THE TIME BUM REVIEW
March 31, 2018
I’ve featured several Szanto Watches on The Time Bum, mainly because I like their retro style and affordable price point. Their watches tend to be on the romantic side of the vintage design trend, but they never stray so far into the whimsical as to be a steampunk costume piece. Rather, they produce stylish everyday watches that don’t take themselves too seriously (note the new mustachioed packaging) and won’t break the bank. For this review, they provided three new models: Desert Sands, Vintage Dive, and Motorsport.
Fans of the brand will notice the new Szanto logo, which adopts a hand-drawn, 19th-century flourish that reminds me of the one used by Norton Motorcycles. All three of the watches have mineral crystals and Japanese quartz movements. Szanto does not specify, but based on past experience it is a good bet that they are Miyota.
The 44mm Desert Sands is the largest of the three and to my eye, the prettiest. I love its serif Copperplate Classic typeface, aged lume, oversized 12 and 6, and the way that 6 completely swallows the date window. My only complaint is that the sword hands seem a tad undersized. I’d be happier if their tips grazed their respective markers.
The mottled finish on the model 4511 sample is an antique bronze IP coating, not a living patina so it will never change. Bronzo purists may balk, but not everyone can wear bronze or brass against their skin. Those who are allergic to certain metals, or who have had their wrist turn green after wearing a bronze or brass watch on a hot day, may find that Szanto’s IP coating allows them to enjoy the patina look without the discomfort. A dark grey case is also offered. A signed push-pull crown helps seal the watch for a healthy 100m water resistance.
Szanto always does a nice job on their straps, and the Desert Sands’s 22mm is a good example. Its matte oil-tanned leather displays a lovely pull-up effect and will wear the inevitable scratches and nicks as rough and tumble character. The sturdy signed buckle is finished to match the case.
The Desert Sands 4500 Series sells for $295. It is also available with a white dial, a dark gray antique finish case, and in a non-chrono, small seconds version ($250).
The 43mm Vintage Dive watch sticks with the traditional design model, presenting an uncluttered face of applied gold finished markers in the familiar dots/bars/triangle layout. Polished gold pencil hands, a lollypop second hand, and a 3 o’clock date window complete the picture. The dial is a shimmering sunray blue. Szanto offers the watch in a black dial with silver markers and hands, too.
Like the Desert Sands, it wears an antique IP coating that looks particularly fetching in the way it highlights the 120-click bezel’s raised markers. Bezel action is firm with very little back play. The watch is rated for 200m, and the signed, coin edged crown screws down. Hand length is excellent, as is the SuperLuminova glow.
The 22mm strap on this one is has a soft, smooth finish and is marked as being “treated for use in water.” I didn’t submerge it, but I like the idea. If you are buying a diving watch, I believe it should arrive on something ready to take underwater, even though I rarely do so myself. The buckle is identical to that on the Desert Sands.
The Vintage Dive 5200 Series sells for $295 in antique bronze or gray, and $275 in uncoated brushed stainless steel.
As you may have gathered from Szanto’s uncomplicated naming convention, the Motorsport is a racing chronograph. It has a 43mm wide brushed and polished case with an engraved tachymetre bezel. Red accents abound like the ringed buttons, second and subdial hands, and the numbers on the chapter index. A polished bevel runs the length of the case. It is rated for 100m.
I hate to say it, but of the three, this one was a miss for me. I like that they managed to squeeze a full set of applied and lumed numbers and three good size subdials without any clipping, but those large, squared-off numbers seem to fight everything else for your attention, and they look incongruously modern next to the old-fashioned logo. I like its long hands, generous application of lume, and 22mm three-hole rally style leather strap, but I could not get past the numbers.
The Motorsport 3000 series offers black, silver, or cream dials; panda and reverse panda subdials, and three-hole or perforated straps in black, tan, or brown. I’d suggest the silver face models as they appear to wear the big numbers a bit more comfortably. All are $275.
You can purchase any of the Szanto watches directly from SzantoTime.com, or through one of their authorized retail partners.