I just got back from a trip to Seoul and Hong Kong where I did quite a bit of watch shopping. I’ve spent a lot of time in Japan, and I learned very quickly that both fine and high-tech watches are a much bigger priority in many parts of Asia than they are in the US, so finding jewelry stores and watchmakers was not difficult, especially in Hong Kong.
I picked up the two watches pictured here as gifts. The one on the right is a Casio G-Shock GW-1100J which is very similar to one I reviewed almost a year ago. The only differences are the colors of the LCDs, and the red accents on the newer one. This is a great, feature rich watch (atomic, solar, countdown timer, five alarms, world time, automatic backlight, etc.), and has a bold, tough look. I got it at a G-Shock store that happened to be right across the street from my hotel in Hong Kong. Their selection actually wasn’t as extensive as I’d hoped. In fact, there are several new Casios available in Japan that they didn’t cary yet or even know anything about. Their atomic selection was a little sparse, as well, most likely because there is no atomic clock within range (the nearest two are both in Japan). Clearly the best place in the world to shop for Casios is at their source: Tokyo.
The other watch I picked up is the Seiko Sportura SNA481. I’ve written pretty extensively about the Sportura line, and recently reviewed the SNJ005 World Time. These are neither pricey nor rare watches, but they are very well made, and have a distinctive, sporty look — especially the line with the black leather straps, in my opinion. The SNA481 is the alarm chronograph. The chronograph uses the large orange hand to track seconds, and the subdial at the 12 o’clock position to track up to 60 minutes. The subdial at the six o’clock position is used for setting the alarm, or for tracking the time in a second time zone.
I’ve determined that the king of watches in Asia is not a Japanese brand, however. Clearly it’s Rolex. Walking through the shopping districts of Hong Kong at night, you see the word “Rolex” in neon all over the place, and everyone who can possibly scrape enough money together seems to have one. There are no bargains to be had on Rolexes in Hong Kong, however. I came across a very rare white dial, all stainless Rolex Daytona for well over $10,000 (US), which I believe retails for thousands less here. The problem, however, is finding one stateside. The only one I’ve ever seen in the US was a 1998 model with a Zenith movement in a pricey shopping district in San Francisco for $14,000. Price-wise, it makes my GMT Master II look like a Timex.
When I arrived home yesterday, I was pleased to find several packages from all over the world waiting for me. Watch for reviews in the coming weeks.
By Christian Cantrell