Hobbies-R-Us

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3:37 AM

From the Front Lines

Posted by Rennaisance Man

Android Frontline LE Automatic
SII NH35A 21.6 kbph 24j automatic

  • Ref#: AD713BKS (BKS = brush finish, gun metal IP and silver dial variant)
  • Limited Edition: 300 (total for all four variants)
  • Diameter (W/O crown): 49mm
  • Dial Diameter: 38mm
  • Case Thickness: 19mm
  • Lug to Lug Length: 55mm
  • Lug Width: 24mm
  • 316L stainless steel with gun metal IP coated case, fixed bezel and bracelet
  • Thick, hardened mineral crystal W/O date cyclops
  • Screw down case back (without IP coating)
  • 5mm thick 24mm bracelet (no taper) with signed 2-button Z-fold clasp with safety
  • Solid bracelet links with solid end links (removable links use standard “split pin”)
  • Weight (with all links): 325g
  • SII (Seiko) NH35A: 24j 21.6kbph mid-beat automatic with date, hand wind and hack
  • Seiko Diashock shock protection
  • Screw down crown signed with Android logo
  • Water Resistance: 20 ATM/200m/660ft
  • Partially lumed skeleton broadsword hour and minute hands; no lume on dial
  • Silver dial with ultra-fine vertical brush finish, Arabic hour indices and second tick marks

Ion Plating (IP):
Ion plating is a type of “Physical Vapor Deposition” (PVD) that specifically uses ionic bombardment during the coating deposition process to facilitate its bonding with the substrate, in this case the 316L stainless steel. PVD is a nebulous term as it generically encompasses several different deposition methods (e.g. sputtering and evaporation). IP is more specific about the coating process used. It’s also called “Ion Assisted Deposition” (IAD), or “Ion Vapor Deposition” (IVD). Ions are atoms that have had one or more of their electrons stripped from them to give them a non-neutral positive charge. These ions can be accelerated using electromagnetic fields to bombard the surface being coated while the coating is being applied. IP is a more specific description of the process but there are still many variables. The specific ions used in IP depend on the exact nature of the process, the substrate material being coated, and the coating material being deposited. They may be an inert gas, a reactive gas, or a component of the coating material. While IP is alleged to be more durable and wear resistant than a PVD that doesn’t employ ionic bombardment, much depends on the exact process used, how well it is designed for the substrate and coating, and how well it is controlled during the coating process. While some watch makers simply use the nebulous PVD to describe the coating, using IP is more specific but still ambiguous. One cannot draw too much inference from the use of PVD or IP to characterize a watch coating without more information regarding the exact process, coating material, and how well it’s controlled.

This is a military inspired design. Unlike a soldier’s “tool” watch, the tall cylindrical case with thin bezel and deep dial are of a style one would expect to find for a clock on a military ground vehicle’s instrument panel. This theme is carried through with the gun metal IP (on this variant), the stencil style Arabic hour indices, and a bracelet with center links inspired by tank track. There are no soft curved surfaces with wide radii other than the cylindrical case body and bezel. The wide lugs are angular and beveled. The overall effect is a chiseled, hard and strong industrial look, and it’s emphasized by a 325 gram mass. While the lug and bracelet design mitigate the large 49mm case diameter some, the 55mm lug-to-lug length and their shape are more important regarding how it will fit on smaller wrists. This Android is not quite as forgiving as some others in that regard. It’s at the very limit of what my modest 7” (18cm) wrist can handle.


Build execution is the excellent level typical of Android. Examination using 5X and 10X loupe magnifications, and the macro-photography, do not reveal any flaws or rough finish work.


Parts fit together with precision and the dial printing looks quite good. The watch head and bracelet have a good smooth feel on the wrist without hair pulling, or pinching. There is sufficient radiusing and beveling of edges and corners on the case and bracelet to prevent them from feeling as if they are cutting or digging into the skin.


The SII NH35 movement is identical to the Seiko 4R35. Why SII and Seiko use different caliber numbering for the same movements, built on the same production lines, baffles me. The only difference between them is the caliber marking on the movement. The NH3X mid-beat movement family is a step up in features from the NH2X family (aka Seiko 7S26/36) with the addition of hand-wind and hacking. It is proving to be as reliable a workhorse and is rapidly displacing the NH2X family. Even with a display back, Seiko doesn’t decorate their movements beyond a straight fine brush finish to the bridges. It’s as functional a finish as perlee or cotes de Geneve, just not as pretty looking. Under a loupe the machine work is precise and very clean looking, as are the parts edges. By comparison, I’ve looked at some Tianjin and Sea-Gull movements under 10x and at that magnification they are not nearly as refined looking as Seiko, Miyota, or the reputable Swiss movements ETA, Sellita and Soprod (never considered Claro Watch, S.A. reputable, but that’s a sordid tale for another time).


The standout feature of the Frontline is the military inspired graphic design of its case and dial, and a no frills, straightforward, purely functional aesthetic. There’s nothing exotic about the SII engine inside. It’s a reliable, durable, robust workhorse used in many different watches. For this specific variant, the gun metal IP adds character. I’m not as concerned with long term wear on the gun metal IP coating as I would be with other colors such as black or gold. Any eventual wear through revealing stainless steel on corners or along edges, would not have the high contrast of other colors, and would give some graceful aging to the finish (sometimes called “wabi,” a Japanese term describing visible aging as an aesthetic with its own beauty). The one drawback is lack of dial lume, in spite of the hands being quite bright and sufficient to tell time. On the other hand, the stencil styled Arabic hour indices and the dial’s subtle, very fine vertical brush finish have a no nonsense, purely functional appearance.


The end result is a very harmonious combination of dial, hands, case and bracelet in realizing the design concept, combined with a robust workhorse movement inside.

Note:
I have no affiliation, association or financial interest with the Android Watch brand owned by OKO International, its successor brand, Aragon, or any of their distributors or dealers.

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