Several months back, I had the pleasure of conversing with Mr. Barry Cohen, founder of the Luminox Watch Company. The story of how he came up with his Szanto Watch line was an interesting listen. Cohen told me that two years ago an old friend called him to meet for coffee. At the coffeehouse, his friend, a famous chef, was wearing an old military watch styled from the 1930’s. Cohen noticed it had a worn canvas strap, subdial second hand, and was about 33mm in case diameter.
Cohen remarked to him that most men would not wear a watch of such small proportions in these modern times. The celebrity asked if Cohen could make a newer watch like it for him. Gears slowly began turning…
Since that meeting two years ago, Cohen said his mind began to focus on vintage timepieces, specifically in that Cohen wanted to take the classic looks of the older marks like Gruen, and Hamilton, and Bell & Ross and “contemporize” the vintage designs.
Further, Cohen said that, through marketing, 98% of the population is told what is hip and happening, but they can’t afford it. Mr. Cohen struck out “to provide these looks to the regular guy.” He sought to keep the price points of the watches budgeted for a working man’s salary.
But on which period of time to focus? Cohen settled on the Golden Age of Travel. Cohen narrated that in the 1880’s to 1930’s a well-heeled traveler, in journeys abroad on say the Queen Mary or Orient Express, would pack his belongings in a travel trunk. These trunks were colloquially called steamer trunks after the steam ships upon which some of these rugged chests were loaded.
The image of the steamer trunk, with its wooden construction, leather or cloth inlays, and brass frames and corners, invoked a bygone era and became a strong visual anchor for Cohen’s campaign. He decided that his vintage interpretations would be displayed on, and packaged in, this scheme.
Through his company Time Concepts, LLC, Cohen is bringing the Szanto Watch line to the marketplace. When I asked about Szanto (SAHN-Tow), he said it is an old family surname. Ah…Igen!
I received two watches from Szanto, one a field watch, the other a diving piece. I posted a teaser of the period-looking miniature watch trunks last month. I smiled when I saw the boxes, as they looked exactly how I had pictured them from Mr. Cohen’s prose.
The first Szanto watch I began wearing is the field model 10001. It features a 40mm X 48mm X 10.6mm stainless steel case with black PVD coating and a hardened mineral crystal. A charcoal colored canvas and leather band supports the black signature stainless steel buckle.
From early spec sheets, I believe the Japanese quartz movement is a Miyota 1L45. Regardless of the type, the Szanto clocked in at a +-4 seconds/day by the U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock. Okay, it may be a bit better than that because the combination of my old eyes and its subdial secondhand do not lead to precision measuring. The movement is a hacking one, for those who like the function.
The luminous hands and Arabic numerals stand out against the black dial. I found the lume was adequate in no/low light. I have poor close up eyesight when I wear my contact lenses. I normally need reading glasses to see things within arm’s length. The Szanto’s dial, hands, and numbers are large enough for me to see without the “cheaters.”
After weeks of wearing, the 10001 retains the same great looks as when I untrunked it. Thus far, the PVD coating on my watch’s case has remained unscathed, as has the crystal, although I admit I am not very hard on wristwatches.
I like the charcoal color of the band. It offsets the rich black coating on the case of the watch. The engraved name on the heavy buckle is also a nice touch.
Szanto’s 1000 series of subsecondhand field watches have an MSRP of $225.00. Until major retailers receive their stock, Szanto watches can be found at Arizona Fine Time in Scottsdale (480) 214-0272, Red Velvet Luxe in New Jersey (201) 689-1800, Time After Time Jewelers (610)-825-8994, and Dungarees (573)-443-2565.
I admire Mr. Cohen’s passion for the line and his creative imagery. The tagline for his Szanto vision is certainly appropriate: Time Rediscovered.