Sea-Gull 1963 Cronograph review

[Tiempo de lectura 8 m]

Or how did my Seakoss 1963 Chronograph costed me almost nothing after two defective Sugess.

There’s a bit of a craze since Sea-Gull released the 1963 Chrono a few years back, there’s several brands selling their own versions and there’s lot of variation, pandas, luminous dials, and what have you.

Turns out, Sea-Gull, which is the largest movement manufacturer (1/4th of the world’s total!) in the world, wasn’t even the first to release a version, they did it only after a third party came out with the idea, and watching the success they were having, well, they were having none of it and released theirs, in 38mm with solid caseback, which I show at the beginning of the post —of course, they released the original back in early 60s.

Thing is, Sea-Gull being the “official” brand, is charging more than thrice what everybody else, and the buy is not as straightforward as just going to AliExpress for any of the others. So, I figured, if the movement is the same Sea-Gull ST1901 (based on the Venus 175, mind you; Sea-Gull bought everything, stock, machines, and rights, from the Swiss Venus back in the late 50s), and the casing, dials and finishing are basically the same, why not save two thirds of their asking price going for another brand?

I have to mention here that this is the Chinese market, and they go by a different set of values than us westerners. There’s no point claiming which one is the original one, all brands use the same factories for their cases, dials, hands, etc; you won’t find this things happening elsewhere, and it boils down to simply: This is how China works.

I liked a lot the official one with red chrono hand, but everyone is having it, just check every idiot on Instagram, so I chose a variation with all blue hands save the tip of the chrono seconds hand, and lume in hands and outside the numerals —the brand that makes this version is Sugess, which is a hideous name, but at least was not printed nor engraved anywhere in the watch.
Also, the 40mm version of the official from whichever brand has short hands, and I can’t stand short hands; they use the same hands as in the 38mm versions, and in my wrists a 38mm looks silly.
There’s versions with domed sapphire or acrylic, with cases a bit different to accommodate. I rather sapphire for the obvious reasons.

As I was previously saying, I succumbed and got this version, with blue hands but the tip of the chrono seconds, and luminous material applied to hands and numeral dots. The subdials rings aren’t printed but physically marked on the dial and are a bit larger than the official versions.

It was beautiful and perfect in every way.

Except it wasn’t. The damned movement stopped randomly, my guess was dirt in the mainspring, or even a cracked bottom jewel on the balance wheel, who knows.

A note of caution: These type of movements have a little quirk in their design. As you push the start button, the arm that moves the connecting wheel between the seconds wheel and the chrono-seconds wheel slides into the space between columns in the column-wheel, but if the press it not hard and quick enough, the chrono-seconds wheel brake hasn’t went up a column and it’s still engaged, which results in the watch stopping and potentially damaging (as the seconds wheel makes contact with a braked wheel). The problem probably derives from the arm resting so far ahead in a column, in order to start the chrono as fast as possible. So, you have to press the start firmly and quickly, particularly when starting from zero.

In this video if you pay attention you can clearly see the problem:

Resuming, it stopped randomly. No worries, I chose that seller because it offered free returns, so I did and they refunded me every single penny. Talking with the seller they assured me it was not a common occurrence and they’ll have extra care next time. So, there goes this watch idiot savant and ordered another one of the same.

The return process is an infuriatingly slow affair, and you have to be on top of the involved shipping companies. To me it consisted in taking my package to a local company, which took it to my country’s central AliExpress warehouse. This warehouse takes ages acknowledging reception, and I had to upload more evidence (the pictures provided by the local shipping company) in order for my money to be released.

So, I ordered again and, guess what? It also came defective, only this time defects were cosmetic and not functional. One lume dot was half printed and the crystal was set askew. I’ve never seen a poorly set crystal in all my years having watches.

When I confronted the seller for the second time, they had the nerve to tell me that I should simply not order the luminous version, that it didn’t affect the watch, and that the crystal was not smooth. This was adding insult to injury.

What to do? The return and refund option is always there and you have 15 days since your order is finished or you confirm reception of the goods, but as I’ve said it takes a long time. So I figured it was best to try to move it locally… And then fuck the seller and ask for a refund without return.

Thus I did, I sold it as brand new —it was, with all its accessories included, I just took it out of its box to check that the movement was working and to notice its flaws— for a huge profit obviously, well, not huge, just for 170% more of what I paid, and in my defense I included an almost brand new, respectable brand, watch band that I had ordered previously (for which I’m also waiting a full refund, haha! I didn’t like it and asked the seller for their international return policy, they went out of their way and refunded me except shipping costs, refund didn’t came for a long time, asked them again and they included a refund for the shipping, which has been deposited; just waiting for my card’s issuer response —I’m a client, this wasn’t my first watch band from that brand, so there’s that).

Having sold it, and having waited the necessary time for the selling platform that I used to avoid any claims or returns, which fortunately was still inside the deadline for opening a dispute, I went and did with the seller on AliExpress.
You have always to document as much as you can when buying from them; In my experience they’re fair, but they need the evidence to go against their sellers. I had everything, of course, and in my dispute I mentioned this was the second time, from this very seller, that the item was flawed.

I asked for a full refund without return, which I knew wouldn’t come to pass. Seller insisted on full refund with return on private messages, which I ignored, seller proceeded with the same proposal on the dispute’s page. I declined and lowered my asking refund for two thirds original price. Seller insisted on full R&R. I didn’t accept its proposal and kept mine. At this point (when you decline and maintain your previous proposal, hence reaching an impasse) AliExpress steps in, analyzes the case, and presented two final resolutions: The original full refund with return, or 30% refund without return. Of course I took the 30%, that was what I was fishing for!

So, in the end, with the sale and the refund I got back 201% of what I originally paid. Not a bad deal at all! (Not my best either, just the last one in a somewhat long list of great deals I’ve managed along the years when buying or selling watches).


Worth mentioning is that the lume in these watches is a laugh, a sad joke, the worst lume I’ve ever seen. It lights up under a UV lamp and in less than 10 minutes it’s gone. You’ll need utter darkness to barely see it, and in about a couple hours you won’t see anything… So I asked myself why get a watch with a function that doesn’t work, besides the above mentioned problems with Sugess?

But, as I really like the watch —it’s beautiful watching it playing in the light, the golden indices and the blue hands shining so handsomely— I wasn’t about giving up, just try another model and brand!

Sugess / Sea-Gull 1963 Chronograph luminous version.

The light play on the golden-greenish champagne dial, with golden indices and blue hands is very pleasing.

Thing is, there’s millions of sellers selling the same things on AliExpress, lots of brands selling this watches: Sugess, Seakoss, Red Star (which I believe is just a line inside Seakoss, but I’m not sure), Pierre Paulin, Gulltron, and a dozen or three more. Most are basically exactly the same with just different dial printing or different colors and hands, but I managed to find a more different variation of the official versions: a Seakoss. Case was the same as everyone, dial was obviously made in the same factory as everyone, movement of course was the Sea-Gull original, but the hands were different, they reached! And the hour hand is a bit wider than the minute hand, which of course helps with legibility at a glance. Also, the chrono minutes hand is different than the running seconds hand —in most every other interpretation, subdial hands are both identical, and as I’ve said in 40mm the watch hands are short on the official versions.

So I contacted the seller and quickly explained my woes, they of course assured me it wouldn’t happen with them. Yeah, we’ll see about that, kind seller.

This seller was pricier by almost a third because they had the option of choosing an upgraded movement (by Sea-Gull, remember, they make the movements and sell them to everyone); it has a swan-neck regulator, which besides making the balance wheel bridge prettier and more interesting (the only ugly part of this movement), makes regulating easier and steadier: It’s a steel spring that applies force to the regulator, which in turn controls the size of the hairspring, actively making the watch run faster or slower, and it has a screw that applies opposite force than the spring, keeping it tightly in place against shocks, and making regulating much more precise —anyone that knows how to set a bicycle’s derailleur knows just how much more precise adjustments you can get with a screw instead of a lever.
This, I figure, has to count for something and maybe having the more expensive movement implies better quality control?

The movement in this watches, as mentioned, is the Sea-Gull improvement on the Venus 175: a column-wheel, horizontal clutch, manual chronograph at 21,600 vhp (6 ticks per second), with 45ish hours power reserve. You can clearly see the beautiful blue and tungsten-gray column-wheel that makes these types of movements so beautiful in the next pictures, on the top center.
The most famous chronograph of all times, the Omega Speedmaster (did you know that watch went to The Moon™?), has seldom used a column-wheel.
Column-wheel chronos are more expensive, more alluring, harder to produce, and have better pusher feedback than the standard cam-lever actuated ones.

Anyway, I still like the dial of my original luminous Sugess better, with its slightly larger subdials which are not printed but recessed, or beveled, or embossed, can’t really tell, instead of the smaller ones with its outer ring printed of the regular versions (but the subdial hands, all being the same length across brands and versions, reach better on the regular smaller subdials), but alas it was not meant to be, so I ordered an official version in Seakoss branding.


I’ll update the post when it arrives…

Oh, I didn’t mention any of the Chinese Aviation being issued these watches after being commissioned by the Communist Party back then, there’s plenty other sites to gather pieces of info about that elsewhere, and it makes for a fun information hunt, as every site has its own version of the events that supposedly took place… Just like today we have a plethora of brands and versions as to make it impossible to set straight.

For anyone interested, the dial and caseback reads in Traditional Chinese:

中国制造 – Zhōngguó zhìzào – Made in China.

And the caseback on the Sugess (haven’t yet sat to decipher the Seakoss, which has a couple more characters):

中國空軍航空計時碼表- Chinese Airforce flight chronograph watch.

Foundation (2021) Review

[Tiempo de lectura 5 m]

Foundation saga

Foundation saga.

I write this review as a hardcore Isaac Asimov reader; as a teenager I read all the books I could by him, I searched them everywhere, in all the libraries, in all the supermarkets. I still have all my copies. I consider Asimov, with Sagan and Cousteau, three of my best teachers ever.

So, what can we say about Apple TV Foundation?

That is garbage.

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov watching those idiots with contempt.

The Woke is Strong in you.

Mary Sue Skywalker Palpatine.

Mary Sue Skywalker Palpatine.

They ride the woke wave, gender-swapping Salvor Hardin, Gaal Dornick, and even Eto Demerzel.

You could let Dornick pass as a female, it could even add to the story, but Hardin? But Demerzel?
Daneel carried Foundation on his shoulders, why touch him without adding? Just for the fun of the insult to the fans? To subvert our expectations?

Dornick, of course, is a better mathematician than Harry (she keeps calling him that!). She’s quicker, she knows all the jobs in the colony, she’s a natural-born leader, she’s black, she’s female, she’s The One™! Not Seldon, not Daneel, no! Gender-swapped Mary Sue Dornick!

It’s soap opera.

Asimov would never.

With Dornick now a black minority female, they can pursue a love interest with Raych. If you’ve read Asimov’s science-fiction, you know exactly how he felt about love and personal relations, against his cerebral stories. This is merely to appraise to as broad a market as they can.

It’s filled with bad science.

Asimov was a scientist who praised himself in writing scientifically sound stories; he was utterly pedantic and insufferable about his knowledge. This is just your regular Marvel space magic. He kept himself away from nonsensical jargon and used plot devices as sparsely as posible (the “jump” was just part of the background, of the obvious and necessary future technology, no need to explain it, better actually think and invest time developing the Robotic Laws from which most stories derive).

Now instead, we have a space elevator that falls in five minutes and causes some minor damage; they need to go and read Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson to get an accurate description of a space elevator falling. It won’t fall in five minutes. The lower part won’t notice until hours later. The damage would be geological. Even the space elevator of Nueva Valparaiso in Revelation Space (in Chasm City, actually) by Alastair Reynolds, an action packed saga, manages to fall in a plausible manner.
Now we have idiocy like “the grav generators output a waveform that corrupts the jumpdrive’s ability to plot fourth-dimensional points at transdimensional speeds”. Now we have stupidity like “the most advanced math, is like a sixth sense.”. And the idiots pat themselves in their collective backs for being so ingenious. Do you see Asimov ever writing such laughable ridiculousness?

Illiterate Geoge Lucas and his Cliff’s Notes.

This is because writers, directors, producers and studios are illiterates. Because they haven’t read anything in their lives, they understand nothing, and think that just throwing sciency-sounding words is enough, just like modern Star Trek. In fact, they are not only scientifically illiterate, but broadly.

It doesn’t follow the spirit of Asimov’s writings.

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov, the God himself.

Much can be said about the difficulties and imposibilites of adapting written word to the screens, but it can and has been done. Childhood’s End, the miniseries, is a joy to watch, precisely because in spite of the liberties taken, they captured and respected Clarke’s writings spirit, so fans of Clarke can watch it and be satisfied that it was worth it and not be terribly offended by it. Foundation is diametrically opposite to Asimov’s writings spirit. It’s not cerebral, it’s emotive; it’s not story-driven, it’s character driven; it’s not about thinking, it’s about the action and epicness. Truly, it’s so far away removed from Asimov that it easily passes for Generic Science Fiction or Superhero Movie number 765.


Zero stars. Zero.


Of course I knew it would be terrible beforehand, how could it not? In the last 20 years we’ve been regaled with endless adaptations, remakes, prequels, sequels, reimaginings, each worse than the previous, that there wasn’t any possibility. It was a mathematical certainty that they would fucking botch it with their idiocy and illiterateness!

And it was completely unnecessary, because contrary to say Star Wars and Star Trek, Foundation never needed such epicness, such grand special effects, it wasn’t about that at all! So it needed only a fraction of the fortune they spent; they chose to do a Marvel and failed because Foundation, as Star Trek, is no superhero lightly written, story for kids.

I’m sad, obviously, and angered against the modern cinema fashion that has managed tu ruin everything.

It’s so bad I could only watch two episodes. Terrible, isn’t it? That a life-long fan of the Foundation saga, the Robot stories and novels, and everything in between from Isaac Asimov (and everything else from the Golden Age of Science Fiction), couldn’t get past the first two chapters of the long-awaited, ever-dreaded adaptation to the screens. I certainly expected it: I can’t watch modern Star Wars nor Star Trek either; they’re meaningless crap, mediocrity for the lowest common denominator.

Not Hari Seldon

“Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.” -Kylo Ren.


Star Trek: The Next Generation, is a much better Foundation than this sorry attempt could ever dream of being.

They won’t get a single penny from me.

Foundation saga.

My Foundation and Robot books; They can’t take the sky from me.


“Now everyone, I’m going to leave you on a less depressing note, I’ll let these guys and gals do their thing:”
-Mr. Plinkett.

Why the West Rules—for Now – Ian Morris

[Tiempo de lectura 2 m]Why the West Rules—for Now - Ian Morris.

This is more a compendium than a book.

It takes us on a wide adventure across Earth and time in the last 20 thousand years since the last ice age, following mankind through its civilizations, its empires, the rise and fall of the currents of history meandering the way dictated by geography and climate, sociology and biology.

This not only tells us why the west rules, for now, but gives a most impressive and comprehensive history lesson; it’s been a while since I felt achieving something when finishing a book; <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/425618-understanding-is-a-kind-of-ecstasy”>Understanding is a kind of ecstasy</a>, no doubt.

The human revolutions, the technology and thought that each era needs to surpass the empire’s fall and transform the meaning of geography, the challenges civilizations face, the driving forces of mankind (greed and lazyness!), all that mixed with an entertaining narrative of mankind’s passage through this planet.

The author, a superstar in his domains, has done a massive amount of research, invented qualitative methods for measuring men and gave a presentable face to his findings; the development index he came up with is fascinating.

Halfway through the book I began wondering if he would make the final jump and talk —in the final chapter(s), of course— of the <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity”>Singularity</a>. I expected him to do so, as technology is the means with which civilizations level-up, and it appears to be in our immediate future; He did so.

A grand book that should be required reading in the schools of the world.

*****

Here’s the professor, archaeologist, historian and academic himself giving a conference about this on the Oriental Institute, think of it as the tl;dr:

This image pretty much sums up the importance of geography in human affairs:

The importance of geography in the currents of history.

The importance of geography in the currents of history.

The Conspiracy Against the Human Race – Thomas Ligotti

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The Conspiracy Against the Human Race - Thomas Ligotti.

The Conspiracy Against the Human Race – Thomas Ligotti.

I’m not sure… I mean, being alive is all well and nice!
/s

Ligotti is a connoisseur of the horror genre(s), and just for that this is a worthy read. On his other subject, his main thesis, he doesn’t tell us anything new —for those of us with a basic grasp of things— to know: Life is pointless, the universe cares not for it, and consciousness has ruined the simple life for us forever while at the same time allowing us to be aware of it.

A quick and entertaining, if a bit too conscious of itself (see what I did there), read.

Also, Rustin Cohle from one of the greatest series of all time, True Detective (just season one, the other two aren’t in the same league), read the book too 😉

***

Afganistán para influencers

[Tiempo de lectura 2 m]Pin bandera Afgana y Americana.

  • Guerra con URSS en los 70s por miedo a que cambien de lado en la Guerra Fría y se unan a los yanquis; Afganistán hacía frontera con la URSS, y hace con China.
  • Yanquis patrocinan con armamento y entrenamiento a los Muyahidín (combatientes islámicos fundamentalistas multinacionales; guerrilleros) para controlar Afganistán.
  • Al-Qaeda se funda durante esa guerra, organización militante islamita sunita multinacional.
  • URSS termina su guerra en los 80s.
  • Los descendientes de los Muyahidín controlan Afganistán, los Talibanes.
  • Al-Qaeda causa 9/11.
  • USA hace guerra contra Afganistán e Irak con ese pretexto, establece gobiernos títeres.
  • 20 años después, Talibanes recuperan el control de Afganistán del falso gobierno impuesto por América tras su humillante salida, que recuerda cuando les pasó lo mismo en Saigón (Ho Chi Minh).

Afganistán fue el Vietnam de la URSS, y ahora es el Vietnam II de los gringos. Solo no olvidar que tendrá muchas más y más importantes repercusiones geopolíticas, ya que Afganistán, “la tumba de los imperios”, es geográfica e históricamente muy importante, no así Vietnam (pero eso requiere un poquito más de historia, y a los influencers solo les importa lo que pasó hace 5 minutos, si es que les importa algo más que mirar sus propios videos).

Todos los gobiernos de la zona van a dialogar con los Talibanes del nuevo Afganistán, quienes crearán un gobierno multi-étnico.

Falta que los gringos se salgan de Irak…

Addendum: Para los gringos es muchísimo más barato (¡y le conviene más a su economía!) volver a comprar todo su equipo militar, que transportarlo de regreso desde donde sea, es por esto que los Talibanes están heredando cualquier cantidad de equipamiento de guerra.

Evacuación de embajadores americanos de Saigón y Kabul.

Evacuación de embajadores americanos de Saigón y Kabul.

Por cierto, así la producción de opio / heroína, que prácticamente cesó cuando los talibanes la prohibieron en 2001, justo antes del inicio de la invasión gringa. Desde entonces ha aumentado año con año bajo control americano hasta llegar al 90% de la producción mundial. Esto sucede mientras el máximo ejército del mundo intenta detenerlos. Ajá.

Producción de opio afgano.

Producción de opio afgano.