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Thread: Old PRS-29 vs New PRS-29

  1. #1
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    Old PRS-29 vs New PRS-29

    The new PRS-29A has been out for a year now so I thought it would be a nice time to discuss our thoughts on the changes Eddie put into the watch as well as compare and contrast the two.

    Below I've posted images of the two watches for quick reference

    A short list of the changes from old to new PRS-29:
    -Removal of the 39mm variant
    -Sapphire box crystal as opposed to Acrylic
    -Drilled lugs with springbars as opposed to fixed

    Dial changes:
    -Change in font typeface and thickness
    -Hour hand lume no longer fills to the point
    -Numbers closer to the outer track

    My thoughts:
    Both watches are gorgeous, both watches are very robust and accurate. This thread isn't to say one is better than the other because reason X Y Z, but to express our opinions on the little things you like and dislike between both versions. Personally, I would still pick the old PRS-29A as it is more true to the original, and in general more "military;" here is my reasoning for that.

    The open "4" is the most obvious change that isn't true to the original and, to my eye, looks like it belongs to a different family of typeface. The rest of the numbers look closer to the W10's typeface and thickness than the old PRS-29's. Another change was to move the 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11 closer to the outer track and it gives the numbers a more square arrangement than round as in the original W10 and the old PRS-29A. The hands were not entirely true to the original on the old PRS-29 as both hands should have had the lume fill them to the point instead of just the hour hand, but on the new version they are both squared off.

    Of course the object of this watch isn't to be an exact copy, as then we'd have to copy the sorry state of the Lume on most surviving examples, but a faithful homage should have the same proportions of the main components. The numbers, both in their font and placement being the standout element in capturing the look of the original W10.

    The decision to add springbars and drilled lugs is in direct response to many people complaining that they could only have NATO's and clip-on straps, but I feel it has compromised some strength. I've had a failure of a spring bar while on a field exercise and can not trust them ever again after that (also the day I switched to NATOs exclusively). The old fixed bars were solid and you were not going to break one without breaking the whole damn watch or somehow imparting enough force to snap a NATO strap. It was also kind of a novelty as fixed bars are pretty rare these days, but of course, were standard on military watches back of the olden days.

    Sapphire vs Acrylic crystal I personally don't care too much about, but the original had acrylic and so the old PRS-29 is more accurate to the original in this respect. From the perspective of it being a field watch, scratches and scuffs are to be expected and so I do not mind acrylic crystal, especially since they can be buffed and are quite cheap. Sapphire on the other hand doesnt scratch but when it fails, it fails catastrophically, not what you want to happen when out in the field.

    With all that said, I think the new PRS-29A is more of a dress watch with characteristics of a field watch and the old one was a field watch that could be dressed up. I also believe the old one was truer to the original and the dial had better design.

    This is just speculation,but I feel like with this step towards versatility and becoming more of a dress watch, the PRS-29A has been sidelined by the watch that does it much better with a design that seems purpose built for it: the PRS-29AM. I think the PRS-29A, to distinguish it from the PRS-29AM, should be the more rugged counterpart with lume, fixed lugs, an acrylic crystal and very legible numbers.
    Would eddie be able to say if this last statement is true? I base the idea that the AM has outshone the PRS-29A in the last year just based off of how many listings I see of both in the secondhand market and how people ooh and ahh at it whenever a picture is posted (It is a fantastic looking watch).


    OLD PRS-29A


    NEW PRS-29A


    ORIGINAL SMITHS W10


    edit: edited titles for pictures, they were swapped between the "old" and "new" pictures
    Last edited by jared; 22nd November 2019 at 21:19.

  2. #2
    Grand Master abraxas's Avatar
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    Very enjoyable. Thanks.

  3. #3
    Journeyman Ogdensnut's Avatar
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    Iíve tried to find rather unsuccessfully what the widths of the hands are on each model and whether the proportions are the same for each model. The first 29a to my eye looks closest in style to the W10 but the second hand appears too thin. I could be mistaken. Anyone know?


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    Quote Originally Posted by jared View Post
    The new PRS-29A has been out for a year now so I thought it would be a nice time to discuss our thoughts on the changes Eddie put into the watch as well as compare and contrast the two.

    Below I've posted images of the two watches for quick reference

    A short list of the changes from old to new PRS-29:
    -Removal of the 39mm variant
    -Sapphire box crystal as opposed to Acrylic
    -Drilled lugs with springbars as opposed to fixed

    Dial changes:
    -Change in font typeface and thickness
    -Hour hand lume no longer fills to the point
    -Numbers closer to the outer track

    My thoughts:
    Both watches are gorgeous, both watches are very robust and accurate. This thread isn't to say one is better than the other because reason X Y Z, but to express our opinions on the little things you like and dislike between both versions. Personally, I would still pick the old PRS-29A as it is more true to the original, and in general more "military;" here is my reasoning for that.

    The open "4" is the most obvious change that isn't true to the original and, to my eye, looks like it belongs to a different family of typeface. The rest of the numbers look closer to the W10's typeface and thickness than the old PRS-29's. Another change was to move the 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11 closer to the outer track and it gives the numbers a more square arrangement than round as in the original W10 and the old PRS-29A. The hands were not entirely true to the original on the old PRS-29 as both hands should have had the lume fill them to the point instead of just the hour hand, but on the new version they are both squared off.

    Of course the object of this watch isn't to be an exact copy, as then we'd have to copy the sorry state of the Lume on most surviving examples, but a faithful homage should have the same proportions of the main components. The numbers, both in their font and placement being the standout element in capturing the look of the original W10.

    The decision to add springbars and drilled lugs is in direct response to many people complaining that they could only have NATO's and clip-on straps, but I feel it has compromised some strength. I've had a failure of a spring bar while on a field exercise and can not trust them ever again after that (also the day I switched to NATOs exclusively). The old fixed bars were solid and you were not going to break one without breaking the whole damn watch or somehow imparting enough force to snap a NATO strap. It was also kind of a novelty as fixed bars are pretty rare these days, but of course, were standard on military watches back of the olden days.

    Sapphire vs Acrylic crystal I personally don't care too much about, but the original had acrylic and so the old PRS-29 is more accurate to the original in this respect. From the perspective of it being a field watch, scratches and scuffs are to be expected and so I do not mind acrylic crystal, especially since they can be buffed and are quite cheap. Sapphire on the other hand doesnt scratch but when it fails, it fails catastrophically, not what you want to happen when out in the field.

    With all that said, I think the new PRS-29A is more of a dress watch with characteristics of a field watch and the old one was a field watch that could be dressed up. I also believe the old one was truer to the original and the dial had better design.

    This is just speculation,but I feel like with this step towards versatility and becoming more of a dress watch, the PRS-29A has been sidelined by the watch that does it much better with a design that seems purpose built for it: the PRS-29AM. I think the PRS-29A, to distinguish it from the PRS-29AM, should be the more rugged counterpart with lume, fixed lugs, an acrylic crystal and very legible numbers.
    Would eddie be able to say if this last statement is true? I base the idea that the AM has outshone the PRS-29A in the last year just based off of how many listings I see of both in the secondhand market and how people ooh and ahh at it whenever a picture is posted (It is a fantastic looking watch).


    NEW PRS-29A


    OLD PRS-29A


    ORIGINAL SMITHS W10
    The top two pics (or captions) are the wrong way round, as I'm sure most people and the OP have realised. I have just got hold of the new version and it is a beauty. I thought the slightly squared off positioning of the numbers and the open 4 might be an issue, but I find that they are not for me, and the new font with slimmer numerals is, in my view, a definite improvement. I love everything about this watch. The only thing I would change, if I could, would be to fill the lume to the points of both hour and minute hands, as in the original, but that is a minor suggestion and the existing hands are still fabulous.

  5. #5
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    I am sooooo happy to have found a B version. It is so well balanced !


    Quote Originally Posted by jared View Post
    The new PRS-29A has been out for a year now so I thought it would be a nice time to discuss our thoughts on the changes Eddie put into the watch as well as compare and contrast the two.

    Below I've posted images of the two watches for quick reference

    A short list of the changes from old to new PRS-29:
    -Removal of the 39mm variant
    -Sapphire box crystal as opposed to Acrylic
    -Drilled lugs with springbars as opposed to fixed

    Dial changes:
    -Change in font typeface and thickness
    -Hour hand lume no longer fills to the point
    -Numbers closer to the outer track

    My thoughts:
    Both watches are gorgeous, both watches are very robust and accurate. This thread isn't to say one is better than the other because reason X Y Z, but to express our opinions on the little things you like and dislike between both versions. Personally, I would still pick the old PRS-29A as it is more true to the original, and in general more "military;" here is my reasoning for that.

    The open "4" is the most obvious change that isn't true to the original and, to my eye, looks like it belongs to a different family of typeface. The rest of the numbers look closer to the W10's typeface and thickness than the old PRS-29's. Another change was to move the 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11 closer to the outer track and it gives the numbers a more square arrangement than round as in the original W10 and the old PRS-29A. The hands were not entirely true to the original on the old PRS-29 as both hands should have had the lume fill them to the point instead of just the hour hand, but on the new version they are both squared off.

    Of course the object of this watch isn't to be an exact copy, as then we'd have to copy the sorry state of the Lume on most surviving examples, but a faithful homage should have the same proportions of the main components. The numbers, both in their font and placement being the standout element in capturing the look of the original W10.

    The decision to add springbars and drilled lugs is in direct response to many people complaining that they could only have NATO's and clip-on straps, but I feel it has compromised some strength. I've had a failure of a spring bar while on a field exercise and can not trust them ever again after that (also the day I switched to NATOs exclusively). The old fixed bars were solid and you were not going to break one without breaking the whole damn watch or somehow imparting enough force to snap a NATO strap. It was also kind of a novelty as fixed bars are pretty rare these days, but of course, were standard on military watches back of the olden days.

    Sapphire vs Acrylic crystal I personally don't care too much about, but the original had acrylic and so the old PRS-29 is more accurate to the original in this respect. From the perspective of it being a field watch, scratches and scuffs are to be expected and so I do not mind acrylic crystal, especially since they can be buffed and are quite cheap. Sapphire on the other hand doesnt scratch but when it fails, it fails catastrophically, not what you want to happen when out in the field.

    With all that said, I think the new PRS-29A is more of a dress watch with characteristics of a field watch and the old one was a field watch that could be dressed up. I also believe the old one was truer to the original and the dial had better design.

    This is just speculation,but I feel like with this step towards versatility and becoming more of a dress watch, the PRS-29A has been sidelined by the watch that does it much better with a design that seems purpose built for it: the PRS-29AM. I think the PRS-29A, to distinguish it from the PRS-29AM, should be the more rugged counterpart with lume, fixed lugs, an acrylic crystal and very legible numbers.
    Would eddie be able to say if this last statement is true? I base the idea that the AM has outshone the PRS-29A in the last year just based off of how many listings I see of both in the secondhand market and how people ooh and ahh at it whenever a picture is posted (It is a fantastic looking watch).

  6. #6
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    Have the current 29A which is a very nice watch and the sapphire crystal has shrugged off knocks which would have scratched acrylic. Having said that I would have preferred it to have remained as before and more true to the original Smiths design concepts; sadly became aware of Timefactors watches that little bit to late to order one.

  7. #7
    Administrator swanbourne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed875 View Post
    Have the current 29A which is a very nice watch and the sapphire crystal has shrugged off knocks which would have scratched acrylic. Having said that I would have preferred it to have remained as before and more true to the original Smiths design concepts; sadly became aware of Timefactors watches that little bit to late to order one.
    If the original Smiths was still making the military, do you think they'd still be using acrylic or would have switched to sapphire?

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

  8. #8
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    In terms of movement, one thing Iíd love to know is whether the 29A is more accurate than the original W10. My 29a mk2 runs at approx +10s a day but I know some owners have +/-2s a day (or maybe better). Did the original smiths w10 keep good time?


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  9. #9
    My 29a was +12 but consistent so I related it to a consistent +1. Simple to do if you have a timegrapher and know its rate is consistent.

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  10. #10
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    PRS-29A

    Quote Originally Posted by swanbourne View Post
    If the original Smiths was still making the military, do you think they'd still be using acrylic or would have switched to sapphire?

    Eddie
    I to am so glad that you improved on Smiths original design with better materials and especially a real handwound movement. Thanks Eddie and this is my next watch to purchase. I have had my new PRS 25 black dialed Everest on for almost a week and I love this watch. And speaking about movements, I really like this new Miyota 9039. It is only gaining less than 7 seconds a day and the only time I can hear any rotor noise is if I have it next to my ear and who walks around with their watch next to their ear LOL.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swanbourne View Post
    If the original Smiths was still making the military, do you think they'd still be using acrylic or would have switched to sapphire?

    Eddie
    Sapphire, no contest, it would be part of the demanded mil spec as it would ensure the functionality and readability of the watch.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Calumets View Post
    Sapphire, no contest, it would be part of the demanded mil spec as it would ensure the functionality and readability of the watch.
    +1

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calumets View Post
    Sapphire, no contest, it would be part of the demanded mil spec as it would ensure the functionality and readability of the watch.
    Agreed:)

  14. #14
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    I love my AM. Looks great in any setting



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    edit: seems ictures uploaded from my phone come in sideways. reuploaded picture to a different service so that the picture is now right ways.
    Last edited by jared; 22nd November 2019 at 21:22.

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    Great pick

    Quote Originally Posted by jared View Post
    I love my AM. Looks great in any setting



    Sent from my Pixel 3a using TZ-UK mobile app
    Great looking watch. I just purchased the Everest PRS25 black dial, but I have plans to add both the PRS 29A and PRS 29AM to my collection. Enjoy.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ogdensnut View Post
    In terms of movement, one thing Iíd love to know is whether the 29A is more accurate than the original W10. My 29a mk2 runs at approx +10s a day but I know some owners have +/-2s a day (or maybe better). Did the original smiths w10 keep good time?


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    My 29A gains a bit while highly wound, but starts to lose a bit toward the end of the power reserve. By picking the right time to wind it (about 35 hours in I think, but I judge it by the time versus real time - when it's about 10 seconds slow) I can keep it running within 10 secs or so either way of real time for weeks on end.

    Obviously I have to use a bit of leeway on that, because 35 hours can be 3AM in the morning.

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    My 29AM is about +10s a day, but I have a habit of letting friends who've never interacted with a mechanical watch wind it up a bit throughout the day, so I don't think I've accurately measured it. Speaking of which, the 29AM is a serious eye catcher. Random co-workers who I barely interact with have been asking me about it and I've been using it as a way to get people into watches. Usually they're hit by sticker shock on the timefactors watches but I then point them towards similar styles from Timex, Seiko, and Hamilton.
    It's fun getting people interested in watches and a lot of these people I work with have, like I said, never interacted with any sort of mechanical watches. Most people here just wear g shocks, which are great for the field, but I think watches like these are definitely more appropriate for Garrison. Militaries like to co-opt old timey field items for dress and Garrison usage and old timey watches fit perfectly into that. Better than seeing everyone walking around with those dreadful apple watches, I say

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    Quote Originally Posted by swanbourne View Post
    If the original Smiths was still making the military, do you think they'd still be using acrylic or would have switched to sapphire?

    Eddie
    This is an interesting question actually.

    My gut tells me acrylic for two reasons:

    1. Sapphire is a great material for scratch resistance, but when it fails it fails catastrophically. On the other hand, acrylic takes a lot of abuse to become totally illegible and if it's structurally compromised, it cracks instead of shatters. Seems the military mindset on gear is that you want it to work reliably, albeit degraded in some form, for many many years instead working great until after one incident it becomes totally unserviceable. I don't think the military would care too much about replacing a crystal as well, but at least with acrylic you can do some preemptive maintenance whereas sapphire doesn't tell you it's going to shatter until bad luck does.

    2. Something something lowest bidder

  19. #19
    Grand Master abraxas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jared View Post

    1. Sapphire is a great material for scratch resistance, but when it fails it fails catastrophically............
    How often have you seen that happen?

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    Quote Originally Posted by abraxas View Post
    How often have you seen that happen?
    All of the watches I've owned thus far have been acrylics with the exception of the prs 29am, but it's no secret that sapphire shatters if it's struck a certain way. Very hard material, but also brittle. This is antithetical to the traits that define robust military equipment. Unless the crystal is recessed behind a pronounced bezel, I believe the military would still prefer acrylic. Maybe not the generals or the people who sign these defense contracts, but the boots on the ground people will prefer the satisfaction of knowing that they can land some pretty solid impacts on their watch without worrying about it shattering.

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  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by abraxas View Post
    How often have you seen that happen?
    I've personally never smashed any of my watches hard enough to shatter the crystal but that doesn't mean it can't happen. I was under the impression that current milspec called for mineral crystal for its better shatter resistance over sapphire, but I had a look on the CWC "current issue" section and the SBS has sapphire crystal, so I guess that's a myth. That said, the other ones I checked are all mineral and I seem to recall some doubts having been raised as to whether the SBS is a legit issued watch at all.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Ogdensnut View Post
    In terms of movement, one thing Iíd love to know is whether the 29A is more accurate than the original W10. My 29a mk2 runs at approx +10s a day but I know some owners have +/-2s a day (or maybe better). Did the original smiths w10 keep good time?


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    Funnily enough I got a PRS29-A old version today in a trade. Iíll post some pics later next to my W10.

    Iím glad I managed to get the older PRS29-A as itís a much closer copy. I donít think I could live with the ď4Ē on the new one and I love acrylic so . . . .

    Re timekeeping: the mil spec cal 60466E in the W10 is a fantastic movement. I had one that was +/- 2 secs a week! Iíve had lots of them but that was the best. If theyíve been well cared for they will be good even if not that good.

  23. #23
    Incidentally re the numbers: some W10s have finer, crisper printing and on others itís thicker / wider. So both could be considered right.

    The arrangement on the new one bothers me though; the ď6Ē in line with or even slightly above the ď7Ē and ď5Ē jars with me. On the W10 and 1st gen PRS29-A itís slightly below them.

    Also, is the hour hand thicker and/or shorter on the new model?

    Eddie says people want sapphire and spring bars. Fair enough. Iím just glad I got an old one.

  24. #24
    Further thoughts.

    Having had the PRS-29A (1st version) for 24 hours now I think itís my second favourite TF watch ever (the first is the PRS-25W Everest Expedition).

    I love the 17mm lugs (true to the original but now at a more commercial/popular/practical 18mm).

    The only thing I would change is to have made the lume look like vintage tritium: more vanilla less mint.

    But other than that: what a watch.

    I does seem like the version 2 has been changed to appeal to more people (sapphire and spring bars) and that ok, I understand that Eddie has got to sell watches (and sharing the case with the AM model must make economic sense, too.)

    So I guess most people will actually prefer the v. 2. Iím a Smiths purist though so itís the v. 1 for me.

    Finally, cases: anyone got both versions and care to post pics / comments on the cases? Aside from the lugs are there any other differences? (The crown I think; what about back, midcase, profile, weight etc?)

  25. #25
    I'm with you Ollie, and it'll be a WTB for me, again!

  26. #26
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    Just a few words representing a view that seems to differ from the consensus here.

    I sold my PRS-29a Mk I because of the fixed bars. I don't get on with NATOs, simple as that, and the other leather options were too limited. I'm thrilled with the Mk II for the deeper black dial and find the printing more precise. The new '4' doesn't bother me in the least, and the new positions make the number ring hug the outer circumference, making for a cleaner overall look. The sapphire gives the watch a satisfying heft.

    They're both superb watches. If you want something as close as possible to the original issued version, obviously the Mk I will please you more. If you want a watch of that size and design but that has the versatility and quality feel of a modern watch, the Mk II will be the clear choice. I respect the former position but find myself in the latter group.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by SplitSecond View Post
    Just a few words representing a view that seems to differ from the consensus here.

    I sold my PRS-29a Mk I because of the fixed bars. I don't get on with NATOs, simple as that, and the other leather options were too limited. I'm thrilled with the Mk II for the deeper black dial and find the printing more precise. The new '4' doesn't bother me in the least, and the new positions make the number ring hug the outer circumference, making for a cleaner overall look. The sapphire gives the watch a satisfying heft.

    They're both superb watches. If you want something as close as possible to the original issued version, obviously the Mk I will please you more. If you want a watch of that size and design but that has the versatility and quality feel of a modern watch, the Mk II will be the clear choice. I respect the former position but find myself in the latter group.
    Good post, thanks.

    Does anyone on here have both?

    If not, would anyone like to send me a Mk 2 for a side by side comparison? Returned by RMSD the next day.

    I'm interested in the differences - esp case and dial (movement is the same).

    Thanks

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by robt View Post
    I've personally never smashed any of my watches hard enough to shatter the crystal but that doesn't mean it can't happen.
    I once shattered a crystal, my wife another, both from surprisingly unspectacular bumps, both crystals were neither acrylic nor sapphire, but mineral. I bought a Railmaster Aqua Terra that has a superficial microscopic chip in its sapphire, but that was the first and only time i have seen a sapphire with any sort of damage whatsoever.

    Practicality aside, there are things I don't like about sapphire. Foremost the look of it, especially the milky ring if domed, and too "cold" for my taste. And its a fingerprint magnet. I also don't like that most sapphire watches seem to have a very high rehaut. Not all of them, so maybe its not required technically. The Hamilton Khaki Mechanical sports a sapphire, and a low bezel that looks like the ones usually seen on acrylic crystals.

    For me, its all about the looks, and nothing beats the look of a domed acrylic. When I compare, for example, the moonwatch with sapphire and hesalite, the hesalite looks way better. But I am probably odd, I adore design of the 50's and 60's,.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by jared View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by swanbourne View Post
    If the original Smiths was still making the military, do you think they'd still be using acrylic or would have switched to sapphire?

    Eddie
    This is an interesting question actually.

    My gut tells me acrylic for two reasons:

    1. Sapphire is a great material for scratch resistance, but when it fails it fails catastrophically. On the other hand, acrylic takes a lot of abuse to become totally illegible and if it's structurally compromised, it cracks instead of shatters. Seems the military mindset on gear is that you want it to work reliably, albeit degraded in some form, for many many years instead working great until after one incident it becomes totally unserviceable. I don't think the military would care too much about replacing a crystal as well, but at least with acrylic you can do some preemptive maintenance whereas sapphire doesn't tell you it's going to shatter until bad luck does.

    2. Something something lowest bidder
    Quote Originally Posted by jared View Post
    All of the watches I've owned thus far have been acrylics with the exception of the prs 29am, but it's no secret that sapphire shatters if it's struck a certain way. Very hard material, but also brittle. This is antithetical to the traits that define robust military equipment. Unless the crystal is recessed behind a pronounced bezel, I believe the military would still prefer acrylic. Maybe not the generals or the people who sign these defense contracts, but the boots on the ground people will prefer the satisfaction of knowing that they can land some pretty solid impacts on their watch without worrying about it shattering.

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using TZ-UK mobile app

    +1 --- I think that's very well said
    Last edited by Rollon; Yesterday at 06:04.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by TomasC View Post
    I once shattered a crystal, my wife another, both from surprisingly unspectacular bumps, both crystals were neither acrylic nor sapphire, but mineral. I bought a Railmaster Aqua Terra that has a superficial microscopic chip in its sapphire, but that was the first and only time i have seen a sapphire with any sort of damage whatsoever.

    Practicality aside, there are things I don't like about sapphire. Foremost the look of it, especially the milky ring if domed, and too "cold" for my taste. And its a fingerprint magnet. I also don't like that most sapphire watches seem to have a very high rehaut. Not all of them, so maybe its not required technically. The Hamilton Khaki Mechanical sports a sapphire, and a low bezel that looks like the ones usually seen on acrylic crystals.

    For me, its all about the looks, and nothing beats the look of a domed acrylic. When I compare, for example, the moonwatch with sapphire and hesalite, the hesalite looks way better. But I am probably odd, I adore design of the 50's and 60's,.
    This. But people want sapphire and Eddieís got to sell watches.

  31. #31
    Journeyman
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomasC View Post

    For me, its all about the looks, and nothing beats the look of a domed acrylic.
    Can't agree more. For me sapphire kills a lot of the vintage vibe of a homage.

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