It's funny how things change, up until a couple of weeks ago I never really liked the single sub dial Grand Carreras, and then I bought one. Similarly, I've always thought these rubberised dial Aquaracers were a bit naff looking, and now I've bought one. But it's been a slightly rocky road to get there, so this might be a long post...
You may remember a couple of weeks ago I tried on the Calibre 5 version of this watch and I can't remember if I wrote it or just thought it, but I decided if this was available in quartz and on a bracelet then I would be very interested in it. So returning to Bicester last week I saw the Calibre 5 again and it reminded me to look into finding a quartz version.
Usually, when TAG make a quartz version of a watch it's never quite the same as the auto version and as the first ones I came across had a black face I presumed that would be the compromise I'd have to weigh up, but after a little more digging it turned out they did make a quartz with the lovely grey vertically fluted dial.
Okay, let's back up a minute, what actually happened was I tried on a watch at Bicester (the CAK2111 I reviewed on Monday) which I really liked, but which I feel is too similar to my Aquagraph, and I was searching for photos of it to include in an 'On the Wrist' review. In doing that I found that same watch on Parkers Jewellers website (which is where my Chronotimer came from) and in turn it occurred to me that I hadn't browsed their stock in a while.
That led me to the black dial calibre 5 version of this watch for £1350, which I do like the look of but the grey dial version was already available NOS at Bicester so I wasn't really going to buy that, and anyway I still wanted it with the grey dial and with the quartz movement. I then found the black dial quartz version on the same site for £1150 and started thinking that might be an option. I wanted the grey dial but I wanted quartz more... so maybe that was a good fall back.
I spent quite a while searching and eventually found the grey dial quartz version at 'The Watch Village' for £965 on eBay. As ever, the smart thing to do is to find their website because then they're not paying eBay fees and sure enough the same watch was £920. Result!
Or so I thought...
So the first thing obviously is to check the photos for condition, it was described as mint and it looked very, very good save for two dings to the side of the case. Still the price seemed great and the bracelet was big enough for me (another box ticked). I'd already checked with Tom at Bicester to see if there were any quartz NOS available, because I would much rather buy from them if possible, even if it was a bit more expensive, but sadly no stock was available. Tom did offer to order me a bracelet for the Calibre 5 version but I really wanted quartz as I'll probably wear this one quite a lot to work and it has the potential to get bashed into things occasionally.
So, given my watch spend this year has been pretty horrendous... I thought about it for a while and then five minutes later I put the watch in my basket and sent the money. :)
One thing to note, on their own site the watch is described as 'like new/no use' but the pictures on eBay clearly show the side case damage - this photo isn't included on their website, which is a bit naughty if you ask me. I think I would be a bit pissed off if I'd bought the watch without having already seen the eBay photos. But, I had, so I knew what I was getting... and I went off out for the evening with friends looking forward to receiving my watch on Monday or Tuesday.
I came home Saturday to find an (apologetic, fair enough) email telling me that somebody had already put a deposit down on the watch and that they were expecting the balance on Sunday. They said they had been out and were without internet etc etc... well naturally I wasn't happy about it, but mistakes happen. What slightly annoyed me was that the watch was still on their website and eBay and Chrono24 over the weekend, despite the fact that two people were trying to buy it!
Saturday afternoon, still available!
They said they could potentially offer me a discount on the black dial version (which they also had) but that was already cheaper because the bezel is slightly damaged and I don't really do damaged watches.
As you may have noticed, the watch on Chrono24 was £10 cheaper than on their own website. Their story was that the guy that left the deposit wanted an additional service case and they'd added £10 to the price to cover it.
So I was a bit gutted to be honest, but I thought I'd wait and see what happened. So Sunday evening I sent them an email asking if the watch had been sold or not. They said they hadn't got the money, but they were giving the customer one more day to sort himself out. Then Monday morning I got an email telling me that the customer had pulled out of the sale and that if I still wanted it then it was available for £910.
As luck would have it, over the weekend I sold my WAH1110 Formula 1 quartz too, but let's not get into that or this post will be even longer. Suffice to say, I really wish people would ask questions before they buy, I've had to cancel two orders this last couple of days and the WAH1110 nearly went the same route!
The only slightly annoying thing was that because Paypal takes forever to refund money, my original £920 was pending and I needed to send another £910 to secure the watch. I think, given the circumstances that they could have been slightly more helpful and offered to hold the watch for me until the money had come back to me. After all, I clearly wanted the watch, I'd already sent them the money once... but they kind of half arsed their response a bit.
Still, I really wanted the watch and it didn't seem to be that easily available so I sucked it up and sent another £910 and sure enough first thing Tuesday morning I got my parcel in the post.
If a watch has to be marked, then the left side is as good a place as any. It really is hardly noticeable when wearing the watch and the bezel is perfect. There is a scratch on the glass at the bottom, but again it's right next to the bezel and it's hard to notice so I won't bother getting the glass replaced.
The box is a bit tatty inside where the watch has been in and out, I think the owner may have needed a manicure or something, but it's okay. The warranty card says it was bought in Las Vegas in 2015, so it's barely 3 years old.
On the Monday Jen at The Watch Village asked me what my wrist size was and said she would size the watch for me. Apparently the watch was sized for an 8" wrist so I suggested taking one link out. Of course, as soon as I tried it on I realised that I needed that link put back in so it was off to see Wes at Steffans again.
Looking a bit closer at the bracelet, someone had obviously made a right pig's ear of taking the link out. Several of the pins weren't in properly and the bracelet wasn't straight - one of the links was moving side to side about 1mm. Thankfully Wes put it all straight for me, and luckily we only needed one of the three links they sent me as two of the three pins were bent!
Overall, I absolutely love my new watch, but as far as The Watch Village goes I'm not massively impressed. Their prices are cheap (they have a Calibre 8 Grand Carrera on a strap for £1200!) but they seem a little bit shady here and there. No way should this watch be described as 'no use/like new', that's how I would describe some of my watches that I bought from new. The marks on the side of the case are enough to merit a downgrade there, never mind the scratched crystal and some other scratches on the bracelet. I also think them not putting the photo showing the damage on their website raises questions about their integrity, but still, I am happy with my watch and it was a good price.
So in all honesty, I think that's probably me for a bit. I've bought five watches this year (actually six if you count my wife's Aquaracer...), and sold two so I really can't see my buying anything else for the foreseeable. But then I think I said something similar after I bought my Grand Carrera...