Most watches follow very similar formulae, but every now and again we see something completely off the wall. Speaking of which, our editor just spent a week wearing the TACS Automatic Vintage Lens 2…
A Week on the Wrist – TACS Automatic Vintage Lens 2
TACS is a Japanese brand that is launching this, their second watch based on the looks of classic SLR cameras. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and TACS kindly gave WRUK one so I could share my opinion. First impressions are really good. The watch comes in a wooden-effect cube, which seems to be made out of some kind of plastic, but which looks authentic. On each side of the cube, there is a variety of CNC-cut text (which is pleasingly raised) and metal parts. It exudes quality, and sliding off the top cover to reveal the watch is an experience on-par with unboxing an Apple product.
Under the cover, you find the watch, complete with its own leather “lens cap” cover – a really nice touch. The leather is luxurious and soft and again, it exudes quality.
The TACS Automatic Vintage Lens 2 has a more or less square case, on top of which is mounted the 47mm diameter “lens”. The case itself is really well finished, with a solid-feeling knurled crown, a display case-back revealing the uninspiring but reliable Miyota 8-series movement and a nice screwed-on plate with the serial number or an inscription of your choosing. The bezel action is great, it’s not your traditional “clicking” watch bezel but instead a smooth-turning action with just the right amount of resistance to feel like focussing an old-fashioned camera. The crystal is stunning, like a real lens it has a slight internal “double-dome”. It creates lots of interesting reflections as the watch moves under the light.
Usually, I’d be critical of “tacky” touches like printing the diameter of the watch or the beats per hour (BPH) of the watch on the case, but with the TACS Automatic Vintage Lens 2 all of these touches actually add to the charm of the piece. The signed crown felt a little gritty when screwing it down, but otherwise everything about the construction is as solid as a watch costing ten times the asking price.
Dial and Hands
There is not a dial to speak of on the TACS Automatic Vintage Lens 2 – instead, the hands float over a semi-skeletonised section in the centre and a series of concentric rings. It really does look like a camera lens, even if the markings make it quite hard to distinguish the hours. Likewise, the hands are black and silver and they blend into the case. There is no lume to help pick them out, and that makes telling the time really difficult – especially at a glance. On the flip side, telling the time hardly seems to be the point of this particular watch!
Strap and Buckle
A watch this bulky needs a strap to suit, and TACS supply a thick Horween leather watch band on the Automatic Vintage Lens 2. It’s a nice quality strap, which is only let down by the lack of a lining, which would have made it feel a little bit smoother on the wrist. A nice touch is a metallic keeper, which is etched with the strap size. Again, this would normally turn me off but I liked it. The buckle is nice and solid in the Panerai-style and it is engraved with the TACS logo.
What I Liked
- This is a stunning-looking watch that is solidly built
- Everything from the box to the strap keepers exudes attention-to-detail
- It’s a real talking point. Few watches attract attention like this one!
What I Didn’t Like
- The watch is difficult to read, because of its stylistic choices
- It’s not really a daily-wearer, but the legibility and size would make it a poor choice for the office
- Even though it is not really a “watch-enthusiast” piece, I’d have preferred a higher quality movement at this price point
TACS Automatic Vintage Lens 2 – The WRUK Verdict
On any other watch, the low-quality movement, the lack of date, the difficulty reading the time, the oversized case and so on would be huge negative points. On the TACS Automatic Vintage Lens 2, all of these features add charm. It is presented beautifully, and the build quality is absolutely second-to-none. To compare this to a diver watch or a chronograph is to completely miss the point: this watch is first and foremost a fashion statement – and it does the job impeccably. Like the equally stylish (and equally impractical) MAALS Jump Over the Moon, I love it regardless. I highly recommend it if you want something a little bit different and can afford the asking price.
Buy a TACS Automatic Vintage Lens 2
For the next week, you can preorder a TACS Automatic Vintage Lens 2 for $440 – after which it will go up to its full retail price of $550. It’s certainly not an impulse buy, but you can tell where every dollar has gone when you handle it. You can buy the Automatic VIntage Lens 2 at the TACS website.
The original TACS Vintage Lens can still be found on eBay if you want an equally attractive but cheaper option.