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Review: 111J from Noob factory vs 177L from Hublot maker

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“How to build a sandwich dial super-rep”...or why do I believe 111J is such a great 'modding base' and that 177L ain't all it's cracked up to be...;)

If you happen to find the above statement hard to believe or even shocking, keep reading. There are many totally unexpected and interesting findings I came across while dissecting the two reps. My idea was to create something of a cheapest possible 111 super-rep while using only the best rep parts available and combined from the two watches 111J and 177L.

Just as a preamble so I don't get misunderstood - I still agree with majority and stand behind my initial observations of these two great reps, 111J and 177L. For the money, you will hardly find better value on any decent mass produced 44mm sandwich dial rep these days, with 177L being one of those rare reps that doesn't require almost any modding for full enjoyment for the most.

Just a note that the review contains raw, quick and un-modified photos, my aim wasn't to create a nice writeup with flash photos, but technical overview with the info that would preferably cover wide range of audience.

Onto the review with photos now...

Overall look and feel

Here are the two watches side by side, 111J on the left, 177L on the right:

P1010182.jpg

Not much to see from this angle, except the mistiness of a 111J glass, as well as "thinner" appearance of a top sandwich layer on 177L.

I must admit the 177L on the first glance has more gen-ish feel, mainly due to its super-clear sapphire and super-lumed dial and hands...that's if you don't start digging deeper and look for details ;) Hublot rep factory is well known as a maker that produces a nice looking Pam reps but when it comes to 'correct' fit and dimensions, they're still behind Noob maker IMO. I will explain my reasoning behind this further down.

Case sets and their parts

Both 111 and 177 casesets are top notch, very gen-like. They both feature G-M series case shapes with slightly elongated and steeper flat-top lugs.

Both of them come with gen-ish looking very faint cutout between the lugs (more of a curvature than cut-out).

Bezels are spot-on on both IMO, as well as case edges which bevel steeper and more dramatic than any other aftermarket rep cases available these days.

Needless to say, bot cases feature post-J series hex tube which only accepts new style crowns without the shoulder.

Lugs on the 111 are just a hair thicker but hard to notice by the naked eye, for sure. This however makes it a good candidate for projects covering very wide range of models from pre-A to the very last M-series, with hex tube or the round one regardless. It should even fit the bill for a pre-V build with just a little mod at the very edges of the lugs. Love the case guys, I really do.

Photo below shows 177 on top of the 111. Same lug-to-lug length, very similar almost identical lug shape.

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"Cutouts" between the lugs. Very minimal on the 177L, and slightly longer and rounder on 111J. Neither is the same as gen, as the area between the lugs on gen is somewhat in-between these two. I owned a gen 111H and that's how I remember it.

P1010174.jpg

CG/lever assembly on the 111J is pretty much spot on, rubber pin jacket, pin, CG shape and size etc:

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Side by side...111J then 177L:

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Even from the photos above you can see some minor differences issues with the 177 CG. The rectangular cavity for the crown is smaller, or shallower. IMO, this is the main reason why the crown on this rep is pushed closer to the case, than on 111J.

The lever tip pin 177 CG is chunkier than it should be, and the lever doesn't come with the rubber shim/jacket. Lever on mine was floppy ;( and the lever area around the roller looks like it's been run over by a truck.

Also, the pin seems to be a non-removable type...at least I was unable to push it out to install my custom made rubber shim...no luck, the standard method I'm using failed me on this CG so left it as is for now. The pin seems to be force pushed, and there aren't any visible serrations on the bottom (thin) side of the pin.

The lever tip (the far end tip on which you use your fingernail) is slightly more 'correct' on the 111J, as well.

P1010185.jpg

This is what I meant by smaller cavity on 177. Outer edges on both CGs are lined up on these two photos, notice how much shorter the feet are on 177:

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Side-by-side - the CG cavity is just a tad larger on 111 CG, while on 177 is smaller when compared with the gen CG:

P1010188-1.jpg

The crowns...and now the first issue I came across. The crown on the 111J is spot on, correct in shape, fit and manufacture, hex spring part assembly. However the crown on 177 is all over the place. The shape of the neck and spring assembly isn't anything I've seen so far, either on gen or rep Panerai crown. You can see from the photo below how much it actually differs from the 111J crown on the left. Also the spring assembly isn't hex shaped but round, so be EXTRA careful when scr3wing the stem on it, otherwise you might end up with two pieces in your hand.

But the biggest offender on 177 crown is that the body of the neck isn't straight but ends up with the conical outward bevel at the base, see my scribbling below in red. What this means is that the crown in this configuration will NEVER sit properly and tight against the crown tube, unless more o-rings are added inside the crown.

The crown simply creating metal-to-metal friction against the mouth of the crown tube, this is why most of us 177L rep owners feel such a strong resistance when closing the CG lever.

(Sorry, I forgot to remove the o-ring seal from the 177 crown to illustrate this better)

P1010163-1.jpg

Many have commented how the 177 crown is thicker than gen, well the 111J crown width measures 1.97mm, and the 177L crown measures 1.96mm...interesting isn't it? :)

It's funny how the lack of correct teeth bevel on the 177 crown gives that false impression and optical illusion that's wider, instead it's the thinner one amongst the two.

P1010166.jpg

P1010161.jpg

Casebacks... great on both, however slightly flatter on 177. The glass on 177 CB is definitely mineral, but I'm unsure about the 111J CB, both the basic fingernail knock test and water beading test are Sapphire positive, but I'm not 100% sure, especially as it wasn't specified in product description by the dealers and factories.

P1010169.jpg

The 111J CB also comes with deeper and wider engraving than 177 which is faint and shallow. Again 111J is closer to gen, in this respect.

P1010168.jpg

The infamous Swiss Made on 111J CB...Noob factory really got some fine detail right. The 177 CB from Hublot maker lacks this little detail...where's Eddie Lee when you need him :)) LOL!

P1010167.jpg

Lug screws...no contest - 177 wins this one by a mile! The Ti lug screws on this rep are as gen as any lug screws will ever be IMO, great definition, perfect threading, flat tips on threaded part, polished top and bottom. 111J are just a garden variety cheap looking & too short lug screws, nothing to write home about.

177 screws on the left:

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177 screws on the top:

P1010193.jpg

The crystal and dial lume...again 177 wins hands down. The xtal is super bright and clear, the clearest one I ever owned, including EL/Honpo old-school ones, except maybe for the BigC sapphire. The AR although very faint and invisible is very correct and on par with the AR on my PAM288 Rad rep. The lume is magnificent, Superluminova and the correct color mix...glows over night and almost into the morning...speechless! Th price of the 177 rep simply pays for the lume and xtal alone, all other bits are bonus :)

On the other hand the 111J xtal is slightly mistier with strong purple/blue AR hue...standard Pam rep glass, nothing special.

177 on the left:

P1010195.jpg

P1010194.jpg

No comment...really.

The movement...well, are some going to be surprised by the findings I came across :)

Not only the regulator is shaped as a needle, as everybody knows by now, but the movement that comes inside 177L isn't high-beat A6497-2 21.6Kbph, but the slower A6497-1 18kbph!!! So it appears the Hublot rep factory and the dealers have been distributing little white lies once again, nothing new but come on - it's not on! They simply went for the cheapest, nastiest and crudest A6497-1 this time.

Noob maker stuck to their end of the deal and provided quite nice looking (and of very precise beat rate if I may add) high-beat manual movement, correct dagger shaped regulator, engraved OP text, very nice CDG finish etc. Neither mov't is by its appearance even close to gen, so best not to waste much time on this.

P1010179-1.jpg

177L:

P1010181.jpg

111J:

P1010180.jpg

So all in all both great reps, but lacking that higher-end finesse.

Building a 111 super-rep; babola's 111J - 'The Bastard'

So I've decided to combine the best available parts of both reps into a one very nice and gen looking 111 sandwich dial Pam rep.

The Crystals...this is a no-brainer, it had to be the one from 177L.

See them below side-to-side.

111J Sapphire on the left, notice the darker edge:

P1010222.jpg

Now xtals reversed - 177L on the left:

P1010221.jpg

Refractions and clarity...177L on the left:

P1010226.jpg

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The Dials...Well this is an interesting one, as the 'best' dial is a combination of the parts from 111 and 177.

The 111J dial comes with correct semi-matte texture, and spot-on dial text color, ivory/cream. The 177L on the other hand is slightly shinier in finish with dial text more of a beige-gray. The font is also thinner on 177L.

We all know how good is the Superluminova lume on 177, so I won't go into much discussion here. It's simply perfect, both the glow and lume color.

Here are the two dials side-by-side, 111J on the left. Notice how different the dial text is:

P1010205.jpg

P1010206.jpg

111J dial, perfect L-SM-L text, matte texture:

P1010207.jpg

177L dial, also perfect L-SM-L, slightly shinier texture:

P1010208.jpg

Again, to see the diffs in dial texture...111J dial at the bottom:

P1010218.jpg

177 dial at the top:

P1010219.jpg

Another interesting finding was that both dial come with IDENTICAL cutouts for markers and numerals...quite weird, but very true ;)

On the next photo I overlaid the 111J dial on top of the 177L dial. Can you see the bottom dial? :)

P1010211.jpg

This time angled:

P1010212.jpg

Now I swapped the dials, 177L on the top:

P1010214.jpg

And under angle...(sorry the bottom 111J dial slipped down my fingers a little this time)

P1010215.jpg

Little Hero....run for cover!!! :)

While doing the dial swap, I've also debunked the myth behind the supposedly "thinner" top dial plate on the 177L. Well, while the top plate on 177 is thinner for a minuscule amount compared to the plate on 111J (0.02mm), the reason for the thin dial appearance is completely different.

Here's the photo showing the profile of both top plates, side-by-side:

P1010216.jpg

The reason actually lies in super thick and raised application of lume on the 177L base plate. It is so thick that it raises inside the cutouts, making the marker and numeral cutouts looking 'flat'.

Let's see this in more detail.

177L Dial

Hang on what's this...a dial retaining screw on the side of the movement?!?! Hmm, I heard 2006 called and wants its rep mov't back! :) Remember the infamous Chiss or Swinesse A6497-1 mov't guys? Well, it's making a comeback...

P1010197.jpg

Over engineered polished base plate, nice touch for sure, but ...why?

P1010198.jpg

Check the lume application. Definitely non genuine-like, as gen base dials have impressed cavities where lume is applied almost flush with the plate surface. It doesn't come as a surprise, as I'm yet to see a rep 44mm sandwich Luminor dial with this done correctly.

P1010199.jpg

Also, the whole bottom plate area is adhesive.

Check it out again:

P1010200.jpg

111J Dial

When it comes to lume on 111J it's all standard stuff, nothing special to write about. Black base plate, thin (very thin) lume application.

P1010201.jpg

P1010203.jpgP1010204.jpg

So...I've decided to combine the top dial plate of the 111J with the bottom plate of the 117, for the reasons mentioned and well documented above.

The dials separate well, and if you've done this before it's a doddle. Word of warning regarding the top dial plate of the 111J. It comes with 4 pins that insert inside the bottom lumed plate. These pins are incompatible with the 177 bottom plate, so need to be cut off for the correct fit.

P1010217.jpg

Use the high quality wire cutters for this job. It's important you cut the pins as close to the dial as possible:

P1010220.jpg

So all in all...here are the pros and cons of both 11J and 177L summarized:

177L

Pros:

- sapphire xtal with great A/R

- bottom (base) plate and hands lumed in Superluminova with correct color

- great case set

- great lug bars

Cons:

- top dial plate slightly shinier in finish, dial text beige-gray color

- the movement - the greatest flop on this watch

- unfinished and incorrect crown neck

- lack of correct crown teeth bevel

- CG with floppy lever, lever pin non-removable, lever of slightly incorrect shape

- slightly thinner case back, mineral glass CB insert, shallow and faint engraving...but only a tad

111J

Pros:

- top dial plate, great texture and correct dial text color

- case set

- crown and CG as per gen specs

- correct case back thickness, good quality engraving around the CB rim

- possible Sapphire xtal on the caseback

- the movement

Cons:

- faint lume on the base plate

- almost non-existent hands lume

- stock standard sapphire xtal with blue/purplish hue

The resulting build - 111J 'The Bastard':

- case set from 111J

- sapphire xtal from 177L

- top dial plate from 111J

- bottom dial plate from 177L

- hands from 177L

- mov't from 111J

- CG pin flattened and polished

- Cannon pin flattened and polished

- gen strap

Few quick photos:

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Very genuine looking, if I may say so :)

That's all from me for now folks...hope some of you got at least something out of this extra-long post.

I'm always open to questions, suggestions and criticism, so don't hesitate, please :)

Time to hit the sack now...until next time - goodnight!

babola

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Great review and a super rep for $450! :clapping:

Less the resale of excess parts - which I see are already flooding onto the sales forums :whistling:

Tanks for sucha comprehensive report :thumbsupsmileyanim:

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hey D...terrific review...very well done...in all aspects...final piece looks great...

questions: is the ar on both crystals double or single ar coated?...especially interested in knowing if the 111 crystal would benefit from stripping off one or both sides of the blue hue ar...both also look to be 3.5mm thick, right?...

thanks for taking the time to do this compare...

R-

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Thanks guys...the whole thing took a little longer than anticipated as I was taking photos and writing at the same time while assembling "the b'stard" 111J.

I manages to source these two while they were offered at $180 each from one of the non-cartel dealers, plus combined shipping it ended up being less than $400 total, so I'm not complaining. That plus the fact the Ti case is already part of another project and other parts re-sold, I'm fine. :)

questions: is the ar on both crystals double or single ar coated?...especially interested in knowing if the 111 crystal would benefit from stripping off one or both sides of the blue hue ar...both also look to be 3.5mm thick, right?...

R mate, both xtals are the same or extremely similar dimensions, thickness and width as per gen specs. Both have single-side AR (on the inside).

The 111J xtal comes with suboptimal A/R I must admit....standard Pam rep A/R, that's all really. The 177L A/R is colorless and almost perfect.

cheers,

b

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So the 177 doesn't have a thinner top plate, but has a bottom plate with raised lume, which lead to the confusion.

I have to say that the strap cut-out on the 111J case is another big flaw for the 'perfectionists' (of which I'm not one :) ), the gen cases have a notch similar to what the 177 case has, just a bit longer (ends closer to the lugs).

Also the bezel height, at least on the 177, seems still to be too high still. Again, only really noticeable by the 'perfectionists' :)

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Dr...yup, the cutouts are somewhat larger on 111J and smaller on 177L, the gen is in-between the two. My photo of the 111J above exaggerates the cutout due to lighting, it's actually much more faint.

Bezels on 111J and 177L are of the similar height, the 'ring' on the base of the 177L bezel is somewhat higher, though.

cheers,

b

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Great thread D, :thumbsupsmileyanim:

I guess you got a camera for Xmas ;)

I am doing mine the other way round then using the 111 case for an A project. :thumbsupsmileyanim:

Once I have the other rep 111 I will post some case pics of the gen 111 against the new 111 and 177 to highlight the differences. :)

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Very nice review. I gotta get a 111J. They are certainly cheap enough! Now I'm kind of bummed I spent soooo much creating a 111H with all the aftermarket goodies. Especially the LH dial. It cost a small fortune, but was the only real option at the time...times have changed!

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