don't buy a St. Moritz made-in-Canada watch
This is my former watch. It's a "Momentum" by St. Moritz.
I was looking for a watch after going without one for longer than I liked. I thought, "I live in a major industrial nation, I'll buy local!" The only timepiece I could find made in Canada, I was pleased to both like it and to be able to afford it. "Made in Canada" it turned out, meant made somewhere outside of Canada, and assembled in the country.
I don't know if this idiosyncratic way of producing watches was to blame for the problems I'd experience with this watch, but mine was a lemon.
The problems began when I bought the nice-looking stitched leather strap. During its first summer that leather simply fell apart. I'd worn watches with leather straps for years and had never seen anything like it. Disappointed, I bought a second one—an expensive and slow process given that I was by then living in Tokyo. That second band also rotted away in the course of a year. That's when I foolishly ordered a metal bracelet from St. Moritz despite getting nothing from the manufacturer in the way of support. This last purchase was simply throwing good money after bad. While the more expensive bracelet finally managed to last two whole years, this longevity was more than the watch itself had in it.
Because during the unusually hot Tokyo summer of 2010 the watch suddenly fogged up. I don't know if it was moisture or mold, and I don't care—it's supposed to be a water-resistant watch rated for diving.
In November of 2010, I had a chance to take the thing into the Mountain Equipment Co-op in Toronto. Walking up to the sales counter I noted that they were still displaying the latest model of this same watch. I told the fellow, "Hi, I bought one of these watches."
"That's too bad," he said.
In the ensuing conversation, it turned out that everybody's leather straps had disintegrated, and that St. Moritz no longer sold that type of strap. Instead, they were selling a faux-leather that's suppose to last longer. He held one up for me and instructed me to smell it.
Chocolate?! Yes, they'd impregnated the fake leather with the smell of chocolate. I have no idea why. In any event, the fellow at the counter told me to take the watch to the service counter for a trip back to the "manufacturer" (read "assembler").
I did that. The woman there told me that many of the watches were turning up fogged. When I asked, "What about the dive rating," she said that she'd heard from the manufacturer that prolonged exposure to humidity was actually worse than outright immersion in water. Sounds nuts to me, but not as nutty as chocolate-flavored watch straps.
By January, I got the watch back. The fogging was gone. But now the watch was moving slowly. "Needs a new battery," I told myself, and took it to a shop in the neighborhood. A couple of days after the battery switch, the thing once again started getting progressively slow. I'd been warned that this might happen by the jeweler who sold me the battery. Whatever he'd seen had troubled him, but he'd warned that that would mean the thing needs to be disassembled and properly repaired.
In only five years I watched it become useless despite no strenuous use. I never once immersed it in water as is its purported intention. Now thrice-bitten I was leery to spend more on a repair that could be required again in only a few years.
Update, 2017: I eventually threw the thing away in disgust and frustration. Some readers have left comments asking what I expected from a "fashion brand". I guess I'd been programmed to expect durability because the watch I wore prior to the St. Moritz was a Pulsar that my parents bought me as a graduation gift in 1989. Costing a princely $85 at the time, that watch had survived fifteen years of daily wear.
Update, 2019: I now wear a Seiko day to day and have had no problems with it for five years and see no sign that it won't last for many years to come. It's the mechanical SARB033 I mention in the link below, and it cost less all in than my ill-fated St. Moritz. Also five years old is the $50 Casio beater I wear on the weekends is also running without issue.
As noted, several readers over the years have countered my story with better news of their own. I'm glad to hear it, as I still want to "buy local" when I can. But with endless inexpensive alternatives out there, I don't believe it makes sense to buy "fashion brands" that don't make their own products. Worse, I find the "manufacturer's" support radioactive: looking back I'm amazed that they didn't replace the inexpensive quartz movement before sending it back to me despite everything I'd spent on the watch.
Seiko's SARB line of watches exist to give "aspirational" Grand Seiko owners something with which to pretend it's all right.
I bought a beater Casio that turned out to be a fine watch –with a few warts.