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Thread: Itsa Bitsa

  1. #1
    Moderator - Central tribe125's Avatar
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    Itsa Bitsa

    Sometimes you see a distinctly affordable watch on a sales forum and think, ĎYeah, Iím having thatí. Itís oddities that tempt me the most, and this qualifies on several counts.


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    sellerís picture


    Itís not a Vostok. Turn the watch over and it says itís a Precista PRS-17C, and apart from the dial, and some missing subdials and hands, thatís what it is. The back story to the 17C is essentially this:


    • In brand name terms, the best-known predecessor of the 17C is the Sinn 815 from the late 1980s. There were other watches using the same case, including the Tutima 513, the Yema Navy and the Precista Ď88í. There was also an Ambre watch with the same case, and there may well be others. They were simple quartz dive watches, with a depth rating of 200m, and they were smaller and slimmer than most. The watches were variations on a theme, but the cases were identical. The case maker might have been Sinn, but thereís also good reason for thinking that the cases were a generic item originating from Gallet. The Precista was supplied to the Royal Navy in 1988 and 1989, and examples now sell for in excess of £2,000.

    • Tutima used the case for the Tutima Field Chronograph, ref. 768, using the ETA 251.262 movement. The distinguishing feature of the movement is that it drives four central hands - hours, minutes, chronograph seconds and chronograph minutes. There are sub-dials for running seconds, split seconds and 12-hour totaliser. Itís effectively a quartz equivalent of the Lemania 5100, which Swatch discontinued, despite howls of protest from non-Swatch watch companies. Chronographs with this configuration generally have an Ďaeroplaneí tip for the chronograph minutes hand, picked out in orange, red or yellow.

    • Precista was a short-lived brand owned by Southerns, and only existed as a supplier to the British Ministry of Defence. Precista won contracts previously awarded to CWC, and then they lost them and vanished. Eddie Platts of Timefactors secured the rights to the name and used it for Precista remakes, and as a general brand name. He made two versions of the Precista dive watch, the PRS-17A and PRS-17Q (automatic and quartz). He then made the PRS-17C, a chronograph version based on the Tutima Field Chronograph. The case was made by Fricker, the movement was the 27 jewel quartz 251.262, as in the Tutima original.


    The Bitsa Mission Timer

    Ten years ago, some TZ-UK members had the idea of a simplified 17C in the manner of the Sinn EZM-1 Mission Timer. The subdials would go, leaving the chronograph function with just central minutes and seconds. The movement would also have to be modified with the removal of the subdial arbors. A number of design proposals were produced but it didnít go ahead.

    More recently, an enterprising young man decided to make his own. He found that most dials wonít fit the 17C, especially if you want to retain the date. What did fit were aftermarket dials for the Vostok Amphibia and Komandirskie. The one he chose, with 24-hour numerals, was appropriate for a mission timer. As a bonus, the date moves from an awkward 4:23 to 3. You donít have running seconds, but you have the simple clarity of a one-hour mission timer.


    I had a PRS-17Q, but it had a flaw. The date sat a little low, meaning that you could just see the lower portion of the following date. They were all the same, judging by photos on the internet. Iíve sometimes missed that watch, because I liked the utilitarian nature of its tough little case. It reminds me of an old Land Rover - basic, compact, straight lines, minimal curves, cheap and easy to make. And just like an old Land Rover on the farm, you can bolt what you like onto it, even if it says Boctok.

    An impulse buy then, but a very affordable one, and Iím glad to experience the quirky little brute again - in even quirkier form. If it was any more toolish it would be a spanner. The aeroplane hand might encourage me to use it as my airport watch, and since my regular flights are two hours long, Iíll know when my Ryanair confinement is half over. And one thing I didnít realise until I went to set the time - it has an independent hour hand. Even better.

    I donít know if Iíll carry on calling it a Bitsa. I might call it the Spanner MT.


    Data

    • Size: 38mm x 12.5mm, lug to lug 44.5mm
    • Lugs: 20mm, drilled
    • Crystal: sapphire, AR coating on underside
    • Screw-down crown
    • 120-click unidirectional bezel
    • Water resistance: 100 metres
    • Movement: ETA 27 jewel quartz chronograph, calibre 251.262

  2. #2
    Moderator - Central tribe125's Avatar
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    Some more pictures.


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    The hands in motion. Sellerís picture.


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    Dive watch originals.


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    Tutima Field Chronograh and PRS-17C.


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    Movement.


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    Onto ĎRAF patterní strap. Thereís evidence here of me not realising the watch had an independent hour hand. Inadvertently, I set it back a day and left the date riding low. Noticed it on the photo, couldnít be bothered to take another photo.

  3. #3
    That is pretty cool.

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  5. #4
    Moderator - Central tribe125's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlcor View Post
    That is pretty cool.

    If you say so, Iím encouraged to think that it is.

  6. #5
    El bot. geoffbot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlcor View Post
    That is pretty cool.
    My thoughts indeed, once I had heard the back story.
    Follow IWL on instagram! https://instagram.com/iwatchleague

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  8. #6
    Disappointed

    It's neither teeny weeny , nor is it yellow or polka dotted for that matter
    Watches for SALE:
    <PRICE REDUCED> Nivrel 322 Black Dial: http://www.intlwatchleague.com/showt...869#post447869

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  10. #7
    Member wschofield3's Avatar
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    Great back story, thanks for that! Cool watch, too.

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  12. #8
    Porous Membrane skywatch's Avatar
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    That's a bit of fun, isn't it? I am glad the date on this one sits in the middle of the window after all. I once had a 24 hour Russian Aviator with an off-center date and it drove me batty. I like these stealth chronographs without subdials - much less clutter. Enjoy!
    Too many watches, not enough wrists.

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  14. #9
    I like the lug design on that watch. Looks like a fun field pilot type watch.
    Cheers,

    Richard

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  16. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by skywatch View Post
    That's a bit of fun, isn't it? I am glad the date on this one sits in the middle of the window after all. I once had a 24 hour Russian Aviator with an off-center date and it drove me batty. I like these stealth chronographs without subdials - much less clutter. Enjoy!

    Easier for aging eyes to read, too.

    I love my Sinn 303 chrono, but it's tough to see the subdials.

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