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Old 15 October 2010, 02:46 PM   #1
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Real Name: Bryan
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PAM 233 Review

Hi everyone. Here is my review of the PAM233 after wearing it a few weeks. I'm still a relative newbie and I am comparing it to my other two watches, a PAM000 and an Omega Planet Ocean. Hope it helps some of you who are interested in this model.

The domed crystal takes some time getting used to. It will distort the view of the dial a little. At certain angles the numerals on the dial will be a "bent" shape. The domed crystal also gives off quite a bit of reflection, and again because of the curvature at the angle where you view the numerals you will get a fair amount of reflection at those points. Technically, it makes it harder to view, but this is just being picky. The domed crystal is also physically thicker than the flat crystals. It tends to also detract from being able to see the sandwich dial well. What I mean is that the light refraction/reflection plus thickness means the sandwich layering of the dial is not as obvious as compared to a flat crystal. The crystal itself rises about 2-3 mm above the bezel.

I haven't had a chance to compare the lume between my sausage dial Zero versus the sandwich dial 233 but anecdotally, it appears the Zero has a brighter lume due to less light reflection. Just a guess here.

The complication after playing around with it is really something. It has normal time function, date, a GMT hand, seconds hand, plus a second GMT indicator. On my particular 233, it is not the dot indicator version which means it will show the 24 hour hand at 9 o'clock. The seconds hand is very small, but it sweeps VERY smoothly compared with my Omega PO. The crown has two positions, and the date indicator is of the type that slowly changes over a period of about 2-3 hours (ie. it is not the instantenous date flip type). The date can be set both forwards AND backwards. Meaning if you need to go back one day, simply wind the crown anti clockwise. This is something I don't think I can do on my Omega PO (sorry if this is wrong I have just not tried setting my dates backwards on my Planet Ocean). When you set the time, the seconds also resets to zero which is quite useful for COSC accuracy freaks. FYI, its not COSC certified, but OP do their own set of tests and the full testing details are given to you as part of your watch and package in a nice booklet. I forget what my accuracy reading was but I will maybe dig that out and update this section in due course.

The larger GMT hand can be hidden virtually completely from view if you don't need to use it. It hides behind the hour hand, but a tiny bit pokes out from beneath, but because that part that shows is painted black, you cannot see it unless you really look closely. All in all the ability to hide the 24 hour hand is again something nice about this complication. When requiring the use of second time (ie. GMT) - the hour hand also has a "hour-jumping" setting. Meaning, if you want to move forward or backwards however many hours you need, ONLY the hour hand moves by literally jumping in one hour increments. That is, you don't need to wind it forward a along with movement of the minute hand. Quite neat.

I haven't tested in the power reserve or accuracy. But some ppl have said the 8 days is more like 10 days. The movement is also said to be rather constant over the full 8 day range. The marketing spiel says its to do with the way the three barrels are setup. I will need to test that later and revert. The movement has three barrels and when you flip the case over you can see the winding mechanism and the gears. I think you can see one of the barrels which looks to me (guess here) stacked on top of each other - but don't quote me here.

The winding is REALLY smooth. Much much smoother than my Planet Ocean and much smoother than my Zero. Its really buttery smooth. It does take a fair bit of winding to get it to full. I am not 100% certain, but I think there is some sort of overwinding protection. It feels like when you get to full wind, their is a torque slip mechanism so that you don't overwind the movement. I am too scared to try this until I know what is happening. Comparing to my zero, when the power reserve is fully wound, it will physically not allow any further winding. For me, I love manual winding. Its a bit of TLC for my baby!

The watch is also rated to 100m - which is less than the 300m for my Zero. For me thats not so important.

The watch has only the 12-6 numerals which is actually very interesting and balanced in a strange way. Compared to a 6-9-12 dial, I actually find it more balanced. But compard to the Zero which has 3-6-9-12 numerals, now that I have worn both and compared the two, the base really is a great great watch with a balanced dial that also stands out due to its simplicity.

Overall, I really do think there is a fair bit of engineering with this complication warranting its higher price. When you compare it to some other competitors such as JLC and IWC 8-day type movements, the price point is actually quite competitive given that you get a GMT function as well as the other bits stated above.

I love the OEM calf leather strap that comes with this watch. It's really unique and I don't see any after market straps that have that indentation pattern. The strap has one less hole than normal which for me means its slightly too loose to wear - damn. BUT, it is soooooo soft. Now, for some strange reason, at the tail end it seems to be much thinner - leading me to think that maybe the strap can also be used for deployment clasps(?). Possibly it was designed this way for dual use. For those interested, it can be bought from OP and I would recommend it on the basis that after market don't have anything like it in terms of the style. I do recall it also costing much less than an OEM croc. For me though it feels just a little too thin on the underside of your wrist due to the thinness at the tail ends of both sides of the strap so would probably feel more "balanced" on deployment - but I have not tried.

It definately thicker and wears thicker than my Zero. The underside of the watch curves outs in a slightly "bowl" shape so it wears slightly thicker than it looks. The domed crystal also sticks out about 2-3 mm from the bezel line so wearing under shirt cuffs can be a challenge but for most of my shirts its manageable except but a few. Due to the crystal being so tall, at certain angles the dial looks very "deep" which gives it a very interesting look on certain angles.

I am not 100% certain but those interested in the PAM270 with the automatic movement, would best check if it is even thicker than the 233 because you would then probably struggle to get it under a shirt cuff.

The 1950's to me looks nicer than the zero. Its has a few curves which gives it a more stylistic design. Note also that it has a combination of polished and brushed metal on the casing which seems to have the effect of certain straps matching it better/worse than compared with my Zero - which is all polished. I think it more "sporty" than "classic" in style.

Overall this is a modern iteration in the OP range. So for purists its really not a PAM of old. For those who like a modern design with the Luminor shape its really one of the more technically advanced complications you can get. The domed crystal that many find attractive is not as practical in the first instance than you would think and does take some time getting used to. On the flip side, it really is an attention grabber. There are few watches with a dome and presence as this watch. Overall, a sweet watch but for someone wanting to build a collection, I would still recommend starting out with base models.

PS - I'll get around to updating some comparison pics with the Zero when I get the chance.
Grand Seiko
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Old 16 October 2010, 01:11 AM   #2
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Real Name: Phil
Location: CA
Posts: 5,325
Nice the 233
thanks for posting...
too much into watches...
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