Introducing the TACS Limited Edition Automatic Vintage Lens Watch. This is the new Vintage Lens with sapphire glass on both front and back and an automatic movement. This is our exclusive hands-on review of the soon to be announced watch. We will also be giving away the review sample of the watch which served for photography and as a daily wear for about a week while we tested the watch and put it in its paces for this analytical review.
Who is TACS?
What is the TACS Limited Edition Automatic Vintage Lens Watch?
TACS stands for Taste, Attractive, Creative, Sense. And is the brainchild of Yoshiaki Motegi (Yoshi). Yoshi is a Japanese designer inspired by traditional Japanese Zen philosophy. The principles of kenshō (見性), seeing one’s true nature, and mujodo no taigen, expression of this insight in daily life. Yosio lives the moment and embraces his everyday surroundings, and believes everybody should also do the same.
Yoshi draws inspiration for his designs from his travels around the world for 40 years. During one of this long business trips, he started to imagine for using the surroundings as design elements to for a minimalist watch. TACS offers a range of watches, designed by Yoshi using this principle. Every day objects which become design inspirations to interesting and often creative aesthetics for watches.
The TACS brand has a line of watches so inspired by the aforementioned Zen Philosophy. The catalog has several collections viz Tea Time, Hobby Time, Fun Time. Under the Hobby Time, there is a line of watches whose design inspiration is drawn from lenses. Within this line there is the NATO-Lens, the Vintage Lens, the LP-M, the Color Lens and the T-Cam. All equipped with quartz movements. The Limited Edition Automatic Vintage Lens we are reviewing here is the first automatic watch offered by TACS and is a Limited Edition of 500 pieces.
The Automatic Vintage Lens takes the design sense to its max, and quite successfully captures the feeling one gets when one gazes into the barrel of a vintage lens.
The case, dial and hands
On first feel, straight out of the box, the Automatic Vintage Lens feels hefty, and the visual impression is that this is yet another bronze case. But far from it. The case is in 316L Stainless Steel, and is gold plated. The plating is not the bling type of gold we typically see on modestly priced watches, but a matt finish which looks rather attractive, and reminiscent of a bronze case. The heft has a quality feel.
The sapphire glass on the front and back is also new for TACS, all their earlier watches are equipped with mineral glass for both front and back. The sapphire glass is rather special, and made from a piece of sapphire shaped to create the effect of multiple lens elements that one see as one looks into the barrel of a lens. This is clearly seen in the photograph above, where the TACS Automatic Vintage Lens is perched on top of the Hasselblad 28mm wide angle lens.
The bezel is rotatable, and moves freely without any clicks, like the focusing ring of a lens, but is nowhere as smooth as the feel and luxury of operating a Leica lens or the Hasselblad.
The inside of the bezel is engraved with markings which follow traditional markings of a lens. A diameter of 47mm is indicated for the case diameter in place of a standard engraving identifying the filter size. And other markings like “Automatic” and the “21 Jewels” in place of the lens aperture and focal length markings.
The dial is not fully marked with hour markers. Only some rather random minute markers are placed as guides. A “4.5” marks the hour between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock, and the “SIX” indicates 6 o’clock. The other markers are “35”, “42, 43” and “49, 50, 51” and “58” for the minutes. This is rather whimsical, but not unattractive.
We find the lack of contrast between the hands which are half black pvd, and half gold plated to be a little poor, and legibility of time a bit hard to see. No SuperLuminova is used at all, so it is not possible to tell the time in the dark.
We also feel that the illusion of looking into a lens is quite good, and in that sense, the design achieves its goal and might be deemed as successful.
The movement: Miyota 82S0
The Miyota 82S0 is a basic Citizen Miyota movement made in Japan. The movement is selected from a mid-level offering from Miyota, and is gilt finished to match the case. The movement specification is a rather disappointing -20+40 sec/day, but fairly typical for a caliber at this price level. However, during our testing of the TACS Automatic Vintage Lens, we did not observe any significant accuracy issues over the course of 5 days.
The movement is visible from the sapphire case back, and looks to be minimally finished. There are no obvious errors of omission or commission, and the look through the back is rather nice, especially the use of one large screw and three small screws as a design cue offsets the symmetry and makes an interesting visual break. The black and matt gold theme is also carried all the way through.
The competitive landscape
The TACS Limited Edition Automatic Vintage Lens Watch comes with a suggested retail price of US$ 550. In this price category, perhaps these other watches are not reallycompetitors, as probably collectors will buy more than one. Purchase decision is likely to be made by the design rather than other considerations we usually apply to haute horlogerie watches.
We see the following in the landscape:
Seiko PADI Automatic Diver SRPA21 (€ 425)and its non PADI versions the SRP773/775/777/779 (€ 329 – € 399). The Seiko is arguably better finished, and is equipped with a beautifully finished stainless steel bracelet and its own in-house movement. Although Seiko specifies the movement to +45s -30s a day, which is worse than the Miyota specifications. Although, in practice, the SRPA21, like the TACS Automatic Vintage Lens does run without any issues of significantly gaining or losing time as the specs may suggest. The watch is dive rated to 200m while the TACS is rated to 100m. Of course, it comes with the famous Seiko reliability and backing.
Swatch Sistem 51 Irony (S$ 279 to S$ 330), review coming soon. This is the steel cased version of the extremely popular Swatch Sistem 51. Swiss Made, hermatically sealed movement which is made totally by robots is the battle cry for the Sistem 51. Swatch does not publish the specifications of the ETA C10111, but we understand putting it on a Witschi machine will give nightmares. The series is also available in many design options, and Swatch markets it as a fun watch. The original Sistem 51 was updated in 2015 with new colour options. And for 2016, with six new designs in a stainless steel case.
Perhaps even the standard TACS Vintage Lens (US$ 290) may offer some food for thought. True, this standard version uses a quartz movement and mineral glass over sapphire glass. What the standard version also lacks is the design taken to the limit of the inspiration – the vintage lens, with a brass barrel. The movement is also Miyota, but the quartz caliber 2036 instead of 82S0. The 82S0 features a skeleton dial side, and according to Citizen Miyota is better finished than their very basic 2036 used in the other TACS watches. Given the pricing level set by the standard Vintage Lens, the premium asked for seems to be fair.
We find the TACS Limited Edition Automatic Vintage Lens Watch to be an intriguing proposition. Here is a well designed watch, looks good and true to its stated design goals, and with a nice, rather substantial feel. The watch looks well thought through, and reasonably finished. It has a good heft, and looks very well constructed.
The TACS Limited Edition Automatic Vintage Lens Watch will be released on 27 September 2016 (next week) on Kickstarter. The edition is limited to 500 pieces, and will be open for participation by following this link. The estimated retail price for the watch would be around US$ 550, a premium over the standard. However, the Kickstarter campaign will allow early supporters to get the Automatic Vintage Lens at US$ 429. And Deployant readers will get a chance to win one for free! (OK, some rules apply.)
Win the review watch!
As mentioned, we are giving away this review sample. Watch our announcement tomorrow for how to enter to win this watch.
TACS Limited Edition Automatic Vintage Lens Watch: Specifications
Case material: Black PVD with gold plating over 316L stainless steel
Water resistance: 100m
Type: 3 layer dial
Colour: Black and gold
Hands: Black with gold accent
Bezel: Rotatable black PVD stainless steel
Miyota 82S0 with gilt finishing
Power reserve: 40 hours
Accuracy: -20s to +40s a day
American calf leather band with vegetable tanning
Width: 24mm x 22mm