Twitter.

Thanks for reading. Watches are fun, aren't they?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Where Has A Better Wrist Gone?

A Better Wrist is on vacation.

Well, actually not vacation. I've been busy writing a book. After writing every day, all day long, from sunrise to sunset, taking breaks only to feed my cat when she reminds me, I'm all out of words. There's nothing left for watches. Sorry.

A Better Wrist will be back when my novel is done.

In the meanwhile, you can find me on Twitter at @billadler and on Goodreads, where you can read more about my books.

Enjoy your watches!

Bill Adler

Monday, January 4, 2016

Watch Complications that Don't Exist, but Should

Some watchmakers put amazing complications on their watches. These complications are even more astonishing considering how much engineering watchmakers are able to fit into a space of under 10 millimeters. Some of the parts that go into these science-defying watches are as thin as a hair. I imagine tiny people, the size of a fingernail, using microscopic tools building these watches.

We know the names of many of these complications: GMT, jumping second hand, minute repeater, perpetual calendar, chronograph, power reserve, retrograde hands, day/night indicators, moonphase and others. Other complications are more esoteric: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso with a zodiacal calendar, Greubel Forsey Invention GMT with its spinning globe, Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon with its starry sky display, Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 with the astronomical moon and leap year indicator, for instance. The Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4, weighing in at $1.4 million, offers 36 complications.

This year Vacheron Constantin released the Reference 57260 pocket watch, the most complicated watch ever made, with 57 functions. In one watch. Remember when the world was simpler and we all thought that Baskin Robbins’ original 31 flavors was a lot?
The Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 is more complicated than any
boyfriend or girlfriend you’ve ever had. Photo from Vacheron Constantin.

Watchmakers aren’t done yet with inventing new complications. I have some ideas:

Cooking timer for different foods, such as chicken, beef, and fish, with weight information built in.

Five-minute countdown timer because so many things are, "Just five more minutes."

Countdown dial until Friday, 5 PM

Cat and dog feeding alarm (arguably superfluous, because cats and dogs will let you know when they’re hungry, but then again, most complications are unnecessary).

Five-second timer to calculate the distance of thunderstorms. (Start timing from the moment you see a lightning flash. It takes five seconds to hear the thunderclap for every mile away that the storm is.)

Watch hands that freeze in place. Press a button and a second set of hands appears and freezes so you can forever record and remember what time something wonderful happened. This complication can be used only once.

Pill-taking reminder alarm, settable in 24-, 12-, 6-, and 4-hour increments.

Monday, December 28, 2015

How Should You Respond to "How Much Is that Watch?"

Advice columnists frequently say that it’s fundamentally rude to ask somebody how much something costs. But really it’s not.

Price is something that many people can wrap their heads around. We’ve all bought things and we all have a foundation for understanding the value of money. The question “How much did you pay?” is often spoken out of genuine curiosity, with not the slightest drizzle of judgement. It’s often a question that people ask because they can’t think of anything else to ask. “How much was your house?” is a better question than “Why did you paint your house yellow?” “How much were those shoes?” is kinder than “Are those shoes comfortable?”

When somebody asks you how much your watch is, that means they have noticed your watch and you should do a happy dance right then and there. Break out the Champagne, too. How often does somebody notice your watch? About as often as cicadas come out of the ground, I bet.

A Thomas Prescher triple axis tourbillon. The watchmaker 
wrote, “The meaning of such a complicated 
timepiece is much more art for art’s 
sake than the search for any improvement of a rate. 
A triple axis tourbillon with its spiral-shaped movement 
takes up far more room in the space of a 
case than either the single or the double axis tourbillons. 
It is especially the unencumbered view that makes the 
tourbillon seem to hover in the air on its three flying axes.... 
A triple axis tourbillon is not only a technical 
masterpiece of the art of watchmaking, 
but it is above all a piece of art that 
draws our eyes to it—magically—a kinetic 
sculpture of time.” Photo from .
Brides magazine offered this advice to a befuddled bride laid siege to by nosy friends and strangers: “In no universe is it ever OK for anyone to ask a woman how much her engagement ring cost. Let us be clear: The only thing someone should say when you flash your rock is ‘It's so beautiful! How did he propose?’ Cut. Scene. End of story.”

That may be true for engagement rings because everyone notices them, like they notice a stretch limo and wonder how much it costs to rent. But because watches are the quintessential under-the-radar accessory, the fact that somebody actually takes an interest in your watch is a like finding a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan for $2,000 a month, or finding a real Rolex Submariner at a flea market for $100. It’s exciting and you should take advantage of that.

So what should you say? You should say two things: the actual price and everything about the watch. The question is, what should you talk about first? The price or your remarkable watch?

Get the price out of the way. Be honest. Don’t worry that the person who’s asking might think that’s an outrageous amount of money to spend on a watch (assuming that it cost a lot of money). The friend, stranger, or family member who’s asking might have an expensive hobby, too. Maybe they collect yachts or breed expensive show dogs. Or not. It doesn’t matter, because the only way to talk about what comes next is to quickly immerse them in the notion that some watches cost a lot. Tell them quickly and get that part over with. Just as it’s better to jump into a cold swimming pool than it is to wade in painfully.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Mondaine Stop2go Will Make You Fall in Love with Quartz

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Nobody will believe that your Mondaine Stop2go watch is a quartz watch, because it has a complication that could only be accomplished through a mechanical movement...or so it seems.

If complications are the cat's pajamas of watches, then the Mondaine Stop2go is a pair of fleece, woolen, cotton, and silk pajamas all wrapped up in one.

Mondaine is the watchmaker that turned the iconic Swiss Federal Railway clocks into fun, energized watches. Mondaine’s red second hand, with its ball at the top, was designed to look like the handheld signal that let train drivers know they could leave the station. Mondaine’s watches are among the most recognizable in the world. They get noticed not because they look like art, but because they are art.

The Mondaine Stop2go’s complication is, I think, one most inventive watch complications ever created. Moon phases, chronometers, GMTs, jumping second hands, minute repeaters, power reserves — they’re a dime a dozen. But the Mondaine Stop2go has a complication that stands all alone in the watch world, because it’s the only one that does this special thing.

Mondaine’s iconic second hand makes a complete rotation across the watch face every 58 seconds, stopping for two seconds at the 12 o’clock position to let the minute hand advance. Think about that. Or rather, take a look at how the Mondaine works, because you won’t see anything else like it on any other watch:

Watching the second hand pause for two seconds gives you a sensation of time stopping. For those two seconds you feel as if time has somehow been broken, but you know that it will resume before you take another breath.