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A 1960s Racer - The Beauty Of Japanese Horology (Part 2)

Before I get started, I think apologies are needed, given that it's been just over one week since I posted Part 1, where I aimed to dispel the association of cheap and tacky watches with Japanese timekeeping.

A few days ago, I also wrote a guide on all the lingo and jargon that we need to understand, before we dive further into horology.

Credits to: GIPHY (Lecronos KickStarter)

Now, while Japan has made some incredible watches on the high-end, it's the low-end of the watchmaking segment where they dominate. Remember what we've learned from the last post - cheap watches aren't necessarily bad.

Japan has mastered the art of economies of scale - utilising state of the art technology, combined with methodology passed down from ancient times. Look at how Toyota can manufacture high quality cars, but at low cost.

Credits to: GIPHY

Branding Yourself.

The particular watch brand that I'd like to show you today is called, Lenvino Watch Co. Now, the big elephant in the room to discuss here, is that Lenvino isn't actually Japanese. Lenvino Watch is in fact based in the autonomous city-state of Hong Kong.

Now, before you scoff at me for making a tribute to Japanese watchmaking with a Hong Kong based watchmaker, remember that the country of origin does not define the identity of the watch.

If that mentality is so, then practically everything that we own nowadays is a Chinese product. While Lenvino may manufacture their watches in Hong Kong with their in-house design team, their movements come from the shores of Japan, by none other than the Rising Sun's most prominent household name in timekeeping, Seiko.

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

As we've discussed in [The Timekeeper's Handbook](), a movement is the engine of a watch, and it defines the character around it. As car enthusiasts sigh at the A90 Supra's use of a BMW Z4 engine, some may say the Supra is Japanese car, but it's identity is inherently Germanic in its form.

One particular watch from Lenvino is called, the Lecronos, and forms part of Lenvino's "Race for Vintage" collection. If you haven't guessed it already, the Lecronos is designed with automotive inspirations, which is the main reason why I chose this particular watch to be my first highlight.

Talking Specs.

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

Owing to my love for cars, there's a natural connection between these two worlds when I think of this watch, and I was intrigued the first time I saw it.

The entire ethos of the Lecronos' design language, is to have a 1960s/70s automotive theme. Looking at first glance, the layout of the dials are to mimic that of a vintage speedometer, or fuel gauge.

Upon selection, there are plenty of options to choose from. Varieties of dial colours - from grey and black, to brown, or a more vibrant blue-ish and green-ish tint. The watch case also comes in different corresponding finishings to match the dial, from a polished or brush, in a selection of blacks, silvers, and also gold (plated ).

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

You can also select your choice of watch straps, between perforated Italian leather straps, or a Milanese steel bracelet. The Lecronos has a standard 20mm lug, so changing out to a third-party strap that you like shouldn't be too difficult, made better with the included straps' quick release.

As for the dimensions, they're in line for a contemporary wristwatch, which should be comfortable for a wide-variety of wrist sizes. It has a 43mm diameter case, or 48mm lug-to-lug, and is 13mm thick.

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

About the Lecronos' case construction, it's made from stainless steel, which in turn is flanked by a domed sapphire glass on top, and a display case-back on the bottom. The case has a 50m water resistance rating, which isn't the best in class, even with its screw-down case-back. So, the Lecronos isn't the best company to have when participating in water-borne sports.

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

Talking a bit more about that display case-back, it's imprinted with a wire-spoke wheel motif, harking back to its automotive inspiration. This particular design choice may be a hate it, or love it situation for most people (we'll talk more about that later ).

Sitting underneath the obscured case-back sits the Lecronos' pièce de résistance - a Seiko automatic movement, with the "Made in Japan" branding slightly visible under the wheel spokes. The Seiko NH35A is a workhorse movement, and it doesn't live for the looks, only the function.

Credits to: GIPHY (Not actually an NH35A, but close enough)

Being a fully in-house Seiko movement, the NH35A benefits from many of the innovations that its siblings have - such as second-hacking (meaning that the Seconds Hand stops precisely where you left it when the crown is pulled out, for accurate time setting ), hand-winding, 24 jewels, and a roughly 40 hour power reserve.

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

My Thoughts?

Before we review a product or service, it's important to consider the price. As for the Lecronos, it has a rather low price-point, so it's worth resetting our expectations. While we may not get quality to match a Grand Seiko, the Lecronos can certainly match many other competing watches in the market for a similar price.

The Lecronos can be had for less than $300, which sits firmly in the budget price bracket for mechanical timepieces. On Lenvino's rather messy site, the Lecronos costs between $193 and $235, which is discounted at the time of writing. If that's not good enough, then it also comes with a 5-year warranty to soothe your ownership concerns.

Credits to: Lenvino Lecronos - Official (More Colours and Finishings)

Starting off with the dial, which is the one thing that you'll look at the whole day, the Lecronos certainly has a unique pattern that we've not seen very often.

The Lecronos is a 3-hander, with the corresponding dials seemingly placed within each other. The respective hands are also colour-coded to make reading easier; white=hour, red=minutes, blue=seconds. It also has a date window, which cycles on the bottom, like an old-fashioned odometer.

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

Having the dials imprinted onto the glass, thus sitting on top of the hands (rather than the way around for most watches ), results in an unique experience, giving the Lecronos a sense of depth. On one hand, it's a rather joyous approach to reading time, making the hands seem as if they float freely.

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

On the other hand, reading the time also takes some getting used to. The odd dial layout makes for rather poor legibility, and making out the time can be a challenging task, especially in the bottom section (between the 4 and 8 o'clock ), where the indices can be obscured.

The 20mm lug is something that some people may consider a blessing, as some buyers have complaints against the included straps, so replacing them is something that you may want to do. Apparently, the included Italian leather straps are rather cheap feeling, which may come as unsurprising given how affordable the overall package is.

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

Going back to that case-back, I'm very much confused by Lenvino's decision. The wheel spokes are well designed, but it does obscure much of the movement inside, which defeats the purpose of having an exhibition case-back in the first place. While the Seiko NH35 movement isn't a pretty thing to look at, it would still be nice to see all the machinations moving around.

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

Speaking of, the NH35 is certainly a great choice, and it offers some functions that Seiko's competitors don't. Another maker of affordable mechanical movements is Miyota, a fellow Japanese brand. While sitting at the same price point, the general pros of Seiko's movements outweigh Miyota, offering better accuracy and reliability, while also offering hacking functionality.

Final Words.

All in all, the Lecronos is a great watch for under $300, and it certainly sits in my list of top budget watches. It maintains the balance between offering a uniquely-designed timepiece, without falling into the trap of budget fashion watches.

True watch enthusiasts won't consider brands such as MVMT or Daniel Wellington, as you're paying mostly for the brand name. Imagine buying the sleek economy car, that has been engineered in the cheapest ways possible.

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

While those brands focus on catching trendy consumers, microbrands like Lenvino try to create watches that true enthusiasts can enjoy owning. They're a small, left-field brand, and the Lecronos does not mark itself as a functional time piece. That said, its unique styling is certainly very attractive, especially to automotive fans, and it can be a conversation starter.

Despite how difficult it can be to read the time on the Lecronos' funky dial, I think that's something worth celebrating. The reason why most people don't wear mechanical watches, is due to the fact that keeping time is something that can be done with existing devices, like smartphones and computers.

In a world where we Tweet, 'Gram, and check our chats every few minutes - notifications and pop-ups keep us informed about the time, and that in effect has replaced the function of a watch. So, wearing a dramatic watch like the Lecronos makes it a very special occasion for those brief moments that you glance over to know what time it is.

Credits to: Lecronos KickStarter

If you want to watch some videos on the Lecronos, here's a couple great ones from Youtube:

Thanks for reading! For more updates on my blogs, or the more minute things in life, feel free to follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn, and maybe give a shout there as well!

While you're at it, follow along @zacknorman97 for more, coming soon :-)

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