Friday, 20 July 2012

Parnis Wristwatch Review (4) Improvements

Further Mindthots - Spring bars, Straps, Noisy Rotor Bearings and Regulating.

Spring bars
The spring bars that come with the Parnis are rather slimline, and easily removed. As a consequence of their slenderness, the original strap has a fair amount of loose play about them. Wary of the flawed lug hole mentioned earlier, I wanted to fit stronger spring bars to keep the leather strap more securely in place.

Original spring bar on the left, aftermarket spring bar on the right. The Parnis takes a 22 m.m. strap.

With the uprated spring bars in place, the original strap has less play - it just feels more secure. The Parnis Power Reserve is not the lightest of watches, so I'm particularly keen on decent spring bars.


Depending on the seller, I've seen the Parnis Power Reserve offered with either black or honey brown leather straps, fitted with conventional or deployment buckles, or a Nato style synthetic strap. My personal preference was to go with a honey brown leather strap, reasoning that this Parnis looks too dressy to suit a Nato strap, and that if I wanted a black strap, I already had a decent one of the correct (22mm) size.

As it turns out, the honey brown strap supplied is better quality than I'd expected; stitched as well as glued, leather rather than "leather like"; it's quite comfortable, with a robust brushed steel clasp that matches the watch case.

The factory fitted 22 m.m. honey brown stitched leather strap.
I'm not too sure what strap would best complement this watch. I fitted a black leather ZRC strap with white contrast stitching, then immediately thought "No". I thought the lighter colour of the original strap made the off white dial and blue hands & markers stand out far more impressively, though the grain pattern is a bit unconvincing. The search continues!

I didn't take to this black ZRC  strap when paired with
the Parnis.
The contrast stitching in particular seemed 
to lend the case an ungainly appearance.


Rotor Bearings
Cacophonous bearings.
One thing that often crops up googling Parnis watches is the noisy rotor on the automatics.  Even while driving the unrefined Civic over our neglected Scottish roads, the rotor made itself heard, especially when working the gear shift. Jogging for a train will have a similar effect, the rotor spinning like a top. It's all quite at odds with the grace and poise of the Parnis' looks.

I gave the watch a week of wear in the hope of the factory fresh bearings quieting down. This didn't do much for the noise, so when I read Articman's mention of silicon greasing the rotor bearings on a WatchuSeek thread, I thought I'd have a go too. After greasing, the rotor noise is less rackety and more composed.

Here's a before and after comparison. The difference is not dramatic - I didn't want to pack the bearings with grease. While the rotor is a little less free spinning after greasing the bearings, 2 hours of very light use is still enough for the power reserve hand to move from an indicated 21 to an indicated 40 hours.

I thought some video clips would best serve to illustrate this section of the review, rather than try to describe the noise. As with the earlier hand winding clip, I've included some bubble wrap rustling as an auditory reference, the microphone on this camera tends to emphasise the treble in an artificial way.

Bearing noise out of the box, prior to greasing. The rotor is very free spinning! 

After applying silicon grease to the bearings, the rotor still winds the mainspring without difficulty.

Wearing the Parnis backwards to demonstrate wrist winding after noise dampening the bearings with silicon grease.

To grease the bearings, I used blu tack to open the screw back case, some silicon grease I had left over from fountain pen repair, and a plastic CD envelope as a soft, lint free applicator. I didn't want to remove the rotor for this undertaking - my good screwdrivers are magnetised, I'd read that the blued screws are painted rather than heat treated, and I didn't trust myself not to mess something up.

From foreground to background: the Parnis, some silicon grease, a plastic CD envelope, and blu tack.

First step - screwing off the exhibition case back. I didn't want to stress the glass, so I applied the blu tack to only the metal area, and twisted off the case back.

The case back, some Blu Tack, and the exposed movement.

A closer look at the movement shows the rotor bearings (about 17 of them, arranged in a ring) a little more clearly. In the photos below, some of the bearings are highlighted in green.

Arrowed & circled - one of the Parnis' winding rotor bearings.
Some more of the fellows.

Greasing the bearings involved dipping a corner of the CD envelope in silicon grease, introducing it perpendicularly to the valley in which the bearings sit, and then giving the watch a shake to revolve the rotor, in the hope of evenly distributing the grease. I gave it three thin applications, at different points in the valley's circumference.

A tiny amount of the (transparent) silicon grease got on the rotor, so I wiped off the excess with a little blu tack.
The greased CD envelope corner, circled in green.
It's about time I got some proper Rodico  for this sort of thing!

After hand tightening the case back into place, I torqued it down with the blu tack (I very much recommend hand tightening first if using blu tack, to minimise the risk of cross threading the case back). Notice the neat scalloping on the double bridge of the balance and winding rotor in the following photo, the exhibition case has a lot to show off!

Finishing up...
... All done.


I've kept the blu tack handy, as I'm still regulating the movement. I'm quite clumsy and out of practise! The watch arrived gaining 8 seconds a day, resting crown up overnight. At the time of writing, I have it losing 5 seconds a day, dial up overnight, going by

Parnis Wristwatch Review (3) PR feature focus

Power Reserve sub dial accuracy test
The Parnis' power reserve sub dial.

This Parnis is my first wristwatch with a power reserve gauge. Although it's not strictly necessary, I have to say the concept really appeals to me. It's functional, decorative, fun and reassuring, like an ink window on a fountain pen. As well as an indicator of the hours left before the mainspring winds down, I found it a handy  measure of the speed with which the Parnis hand winds using the crown, or self winds during wear. Have a look at the clip below to see how the gauge rises as the crown is wound (the rustling bubble wrap is included for good measure as an auditory reference).

As a test of the power reserve dial's accuracy, I took off the watch and left it to wind down from fully 'charged' - an indicated maximum of 40 hours. Every so often, I came back & took a picture - click to zoom any photo.

12.01 a.m., Saturday.

The test begins one minute into a new Saturday, with the gauge at full power - the hand never goes past the 40 hours marker. With a half decent photo taken, the accuracy check is off to a great start, and I'm off to bed.

1.03 p.m., Saturday.

A few minutes past 1 p.m., lunchtime Saturday, and the sub dial shows 27 hours in reserve. So far, so good! 13 hours have elapsed since the last photo was taken, 13 indicated.

12.01 a.m., Sunday.

Checking in the Parnis a minute into Sunday. The needle points to a 17 hour reserve. 24 hours have passed, so there is an hour's discrepancy here - the mainspring has been unwinding for 24 hours, while the dial suggests only 23. Still, not bad!

12.00 p.m., Sunday.

I next checked the watch at midday, Sunday. With an indicated 5 hours left on the PR dial, I could see it was becoming gradually less accurate towards the lower end of the scale. It has been 36 hours since the start of this experiment, the dial suggests about 35.

4.00 p.m., Sunday.
I was expecting this to be my last photo in this section. It's a little after 4 p.m. on Sunday - 40 hours since the test begin, the dial suggests 39.

With the gauge showing about an hour of run time left on the reserve, I was beginning to suspect that the claimed 40 hour capacity was overly pessimistic...

 ... In fact, the Parnis was still going strong - and keeping good time - 49 hours after it was fully wound! So as not to labour a point, here's the Parnis ticking away at 41, 45, 49 and finally at a dead stop at 51 hours, 15 minutes after winding.

5.00 p.m., Sunday.
9.00 p.m., Sunday.

1.00 a.m., Monday.

The Parnis  finally stopped during the night, at 3.15 a.m.

Notice that while the needle never exceeds the forty hours marker, at the other end of the scale, it will drop below zero as the watch runs into the second day.

Conclusions? Well, I'm more than happy that the Parnis' true power reserve exceeds two full days. While the power reserve indicator isn't right on the button, I do prefer by far that there is slightly more in reserve than indicated rather than less. Of all the options for the top sub dial - perhaps a day-of-the-week wheel as with the Jaragar, or a hard to discern date hand - I think whoever designed this model came up trumps with the power reserve.

Next up - some final mindthots on fettling the Parnis to self wind a bit more quietly, fitting stronger spring bars for the strap, regulating, &c.

Parnis Wristwatch Review (2) Main Highlights

This watch came with no box or instructions. The website I bought it from lists a only a scant few specifications; a sea gull 2542 movement, a 1.4cm thick, 4.3cm 316L (low carbon) brushed stainless steel case, a polished bezel, and a mineral glass crystal. It's explained that the top sub dial shows the mainspring power reserve, the bottom has a sub seconds dial.

As it happens, there's far more technical information to be gleaned from blogs and forums like WatchuSeek and PoorMansWatch Forum than most retailers offer. I especially recommend the article at  for this, along with the review and disassembly of a very similar model at In user terms, I found that the case feels strong, and the movement keeps good time. I was pleased to see that the case back has a decent rubber gasket to keep moisture out; my overall impression was that the Parnis ought to last as well as any other wristwatch.
The case back gasket.

I have read conflicting information as to whether this movement self winds in both directions, or free wheels in one and winds in the other. In any case, it self winds at a rate of about 9.5 indicated hours for every hour worn, so reaches full charge very quickly. It also hand winds without too many turns of the crown - I'll include a short clip in the next post, which focuses on the Parnis' power reserve feature.

Hands up! I readily admit that the Parnis' strong visual appeal was the main attraction in my purchase decision. It really is a beauty; I'm hard pressed to think of any watch at this price range with such style. The bunkum is kept to a minimum - there's no "Swiss made" claims here.

In most light, the hands and numerals exude a deep lustrous shine.
This particular power reserve model is also available in a black dial/silver hands finish, but there was no shadow of a doubt in my mind that of the two, I'd be buying this one. The stand out element is the well executed contrast of colours and textures. The off white/cream face is set off to perfection against gleaming blue swallow hands, markers, and Hindu numerals - over the fortnight, the juxtaposition of the matte white and startling blue kept my eye lingering long after I had checked the time.

It's hard to believe the Parnis sells for 47GBP including delivery.
Although I'd prefer the concentric ring patterned sub dials weren't so distinct from the rest of the face, they match the polished bezel and crown nicely. In turn, their polished steel makes a pleasant visual contrast against the brushed case. The same contrasts are even in evidence on the strap buckle, which I may retain if I swap out the strap.

Before I start babbling some ill considered falderal about flow, I'll shut off the verbosity spigot and make with the photos.

The Parnis' brushed steel case with polished dial and crown.
When the time looks this good, it hardly matters if your train is late.

Back of house, the Parnis doesn't disappoint. The exhibition back has almost as much glass as the front, and it's not wasted on the Seagull derived movement.

The Parnis' large screw off exhibition case.
The juxtaposition of opposites continues in the coarsely brushed and finely scalloped rotor.


Unfortunately to look as good as a watch five times the price (or more), some economies are in evidence. On the bright side, some are far less evident than others - it takes more of a watch enthusiast than I to spot the use of mineral rather than sapphire glass without a little previous background reading. The same goes for the painted, rather than heat treated, screws used in the movement's construction.

The above are economies by design, and are well chosen as slight sacrifices in quality most wouldn't give a hoot about. More vexatious are the Parnis' economies of manufacture - stringent quality control at this price seems to be too far a stretch to still make a profit, and a google search does throw up the odd duffer.

To use my own experience as an example, the first watch I was sent had a prominent (to my eyes) printing flaw that I felt brought down the whole watch. I don't expect the impossible - for example, I wouldn't have minded a movement that needed regulating. Dial restoration is well beyond my abilities however, and the watch went back across Eurasia for a replacement.

Poor dial printing on my first Parnis.
Neither is the replacement perfect, I have to say; compare the watch band spring bar lug holes below.

A well made lug hole...
...and a poorly made lug hole.

As a consequence of this poor workmanship, I upgraded the spring bars. The Parnis is hardly diminutive, so it was important to have spring bars that held the case to the strap securely. I'll save the spring bar swap for a later post, but the Parnis' size does bear some consideration before purchase - let's round off the main review with a thought or two on this subject.


From left to right, a 1950's Majex and a 2012 Parnis.
The sheer size of the Parnis was the one factor that most made me hesitant to buy one. With its 43 mm case, the Parnis is simply the largest watch I own, and while I'm glad I took the plunge, I wouldn't consider anything bigger on my 7 inch/178 mm wrist.

Men's wristwatches are on a steady trend, they just seem to grow with every year! Here's a comparison with my grandfather's vintage Majex (about 30mm in size, & badly needing a new 16mm strap).

If you are reading this review with a similar ambivalence over the Parnis' size, I took the following photos in the hope that they provide some sense of proportion "on the wrist" - I tend to wear watches before the joint, for free articulation. Be forewarned that these aren't the best photographs I've ever taken, there were real difficulties focusing on the watch face.

A 7 inch wrist, sporting an exotic Glasgow tan.

My personal rule is that a watch shouldn't be so large that the strap lugs overhang past my wrist. The Parnis manages this with a few millimetres to spare, and at 14mm thick, doesn't force the cuff of a shirt or pullover sleeve to ride up - it safely avoids the "look at me with my big watch, aren't I the big shot" look.


Sleeves haven't had any trouble fitting over the Parnis.

The Parnis in hand.

That face is a big hit with me.

The very free spinning rotor accounts for some of the case's thickness, and most likely contributes to the Parnis' overall heft; this is not a lightweight timepiece.

On the wrist, I found I got used to the Parnis pretty quickly, though. It isn't substantial enough to irritate, and on balance I came to appreciate the convenience of the auto winder far more than I did begrudge the additional thickness and weight.

A 43mm case on a 7 inch wrist.

The wide strap makes for comfortable wear, and the glass case back is warm on the skin in colder weather - a decided  bonus in these climes, believe me (this is especially important to me, I can never wear steel bracelets. They seem to act like huge heatsinks, & get my wrist so cold the joint aches!).

All told, there were no problems over the fortnight. The Parnis never felt a nuisance on the wrist, and I came to look forward to wearing the watch in the morning. I'm sure that I'll continue to do so. Although it ran a little fast - 8 seconds a day, crown up overnight - the gain was encouragingly consistent day to day, and over the power reserve range. In other words, all the movement should need is a little regulating to run even more accurately.

Next up - a closer look at the Parnis' power reserve dial feature, with some capacity and accuracy surprises...

Parnis in British Summer Time - a wristwatch review

Here's a post I've been looking forward to writing! After about two weeks of use, I'd like to write up a review of the Parnis 'Power Reserve' wristwatch. This is another Internet sourced Chinese brand, like the cheap and cheerful Jaragars I've previously blogged about. At 47 GBP (73 USD), including delivery, this Parnis is in a different price bracket - though still parsecs away from from that of most mechanical watches.

So here it is; a hacking, self-winding mechanical wristwatch, with a mainspring power reserve indicator (measured in hours) and sub seconds dial. I'll try to condense an enjoyable fortnight's worth of impressions, tweaks, photos, and footage to the essentials.

The Parnis Power Reserve, also known as the 'Portuguese' model.

The odd moire effect on the sub dials in the photo above seems to be a result of the small picture size; as a cure all, "click to zoom" is available for every image. The concentric sub dial rings are represented far more realistically at the larger size.

From the start, let me say this will be no mash note, I'd be remiss to skip over a few notable bumps along the way before getting an example I was happy with. For easy digestion, I'll divide this review into the following themes:

The movement is shown off with a large glass exhibition case, which I've removed here to get the rotor decoration in focus!

This Introduction - Some background about the "brand", the Grand Unboxing (that's all the rage these days, right?),  my experience of shipping times and the seller's aftersales & returns process. Scroll down to read on, or click the sub headings to skip past.

Main Highlights - What to expect when the parcel arrives. How the Parnis wears, its looks, materials used, proportions, weight, and the movement's capabilities. What's great about the Parnis, and what's not.

Power Reserve Feature Focus - A more detailed look at the Parnis' power reserve, and a test of the PR indicator dial's accuracy.

Improvements - If you've stopped by this blog before, you'll know I can't leave things alone. Fitting decent  watchstrap spring bars, greasing the loud winding rotor's bearings (this includes short before and after clips), and regulating the movement.

Thanks, No Thanks! - References for the external site links used in this review.

Now read on...
I've no idea how "Parnis" watches first came into being. Maybe someday the Internet Archive will support keyword searching and offer up a clue. As good an answer as any is "The same way Jaragar did, or AK Homme, or Winner, and all the other mushroom brands". As things stand, the brand is churned out by a nebulous confederacy of anonymous factories, and sold through eBay and some China based online retailers.

Of these, I went for a popular retailer, as they've been around for a while and offer a year's warranty. I don't want to delve into this subject too much, as the purpose of this post is to review the watch, not the seller I bought it from...

Packaging was excellent; the Parnis arrived in a thick polystyrene case.

In short, after a protracted delay while the seller checked the warehouse for a decent example, the first watch I was sent had an obvious flaw in the dial printing; they agreed to a sensible suggestion not to post a replacement until sending a photo, then ignored it; they specifically asked that the faulty watch be returned by signed for post (20% of the watch's cost), saying this would be refunded; it took many weeks, repeated emails, and a scanned receipt for this refund to (partially) appear.

A length of bubble wrap was wound around the watch itself.
Having gone through their returns process, I wouldn't consider dealing with them again. In fairness, the packaging they use is excellent, and should prevent any transit breakages, and the replacement sent is much better. It was suggested to me on the watchuseek forum that retailers that sell Parnis watches exclusively would have more to lose from poor service, and I'd keep this in mind if I wanted to buy another Parnis.

Shipping times:
After ordering, the faulty first Parnis took just 8 days to ship from China to Scotland.
Returning the faulty Parnis (using the Royal Mail's  international signed for small packets service) took 11 days from Scotland to China.
The replacement Parnis took just 7 days to ship from China to Scotland.

The Parnis had clear film over both crystals, and a final plastic sleeve.  

Hopefully the logistical rigmarole I went through above gives a helpful example to potential Parnis owners of what to expect during the purchase and return of these watches. In the next post, impressions of the replacement Parnis after about a fortnight of use.