Factor reviews: Elliot Brown’s Canford watch

Elliot Brown describes its Canford watch as “quietly handsome, for those who don’t want their watch to shout too loudly” and as having “the elegance of a classic pilot’s watch but with broader shoulders”.

I would describe the Canford as a watch on steroids, or a watch for people who think a Hummer truck is a practical city car.

It’s big, brash and brutish, and I have to say I’m a fan.

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Images courtesy of Elliot Brown

Like anyone or anything on steroids, the Canford is overly concerned with strength.

For instance, the watch’s case is made from solid marine grade stainless steel that’s pressure tested twice during construction, then placed in a water-filled pressure vessel at 200m. Both of the watch’s crowns have triple seals and aggressive knurling for maximum grip, but Elliot Brown insist their smoothed edges  “won’t wreck the cuff of your favourite shirt or wetsuit”. The Canford’s case is bolted down, not threaded, for maximum shock absorption.

Perhaps the best way I can describe the Canford is to say that it’s essentially the Land Rover of watches. While you might see a Land Rover on suburban roads, really it wants to be roaming in the wilderness. The Canford is the same.

While Elliot Brown wants you to believe that this can be worn to the office and on your weekend rock-climbing expedition; the simple truth is it can’t. It’s heavy and slightly cumbersome, so it makes typing a more difficult task than it needs to be.

Image courtesy of Elliot Brown

Image courtesy of Elliot Brown

But why would you want to wear the Canford to the office anyway? Considering the watch was put through as stringent a training program as an actual marine, it was made with the adventurer and the adrenaline junkie in mind. And if you don’t feel that you fit into those categories then the Canford is big and tough enough to demand that you change to suit its needs.

There are a lot of things to dislike about the Canford, it’s big, it’s cumbersome and priced between £350 and £500 it’s not exactly cheap, but it is a watch that demands attention and will make even the smallest wearer feel like a powerlifter.

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Factor Reviews: Mojo Digital Analogue Converter / Headphone Amplifier

Designed to work with smartphones, PCs and Macs, the Mojo digital analogue converter (DAC)/ headphone amplifier is a premium bit of kit from specialist audio tech company Chord Electronics. Sitting between your audio source of choice and your headphones, Mojo is designed to significantly improve the sound quality of your music, providing what the company describes as “crystal clear audio the way you would hear it in the recording studio”.

While that claim may sound bold, Mojo really does deliver on this promise. This little device makes a marked difference to the sound of the vast majority of the tracks we tested it with. Individual instruments sound crisper and clearer, and there is an overall depth to the sound that is simply not present on digital tracks played without the device.

This was particularly noticeable once I switched back to listening to the same tracks without Mojo. Songs that had sounded rich and epic with the device attached now sound flat and a bit sad, lacking in the mood and feel that I’d come to enjoy. I’m actually quite gutted I have to give Mojo back, and prolonged use of it would certainly turn most people into audio snobs.

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Certain types of audio saw a particular benefit, including live albums, which in some cases sounded like we were actually there in the audience, and, for some reason, tracks that mixed stringed instruments with guitars, seemingly because of how much the analogue sound Mojo produces emphasised the contrast between their sounds.

However, on some poorer quality tracks, there is less of a noticeable difference: Mojo unsurprisingly works best with high quality tracks, and would be wasted on someone who only plays the lowest quality sound files. Handily, the power button glows a given colour to indicate the frequency it is detecting, and so it is easy to tell if you are getting the most out of the device.

Mojo is exceptionally sturdy and well-built. Machined from a single block of aluminium, it feels like it would withstand some serious mistreatment, and the robust ball-style buttons make for a simple, clear and very easy-to-use interface.

It also has a decent battery life, stated as 8-10 hours, which is about what we got out of it in our own tests. A second headphone slot is also a nice touch, allowing two people to enjoy listening at once.

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Depending on what you connect it to, it can be a little bit of a hassle to set up. On Windows, we needed to install a driver before connecting Mojo, although on Macs this is all done automatically. On smartphones, both iOS and Android users will likely require a specialist cable, and may need to download an app to make full use of the device.

This shouldn’t be enough of an issue to put anyone off what is a truly excellent device, but it is worth noting that this isn’t your typical plug-and-play gadget.

The elephant in the room is, however, the price. At £399, this is not going to be a product that is for everyone, and for many it will be way above what they are prepared to pay to improve the music they listen to. However, if you are a regular listener of music and want to get the most studio-like experience, this may actually be worth it.

Mojo is an excellent product, and one that will likely last for years, while being used every day. And given that it makes such an impressive difference to audio, the price seems a far better deal than for many cheaper, more disposable gadgets.

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