Today we are gonna look at a rather interesting brand that I wanted to review for some time, but never could get my hands on of their watches until now. But first of all, let’s do the interview with the founder.
- Introduce yourself
My name is Taizo Okagaki, 52 years old. I was born in Chiba prefecture Japan.
My hobby is assembling motorcycles, taking pictures and training Aikido.I also like making things which people rarely care about. My favorite word is 敬天愛人 – Revere heaven, love people. (Favorite motto of Saigo Takamori, 1827-1877)
- What started your watch passion?
The watches I like must be a durable one. The watch can be used in daily work with high utility and cannot be affected by the environment. I want to make the watch which can work well in the harsh environment and that I can use for the rest of my life.
Once I was in Egypt, during the Gulf War, I was doing research for Japanese and Egypt government on agriculture in the desert, my watch’s battery ran out suddenly and I had to spend my life there without the watch. This is when I thought about making watches.
- What makes a good wrist watch to you?
My favourite watch is Sinn and Doxa or older Seikos. I got a King Seiko watch from my uncle in junior high school but I did not understand much about watches at that time.
When I entered college, my father gave me a Tag Heuer 2000 and at this time I could feel the difference between these two watches. Tag Heuer is the one gave me a lot of interest in watches. I also was impressed by another watch, Sinn.
A good watch for me is a simple mechanical watch and the watch cannot be affected by outside environment. Importantly, the watch should have its own philosophy.
- How much watches do you have in your collection? And maybe you could list them?
Sinn 244 is the first watch I ever bought. I also have Grand Seiko GS from my father and my grandfather gave me Omega solid gold pocket watch. I also collect mechanical watch parts and they are my treasures. They help me a lot in making Wancher watches.
- Who is your ideal customer?
I respect all my customers, especially the ones who use our watches every day. Our customers can use watches both in life and work.
I never want to raise the price of the watches with the added value caused by advertising expenses like many other brands do these times. I want to focus more on quality and the real value! Watch is to show the time and I want our customers to use it to watch how their life is growing.
My ideal customers are those who have real interests in watches and can share with us their honest opinions about our products.
- Tell about what you like to do outside of watches. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I love riding a motorcycle and camping with my family in nature, I also like going out and taking pictures. I have taken many pictures of our products on my own.
I like camping in highlands where I can watch stars and listen to the winds at night. At these times I can see the boundary between day and night, which looks like a horizon. This is where I find my inspiration. That time I reach the Zen (無の境地）and find my inspiration.
My grandfather – an antique retailer, my father – manager of a car retailer company, and my mom – a famous artist are three people who inspire me a lot.
- How do you see Wancher watch brand in future?
I think Wancher watch is rather a tool than a fashion object. The watch gives me the feeling of my own life, my own will, not a decoration.
The basics of our watch remains unchanged.
- Be sturdy.
- Time is easy to be recognized.
- Be mechanical.
- Have philosophy in the watch.
When everyone sees WANCHER‘s watches, they can feel the importance of their lifetime.
We will become a brand which makes a watch that customers can keep using for the rest of their life.
Our brand has not been recognized by many customers in many countries. We want our watches to be recognized as watches made by WANCHER with the same strong belief.
- Are there any new watches coming anytime soon?
Our new chronograph watch will be released soon.
It is a white small dial on black face. It is a model of mechanical movement in hand winding. Also, self-winding is designed with a classic cushion case of 1950’s watch.
The other model with a small second will be completed soon.
So today we are talking about Wancher watch and particularly about their highest priced watch, the Storm Jet! Which takes styling cues from classic aviation chronographs like Heuer Bundeswehr and Sinn 103. As we know the Wancher brand creator Taizo really likes Sinn and I think the 103 was the inspiration for this piece. Sinn 103 is actually one of my grail watches I want to own sometime in my life.
The Wancher company is based in Japan and all the watches are assembled there. Most of them use quartz or Seagull mechanical movements. They have many other watches which are homages to Rolex Submariner, Explorer, GMT, Daytona, there are also some IWC, Panerai homages too. They also have some watches that are an original design. The Wancher company actually isn’t known for their watches, but they are commonly known for their ball point and fountain pens. Which actually are really good as I have read in some forums. They also have some leather products too, like bags, handbags and pen holders.
I wanted to review something from this brand for a long time. At first, I was searching for someone who has a watch from Wancher, but I couldn’t find anyone from who I could get a watch for review. While I tried to get some more info on the brand I learned that not many people know about this brand and I was surprised. Especially I was surprised because they make Rolex Daytona homages which look a lot better than Alpha homages. I really can’t stand that bad looking Alpha logo, but the Wancher logo looks really good. It is cleaner. So after a couple of months, I contacted the Wancher and asked if they could lend me a watch. At first, I wanted to review the Daytona homage, but after seeing the Strom Jet and seeing the close resemblance to Sinn 103 and Heuer Bundeswehr I knew that I wanted to review this one. Storm Jet is actually the most expensive watch they have in their entire collection. They also sent me another watch which will also have a review and I will also do a giveaway on it. 🙂
So the watch comes in a pretty nice leather box, the outer box is cardboard. Strangely they didn’t put any branding on the box. If it was me, I would brand the box and everything with my name and logo. But the box right here is pretty discrete and you could not guess what’s in it. You open the box and here is the watch. First impressions were really nice. The pictures don’t do justice for this watch at all. You really need to see it in flesh. When I took in hands it really felt like something that costs far more than this. And when I turned around the watch I was amazed by how the Sea-Gull ST19 looks. This is actually my first review of the watch with this movement. This was the second thing why I so wanted to review this piece. The movement is really interesting with an interesting history. There will be a different article about this movement and history and all that. So stay tuned for that!
The case is made from 316L stainless steel. Diameter is 41mm, the thickness is 13,7mm, lug tip to lug tip is 48,5mm and lug width is pretty good 20mm. So the watch is small for modern standards. The size is just right in my opinion. The proportions of the case, dial and bezel are just perfect. And the thickness isn’t so bad for a chrono watch. The finishing of the watch I think was a bad choice. I would like it to be brushed or even go one step forward and bead blast it. The polished tool watch isn’t practical at all. The bezel is bi-directional. Many watches of this type use this type of bezel. The bezel is coated with black PVD coating, again a very typical for these aviation/pilot type chronographs. On 12 o’clock you have a lume pip which has blue lume and shines pretty bright. On the right side, you have 2 pushers for the chrono. They aren’t screw-down (I wish they were) but the crown is screw-down. The crown, in my opinion, needs to poke out of the case more. It just needs to be longer. Because the bezel goes a bit outside the case, so it is a bit too hard to unscrew the crown. The case back is an exhibition. The case back has a sapphire crystal, you also get sapphire crystal on top of the dial. The water resistance is 100m. I really wish they could somehow make this watch with screw-down pushers so the watch could be 200m or even 300m water resistant.
The dial is matte black with white markers and hands. The arabic numerals have a nice font and they really stand out. The hour markers and arabic numerals are lumed, just as hands and they glow green. The lume is pretty strong and glows for 4-5 hours. The three subdials are at 9,3 and 6 o’clock. The one on 9 is seconds, on 3 counts the minutes for chrono and the one on 6 is 24 hours dial. The logo is written tastefully and it isn’t modern, it is done just as the watch in vintage style. On 6 o’clock you will find “Wancher made”. I, of course, would love to see assembled in Japan or something in that style. The hands are white. The hour and minute hands are syringe style. The second’s hand is arrow-type with a counterweight. Overall the dial is done very tastefully. I think Wancher, in general, makes better-looking homages of Rolex than Alpha does. I really don’t like Alpha’s logo and don’t get why people buy the homages because the logo looks too modern for the vintage Daytona homage.
The Wancher Strom Jet features SeaGull ST19 fly back, column wheel chronograph movement. The movement is really good in my opinion. This is a hand-wound movement so you will need to wind it time by time. The power reserve is about 40 hours. The winding and time setting is nice and smooth and it doesn’t feel like Chinese movement at all. I really don’t get it why many brands use the Seiko Mecha-quartz when they could’ve used this instead. The ST19 is also very discussed on forums as being very good and reliable for the low price. Many people have been using these movements for many years and they still run well. I haven’t tested how much they lose or gain seconds a day. But all that will be discussed in the next article this week about this movement. So you will get a deeper look into this movement. (I will link it here when the article will be published).
The strap that came with the watch is not the best, but not the worst and it has something very interesting too. The strap is black with white contrast stitching. It is padded and looks like something from planes cockpit. The strap goes over the lugs to look wider to hug the wrist better. I kind of don’t like that look so I was wearing it on rally strap from Clockwork Synergy all this time (as seen in the main picture and my Instagram). The leather is pretty soft so there won’t be any problems breaking it in. The buckle is brushed stainless steel. The most interesting thing actually about the strap that’s pretty genius in my opinion. Under the buckle, there is a small piece of leather, so that buckle doesn’t touch your skin. I usually have marks after buckles and clasps on my skin and after wearing this watch, nothing. And it is much comfortable to wear than regular strap due to wideness and that small piece of leather under buckle.
Overall I would say the watch was what I expected. It is made really good, it has a good looking case and dial. As I’m a fan of the Sinn 103 I really liked this watch. I was wearing it for straight two weeks since it came in for a review. Usually, I wear watches for 2-3 days when they come in reviews. But this stuck with me. I really suggest you go check out the Storm Jet and other watches and consider buying one. You won’t regret it! Especially at these prices!
- Case Shape: Round
- Case Material: Stainless Steel 316L
- Caseback: Skeleton
- Case Size: 41 mm
- Case Thickness: 14 mm
- Lug to Lug: 48 mm
STRAP / BRACELET / BAND
- Strap Material: Genuine Leather
- Strap Color: Black
- Strap Width: 20 mm
- Strap Interchangeability: Yes
- Clasp / Buckle: Stainless Steel
- Dial Color: Black
- Crystal: Sapphire Crystal
- Hands: Luminous 3 Hands
- Movement Type: Hand-winding Chronograph
- Functions: Hour, Minute & Second Hands, Chronograph up to 30 minutes, 24-hour indicator
- Collection: Storm Jet
- Warranty: 1 Year
- Water Resistant: 10 ATM
- Designed & Assembled in Japan