Thursday, September 29, 2011

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Random Post: Yes Watch

While going through some older images, in preparation for an Adobe Lightroom training seminar I'm teaching this weekend, I came across images of my Yes Watch that I bought some time ago. I had intended on doing some sort of a "review" of this watch but never got around to it. I likely won't be putting one up that is super detailed, but thought I'd post a quick note since this watch is a very interesting timepiece for the photographer or filmmaker.

Firstly, Yes watches are certainly not inexpensive, but they are uniquely functional and very well made. Mine, a slightly modified 'Inca' model, is made of solid titanium, case and band, and has a sapphire crystal with antireflection coatings. It is water resistant to 10 atmospheres (300 feet) as well. Check out the amazing kit you get (the above photo) when you buy one one of these. Not only does it come in a gorgeous, thickly lacquered wooden display box, but you get three watch bands (rubber, leather and titanium), spare link pins with a link removal tool, spare spring pins and a spring-pin pick tool. You can see I removed one link to make the watch fit my wrist better.

What makes it so interesting is the fact that it graphically shows the amount of daylight and darkness in the current 24 hour day, and with its single 24 hour hand, it shows precisely where in the day/night cycle one currently is. Of course this lets you read the sunrise and sunset times as well. It also shows the same data for the moon in a narrow ring surrounding the main day/night display. Their website, linked to above, has more detailed info if you want to know more about all the functions.

Also, there is a small icon for the moon at the bottom, which graphically shows its current illumination phase and whether it is waxing or waning.

Having a 24 hour hand which sweeps through the dark (night) sector and the light (day) sector, gives a tangible sense of where in the day you are. On trips, I would often find myself realizing that I was running out of time to get to that next spot where I wanted to shoot sunset. Wearing this watch gives a much better sense of the day/night cycle and also the monthly lunar cycle. You don't need to try and remember when sunset is supposed to be, then look at your watch and try and calculate how much time you have left. With the Inca, a simple 24-hour hand will graphically show you what slice of the day remains and how many hours and minutes of daylight, or nighttime, you have left without any mental gymnastics at all.

For accurate rise/set calculations, it has preprogrammed coordinates for around 600 cities worldwide, or you can manually enter the longitude and latitude if you are in the middle of nowhere, away from any major city. You can also predict sunrise/sunset, solar noon, moonrise/moonset and the moon phase for any future or past date anywhere on earth. I have found its sun and moon calculations to be very accurate, in fact better than some astronomy programs I have on my iPhone.

Also useful, is a sunrise alarm that sounds a 1/2 hour before sunrise, and another one that sounds a 1/2 hour before sunset.

It has all the usual functions one expects from a modern digital watch: quickly switchable dual time zones, alarm, stopwatch, countdown timer, an adjustable 24 hour bezel that can be used as a quick timer or for displaying another timezone and a unique PET timer (Phase Elapsed Time). This is a timing function that, for example, NASA uses for countdowns to shuttle launches. You can set a future date and time, and you will get a running count of how many days/hours/minutes/seconds are remaining before the event. After the set date/time passes, the timer will start counting up. So time-to-mission, and mission-elapsed time.

I should mention that the Inca does not usually come with a 24 hour bezel and normally you'd need to buy the 'Zulu' model for that, but I prefer the watchband and 24 hour face (not am/pm) that comes on the Inca. However Yes Watch has great customer service and after I mentioned my preference, they offered to build a modified Inca for me with the Zulu bezel. Awesome!

Lastly, some of the more esoteric features (as if all of the above wasn't enough) is that it also has alerts for solar equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarter days. Whew! What a truly amazing and useful timepiece. It may not be the most handsome watch out there (and it's almost too "blingy" for my liking), but I sure do appreciate its functionality and unique look. There are a few functional idiosyncrasies that bother me a little, but then with so many different features and only 4 buttons to operate them, obviously not all its functions can be made easily accessible. Nothing annoying enough to make me regret buying it, that's for sure.

So in closing, although Yes watches are somewhat expensive (from $500 to $1100), I feel that for myself as a photographer, having all those functions available with a glance at my wrist does make the cost worthwhile. I have now had it for about 10 months and it has held up very well. No scratches whatsoever on the crystal, but it does have some scuffs and scratches on the bottom of the titanium watchband. I am not treating it with kid gloves, and it has seen quite a bit of scraping when I'm hiking or climbing around on rocks, so all in all, it has held up well I'd say.

Here are a few more photos, first of the display box when closed...

Here is a side view with the company's logo set in the matte titanium case...

Next is the watch displaying the "Imbolc" cross-quarter day, halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. It displays the text and starburst every 30 minutes (for 30 seconds) during those special days. On the face, you can see that the time is just after 20:00 (8pm), and the narrow outer LCD ring shows the moon rising at about 7:30am and setting at about 18:15. The dark circle means it is more or less a new moon. Lastly, the outer bezel is set to Germany's time zone, so it was around 5:00 in the morning there when I took the below photo.

The temporary cross-quarter display is presently obscuring the normal time and sunrise/sunset display on the photo below. You can see the watch's normal display on the first photo, where it's in its box, reading 18:22:29, and sunrise is at about 7:30 and sets at 17:00. On there you can see the moon is still a little sliver, just before the new moon. Pardon the quality of the shot below... just used a P&S and not my Canon EOS-7D like I did for the other photos...

Lastly, here is the back of the watch. Each watch has its own serial number, which is somewhat rare I think and is usually only found on extremely expensive ones. Nice graphics in the titanium...


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