Category Archives: Watches

Camo In, Camo Out.

My wife hates it and you probably will once you see it. I noticed it on the wrist of a flight steward during a trans-Atlantic flight on Alitalia. You know the crappy Italian airline I must always fly to get to Rome direct to visit my parents and in-laws as well as the extended family. The flight crew is usually wearing Armani designed uniforms and they exude “sprezzatura” left and right as well as a good dose of “Don’t ask me anything because I am too beautiful and well dress to care.” Which in Italian is pretty much the same as flashing the middle finger with nonchalance – just because.

The watch Gods are looking down on me and have been planning a slow and torturous death for me from the minute I ordered this thing online. I don’t know why I like it so much. It is really far from any of the watches I own and wear, but there was a little voice calling out to me. “Buy me. Wear me. You know you want it!” And so I hit the confirm button on the order page and a few days later there it was in the mail.

It is not terribly easy to operate and you have to get used to reading the time since the seconds appear larger than all the rest, but these are minor details when I have a camo watch. I figured camo is trending right now in the menswear sphere… jackets, shirts, underwear, socks, Pitti, shaving cream, cologne… you name it they’ve made it in camo print (even @NTBro has a camo stash from Barney’s that he won’t admit to or he would have to call “Bullshit!” on himself). It’s been in for about 6 months so now it will be out again for another 6 months and then in again so most of the menswear bloggers were still in diapers when it was in the last time around so they think it is the coolest thing since double monks were “invented” by the Sartorialist and an old Italian cobbler in the F/W 2009.

OK. I kid you kids (sort of). Relax.

Back to the monstrosity on my wrist. I love it. Like a rubbernecker on the FDR Drive, I can’t avert my eyes from it. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of it because technicalities will bore you and frankly this is not a Patek Philippe so what’s the point. Know that I like it, my wife hates it and you may too. Frankly, my darlings, I don’t give a damn.

Advertisements

Piero Lissoni’s Alessi Tic watch almost 10 years later

In 2008, Piero Lissoni gave an interview in which he talks about his philosophy on the office, architects and the work his firm has done around the world. Lissoni is known for his simple and minimalist designs. What is impressive about Lissoni is that he overseas projects in their entirety (conceptualization, art direction, design, production etc.) and clearly loves his “job.” For a while now I have been fawning over one of his many design collaborations. The Alessi Tic chrono watch. I find it stunning even after almost 10 years since it was produced. Linear, simple, futuristic, yet retro, the watch is well built and feels solid on my wrist. There is really not much more to say about it and if you are into the technical details of the movement you can visit the Alessi site for more info. One less item on my wish list.


A Few Good Watches

Following the highs and lows of the classic “general purpose” military field watch’s popularity merits a stock market like graph (we might even discover that there is a correlation). As far as I am concerned it is one of the few “must have” watches in anyone’s collection. Lightweight, uncomplicated and perfect whether you are at work or play.

There are many watchmakers that have actually made or make variations of this watch (i.e. Polar, IWC, Lemania, Omega, Heuer, Seiko, Smiths, Hamilton etc.), but today there are only a few that are still military suppliers as most of the world’s armed services no longer source standard issue watches and certainly not made by any of the leading manufacturers.

The few “official” suppliers left are the Marathon Watch Company (Richmond Hill, Canada), CWC – Cabot Watch Company (London, England) and MWC – Military Watch Company (Zurich, Switzerland). Mainly supplying “on demand” watches for specific divisions within the U.S., Canadian and British Armed Forces (as well as other military and law enforcement organizations), these manufactures make due by selling overstock or “civilian” versions to the general public through specialized surplus outfitters.

  

Although I do admire what Timex has done for J.Crew or what TOKYObay has going on with their “replica” military watches, for the same price (and often less) you can get the real deal.

If you want to treat yourself to something really special you can hunt down some N.O.S. in thrift stores or online. I got my own 1984 USAF issued Marathon (17 jewels, Tritium, manual etc.) online and have had it for several years now.

If you want to gussy it up a bit then there are plenty of colored NATO straps around to have a different one for each day of the week.

      

 


This Holiday List is all about me…

There are always long wish lists for the Holidays (as well as for Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, Any Excuse To Get Presents Day etc.) and for guys they are usually full of the gadgets and gizmos, meat cooking related objects or something to do with alcoholic beverages and how best to prepare and drink them. There are plenty of great lists out there and to put another one up would be presumptuous of me because I really wouldn’t do justice to everybody’s true desire. So I am going to be completely self centered and tell you the three items that I want this Holiday season and that there is no way I am actually getting, but I figure you should always dream big.

I love my watches as I am sure you can tell from related posts around here, but there is one watch that I crave above all. It is one that I truly believe is the most elegant watch ever made and defines the gentleman’s watch. If Santa truly exists then tell him to stupefy me by putting a Cartier Tank Americaine under the tree.

The original Tank watch was created by Louis Cartier in 1917, and inspired by the lines and proportions of the Renault tanks that fought on the Western Front in WWI and the prototype watch was presented by Cartier himself to Gen. John Pershing of the American Expeditionary Force.

I know it is not the most expensive, I know it is not from a pure watchmaker, I know it is not on many a watch connoisseurs mind, but if you asked me right now what watch I would want to pull out of thin air it would be the Tank Americaine – understated, elegant and timeless.

This brings me to my second wish from the “me list”. Fountain pens, as you well know, are one of my many obsessions and for some time now I have pined after an elusive beauty. The Montblanc Czar Nikolai Legrand Platinum Plated fountain pen.

A 1999 limited edition that rarely shows up on the auction radar these days. A particular twist to the classic Montblanc that I can only hope to see in person one day.

And last, but not least I would have to request Smythson’s A4 Lippiatt Folder. My version of a very retro iPad. It holds the essentials for writing and note taking.

You do not have to recharge it and it stays on mute throughout all your meetings. Lightweight and elegant. Drop tests prove that it is shatter proof, but not scuff proof. The scuffing, though, will give it that broken-in look that will have people oohing and aahing. Granted the price tag is higher than an iPad, but there won’t be a second generation coming out next year to make you spend more to keep up-to-date. There are certain perks to old school.

Now that I have shared my deepest and most secret desires with you, I am off to Staples to see if they have any sales on Bics and Mead notebooks. Maybe with a little collage work I can get them to look like replicas of the aforementioned goodies.


Archimede: Watch craftsmanship is alive and well in Germany.

Although I do like the peculiar and particular watch from time to time, there is nothing like a classic design. Pilot watches, dive watches, railroad watches and other classic designs have been around since the first watches were strapped to wrists. There is a small company in Germany that carries on the tradition of simple yet functional watches in Pforzheim considered the heart of the German watch industry since 1767 when Grand Duke Karl Friedrich of Baden laid the groundwork with the construction of a watch factory.

As you can find out by visiting their website, Karl Ickler founded the Ickler family business in 1924, his own watch case manufacture and despite remaining inactive during the war started production again in 1947 and today is managed by the third-generation Thomas Ickler.

Ickler manufactures premiere quality watches and watch cases. The cases are crafted in-house, from solid blocks of stainless steel, pure titanium or 18 carat gold. Much of the final polishing and all of the assembly is done by hand.

The highly experienced employees use the latest high tech CNC machinery, which is guaranteeing ultimate precision. When it comes to polishing the surfaces, assembling parts and complete watches, and thorough quality control, Ickler relies on the careful human touch.

After working on private label watches the Ickler family planned and designed its own ARCHIMEDE watches that debuted in 2003. Considering the materials and craftsmanship that goes into these watches, the pricing is very reasonable and the quality guarantees longevity. As they themselves confirm, the designers of Ickler renounce stylish trends in the design and put great emphasis on valuable classic and premiere quality.


Anonimo: Italian craftsmanship and the art of watchmaking.

The tradition of Italian craftsmanship suffered a severe blow in the late 1990’s when the now Richemont group bought Officine Panerai, a century old Florentine watch maker specialized in dive watches often made on spec for the Navy. The tragedy was not the acquisition itself, but the subsequent decision to move production to Switzerland leaving many Florentine craftsmen with nothing to craft.

Luckily a local businessman with a passion for watches and for fine Italian workmanship, Federico Massacesi, decided that the art of watch making should continue in Florence. This, in short, is how Anonimo was born in 1997 based in Florence, Italy. The local watchmakers went back to work creating some of the most rugged and unique watches ever made in Florence and continuing the proud and more than 100-year-old tradition that was started in Florence by Giovanni Panerai in 1860. If you ever get a chance to strap one to your wrist even if you are just watch-case-shopping you will appreciate the attention to details that goes into making each Anonimo watch by hand.


From bands to watches…

The Maratac brand is veiled in mystery. Everyone who buys these classic “military” watch bands wants to know more about the company that seems to not exist. The bands are sold mainly through a few vendors specialized in working with the government. So there has been quite a bit of talk recently when a watch made for Maratac appeared seemingly out of thin air.

The Maratac Pilot Automatic watch is on of those watches that are a rare, but adrenaline inducing find. An affordable and practical watch that looks great. You can only get one from the folks at County Comm who do a lot of great on spec work for US government agencies. Every once and a while they get permission to do a civilian version or sell any over runs they might have, as well as purchase over runs from other such contractors and this is the case for the MPA watch.

The watch features a a robust sapphire domed crystal, simple dial with no date and no branding, a custom built Miyota (8245) 21 Jewel movement that offers 40 hours of power reserve when not in use. I must warn you, though, that you must like bulky watches to add this one to your collection since it is a little over 46mm wide and 83 grams. At $195 you will not find many similar watches in this size range – most are in the luxury brand category. So get it while you can and add any of the sturdy classic Maratac nylon bands that are standard military issue. Get a few different colors and have fun interchanging them to fit the occasion.

Watch Details

Case: 316 stainless steel case cut from solid block.

Dial: Print dial. With super luminova C3 color.

Hands: With super luminova C3. Matte finishing

Strap:With strap

Movt: 8245 (Japan movt)

Water resistant: 10 ATM water resistant.

Crown:  Screw crown same as drawing.

Crown tube: Screw tube

Shoulderless Spring Bar: Insert spring bar to case leg.

Case back: Two pieces of screw etching case back .

Glass: Sapphire crystal domed

Bronze movement retainer

None Hacking movement