timefactors watches



TZ-UK Fundraiser
Results 1 to 22 of 22

Thread: Zeno Explorer (ZEX), another review

  1. #1
    Master
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Combrailles, Auvergne, France
    Posts
    1,330

    Zeno Explorer (ZEX), another review

    The Zeno Explorer ETA, the ZEX as it is known in the WIS community, is considered by many on TZ-UK to be one of the watches to have alongside others, given its style and price level. For quite a few it supposedly is a typical 'quality beater'. And they are probably right.

    I ordered this one on Friday, 31 August, from Eddie. At the end of the day, so he would ship it on Monday morning. It arrived on Tuesday, my birthday.
    So out with the Laguiole knife and into attack mode to slash the UPS bag and then a fair amount of armoured tape before I could open the box. Y'all know the Platts/Timefactors drill by know... ;-).
    Out came the little Zeno-Watch Basel travel case, not a zippered pouch one but a rounded box-like case, containing the watch, its Zeno guarantee card plus Eddie's business card and a polishing cloth. The cardboard box also contained the usual Timefactors envelope with instruction sheet and invoice.

    I tried on the watch, and found that I could size the bracelet fairly well without removing a link. However, I am not into polished bracelets. It makes the watch look too bling and thus, paradoxically, cheaper.
    So off came the bracelet, and on went a brand new 20 mm wide RAF 2-ring Bond NATO. I am not the first one here to note that this is the ultimate strap for the ZEX.



    Just for the heck of it, the next morning I swapped straps again and put in on a green NATO to go with my kaki green workpants. It looks quite good on green, actually; even my Significant Other thinks so. I have also tried it on a black leather one-piece strap with a wrist-cuff style backing pad, similar to a Bund, and it looks great on that, too. It simply looks good on any NATO-style strap.



    On day 3 I put it on a tan leather NATO, which is not bad either. Like I said above, anything but the bracelet, but that of course is a matter of taste.

    The ZEX is a no-nonsense steel watch. Large, thick lugs, acrylic crystal. The crown is precise when setting, with virtually no play in the hands. Handwinding feels a bit 'dry', but it works. Given its moderate waterresistance rating it could have had just a non-screwed crown (with a double seal), which would have avoided the typical problem of a worn thread on the crown tube. When one sets or winds the watch, it takes a bit of patience to 'find' the crown thread while pressing in the crown against the spring action of the coupling/decoupling mechanism. Once it bites, it screws snugly against the case in about two full turns.

    Accuracy vs. precision

    This example is consistently slow: it loses just over half a minute per day, which is nothing to worry about but will need to be corrected by a watchmaker some day. It is very consistent, no matter its position or my activities, so it is quite precise even if it could be a bit more accurate. The only real reason to have it regulated is to minimize wear on the crown thread (see above). With a non-screwed crown I would not mind at all synchronizing it every other day or so. Of course as a matter of principle, it would be better if an automatic with a screwed crown would be at least modestly regulated to be a little fast, say 10-15 sec/day, so setting could be reduced to once a week (being half a minute ahead won't make you miss appointments) and done by hacking it. The ETA movement is precise enough to allow that without a lot of trouble. Maybe Zeno wanted to cut costs a bit by not letting its watchmakers spend time regulating, and thus lifted the 'super precision' print from the dial?

    Dial

    Mine is the newest model which just says 'Zeno Watch Basel' in the upper half of the dial in small type and light grey printing, and nothing else. When all hands are in the upper quadrant, the empty dial is a bit of a black hole at first - but it has really grown on me. More text just would serve to enhance a 'fake Rolex' effect, as Rolexes tend to splash their 'superlative chronometer/officially certified' marketing blurb on the dial. Little or no text: no mistake, this one may look similar, but it is not a Rolex and not pretending to be one either.

    The Explorer-style dial is very legible and utilitarian. Lume could have been a bit better, especially on the hands. The large ball on the hour hand is just recognizable in the dark after five or six hours, so you get a rough idea of the time, but the minute hand is almost impossible to see. As soon as dawn arrives, the gleaming metal of the hands will allow you to see them clearly in a semi-dark room though.

    Case

    The case is brushed on top, but the sides and the bezel are highly polished, which I suppose matches the classic Rolex Explorer look. The polished bezel gets smudged by fingerprints and dirt very easily, so I guess even Rolex might have done a better job by brushing it. The lugs are sharply machined; they will scrape off the edge of a nail with ease and you might use them as in impromptu pencil sharpener...
    I love the case shape and the fact that it has 20 mm lugs instead of the 18 mm that is the usual size for this case diameter. The springbars leave generous space to pass through a thick one-piece or military style strap; it is the only watch in my modest collection that accepts a Rhino with room to spare.
    With its 45 mm lug to lug the ZEX wears perfectly well on my 18 cm/7.25 inch wrist. I never understand how people can wear watches with a case size of 45 mm or more, to which a fair amount of lug length must be added. These must snag in everything and bang into every door, unless you are Hulk Hogan.

    Conclusion

    Generally, this is a very nice watch for anyone wanting that vintage Explorer look in an affordable watch that is not an outright copy but an honest homage. As said, it might have been technically better with a twin-sealed non-screwed scrown to allow frequent setting without wear, but that is a matter of personal opinion.
    After two weeks the ZEX has grown on me, and I think it will continue to get a lot of wrist time.

  2. #2
    Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Copenhagen, DK (55.746,12.587)
    Posts
    3,332
    Congratulations on making it through the Timefactors packaging :D and thank you for a nice review.

    Cheers,
    Gert

  3. #3
    A nice, fair, and well written review. Thanks. :)

  4. #4
    Master JCJM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    60° 57? 3? N, 25° 49? 0? E
    Posts
    5,904
    Good job!

    I enjoyed the review and still covet for a ETA ZEX :lol:

  5. #5
    Administrator swanbourne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Sheffield, England
    Posts
    45,616
    Quote Originally Posted by JCJM
    Good job!

    I enjoyed the review and still covet for a ETA ZEX :lol:
    You'd better get one quick then, it's been discontinued by Zeno and I have 4 in stock. Zeno doesn't have any. I also have 4 with the Miyota movement.

    Eddie
    Whole chunks of my life come under the heading "it seemed like a good idea at the time".

  6. #6
    Master JCJM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    60° 57? 3? N, 25° 49? 0? E
    Posts
    5,904
    Quote Originally Posted by swanbourne
    Quote Originally Posted by JCJM
    Good job!

    I enjoyed the review and still covet for a ETA ZEX :lol:
    You'd better get one quick then, it's been discontinued by Zeno and I have 4 in stock. Zeno doesn't have any. I also have 4 with the Miyota movement.

    Eddie
    Discontinued? Morons :evil:

    Do you have any with some text above 6 marker Eddie? Also, I am not that sure about the Miyota after reading the review comparing the ETA ZEX to the Miyota version

  7. #7
    Administrator swanbourne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Sheffield, England
    Posts
    45,616
    There are no more with text above the 6.

    Eddie
    Whole chunks of my life come under the heading "it seemed like a good idea at the time".

  8. #8
    Grand Master Dave E's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Buckingham, UK
    Posts
    16,353
    Discontinued? Mad idiots!

    I've had 3 of these at various points, they're just a nice, honest little watch. Very solid and reliable.

    Good review, by the way!
    Dave E

    Skating away on the thin ice of a new day

  9. #9
    Craftsman rickf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    832
    Thank you for the excellent review. This watch has been on my list for a while but I'm saving my pennies for the SB3. With it being discontinued though maybe I need to rethink my spending priorities.

    Eddie - you've acknowledged in the past that you thought the ZEX was a good Explorer hommage, implying that your own hommage might not have much of a market. With Zeno discontinuing this model, would you consider coming out with your own interpretation?

    Rick

  10. #10
    Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    2,477
    Very well written review, makes me want one of these and I don't really like watches this size (and I really have the wrist for watches this size :lol: )

    However it just looks soooo good on the nato's.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Thomas

  11. #11
    Master
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Combrailles, Auvergne, France
    Posts
    1,330
    Quote Originally Posted by swanbourne
    Quote Originally Posted by JCJM
    Good job!

    I enjoyed the review and still covet for a ETA ZEX :lol:
    You'd better get one quick then, it's been discontinued by Zeno and I have 4 in stock. Zeno doesn't have any. I also have 4 with the Miyota movement.

    Eddie
    Oops. I seem to be just buying and then reviewing models that are being discontinued. PRS-4, PRS-10 (although there seems to be a new one under way of that one, but not as a Broadarrow), PRS-6, and now the ZEX...

    :roll:

  12. #12
    Craftsman rickf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    832
    I hope you're happy Frank. Because of your review I just placed an order with Eddie for the ZEX. I actually already knew I wanted one but had a couple other watches higher on the priority list. The fact that Eddie mentioned it's being discontinued and he has 4 of the Miyota models hanging around spurred me into action sooner than I had planned (I ordered the Miyota). The price seems just too good (even with the current exchange rate) to pass up.

    Regards,
    Rick

  13. #13
    Craftsman
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Copenhagen
    Posts
    623
    Great review (as always) Frank :)

    Wish I could agree with the mercedes hands but alas, they are not for me :( If only... @£80 it must be a hell of bargain!

    Just out of curiosity, what kind of accuracy should one expect from the Miyota movement?

    Cheers,
    Mabuse

  14. #14
    Master
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Combrailles, Auvergne, France
    Posts
    1,330
    Quote Originally Posted by Mabuse
    Just out of curiosity, what kind of accuracy should one expect from the Miyota movement?

    Cheers,
    Mabuse
    I wish I could tell you that. I never owned one. Maybe one of the other ZEX owners around here can comment on that. In any case, precision (as in consistency) is more important than accuracy right out of the box. A precise movement can be regulated to good accuracy and will then maintain that.
    Having read some other reviews on this watch with a Myota, I think one can expect respectable precision and accuracy from that. One of the main differences being that it does not hack, so you will not be able to determine precision/accuracy to the second. Then again, the very earliest Rolex Explorers did not hack either. I guess a few seconds do not really matter when you are climbing Everest. :wink:

  15. #15

    Miyota accuracy

    I have a Citizen Blue Eagle with a Miyota 8200 or 8000 movement, accuracy (which I'm not overhassled about) is ok, as far as I can tell - maybe about 10 slow a day, which is in the same league as the watches I've had with ETA autos (Sinn 656 is -8 a day, Speedbird was +15, DJR Highlands about -15, I think). All in all nothing to gripe about - and a crude hack (is that an oxymoron?) can be obtained by backwinding the crown when setting. This is helped with the Miyota movements, as compared to Seiko 7S36 etc by the fact that they can be wound, so you don't have to shake-backwind-shake when starting it up.

    Kamraj

  16. #16
    Master Qatar-wol's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Doha, Qatar and Warwick, England
    Posts
    6,707
    I've just picked up the ETA movt version from the Sales Corner, and this review has whetted my appetite - thanks a lot!

  17. #17
    Grand Master abraxas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    London
    Posts
    31,221
    Quote Originally Posted by Qatar-wol
    I've just picked up the ETA movt version from the Sales Corner, and this review has whetted my appetite - thanks a lot!
    It's a slippery slope to an Ex1 ...

    john

  18. #18
    Master
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Combrailles, Auvergne, France
    Posts
    1,330
    Update:
    It's now a few months after I purchased the Zex (7/12/2007). It has grown on me even more than I expected. I have modest collection of watches: PRS-4, PRS-6, PRS-10, an pretty battered Wenger Pilot Titanium, my oldest Edox Delfin, a Sinn 256 with a problematic crown, and the Zex. The latter gets more wrist time than all the others put together. The PRS-4 (also reviewed in this section) is a good second as it's my ballooning watch. The PRS-6 has been relegated to dress watch after Zeno put in a new mainspring, and the '10' gets worn for dirty or rough work (DIY, wood chopping etc.) - that is if I remember to take off the Zex, which I frequently forget simply because it sits on my wrist without being obtrusive. Thus I end up wearing it frequently as a beater, out of forgetfulness rather than deliberately. And it just stands up to it.

    As I wrote in the original review, the only gripe, if you can call it that, is the accuracy combined with the screw-down crown. It stabilized at about 40-45 seconds per day slow, which is no problem in a rural setting where life is not counted by the second anyway. But I'm always wary of setting it and unscrewing/screwing the crown (I have read other reviews that mentioned the thread wearing out rather quickly), and tend so set it about 2 minutes fast so I can limit synchronisations to once every three days or so. Zeno told me that I can have a good local watchmaker regulate it without voiding the warranty, which is nice of them (whether it's more efficient to drive over an hour to the only decent watchmaker in these lands and drive there again weeks later to pick up the regulated watch, while Zeno can do it by mail in two to three weeks, remains to be seen...). We'll see. I am of a mind to just continue for a while to see if the crown wears down within the warranty period. Good test, that.

    Before I got this watch I was, like a fair number of people, not very enthusiastic about mercedes hands, but I have gotten used to it. And the almost total lack of text makes for a very clear, uncluttered dial. Sure, I would not have minded 'automatic' or something like that in the lower part, but not having that does not bother me in the least.

    Apparently, the first Rolex 1016 sold for 165 dollars or thereabouts in the late 1960s. Not cheap at the time, but obtainable for anyone willing to save up a bit. For that money thay got a no-nonsense, properly engineered all-steel beater watch. Today a modern Explorer with its white gold indices and hands, and sapphire crystal, is no longer a steel beater for guys doing manly things (even if it's not climbing Everest). The Zex is just that. No pretense.

    There is a lot of discussion going on about Eddie possibly doing a TF/Precista version, as the Zex has now been taken out of production by Zeno. Which would be a good idea, there certainly is a market for this watch, or something very like it: not larger, no sapphire, just no-nonsense. See the section on TF Watches.

  19. #19
    Apprentice
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Glos
    Posts
    1
    Now available at Chronomasters.

  20. #20
    Journeyman
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    s60
    Posts
    330
    They have shot up in price .

  21. #21
    Grand Master TaketheCannoli's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Nineteen eighty something
    Posts
    10,268
    Quote Originally Posted by Owl1 View Post
    They have shot up in price .
    Wow, haven’t they!

  22. #22
    Grand Master Velorum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    12,611
    Poor VFM in my opinion.

    The manufacturer seems to have real QA issues these days and some need sorting out by a good watchmaker to ensure smooth running and good timekeeping.

    The new Everest is a much safer bet and has a much nicer dial design in my opinion.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •