Today’s review is something a little different from our usual fare: Presenting a classically-styled mechanical dress watch with an unusual complication, the jump hour 549-SG2709 from Alpha Watches.
‘Jump hour’ requires a bit of explanation. If you look at 12 o’clock on the dial, you see a round window with the number ‘3’ displayed. This is the hours, which are on a disc that changes at the top of the hour. Minutes are read from the long center hand, and seconds are at 6 o’clock in a ‘subseconds’ configuration. The hour change is quite rapid, about 1/2 of one second, which is why it’s called a ‘jump hour.’
This is more properly labeled a ‘jump-hour regulator,’ which denotes the central minute hand. It makes an attractive and unusual dress watch, though I must admit that the hours are harder to read than a normal 3-hand watch due to the small window and reflective metal surrounding it.
The sides of the case are fluted, with high-gloss polish everywhere. The crown is onion-style, which is easy to wind and set, and does not screw down. While it’s probably splash-resistant, I’d not get this watch wet.
The dial has a nice amount of fine detail and is done in a classical style. The minute track and subseconds are circular-grooved, and the face has a mesh pattern impressed. The hands are blue, with Breguet-style minute hand and simple second hand. Overall, it’s well proportioned, not too busy and very functionally attractive.
On the back we see the display window showing a basic movement of Chinese manufacture. You can see that the bridges and rotor have what I would call ‘stamped geneva stripes’ on them, meant to evoke a real Cote du Geneve finish. It looks nicer than plain or unfinished metal, and does show some attention to appearances.
The watch sits quite well on the wrist on the included alligator-patterned leather strap. The deployant buckle is basic but functional. The watch is approximately 38mm by 10mm, and thus slides easily under dress cuffs.
Probably the most compelling thing about this watch is what I’ve not yet mentioned: the price. List price on the Alpha site is $63, and I got this one on Ebay for twenty six dollars! That’s less than a lot of Timexes.
Alpha has a large line of mechanical watches, many of which are Rolex lookalikes. However, there are increasing numbers of original styles like this one, and they cost less than the leather strap of any European brand. This jump hour keeps excellent time, appears well made, and for the price I would unhesitatingly recommend it for anyone interested in exploring the fascinating world of mechanical watches for the price of a Timex quartz.