While TACS is perhaps best known for its camera-inspired watches, the brand also has other intriguing models, including the Mask Player Automatic that puts a different spin (literally) on time-telling. Let’s see if it’s any good.
TACS – Video Review
For those interested in seeing some hands-on footage of the TACS Mask Player Automatic, do check out my Youtube review below:
TACS – the Brand
TACS Mask Player Automatic – Build Quality
Like the previous TACS watches that I’ve reviewed, the Mask Player Automatic boasts good specifications for the price.
Firstly, the TACS Mask Player Automatic uses a K1 crystal. While it’s more durable than the mineral glass that’s found in most fashion watches, it’s still significantly less durable than sapphire crystal in terms of scratch resistance. It’s a tad disappointing given that both the ATL and AVL II featured sapphire crystals, though those are priced slightly higher. In addition, the water-resistant rating of the watch is stated at 50M, which renders the Mask Player Automatic feasible in almost all situations that don’t involve prolonged contact with water.
Ticking inside the Mask Player Automatic is the Miyota 82S0 movement, which also powers the AVL II. That’s unsurprising, given that it’s one of the only affordable skeletonised movements on the market currently. The 82S0 beats at 21,600 bph, hand-winds, has about 42 hours of power reserve, but does not hack. I’m usually not fond of the Miyota 8 series movements due to the stuttering of the seconds hand, but this issue was not present on the Mask Player Automatic that I received. The movement is partially visible through the semi-obscured caseback. Basic Geneva striping is visible, though a custom rotor is lacking.
This Ash Blue variant of the Mask Player Automatic comes on a brown Horween Leather strap that’s equipped with quick-release spring bars for easy interchangeability. The Horween leather strap feels robust and well-made, and is thick enough to offset the slight heft of the watch. It’s definitely one of the better straps I’ve seen on ~US$300 watches.
All in all, the TACS Mask Player Automatic has decent specifications, with the only bummer being the lack of sapphire crystal.
TACS Mask Player Automatic – Design
However, the unique selling point of the Mask Player Automatic is undoubtedly its intriguing design.
The Mask Player Automatic features what TACS calls a “half-face design”, where the left side of the dial is obscured by a “mask” that gives the watch its name. It’s an interesting concept, and one that I’ve not seen executed anywhere else. The result is a striking conversation starter on the wrist, clearly differentiating it from the masses of affordable microbrand homages in the market today.
TACS also takes a left-field approach to time-telling on the Mask Player Automatic. Time is told SevenFriday style, through the use of twin rotating disks for the minutes and hours. In case you’re ever confused between the two, TACS labels both disks so for easier reading.
Aside from the labels, the “mask” of the dial is also inscribed with the latitude of Tokyo, which the brand says pays homage to its founder, Motegi-san.
As the icing on the cake, the Mask Player Automatic also features an open heart at the centre of the dial, allowing the wearer to view the mechanical movement beating away within. The open heart combined with the layered minute and hour disk as well as the “mask” results in a dial that has depth in spades. In addition, the conspicuous red seconds hand adds a pop of sporty colour to the overall design.
The Mask Player Automatic has a cushion case that’s brushed on the front and polished on the sides, as well as a signed crown. The cushion case is a smart choice, as the “circle-in-square” design adds further visual intrigue to the watch.
While the AVL II and ATL were both big watches, the Mask Player Automatic comes substantially svelter in dimensions with a case diameter of 42mm. Combined with the short lugs, the watch wears well on my 7-inch wrist even for a cushion case watch. However, it’s still a tad chunky at 13.5mm thick – I had trouble fitting it under a shirt cuff.
Overall, I really like the innovative design of the Mask Player Automatic. The “mask” concept is refreshing, and I appreciated the uniqueness of using rotating disks to tell the time. The 3D nature of the dial is also eminently striking. It’s definitely one of the most novel watches I’ve seen at the ~US$300 price point.
Shootout: TACS Mask Player Automatic vs SevenFriday M3
If you like the half-obscured, rotating disk design of the Mask Player Automatic, the most prominent alternative to consider would probably be the SevenFriday M3.
In terms of specifications, both the Mask Player Automatic and the M3-01 are largely similar. Both watches lack sapphire crystal, and are powered by the Miyota 8 series of movements.
From an aesthetic standpoint, both watches share a similar design concept, using partially obscured rotating disks to tell the time. Admittedly, the M3-01 has the more iconic and striking look – it’s easily identifiable as a SevenFriday watch due to its avant-garde design. However, one could also argue that the Mask Player Automatic possesses more depth due to its open heart nature. On the wrist, it also definitely wears much better than the 47mm M3-01.
What cannot be denied is the value proposition of the Mask Player Automatic. Despite having near-identical specifications and sharing a similar design, the watch costs a quarter that of the M3-01. If you’re looking for bang-for-buck, and aren’t swayed by the brand cache of SevenFriday, then the Mask Player Automatic is arguably the better buy.
Conclusion – so the TACS Mask Player Automatic “shiok” or not?
TACS is known for making unique looking watches, and in that regard the Mask Player Automatic does not disappoint. It has an interesting design concept, and is bound to be a conversation starter on the wrist. It’s certainly one of the most intriguing watches at its price point. If you’re into watches that are different, then the Mask Player Automatic will be a great buy at its price point. My only knock is the lack of sapphire crystal on the watch, so one would have to be careful not to accidentally bump it against a hard surface.
Those interested in purchasing the Mask Player Automatic can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout to enjoy 15% off all TACS watches store-wide. After the discount, the Mask Player Automatic would cost US$314.50/~S$428, making it an easy recommendation for enthusiasts who want a unique timepiece without breaking the bank.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned.
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.