Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Royal Oak Jumbo vs 15300

I dropped into Bond Street and compared side by the side the Royal Oak Jumbo (15202) and the new Royal Oak 15300. I tried two different types of 15202 - one with the open nameless deployant and the type with AP-PA style bracelet deployant both in the blue dial and three 15300s in differing dial colours.

Well, immediately it's obvious the original Jumbo is the clear winner in the aesthetics department with the thinner body, shallower dial depth, more subtle and thinner bracelet, two hands only and the skeleton rotor on the delicious 2121 calibre. You can see why Genta styled it this way. The watch is also a lot lighter than the 15300; in fact it feels half the weight. Some have argued the dial is congested by the minute numbering, but I didn't find it intrusive.

Now, compare the 15300. It's only slightly thicker in the main case, but has a substantially thicker bezel and deeper dial and fatter screw crown. Allied with the chunky hands and the chunkier bracelet it makes for a much butcher watch - almost an AP Submariner.

Now my first impressions were with the silver/white dial and it looks simply awful accentuating the bezel thickness and making the watch a whole parody - like a bad replica. In fact, at this point having only seen this version of the 15300 I thought it was game over and a knockout win for the Jumbo. But wait, pretty Nicoletta gets out a blue dial version and wow, what a transformation. The thicker bezel is immediately balanced and suits the updated Genta vision much better. The hands are still a bit 'bright' and pudgy though but liveable withable.

I can also see why some have complained about the new clasp, it clearly won't suit the smaller gentleman, not least because the chunkier bracelet also has a minimum radius which is on the limit for me even at a macho 7 1/4"! The Jumbo bracelet is more comfortable but its slightly flaky catch bothers me. I'm being picky, but it also sticks out somewhat and would also forever be grinding the mousepad - how things have changed since '72. The 15300 hidden clasp locks extremely securely, and the whole ambience of the watch adds up to a lot more 'serious sports' than the gentle golfing or tennis 'light sports' implied by the daintiness of the Jumbo.

Despite no claimed gain in water resistance, the 15300 screw down crown is welcome but, the poor time setting behaviour is not. It takes a lot of practice to set the time so that when pushing in the crown the minute hand does not move forward or back up to two, yes two minutes. This is not a one off occurence, there has been plenty written about it on various fora. Each of the three pieces I played with exhibited this and all had different characteristics. It just gives one a bad 'low quality' impression of what is otherwise a storming movement. And the Jumbo was not faultless either, on one piece the hands were not aligned precisely at the hour. Additionally, the winding rotor of this piece exhibited quite a lot of stick, very different from the free running item of the brand spanker. Maybe it had just been stored a while, but disappointing all the same. You wouldn't want to leave the showroom feeling like it needs a service or with "let's see how it goes" ringing in your ears.

Pros: True Genta aesthetics, elegance, thinness, comfort, movement heritage, "yes, it's a Jumbo", two hands slow time passing, an easy to come by 30%+ off.

Cons: Bracelet catch, movement maintenance needs (hanging barrel tool), no seconds! No quick date, no screw crown, only 50 m WR.

Conclusion: Like finding a beautiful NOS vintage watch - wow!

Pros: despite early problems the 3120 movement is a cool piece of kit, screw crown, more substantial bracelet clasp, second hand, proportions saved by a dark dial, more kiddie proof, quick date, hacking movement
Cons: Compromised Genta aesthetics, pudgy hands, time setting takes practice, only 50 m WR, won't fit 'small' wrists well, bracelet is a wee bit too thick, not a Jumbo......

Conclusion: A Jumbo for the naughties in the essential black or blue dial


KronosClub said...

So, which one will it be? :-D

Could not agree more on all remarks... except for one. I don't like the central seconds hand.

Funny like most people that like watches come to the same conclusions. The white face on the 15300 is horrible and the hands, especially the seconds, are very poor. On the Jumbo the white face is the more appealing version to me. Personally I think you are right, it all comes down to what you are going to do with it. If you have a very active lifestyle and don't usually take your watch off when jumping in the sea, the 15300 is your man. If you do like something more refined and usually care for your watch, then the Jumbo is the way.

p.s. The Jumbo's rotor never was a big "swinger". It's not sticky, but wont start to swivel away like a Valjoux 7750... never had a problem though.

Velociphile said...

Hi D! Yes the white face on the 15300 is truly awful but on the Jumbo is very appealing (and I am naturally biased towards black) so that says a LOT about the design. In my industry all designs are 'passed off' in silver - if it's ok in silver then the design is considered 'right'. The black or blue dials save the 15300 watch completely like black saves the Ferrari Enzo, but the Jumbo is insensitive.

I tend to value utility highly as I don't want to have to think about planning ahead too hard you know. I always seem to have the pink gold '30m' alligator strap doodah comnplication on when hitting the beach or getting splashy messy in the pool or just quickly doing that '5 minute' job that becomes an oil bath .... So, despite my heart falling for the Jumbybumbo and the fact that it probably could handle any situation, it may have to be the beatertastic 15300 just to be sensible - what! a sensible watch purchase?

On the Jumbo rotor issue, the 'NOS' piece was definitely sticky and yet the factory fresh piece was fine.... thanks for your your extensive e-mail advice D-man. Velociphile

Oh, P.S. regarding the GP EVO - nah, no contest.

Nicoletta said...

Hi V.. New to the Watch World and looking upon 'The Purist' I came across your site finding your archives an agreable, intuitive and compelling read. I especially enjoyed your writeup on the Jumbo as I found you gave me a mention. Taken as a compliment I thank you, :D

Velociphile said...

Hah, found out! N, you're too kind. It's great to have you here. See you some time I hope.
;) V