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Review of the Pulsar Analogue-Type Men's Strap

April 1, 1999
©1996-2008 by Marc Rochkind. All rights reserved.

S_Mvc_026f.jpg (70772 bytes)It's hard to be objective about this watch, as it was given to me when I retired from my company last year, after 50 years... I mean, weeks... of service. But, out of respect for TimeZoners, I'll try to put my personal viewpoint aside, and somehow separate my feelings about this watch from my feelings about the company. The two have a strong similarity, the details of which are outside the scope of this review, but perhaps you can use your imagination.

The watch is from Pulsar, a luxury boutique owned by Seiko. The reference number is PRS385S. The case is 35mm in diameter and 8mm thick. At 26 grams, this is one of the lightest watches in my collection. No... make that the lightest. By a factor more than two.

The case is very attractively finished with some shiny black composite, quite likely a super-hard ceramic (similar to Rado), or possibly painted "base metal." (I deduced, with considerable pleasure and pride, that base was considered one of the four precious metals for watches, along with silver, gold, and platinum.)

The crystal has a multi-faceted shape, which you can clearly see in the photograph. There is a flat central part, and then twelve pie-slices to correspond to the twelve hours of the day. The designers wisely bypassed sapphire here in order to get this much more exciting effect.

The Roman-numeral markings are in gold, with black outlines. Unlike some watches, such as the Lange 1 where the gold numerals are just glued on, here they are painted right on the surface of the dial, which is much more reliable. Again, a wise decision by Pulsar.

Note that Pulsar represents 4 o'clock as IIII, rather than IV, even though the extra paint adds to the cost, because it strikes a better balance with VIII, just around the dial. This bit of stylistic genius has been widely copied, most notably by Patek Philippe.The dial itself is silver plastic. It's more complex than just using silver itself, which is found naturally (plastic is significantly more complicated to manufacture), but the weight savings helps keep the watch below 30 grams, which the designers had as their engineering target.

The hands are rather unusual. Instead of conventional hands, the Pulsar just uses the hands of the animal depicted on the face. More about this bizarre feature a bit later.

The only area where Pulsar seems to have skimped here is in the strap, which is genuine leather. Plastic would have been a better choice, as it's lighter, waterproof, and available in more colors. Maybe Pulsar just wanted to put everything into the case and movement, and had to cut corners. One shouldn't be too upset by this, as this shortcut is also taken by other manufacturers in Pulsar's class, such as IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Lange.

Finally, we come to the most controversial design element. I should say right away that it's one I'm not at all comfortable with. This model is part of Pulsar's nature series, each of which features a different animal on the face. Besides a mouse, you can get a duck, a dog, an elephant, or a bear. That much I have no quarrel with, as I like nature and, well, maybe I'm not crazy about animals, but at least they're good to eat. It's this particular choice of art that's objectionable.

mouse.gif (31049 bytes)I did a bit of research on the Internet, and have determined that the mouse on the Pulsar looks nothing like a real mouse. (See photo.) Why Pulsar did this I couldn't really understand at first, but, again, some Internet research proved useful. Apparently, a young California cartoonist named Walter E. Disney began drawing a mouse-like character in the 1930s, and it attained some popularity. (People in those days had no television, talk radio, or hip-hop music, so they were pretty easily entertained.). Today this cartoonist is pretty much forgotten, except in Southern California, Central Florida, Paris, Tokyo, and, apparently, the Pulsar design center. I've looked into getting the Pulsar's dial refinished and having a proper mouse photograph put in place of this ridiculous cartoon, but was advised that the plastic probably wouldn't make it through this rather invasive process.

I think the more you wear the Pulsar, the less you notice the mouse drawing. Indeed after a while, you really just accept the watch as it is. Chances are no one will even notice the mouse--we all know that other people seldom even look at our watches. Let's be honest--the average person who doesn't notice a Lange 1 or IWC Aquatimer isn't going to notice this mouse picture either, and even if he or she does, few people are likely to know what a mouse actually looks like. (Most people still don't have access to the Internet.) So they'll just assume you're one of those nature freaks and let it go at that.

In conclusion, I can hardly put into words how much getting this watch has meant to me, and how much I love wearing it. Unfortunately, as I've said many times before about other watches, it's really a dress watch, and I don't dress up much, so I find that I seldom wear this Pulsar. This has the happy side effect of prolonging its life, and my little daughter will be pleased to find out after I'm gone that she'll be getting this outstanding piece instead of a boring Patek. I know this, because she's made it quite clear that she wants the watch now. Turns out she actually likes this mouse picture! Go figure...

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