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Thread: Laco Aachen Taupe LE - first impressions and closing thoughts

  1. #1

    Laco Aachen Taupe LE - first impressions and closing thoughts

    Part I


    This thread follows the posts:

    https://www.intlwatchleague.com/showthread.php?10161-And-what-did-you-buy-today/page560
    https://www.intlwatchleague.com/showthread.php?10161-And-what-did-you-buy-today/page561
    https://www.intlwatchleague.com/showthread.php?10161-And-what-did-you-buy-today/page563

    Stories

    As most of you already know, Laco is a watch brand established in the mid-1920s in Pforzheim, Germany. As a common practice during those years, the company used to buy Swiss movements ready built to encase or – what we would call nowadays – in kit.

    At some point, the original founders– Hummel and Lacher – decided to go their own, separate routes. Hummel stayed at Laco, while Lacher's son started to offer complete watches under the brand Erich Lacher Uhrenfabrik.


    Later on, Hummel founded the company Durowe and eventually became the most popular watch producer in Pforzheim. Durowe, now capable of manufacturing its own movements, supplied mechanisms to Laco and other companies.

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    Wempe schematics

    With their facilities almost destroyed during WW II, Laco managed to return to its main activity in 1949. However, in 1959 was already clear to them that their future wouldn't be a happy one and eventually Laco-Durowe was sold to…Timex. Yes, that Timex!

    It was a short marriage: in 1966 Timex sold the company to Ebauches SA (Swiss) while, at least Larcher & Co was allowed to keep its name. However, as many others, it would not resist the quartz revolution.

    Meanwhile, the small sister company Erich Lacher Uhrenfabrik would manage to survive and in 1988, its executive manager, Horst Günther, acquired the Laco name and rights and a new life was instilled into the company; not for long. The year of 2009 would see its insolvency. Time fora new experience with KIENZLE AZ and time to fall into another hole. Quite a tortuous life, actually.

    Finally, in 2010 Laco was reduced to the bare minimum, but under a new management, the company decided to focus on a group of watches they knew very well: the pilot watches based on their old catalogue,soon to be extended to a group of other categories.

    The fact that the original Laco was one of the five (together with IWC, Stowa, Wempe and Lange) suppliers of the German Air Force during WW II, gave it some sort of primacy (or/and marketing advantage) over other brands, when it came to the modern – and sometimes not so modern - reinterpretations of the old pilot watches aesthetic language.

    Today, Laco offers two pilot lines: the Original -aesthetically close to the designs of the early 40s - and the Basic – more affordable and showing a modernized look. Replacing their "ancient"Cal.5, movements by ETA/Unitas and by Miyota are now their "motors"of choice.

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    The Laco Aachen Taupe LE

    The Laco Aachen Taupe breaks some of the original rules. Apart from keeping the expenses down – which is important –surprisingly, those may have been the main reasons why I decided to get one.

    First of all, I didn't want a reedition/reissue/replica of the watches worn in the 40s. What I did want was an affordable, simple watch, with the Type B dial configuration, because I find it enhances the legibility and that graphic approach does appeal to me.


    Ooops!

    I only had to wait for two days, before Fedex delivered the watch ordered at the Laco online shop. Nice travel case, interesting watch, everything as it should, until I looked at the movement and…there it was: a proud screw was menacing to go away and the rotor was as loose as a rotor can be!

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    Truth be told, some 3 weeks before I ordered thewatch, someone on another Forum was complaining about the exact same problem. However,I could never imagine that, in three weeks, Laco would be so busy, to the point of not having enough time to buy a new set of screw drivers. I was wrong.

    I e-mailed the company, sent a pic and informed them that I would take the watch to my watchmaker and I couldn't care less for the warranty. No response, so far.

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    Anyway, the watch is now fixed, thanks to my watchmaker. He did it for free; he's a great guy.



    The Laco 21 movement

    Let's move on to the watch: the movement it's a cheap (in all senses) Miyota 821A baptized Laco 21. For the Taupe series a hacking function was added, which can be handy. I was curious about this movement, because it's the first time I have direct experience dealing with it.I heard some complaints about how noisy it can be, but after my watchmaker replaced the rotor and lubed one or two points – don't ask me exactly what he did – the noise is almost absent. The shape of the case can also help to keep the noise down, but now I'm speculating.

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    Crown on the hacking position

    The specs for the Miyota 821A are, let's just say,rather modest - yes, that's a euphemism - but still not worse than the ubiquitous Seiko NH35.
    - Accuracy per day: -20 to +40s
    - Posture difference: under 50s
    - Power reserve: 42h
    - Bph:21600

    Laco claims to regulate this movement to an accuracy of -10/ +20s per day. Let's see what the Timegrapher tells us.

    Measurements taken 10 minutes after the movement was fully wound @ 30s intervals.

    Position
    Rate (s/d)
    Amplitude (49º lift angle)
    Beat error (ms)
    Dial up
    +5
    283
    0.1
    Dial down
    +8
    267
    0.0
    Crown up
    +14
    246
    0.0
    Crown down
    +4
    234
    0.1
    Crown left
    +15
    242
    0.1
    Crown right
    +2
    232
    0.1
    Delta
    13
    Average (s/d)
    +8*
    Power Reserve
    45h


    Not brilliant, but actually not bad for a cheap movement. The beat error is great; the delta not so bad and way better than the original specs; the average rate (always on the plus side) is respectable and the only cause for concern are the low amplitude readings, in particular on the crown down position, one of the most important parameters for a stable rate in real life situations, given the fact that most of us wear the watch on the left wrist. Anyway, the values suggested by Laco are perfectly credible. Good job.

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    * After 24h of normal wear, the gain was consistent with the average deviation calculated from the Timegrapher readings.

    (to be continued)
    Last edited by CFR; Nov 30, 2019 at 08:48 AM.

  2. #2
    Part II

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    The Laco Taupe LE is, as implicit, a Limited Edition of 500 pieces (
    Augsburg- 200 pieces type A dial and Aachen- 300 pieces type B dial). To me, the LE thing is completely irrelevant. However, in comparison with the regular versions of the Augsburg and and the Aachen, the Taupe offers a hacking movement; a taupe dial; the Superluminova C3 replaces the Superluminova C1 and it's on a nicer strap, to enhance the package.

    The other specs are coincident: matt finished stainless steel case and sapphire crystal;
    42mm case; 20mm lugs; 11.75mm thickness; 50mm L2L; 5ATM WR and 93.3g (including strap) weight. The difference in price is only 50€ (340 vs 390€).

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    The case is well finished and the small movement is surrounded by a proper metal spacer. Given the thin bezel and the L2L distance,the watch wears large, but it's comfortable. The strap is of reasonable quality and it actually looks nice; the standard buckle is signed.

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    As I showed before on the previous posts, the crown is a faceted dome and not quite a true onion crown as I saw written somewhere. Easy to grip and easy to use, it does not tend to mark the wrist nor the back of the hand.

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    The color of the dial is the principal differentiator element, here: greyish brown or brownish grey, depending on the light, it does not make the dial particularly legible. This was not exactly a surprise, because the pics surfing the net were enough to give a pretty good idea of what to expect. However, after a few hours, I started to get used to it and, the fine black line that helps to define the shape of the hands is a crucial element to effectively improve the overall legibility.

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    The hands and the printing on the dial are of good quality. Not as good as on an IWC, for example, but very good for the price.

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    The lume is exemplary.

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    Conclusion


    One must not forget this is a 390€ watch (the price even includes free engraving chosen by the customer) and, at that price point, it's a well thought out and well executed piece. I do like it. I really do. However, the quality control issues need to be addressed urgently!

    Guess you can take your own conclusion.

    Thanks for reading.


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    And thanks a LOT for your patience!
    Last edited by CFR; Nov 23, 2019 at 05:16 AM. Reason: add pic

  3. #3
    Moderator G-Shock/Digital Sedi's Avatar
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    Nice! I actually like the idea of a "hacking-upgrade" to the Miyota 82XX. Some say they are more robust than the cheap Seiko movements due to their tendency to have the balance string stuck after a blow. I never had any problems with Miyotas (neither with Seiko movements btw). Most of mine run less than 10 seconds fast a day when being worn and fully wound.
    As long as the loose rotor hasn't done any damage, I think it is a minor flaw. Nothing that would spoil my fun with such a good-looking watch. Congrats!
    Cheers, Sedi

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  5. #4
    Moderator - Central tribe125's Avatar
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    Properly utilitarian, the B-Uhr.

    But no response from Laco? That’s doubly poor.

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  7. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by tribe125 View Post
    But no response from Laco? That’s doubly poor.
    Utterly contemptible


    Still,.... it's all about the watch - and in it's price range it is a pretty thing.

    I do like Laco's but having three I couldn't possibly fit another in.
    Watches for SALE:
    <PRICE REDUCED> Nivrel 322 Black Dial: http://www.intlwatchleague.com/showt...869#post447869

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  9. #6
    Another Member crownpuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seriously View Post
    I do like Laco's but having three I couldn't possibly fit another in.
    Oh ?... ever heard: "Three's a crowd, four's a party" ?... ...I don't like crowds.
    Some people have opinions - The rest of us have taste.

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  11. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Seriously View Post

    I do like Laco's but having three I couldn't possibly fit another in.
    Afraid of a crazy rotor?
    Last edited by CFR; Nov 18, 2019 at 11:06 PM.

  12. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by tribe125 View Post

    But no response from Laco? That’s doubly poor.
    Still waiting...

  13. #9
    Congrats C that's really a nice looking watch. I like it.

    I'm sure that it's overall a high quality, robust build. The loose screw or any small oversight in assembly is to be expected from any company. That wouldn't bother me either but the lack of response to an email is another story. Hopefully they will respond soon and make satisfactory amends.

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  15. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    Congrats C that's really a nice looking watch. I like it.

    I'm sure that it's overall a high quality, robust build. The loose screw or any small oversight in assembly is to be expected from any company. That wouldn't bother me either but the lack of response to an email is another story. Hopefully they will respond soon and make satisfactory amends.
    Thanks, Greg.

    I'll send them another mail one of these days. It's perfectly possible they missed it, for some reason. No big deal.

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