Saturday, December 29, 2018

Seven Days with the Collins Automatic

So as honesty is the best policy, I had never heard of Collins prior to the District Time show in Washington DC back in September.  And that is really neither here nor there, but suffice it to say that it was a bit of an unknown quantity to me.

For those others who are just tuning in, Collins is a brand created by Jimmy Collins.  Mr. Collins has, on the face of it, a seemingly unlikely background for entering the watch business.  Harvard educated, Fulbright fellow, film maker and music producer - I think I have that right.  In short, not the typical guy or gal you meet at a watch gathering fronting his own small brand.  But that is what makes watches so much fun!

Which brings us to the review - this is the Collins Automatic.  Per the site, the watches are assembled in the US.

The design is fairly straightforward with a sort of hybrid look and feel of a field watch meets flieger (that's pilot's watch to you).   It is a nice balance of size and substance with a 40 mm stainless steel case, and a very tactile crown with nice, deep grooves.  The crown operated smoothly, setting and winding were flawless.

Some more on the case, the finish is matte, which fits the overall theme of the watch itself.  It fits fairly flat on the wrist and was comfortable all day long.  The crystal is sapphire.

The casebook is solid and "logo'd" with what I assume is a serial number beneath -

In terms of the crown, I have to say that I am not a fan of the crowns typically used on pilot's watches.  The tend to extend too far, feel wobbly, snag on clothing and be impossibly attracted to blunt objects causing more than a few frustrations.  

The crown is definitely of the Goldilocks school of design - not too big, not too small, but just right.

The dial is very legible with large numbers from 1 - 11 with a large arrow at 12 o'clock.  The numbers hands are treated with what Collins refers to as “old radium” Lume Super LumiNova.  The glow was quite good and I did take pictures, but to do it justice I will borrow from Collins -

Courtesy of Collins
Yes, the lime was this good.

One aspect of the dial was a bit of a disappointment, and that would be the date window.

While I appreciate the idea that the four corners would help enhance the legibility of the date within the window, I unfortunately had a completely opposite take on it, finding it challenging to pick out the date itself when looking at it in normal situations.  I also suspect that with more regular wear you would get used to the layout and find it easier to discern the date.

Under the hood, the Seiko NH35A keeps things moving, and the timekeeping was excellent.  Interesting to relate, I have come across more and more small and micro brands moving away from Miyota, and adopting Seiko's movements.  As with the Miyota, this makes sense as you get a reliable movement at a fair and reasonable price.

The watch is secured with a stainless steel buckle and a fairly thick brown leather strap.  While the strap is good looking and plenty robust, I have to be honest that I personally found it a wee bit too thick, making the threading of the strap through the loop a bit of a minor struggle.

I suspect that as the strap is worn more and more, the softer it will be and the easier to "thread the needle", but for those just starting out I urge restraint in the putting on and taking off to ensure the strap loops hold up.


I would say that at the price point, this is a winner.  The Collins Automatic is priced at $299, which is beyond competitive with what the other brands are offering.  

And more to the point, if the crowd of people hovering around the Collins table at the District Time show, and number of watches sold is anything to go on?  It is clearly a watch that watch fans want and are buying.  While it might be a bit off your radar - it was certainly off of mine, I have the feeling that we will all be hearing more from Collins.

Here are the pertinents -

Collins Automatic - Silver 

from 295.00

Assembled, tested, and tuned in the USA

SEIKO NH35A automatic movement
Sapphire crystal
10ATM (100M)  water resistance
Super-luminova “old radium” Lume


Case: 40mm
Lugs: 20mm
Thickness: 12mm
Lug-to-Lug: 48mm

SEIKO NH35A Automatic
Jewels: 24
Vibrations/Hour: 21,600 bph
Power Reserve: 41 Hours

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