Model # IN3107BBKO
Brand/Model: Ingersoll Cobham II Automatic
Movement: Chinese automatic
Material: stainless steel black ion plate case, leather strap
Complications: power reserve indicator
Price: MSRP $460 USD (can be found heavily discounted)
Plenty of photos follow the review. Click on the pictures to enlarge.
It’s been quite some time since I ventured over to the world of Chinese-based automatic watches. Ingersoll has been a brand I have been interested in for awhile now and when this Cobham II automatic showed up at a price I couldn’t resist (about $100 USD BNIB), I couldn’t pass it up.
Boy, am I glad I spent the money, as this watch has really shown me how far the Chinese have come in terms of both the accuracy and the quality of their watches. Ingersoll says all their watches are designed in Germany and even goes so far as to print it at the bottom of the dial on this watch, but don’t be fooled, these may be designed in Germany, but they are made in China.
Ingersoll as a brand dates back to 1892 in America, when they made a name for themselves making the famous ‘Yankee Dollar’ pocket watches by the millions. This was followed by Mickey Mouse watches in the 1930s through the 1970s.
Fast forward to 1989 when British watch importer Zeon acquired the brand and has since relaunched it with mostly automatic movement watches. Today their range is quite extensive with a variety of styles and features that can be found on-line and discounted prices.
The Cobham II automatic reviewed here takes its name from Sir Alan Cobham’s pioneering flight in 1928 across the African continent, when he wore an Ingersoll watch to keep the time. This modern Ingersoll Cobham II watch celebrates his aviation triumphs and it’s nice that his name and that of Ingersoll are truly linked in history.
The Cobham II starts with a very nicely finished all stainless steel case that is ion plated in black and is signed with the Ingersoll name on the left side of the case. The finish is shiny and is somewhat of a fingerprint magnet, but the overall look is sharp. The case measures 45mm across; 49.5mm including the crown. The crown itself is signed and is properly oversized, to make winding and setting the watch easier. The crown alone measures 7.8 mm in diameter.
Case thickness is 15.1mm, with a 22mm lug spacing. Overall, the proportions of the Cobham II are quite good, with nothing seeming oversized or bulky and this watch does not wear overly large. The lugs are fairly short which help to position the watch comfortably on the wrist.
The screwdown caseback is standard polished stainless steel and is a display type with a mineral crystal that shows up the surprisingly well-decorated automatic movement with a signed and decorated rotor. As previously stated, overall fit and finish on the case is excellent.
The Cobham II is factory rated for a modest 5 ATM of water resistance, so best not to get this watch wet.
The dial at first glance appears to be quite busy but after a bit, you adjust to it and it really is quite useful and easy-to-read. The dial itself is a matte black with aged lume (ie: cream colored) arabics, with only the ‘6’ being ‘hacked off’ at the bottom of the dial. It always bugs me when watchmakers bother to put arabics on a dial only to cut them off to make room for various subdials, calendar windows, etc. The arabics on the Cobham II are all of equal size and with only one arabic partially cut off, it presents a clean and purposeful look.
There is a simple chapter ring with minute gradations around the perimeter of the dial. The power reserve indicator is below the 12 position, with the watch subseconds hand located above the 6 position.
The power reserve dial has circular patterning and is marked ‘down’ and ‘up’ at opposite ends with a simple red pointer to indicate the power remaining in the main spring. The gauge does have some gradation marks on it, but it does not state how much power is left in hours, it simply gives you a visual indication of about how long the watch has left to run. This works fine for me. I have always appreciated a power reserve meter on a watch and this one does the job well.
The subseconds dial has circular patterning and has arabics every 10 seconds, with hash marks at the other points. The hand is a propeller type (three-hands) with one of the hands painted red. It’s a nifty look that’s easy to see.
The hour and minute hands are styled in aged lume and are a broad sword-type style. The minute hand is nice and long and extends to the chapter ring for accurate setting. The hour and minute hands and arabics around the dial glow green in the dark and lume quality is quite good; it’s evenly applied and evenly bright.
There is a fair amount of printing on the dial, with the Ingersoll name below the 12 and right above the power reserve meter. ‘German Design’ is below the 6 position and on the left side of the dial ‘Sir Alan Cobham II Automatic’ appears in three lines and on the right side of the dial is an outline graphic of an airplane. ‘Limited Edition’ appears above the subseconds dial. All quite a bit busy, yes, but all the lettering is in the same creamy aged lume color so it doesn’t really jump out at you. Most importantly, the time on the watch is easy to see.
Capping the dial is a ‘toughened’ mineral crystal that is slightly domed. I don’t know if they send the crystals to the mean streets of Chicago to toughen them up, but it’s Ingersoll’s version of a sapphire-like crystal. At this price point, I really can’t complain, as it doesn’t exhibit any distortion or undue glare, despite not being coated with any anti-reflective compound. Surrounding the crystal is a fixed black coin-edge bezel that adds a bit of pop to the watch.
Under my usual 8X loupe exam, the dial and hands are clean and assembly quality is superb, no dirt or defects where noted. The watch also has a nice weight to it that helps give it a quality feel.
Inside the Cobham II beats a Chinese-made automatic movement running in 34 jewels. The movement’s origins are unknown, but it’s amazingly well decorated, with blued screws and perlage adorning the innards. Ingersoll calls this movement a Calibre 219B.
The movement hacks and manually winds, although the hacking function could work a bit better. At times, when the crown is pulled out, the watch takes a few seconds to actually stop, which defeats the idea behind a hack function. A lot has been said about the long-term reliability of Chinese-made movements. I cannot speculate as to how this movement may or may not perform over the long haul, but early indications appear that it will do just fine, despite the intermittent hacking.
The watch winds and sets properly and has no problem winding itself during average wear, as indicated by the power reserve indicator. How many times have you had a watch with a power reserve meter and worn it all day and the meter barely budges? The Cobham II’s meter responds nicely to body movement and shows the watch is winding throughout the day. Nice.
What has surprised me most about this watch has been its accuracy. In my initial testing, in the crown up position, the Cobham II ran at +3 seconds over 24-hours. Power reserve is a robust 51.25 hours. I have worn this watch once a month or so since purchasing it and its accuracy on the wrist has been equally strong. Absolutely no complaints here, as this watch keeps great time.
The Cobham II comes on a thick, slightly padded black leather strap with white contrast stitching and because of its good looks, it’s another pleasant surprise with this watch.
The strap is signed and is very good quality, especially since it has two keepers, one fixed and one floating, along with a fixed metal keeper located between the two leather keepers and a decorative stainless steel rivet at the end of the strap. I really don’t know what the purpose of the metal keeper ring is, because it does make the strap a bit fussy at times.
The strap measures 22mm at the lugs and tapers to 20.2mm at the signed black ion plated pre-V style buckle. Despite the strap’s thickness, it is fairly flexible and looks great with this watch.
Presentation is in keeping with the overall purpose of this watch. A signed two-piece outer cardboard box and a padded black inner box. A separate cardstock holder contains the instructions and warranty information. A perfectly acceptable presentation.
I don’t know if other Ingersoll watches display the combination of quality, accuracy and looks that the Cobham II does, as this is the only Ingersoll watch I have owned and/or handled, but as an introduction to the brand and a reflection on how far the Chinese watch industry has progressed in the past few years, it truly is an impressive effort. When you consider the price this watch was purchased at, it makes everything that much more amazing. Very well done, Ingersoll, the Cobham II is a winner in almost every respect. I’m sure Sir Alan Cobham would agree as well!
Pros: surprisingly good fit and finish, excellent accuracy, power reserve indication, nice strap, good looks
Cons: modest water resistance, hacking function could work better, strap a bit fussy, a sapphire crystal would be nice, dial has too much printing on it
Verdict: an out-of-the-box hit from Ingersoll, the Cobham II automatic is a nifty watch that combines neat design with a useful power reserve indicator and overall very good quality and accuracy, especially for the extremely modest price
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.