(originally posted by rhaythorne on RLT Watch Co. forums, 18th. September 2004)
Ventura was formed 14 years ago and claims that its watches “don’t pretend to draw on tradition” and are “distinct from short-lived fashion trends” being “contemporary and timeless at the same time”.
I guess we’ve all seen similar emotive claims from watch manufacturers before. So what is Ventura’s new digital quartz model, the v-tec Alpha, really like?
The v-tec Alpha is presented in a quite small and plain, black cardboard box adorned with a single silver “V”. I for one am pleased that Ventura hasn’t wasted time and money on producing a lavish box that will spend all its life in the bottom of a drawer!
Contained within the lid of the box is a clearly written and concise instruction manual detailing the watch's various functions. Also included with my watch was the print-out showing the results of its water proofing test.
Case and Strap/bracelet:
My watch was fitted with a very nice quality Ventura branded 24mm brown/maroon leather strap with folding steel, signed buckle. Black leather, black Alligator and Durinox ® steel bracelet options are among the available alternatives. Unlike some other contemporary designs, the strap does not appear to be fitted in any proprietary way, so I imagine another strap or bracelet of the owner’s choice could be substituted if required.
The case is made from Durinox ® which is stainless steel, hardened by a Ventura Trade-Marked process developed in 2002 from their similar process for hardening Titanium. It has a satin-like matt finish and appears to be exceptionally well crafted. Optionally, a case with two discreet rows of diamonds is also available although personally I think this would spoil the otherwise clean lines of the case.
The case is angled is such a way that the display is tilted slightly towards the wearer. I think it strongly resembles the Spaceman Audacieuse from the 1970’s and, to a lesser extent, the LED “driver’s style” watches from the same era. In this respect at least I think the v-tec Alpha doesn’t so much “pretend to draw on tradition” as proclaim it from the rooftops.
The rear of the case is attached with four small screws. It bears a “V” legend and “ventura design on time”. Below this is printed the name of the designer (Hannes Wettstein) together with the usual variety of information like depth rating (30m./100ft.incidentally) etc. that’s so often emblazoned on the face of many watches.
I am thankful that Ventura has chosen not to festoon the front of the v-tec Alpha with this kind of unnecessary clutter like so many other digital watch designers! The front and sides of the case have no such markings, bearing only a single, recessed “V”, leading to an extremely clean, simple and attractive design.
The most noticeable feature of the case is the thumbwheel that operates the EasySkroll® system. This wheel can be pushed to activate certain functions or rotated, which causes the display to scroll through its various modes. The EasySkroll® system is a superb innovation which is extremely simple to use. I wish all digital watches had this feature.
On the left side of the case is a small recessed button that operates the backlight. Unfortunately, the position and design of this button makes it quite tricky to operate without also inadvertently pushing the EasySkroll® wheel.
The case is 39mm high and 34mm wide.
Protected by a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective inner coating, the v-tec Alpha’s FTN digital display is nothing short of superb!
It has large, bright digits that are clear even in dim lighting conditions and, unlike conventional LCD displays, it does not grow pale in bright light. In fact, under bright sunlight, the digits positively shine out as the flashlit photo below shows!
The backlight is extremely effective too.
The display is divided into two rows. The upper row always displays the time, whilst the bottom row can be cycled through its various modes by rotating the EasySkroll® wheel. The available functions are date, countdown timer, chronograph, alarm, and a second time zone. The time can be displayed in 12-hour or 24-hour format with or without seconds and the date can be displayed in three different ways.
Although the display is very bright, battery-life is a respectable 3 years, and low battery conditions are indicated on the display.
Having owned the v-tec Alpha for less than a week it is perhaps a little early to draw any long-term conclusions, but I can say that it is both light and comfortable to wear, has a very clear, easy to read display and revolutionary (pun intended) system to operate its comprehensive functions. It has a very attractive design that drew several admiring glances and enquiries on its first day out. It does everything that I want a watch to do, and it does it with style!
Superb build quality
Bright, clear display
EasySkroll® operating system
Position of backlight button
Alarm is too quiet