[REVIEW] Athaya Vintage AV002 Lamafa Diver Watch - A homage with an iconic DNA June 11 2015, 0 Comments
Photo credit: Meor
The famous Seiko 6105 divers of the 1970 - 1977 (two important years in my life; the year I was born and the year I entered formal schooling) was one of the most iconic dive watches the world have had the chance to behold. It was built for a purpose without any irrelevant bells and whistles. This made it one of the most cost effective dive watches around. A legend was born.
Personally, I love the asymmetrical cushion-shaped casing and the simplicity of the dial. Would I get one? Without a doubt but here's my dilemma: since the watch is no longer in production for such a long time, trying to find a NOS piece is next to impossible (I am not into used watches). The thought of searching and getting a pre-loved watch would give me too much stress and headache. As such, I have resigned to the fact that such a piece will never come to my possession.
Nevertheless, I am open to homages. A number of people frown on this because of the assumption that it is 'difficult' to differentiate between homages and replicas. In my view, it is not difficult to tell the difference. A replica in the context of horology is a watch made in exact imitation of something valuable or important with the intention to deceive or defraud. To me, if a brand makes a watch that “pays respect” to another watch by using elements of its design or style without stealing any intellectual property rights, it is fine with me. This is where Athaya Vintage comes into the picture.
Athaya Vintage is an Indonesian company created in 2014 from a dream by a true watch enthusiast. Operating out of the city of Medan on the island of Sumatra, Indonesian (http://shop.athayavintage.com/), the owner, Mr. Adrian has already created two homages with limited production runs. His second homage is the focus of my interest as it is a homage based on the legendary Seiko 6105 diver.
This particular model offered by Athaya Vintage has four options with impressive build specifications and priced at just USD350 (add US25 for a secured courier service under the EMS Postal service). After going through the website I decided to choose the black sunburst dial, insert and rubber strap without date window version. After completing the necessary paperwork and 8 days later, the package was on my desk.
After taking off the standard plastic carrying pouch of the courier, you will find a simple white cardboard box with dimensions of 11 cm x 21 cm x 4 cm. Honestly, I didn't expect to get the watch that fast. In fact, what I expected was an invoice to pay the necessary GST tax before customs would release the package. I noticed that Athaya Vintage put a value of USD45 on the manifest with a simple description of the item as "Watch Parts". This could be the reason why customs didn't inspect the package. Although I was thankful I didn't get taxed, such under-declaration may work against the buyer if there is a problem with the delivery. From the courier's perspective, its liability is only USD45 and not USD375 (inclusive of postage). If given the option, I would have insisted Athaya Vintage declare the full value. I may be taxed, but it still gives me comfort that the US25 I paid for the courier service also protects me from the possibility of a full loss of the item in transit.
The watch box by Athaya Vintage is just exquisite. All leather construction with a zip running along the side of the rectangle, it has a lot of useful spaces to keep many things. In fact, it is more of a traveling watch case. Handsomely made with nice evenly stitching with an inner suede lining that is soft to the touch. The actual watch is tucked nicely in its own slot just below the brown suede flap seen in the photo on the right (above).
The watch casing is made out of 316L stainless steel alloy. Brushed finished, it is 44.3 mm wide and 48.0 mm from lug to lug. Its thickness is 13.5 mm with a lug size of 20 mm. The bezel is also made out the same stainless steel alloy and rotates uni-directionally with 120 clicks for one complete rotation.
This watch is called Lamafa by Athaya Vintage. The name Lamafa refers to traditional whalers from the eastern part of Indonesia.
As I have never owned an original Seiko 6105 or even seen one in the flesh before, it was hard for me to gauge the extent of the similarities between the original and this homage. However, some obvious physical differences can clearly be seen. Some of the key differences are:
- Date window: The 6105 has a date window at the 3 o'clock position. The Lamafa has two variants, with or without date window. The variant with the date window has it set at 4 o'clock.
- Markers: The 6105 has square markers. The Lamafa has rounded and triangle markers.
- Crown lock: The 6105 has a bayonet lock system. The Lamafa has a screw-down system.
- Dimensions: The 6105 is 44 mm wide by 47 mm long with 19 mm lugs. The Lamafa is 44.3 mm wide by 48.0 mm long with 20.0 mm lugs.
- Crown rotation: The 6105 takes 60-click increments for one rotation. The Lamafa takes 120-click increments for one rotation.
- Water resistant: The 6105 is capable of 150 meters water resistance. The Lamafa is capable of 200 meters water resistance.
- Hands: The 6105 has straight hands with an additional orange lume on the seconds-hand. The Lamafa has sword-like hands. There is no additional colored lume.
- Dial and case-back graphics: Both have different fonts and logos.
- Rubber strap: Unique styles on both models.
I have to salute Athaya Vintage for making the decision to honour the Seiko 6105 with such a homage without blatantly copying almost everything. This shows maturity and an acute understanding what are the key ingredients that makes a Seiko 6105 iconic.
The Lamafa's dial is stated to be black with a sunburst design. It is only from very close inspection would you be able to see the sunburst effect on the dial. Apart from the obvious brand logo, model name, movement type and water resistant level, you will find the model reference and the caliber number in micro-print straddling the 6 o'clock marker.
The luminous paint used on the markers, hands and bezel pip on the Lamafa is the Swiss C1 Superluminova paint. It glows green in the dark (see photo on the right).
Like the Seiko 6105, the luminous part of the markers are surrounded by stainless steel. There is also a polished bare metal chapter ring that gives a perception of depth to the dial. Apart from the main hour markers, there are minute markers along the edge of the dial.
From a physical appearance, the bezel looks similar to the Seiko 6105 with the Arabic numbers (font) and marker combination, the coin edge as well as the lumed bezel pip at 12 o'clock. Nevertheless, as highlighted earlier, the Lamafa is more precise than the original, able to move at a more tighter increments of 120-click compared to just 60-clicks for the Seiko 6105.
Another aspect of Lamafa's specification which is hard to see is the glass covering the dial. It is stated to be a domed sapphire crystal with colorless AR coating. The original Seiko 6105 has a double domed Hardlex crystal which is obvious to the eye. However, to really see the curvature on the Lamafa, you need to get up close and with the watch face in horizontal alignment. Nevertheless, I am happy that the watch is protected with sapphire crystal which gives the watch that additional premium.
The side profile of the watch shows the cushion shape design as well as the level of polishing on its surface. On the right side of the watch, you will see the unique crown guard that tightly surrounds the crown in the screw-down position. The micro-shot that I took of the crown guard also shows the quality of polishing which is not that great.
The crown design is similar to the Seiko 6105 in terms of the gear-like groves on the side. The top of the crown is etched with Athaya Vintage's logo whereas on the Seiko 6105 is an instruction to engage the crown locking mechanism. As highlighted earlier, the crown on the Lamafa is a screw-down with a triple o-ring protection whereas the Seiko 6105 uses a bayonet locking mechanism.
Under the solid screw-down case-back beats the Seiko Instrument Automatic NH35A movement (or SII NH35A). A 24 jewel automatic movement with hand-winding and hacking capabilities, this caliber is similar to Seiko's 4R36 movement but without the necessary embellishment. It operates in the 21,600 BPH range with 41 hours of reserve power in its mainspring. It has a date complication but in this model of the Lamafa, the date is covered by the dial. As such, the crown has 4 positions: (1) lock-down, (2) unscrewed position - for hand-winding, (3) one notch out - adjust the date which cannot be seen in this particular model, and (4) two notches out - adjust the time. For more information about the movement please refer to the end of the document.
Athaya Vintage created four different versions of the Lamafa. Black dial versions with or without date and blue dial versions with or without date. Production run limited to 500 examples. For both the black and blue versions with no date, the case-back has the etchings as shown above. For the other two versions, their case-back has the etching of just (bigger) the jumping whaler. The particular unit that I got has the number 136/500.
One important information apart from the manufacturer's name, model number, material type and movement is the 200 meter water resistant notation. Looking at the watch and referring to the specifications of the watch, I would say that this watch conforms to the ISO 6425 dive watch international standard. For more information about the international standard please refer to the end of the document.
The rubber strap that came with the watch is long enough for divers to use with diving suits. It is thick and relatively supple. The upper side of the traps has four rows of small pyramids raised along the strap for grip whereas the underside of the band is smooth with one row of pyramid shaped (larger than the opposite side) indentation along the strap. At the end of one side of the strap is a brushed diver style buckle.The buckle is clean without any markings.
Compared to my experience with other rubble straps from Seiko, Orient, Lum-Tec, Ocean7, Bell & Ross, Laco 1925 and Citizen, this particular example appears not to be the same level of quality as the rest. It feels cheap. The rubber is tight going through the buckle and strap guides. However, I was made to understand from another review that this is the style and quality of rubber straps back in the 1970s. For some, this would be an excellent justification for keeping it as authentic as possible. However, from my perspective, we shouldn't disregard new technologies and materials for a homage. What is important is that we only take what makes it iconic. Everything else can be new.
The watch sits well on my 7.5 inch wrist. The strap has a good grip on skin and it doesn't wobble much even if you decide to strap it on loosely. It has a nice weight to it and despite the relatively large width of this watch, the cushion shaped casing cleverly hides this. In fact, the cushion shaped casing creates an interesting point of reference for observers and this gives it the wrist presence.
From a value-for-money argument, this watch wins. The current MSRP price is very affordable. Coupled with the fact that the movement is also from the Seiko group makes it even more desirable.