Monday, August 19, 2013

Watch Review: Bathys 100 Fathoms Automatic SIlver PVD

I've had an alternating love-hate relationship with Bathys Hawaii for a while now, beginning with when I first laid eyes on their Aquaculture model back in 2009 (sadly, more than a year too late to have purchased one during its original run).  The notion that I would be able to obtain a mechanical watch from a small company headquartered in the islands where I grew up was high on my priority, and only a combination of supply issues and the comparatively exorbitant brick-and-mortar pricing that Bathys had resorted to at the time prevented me from delving in.  (The base 100 Fathoms, like the one reviewed here, was retailing in stores for nearly $1000.)

I managed to get my hands on a preowned Benthic with mother-of-pearl dial in 2011, but the 44mm diameter was simply too much for my 6" wrist.  It's possible that the long-awaited Bathys bracelet would have salvaged it, but I seized the opportunity to flip the watch when it arose, just before Bathys announced its shift from brick-and-mortar stores back to online retail, along with a $300 price drop for most of their watches.  $695 was a stronger value proposition for the 100 Fathoms auto, but at that point I wanted to try out the quartz version with its big date.  Unfortunately, despite indications from Bathys's founder that the 100F quartzes would be eventually restocked, they have yet to surface in the more than two years since I originally make my inquiry.  (Learning a few months later that the specific Rhonda movement used in the quartzes required manual advancing beyond the non-existent 32 through 39 displays also weakened my enthusiasm.)  When the Bathys bracelet finally came out, I knew I would eventually have to try out a 100F with one attached, but the pricing made it so that the total package would have run close to $900.

A couple of things have changed since then that made me finally decide to take the plunge.  First, the manufacturer of the bracelet has decided to discontinue it and sell off his remaining stock at liquidation prices.  This means that the window for acquiring the bracelet will eventually close.  Second, Bathys has decided to up their game by dropping the price of the 100F auto to $595.  Together with the discounted bracelets, that means that you can pick up the total package for just under $650 - less than the 100F auto alone would have cost you six months ago.  That was enough to coax me into taking the plunge.

I went with the ruthenium dial, Silver PVD version because I figured it would go best with bracelet, which I picked up in both silver and black PVD forms.  Installing the bracelet was a bit more challenging that I anticipated, with some small tweaking required on the end pieces to make the pins line up properly, but once installed the bracelet feels very solid and matches the 100F well.

The 41mm diameter coupled with the large dial is about as big as a watch can be on my wrist without looking ridiculous, and the watch head is about as thick as I'd venture to wear.  Surprisingly, I found myself wondering if I'd made a mistake picking the ruthenium dial over the black, as visibility can be adversely affected depending on the lighting angle.  But what disturbed me the most - and led me to finally decide to return the watch - was that there was milling residue on the chapter ring around the 8 o'clock mark, and a piece of lint a little below the 3 o'clock mark.  These could only really be seen up close, but could be seen with an unassisted eye.  This to my mind is inexcusable in a watch costing several hundred dollars, and necessitated the return.

I considered opting for an exchange with a black-dialed version, but ultimately decided to wait until the vaunted 100F quartz is restocked - hopefully in black PVD - to making my next, and perhaps final, Bathys purchase.  Here's hoping that when I do, the next example is free of the quality control issues I've encountered so far.

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